Friday, February 27, 2009

Bend Over

Here's a thought: If you don't like people, you shouldn't work in positions that require talking, answering questions, or providing information.

Today I went to the unemployment office. While not the catastrophic abyss of irritation I expected, it was not fun. Most questions about the paperwork were answered with some version of "I don't know because that's not my job." Lovely. It's even sweeter when "I can't help you and I really don't want to" comes from the HR people of the employer who just scraped you off their shoe. They can't seem to figure out why I am asking questions and spiral down into, "Well what do you want? I already told you blah blah blah"; so, just in case you were not sufficiently disrespected and humbled, here's some more aggravation.

And then I went to Wal-mart and some old dude was checking me out! What a life!
*Post Script: Okay, let me give a little context to this post. I've been struggling with my former institution because I can't seem to get straight answers or assurance about how certain money issues will be handled. There is alleged "calculating" going on and people "taking care" of things. But, really. After being treated like an annoying gnat who happened to be doing the work that is the actual purpose of the institution--teaching students--, shouldn't I be doing a little bit of CYA for myself? Not to mention the fact that I was already denied some benefits via a "glitch" that nobody can explain. But the answer to every question is "I don't know. I can't give it to you in writing. You have to direct that to someone else. It's being addressed." And finally, "What else do you want?" The general message seems to be that I should just take whatever people feel like giving me, slink away quietly, and above all, stop talking to people who don't want their human resource type work interrupted by human beings. So, I'm feeling a little disregarded. Okay, tremendously disregarded. Mostly, I keep thinking, "Why are any of you upset? Don't you still have a job, after all?"

Thursday, February 26, 2009

God Got Jokes

Life can be funny. Things you never thought you would do, under the right conditions, become things you would do in a heartbeat.

In my new position as a mother, I have become especially acquainted with this phenomenon. I have always thought this idea of having to wash one's hands to hold a newborn baby unnecessary and a little insulting. Typically I only ask to hold newborns so the parent won't feel that I am not interested in their child; I don't have to hold such young babies. Then, for them to demand that I must go through extra effort to hold their child. . . that's okay. But now, each time I go to the NICU, I must scrub with soap and sponge. There's also a little pick that I must use in order to clean my fingernails. In addition, I have to put on a hospital gown over my own clothes. I do all of this with little thought and no bad feelings. I am actually quite glad to do it. The first time my sister-in-law went to visit our baby she jokingly said, "She didn't even want to wash her hands to hold our baby, but we practically have to take a shower and get dressed to see hers. I know what she has to do when we have another baby!" I suppose I will do so gladly.

The second change in thought also has to do with my baby. I was always ambivalent about breastfeeding. Although DH was insistent that I would (because HE has some say about what I do with MY body), I figured I would try and if it worked, okay, and if not, okay. To be honest, I wasn't that thrilled about the idea of a baby hanging from my breast. Plus, I was formula-fed and I am still intelligent and healthy and I have a good relationship with my mother. But now, while I am not actually nursing, I am providing breast milk for my daughter. Apparently, breast milk is the best thing for a premature baby. She is gaining weight and doing well with the milk and I couldn't be more ecstatic to provide it for her. Don't get me wrong--I'm still not a breastfeeding Nazi, but I'm pretty committed to the idea of doing it now.

Boy, how life can change. As one character in my favorite novel, Mama Day, says, "Just keep livin'."

Monday, February 23, 2009

You Look Mahvelous!

Last night's Academy Awards was an occasion for Hollywood to don it's most beautiful looks and for fans and fashion pundits to pontificate about them. (Oh, and to honor talent and hard work.) I don't want to add to the fodder of talking negatively about people's clothing (although I question Alicia Keys' make-up choice); instead, I wanted to give a shout-out to Taraji P. Henson. I think she's pretty fantastic and she looked gorgeous last night. She may not have won in the category of Best Supporting Actress (for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), but I am glad she was nominated.

I first paid attention to her in that forgettable movie, Baby Boy and I have liked her ever since. I especially loved her in Hustle & Flow (even if she was overly sweaty in this movie like people in the South are perpetually hot and have no access to air conditioners). I didn't see Benjamin Button because DH refused to see it, but if Henson was nominated for her role in it, I can only assume that she is superb in it.

