Saturday, 31 December 2016

Hello 2017.

What a gift. What potential and hope resting in a number.
Let me go boys let me go
Push my boat from the highest cliff to the sea below
Rocks are waiting boys rocks await
Swoop down from the sky and catch me like a bird of prey

Now my feet won't touch the ground
Now my head won't stop
You wait a lifetime to be found
Now my feet won't touch the ground
Ben's way is best. Stand on the telescope platform in the pouring rain and sing out loud to whatever's in the headphones. Singing into the void of fog has a meaning I can't even articulate to you on this day.

2016 wasn't easy. I turned a corner with grief still skulking behind me like a mugger, ready to take everything of value from me but it seems like it's not breathing down my neck in quite the same way anymore but I'll never let my guard down, I promise. Credit to Sam and to August who have been tireless, putting up with my creative dissonance to everything they suggest and my inappropriate distractions, too. We persevered. We made it somewhere.

I rarely summoned the ghosts to come hang out in the garage.

Once again, I didn't go to Burning Man.

I had the Lizard King to myself for a brief moment and he turned out to be even cooler and more foreboding than I expected. We're still friends but I can't sleep with him. He's the big brother I worship and that's where we work best.

Ben and I sorted out what sort of relationship we have and we're happier than ever. He's more relaxed. He's creative. He's not fighting life all the time. He risked a lot for me and I will forever spoil him with whatever his heart desires for the rest of my life for what he did.

I married Lochlan. Best day of my life. We rode the Wonder Wheel forever. Our vows were too deep to avoid falling into and we wound up falling into a hole no one wants out of. He's grown the most this year, shifting from selfish to helpish, as we like to say. Maturing past his belligerent seventeen-year-old outlandish self into a calmer though still mischievous version of that boy and I think I'm more in love with him than I ever was.

And Caleb is back in my life, bringing a whole new black-tie, white shirted level of chivalry and formality to the table that I missed dearly. I feel like I can say what I want finally. I can say I am afraid of him sometimes. I can say I'm angry that he stole critical, pivotal things from me at a time when I needed them most. I can say I vilified him when maybe it wasn't what it seemed. I can admit I hid behind unfortunate numbers and legal technicalities to torture him for our inability to hold to a promise I didn't even make and I can look at him and sometimes see nothing but Cole in his eyes, in the way he moves, the way he speaks, the way he touches me when he's being kind but I can also hold my own here and he knows his place in this version of our lives. The one that starts at midnight. The one with a different number on the end.

Happy New Year. May it be what you want from it, may it bring you peace. Fuck you, may it bring ME peace. That's what I need now. Not just for me but for the Collective too.

Friday, 30 December 2016

I'm only telling you this because I liked the sandwich part.

My memory thief sleeps while I watch him. He has no idea that I just snuck into his rooms while he slept. I could rob him blind or stab him or maybe just steal all of my memories back but it seemed more peaceful to hide up here, at the top of the front staircase past his little den packed with books about world religions and his endless notebooks and in his room, proper, with the rough plaid blanket he loves so much covering him from his chin to his toes. He looks so cozy.

The blinds are open, his windows overlook the woods in the front of the house. The trees are still laced through with snow, the snow still threatens to remain until 2017 and my memories are still safely locked up, held by him, just like the little copper box with the bird and everything Jacob ever wrote down because it's been said that just glancing at his handwriting can send me into a tailspin so fast you might lose your hands trying to stop me.

I must have lost my train of thought or maybe I didn't have a ticket because when I look back at him he is awake and gazing at me, not really seeing me but probably wondering if he is really awake or still sleeping.

What's wrong? he asks.

Nothing. I like your view. 

Ah. You don't have this from the library? 

Not at treetop level.

I see. Where's Loch?

Also sleeping. 


Sleeping too.

I figured you'd keep your polysandwichery going until noon. What gives? 

I just needed to think. 

Heavy decisions, Bridget. 

It's for the best. 

Best for whom? 

Me. Caleb. I don't know. Lochlan said to be selfish. It's the most he's ever asked of me. 

But he asked anyway. 

He knows me better than I know myself. 

But he doesn't have all the answers so here you are. 

Fortune tellers and their crystal balls aren't real, Sam. 

Did you have your fortune told, Bridget? 

I did. 

And what did it say? 

That I would be loved by many yet kept by few. That passion would fire me and the sea would lull me to sleep. That things would never be exactly as I wish and that I would always want for more. And that I should watch out for the accountant because he tends to short the pay on the last day of each month.

So tell me exactly how that isn't real, Bridget? 

I don't want for any more than this, Sam. I really don't. 

What about if Jake were still here?

But he's not. He's now a fairytale. 

Are you the princess?

Sometimes. And sometimes I'm the monster.

Or maybe you are just as God intended. 

