Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Supper Club

Over the past 18 years, I’ve lived in a city where last minute plans and frequent cancellations are the norm. I often think of the moment in the movie The American President when Michael J. Fox says “I tell any girl I'm going out with to assume that all plans are soft until she receives confirmation from me thirty minutes beforehand.” Life moves at a rapid-fire pace around here, and it’s often hard to pin down some quality time with your friends. But I’ve discovered over the last couple years that a concerted effort makes all the difference in the world. And you just never know what might come out of it. In my case, it has been what I would call, for lack of a more original moniker, The Supper Club. A monthly moment in time when four unlikely friends make it a point to sit together over a meal and share their lives with one another. Swapping stories, lending moral support and offering advice. We laugh, sometimes we cry, we accept and celebrate our unique personalities and our difference. And we always make it a point to tell it like it is. Because this world could use a little more honesty and a lot less attitude.

I’ve already said we are an unlikely quartet, cobbled together in a random series of meetings over the years. Jodi and I first met when I was just twenty-one, on the set of a Saturday morning TV show, where we played background high school students together for over a year. We lost touch for almost two years in my mid-twenties but then one day, out of the blue, I got a phone call and we picked back up again. From that friendship, I met Dana, a longtime friend of Jodi’s and though we at first just saw one another once or twice a year at one of Jodi’s parties, a brief, unexpected romance with Dana’s brother brought us deeper into each other’s lives. Miriam came to us during a stint at La Knitterie Parisienne, when I was channeling my angst over the loss of my sister into weaving endless spools of yarn into all manner of projects and Jodi was amassing an unending collection of scarves. We tried to get Dana to knit. That lasted about a week. And somehow, I don’t even remember when, we started to plan dinners together. Upon discovering that we made a good, if random foursome, we made it official. Once a month, most of the time. No one else allowed. Just us four women, with different lives, backgrounds, social circles and personalities.

Jodi is the inquisitor and the organizer of the group. The only mother in our club. Of twins. The only one of us married, for that matter. She is the tie that binds us together, the one with the iPhone on texting overload, who always make sure we know the date, the time, the location of our next dinner. She is also the curious one. We often spend a good deal of time answering Jodi’s questions. Detailed questions. And let me just say that no, and I mean no topic is off-limits or beyond the scope of her close scrutiny. She’ll get the story out of you, whether you want to tell it or not, though in the end, you’re usually glad that you did. She often maintains that her life isn’t as interesting as ours and usually spends more time pulling questions from our stories than telling her own, but I actually think she likes her role and it has nothing to do with how interesting her life is. We still make her spill the beans anyway, no matter how bland or spicy they may be. Because everyone has to tell their story. That’s part of the deal.


Dana is the color, the light, the energy of the group. As an actress, model and voice-over artist, she reinvents herself on a daily basis. Where Jodi can always be counted on to show up in jeans, braids and a baseball cap, Dana’s outfit is never the same and often a feat of both style and bravado. Nothing is off-limits, from hats to shoes to new haircuts. I often wish I were that brave. Or even that creative when it comes to my style. She is tiny in stature but like a brilliant chameleon you cannot take your eyes off of. Her stories are equally colorful, and she lives life with a sense of humor and adventure. She is outspoken and outgoing and yet surprisingly, almost unexpectedly sensitive, thoughtful and even a touch old-fashioned.


Miriam is our heart. I don’t know if it’s the Latin background, Miriam is Puerto Rican and speaks with a soft and lilting accent, but she radiates warmth and love whenever I’m around her. She’s nurturing and takes care of those around her, even when it taxes her own life to do so. She is emotional and caring and offers advice and thoughts in a sensitive way, designed to make you feel better even when you can’t imagine better as a possibility. She is a romantic, and her stories are often filled with hope and dreams and sometimes the troubles of unrequited love. I think she is stunning. And though I don’t think I’ve ever told her before, in some ways, she reminds me of my sister.