I'm glad to see Black women being given roles that are not typical (maids, angry wives/girlfriends, hookers, etc.) and I'm glad to see them being recognized for the work they do. I am especially glad to see Henson being recognized which just proves that I was right all along.

Friday, February 20, 2009


The Diva, your post about our view of animals is an even more pithy commentary in light of that New York Post cartoon implying that President Obama is an ape. I don't want to spend more time and energy on that intellectual monstrosity that is distasteful, hurtful, thoughtless, and several other adjectives. The Kitchen Table authors have, as usual, already provided a salient response. The NPR blog is also a worthy read. I only want to add my deep sadness. Not at the overt racism that keeps exposing itself like a hanging slip under your dress hem. Not at a callous public voice that couldn't be bothered to put sensitivity for other people above greed. Not even at this smear against lingering collective joy for our national historical moment. I'm sad because I just watched Bryant Gumbel's "Real Sports" story about Robbie Tolan's nearly fatal run in with Belaire police and I kept seeing my son's face as I imagined this horrible scenario. He complied with their disrespectful requests, even though they had wrongly profiled and followed him, then entered his tag number incorrectly--until they slammed his mother into the garage door. Then, this loving son and athlete said, "Get your f---ing hands off my mom!" And they shot him. I'm sad because this cartoon illustrates what actually happens to real black boys and men.

Seeing this cartoon is another reminder that the day will come much too soon when I'll send my son into the world and many people (armed, police kind of people) will fail to see the silly, sweet, gorgeous boy who slobbers kisses and thinks his mother hung the moon at night. Instead, they'll see a dark, inhuman threat--a chimp. Tim Wise has chronicled the ways in which black life is simply viewed as less valuable. That's why pumping bullets into the body of an unarmed black man, some mother's son, rarely merits punishment. I'm not shocked or even angry. I'm just sad.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

They're Animals, People

No, they're not animal-people. Nor are they people-like animals. They are just animals.

I am just befuddled at the shock and awe that the community experiences every time an animal attacks a human being. The latest incident involves a 200-pound chimpanzee named Travis. He brutally mauled a woman (not his owner) who is now still in critical condition. The chimp was ultimately shot when he tried to enter a police car after the attack.

I know chimps can seem amazingly human. They are eerily expressive; they can learn sign language; they can walk on two legs; they can act. Travis was famous for his Coca-Cola and Old Navy commercial appearances. He also drank wine from stemmed glasses. But, he still was not human. I don't care that his owner said he couldn't have been more her son if she had given birth to him. But she didn't. 'Cause she's human. And he's not.

In the interest of fairness, I've never really owned a pet. I did have a butterfly once that my aunt caught and placed in a jar for me. I think it lived for maybe three days. Maybe a little longer. Sometimes I count that butterfly as a pet, but really, it wasn't. So, I don't get the warm fuzzies when people talk about the animals they are loving. But I do have common sense and I know that no matter how much you love an animal, your love won't make it human. So, you shouldn't expect it to behave like a human, with thought processes and complex emotional behaviors. It's an animal and should not surprise you when it acts like an animal. Animals have a fight or flight response and many times, they will fight; they'll even fight humans.

People who keep dangerous animals as pets are the most confounding. Everybody loves a pit bull until it attacks the child in the home and then it's a terrible tragedy. Didn't you know that was going to happen? You have a PIT BULL. It's an animal AND it's an animal bred to attack. I've heard people try to argue that if you treat pit bulls right they won't attack. Yes, you're right. Until they do. Because they are animals.

I saw this show once about animals attacking. This man had a pet reptile (I'll leave it at that, SM, for your sake). He took it to a bar and let people touch and hold it. And then, oh my! I'm so surprised! It bit him. The pet became agitated and since it could not talk and could not get away, it attacked. That's what animals do.

