Bliss

It’s always the same with him. The weeks of primping, getting myself in shape, and searching for the perfect outfit. My blonde hair is curled, which I know he doesn’t like, but for some reason this morning it made me feel sexy. I know he’s drawn to the more natural look on women, so I left the lashes at home and opted for a little eyeliner and mascara. It’s been a while since he’s seen me, and I can’t wait to watch his reaction when he eyes find my legs in skin tight black leggings. I’ve paired them with my sophisticated brown knee high boots, and a flowy deep green top. He has a love for motorcycles, so I’ve convinced myself he’s attracted to women in leather. For a little added confidence I’ve topped my outfit off with my favorite leather jacket and a white scarf.

Gosh, I can barely breathe. He makes me feel so desired and I haven’t even seen him yet. It’s been almost a year since we’ve been together. The anticipation has my heart racing, my palms sweating, and my cheeks stinging at the edges of a painfully big grin.

I see him. Finally. Our eyes are locked, a smile arising on his face. A big smile, his I adore you smile that makes his blue eyes light up. The tension within our stare is too strong; I have to break it and bashfully smile at my shoes for a moment.

As I look back up my walk turns into a trot, and soon enough I’m running into his arms. Learning my lesson from last time, I drop my bags before throwing my arms around him. A familiar feeling consumes me, my favorite feeling. His arms are wrapped around me and he’s pulling me closer every second. His hands are firm around my waist complimenting his soft breath against my neck. The world disappears and I am at home in his embrace.

After a few moments his hands slide to my hips and he gently pushes me away just enough so he can look me up and down.

“mmm-mmm-mmm” he smiles, like he just can’t get enough of what he’s seeing.

My cheeks turn a bashful pink and I giggle. Mostly because I am unable to contain the fireworks of excitement which are exploding inside me, but partially because I can’t fathom why he desires me so intensely.

His eyes find my lips and he leans in like he’s done so many times before. This is the moment I’ve been fantasizing about for months. I can’t believe it’s happening so soon. He usually lets the tension build for hours and then finally releases me. This is a delightful surprise.

He leans in slowly. His hand slides up my side making its way to my neck. My breath quickens in anticipation. We are almost nose to nose, and I can’t take my eyes off his lips. He looks up into my eyes, saying everything I’ve wanted to hear without ever uttering a word. He slyly bites his bottom lip, and I know he can’t resist me for much longer.

His thumb cradles my jaw, and he pulls my lips to his. It’s a simple soft, I adore you kiss. We relish in the moment for a few seconds. But it’s not enough, we are both at the brink, and need more. He dives in, kissing me harder, pulling me against him with the hand that has been gently resting on my hip until now. I’m a mess of emotion, my sudden need for his connection is overwhelming. His passion for me is overpowering. I’m finding it hard to keep my knees from buckling underneath me. As if he can read my mind, his hand swoops around my back, and I’m all his. His other hand moves to the nape of my neck, allowing his fingers to gently tug on my hair to pull me closer. Simultaneously he softly bites my bottom lip. He pulls away from me, letting his teeth linger on my lip, slowly pulling it towards him. You can hear our breath in the air. The small space between us is too much to bear, and his lips are quickly on mine once more. Our lips are entwined, emotions running wild, craving each other, completely lost in our own world. We’ve forgotten our surroundings and everyone who must be staring. Lost in passion, he’s all I need. In that moment, he’s my everything, and it’s ecstasy to have him back.

As we walk to the car, I know we won’t get very far before the need to kiss consumes us again.

Roe V. Wade

At nineteen I moved away to college with a heavier load in my car than my parents could have ever imagined. My 05′ Nissan Altima backed out of their driveway piled high with my belongings, and an all consuming unspeakable truth; I was pregnant.

I was finally driving towards the dream I had been chasing for the previous eleven years. In a few short days, I would be stepping on the field in a Chico State Uniform as a collegiate athlete. A vision I had been curating in my head since I was nine years old. The euphoria was palpable. I just had one rather large hurdle standing in my way.

The decision to terminate the pregnancy was immediate. Prior to being intimate with one another, my partner and I had many conversations about what our intentions were and how we would handle the potential consequences that come with engaging in sexual activity. We weren’t in a serious or exclusive relationship, but we respected the potential risks enough to discuss them with open and honest communication. Throughout our relationship, we took the proper measures to prevent pregnancy, as our goal was to experience pleasure and deepen our connection, not to conceive. So, when we found out I was pregnant, the decision was a fairly straightforward one. We still took the time to consider our emotions as this was now a reality not a mere conversation of what ifs. We discussed our options, the roles we would play, and how they would affect our futures. Ultimately, any other course of action would’ve derailed my trajectory and that simply wasn’t an option for me. I had worked far too hard to let anything keep me from becoming a collegiate athlete, especially when I was so close to attaining it. Despite the access I had to support and resources, my mind was made. With the support of my partner, I had all the clarity I needed.

I went in for the procedure on a Friday morning. An experience I would describe as hellish. It was scary, emotionally uncomfortable, and incredibly painful. It’s a unique awkwardness to sit in the same waiting room with hopeful parents as you prepare for an abortion in your hometown. They allowed my partner to remain with me for most of the procedure, but instructed him to step out for the most graphic and painful part. It will always baffle me that they protected him from a potentially triggering visual, but forced me endure it alone without his support. The lengths they went to in an attempt to shield him instead of making my well-being the priority is quite honestly disgusting.

I spent the rest of the afternoon and following day gritting my teeth through almost unbearable cramps. Pain I was confident would result in my internal organs suctioning their way out of my body via my vagina. Despite the intense pain and orders from my doctor to avoid any strenuous activity, I was back to my scheduled programming within 48 hours. I was on a mission and I didn’t have time for a scenic detour. Sunday I drove back to college and by Tuesday I was on the field competing for a spot on the Chico State Softball team. I understood the risks, could feel the pain, but forged forward none the less. Nothing was more important to me than attaining my goal.

Carrying my pregnancy to term would have stolen eleven years worth of perseverance, hard work, and identity from me. It’s terrifying to think about the situation I would have been up against had I not had access to safe termination options. I was dead set on carrying out the life I had planned for myself. I would have gone to any length to keep that dream intact. I would have chosen abortion, legal or not. The emotional and physical trauma I would have had to endure without trusted options would have been crippling, and possibly deadly.