God's a real prankster, isn't he?

Thursday, 29 December 2016

One hundred and ten percent.

I might have worked today so if you see an album cover in the future featuring a photograph of a lady in a fur coat and seventies (we're talking high-waisted ivory bikini with orange and green flowers YES) bathing suit with a martini glass and sunglasses sitting on a lawn chair in a pool full of snow..well, it's me! And it's my pool!

It isn't my lawn chair (we don't have those seventies webbing finger pinch-traps thank God), my fur coat (I don't own a fur coat but I have several fur blankets I love to roll around on naked) or my martini glass (I don't have any of those either. We use those fat IKEA juice glasses for fucking EVERYTHING because I'm not only hella lazy but super-thrifty, having grown up poor, in a camper with two plastic Tupperware cups for drinkware, total. Lochlan's cup was red, mine was green.). I learned to be a minimalist but I learned to be an exhibitionist too and today was one of the most fun work days in recent memories. Trust me. The martinis were real, dirty and somewhat endless. The crew was a riot in spite of the light rain. The coat smelled funny but kept me warm and the lights melted the snow, which necessitated men with wheelbarrows fetching more from all four corners of the property and finally we were done. Which means they took my chair, coat and glass and I kept my sunglasses on right up until it started to rain again and Corey came back with a big fat cheque dated 2016. Now I have to file income taxes.

Just kidding. I have to file them anyway because I worked a few times this year. Mostly for Corey, since I didn't work for Caleb conventionally and Batman really didn't need me at all but provided a modest retainer for no reason other than he feels that he must. I don't plan to work for Caleb either now that we're back on, in case you think he's using me for tax preparation. Luke will look after that.

I'm really just for show. Days like this prove it. They feel somewhat surreal.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Lets be adults: 2017 edition.

The magic words are awesome: Please.

For Christmas I asked for the Devil.

(It was harder than it seems. Not only for me but for Loch.)

Not that it's any of anyone's business how or with whom I conduct my life but things weren't working without him in this place. I missed him something awful. I'm just damaged enough to still need him and just stupid enough to still want him. Plus not sure if anyone ever notices but everyone is a lot happier when he is happy. And when he's happy he's not flipping tables, levelling threats and brandishing weapons. Caleb has no in-between. He has nothing or he has everything and that includes moods, emotions, reactions, cash. It's the way it is. The C_____ brothers were known for their passion, or maybe just the trouble it got them into.

So I took my Christmas campaign to Lochlan. Since he was feeling generous and confident after the Sam-thing. He isn't going to lose me to anyone. Since I really didn't want to waste another minute trying everything short of that coveted lobotomy to fix things here. Since it IS Christmas.

But I didn't just ask for contraband quality time with Caleb. I asked for them to clear the air. To make up and move on. If I was the wedge driven between them then I will also be the glue to seal the rift. The original deal between them goes back into force (sharing is caring) and they can both look after me if they want. No one gets to fight for time since I decide. If it comes down to priority, Lochlan wins because I say he does. He remains the Alpha. The husband. Caleb remains the Sugar Daddy everyone adores. Caleb continues to do what he's always wanted to do, provide for us. All of us. And in return he gets time with me. I don't have to be ashamed of wanting time with him. It just becomes a de facto thing.

We can't do it with rules but we're going to use common sense. No violence. No velvet ribbons or asphyxiation bullshit. No safe words because they won't be needed. No holds. No weapons whatsoever. No withholding. No arguments. No selfishness. Just peace. Ben gets included in everything. (He may have fistpumped the air when he learned of this because I never know if he's going to feel left out so I preempt that risk with promises I wouldn't break on my deathbed.)

They were locked in a room for most of a day talking, shouting, at one point throwing fists and then they got past it and figured out something they haven't addressed since I was eleven. They renewed their promises to do what they set out to do in the first place. They vowed not to stab each other in the back. They got somewhere.

They actually got somewhere.

In the end Lochlan agreed to try. No true rules but I choose and if Caleb fucks something up it stops. If Lochlan loses his nerve or if I don't want to do something it stops. If I find it isn't working it stops. It's a trial. Nothing else has worked. Let's try this. We tried a few times before but we weren't clear in what we would be getting or giving. They didn't talk before. They're talking now.

Maybe that's been the one thing missing all this time. Maybe now we can start over. That's the theme for 2017. That is how we're going to move forward. It's been too long a fight. Gotta try getting along instead.

And for the issue with what started all this? I forgave Caleb a long time ago. He stuck around. He's been making restitution, forcing himself into my life so as to remain a big part of it. He gets credit for that. He didn't cut and run. Sometimes you have to let things go or let the people behind those awful things help you move on. We all make mistakes. Lots and lots and lots of them.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Good morning! What is it? Tuesday? We have fresh groceries, went out for lunch and came home. The roads are absolutely terrible and the snow is plentiful and frankly I'm fine to stay at home in new pajamas and cuddle with my boys. There's always someone free to do that. Today it's Christian. We read. Or rather, he reads voraciously and I mostly sleep. It's wonderful. Happy Christmas.

