22 February 2010 § 1 Comment
Everything is real. The view outside the window. Those are really mountains. The books on the shelves were pressed in Toronto, New York, London, San Francisco. The gallon jug of water on the credenza is to help hydrate the first night – the Crossover – the slow and painless descent into the Numb you will feel for the remainder of your natural life.
Against the rules, I am brought through this world – as a tourist, as a vigilante, as a prisoner – to see and experience it firsthand. No one wonders. No one reads those books. There are CDs, tapes, records and the machines and speakers to play them, but the only sound in the air is that of footsteps. All the people here move slowly, deliberately, with purpose. The restaurant has servers that bring you food, just like Outside.
Interest is against the Rules.
Creativity is against the Rules.
Even the vehicles are real.
The resident rooms are mostly the same. When one arrives, they have a preprogrammed roommate. He will say that he is from a small village in Western China, on the banks of the Nu River, which is the Salween downstream in Burma, or whatever they call it these days. He will say that he trades stones and handmade ornaments for American baseball cards.
He is an American, caucasian. An overweight twelve-year-old from Indiana, Kansas, Southern Illinois with a corresponding accent. China is his story though, and he does not know that it is not true, and the newcomer never questions it. There is no reason for it to not be true, so it is (this is how They judge how fit one is to be released into ‘society’).
I spend my last coherent evening in this room thinking about the future I could have had. Who was I out there?
The first thing They seem to take away is the ability to feel strongly, passionately about anything. I was a poet. A photographer. I traveled to countries where I could not speak the language, just to find out what would happen when I tried to communicate. There was a girl out there. I was supposed to see her today – her name was Katie. We would have driven far into the mountains, or to South America, just for fun. We would have drunk bottles of Shiraz, or Sauvignon blanc, watched a film, laid in bed philosophizing between endless minutes of kissing, or comfortable silence, body worship. I think I loved her. And she will never know that, because I am in this place, and I do not need such things anymore.
The Indiana-China boy is rattling off his story. He is told to shut up, is ignored, and finally he goes to sleep. There is something in my head that is trying to crawl out –
…on the roof, as we tap our heels about –
and I am speaking aloud, to the walls. The sound flutters between them and is ugly. It bothers me only for a moment. I’m a bit tired. What was I saying? I was telling the Chinese boy something. Maybe not.
Lie down on the white cotton sheet bed. Close your eyes. Tomorrow, you’ll wake up and everything will be okay.
You won’t think about war, death, or love. You will feel, of course, happiness and productivity and accomplishment. Teamwork will make you stronger. We encourage the sharing of peaceful stories – stories of simple things. The pleasant breakfast you had in Cafeteria this morning. The fairness of yesterday’s match. A successful day at the Council Office.
I have been shown this world and it is a mistake. It is a crime against Human Nature to breathe this air – this manufactured, cloudcreating air – to feel this constant ease. Passion and wonder are enemies here. The gentleman with the subtle and charming British accent (forever implacable for he never says much at one time) will approach us. He will be carrying a syringe that will represent the end of our lives as we have known them. We will be a part of the Collective Unconscious. It is peaceful here.
We walk past the once-rowdy group of rugby players. They are calmly focused on their sewing machines. White cotton fabric, as far as the eye can see. There is no use for the farsighted here.
This woman I’m showing around is a psychologist, or a psychiatrist. I forget which. I’ve brought her here in hopes of her doing something about it, this criminal place. She seems excited. Her professional, forest green suit and maroon blouse ruffle loudly as she moves about to study the Focus of the residents here. Because I know about the British man and his needle, I tell her to be Calm. Act like a Robot. We are on a Battlefield.
I have not been assimilated yet.
The water in the fountains does not shimmer here. All light seems ambient, from elsewhere. Shadows do not follow anyone. There is little color. no one gets upset when I bump into them as I walk past, or even says Excuse Me, or I’m Sorry. They just go about their business, carrying dishes or whatever. Every room is interconnected. Everything is inside. There are no gardens, no trees. There are windows, and the views seem so real, I could jump out of one and land Splat on the concrete below. And that would be more productive than staying here, enduring the British man with the needle and the silence and the smiles with no source.
We are becoming conspicuous. There must be cameras lurking. They wouldn’t be so pompous to think that whatever their drug or hypnosis is would be so unfailingly effective the results could go unmonitored.