I’m proud of the decision I made for myself at that point in time. I’m impressed by my dedication, and the tunnel vision I had acquired to become a collegiate athlete. I see so much strength, intelligence, and self-awareness in how I moved through the entire process. I knew exactly who I was and what I wanted. Now, I’m 33, single and have no children. For all I know, my terminated pregnancy could end up being the only chance I get at motherhood. Still, If I could go back in time, I would make the same decision, over and over again.

I share this story as a child of adoption. I was put up for adoption by my birth mother when I was five days old and adopted into the family I now call my own. My existence would have never occurred if my birth mother had made the same decision I did. Even with that reality, I still full heartedly support her right to choose, and every other woman’s to do so. 

Since the leak, my veins, my heart, and my mind have been racing with an array of fervid emotions. It has taken an immense amount of emotional strength to write this piece with clarity. I have intense opinions and vehement words surrounding this overturn. However, my purpose for this piece was to remind you that you love somebody who has had an abortion. In fact, you most likely admire, look up to, and respect someone who has had an abortion. I think it’s imperative to put an identity to the people these changes could impact. As humans, we tend to act with more empathy and understanding the closer the issue is to our personal reality.

“This (topic) comes with a million flavors of heaviness for a million different women in ways others can’t possibly imagine.” – Amanda Armstrong. (@amandaontherise, Instagram, May 6, 2022). 

Disclaimer: Abortion is a type of healthcare and it should be normalized as so. I don’t believe anyone should have to explain their choice in order to make it more palatable, even though I chose to do so. This is my story, and my truth. I am not ashamed of it. I will not debate it or receive any negative commentary.

Could It Be Me?

It’s been 8 years since I’ve been in a serious relationship. Eight years of first dates, exclusive relationships lasting a few months, and failed second chances. Eight years of feeling like no one is up to par, and rarely engaging enough to break my 9:00pm curfew. Eight years of feeling like I’ve been lenient enough in my standards to give people a real chance but simultaneously upholding my needs because I know my worth. Eight years of taking the blame because my standards are “too high”.

It’s also been eight years of standing in my own worth. Eight years of putting myself first and learning to love the uniqueness of my facets. Eights years of making my own plans and living on my own schedule. Eight years of taking care of all my own needs; independently developing the tools to self-sooth, regulate, and process the hardships that come with living. Eight years of tucking myself in, leaving the party solo, making the long drive alone, holding back my own hair, and autonomously managing all adult responsibilities. Eight years of turning to myself in the mirror to celebrate victories and to wipe away the tears. Eight years of leading the charge to create the life that keeps me fulfilled.

It’s hard to fathom how I can want something so desperately and be so content without it at the same time.

I’ve met three or four men who have held my attention for a few months or over several dates, however, that spark just hasn’t ignited. A spark that I don’t necessarily believe in. My days of religiously watching Married at First Sight has made me believe that relationships can take work, and for some couples it’s worth it. I also believe it should be easy, everything should just fall into place with proper communication and similar core values.

Instead of a spark, over time I develop a heavy weight deep in my chest. A feeling urging me to look inside myself and pay attention to my heart. To check in, and discover if I’m genuinely interested in him or simply the idea of him. An urge to ask myself if he truly adds value to my life and my being, or is it just comforting to have someone to cuddle with at night. I’m head over heels in love with the life I’ve created and the person I’ve grown into. Adding to its worth and mine is a tall order, but I full heartedly believe that I shouldn’t be settling for anything less than that.

It’s been eight years and hundreds of dates. At some point, you have to look the other way and ask, could it be me? Is my worth so tied to my independence that I can’t bear to part with even a sliver of it? Have I built my self worth so deeply into not settling that I don’t even allow myself to try? Do I land too far apart on the spectrum for anyone to balance? Is it impossible to give me what I need behind closed doors while allowing me to keep my independent persona in front of others? Are my walls too thick to be penetrated because I’ve been happy on my own for so long? Could it be the fear of settling itself that keeps me from giving anyone a true shot?

but then again…. maybe I just haven’t met you yet. 🙂

Conflicting Body Images

Paradox: “A seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true”.

The paradox of my personality continues, this time as it relates to my experience with body image.

Do you ever separate your body from your experience? Are you able to experience the world and ignore the constraints of your skin while doing so? As I’ve grown older and wider, I’ve gained this fragile ability to separate my mental body image from the experience I’m having. It can be a shocking awakening when someone snaps a picture to capture the moment and I’m reminded of the vessel I’m experiencing this world through. To some, the idea of body image being so intimately intertwined to experience may be novel, but for most women this is an every day reality.


On the contrary, gathering information from conversations with friends has shown me my body image is opposite of most. Commonly, women tend to force an uglier perspective on their internal picture. With me however, in my head I’m 40 pounds lighter with longer, lighter hair, clear skin and flawless makeup. Catching myself in the mirror on a bathroom run can be a rude awakening. Even with that said, it’s not as morbid as it sounds. I don’t hate the reflection I see in the mirror; it’s simply not the one I have in my head.

Over the years, I’ve been told by mental health professionals that this paradoxical perspective I have is impossible; ashamed and confident can’t exist simultaneously. They probe and insist I need to look farther into the depths of my psyche to find my true emotions. However, this is my reality, both emotions simultaneously.

On the one hand, I’ve always loved the proportions of my body. I adore how womanly my curves are, especially unclad. I’m enamored with the thickness of my thighs and how they give way to slender calves. I’m obsessed with my silhouette, especially when adorned by tousled hair.

The faint morning light illuminates my silhouette as the towel gives way to my curves. The empowering vision ignites an endless internal dialogue of self love. Sexuality. Strength. Pride. Appreciation. Beauty. Tousled hair falls gracefully to caress my shoulders and frame my smile. My eyes twinkle as they catch the energy from my grin validating the self love. Sexuality. Strength. Pride. Appreciation. Beauty.

On the other, I despise the way I look in most styles. The majority of clothing is made for the “ideal body”; it isn’t tailored to accentuate the measurements of my unique curves. The designs tend to cut me off in the wrong places, changing the lines my body is meant to appear with.

As I sit with jeans jarring their way into my adorned belly button I’m plagued with a self-sabotaging internal monologue. Shame. Disgust. Anger. Embarrassment. Hate. My bra, worn from the load it carries, continually gives way sliding down my shoulders towards my elbows. Pressing on to finish the days duties, I can feel my neck crease with rolls, another provoking jab adding kindling to the flame. Shame. Disgust. Anger. Embarrassment. Hate.