Monday, 26 December 2016

The Collective is my army and my army is my broken heart.

(Bear with me. As they say, I have a mental age of nine and so it takes a while to work things through in my head.)
Come on over
Come unglued
It's not easy
To see all of you
Help yourselves
Help is on the way
It's cold. The fireplace is on. The snow piles up on the railings and the window ledges, falling heavily outside. I slide down his knees into his lap proper, my hands holding his face. I kiss him hard. I can't breathe. I try and catch my breath against his mouth but it's gone. I think he took it in order to resurrect me in stolen flames. For show. Today is for show. Today is for reunions. Today is for testing the ice and making sure it holds. I am the only one with doubt. The one always hanging behind. The one who's so curious but will always and forever wait for the go ahead from someone else first. Just in case.

I keep sticking one foot on the frozen surface of this deep pond and retreating quickly as it cracks. Lochlan gives me a gentle shove. The first few steps will be the hardest. It's fine. It'll hold, he tells me. His voice though. It's hard to believe.

Across the shore Caleb stands with his hands out. Come on, he calls. Besides, if you fall through I'll save you. 

Or I will, Lochlan points out.

Or we could go the long way around, August says.

Trust in Him to keep you safe, Sam reminds me.

I can have this paved, Batman says to no one in particular. He fixes things in such a heavy-handed way and I frown.

Or we could just go home and order pizza. Did I mention I think Ben is the smartest person I know?

I'm game for that. PJ. Up for anything.

But when I turn back around the entire pond is surrounded. There's a boy stationed every ten feet.

We won't let you drown, it means. We've got you, it says. My soul tears itself into little pieces like confetti in Caleb's hands and he throws it up into the air. It doesn't come back down. I wait a few extra beats of my heart but it vanishes.

Where did it go? I ask him, my childlike curiosity urgent, uncensored.

Jacob will keep it up there for you. In the meantime it frees you up to live your life. 

How do I know he's in heaven?

He's there, Bridget. If he had ever wanted to be part of this we would have kept him safe too. Kept him strong. But he wanted to be on the outside and that's too hard. He waits for you though. We'll all be together again someday a long time from now. Cole is there too. He hurt so much but he wasn't bad, Bridget. 

My eyes sting and I shut them tight, squinting until blackness floods into view. I rock back on my heels. Andrew steadies me, one hand on my back. I didn't know he came out on the ice with me. My partner in crime since we were in preschool. I always needed reassurance before doing risky things.

I'll do whatever it takes to see this through, Caleb tells me and I believe him. Look where you are, Neamhchiontach. 

I look down at my feet and see clear cold glass underneath, transparent darkness. I'm in the centre. I see rocks, plants frozen in place, cold firm earth from where just before this there was nothing, I'd be over my head, fighting for breath, borrowing strength to be safe.

The Collective stands around me in a closed circle. The ice is holding under all of them. It's freshwater, it's unfamiliar in feel and in composition but they're trying to make a point so they've done it this way deliberately. The two places we would leave empty on purpose always have been filled back in and the wall and the ice is unending, impenetrable. Safe.

2016 will be known as the year we finally fixed all the things we spent every other year breaking, maybe. Time will tell. Time's not a liar, it's a rat. I get that now.

We'll see sooner rather than later. Hold tight, Peanut.

I nod. I am. 

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Christmas circus.

Sam lit the Christ candle, slammed shut the book of Luke and broke into Oh Come All Ye Faithful with a satisfied smile, the congregation picking up the song on the second line. He gets a week off starting today. He'll need it to come down from his Christmas pedestal. A full house celebrated with him and he rides on a career high Jake never got to experience but hopefully appreciates from afar.

His bosses love him. His congregation loves him and he is content with himself in a way Jake never was. Maybe I failed to read the writing that I saw on the wall. I saw it, I just didn't read it through.

Merry Christmas Jake. I'll love you forever.

He loved Christmas so much. Every moment was a ritual, every ritual a memory. He futureproofed my life in some odd ways as much as he devastated it in even ways and I stand here with a wine glass that's actually half-wine and half fruit juice (Holiday sangria if you will) because I'm waiting on the turkeys and taking a moment to breathe. I threw open the kitchen windows and the patio doors and took off my apron and poured a big glass, gave PJ a hug and stole a cookie before dinner because pinch me, I'm happy. I'm content like Sam and protected like Jake, my soul heavenbound even if I still don't have it back. It's come to rest in a safe place. 