It occurs to me now, my second time in this place, under the cover of my pretend Apathy (for few have a ‘second’ time here), that bringing a shrink into an Experimental Reality may not have been the wisest choice. She is in Heaven. They would not assimilate her if we were caught – they would hire her.
I had brought her in hopes of her understanding the injustice, the prisonlike reality of this place. How everyone acted just the same. How illegal this has to be. Her appreciation and compassion for the fragile mind of human beings would jolt her into action. Her hourly rate would become something tangible, patients worthy of being explored beyond their childhoods of the last part of the twentieth century – the Drughaze Generation, she calls them. Us.
She would be the expert witness in the trial of Their Downfall. She would explain that these people, though seemingly complacent, are being held against their will. That these are Artists – painters, sculptors, writers, inventors of toys and worlds, poets, musicians, collectors, travelers, philosophers, glass blowers, dreamers, and storytellers – people for whom the world exists on a romantic, inspirational level. That their skills and passions and peculiar, aloof perspectives have been taken from them, suppressed, their cognitive awareness arid, transparent.
Playing with dull knives is never fun.
She would explain that while yes, the human brain is malleable, it is considered inhumane to mold one not belonging to you without explicit consent, on an expressed and individual basis. This is an entire society. Reinvented.
To which the defense attorney would reply with a convoluted and rhetorical question about everyone is the place giving consent, knowing full well what the deal was (I will not entertain his vocabulary here). That every artist and musician, whose primary tool is their freedom, yes, every one of them signed on the dotted line. Imagination was too much for them. The art, the music, the words meant so much that they wanted them to just disappear. Vanish.
My expert witness, the shrink, would see though all of this immediately, and pointedly remark on the density of her inquisitor’s narrowminded perspective. Something about materialism and lassitude. She would walk away from the witness stand victorious. The Defense Council would hang their heads in shame, for they know of their loss. And we would have our Dalis back, our Hendrixes, our Vonneguts and Darrells and Smiths and Thompsons and Kafkas. Their deaths were well constructed. Fitting, even.
But they never happened.
I am playing the part, and acting it well. I am the Angel’s Advocate. This is my personal Railroad, my path to Enlightenment. I have made an awful mistake. Judgment has been compromised. So I keep her on her toes, as if there is violent and fiery danger around every corner. I try to keep her attention on the Ethics of the thing, so that her mind doesn’t wander to the wasteland of my own thoughts.
She is in Heaven.
For a few careless moments, I lose my own Focus. We are in a public Living Room, decorated with mass-produced still lifes that use just enough color to get the point across, and not a shade more. On a brightly lit glass shelf, there is a CD player. On another, books. Unread, but dustless.
It’s a bad habit of mine sometimes, to walk into a bookshop and dislocate the entire day, my fingers running softly along the spines of new and old, hard cover, soft cover, special editions, signed, unabridged, annotated, torn, vandalized, read, owned many times but never opened books that make those trademark, lovely soft cracking and tearing sounds when I flip through gilt-edged pages, as if it was an Encyclopedia Britannica – at least then there would be an excuse for it never having been read. But this is Leaves of Grass. On the Road. Huck Finn. Rousseau. Eggers. Shakespeare. This is Blasphemy, Cultural Ruin, the puzzle pieces to my joy and elation.
I’m always looking for the Poetry. Sometimes the section exists, other times I smirk at our absence. Underground Superiority: a façade for my disappointment. Those thin an numerous volumes by authors I’ve never heard of, will never see again. Poems, by ______. Tumbling Down the Stairway to Heaven, by ______. Sunsets: A Collection of Poetry, edited by ______. Through the Mirrored Woods: Poetry by ______ (1976-1993). These are typically the books one can pick up, read one or two haphazardly chosen pieces, and essentially know the rest. Poets tend to stick to their styles, especially in the same book. Consistency and all. Sometimes the style is rhythmic and inspiring and it is quickly realized that a gem of infinitely greater value than gold is spreading wide open for you to indulge in its intimate secrets. That you are holding beauty in your dry and cracked hands. Blood and scars and pen marks, nails cut too short. Ink is your connection.