I’m also aware that bodies my size aren’t always given the appreciation they deserve. They come with instant judgements of lazy and weak. A snap shot that dismisses the athleticism that allows me to spend my weekends on boards and the greatest memories of my life as a collegiate athlete.

It’s fascinating how much I believe my weight takes up residency in other peoples psyche, like they spend all of our time together repeating the dimensions of my body as we make memories. I logically know how preposterous this is because their body hardly registers in my consciousness. I see their heart, intelligence, humor, interests and our history when I view them. I see them as whole with the highlights of their appearance that I love; their eyes, hearty smile, or dimples.

Naturally, there is the trap of comparison as I notice their dress falling gently over their hips as mine strains not to bust a seem. I notice they can wear shirts with deep v’s and not look scandalous while I’m stuck appearing as if I’m begging for sexual attention… from anyone. I’m envious of their skin tone, and how it compliments playful colors, while I feel constrained to neutrals.

Could this paradox be the result of growing up with catholic values, a household where sexuality and pleasure weren’t celebrated, to say the least? Do I bring that shame into the depiction of myself? Secretly loving my voluptuous build, but associating it with aspects of a person that aren’t valued. Is it the toxic media I grew up with as a teen, depicting personally unattainable body ideals in popular fashions? Is it the disgusting obsession of our society that places a women’s appearance as their most important asset? Is it the commonly shared view point that voluptuous and classy are conflicting ideas, subconsciously teaching me to love my body behind closed doors, but loathe what it portrays in clothing?

It’s a whirlwind of thought.

Maybe, I truly do love my body and all it allows me to do, but the constant fighting of societal ideals sometimes erodes my confidence leaving a trace of doubt in its wake.

Needy and Owning It

As my 33rd birthday inches closer, I’m reminded to reflect on how much I’ve grown and where that’s led me to. The most coveted part about growing older is the depths my relationships have taken on over the years. They are dynamic and sometimes difficult, but ultimately beautiful.

Those who know me well, understand and accept that on a typical scale I register on the needy end. A word that in the past made me cringe. A trait I tried so desperately to hide through my twenties. A mere shell of the “gooey” human I am today. It’s true though, and I can now stand in its power. I need a lot of validation from my relationships. I need it from my friendships, family relationships, and intimate relationships. Connection is a core value in my soul and a pillar to my happiness. It’s what makes my life worth living.

I adore the way those I’m close to fill my emotional tank with love. A day rarely passes without a random “I miss you” or “I love you” message scrolling onto my home screen. My heart explodes knowing I have an open invitation to the occasion no matter what’s on the agenda. A reminder that I am always welcome and escalate the experience for those around me. I cherish spontaneous Venmo’s for $10 with instructions to treat myself to a coffee. My heart swells, spending quality time filled with meaningful conversations, our phones tucked away, out of sight. It’s the, “just checking in” phone call to ensure I’m making it through okay. The simple response to a message, even if it’s days later. It’s reaching out to me for help, unknowingly validating my strengths. It’s a 10 minute transition warning followed by an “I made it home” text.

In reflection, I can see why this need developed so strongly over the years. I grew up traveling the state and country playing competitive softball with the one day dream of becoming a collegiate athlete. I had dozens of people surrounding me taking stake in my potential. My self-worth was consistently validated as I was needed as a player, a teammate, and a friend. I had coaches, teammates, and parents doting on my every move; supporting me, challenging me, and pushing me towards my goals. I was taking part in something bigger than myself that counted on me. As I got older this reliance only intensified, not only was I a teammate socially and competitively but we grew into family. We lived together. We spent most of our waking minutes together chasing the same dream we had as kids. There were dozens of tiny moments each day that validated my worth. Seeing my name in the starting line up, hearing an “I believe in you” from a teammate, getting a “Job well done” from a coach, helping a teammate study for an upcoming test, and having a designated “throwing partner”. The list goes on. I was surrounded by people who understood my worth and valued it. They relied on it. They relied on me; I relied on them.

These relationships were unique; relationships without a fitting word to describe their depth. Our worlds were so intertwined. We shared so many roles in each other’s lives which allowed us to see and value a variety of characteristics. We got to see each other frustrated, on the brink of failure. We got to see the vulnerable moments when we missed home, but pushed forward anyway. We got to watch each other push through physical limits to reach a goal. We showed up for each other first thing in the morning and we stayed together long into the night. We saw each other at the tipping point, stressed and cramming for a final. We saw each other fail. We saw each other in pain. We also got to celebrate together when we finally tasted victory. We had the opportunity to see each other’s intelligence on full display in the classroom. We watched each other pursue laughs and love. We saw each other in the best of times, the worst of times, and all the times in between. The vastness in this perspective paired with a common goal gave way to an indescribable bond that further validated my self worth.

In my experience as an adult it’s rare to have worlds that are so intertwined. My life is now more segregated. My colleagues have the opportunity to see my demeanor with children, intelligence, and ability to collaborate. My friends hear of these things, but don’t get to witness it first hand. They see the social instigator, the fearless adventurer, and the caring friend. My worlds don’t seamlessly collide like they used to, therefore it takes conscious effort to create deep connections. I feel so incredibly lucky and proud to have found and created the support system I have. The “You’re doing great sweetie” and “Just a reminder that I’m not mad at you” texts will forever fill my soul. They are a reminder of the conscious decision we make to have the hard conversations and ensure our relationships are meeting both needs. Thank you for loving me so endlessly. The grass really is greener where you water it; my little patch is thriving.

Finding Solace in SIP

Just joining me? Be sure to read part 1 of this blog here: Being an Extrovert in the COVID19 Nightmare.

4.20.2020 Relying on False Hope: It’s amazing how much our experience in the present is dependent on our view of the future. Sometimes I find myself, dare I say it, enjoying the lull of quarantine. Reciting mantras of this being temporary, recognizing the uniqueness of the experience, and dreaming about the festive reunions that are to come are my buoyancy. Blindly fantasizing about summer outings and a classroom filled with children in the fall makes room for gratitude in these still days. Fogging the awareness of reality with false hope supplies me the resources to cope. I have the tools to emotionally tackle one month of quarantine at a time. Trying to process the possibility of this being reality for months, or dare I say a year, is too bleak. I’ve found comfort in false hope. The teacher in me is praising this thoughtful use of the chunking strategy.