So, I'm not surprised that this chimp attacked this woman. I think that it is an awful tragedy and she did not deserve it to happen to her. But for all those people who think animals are just like us only with fur and four legs instead of two, listen to me: God didn't make us the same. We are different. Biologically and historically, we are destined to play different roles in the environment. Although we like to dress animals up in clothes like people and we like to ascribe human qualities and feelings to them and we like to make them talk and have complicated relationships in our movies (what's the deal with making a rat a personable creature we'd want in our kitchens, Ratatouille?), we will never meld into one no matter how many ways you try to make it happen. Animals know it. Why don't people, the ones with the higher level thought process, know it?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gag me

In my newly unemployed state, I'm realizing how much time laundry and dishes take up. Perhaps this is why I'm still so doggone tired even though I don't have to actually go to work. I am still doing work, mostly publication stuff, but I don't have a conventional job that pays a monthly check and requires talking to other people. I'm fighting the sadness of this loss of identity and usefulness. But as I'm uncontrollably watching the reruns of "The Real Housewives of ------" I'm noticing an annoying theme. On the Orange County version, one of the daughters complains about the "tree people" hanging out near Berkley, where she attends college. Apparently, she's also not interested in eating her lunch near the "bums" on the street. How dare those homeless people taint the loveliness of her dining with their unsavory lack of functional lives! To escape this unbearable experience, her mother provides her with a fully furnished penthouse. And on the New York version, one of the women comments on how "hectic" things are while her housekeeper is away; all the feeding her own children and washing her own clothes is overwhelming it turns out. (Roll your eyes with me, please).

On the Today show this morning, one woman points out that they taped the show before the economy went in the crapper. Nevertheless, is this the reality of people's lives? The obvious answer, I guess, is that this is the reality of these women's lives. But this kind of oblivious self-centeredness is painful, especially when I think of my colleagues who are single and have children or are scarily close to retirement; losing your job without warning is not filled with fabulosity. This is why people don't like rich people! It's not just about your money or the overpriced things you have. It's the attitude of entitlement and myopic selfishness that assumes that you deserve the stuff you have. Don't people who work two or three jobs, who do their own laundry every day, or who--ahem--have earned a Ph.D., also deserve some ease in their lives?

So, the new season begins soon. Perhaps I'll update you later. (Now, roll your eyes at the irony--maybe if I had a job I wouldn't have time to watch!)

Monday, February 16, 2009

More than a Notion

As the mother of a baby in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), I am being given a crash course in the hardships of parenting. First and foremost, there's the ubiquitous worry and the constant prayer. Every time the phone rings, I hold my breath praying that it is not the hospital calling to tell me something is wrong with my baby. Of course, the only time they call is when something is amiss, so really, I just hope that it is not the hospital calling at all. Then there are the hard decisions that have to be made quickly, decisions that could have a detrimental effect on your child (and in my daughter's case, that could literally be life and death). And there's the desire to keep them from all pain accompanied by the inability to do so. Sadly, because my daughter is so small and young and in an isolette (incubator), I can't even touch her to soothe her after she feels the pain.

DH and I have come to the conclusion that being a parent is more than a notion. To paraphrase the former president, it's hard work. This job is even harder when you factor in other people making it so. Last week I learned about a mother in Georgia who gave four teenagers alcohol; one died in a car accident afterward. This mother is part of a small population of parents who believe it is okay to give their children alcohol, considering it a rite of passage. This may make sense on some level if the thinking is that they want their kids to learn to drink responsibly. But one, giving someone else's kid alcohol is not responsible and two, giving him enough to get him drunk is, in fact, irresponsible. Why would you do something like this? As a parent, doesn't this woman understand that parenting is hard enough when one has to worry about one's kid falling into the wrong crowd without the added hardship of having to worry about some grown-tail woman making childish decisions that can (and did) ruin the life of their child? It doesn't make sense that someone would decide that their values, which are blatantly against the law, are what's best and should be imparted on someone else's kid. I wonder if this mother even thinks she did anything wrong.

They say that people should be given a license to parent. I'm not saying this, but I will say that parenting is not an easy job. I don't think people always fully appreciate this fact. Clearly, however, it's a scary world out there for people who decide to become parents and making such a decision is more than a notion.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Another Meme Because I Don't Have Anything Else to Say

So, I'd like to write something, but I'm consumed with so many things, most of them confusing and frustrating and so quite happy, that I can't get it together to write about any of them. Still, it makes me feel a little more integrated to write something cogent. I saw that this Facebook meme of 25 Random Things About Me is supposed to be really trendy and hip, so here's my attempt at it. Plus, I read that it was a writing exercise at some point, and since I no longer have students on which to impose these kinds of things . . . . Wow, 25 things, huh?