Moving on to make sure they have the quintessential, my eyes scan the shelves and every emotion is registered and loved and every memory held onto for just a moment. Poe, Dickinson, Ginsberg, Hopkins (often a ghost), Neruda, Whitman. I might open one, flip to my favorites quickly because I know this edition and just so I can see the words in print instead of just in my mind’s eye: Here the Frailest Leaves of Me on 109, Spelt From Sibyl’s Leaves on 86, Lost in the Forest on 132.
I’ll roam the shelves for hours, following only my instincts, smiling at old affairs, remembering the job I was fired from for reading The Savage Detectives, the missed phone call about my grandfather’s death because Hand was talking to the lady in the airport about World War II and I couldn’t peel away for the chiming bells, a marathon romp inspired solely by one unerotic but lascivious sounding passage from Up in the Gallery, the exploration of every available intoxicating substance available in a meager attempt to keep up with Raoul Duke and his attorney. These are the chronicles of my life, and I visit them often. Twain, Thoreau, Hesse, cummings: my childhood friends – Tilbury Town the community I was raised in. Valentine’s 1945 in Dresden my awful family vacation.
I pick up one of the shelved books and flip through the pages – back to front (I’m lefthanded). I read a paragraph, and am lost. My Plight of Freeing Passion has been absorbed by this dangerous book. The shriveler is looking at a couple sitting at a table, studying them. I know this moment will be the end of my life.
I tapdance to the CD player, and intently place whatever CD I first pick up in the slot. The volume is up. I run over to the forestclad scholar, tell her to get the hell out of here. It’s over. Tell the story. Write the song.
She’ll be caught and offered a signing bonus. She’ll probably up the Ativan dose for Pablo. Zoloft for Hunter. I tell her to please give me Cyanide. Quizzical look. I’m done. She’s frightened. Panicked. She runs in her heels for the wide and shadowy stairway. It leads to the real world, one with epic mountains and irritating mosquitoes and grizzly-sounding Aussie poets and homicidal whiskey. One where there is freedom to rhyme in everyday conversation and paint masterworks with tomato sauce. To run your fingers over a flesh and blood sculpture and then go create one from clay. To play and laugh and dream and swear and gamble your favorite hibiscus shirt away. That, over there, is the Stairway to Heaven, and the notes within it may well be the Portal to Aural Expression, or even Divinity itself, but Jimmy Page is in here, insuring the soilent green is fit for human consumption.
Here comes the man with the British accent and the needle. He says something to the tank of a man walking with him.
The accent. He’s from Leeds.
18 February 2010 § Leave a comment
The ice we walked across was thin – footholes reaching into the black abyss below frequented our sight, but didn’t bother our sense of danger. Just around the next bend, we would be fine – as if the water wasn’t as cold there, somehow the tropics began their arctic takeover on the other side of this mountain.
The iceflow gave way. I ran to the edge of it and leaped my ill-prepared self across the dark blue below, knowing my feet would find the solid bit of slush on the other side, but considering little as to what the rest of my body would do. Most everyone in the group, this discombobulated crew of egoists and misled adventurers, out for a winter holiday in Iceland, the newest of the Caribbean Islands, was ahead of me, and didn’t speak my language anyway. They wouldn’t have understood the discordant caterwauls emanating from their most recent obstacle – one they seem to have gotten past just fine (why am I having so much trouble with this?) – because they already shed their boots and waterproof shells for piña colodas on the other side.
I am swimming uselessly in bordered water that multiplies gravity by ten or a thousand. It pulls me down, but I am not cold. The guides were lying. Common sense is the new scrap metal. My pack is small, absent of convenient tools for this situation, and there is a giant ferry coming toward me. Between the mountainshore and I it will pass quietly and quickly, without notice for the failed and fake ShackletonScott below.
Just then, my arm is gripped by someone else who is miraculously not swimming but is holding steadily onto the iceshore. At such a pivotal moment, I find it necessary to look around me, to take in the lovely view around this lake or ocean, the tundra covered mountains, the newly planted Caledonian forests, blue sky to the east and dreary grey to the north, nothing to the south. This mountain casts a shadow over me from my backside, and I wonder why it’s there. I am pulled onto the far bit of ice I had leaped to by this woman in a yellow and black coat. I am judged. I give her a thank you kiss for saving my life and she blushes.
She turns away and the icebreaking ferry passes by again, not breaking the ice enough to move as quickly. I decide to take the mountain route to the other side, and it turns out that I probably should have done this to begin with. The climb is relatively steep but easy, and though my crampons seem to have appeared from nowhere (for I had none in my pack), they help greatly.