4.25.2020 Mourning Butter and Eggs: You should be here. We should have fresh manicures, and even a slight hangover from the excitement of our reunion last night. I should be neck deep in self-tanner and mimosa’s, panicking about the outfit I’ve had set aside for the last month. We should be blaring music through the backroads on the way to my parents house, giddy with anticipation for the days festivities. We should be playing 3 flies up with champagne corks and competing in slosh ball before we make the trek to the epicenter of the parade. There should be pictures, and smiles, and priceless father-daughter laughs. About this time we should be melting in a beer garden, inviting strangers into our circle for the days adventures. We should be galavanting around the city exchanging high fives, hugs, and greetings as we search of our next refreshment.

The weight of what could have been is heavy today. It’s created an uneasy rhythm that I can’t find the beat to. Nothing I do seems to fit my mood; I’m wading through conversations and activities only to find myself unfulfilled.

5.2.2020 SIP extended. Sonoma County residents may walk or bike from home to nearby parks for walking, hiking, jogging, and biking. You must stay 6 feet away from people who are not members of your household and must wear a facial covering when you cannot keep that distance. 122 active cases, 2 deaths, 128 recovered in Sonoma county.

5.5.2009 Taco-pocolypse: I simply wanted to document the hilarity of the instant change in alcohol delivery laws due to SIP. In the 1920’s alcohol was prohibited, in 2020, alcohol is considered an essential need during a pandemic. (No complaints here.) Need margaritas for Cinco de Mayo? No problem, they’ll be at your door in 25-30 minutes. Well, except when celebrating Cinco de Mayo during quarantine. The holiday created what local foodies called, a “tacopocolypse”. It seems that everyone was looking for a reason to have a fiesta. Local restaurants were slammed with curbside and delivery orders; two hour waits for every Mexican restaurant in town!

5.7.2020 122 active cases, 4 deaths, 167 recovered in Sonoma county.

5.9.2020 Quaran-dating Welp, I hopped back into the dating pool. I fired up my Bumble account and went hunting. I stumbled upon a handsome gentlemen with similar interests who was willing to abide by the shelter in place orders as we got to know each other. (A rare gem). Our first two FaceTime dates lasted hours. The conversation was endless; we could have talked long into the evening. Our conversation found depth quickly; we found ourselves solely focused on one another with the void of a bustling restaurant. We found connections on levels one wouldn’t expect to divulge on a first date. It was a refreshing remix to the banter that typically ensues on a first encounter. Another silver lining to the ways of life in quarantine.

5.11.2020 Walking the town: My favorite perk of quarantine is the extra time I have to go on long morning walks with my coworker. We spend hours touring the town, seeking out new neighbors to walk through, and ally ways to explore. We zig zag through block after block of homes, analyzing the decor and making hypothetical changes. It’s incredible the new things you notice on each house even after you’ve passed it everyday for two months.

On one of our weekend walks we came across a house with beautiful woodworkings laid across the front lawn. Tables, chairs, stools, benches, and corn hole sets all intricately handmade from pieces of wine barrels. A sign proudly declared it was a quarantine project and everything was for sale. I instantly fell in love with the corn hole set. It had such character with the spout hole from the original barrel in the center of the board. He even installed lights underneath the scoring hole so games could be enjoyed at night. They now happily live in my backyard underneath our new string lights. If we can’t go to The Block for beer, we decided to bring The Block to us.

5.15.2020 Physically distanced dating: The ease of conversation lead us to meet up for an appropriately distanced date. We walked to town for a curbside cocktail, meandered back and enjoyed a few games of corn hole in the backyard. To my surprise, the virtual chemistry we curated didn’t carry over to our in person rendezvous. It’s hard to decipher what the cause for lack of chemistry was. Could it be we created a false intimacy via FaceTime and weren’t able to match it with any physical intimacy due to the circumstances? Could the physical distancing simply be weighing on me psychologically? Logically I understand the distance, but emotionally I think it might subconsciously cause me to be less interested. Maybe it’s simply the stresses of quarantine that make me less available to a romantic interest. The lack of chemistry isn’t exactly a deal breaker, I’m game to try again, but the stark contrast between our connections was unexpected.

5.22.2020 Stage 2 of re-opening. Restaurants open for outdoor dining. 256 active cases, 4 deaths, 207 recovered in Sonoma county.

5.23.2020 Dare I say thriving?: I recognize my privilege to even utter the thought that I’m thriving in quarantine. I couldn’t be more grateful to still have a job, life’s necessities, and access to those I love. Speaking strictly of my mental health however, I am thriving in quarantine.

I’ve come to love the lull of my new routine. The time I can dedicate to my favorite form of exercise, walking, has exponentially changed my perspective on SIP and life in general. I adore the hours I get to spend chatting with a coworker and meandering the streets of this beautiful town I live in. I have found the time to make the things I need a priority. I have always struggled with balance, for many reasons, but a few those are my addictive personality and my love for being around people. I often get stuck in over indulging in a particular past time because I come at it with so much passion, a typical Aries trait. I crave connections, so when offered an invitation, I almost always say yes, despite my possible need for something more introverted. I hold social connections at such high value that I often neglect my needs and pile my plate with a surfeit of social gatherings. During shelter in place those opportunities cease to exist, so naturally I’ve been filling my tank with the things I love to do. I’ve gotten to spend hours writing without distraction; forming pieces over consecutive days, a luxury I didn’t know pre-Corona. It takes time to acquire the mind space needed to write; I have to consciously leave my daily routine thoughts and drive into an area that is more creative, vulnerable, and still. It has been a treat to have this time without feeling like I’m missing out on something else. I’ve finished three books over the past two months, quite the feat for myself. I’m a distracted reader who tends to bounce from book to book; quarantine gave me the time to sit and read for uninterrupted hours. I even finished an entire book in one day, an experience I should have had on my bucket list. I’m no longer frantically scheduling zoom hangouts to ensure that each moment of my day is filled with connection. In fact, besides my duties at work, I’m only participating in one social zoom hangout a week. (Thank you trivia team! I would not be able to run virtual trivia without your energy. It is SO draining to entertain without you!)

5.29.2020 Privilege: I had every intention of posting this portion of my blog this week. However, with the murder of George Floyd it seems superfluous to be sharing my SIP experiences. This seems like the perfect ending point; it’s time to put my energy towards recognizing my privilege, becoming an anti-racist, and joining the movement for the change. I hope you do the same.

