Sweet 16

•May 11, 2020 • 1 Comment

Today May 11 2020 is my daughter’s 16th birthday.  It’s gonna be a great day.  We won’t be able to celebrate the way we had hoped because of the ‘Rona, but we’ll still do fine enough.

It’s got me thinking tho.  I’m kind of between mission_accomplished/melancholy in how I feel about it.  My baby girl is 16 today.  My baby girl’s Sweet 16 is going to be hella better than my 16th was.

My therapist would call what I’ll write next as “unpacking”

First, go back to this post : Happy 19th Anniversary Ironically enough, that post on July 4 2011 was just shy of the beginning of my sobriety on Aug 16 2011.  This Aug 16 will be 9 years when we get there.

Quick summary tho if you don’t feel like clicking – July 1992 mom dad and I are living outside Ramstein AFB Germany, having lived there since late 1989.  I wake up Saturday July 4 1992 and my parents tell me they’re getting divorced.  My 16th birthday is later that same month.  We had moved to Ramstein from Panama City FL, so a week or two later we were back in PC going thru the motions of the ‘rents getting divorced.  We still had friends in the area so that was a comfort.  After that we’re back in Germany packing up our stuff to move.  Mom and I head back to a different part of FL to start our new lives, and Dad stays in Germany.   There.  You’re all caught up.

Since it’s my daughter’s 16th tho, it amazes me to contrast the life she’s had versus the life I had and how different my situation was compared to hers.  I guess I’ve always subconsciously harbored a desire to not have my kids go through what I went through.  Divorce doesn’t just affect the husband and wife, it’s a divorce for the kids too.  My wife and I were on that path because of my drinking, but we’re much better now.

Anyway, I thought I’d start laying out a contrast of my life versus my daughter’s and try to remember as much as I could regarding that summer in 1992.

Me : Born in the Northern US, moved to several different locals after

Daughter (D) : Born in Southern US, moved to several different locals after

Me : changed schools 5 times between K-12

D : changed schools 5 times between K-9

Me : changed schools middle of 8th grade from US to go to Germany.  Life goal not to move my kids during middle or high school.

Me : lived in foreign country middle of 8th grade to end of 10th grade

D : has been in same locale 6th grade to present in 9th grade in the US

Me : got to see a lot of different parts of Europe, Middle School into High School

D : got to see a lot of different parts of the US, Elementary into High School

Me : finished 10th grade in Germany, woke up morning of Saturday July 4 1992 to find out parents are getting divorced, I’m going with Mom back to the states, and then we went to fireworks that night as a family.

D : got held back between K and 1st grade so is in 9th instead of 10th, and ya it’s not July 4, but still, a parallel can be drawn.

Me : July 1992; my parents are getting divorced.  Imma try and lay out my memories as best I can from that Saturday morning till moving to new place in FL with Mom after divorce.  A lot is clear, a lot is fuzzy.

Saturday July 4 1992 – notification of divorce, fireworks that night.  I invited a friend to come with and we walked around hanging out and I let him know.

Some point after (SPA), next week maybe – weekly Choices Youth group meeting, I let everyone know what was happening.  Thoughts and Prayers received.

SPA – I call my friend in Panama City I knew from before and let her know I’ll be in town.  We were friends before I moved to Germany and had kept in touch as pen pals while I was there.  Our writings got very deep and sentimental. We agree to hang out while I’m there.

SPA – fly to Panama City from Germany, Dad and I get a hotel room, Mom stays with family friends not too far away from Hotel.  We spend time catching up with them, doing things around town, seeing places we hadn’t seen in awhile.

I have memories of how damn hot it was in Northwest FL in July after being in Germany for almost 3 yrs.  I remember getting KFC from drive thru for the first time in forever.  See, Ramstein had some American comforts, but you take for granted what you have, then lose, only to be refound.  We had a Burger King, but I don’t remember having much else.  We didn’t have American Cable TV, Radio, Fast food, any of that.

I remember Dad getting a charter fishing trip as his present to me, I was able to contact a couple buddies of mine from before and they came out too.  Fun day of being on the water and fishing, hanging out with Friends.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a memory of what my mom did, tho I’m sure she did something.