As for me, I suppose I’m the observer, the intellectual. I’ve seen all of these women through the lens of my camera and now I’m spelling them out in my words. Though such short descriptions do them little justice. I consider myself lucky to have been in their presence every four weeks or so for the last several years and despite my imminent move to Dallas, hope to continue the tradition during my frequent trips back to LA. These women, so different from one another and from me, not my closest or longest friends, though by no means less special as a result, have taught me to be more open, more daring and more honest. They’ve been there when times have been tough and I’ve had the chance to be there for them. Most importantly, we’ve managed to keep it real and reliable. Which is a pretty impressive feat in a town of fake and flaky. Thanks ladies for making my life richer, more interesting and full of love and laughter every month. It’s an honor.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Legacy & Legends: A Tale of the US Snipe Masters Championship

In an idyllic little spot some three hours north of Indianapolis and miles from anywhere recognizable to this city girl, my father and I unhitched our trusty trailer, which had safely delivered it’s cargo, a 2006 Persson Snipe, all the way from Dallas. It was night and the shores of Lake Wawasee were dark, but in the morning we would be greeted by sunny skies, perhaps a little less wind than we had hoped for, and most importantly, the stories, people and sailing that I believe make the U.S. Masters one of the most unique and truly special Snipe regattas of the year.

To even qualify to sail in this regatta, the skipper has to be at least 45 years old and the combined age of skipper and crew must tally up to at least 80 years. A naysayer might scoff that that would mean easy competition, but what it really means is that some of the greatest legends and most seasoned sailors in the class are on hand, so you’d better bring your A game. Despite a 31-year history of sailing Snipes, and the fact that my favorite skipper, dear old dad and I had been in the qualifying age range for more than a few years, this was my first trip to the Masters. And at what sometimes feels like the ripe old age of 36, I was about the third youngest person competing that week. The total age range of the competitors impressively spanned seven decades. And the lineup included some well known Snipe sailors, like Buzz Levinson, Terry Timm and Regatta Chairman Dick Tillman, as well as the first competitors in the Great Grand Master Category, which is over the age of 75, the well-loved Ken and Mary Ann Rix.

The sailing was the purpose of the event, so it deserves to be well mentioned here, despite the fact that conditions were less than favorable throughout the three-day regatta. Day one was called after a few hours of drifting, thanks to Mother Nature’s lack of interest in mustering up even a modicum of wind to fill our sails. Day two, she gave in a little, and we got off three well-orchestrated races in the light wind on the pretty little lake. Which is when I realized that one of the beauties of sailing, or at least sailing Snipes, is that age truly has nothing to do with prowess, and even that with years, comes wisdom and a greater understanding of both the wind and the water. There was some great interplay out on the water that day, including a few course changes and more than one recalled start.

The final day of the regatta broke dark and stormy, and though a number of sailors decided the high winds and rainy conditions weren’t for them, the rest of us put on brave faces and foul weather gear, and the intrepid race committee managed to pull off two races with only one capsized boat in the rough waters. And to give credit where credit is due, when Lanny and Margie Coon went over in the high winds, they righted their boat and went on to race the next race, finishing it with a solid Fifth. Even for me, it was a hair-raising day on the water. Especially when the wind picked up even further and I had to adjust the staymasters on the shrouds under the explicit warning from my father that if I dropped the teeny, tiny clevis pin and ringding into the water, while I was precariously balanced on the side of the boat, and the wind was blowing water in my face, that we would be out of the races for the day. Lady luck was on my side, and though I came in with sore legs and bloody fingers, I also came in that day with unending admiration for those senior to me who were right out there beside me.

My father and I took Fourth Place overall and First in the Grand Master division, for skippers over the age of 65. Which is great, because if I’m being perfectly honest, I’m competitive as heck. But I was surprised to discover that the real reward wasn’t a high place finish, or a shiny trophy. It was the chance to sit at dinner and listen to seasoned sailors tell stories of Snipe sailing over the years. Tales of practical jokes, and the days of wooden boats and more than one story about some guy named Freddie Schenk, who was well remembered and apparently quite the character. It was about having a moment or two to pore over old newspaper clippings and photos from races dating back to the fifties and realize the history of a sailing class I’ve long been a part of, but never fully understood. The U.S. Snipe Masters is a more than a regatta, it’s a history lesson. And for me it was also a humbling experience that I would love to take part in again.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Taking Aim

October 28th will mark the ten-year anniversary of the death of my younger sister, Wendy, whose life was taken at the hands of a nineteen-year-old girl with an illegally possessed handgun and a deadly desire for some quick cash. That one bullet’s speedy path put my life on a new and different trajectory as swiftly and surely as if it had exited that barrel and sliced through my own body after it went through hers.