We worked things out. We're working it out. Not an instant fix, just a radically different approach that everyone somehow agreed on. Maybe it's a Christmas high soon to be dashed. I don't know. 

If it holds it's the most wonderful sum of its parts, I mean people. The effort to forgive and move ahead is duly noted. The sheer will to get along and love and make up and start over is the best gift of all. 

We did it because we have to for survival. We're futureproofing ourselves here. We're making this life better. 

Merry Christmas to all my readers, both fans and detractors alike. 2017 is going to be incredible for me and therefore highly entertaining for you.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

The Anodyne Child Princess of Point Perdition: A Christmas story.

I went from not talking to talking for almost twelve hours straight.

We locked ourselves in the library with tissues and alcohol and had it out.

That room is soundproof, by the way. It's a panic-room of sorts with a hidden exit via a staircase down to the basement and outside. The windows are bulletproof laminated glass and the room itself is fireproof and stocked with bug-out supplies and a locking door that can't be picked unless you're Lochlan and you have those questionable skills. It isn't the only room like this on the point, there are two per house (our other one is the studio downstairs) because we're closet psycho preppers, if you need to know, which you don't. It's almost a hobby/sport and less of a necessity thing though, as my contributions to the necessities involve sparklers, glowsticks and Magic Fire. Because I hate the dark and if the apocalypse comes I need small comforts.

Why am I telling you this? Because the biggest small comfort in my life is sometimes a soundproof room, and because when you have Very Big Talks and sometimes fights it's nice to keep the whole mess from your children and those who still don't know you well enough to understand a history so deep there's probably a megalodon at the bottom.

It comes in handy.

Things are changing again. It's a trial. We did it before and it didn't work because the rules were the wrong rules, the greed and the grief bloomed, taking over everything and maybe, just maybe we are mellowing a little in our old age (HAR) and the affronts and implications are no longer the same, the needs are vastly different and so are the means. No more push and pull. I got what I came for. So did they.

More later. We found a new place for breakfast and yet it's casual so the tables are bolted to the floor. Just in case. Trust is always the last thing to grow back in a scorched earth campaign and that's what this has been.

This meal is not a test though, more like a mulligan. No surprises, no ambushes, no cries of First. Just the army as it was always meant to be: together.

Friday, 23 December 2016


Caleb had Apology Flowers delivered to the house this morning. I texted him because I thank people when they give me things. Except for yesterday because I couldn't accept what he gave me so he lifted the whole table up and practically threw it, having a Cole-calibre tantrum if ever there was one. He remembered himself long enough to pick up the gift and took it with him when he left.

I stammered something useless at the manager of the restaurant, left him one of Caleb's cards and followed him out, where he was pacing on the sidewalk. I went the other way. He followed and I turned and stared him down until he stopped walking and then I turned and kept on going. I didn't say anything to him and it's driven him half-crazy in the meantime.

The doorbell rings twice. He does that so I hear it. I go and open the door and wait for him to talk.

Say something, please, Neamhchiontach. 

I close the door in his face.

You replied to my text, he calls. Please talk to me. 

I open the door again and he smiles before he sees me ready to throw my phone at him. He catches it and his face falls as I close the door again.

I'll bring it back at supper and we can talk then. Okay? If you need it before then send Padraig over. 

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Fucking spectacular.

The haze from the weather burns 'em all together
And I'm losing track of time
Trying to find my own way
What if forever is better than never?
And baby, it's a sign
That we found our own way

I will not let my heart ache
Got kicked out of yet another restaurant. Maybe that's why I like fast food. It' There isn't time for emotions to change. There isn't time for rage to wash over hope, turning tables, flipping them even, leaving your lunch date to walk down the sidewalk quickly, alone, having to call her husband out of a meeting ten blocks away because she needed a ride home.

The I-told-you-sos are loud today as I was warned multiple times that the Devil is a powder keg of a man, that his peacefulness is a ruse, that he's dangerous and I shouldn't run off for fancy lunches and shopping and time with someone like that.

But I believed in him because I had hope too.

My rage doesn't manifest itself in huge physical displays like his though. I just go quiet. I just cut you out of my life without a word. It shouldn't be called ghosting, however. More like reverse-ghosting. 

More like long overdue. I know my brain's going to cave in at the thought of not having him anymore but at the same time it's for the best.

Or so they say.

Because this can't continue like this. I want to move on. I don't want the rollercoaster of building the trust up and up and up only to have the terrifying plummet back to doubt.

He's going to come crawling back and I want to stand on his fingers, crushing them under my boots so that he can't get purchase on me, destroying his hands so he can't touch me anymore, can't defend himself as I move on to his handsome face, can't save himself when I rip apart his brain or whatever it is that's inside him that made him spend his entire life trying to destroy mine. All in the name of love.