Maybe She’s Just Not That Into Him

You know what’s exhausting? The sigh filled replies I receive after divulging, “I don’t think I’m interested in seeing him again”. It’s always the same: “Give it more time”, “Give him a break”, or “You’re just too picky”. I know their sentiments mean well, but haven’t I earned the respect to trust my own gut? After all, it is my heart and my future experiences that are on the line in this circumstance; there’s no better judge of whose worthy of those things than myself.

Some may label me as a “serial dater”, however I simply strive to put my best foot forward in finding my other half. Going on weekly dates has been my path of choice to do so; with tools like Bumble at our fingertips it’s fairly easy to connect and test out the waters with potential suitors. I have been single for the past six years. Except for the short lived relationship I explored last summer. A relationship which honestly was driven by the unspoken pressure of those aforementioned sigh filled responses. (Sorry 2.0, if you’re reading this, although the allure was present, you and I both know we were on two opposite ends of a teeter totter without hope of finding level ground). Over those several years I would assume I’ve tallied up around 100 first dates, along with a hand full of seconds and thirds. I’ve done the research, I’ve analyzed the data and sometimes, most of the time, the chemistry just isn’t there. There’s something to be said about trusting your gut. That little voice in your head, the tiny tinge in your stomach that keeps whispering, “this isn’t it”. Once it starts, it only grows louder accumulating evidence.

Could I occasionally use a nudge to overcome a subpar first date? Sure. But contradicting my analysis after every single date is tiresome. It’s more of a judgement on my character than that of the man in question. It’s as if being single for an extended period of time correlates to a flaw in my character. So much so that I’m blamed for my lack of interest. Suggesting I need to give it more time, I need to give him a break, or I’m too picky. I don’t want to give him a break, and I shouldn’t have to. I’m not going to click with every person I date, and every person I date isn’t worthy of my time; it’s just not how it works.

So please, for me, and all the other single and searching girls out there, stop reacting to our disinterest in ways that discredit our worth. Maybe I’m just not that into him and that’s completely okay. 

The Diaries of Small Town Fate

A few months ago I was forced to look for a new roommate as mine was moving to the city for a new job. With skyrocket rent prices there’s no way in hell a teacher like myself could afford a two bedroom townhouse within walking distance of downtown on my own. Unfortunately, the timing wasn’t ideal as the holidays were approaching so potential roommate choices were slim.

I hadn’t had much interest in the room – who in their right mind looks for a new place to live so close to the winter holidays. Finally, I got a very promising inquiry from a female who was about my age. She had a stable job, a typical social media presence, and we even had a few common connections on Facebook. She was currently living with her cousin and wanted a place that was closer to town. Things were looking up!

We quickly messaged back and forth trading pleasantries and important financial details of the living arrangement. No red flags! We set a date to meet up to ensure we were a compatible fit and hash out the other details. She could be the one.

…Then I get a text message from a mutual friend of ours. “She’s the cousin of your ex-boyfriends wife”.

Uggh … Are you kidding me? I desperately needed a roommate so I trudged forward, annoyed and baffled by the chances of this common connection. I followed up with a few questions: “Are they close?” “Do they see each other often?” “It wouldn’t be weird, right?”. He replied in his typical humorous fashion, “Nooo, they aren’t close at all. They are all just living together right now”.

(Excuse my language but….) What are the fucking odds?! As I giggled though my frustration I couldn’t stop shaking my head. Seriously, you can’t make these things up. Curse this small town (that I love so much)!

I contemplated the reality of a slightly awkward living situation for the rest of the morning. I weighed the financial benefits with the emotional ones, the stability against the uncertainty, and the relief to the continued stress. My ex and I left things on great terms and we share mutual friends … but did I want our circles so closely intertwined?

Ultimately I decided that it was probably better for all parties involved if we we kept a few more degrees of separation between us. Through frustrated giggles I sent her a cordial text explaining the funny, yet deal breaking situation we had on our hands.

Hey again. Thanks for your time and for considering renting the room in my apartment. As small town fate would have it, I put two and two together that you have a close relationship to my ex-boyfriend and his wife. We’re all on good terms but I can understand how this could potentially be an awkward situation haha. It’s probably best for everyone if we consider other options. Best of luck on your search!

Turns out she had also connected the dots. She was apologetic that she hand’t noticed it sooner. We both laughed at the unlikely hood of our encounter. We wished each other well and continued on our quest to find a suitable roommate.

Being an Extrovert in the COVID19 Nightmare

Week 1. The fear of social isolation: Contracting COVID19 doesn’t necessarily scare me. I’ve had a strong immune system my entire life; I grew up with my mom working as a nurse, and now I am a special education teacher. I have faith that my body has what it needs to fight it. (I know that others aren’t so fortunate). The social distancing and quarantining, on the other hand, terrifies me. I am completely in support of it and am hopeful that following the guidelines will slow the spread of the virus. However, the logic in it doesn’t make it any easier emotionally. 

As someone who gets anxiety the minute work lets out on Friday if I don’t have social plans for the weekend, this COVID19 situation is literally bringing some of my worst nightmares to fruition. As much as I adore summer break, being out of a routine that gives me regular human interaction, is when I hit some of my lowest points. I struggle, on a regular basis, with too much alone time; it sends me into a dizzy tailspin of negative catastrophic emotions. 

Over this past weekend I celebrated my birthday. I was surrounded by a group of my closest friends that I would consider my family. Over the three days at our family cabin in Tahoe we snowboarded behind 4Runners, we partied (careful to not spread germs), we laughed, we sleeping bag slid down the stairs, and we genuinely had the time of our lives (while washing our hands every few minutes). Even on that high, I went to bed crying twice, woke up teary once, and had episodes of deep fear, that my friends so kindly talked me out of, throughout each day.

Day 1 of being home and I’m hit by a reality that is eerie. My friends went home to roommates who have become good friends, significant others, and family members. I’m currently living alone and the indefinite timeline of being by myself is hitting hard. My parents live close, but I’d rather steer clear as they are over the age of 60. In this time of uncertainty it’s healing to band together, but with COVID19 it’s socially responsible to be apart.