I remember hanging out a lot with my old pen pal.  She helped me in more ways than she or I knew at the time.  She had a car and license so we hung out a lot and she took me a lot of places…In Germany you don’t get your license till 18 so that was a downer. Hanging out at her friend’s house, singing along to RHCP’s Under the Bridge, hanging out at the pier in her car listening to music.  Her jealous boyfriend.  The restaurant we ate at near the mall that had the best fried shrimp I’ve ever had.

I remember getting re-acquainted with Americana.  TV, radio, MTV.  There’s a few songs from that summer that’ll stay with me forever.  Life is a Highway by Tom Cochraine.  Stay with Me by Shakespeare’s Sister.  November Rain by Guns’n Roses.  Under the Bridge by RHCP.

I don’t have a specific memory of the day of the divorce being finalized.  I do remember it was amicable and no contention.  One day they’re still married, next day a piece of paper is signed and boom they’re not married any more.

After the Panama City shenanigans Mom Dad and I went back to Germany to pack up our stuff. Mom and I were going back to FL, a couple hours from Panama City, and Dad was staying in Germany. I remember moving day being contentious.  Dad was pissed at the movers because they were late or something like that so he was being pissy to everyone, Mom and I included.  I remember saying to him just because you’re pissed at the movers, you don’t have to take it out on us (mom and I).  I remember having to take a movie out of his stash from the split while dividing and packing.  He was taking it because he’d never watched it, but he didn’t realize I had bought it with my own money.

When Mom and I left Germany, Dad took us to the airport.  I remember it being surreal.  I don’t remember specifically getting back to the states or our family friends that picked Mom and I up from the airport but they had Mom and I stay with them until Mom got us an apartment. Mom later on found a house to buy in town and lives there still.

I remember the friends setting up a get together for me with a neighbor of theirs who had a pool and a HS age kid.  She got some friends together and invited me over to a get together across the street at her house. One of them I became really good friends with and we were college room mates and he was best man at my wedding.

Then life went on.

There’s prolly a lot more which I don’t remember right now, but if it pops up I’ll be sure to update it here.  All I know is, my wife and I are doing good, our family is doing good, and our lives are pretty damn good.  It’s called doing the best with what you have.

HBD to my babygirl.  Happy Sweet 16 baby, love you to the moon and back.

 

You/I/We are Needed

•May 7, 2020 • 1 Comment

follow up to Being Needed Defines Me

because….ya, that’s how my mind works

Image

….and this

Stuart Smalley Need Me

 

Being Needed Defines Me

•May 6, 2020 • 3 Comments

Had a Revelation today….but let’s back up a bit first.

If you’ve been here long enough you know about my history of alcoholism and depression.  Today May 6 2020 I’m 3 months 10 days shy of 9 years sober on Aug 16 2020.

My dad died Feb 2019 after I had been looking after him for a couple years from having a fall, and dementia, and parkinsons, and etc…

I’ve taken steps to deal with the depression, and most days are good now but the hard days still come.  Late last year I took short term disability from work because bad thoughts overshadowed my day everyday.  Now, with the ‘Rona and all of us staying home and being scared of getting something the stress has been more.

Working from home is going fine, but it gives my mind way too much time to wander and I lack the discipline to reign it in most days.  With a wandering mind comes more thoughts of the pointlessness of life, and nothing matters, and switching jobs, and all that mess.

Well, today in my mindless wanderings I had the Revelation : Being needed is my purpose….I started with that, but it wasn’t quite as slick as I wanted so it has become

Being needed defines me.

When  I’m at my worst I completely forget how other’s lives may be without me.  My wife loses her husband, my kids lose their dad, my Mom loses her son, and on and on and on.  I forget that I am needed.

I’m babe, I’m daddy, I’m son, I’m son in law, I’m friend, I’m coworker, I’m Church A/V guy.  I’m all those and more.  I completely take that for granted and it’s so easy to forget.  I have to get better at remembering that. I am at my most happy when I have helped someone and have their thanks.

So now the cliche’ part.  It’s a Wonderful Life.  Dude wants to kill himself then the Angel (in training?) shows him how everything turns out for the worse without him there, he gets saved, Angel gets his wings.  Boom.  That’s the trick, remembering the times you helped, were needed, were there.  Don’t take those moments for granted folks.

Being needed defines me.  And ironically enough after that Revelation this morning, I went on to have a really gratifying day today helping out several people at work, at home, and even getting an update and thanks on something I helped with a week or so ago.