This isn't love, Caleb. How dare you keep trying to call it that, as if you can make it into something beautiful? It never will be and neither will you or I, for that matter. You made sure of that a long time ago.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016


It's difficult to celebrate the rebirth of the sun, the travel from darkness back into the light, on the shortest day of the year.

Who decides these things?

We marked the sunrise with a toast to the horizon and then a chilly rush back up to the house where fires are lit as well as the Christmas trees and boys sleep on. Some of them have started Christmas vacation already. Some of them now have to change out of warm sweaters, pajamas and boots into business attire and go to work (dammit, Lochlan). Still others will stoke the fires of hell in case the warmth of a different sort invites wayward lost folk in to soothe their cold achey bones.

I am not wayward. I am not lost. I know exactly where I am. 

No, you don't. 

You don't want to do this today. This is my third least favorite day of the year. 

Oh, if only I could keep up with you, Neamhchiontach. Caleb kisses the top of my head and I wait to see if there's a hug chaser or if he smartly retreats. Ah. Brains today. Don't push the wolf's buttons. Not today. Today is going his way and if you change that he's going to eat you alive.

I have something for you. A subject change within the narrow focus of things the Devil actually likes to talk about. Procurement. Investment. Victory. Death. He isn't all that well-versed in idle talk. Not like all the rest. He is the heavy boot crushing the abject creativity of the rest of this Utopia and all it does is force us to work that much harder. Not a bad thing, truly.

Christmas is on Sunday. Today we are dealing with the dark. I am morning-drunk and I hate the solstice and everyone knows it. I watch the length of the days like other people watch television, rapt and eager to see how it turns out.

Right. I thought I could make that better by treating you to brunch and presents. For a minute there I thought he meant presence and I was pleasantly surprised before I remembered who I'm talking to.

I thaw, but just a little. He brings out the shallow waters in my otherwise bottomless depths. Baubles, shiny magpie things. Curiosity. And like I said, death.

I have to ask. 

Who in the fuck must you ask if Pyro has already left for work? 

I smile. Ben. 

Ben is home? (Ben was in Los Angeles for two days (too long). I hate it there so I didn't go but Daniel went to be his straight and narrow and he did well and they got the hell out as soon as they could.)

Yes. Another smile. Ben is my favorite thing in the whole world and he isn't even a thing, he's a person. I don't objectify my boys, I worship them. He got in late last night. I'm fucking WRECKED. I smile really big for effect. You know when you've been on a horse for a whole afternoon and you can't-


Yes? What? 

Are you free for lunch? 

Ben isn't awake yet. 

You're an adult. You decide. 

Yes, I'm free. 

Meet me at the car at eleven. I'll make reservations. 


Not fast food. 

Well, duh. I don't think you can get a table held at those-

Bridget. A withering stare.

I'm just curious. (The permanent disclaimer.)

You always are. I count on that. I'll choose some place bright so you can feel better about the solstice and be in the sun. Maybe you'll grow. 

Oh well, if the digs are coming along they can take my chair and I'll stay home. 

But then you won't get your present. 

What is it? 

Join me for lunch and you'll find out.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Executive, execution.

His heart beats like a metronome, lulling me to sleep. Slowest when it can find mine nearby. When he stops talking, negotiating, threatening and gives in. When his fear becomes my power I feel like I can relax.

Stay, Neamhchiontach. It's Christmas. His voice breaks down into a whisper on the last word and I note the pain audible in his voice.

I'll come back. I don't know as I say it if I want to or if I'm stalling. I forget everything when I'm here.

He tells me he'll replace the things he broke in the front hall yesterday. I nod, uncommitted. The vase isn't as important as the argument that saw its demise. I'd rather replace the goodwill between them. I don't care about a stupid vase.

Not the point. He reads my mind.

It IS the point, I argue and he gets up, heading into the kitchen, suddenly wide awake, like me. The conversation is over and with it, any  power I thought I had in a moment where my guard was nowhere to be found.


I got the turkeys today! Five of them. Almost twelve pounds each which is sixty pounds of turkey and probably not enough. one turkey per oven on the point if I can convince everyone to babysit the birds instead of being here together on Christmas day. Huh. I think we'll hatch them in shifts like we usually do. One in my oven, one in Dalton & Duncan's, one in August's, one in Caleb's and one at Daniel's, with Batman's being the backup oven in case of weird power outages or sudden appliance breakdowns.

(Because I told you about the Kraft Dinner Thanksgiving, didn't I?)

A case of stuffing. Twenty pounds of potatoes, ten of carrots and we're going into full Army Mess mode to get this dinner pulled off. I had to special order the rolls everyone likes because the bakery told me I couldn't buy them out but they will have enough for me by Thursday and I bought cheap white wine because it's tradition and chocolates because no one ever wants dessert. Six cans of cranberry jelly because it's good and three big squashes because they bake up fast with a little butter and brown sugar and hopefully there will be room with the turkeys in the oven. All technical five houses are going to eat together here because I get what I want and because like he said, it's Christmas.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Soul reversal.