When I reach the other side of the ridge, the sun shows itself again, and I am at the top of a violent glacier. Not one of those beautiful and smooth ones the helicopter flies up with the camera and you get to see a cloud surface in high definition. No, this is ruptured and cavernous. Crevasses every third step, and it is often a ten metre vertical climb to gain three inches of horizontal advantage. Have you ever seen a lava tree? The volcanic substance surrounds the tree, burning it alive in a claustrophobic space (we humans have sometimes adopted this technique and used it on people we don’t like much). But by the time the tree is ashen, the lava is cooled and is now a cavesurface, the previous root system now a stoneprotected micemaze. The ice seems to have done that here, to trees that have never grown, to humans gone sedentary, having looked for their misplaced hope to find only shimmery blue frozen chalkboard to serve their final lesson. The snow erupts in slowmotion rage, boulders of water at the tipping point of some awful destruction.
This is no place to inhabit. This is no place that we humans have the audacity to invade – and yet we do, looking for something that we cannot conquer, and gladly dying for the chance to.
The cabin was once well-built to suit to dynamic structure of the ‘ground’ – it looks more like a treefort, wood panels placed where they can fit, others cut to size, and hopefully the ice will not crush them when the glacier sneezes or shakes. But it is serviceable and there is a bed and a stove inside, to some purpose of survival, I’m sure. But I knock on the door anyway. Shave and a haircut. I never name the price.
A very healthy looking clone of Robert Downey Jr. opens the makeshift door. The detail of his goatee tells me that he is here by choice, or that he is too vain to not maintain his appearance even under the most dire of circumstances. His hair is gelled, for chrissake. He is too welcoming. As if I was walking down forty second avenue and knocked on his condo door, inquiring about directions to the nearest petrol station. I want to rent a film out. Don’t worry, I’ll make this journey to return it, this pleasant and lovely sidewalk. You may want to shovel it if you’d like to keep your customers, however. Just a suggestion. He invites me in for coffee. I ask for tea.
Soon I am in that black mustang, or alighting from it, and there is an elevation change to far from me. We are in the American Southwest, but the characters in the story dictate that we are even farther south than that. This ancient building and its lofty basement. The secret safe in clear view. Ceiling height bookshelves, cabinets, red Persian rugs sprawled across the hardwood floor. The stone fireplace is my saviour. I wonder why it is fashioned from marble. I discreetly hope, to the offer of some scotch, that this is not the marble house with the replica sculptures outside it. I will check later, in the restroom, to see if there is a round window.
I accept the crystal glass and we, Downey and I, speak of the thrill of climbing mountains, the allure of desolation, the vanity and frivolous nature that draws us toward it. Yes, it is a test, but the only passing grade is appreciation. Success is only survival. Self-induced. Out here, in the world, success is a matter of bullshit – how much hard work others see you accomplish instead of how much is actually done. I agree with him, unsmiling.
He mentions it first, that horrid word that keeps me from pursuing mountaineering on anything more than an idealistic, selfish level: conquer. Conquering is what William did, swimming the English channel with a sword that never touched the water, singlehandedly slaying every breathing opposing force, and building his castles with one eye and a broken big toe. Atilla conquered. Alexander made it into reality television. Caesar. Genghis. Adolf made a reasonable attempt to. Coronado did so bitterly. But what did they conquer?
Downey raises his hand, as if in school, with a sardonic smile, and blurts out the answer. I think about his name for a moment, and that he climbs. It occurs to me that I do not know his name. I have given this name to him, because Socrates didn’t fit, but neither did Amedeo or Mallory. People.
You see, despite what the Discovery channel may spew as truth, despite what the National Geographic writers (who must love their jobs fervently) may enthusiastically pen, there is no comparison between Reinhold Messner and Genghis Khan. Not K2 nor Everest, Annapurna, Gasherbrum IV, not even St. Elias, Blackburn, or Denali have been truly conquered by any means by man or woman, but simply have been visited by a number of ambitious climbers, wanting to feel the wind on their face and to enjoy the panoramic vista for a few minutes.