I never knew much about guns. They weren’t something we really grew up around, despite living in Texas, one of the gun capitals of the U.S. Even as I moved to L.A., amidst a time of riots and cultural warfare, it was still far removed from my sheltered existence. Many years after I arrived here, my sister moved to L.A. and into a home with me while she went to college and I went to grad school. Oddly enough, she had a fascination with guns and liked to go to the range and shoot. I remember her coming home one day and taping her target to her bedroom door, proud of her bulls-eye shot to the chest of a faceless paper man. She said I should come with her sometime, and though I intended to, thinking it would be a good idea to know how to shoot a gun, to understand what it feels like in your hand and how it works, we never got the chance.

Three weeks before she was killed, she told me that someone had brandished a gun at her out a car window while she was stopped at an intersection in Hollywood. I can remember the fear I felt as she told me how she had floored the gas pedal and sped through the red light away from any potential danger. Little did either of us know that such a short while later, she would come quite literally face to face with a similar weapon and, despite her cooperation with the young female robber, would not have such a chance to escape.

Suddenly, the power and danger of a handgun was part of my terrifying reality. And advocating for safe, sensible and legal gun ownership laws became a personal platform. But I had still never seen a handgun closer than across the courtroom glass, never held one in my hand, never pulled a trigger. And as much as I was deeply afraid, it was actually still something I wanted to do. Yet for almost ten years, I avoided it. And then, a couple of weeks ago, the opportunity presented itself, rendered in a thoughtful and pressure-free manner, leaving me only to ask myself if I was really ready. It turned out to be an unexpected gift, strange as that may seem. And it turned out that I was.

As we filled out our paperwork at the gun range, I watched the steady hand of my soon-to-be firing instructor tick off expert in each of the categories. I took surprising comfort in the fact that I was in the company of a professional sniper, currently serving a commission with the U.S. Special Forces. His energy was calm and positive, and it steadied me as much as anything could have at that moment. We donned the prerequisite gear – eye and ear protection before heading into the range. I had held the gun unloaded the day before when we had first retrieved it, and even then, essentially harmless, it had caused my hands to go clammy and my heart to palpitate. Loaded was a whole different story. But as I learned to load the bullets and position myself, I tried my best to focus on the process, and distance myself from the potential outcome. Which worked, mostly. Until I took aim and pulled the trigger for the first time, and felt the recoil that accompanied the loud crack as the bullet sped out of its chamber. And then the shaking started and I broke out in a cold sweat. I placed the gun on the shelf and took several steps back to catch my breath.

In that moment, I suddenly knew, if nothing else, the gravity of holding a loaded handgun in between your palms. I knew the fine line when the trigger hit its release point. I felt the strength of the gun as it kicked in my hands, as if wanting to be free of me. And I suddenly couldn’t imagine, all over again, how a nineteen year-old girl could have done what she did that night. There is nothing that feels careless or cavalier about holding a gun. There is nothing easy or simple about it. And holding one that day made me all the more committed to making sure people understand what a dangerous thing it can be in the hands of the untrained and unskilled, and how important it is for lawful gun owners to do everything in their power to keep these weapons from finding their way into the wrong hands.

We stayed for around an hour, and I only fired a handful of rounds. That first shot was probably my best and I think it was because it took that first pull for reality to actually set in. But I sucked it up, and forced myself to shoot again and again, grateful for the steady, even energy at my side – gently teaching and explaining and guiding me into the correct position. Grateful to him for making me feel safe and secure as I faced my fear. It will not be the last time I shoot, for comfort, security and knowledge only come with practice, patience and experience. I am certain it will make me a more thorough and well-rounded speaker when I raise my voice on the subject of gun control. And I’ve been promised that the next time, we can try something with better aim, less recoil and a little distance from such a painful association. Which, quite frankly, for now, sounds good to me.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Travel 101

A couple of weeks ago, despite a volcanic ash cloud’s largely successful efforts to thwart travel plans throughout Europe and the world at large, I managed to make it back home with only minor delays, comparatively speaking, from a twelve-day sojourn in London and Paris with my good friend Nikki. But it isn’t the “will they or won’t they make it to their destination?” Iceland ash cloud saga that makes the story of this trip interesting. Although said natural disaster did earn us two and a half extra hours on the plane back from Paris, a much-appreciated free round of cocktails from American Airlines and a missed connection and resulting overnight stay in Dallas.