He is a wolf. Maybe a wolf and a fox mixed together because of the red. Red fur around his jaw, red curls spilling over the shoulders of his flannel shirt, his hair almost flat on his skull due to the weight of those big curls. His hair grows so fast he looks like a wild animal half the time and as he all but bares his teeth at the devil I daresay he acts like one half the time. The feral references aren't just for me, they're for us, because being on the road is polarizing and savage when you're on the amusement circuit and is nothing at all like being on a tour bus playing gigs. We strip it right back to survival mode and anything else is sheer decadence and comfort, even the dumbest things I don't take for granted even today, like a working washing machine, a hot shower or a really long hug from someone Safe.

Safe is still (and forever will be) a four-letter word, spat in insolence and incredulity alike, ravaged in irony, fought for in wars. Not every war makes the papers though. Theirs is a long, slow burn.

It's not your worry, Diabhal. There are the teeth. Slightly crooked, perfect-sized, glinting in the light along with his flashing eyes. They got into it in the vestibule at church while we waited in line to find our coats.

Dóiteáin, I wasn't speaking to you, if you don't mind.

PJ hisses at them both. Take. it. outside. Better yet, take it home. We'll square you off in the snow and you can beat each other right.

They both look at him for a moment before choosing to drop it.

Then Caleb flipped the table in the foyer when we got home, and my gorgeous crackle glass vase lived up to its name as it shattered into a million pieces on the floor, mixed with the boughs of greenery and holly branches I had sourced to try and decorate when I am usually overwhelmed by the sheer size of the house and so I do nothing.

Sam? I thought you were being figurative, Bridget and you? He looks at Lochlan. You LET HER?

She can have anything she wants.

Maybe you should work on giving her what she needs. Oh, wait, that's my role here. To come in and clean up everyone's messes and get her back on her feet after you all take what you want-

Diabhal, stop it! He had nothing to do with it.

Bridget, don't defend him. If he didn't tell you he was fine with it you wouldn't do it.

It's not like that.

Please explain what it's like, then because all I see is him making you sicker, telling you to do whatever or whoever to get back at me. You think he has your best interests at heart? I think he's got his own interests at play here.

She's happy, Cale. Don't fuck with that.

But Sam? SERIOUSLY? I thought we agreed that this would never happen again? That we would never have to face a showdown with a preacher because we agreed to keep her from this. And you bring him to her on a platter.

She's fine.

She's not fine. LOOK AT HER! They all turn to stare at me and I try to hold my head high but I'm shaking.

Leave, please. I tell him.

I'M TRYING TO KEEP YOU SAFE! THEY'RE THE WOLVES, BRIDGET. I'm just a man trying to keep everything together here.

Lochlan slides his arm around my back and pulls me in to face him, tucking me against his chest, his scratchy wool jacket burning my cheek. He bares his teeth again and the walls fall away, leaving only the trees and the snow. She asked you to leave.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

What's yours is mine.

This morning Sam had one early service and cancelled the other, the fourth Sunday of advent even which he doesn't take lightly but it's snowing like gangbusters outside again. It's very weird to have snow at the bottom of the mountains and people drive in all new challenging ways than usual so he made the call and got the word out immediately after first church, which we shall call regular service as it was indoors and no one had to fight to remember the words to the Christmas hymns. The books are right there, one for every two people. We have to share.

That was his sermon today as he lit the candle on the big wreath. Sharing. Sharing the Spirit, sharing the word of God, sharing our blessings with others.

You should have seen the look on Lochlan's face.

You should have seen the look on Caleb's.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

James & Jyn.

I went to see Rogue One this afternoon with half the boys, packed in the middle of our block of seats, escaping for an afternoon.

All I'll say about it is go watch These Final Hours, a 2013 Australian movie about the end of the world and then watch Rogue One. There's a really pivotal scene in each and gosh darnit, it was exactly the same.

It was also a lot darker than the last Star Wars movie I saw, and I'm told if you rush home and watch A New Hope it flows seamlessly right into it. Which Ben says is a very good thing. I just find them so dry and not really my thing. But I go to be one of the boys, just like I did at six years old when they were all eleven and older when they would have seen it for the first time and we were on whole different levels of movie preferences. I didn't know them yet. I think I cried when 'Dark Vader' came on screen and he's been scary ever since. That's not going to endear me to this franchise, sorry folks. Hate me if you like but don't tell me you come here for my vast knowledge of the Rebel Alliance.

(I have absolutely none.)

Friday, 16 December 2016

Waning year.