For those with the illusion that they have defeated a mountain by summiting its peak, Downey and I laid out a theory. Winds on Denali have been recorded to have reached 148 degrees below zero, Fahrenheit. Mt. Washington in New Hampshire has witnessed 231 mile an hour winds. The lack of the jet stream is a primary factor on Summit Day on Everest. If any one of these winds blasted the face and body of some adventurer while on a knife-edge ridge, the results would be rather logical. Crawl outside your Bibler tent in the middle of that blizzard you’re waiting out. John Grisham will be read a dozen times before you see the sky again. The idea is to survive, and if one can barely pull that off, conquering is still a long stretch of highway down from that. Exit at Sesame Street.
By our fourth glass of scotch, the sun was falling and we were back in his cabin on the glacier. The books we had been consulting all afternoon were a memory, reshelved in that elegant library. I had forgotten to check the restroom. The cold was setting in, and I had to be off for the evening. There were northern lights to capture in my glass jar, to take home with me for bragging rights and children’s nightglow. A stone can be from anywhere: the moon, the Nanga Parbat descent, a Paris graveyard, the Berlin wall, the local playground. Alone it is not important, but the concept of this fragment is the salient memory, what it represents, in legendary or mythic form, is a personally written history book – not necessarily for the the indulgences of others and their studies, but the results of the test are catastrophic and wise.
Our theory, in retrospect, was full of holes and became quite blurry by the end of our discussion, but the general idea was transmitted, despite the protruding spires and inconvenient walls of the glacier to block its reverberation. We had succeeded in something, though to pin down exactly what it was would destroy its authenticity forever. So we left it alone, and said our goodbyes. This landscape would introduce her true intentions to me soon, and even if it was a dream, it’s best to be prepared. Which I am not.
13 February 2010 § 1 Comment
divided, thin and twisted waves bounce and reverberate
between the blended constellations before returning
here with seven condescending years of winterwishes
(and a poet’s compass-sense of mindful rhythms)
The dragon’s cave has been penetrated: our godzai’s-only rules are broken not just by sonnet length and the boastful ways of the villainelle, but by our decision considering the inevitable and what will come of it. They’ve kept us under lock and key, ball and chain, and isolation. Left to get high from a lack of oxygen or from rockdust that once served as pens, markers, and little plastic keys, we are hiding behind the written word in our smiles and contented silence.
9 February 2010 § 2 Comments
It is early in the morning, and we will soon walk our friend’s daughter to the bus stop. It will be her first day of school here. She will confide in me alone, while he is off retrieving a hat to cover her ears, that she does not like living here. She will have been crying for some time, although quietly, and convenient circumstances will make me the only one to notice. She will brush off my expectant inquiries. She will not wipe her tears, and she will be silent. The only thing I will think of is her indomitable show of strength. She is six years old.
She and I are at the bus stop talking when he arrives, announcing that it will be another few minutes before the bus will be there. She is silent again. He lights a cigarette, wraps his long coat around her to block the wind. I stand nearby, wearing a sweater that is ineffective against the negative wind chill. I am unprepared to stand at a bus stop. But I will endure, because she showed me her strength. He leaves to get the hat. She tells me quickly how she came to be here. Her story is filled with the name of her mother, rather than Mom, articulate and concise phrases of thought I doubt I was capable of at that age, and a matter-of-fact account of her dad being in jail for beating up her mother, and her living with Grandma. I hear truth, and I tell her so. I tell her that I’ve been there, I’ve lived in places I’ve hated – a thought crosses my mind that she did not use that word – and I’ll do what I can to get her out of it. To make things better. Her tears had melted me, and I was angry and sad and frustrated with her.
I wonder why adults find it prudent to think they know a child’s best interests – that before the age of eighteen, a human being is incapable of reason, of logic, of knowing what is good and bad for them. I pull her hood up over her long, dark hair to keep the gusts out. She arranges her hair underneath it with ease, finesse. Of course there are a few years in which kids are teenagers and prove that they cannot be trusted with butterflies or plastic knives, but before that, it is a matter of logistics, not logic, that rules their lives. Custody battles and assault charges and trashed houses serving as new homes. Foster homes and therapists. Eating cereal out of measuring cups. Smell the milk first.