Here’s the thing. I am a travel junkie. I have five suitcases of varying sizes, I own two travel hair dryers, I’m on my third passport and I’ve planted my feet in the soil of more than fifteen countries. Prior to three weeks ago, my companion, save one trip to Mexico, had never been outside of the U.S. So there I was, an unofficial “expert,” off on an international journey, with a certified travel “rookie.” Which could have had disaster written all over it. But somehow it didn’t, and despite being perhaps an unlikely pair of travelers, we ended up making a pretty good team. And Nikki’s new adventure, in my familiar stomping grounds, ultimately made it an unforgettable trip for the both of us.

A little back story. In late 2009, on the verge of receiving her long-sought-after, well-earned bachelor’s degree, looking for a way to celebrate her success and facing a brief hiatus before diving headlong into her master’s program, my very good friend Nikki came to me with a question. She wanted to go to London and Paris, and she wanted me to come with her. It wasn’t a difficult decision, really, London being one of my favorite cities in the world, with Paris coming in close behind. And as April rolled to a close, we packed our bags and crossed the Atlantic.

I can now admit to having had some trepidation at the time about the potential downfalls of such a trip. This would be Nikki’s first real experience with things like extended airplane rides, jet-lag, foreign language barriers, hauling your suitcase everywhere, and the French hotel version of a shower, which involves a tub and a shower head on a hose, but no hook to hang it on, and no curtain. Not to mention the fact that I’m pretty used to my way of doing things on a trip. I like to walk, a lot. I have favorite places that I always go. I can sometimes, yes, I’m not too proud to admit it, act like a “know-it-all.” For the record, I don’t know it all, far from it, in fact. Though in fairness, I do know a few things, so I might still be worth listening to, at least part of the time.

Regardless of your experience level, there are many aspects of international travel that are designed to test your patience, your energy level, and your general attitude. Throughout the trip, Nikki proved herself to not only be a good student, again, but she was also a good teacher, which is convenient, since she’s headed towards a career as one. In the end, we managed to teach each other a few new things about the wonderful world of traveling. While Nikki may have benefitted from the tips I know, the experiences I’ve had and the connections I’ve made in my prior trips – all things that I hope made her trip an experience that was both easier and richer than the one she could have had on her own, I was also given a gift – a chance to look at familiar places with new eyes, an opportunity to share an experience with a special friend and a lesson in finding the joy in doing things a little differently. The bottom line is simple. If you’re an old pro at this travel business, find a rookie, check your expectations at the door and go have a new adventure in a familiar place. And if it’s your first international rodeo, bring a friend with a fully-loaded passport along for the ride. Having the inside scoop will help you make the most of everywhere you go. You might also want to take along with you the handy list of advice I’m about to give, in no particular order. It’s just a handful of things that I think Nikki and I taught each other and/or learned together over twelve exciting, tiring, funny, fabulous and rather chilly spring days in Old Blighty and the City of Lights.

1. You will need less pairs of shoes than you think you will. Pack your bag. Then take half of the shoes out and put them back in your closet. You won’t end up wearing them anyway and your back will thank you when you start hauling your bag up and down staircases at train stations. Plus you’ll have more room for souvenirs.

2. It is perfectly okay to drink alcohol with almost every meal. You’re on vacation. Besides, you want to really soak up the local experience, don’t you? Well, that’s how the locals do it, at least in London and Paris. If you’re not in one of the great alcohol-imbibing capitals on your particular journey, then you might want to skip this one.

3. If you walk your ass off every day, then you get to see more – more sights, more scenery, more of the local flair. Plus you can eat more pastries and cheese, and drink more champagne, Guiness or Strongbow, because you’ll burn it all off. I’m just saying…

4. 3:30AM may well be the “magic hour” for staying out in a foreign city. Everything before that time is fun, interesting and exciting. Every half-hour after that time, there’s an exponential increase in the likelihood that one member of the team may stop having a good time and will just be along for the ride. On a side note, a camera and a bag of Cheez-Its are a good way to round out the night at said “magic hour.”