So ya, there’s the whole Just Shoot Me when I’m Useless  mindset if you let yourself get there, but if you’re getting there just remember the good man.  Just remember the help you’ve been able to give others, just remember their heart felt thanks and don’t take that shit for granted.

To the World you’re just one, but to one you may be the world.

In the chute

•January 27, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Here we are 1 year later counting down to Dad passing away.  I never really detailed that did I?  Closest I prolly got to mentioning it was The Parts of Us and A Retreat of Sorts.  We are in the chute ready to go one year later to work through the rest of the feels.

Today Monday Jan 27 2020 it hit me….today was the day a year ago I got the call and Dad went to the ER.  It was a Sunday.

Around 5 in the evening I get a call from one of the LPN’s at the facility saying Dad had a fall and was going to the ER.  If I remember right, a call came from Dad’s room that I ignored, immediately followed up with a call from the LPN’s phone.  I frequently would let Dad’s calls go to voicemail.  ya, I know…

Dad had been in the Dining Room and gotten up out of his chair unassisted, then tripped and fell into a chair on his left side.  He was sent to the ER.

By the time I arrived at the ER, Dad was still on an EMT gurney and had not gotten a bed yet in the ER.  So, we got Dad situated in the ER, doc checked him out, bloodwork and Chest scan.  I remember too in the middle of it another person came in that looked like an OD right next to us.  It was pretty gnarly.  Dad himself didn’t look too bad but the doc noticed pneumonia(?) so Dad was admitted to the hospital.

He was in the hospital all week and I was visiting him everyday when around Thursday they told me they had caught something else while doing a test….Dad had broken/cracked ribs that had perforated his left lung.  Dad was moved to ICU as a result.

After getting moved to ICU, doc laid the bad juju down…..surgery could be done to fix, but was a difficult recovery and not guaranteed it would be a fix.  Basically, Dad’s lung had collapsed and was filled with blood.  I had to make the choice of doing the surgery or going to Hospice.

I chose Hospice.  So, Sunday Jan 27 2019 Dad went to the ER after the fall, by Thursday’ish Jan 31 2019 Dad was moved to ICU, then Sunday Feb 3 2019 Dad was moved to Hospice on my call as only child and legal guardian.  Dad’s wife had passed 3yrs prior.

Monday Feb 4 2019 Dad passed at 1657 hrs EST.

I was blessed to be with him at the end.  I had been with him that day anyway.  Had a nice lunch with my preacher buddy so I was away for that, then later that afternoon an Elder buddy from Church stopped by to say hi for a bit.  Wife and kids were in school and work that day.  After he left, I was about to go refill my water bottle out of the room when I noticed Dad’s breathing change, and his eyes opened for the first time in a few days.  He was on some pretty nice drugs to try to keep him comfortable and had been sleeping most of the time.

It was like he was telling me it was time.  I was blessed to be able to catch his eyes opening so I went and sat by his bedside and held his hand instead of missing it filling up a damn water bottle.  His breathing continued to change and get more ragged.  I started just softly telling him it was Ok, he could let go, his wife Tina was waiting for him….then he was gone.  I was able to share his last moment with him, just the two of us, my hand in his.

Even tho I knew what had happened, I was still in a bit of shock.  I think I sat there for a little bit, then went and got the Hospice nurse to confirm.  After that was a whirlwind.  Another Elder buddy from Church showed up not too much after and I was able to have my breakdown with him.  Wife and kids showed up too and Dad and I were surrounded by loved ones and friends.

Whirlwind continued after that, making arrangements and coming to terms, to get us to here, today.

I’ve made a lot of progress the last year, but today it’s like it’s all wiped away.  All the therapy, new drugs, new outlook on life…..a big ol gut punch came and knocked it all away.

Sure it’ll come back and I’ll feel better again, I’m sure of it.  But right now, all the fuck this shit everything is pointless is back front and center and in control.

A Retreat of Sorts Day 9 Tuesday Nov 5 2019

•November 8, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Last day of Retreat.  I get to do one last thing up here today, then start packing and head home tomorrow.  I’ve been having difficulty picking things to do lately.  I guess I got my fill, which is a good thing.  So, my favorite thing of all in the mountains is the waterfalls so I decided to look for an easy waterfall hike not too far away.  Ended up choosing the Cascades Trial in EB Jeffress park on the BRP.