There's something about the waves when it's cold. They're icy, clear and pale blue at the top and then they gradually darken into a cold steely teal color I can't duplicate no matter how hard I try. It doesn't come out right in photographs or paint swatches or memory either, it's just one of those things you need to see for yourself. Like the Collective itself. We don't translate well to these little vignettes, to the stunted, edited, chopped out stories I share. We sound disjointed, hedonistic and out of control.

We're not.

I'm not.

They keep me locked down to a tight schedule. They keep me safe and busy and entertained and emotionally raw. That's the glue, for us. Feelings. After they taught me to feel big I taught them how to show it. It's the one constant when everyone wants something different on the big screen, a different condiment in their sandwich and a different sexual position in their bed.

The variations in one house alone is stunning. We have mayonnaise, chipotle mayonnaise, sriracha mayo, mustard, horseradish, honey mustard, and butter. There are more but those are the favorites.

Bet you expected a different list right there, didn't you?

Last night I fell asleep sprawled on Ben while he watched MASH seasons in full. His arms were warm. His breath was warm on the top of my head, and I'm pretty sure he drifted off for most of it as well.

He stirred around two and we woke up and realized Lochlan was there. Curled up next to Ben, with his hoodie on with the hood up and the body pulled down over his knees. I wouldn't have seen him in the dark save for the shock of red curls coming out of the hood opening.

The screen featured Netflix politely asking if anyone was still watching. I didn't realize Ben had switched to Sense8 from MASH at some point during the evening. Ben pulled a second blanket off the back of the sectional and covered Lochlan with it. Loch startled awake and then smiled and asked if we minded him crashing the party and crashing literally.

No, brother. Go back to sleep. Ben shifted me off him, dumping me down in the middle between them under both blankets. I blinked and it was six in the morning and the projector was off and we had been given pillows. Lochlan's alarm was beeping. Time for a new day where it's still cold and the waves are still those beautiful icy shades of blue and we still feel everything really hard but we can't seem to capture or harness any of it, ever.

Thursday, 15 December 2016


They should have a tour at Christmas.

I keep staring at the midway lights. Lochlan is replacing bulbs, standing in the back of his truck to reach. I'm in the cab. There's no window between us, he took it out because he won't let me sit in the back of the truck while it's moving and he couldn't leave me behind. He has to do this job at night so he can see which lights need replacing. I hand him the proper colors as he calls for them.

No one would come. People are home with their families. Plus it's too cold to spend the evening outside. Imagine being in the camper in winter? There's no heat. We'd freeze. 

We wouldn't freeze. We would just snuggle down and be warm. Also, what about people that don't have families?

They go to spend the holiday with friends. 

What if they don't have any friends? Like me. Where would I go?

What are you talking about, Peanut? You have all of us.

But you're all so much older and you all have each other. 

And you. We have you. I need a red.

So I can spend Christmas with all of you when I grow up? I hand him a red bulb. He takes it and smiles at me.

I sure hope so. I'm counting on it.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Credible threat.

Haunting my reflection
A bitter thought comes to my mind
I made known my objection
About how you had come to die
His hands cover my head, clutching my skull against his chest. I let out a deep breath and he asks me something but I can't hear him so I lift my head up to look at him.

I asked you if you want me to get Ben too.

No, this is good for now. We can call him up later.

You want me to get- I can feel him stiffen even before he asks.

No. Just you.

He relaxes again and my heart flexes and fuses part of itself back together.

I'm not a wolf, Bridget. I'm trying to give you what you need. If you want to be free the door is open. You know the old adage 'if you love someone set them free, if they come back they're yours', well, you keep coming back to me. Every time. You're mine and I know that and no one's going to take that from me so you can go off and explore your feelings all you like. At the end of the day you're mine.

What if I get hurt?

I'll protect you.

What if you change your mind?

I won't.

What if-

We could do this all night. It won't change a thing. I love you. I'm trying to give you what you need. Take it before I lose my nerve. 


When I woke up again Ben was breathing on my head and Lochlan was gone. I extricated myself from Ben's light grasp and went to find Lochlan. I saw the light on in the library and as I got closer I could hear his voice and Sam's. I couldn't make out what they were saying but it was calm and thoughtful at least so I turned around and went back upstairs to bed, pulling Ben around me. He turned willingly and woke up, and without a word he stripped me out of my pajamas and held me against him. Tighter than usual too.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Pale shelter.

Curiousity and mild fright morphed into visceral rage somewhere in the long dark and it all caught up with me in a hurry as I stood at the door looking out into the cold endless night, now dusted with snow, holding my hand behind my back, fingers crossed. PJ made me a drink that wasn't quite meant for my weight class and so I can't feel the cold or the remnants of the fear but I can feel the anger coming like arrows lit with fire. They're all aiming for my heart. One will always be closer than the rest but the others still make their mark and I am left riddled with holes, brought back to life by the good graces of the sun in simple daylight, torn apart before then because that's what wolves do.