1. I have such a psychotic phobia about a certain kind of reptile that I can't even say (or type) the word or I'll have nightmares (hint: there was one in the Garden of Eden).

2. After seeing the episode of "The Jeffersons" when Louis Gossett, Jr. hits on Weezy and George has to throw him out, I feel a little frightened every time I see him.

3. I think my son may be a mama's boy and it makes me kind of happy.

4. I have a weird obsession with having toned, defined arms.

5. I couldn't wait to get out of the small town I grew up in, and now I wish we could just move to one and have a big yard.

6. I still really regret the fact that I quit dance classes in 4th grade. I loved the classes, but I felt too small and timid to be around the "city" (that's almost a laughable term if you knew which "city") girls. Quitting the classes made me feel like a quitter. I also took piano lessons until I became a cheerleader in high school. By then I just had too many activities and had to cut something out. I don't feel quite as guilty about that.

7. I love wearing cute clothes, but I loathe shopping.

8. I think that I eat chocolate in some form every single day.

9. I wish I could be a song writer.

10. I have a hard time sleeping the night before the first day of class.

11. I remember, exactly, the panic and horror I felt the first time a boy kissed me. His name was Curtis and we were in nursery school. His pants were always too tight.

12. When I'm really stressed, my neck locks up and I can't turn my head. It's been tight for about a week because of this work debacle.

13. I think Nia Long should play me in the movie of my life.

14. I had a dream about my daughter--I saw her EXACT face--before we started trying for her.
Oddly, her name was Courtney Christian in the dream. Neither of those names was on our list of possibilities.

15. I never had a grade of C on a report card until 10th grade Algebra III. I didn't have another one until Spanish in college.

16. I've been in love with ice cream since I can remember, but Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey has taken it to a different level. My husband bought gallons of it while I was writing my dissertation and while I was pregnant.

17. When I was in middle school I was nominated for every superlative category except Funniest and Most Athletic. I really thought I was going to win Best All Around, but I ended up not winning anything. It haunts me even today.

18. My index fingers are crooked. When I was a cheerleader, I never did the "We're number 1!" thing.

19. For a long time, I thought the phrase "All intents and purposes" was "All intensive purposes."

20. In 6th grade I danced in a talent show with a group of friends to New Edition's "A Little Bit of Love."

21. My first car was a circa 1982 white Honda Corolla. I had just graduated from high school and was thrilled to get it. Since then, I continued to drive cars that were about 10 years old that had questionable air conditioning at best. I only got a car made in the current decade when I was 30.

22. One of my favorite childhood memories is a fishing trip I took with my grandfather. He bought us (my aunt and me) Mars candy bars. I picked up a stick and was swarmed by ants. I have no memories of actually fishing.

23. I always thought that I was like my great grandmother, who was kind of tough in a quiet, demure way. My daughter was born on the same date as my great grandmother died. Both dates were Labor Day. I learned to crochet right before my daughter was born; I later learned that my great grandmother also was a crocheter.

24. I watch people's mouths when they talk. It's almost hard for me to have a conversation in person when I'm not wearing my contacts. But I usually am just fine on the phone.

25. My husband irritates the mess out of me a lot of the time, but I still usually think I got it just right when I agreed to marry him.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Feelings, whoa, whoa, whoa

TD, you know my motto is, "Feel how you feel." We can't wallow for long in the viccitudes of life, but sometimes giving in to the "blah" is the only way to keep breathing air. That's how I felt on Friday; I just decided that trying to be professional didn't preserve my job and being cordial didn't make the circumstance better for me. So, I was kind of pissy. I almost didn't shake the woman's hand at the end of the debacle. Whatever. So, sister, if today you need to fall face down in a bowl of ice cream, do it. If you need to scream about how unfair life is, have at it, because it is unfair. When tomorrow comes, do what you need to do then, too. And while life has beat some of the optimism out of me, I do believe that each day we have what we need to get through that day. Tomorrow we may need something else, but for today, we have enough mustard seed hope, enough tiny sparks of joy, enough focus and strength of character to keep us off the floor.

But, doggone it, we ain't got to like it!