5. Suck up your courage and talk to strangers. It can lead to unexpected adventures, a chance to discover how the locals hang out, and if you bat your eyelashes and maybe show a little leg, probably garner you some free champagne and entrée into a nightclub or two. Note that the last one generally only works if you are female, though if you are a guy with really sexy man legs, it just might work for you too.

6. Share meals. It’s a good way to save some money, but more importantly, you can eat more often and try more things. Which means you can have a chocolate croissant for breakfast, a crepe for a midmorning snack and a filet with French fries for lunch. Not that I have a thing for food. And speaking of meals, if the first place you go to doesn’t meet all your needs, stay for a bit, and then move on. A progressive dinner is perfectly acceptable.

7. If you’ve done this all before, take your friend to your favorite haunts, because there’s nothing quite like Borough Market on a Saturday afternoon or a meal at Sergeant Recruiter on Ile St. Louis. But be sure to let him or her pick a few new places, because there will definitely be some you’ve never been to, even if it is your fifth, fifteenth or fiftieth trip. While it’s damn cold at Stonehenge in early May and it’s smaller than I expected, it was well worth finally journeying out there. And the Dali Museum next to Sacre Coeur is really cool. Never even knew it was there.

8. Learn to say please and thank you in the local language. Everyone will be nicer to you. And if you can, bring a friend who speaks said language, at least a little. Culture shock isn’t easy, and it helps to have someone with you who kind of knows the ropes, or at least how to order your dinner.

9. Make sure you travel with someone you don’t mind seeing naked or sharing a bathroom with. Even the nicest of European hotels often have close quarters. So unless you’re prepared to splurge for two rooms, pick a travel partner you are comfortable with. Or just wait in the hall.

10. Be flexible. There’s two of you. Which means two agendas, two different personalities and two different sets of priorities. One of you is never going to make it all your favorite spots and the other isn’t going to hit everything on his or her first timer, must see list. Which really is okay. Because you’ll see and do plenty, including things you never expected, like have an awesome evening with the locals at a little bar on the Left Bank or take a carousel ride in Montmartre. Enjoy every moment as it comes, because you’ll never have this exact experience ever again. And it’s good to leave wanting just a little more, because as long as a volcanic ash cloud doesn’t get in your way, you can always go back.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Follow the Belgians

I’ve been sailing Snipes since I was a little kid. I won my first trophy at the tender age of five when my father handed me the tiller and let me skipper us across the finish line during the tune-up race of the Southwestern Championship Regatta. And no, I wasn’t an ultra-gifted natural athlete with an uncanny sense of wind shifts and direction. We were just so far ahead of the rest of the fleet that it didn’t matter if I steered us a little off course. Looking back on that day, I can remember that first thrill of victory, the glory of being the center of attention and the frustration of not being tall enough to see what was inside the cup perched at the top of the oversized trophy. I was hooked. Over the years I grew into an accomplished, and taller, crew, venturing around the country with my dad, sailing in everything from small local regattas to national championships.

In 1999, curious to experience sailing in other parts of the world, my father broke out his passport and with the help of the internet, secured a loaner boat and a crew to sail in a small local regatta in Cazau, in the south of France. Enthralled by the new challenges sailing in a foreign county presented, from language barriers to entirely new weather and water conditions, he decided that he should go again, and that this time, I should come with him. We made two trips to France together in the decade that has just fallen behind us, to sail in the Snipe Open de France, their national championships. It was a wholly different world of sailing. From wine flowing like water, to topless sunbathing sailors, to those Belgians, who inspired the catchphrase that now resides permanently in the Soltero family sailing lexicon, and is invoked frequently. Usually by me.

In August of 2003, we made our way, with the help of a rental car and my stellar map-reading abilities, from the bustle of Paris to Annecy, a tiny town nestled in the Alps, near the Swiss border. The first thing that is different about sailing in Europe, I noted immediately upon check-in. The local inn was a far cry from even your average Best Western. I’d elaborate, but then we’d run out of room for the stuff this story’s really about. The first morning of the regatta, still suffering from a mild case of jet lag, we readied our boat, borrowed from the lovely Romain family, and met our competition. Sailors from all over France, the UK and of course, Belgium. Yes, the Belgians. A married couple, who also happened to be retired professional ballet dancers. Yes, you read that right. And yes, I underestimated them, but not for long.