For this extrovert who so deeply depends on social interaction for happiness, the fear of being isolated is paralyzing. The spiraling thoughts of those I love avoiding me in fear that I am carrying the virus is enough to kick start an anxiety attack (causing shortness of breath which in turn convinces me I may have COVID19). Excessive worrying that I will unknowingly pass it to my parents, or other people I love, who it may be fatal for is excruciating. That kind of alone is unfathomably hard to contemplate.

I’m already missing hugs, I’m already missing high fives, I’m already missing bad 1st dates. I miss crowds and shared experiences. I’ve had the tv on all day “watching” various shows, but I’ve barely tuned in. I have been so in my head about what to do next? Where will our world be in the near future?

I’m more grateful than ever for technology and the ability to spend my upcoming birthday playing virtual kings cup with my friends. It will be a much needed distraction to the worries of COVID19. Hoping to find more peace in the upcoming weeks. 

3.16.2020 the City of Petaluma is shifting to an “essential services only” operations model beginning Tuesday, March 17, and continuing through April 6, 2020.

3.18.20. Fear of COVID19 itself: Fear got the best of me last night. I typically go to bed around 9 and am up by 8:00am (when I’m not working). I love my sleep. However, last night my mind was reeling with fear of losing those I love. My grandpa is in his 90’s and felt isolated before COVID19 broke; without the proper skills to navigate technology he’s even more isolated than we are. He’s stubborn and social; I’m terrified that he’ll expose himself to this virus and we’ll lose him.

My mind went to really dark places with my parents. My mom is a nurse, the fear of her being exposed, and then also exposing my dad is a thought that makes my skin crawl, my heart sink, and my eyes immediately tear. I couldn’t shake the fear of possibly losing multiple people that I am so attached to. Life would be so incredibly different, empty, and hard.

3.19.2020 Clinging to a virtual social life for dear life: Craving social input with the depths of my soul. Doing my best to stay social through Zoom get togethers; scheduling virtual happy hours every chance I get. The Zooms are wonderful, they fill my world with so much comfort and happiness. The endings however, are jarring. They are abrupt; suddenly I’m all alone again in the quiet of my bedroom.

3.20.2020 The envy of “quaranteams“: It’s hard to not be envious of other peoples “quaranteams” with the ever present platform of social media. I’ve been living alone in this “shelter in place” order for the past five days. It’s awful and isolating. The only thing keeping my head above water is walks with my coworker (10 feet apart). It was uplifting to realize the outdoors weren’t closed.

My new roommate moved in yesterday. I can’t tell you what a mood lifter she has been. Just to have another body in the house completely changes the energy. Although I’m so grateful she’s here, I’m still envious of those stuck at home with some of their favorite humans: husbands, family members, and friends. Quarantine would be a completely different experience if I was alongside a good friend. I’ve been fighting this feeling with zoom calls filled with drinking games and close friends, but it’s never the same as having them here in person.

3.22.2020 Isolation birthday celebration: Today was my birthday. I’ve been dreading this day all week. Turns out I have a pretty amazing support system of friends. The zoom call that lasted 7 hours was really more than I could have asked for in these circumstances. We had a blast catching up, playing kings cup, sharing quarantine stories, and changing our backgrounds. It was definitely a birthday I’ll never forget and I’m so grateful for the happiness they brought to me. I love you guys, so much, thank you.

It didn’t completely pass without its lows. Towards the end of the day, after a fair amount of beverages, sadness set in. Tears bubbled up. I wasn’t going to get hugs from my family. We weren’t going to spend a night out at my favorite restaurant. I was craving closeness, and in these times it just wasn’t possible to have. Last minute plans were made; I did see my family, we did eat dinner together (6ft apart in the garage), my mom made me a delicious cake, and it did lift my spirits, but it was so hard to not physically be close.

3.23.2020 The new order closes all parks located with in the County of Sonoma until at least April 7 or until order is lifted.  Stay 6 Feet Away: If you do need to go out to access essential services, such as groceries or medical care, make sure to stay 6 feet away from others. Get In, Get Out: When going to stores for essential items, do not linger and shop.  Though it may be tempting after being cooped up at home, this is not a time to browse!  Please get what you need quickly and head for home – this is for the safety of you, store employees, and other customers. Take Extra Care with Youth:  Youth have been called the “hidden carriers” of the disease because they often do not show symptoms.  While it is extremely important for everyone in the community to stay home, it is imperative for children, teens, and young adults to do so. 27 active cases, 1 death, 1 recovered in Sonoma County.

3.27.2020 A much needed distraction: I stopped documenting for a while for two reasons. One, this has been a complete emotional roller coaster and documenting my thoughts became chaotic. Two, tracking my thoughts made me painfully aware of them and what I really needed to emotionally survive this uncertain time was distraction. I’ve found that in finally getting back to work. …Holy moly. I’ll never forget what it was like to be a teacher during this instant switch to virtual learning. Talk about a roller coaster ride. I work for a title 1 school and our first step was to make sure all of our students had equal access to the curriculum. This meant lending out Chromebooks, securing wifi hot spots for families, serving daily lunches, sending home pencils, markers etc. It’s been incredible to watch how school staffs immediately found ways to support all their students from a distance. This past week has been one of the most overwhelming weeks I’ve ever experienced as a teacher – yes that includes my first year when I was still in school full time while teaching as an intern and head coaching a competitive tournament softball team, giving private lessons, mental game coaching, and managing a social life. Nothing can compare to the mental chaos that ensued as I desperately tried to figure out how I was going to virtually meet my students needs and IEP minutes. Let’s just say that at one point I calculated it; if I did it by myself and individually met every one of my students mandated minutes I would only have to work 34 hours a day… Yes, you read that correctly, 34 hours a day. Thank dog for the support of my coworkers. Flying the plane as you build it isn’t the most effective way to travel, but it was our only choice.

3.29.2020 The waves of social distancing: Yesterday I hit a hard low. Throughout this social distancing period I’ve recognized that riding the emotional waves of quarantine is really challenging. The pit of the wave I tussled under yesterday was my lowest yet. I couldn’t shake it. The more fun I tried to have the more sadness crept over me. It finally sank in that this isn’t over, and it isn’t almost over either. I haven’t hugged or had any physical contact with another human being in over two weeks. I really miss physical closeness, especially hugs.

I waded through that sadness. I sat with it, I cried with it, I slept with it, I stared blankly at my walls with it, I drank with it, I puzzled with it, I watched my favorite shows with it, I zoomed with friends as it loomed over me. It was everywhere and I couldn’t escape it. I was heavy, everywhere, with no end in sight.