My firstborn came in my second pregnancy, too, and even though I told you not to get excited, you did. So I'm excited for you. And, I will do for you what you did for me: while you can't plan or wait, I'll anticipate your shower, I'll buy the cute outfits, and I'll gather lots of toys to pass down to you (and to declutter my house, but that's just a bonus). From my vantage point, what does it matter? Whatever is going to happen won't be changed because my heart got happy. Plus, I need something to be happy about--what else do I have to do? That's where I am today. I don't know how my job situation will resolve itself, but I'm trying to be open. Of course, the other side of the truth is that I had planned to write a post on how many people have told me that they've "never seen the righteous forsaken," to which I always want to respond, "What if I'm not righteous? And what does forsaken look like?" Nevertheless, I'm hanging onto survival.

Here's the thought for the day: "If you're going through hell, just keep on walking. You might get out before the devil even knows you're there." If this isn't a country music moment, I don't know what is.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Preparing for Valentine's Day

You know how people say, "Everyday should be Valentine's Day"? My husband had planned a grand gesture for Friday. He wanted to surprise me with a flower delivery at my office. It was a beautifully thoughtful idea, especially since getting flowers at work was one of the items on my list of Things I Want to Experience that I started when I turned 30 (you know, last year). He was also planning to bring a Valentine's Day treat to our daughter at school. Isn't that sweet? Of course, I guess it sucks to be a boy in this family because there are no such grand plans for either of them. Anyway, it's a non-issue since I no longer have an office or work or anyplace to be on Friday . . . I think. His plans illustrate why Valentine's Day isn't everyday.

What would it be like if every day you awoke to find some enormous demonstration of affection? I can imagine warm bubble baths and elaborate dinners at elegant restaurants. I could have Godiva Chocolates for breakfast! Spend hours at the spa with the weekly gift cards that show up in my name! Of course, I'd need those towels they give you because none of us would have clean clothes; when would the laundry get done? And how would I administer time outs from the bathtub? Most days, I'd rather have dear husband loading the dishwasher than out buying something pretty for me. It's the "life" that fills our days that make those grand gestures so, well, grand.

Who has time or energy to think about, plan, and execute romance on a daily basis? If we're talking about more than once a year, that's one thing. But the "Valentine's is every day" people are fooling themselves. Those dozen roses have to be watered, after all. I already have plenty to do.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


They say the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. And then there's that saying that man plans and God laughs. And life is like that. We make all of these plans--go to college, get a good job, get married to a great guy, have two, maybe three perfect and beautiful children, great friends, buy a lovely house in a good neighborhood and prepare for happiness and good times to ensue. Sure you expect the occasional hiccup, but nothing that you really can't handle because you have made plans and you are following the steps to achieve them. But it doesn't always work out like that.

I sympathize with your situation, SM. You have made plans to go to work, to do the best for your students, and then someone comes along and tells you that those plans don't matter. What can you do?

I sympathize with your situation because my own plans have been thwarted. The news that I had earlier was a second pregnancy. I won't talk about how I had planned to have the first baby and be a happy mother taking care of her 3-month-old son right now. That's not how life worked out. So, I adjusted and created new plans. I had planned to be pregnant right now, reveling in my sizeable baby bump. I was so looking forward to wearing all of my new maternity clothes. I had planned to be checking into daycare centers for the fall about now. I had also anticipated going to my baby shower in March and glowing as I got to open diaper genies and boxes of Huggies. Alas, that is not the way life has worked out for me. My baby came much sooner than we had planned. Thankfully, she is still with us, but we are now faced with emotional and physical difficulties for which we never could have planned.

Now, I am learning not to plan. I am trying to "keep it in the now" as George says in Mama Day. I don't anticipate what will happen tomorrow because there is absolutely no telling. Who knows? Maybe I will still get to have that baby shower, but it is not something that I am planning to attend. If it happens, it will happen. If it doesn't, I would not have dreamed about it or anticipated it or even thought about what it might be like. And this is the way that I am approaching each aspect of my tiny baby's life right now as well as my own. Maybe this is not the best way to live, but it is a good way to survive.