The weather started out calm, and the biggest challenge was remembering that when it came to sailing terms, we had to yet again, learn a new language. Starboard was now “tribord,” a word that was yelled with increasing gusto by a number of skippers as an unscheduled storm rolled in, as I now know they are wont to do on little mountain lakes, and the calm waters were replaced by some serious chop. By now, those Belgian ballerinas were well ensconced in the first place position and we were somewhere points south and east of the middle of the pack. We had taken a flyer. It did not pay off. Not to mention the fact that amidst the fray, we mistook a horn for a cancellation signal and accidentally abandoned the race before crossing the finish. Hello, DNF. The Belgians won.

The rest of the day was called off and we had to drop sails as we came in too fast to the dock, crew after crew, unfortunately me included, jumping off their boats into the cold water to guide their vessels safely in. After a hot shower, we headed to the dinner. The French drink wine, good wine, quite literally by the box. There was no soda, no water. We might have forgotten that our American tolerance might not be up to snuff. And hey, we’d had a rough day. The next morning brought back the sun, much to the delight of some of the female French crews, who were making ample use of it before the races began, as they stretched out on the dock, topless. You don’t see that everyday.

And as the races began, so did my new battle cry. “Follow the Belgians!” I said it, or possibly yelled it so many times it probably drove my father something akin to insane. But it worked, and since they were so good that there was no way to beat them, that second place was just fine with me. Needless to say, our mixed performance evened out and we finished the regatta somewhere in the middle of the pack, a lackluster performance if there ever was one. But the allure of shouting sailing terms in foreign languages, the thrill of crazy weather and heck, all that wine, had us ready to come back for more.

We didn’t make it back to the Snipe Open de France until 2006 and by then, we were ready for victory. Our second tour of duty together took us to another little town, this one in a basin on the southwest coast of France. Archachon was home to slightly better lodging that our last locale, not to mention a definite beach vacation vibe. It was August again, and the weather was balmy. We would be sailing on the ocean, on the outside edge of the basin. There was just one caveat. When the tide cleared out of the basin each day, it really cleared out. Leaving boats heaving on their sides in the wet sand. That first day, we had to wait until early evening, when a small river would appear, just wide enough and deep enough for us to sail on as we made our way out to sea.

Cue the crazy weather patterns. While it was balmy and barely breezy at the beach, the conditions where we were racing were a different story altogether. I was not dressed appropriately. My waterproof shorty coveralls were no match for the cold winds and the lashing waves. And those fingerless gloves that I thought would be perfect for such a nice August afternoon? They earned me ten bloody fingertips by the end of the first day. I am not kidding. It was worth it – after a respectable fourth place finish in the first race, we pulled out all the stops and crossed the finish line first in the second race. The last race of the day gave us a third and, unlike the prior trip, we finished the first day among the top contenders. But I couldn’t wash my own hair for the next few days, a task that was turned over to my mother, who had fortunately joined us for the trip.

It was approaching 10pm when we sailed back in, bloody and cold, but feeling victorious. And very hungry. The next morning, in order to avoid having to drag our boats back in through the sand at low tide, we started really early instead of really late. Armed with ten band-aids and a borrowed pair of full gloves, I was ready to get back to it, and hang on to our trophy position. We struggled a little on the second day, but in my defense, I was working with a wounded set of digits. During day three, we found our groove again and moved back up in the pack, earning a third place overall in the regatta and a personal victory after our previous performance in 2003. To be honest, I don’t think the French were all that happy to have us Americans in their trophy lineup. Nonetheless, they were ever so gracious, and invited us to return again, if only for another chance to kick our butts.

And even though the now famous Belgians were not in attendance at this regatta, I regularly resorted to my favorite saying. “Follow the Belgians” no longer meant that we should actually follow the Belgians. Fortunately, my father is very smart, and knew exactly what I meant. It means find the fastest boat, the one you know is going to win the race. If that boat happens to be you, this obviously doesn’t apply, and there’s no need to shout it out, unless, perhaps you want to yell it to the boat behind you as a helpful suggestion. Once you’ve found that boat, follow it at all costs. Do not take a flyer and try to get ahead of them. They are better than you. At this particular regatta, the “they” in question was a French father-son team. And they knew those waters a heck of a lot better than we did. But we “followed the Belgians,” and we persevered. And we’ll do it again.