The trail itself was spectacular but the drive over was on par or better too.  Ended up taking a 4 lane highway out of Boone east to the trail.  I think I liked that drive as much or more than all the beautiful curvy mountain side driving I’d been doing.  Since I’m writing this post a day after I made it home I’ll also say that’s the route I opted to take to leave and get to I77.  It was spectacular.

The Cascades were beautiful and there were some great views as well.  It was a good wrap to the trip.  Came back to the condo later and packed, burned the last of the firewood, then the next morning finished packing, checked out, and started heading home.

This was a great trip.  I feel much more relaxed now.  The mountains are my jam.  Now integrating back into everyday life and so far so good.  She gave me some homework last we spoke, to start a Gratefulness Journal.  3 things I’m grateful for everyday.  At first I was hesitant, but so far it’s been fairly easy to do.  The point of the exercise is to rewire your brain away from negative thinking towards positive thinking.

Here’s what I’ve got so far

11062019
1. Accidentally finding the drive east of Boone to EB Jeffress and taking it home today
2. French Toast at Bellas Banner Elk
3. Finding Valle Crucis. THAT is my retirement dream

11072019
1. should’ve put this for yesterday but it’s an extension of #1, driving that way out of Boone to I77 I got the best gas mileage ever on the truck coming down out of the mountains. 35, 37 mpg or something like that.
2. Getting to see the fam again today
3. Hugs n kisses getting home from trip

11082019
1. purring kitty in the morning
2. morning hugs
3. blooms on the vining plants on side of house

Glad I was able to take the trip, and one of my next entries on the Gratefulness will be the support of my wife throughout all this.  Thanks Hon.

A Retreat of Sorts Day 8 Monday Nov 4 2019

•November 4, 2019 • Leave a Comment

today was a I have no freaking clue what to do day.

got up around 8am, showered, decided to go out for brekkie because I had an apt at 11am with she. Thought to myself I”ll go out for brekkie then come back and do the video conferencing.

Well, unfortunately, she’s kiddo is sick so she’s taking care and not available. I was already oot and aboot at this time so that changed things a little.  Hope kiddo feels better soon.

Looked up a place to eat at, drove over there and for whatever reason they were closed even tho Skynet said they’d be open.  Tried the place across the street, boom, they were closed too.  F it, so I got on Skynet and found another place nearby and went to it.  It was meh. <omfg your whining and your 1st world problems>

I try to remain grateful for everything I have.  Sometimes I fail.

I’d been feeling like just driving the parkway for awhile so I decided I’d head down to Asheville on the BRP.  Wife called me at one point right as I was coming up on an overlook AND happened to have cell service.  Had a great chat with her about everything and nothing.  Was also informed of her frustration trying to get a hold of her dad and I on the phone.  Kind of like a ping pong – call dad, no answer, call me, no answer, keep going till she got someone.  She got me on the 2nd go round.

Well, the BRP is beautiful and all but after awhile it’s just the same show on repeat.  I got off the BRP at some point and just took back roads down to the interstate and over.  That was nice seeing regular people in non touristy towns driving through.

Made it down to Asheville and decided to eat at a place I loved when I lived there before.  You may recall I lived and worked in Asheville Dec 2010 to March’ish 2011 after being laid off the first time.  The eatery of course was just as excellente as I remember it, and after I just did a loop around Asheville.

Didn’t do Biltmore, or see the places I used to live, but it was really cool driving around and being all like “oh ya I remember that”.  Forgot how much I love Asheville.

Took a northern route out of Asheville a ways then back east to the condo and another beautiful drive on back roads.  There’s more beauty to the area than just the BRP folks.

Tomorrow is my last day here on this trip.  I need to reserve tomorrow afternoon for packing and cleanup so that gives me a good bit of time to do whatever else I thought about and have subsequently forgot.  It’s ok, I’ll figure something.

As always, hope you are well, and TTFN.

A Retreat of Sorts Day 7 Sunday Nov 3 2019

•November 4, 2019 • Leave a Comment

another do nothing day.  mostly stayed in watched tv and had a fire in the fireplace.  Did manage to drag my but out of the condo and down to the activity center and chilled in the hot tub for a bit.  Even played a game of billiards in the tiny pool table they’ve got there.  Was surprised at how little I sucked.  Got some more firewood for the last couple days.