Today I forced myself into turning over a new leaf. I had to. I wasn’t going to make it through this quarantine without a different mindset. I got up early and went for a good long hike with my aunt in the rain. It wasn’t hard, but hard enough to make me tired and sore. Beautiful enough to make me appreciate my surroundings. Rainy enough to match my mood and wash away the endless heaviness. Long enough to change the pattern in my breathing and force soulful inhales. Challenging enough to send endorphins swirling through my veins. Endorphins. There you are. I needed you.

I took the long way home. I drove through the rain in the redwoods. I came across peaks and took in breathtaking views. I cruised alongside the ocean in awe of the vastness. I ignored the notifications. I breathed. I drove. I listened. I was present. I was still.

Upon arriving home, I took a shower. Made a cup of warm coffee. I continued to ignore my phone, and watched a favorite show while listening to the rain. Staying present. Staying still.

As dinner rolled around I FaceTimed with a best friend. She supported my need for an extravagant dinner. A curbside delivered beautiful Italian spread accompanied by a favorite bottle of red wine was the perfect ending to my day. A Sunday that reset me. A day that taught me in times of overwhelming emotional stress I have to be selfish. I have to take care of my mind, my body, and my soul before I can do anything for others. I was almost on a high as the day ended. I felt hopeful. I had faith that I was in control of how I felt despite what happened in the world around me. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I knew I could find the peaks if I worked for it.

3.30.2020 Fighting for peaks: I did it. I found a flow in quarantine. I set a schedule and stuck to it. I’ve implemented things I never thought would be apart of my daily life. I woke up early and walked as the sun cast itself onto the city. There’s something about mornings that just breathes life into me; there’s a quiet that can’t be heard at any other time. There’s a sense of endless potential to chase. I came home and sat in meditation, watching my thoughts without judgement. I never thought I would be one to mediate, but it allowed me to accept and cherish being still. I worked my normal day and then rewarded myself with some downtime once I finished. I even did a second workout with my best friend via Zoom. I cooked dinner and then spent some social time with my roommate. I kept the high, I stayed within my flow. I felt in control. I felt like I could do this.

3.31.2020 The power of “and”: Doing both, seeing both, and embracing both has always been a personal challenge. I tend to see the world through a lens of “or”; I’m weak or strong, I’m confident or self-conscious, I’m high or low, this is miserable or fantastic. I’ve deemed the facets of my personality mutually exclusive adding to this perception of consistently being all in or all out. Facing the challenges of quarantine with a mindset of “and” has given me the emotional strength I needed to take care of my needs. I was reminded that I can feel both grateful for this extra time and disappointed that I’m missing out on the things being canceled. I can be hopeful for the coming days and scared that everything feels like it’s falling apart. I can be thankful for the distraction of work and overwhelmed by its demands. I can be angry at the circumstances, but also appreciative of how they are making me grow.

4.1.2020 It’s not social distancing, its physical distancing: The words we use to speak to ourselves in the private of our own conscious are important. We’ve been inundated with the term “Social distancing” by the media. However, it’s not social distancing that keeps us safe, its physical distancing. Social distance sounds lonely, emotional, and isolating. Physical distancing on the other hand, rolls off the tongue in a more logical manner that seems doable. In these times, the mindset of social distancing can keep us from turning to the people we so desperately need to make it through these uncertain times. There are no limits to how emotionally close we can be to those we love; we just can’t physically be that close. I’ve even found that some of my friendships have soared to deeper levels. We’ve shared fears, tears, peaks, laughs, and secrets through virtual platforms that we may not have been prompted to otherwise.

I have a friend that I’ve always adored, but wouldn’t necessarily categorize her to fit into the best friend, ride or die, do anything for you category. Through COVID, we’ve found connection, we found safety in our similarities, and we’ve found comfort in being vulnerable to one another. Now, she would be on my list of first calls if I ever reached a dark place. The growth in our friendship is stunning, it’s gorgeous, it’s priceless. Our connection is something I will hold onto for years to come, long after all of this has ended. She will be the reminder to always look for the silver lining, even if it feels like the world may be ending.

4.8.2020 The night I became a howler: At first I didn’t understand the howls. I thought they were odd and random. However, when I was finally prompted to tune into their sounds one evening, my heart grew towards them. In a peculiar way they reminded me we aren’t alone in this. I felt so connected to my city, my community, and everyone out there keeping this world running while the rest of us are doing our part by staying home. Its a feeling I almost can’t describe in words.

My house is located about a mile from downtown. When the clock strikes 8:00pm theres an undeniable undertone of howls in the air. They aren’t distinct, but they are there. You can almost feel the gratitude in the air as the soft wave of howls blankets the atmosphere. As the minutes pass my neighborhood chimes in, adding howls from each corner. A coworker shared videos of her neighborhood during the howl; what a joyous occasion. The entire neighborhood lights up with howls. Her adjacent neighbors adorn their porches with cowbells; some bang pots and pans as they walk down the streets. They cheer thanks and praise into the air for all of our front line workers. It’s the most beautiful and unique reminder that we are all in this together.

4.9.20 The safety of Isolation: I have yet to enter a store or any public place of business since March 13th. No grocery stores, nothing. Everything that comes through my front door is doused in disinfectant and fixtures that are touched regularly throughout the house are consistently being wiped down by my roommate and I. Staying home, being vigilant about washing my hands, and physically distancing myself from others on my walks has given me peace. The peace of mind that it would be highly unlikely for me to be carrying the virus. A peace of mind that I couldn’t find when all this started. That first week of being stuck in the house, I continually convinced myself I had it. A cough here, the occasional shortness of breath there; I was sure it was coming. Shelter in place has given me an extra safety net and a sigh of relief. For that, I am grateful.

4.10.2020 COVID19 hits home: It was a Thursday evening. My friends and I had just finished virtual trivia and were enjoying a post game drink via Zoom. One of the squares went noticeably quiet as a dear friend of ours took a moment to read a text message. It only took a few seconds for the rest of us to realize her absence wasn’t typical. The text message was from her mom. They were at the hospital with her grandma who is 93; she was experiencing a fever with a cough, and had just tested positive for COVID19. Our hearts collectively sank. Grandma lives in the house next door; she has dementia and is easily confused by new circumstances. She would have to be left alone at the hospital to be treated. Our hearts shattered. We couldn’t even fathom what she could be feeling, but we were heartbroken for her. Tears welled in our eyes as the reality of COVID19 vividly made its presence.