He arrives with the hat. Putting it on her head, he says that This is Daddy’s hat. I look at her, knowing that our mutual friend is not her Daddy, wanting to see some reaction. So do we want to Lose it? She shakes her head. There is not sign yet of the sun or the bus. She is a warrior, this little girl. She will survive, whether she stays here or goes back – she will grow up a stable element in shattered homes: when her parents and elders of all sorts will have lost their minds, she will have hers, and she will make an extraordinary escape with it, never to return to this cold and icy world. She will refuse her mother’s fate. Her ambition will topple buildings in their stead. Her spirit will not be broken. For that will be in her control. I will do what I can for her. I will hate myself for not being able to do more. For not doing more.
The bus approaches. Memories of the smoke-filled house drift away with the exhaust of the diesel engine in the cold, flourescent air. There is snow under our feet. Stained carpet no longer. Things Bought no longer matter here. Her tears insure that her Love cannot be Bought. I want to get on the bus with her, to tell her stories, to take her away from this, to have my first bus ride again. But I do not, for the bus will do that job. She will sit and think about how to get out of this place, and at school she will Focus. Her mind will not be here. And in the afternoon, while riding bus 37 again, she will dream of getting off at a different spot, wishing that it somehow, miraculously, went by her Grandma’s house, so that everything would be okay again. And soon she will be back here. Everyone will be awake then, and she will not cry.
8 February 2010 § Leave a comment
No one has a grasp on time anymore. The baby’s wail is a dry and constant sound – not high enough to truly irritate our senses, but consistent. It is just past the realm of drone, barely into that of Annoyance. And thus, we must focus our attention to it. It demands us.
The darkness is getting to be less now, but without a sense of balance, the nights are just as long. There are nightmares here, and there are monsters under our beds. We have reason to be scared. There are criminals of every set of laws about, and they expect with pride an impact stemming from their salesmanship and service. We require them for our entertainment and our fear. Discussions will severely suffer without their existence, their penetration into our lives. Unless they are one in the same.
5 February 2010 § Leave a comment
Many years have passed since we last walked these streets together. It was snowing then, with a persistent ease that let us know that it was not going to end any time soon. For clarity’s sake, it hasn’t. The culture we had quietly deserted is the one we have so influenced now, with our arguments in beatbox languages about the fluctuating condition of the stars, our involvement in human evolution, and our evasively elaborate plans for what’s going to spark fireworks when the snowdrifts finally melt. Maybe we didn’t know it so well then, but everything is subject to not change – we are no different.
The fantasy of that better world we imagined is possible, though it is easier to hold onto through a book. Images don’t change as waywardly over the course those hundreds of paragraphs and yellowed pages as they do with the musty smell of these volumes: I’ve kept them all this time, locked away up here – they are waiting to be written, to be read and absorbed and now we’ll be able to nail Importance to a board and torture it with pretty guns and memories. Don’t be afraid to show it your indignant side: we cannot take the blame for its informality any longer.
On snoworange nights, my home rests comfortably in the midst of drowning relationships and circumstances so unfortunate the gold has taken flight. A moose waits for the green light before crossing the street, but stops in the middle for a coffee and a dirty look. Perhaps some gainful employment can be had there – they’ll pay anyone these days! The prices of things are dropping, so let’s hold a festival to celebrate the dying of the dollar and if our dignity is still intact, a bitter and drunken one night stand should complete the task: post-sex, pre-morning exit. A basket case is rambling down the avenue, luggage and homeless sign in tow – we will love him and her for their sacrifice, devotion to our hopeless plight. We are no better, no more precious, and no sooner do we emerge from the weeds than he finds himself some audacity. To ask for what he wants, that scoundrel, what pretension!
Gleaming from some stupid beacon in the middle of this mess, it’s asking me – What do you really want to say? And I want to know – what this It is that is asking me this? It is depending on redundancy to make a valid point and it has it in the palm of it’s hand. Let’s call it a Her to make things more intriguing. I’ll take her to the vast and unforgiving Patagonian landscape I’ve talked so much about recently, and we will play card games in the wind and sleep within the snow, create the riverportals to the sea, avoiding it for altitude and other godly things.
It’s happening, I can feel it once again – but at least I’m in a place where I can find some sense in it, some realignment with the horizon: it is wide enough that I may play without a place to go, and this hotel suite overlooking an industrial cityscape, sparse with life, is a fitting reminder that while the sky is sometimes the sea, the snow is sometimes the sky, and now I know that winter has taken its hold. I will not abandon it so soon.