The retreat is wearing on me.  I’m over the hiking, I haven’t ridden my bike I brought with at all.  I’ve had enough alone time for a little bit. We had rain last Wed and Thurs, then freezing overnight into Friday with temps near freezing overnight since.  It’s like I arrived right at the exact peak of color then WHAM the freeze knocked most of the color out at the higher elevations.  If you look down into the valley below you can still see some color but it’s less.

Am just ready to go back to the fam and re-acquaint with the normal everyday.  I’m sure at some point I’ll want to come back to the mountains, but for now I’ve had a nice trip and could go home to be with the fam.

A Retreat of Sorts Day 6 Saturday Nov 2 2019

•November 2, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Mostly good day today.  It’s becoming more difficult to decide what to do with the day.  That’s a good thing.  Part of this exercise was to get away from things to chill out and be able to step outside of everyday life.  Another part of this exercise was to arrive at a point where I didn’t want to be here by myself anymore and go back to my everyday life.

Today, out on trail, it finally hit me….I could go back.  My resvn has me checking out this coming Wed morning and I do plan on staying till the checkout, but today was another one of those you should be here with your family days.  I miss them.  I’ve missed them the whole time I’ve been here, but the shine on the mountains/outdoors/hiking/leafing/etc outshone the longing.

Went to Price Lake today, it’s a nice easy 2.3 mile loop around a man made lake off the Parkway.  Lots of families out there.  Lots of cute little kids with mommy and daddy, as well as plenty of friendly dogs.  Was still pretty wet from the rains of the past few days, but still a good hike.  I was contemplating doing another nearby trail; Green Knob, but it looked like it was going to be moderate/strenuous and my legs were all like srsly? That’s recovery day 2 from almost dying because I’m stupid (see Day 4) for those keeping track at home.

Instead I went over to The Blowing Rock.  Remind me not to be on the parkway or touristy stuff on a weekend again.  Took a bit to find parking, but there’s not much of that anyway.  The Blowing Rock is literally maybe an acre on top of a hill with a rock surrounded by an old Indian Legend you have to pay to see.  Still, spectacular views and a nice little place to walk around before heading back to the condo to watch the Gators beat lose to Georgia.  Shit. Well, at least FSU lost at home to the Canes 27-10 in a game with a line of FSU by 3.  Got a couple nice things at the gift shop for the fam too, I hope they like them.

Have not read, have not meditated.  No idea what I’m going to do tomorrow, or the next, or the next, and that’s ok. No more better thoughts on how to disassociate/re-associate negative feelings with positive.  Actually, I think I speak with she again on Monday so there’s that.

Nothing else cunning or witty to say at present, so TTFN.

A Retreat of Sorts Day 5 Friday Nov 1 2019

•November 2, 2019 • Leave a Comment

know what the highlight of that day was?  Not.a damn.thing.

It was a stay in and watch tv kind of day.  Orrr you could call it an almost died recovery day.  Either way, my wife got her wish that I was very sore so I’d remember to not do something stupid like that again.

Note I spoke about it in past tense because I didn’t even post yesterday.  <deep breath>  ya…

A Retreat of Sorts Day 4 Thursday Oct 31 2019

•October 31, 2019 • Leave a Comment

What.A.Day.

Disclaimer : I am ok

Day started out lazy, hung around the condo in the morning, made brekkie, video chat with she, had leftovers for lunch.  It’s been raining all day and now getting windy and cold tonight.

I ended up deciding I was going to drive over to Twisting Falls, then go to Elk River Falls, then hit up the Old Hampton Store and BBQ for dinner.  Only one of those happened.

2nd Disclaimer : I’m a dumbass

I didn’t read any info about the trails before I headed out, I just decided I would go.  Ya it’s raining but so what I’ve got my rain jacket, extra sweater if needed, Camelbak with plenty of fluids and even a PB&J with some granola’s for some energy on trail if needed.

Twisting Falls is out in the middle of nowhere.  Lots of windy mountains roads with no cell service.  Eventually made it and it’s just an end of the road with a cross bar down so you can’t drive further.  No trail markings or blazes and I had not consulted a trail map or any info prior.