That night I prayed my heart out. I spoke, I begged, I cried and I pleaded to a god I’m not sure I believe in. My mind spiraled with what ifs through my deepest efforts to stay hopeful. I clutched my phone, ensuring that I could immediately respond should she need comfort. Sleep wasn’t an option; I had to keep hoping, I had to keep sending strength. I had to feel the fear and the pain, like somehow if I did she wouldn’t have to.

4.12.2020 The comfort of a shared experience: As this all unfolded in early March, the term “new normal” didn’t resonate with me. I wasn’t ready to accept what my days in quarantine would look like: I didn’t want that kind of life, even temporarily. To my surprise, I’ve found a sense of comfort in knowing that we are all having a shared experience. Yes, I’m not able to go out and live the social life that I typically have, however, I’m not missing out on that social life either. FOMO, Fear OF Missing Out, is a large driving force of my anxiety. However, 30 days into quarantine, I’m finding comfort in knowing there’s nothing to miss out on. We are all in this together. It’s the epitome of a shared experience.

4.15.20 A Tiger King Low: I hit a new double feature quarantine low today. I taught myself my first TikTok dance. Not only did I stoop to the levels of a TikTok dance challenge, but it was none other than the Carol Baskin TikTok dance. “Killed her husband, whacked him…”

4.14.2020: The Sonoma County Health Officer has issued a new Health Order requiring that everyone wear facial coverings to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) locally. The Order states people must wear a facial covering before they enter an indoor facility other than their home, any enclosed space, or an outdoor space where they cannot keep a distance of six feet away from others at all times. 

4.16.2020 Quarantine Silver Linings:

  • Finding comfort in being still
  • Deeper and more genuine connections with friends/family
  • Wednesday lunches with grandpa and family
  • Appreciation for the simple things
  • Gratitude for the outdoors
  • Time to be lazy without guilt
  • Morning walks

4.17.2020 Holding onto hope: Nobody was quite sure what it meant, but we were all grateful it was happening. My friends grandma was responding to antibiotics and had almost no symptoms. She was coming home. This was incredible news, our hearts fluttered with relief.

Unfortunately, it was followed by an update that her mom had also tested positive, yet she wasn’t experiencing any symptoms. Mom and grandma would quarantine together next door and fight this battle together. An unexplainable blanket of certainty consumed our group as we received the updates. Grandma has survived cancer three times; she’s a warrior and has undoubtedly passed on her strength to the rest of the family. They are going to beat this.

4.18.2020 Exponential Productivity and The Most Epic Ice: It hit me all of a sudden, an urge I couldn’t ignore. I needed to accomplish; I needed to cross things off my list and check boxes on my checklist. It started in the garage; I cleared everything out into the driveway. I purged, I organized, I reminisced, I re-arranged, and I cleaned. About half way through the organization extravaganza an Instacart delivery came to my door. I hadn’t ordered anything, and neither had my roommate so I was surprised to hear it was for me. Confused, I asked where it was from – BevMo. I immediately knew this delivery may not be in my favor. I laughed as I asked if he could tell who had ordered it. He informed me that a note on the order read “From Madison”. We both laughed as he handed me the grocery bag; inside was a 6 pack of Smirnoff Ice and a handle of Fireball. I had been Iced in the most epic way during a pandemic while being quarantined. I bowed to the ingenious idea, got on one knee and shook my head as I tanked the first bottle. Our group chat erupted with laughter.

I finished the garage, half of the backyard, the downstairs closet, and the entire 6 pack of Smirnoff Ice by the end of the evening. (Documenting each chug for my group of friends along the way). I had finally caught the productivity bug that everyone else seemed to be experiencing during quarantine. The sense of accomplishment at the end of the day sent me off to bed at ease yet eager to check off more tasks in the morning.

Part 2: Finding Solace in SIP

The Mask of Anxiety

She walks in, the life of the party. She can drink with the best of them like fun is her only life’s desire. She’s impressive, slightly intimidating – keeping guests at arms length – but genuine. She’s all smiles like her heart depended on this social gathering. What they don’t realize is her heart actually did depend on this gathering. Her invitation was a reminder that she mattered. She promised herself that she’d prove her worth the moment she walked through the door. She needed to prove her worth, as they had to her so many instances before; this was her love language. At first they fawn over her ability to be all fun all the time; nobody can match her enthusiasm for moments like this. The pictures are epic, the games are innovative; this is her calling, she is home. As time wanes on she tries her best to match the nights natural regression… but as everyone mentions turning in, its an all too familiar reminder. She is alone. Her heart races as the doubts cloud her logical mind. She’ll do anything to avoid that familiar silence. So she pressures on… One more game, one more drink, a few more laughs…but she only drives them further away. They can never fulfill her needs; they’ll never live up to her standards, and she can’t to theirs. The night ends in the most genuine of fake hugs…the love is real but vastly misinterpreted on both ends.

What I wish people could understand is that my anxiety isn’t me. Just like when you fall ill and you’re a little less energetic, a little less full of life, a little more sensitive and a lot more subdued. Anxiety is the same; it’s a facade that clouds my true intentions. It takes over like the plague and forces me to succumb to its doubts. It’s not me. It creates an uncertainty in how I am perceived. My actions with and without anxiety are almost identical, but the motives are entirely different.

She walks in, the life of the party. She can drink with the best of them like fun is her only life’s desire. She’s impressive, slightly intimidating – keeping guests at arms length – but genuine. She’s all smiles like her heart depended on this social gathering. Her soul soars at gatherings like this. They are an authentic reminder of how thankful she is to have these humans to do life with. She knows they love all facets at her, but lets be honest, they all know she has a love language of outrageous laughter, ridiculous games and unpost-worthy pictures. The interactions are the catalyst for her enthusiasm, they give her a high that is unmatched. The pictures are epic, the games are innovative; these are her people, she is home. As time wanes on she tries her best to cherish each moment before the night begins its natural regression. She offers one more game, one more drink, one more laugh, just in case there’s one more memory to be made. Eventually the night concludes, as it always does, and the loves her life all exchange the most genuine of hugs. With a sloppy smile she turns in and reminisces on the events of the evening as she fades into a sweet slumber.

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