I know this post seems a little nihilistic and I don't mean to be this way because I have things to be optimistic about, but sometimes, my disappointment about my pregnancies takes over. And now, considering your wrongful firing, the pessimism prevails. Maybe tomorrow might bring happier times.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Ready, Aim, Fired

Shock and awe. Boy was I wrong to feel calm about today. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. And the most special part is that a HUGE chunk of my department, people I care about and respect, are now out of work in the middle of an academic semester. I'm not too in favor of not having a job myself, either. We just didn't see this catastrophe coming.

This sucks.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"We don't show our bottoms to people"

One of the new lessons in our house is that we don't show our bottoms to people. Privacy issues and public display were becoming too loose. Now this gets sketchy when my three year barges into the bathroom while I'm in the shower; then she reminds me of the rule. I don't know how to explain that if YOU walk in on ME through a closed door, you can't then fuss at me for showing my bottom. But this isn't actally my point right now. It's this "bikini girl" on American Idol and how she is getting on my last good nerve. It began with her audition, in which she responded to criticism from the new judge, Kara, by criticizing the judge's correction. This reminds me of students who just have to tell me how fabulous their writing is and how misguided my feedback is, even though I have three degrees and they have some credit hours. First, can we have an ounce of humility here? You showed up to be judged. Why are you complaining and getting defensive when people judge you?

Oh, did I forget to mention that the reason this girl is being identified as "bikini girl" instead of her name is that she auditioned in a bikini?

Yes, the girl can sing, and she's cute enough, but she's middle-of-the-road good. In other owrds, don't write checks that your "bottom" can't cash. On this week's show, she said that Kara must have felt "insecure" because she got up from the judge's table to show her what the song should sound like. Chick, why would a woman with credentials like hers feel insecure around you? She's had a lucrative career--you're just naked.

Secondly, if you need to get (practically) naked, then even you don't believe your voice is exceptional.

Women who consciously and purposely use their bodies to upgrade their skills is damaging to women in general. If you want to use your body to advance yourself, fine; be a shoe model (read: stripper) I don't have (many) judgements about that. But if you have other skills that you want to use in an appropriate industry, rely on those skills. There's a fairness issue here, and batting your eyes (which she did) and switching your hips (which she did) is distracting in ways that diminish your character and call into question every other woman's skill. But more importantly, you should demonstrate excellence and then make your "sparkling personality" a bonus instead of a bone for drooling men to chase. Her singing? Not quite excellent.

Thirdly, while I generally believe in the use-what-you-got-to-get-what-you-want philosophy, looks fade. Screaming "I'm half-naked, listen to me!" won't work for very long. I mean, really. Nearly every woman's got a pair of those things, so yours aren't that special. Heck, I've made food with mine!

So, why is it that we "don't show our bottoms"? One reason is because it's much harder to hear what you say when your body is screaming so loudly. Any professional knows that you have to show up with the goods--and then you won't have to show them.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Professor Non-Grata

When I heard in the university-wide faculty meeting that cuts in faculty and staff would have to be made, I thought it was horrible, but I also thought that it was kind of hypothetical and in the future. Well, I was out of town last week (in part, visiting The Diva and 'em) and there was a meeting that brought those cuts to vivid technicolor. Someone told me today that the numbers work out somewhere in the neighborhood of one in three. That number might also include staff members, but those are still not the kind of odds that help you sleep at night. That little factoid also gave some context to an email I received from a student which basically read, "Hope you stay around." At first glance, I thought I should call public safety, as that message seemed awfully threatening by itself. Now, though, I understand that students also met with administration and were told about the changes that will soon come. It's nice that at least one person in the university wants me around.

So, the hammer is supposed to fall this week. See how serious things are? It's the middle of the freakin' semester for crying out loud! I'm not really very worried for myself, but the air feels thick. I had to borrow an eraser from a colleague today and he told me that he got a little nervous when I knocked on his classroom door unexpectedly; was I coming to oust him and take over his class? What in the world?! as my girlfriend would say. This must be what it's like to be at a rose ceremony, hoping not to be voted off the island. OK, I mixed my references there, but I thought both were appropriate. There's an element of "pick me!" here right alongside the "Hey, I'm playing the game by the rules!" I find myself reviewing my academic and personal value to the department, trying to figure what my assets are and who might be in front of me in the sorry-about-your-luck-it-sucks-to-be-you line.

This economy has got to get better soon.