So I start wandering around and happen on what looks like a trail until I get to something that looks like a washed out trail going pretty well straight down a hill.  I say to myself, nah, that can’t be it.  There’s nowhere else to go that way so I turn around and head back to the trail head to try another way.

Another way was just a service road to walk along I was hoping would have an actual manicured trail.  Nope.  Went down it for awhile and resigned myself to the straight down being the trail.  At first I was all logical and like look, you’re by yourself, this looks like a strenuous trail, and it’s raining.  You should just get back in the truck and head to the next trail.  Did I?  Of course not.  I’m too stupid for that.

So I start going down this hill.  Thing must’ve been a 60 or 70 degree decline with all kinds of loose rocks and tree roots.  I ended up having to reverse bear crawl most of the way down and the whole time I’m just kind of delirious I guess bc looking back on it I was not thinking straight.  I came all the way out here, imma see a damn waterfall.  I just keep telling myself, y’know, this is a struggle, and you’re gonna struggle worse getting back up this right?  You know that right? BTW, Strava clocked me at having 760ft of elevation gain by the end of it.

To which a very logical reply issued to the tune of ya but I’m going slow, I’ve got gear, I’ll stop and rest WHEN I need to, etc….

Folks, don’t ever talk yourself into doing something stupid like I did today, out there on a strenuous trail by myself in poor conditions.  No one knew I was there and I had no way of calling or flares or anything.  I could’ve very well missed just one step and be in a mangled cold soaking heap out there right now.  But, I’m not; I’m just damn lucky I was careful enough and listened to my body enough, AND nothing bad happened.

So I eventually made it down the hill, well shit there was still a football field to go upstream to get to the falls.  Not a real trail per se, just holes in the bushes that were big enough to get through.  Everything’s soaked, everything’s slippery, and my heart’s about to jump out mah chest.  So, stop, catch your breath, rest. Ok? Now let’s keep going.

Made it to just before the falls, there was an outcropping of rock I’d have to go in the cold water to get around.  I was already soaked but I still didn’t want to go in that frigid water and make things worse.  The outcropping had a little cover from the now driving rain so I climbed up the slippery muddy rocks and sat in the mud for a good long while just resting and refueling with the PB&J and re hydrating.  I turned it over several times in my head trying to get around the outcropping because I was still in disbelief about the trail.  There just had to be another better way in and out.  Well guess what – when I finally made it back to the condo and read the trail info….nope, that was it.  Really glad I at least made that good decision not to go farther.

So I rest and eventually get started back.  By this time I’m only taking maybe 10 steps before having to stop and rest a sec.  I mentioned I’m a 43yr old fat man right? (thanks hon I know you said it in the most loving way. ) =)

I eventually made it back to the incline and I swear to god it got to be 5 steps and a rest.  Mind you these weren’t just steps.  These are bear crawls where your hands are grabbing roots and rocks while your feet are finding footholds and your legs just have to keep pumping.  (same for up and for down)

Eventually made it back to the truck and was completely soaked and exhausted.  Had to get a tarp out my truck box so I wouldn’t soak the seat.  Glad I did too, when I got back to condo I swear I poured a liter worth of dirty water out of the tarp on the ground.  Had total swamp ass riding all the way back…..felt like I was sitting in a kiddie pool.

Just came back after that and it was one of the best hot showers ever.  It had started getting colder too and stepping out of the truck into a cold wind was……exhilarating?

Dangerous Hike aside, had a good video chat with she this morning.  We talked, she asked some questions so she can send papers to Insurance for STD extension request.  I mentioned I’m on Short Term Disability right now from work because of the depression/shitty life outlook/suicidal thoughts right?  meh?  well now you know.  I feel better but I’m still terrified of going back to normal life and all of this progress being erased.

She mentioned we need to start thinking of how to re-associate negative feelings regarding work and the everyday grind with positive associations.  I really don’t have any idea how.

Remember Baz Luhrman’s Everybody’s Free to Wear Suncscreen?  One of the beginning lines is something like “the long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by science, whereas….”  We had been talking about the long term next 20 yrs of work and the grind and it got me to the long term benefits bit, but updated with “the long term benefits of positive association (or something) has been proved by science”

Hey, it’s a start.

Good day today.

TTFN

 
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