And this is my pack even as I stand out like a kitten who made a wrong turn in the forest.

I'm only hurting myself on purpose here, no one else. To Lochlan it's just another test of my loyalty. To me it's a challenge to see if I can take it. To everyone else it's a foolish risk and a chance that shouldn't be taken and a Just Plain Bad Idea but they don't get to decide. Selfishness shines like pride and I know exactly what any one of them would decide on my behalf.

And so I waltz into brave ideas like a clumsy dancer, tripping over my own feet, sure of the music I can't hear though I know it must be there and when I'm in someone's arms sometimes it makes sense and this is one of those times. I haven't set times or made promises but I haven't written him off either. I am thinking. I don't know much of anything except how to steal important things like hearts and money but I do know when things shift a little and I think I can make some room. I always have a little wiggle room. It's made up of the spaces left over in between the pieces of my heart, where I tied them all together as tightly as I could but the wind still whistles right through it as I stand here with the door open looking into the trees, a row of sentries looking back at me. At least these ones don't yell.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Everyone has a thing. This is mine.

When Lochlan leaves the room I am turned back over. Hands hold my face up, strong arms keep me close, and a strong unfamiliar cadence moves us both.

God forgive me, he says to me.

I'm not God, I tell him.

He ducks his nose down against my ear and resumes a stranger's pace as I close my eyes. He smells like cedar and woodsmoke and old leather. His hands are shaking. His breathing is quiet. The pressure on my bones increases incrementally. He's holding me harder and tighter with every passing minute until my bones threaten to break and I am released and then with a lingering kiss he is gone and my heart beats a new rhythm I can't quite keep up with, all of the sudden.


Everything is different again. It's weird. Usually everyone gets mad. This time they're afraid. I haven't seen this kind of undercurrent of fear since Jake elbowed his way into the group so many years ago.

God works in mysterious ways.


Honesty left me stripped like a tree of its leaves in winter. I'm chilled to the bone, bare and harsh against the clouds, thin and spindly and unable to block the wind that threatens to pull up my roots and blow me over.

What if you fall for him? 

I stand up and smooth out my coat underneath me. Then I sit back down. Better. It was all bunched up and I was even warmer than usual. What if I do? I like the fear rolling off him in waves. Truly I do.

You already have, haven't you?

I ignore his observation. Can we just get coffee? The third degree never leave me with an appetite.

Can't you exist without falling in love with every man you come across? 

You know what? Thanks for the invite but I'm really not hungry or thirsty anymore.

The truth hurts, doesn't it?

No but I'm guessing the jealousy does?



Were you this open with Lochlan when you talked about it? 

We don't talk about it. 

Maybe you should. He needs to know what he's getting himself into. 

He knows me better than anyone. 

In this case I'm thinking I'm the only one who realizes just how quickly you fall. 

Not that again. 


Trying to pretend as if there was something wrong already when you came on the scene and that's why I fell for you. 

I'm certain that's what it was. 

You're wrong. 

You couldn't have possibly known at the time. You were a chi-

A child. Right. I remember. 

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Wolves at the Gate (bait them and switch).

I know who you are, you wanted to be perfect
In all that you were, but you bailed, you bailed
I know who you are, you wanted to be worth it
In all that you were, but you failed, you failed
The snow falls steadily outside the windows.

I close my eyes.

Lochlan slides his hands up underneath my back, pulling me in close against him. He cradles my head, keeping his weight on his forearms, keeping my face pressed in close against his skin. His breath comes harsh against the top of my head, the music so loud in my ears from the headphones.

The instructions are always simple. Let the music take you. Wade right into it and float there. I'll be here. I'm not leaving.

My arms are locked tight, wrapped around his shoulders, my teeth bared against his shoulder, my legs aching as he drives before slowing to a delirious crawl. Then there are other arms there, pulling me out from underneath, taking his place, this time giving me nothing to hold on to except dear life as I am blinded and deafened, facedown in the quilts. The snow is gone, the curls are gone but the music is still loud and the courage has arrived as he was told to join in as soon as he felt comfortable and instead he's just taken over.

This doesn't surprise me one bit. It's always the quiet ones that come out of their shells in what you would think would be the most awkward or difficult of situations.

Lochlan comes back later. I am alone again and just about asleep, watching the fire, buried in blankets, my skin flushed and burned and consecrated again. Jesus bed, I'll call it.

Saturday, 10 December 2016


What's a partridge?
What's a pear tree?
I don't know so please don't ask me
But I can bet those are terrible gifts to get
Some idiot gave me the Let it Snow Baby...Let it Reindeer album so I've been singing badly with my fledgling cold all day.

There's snow.


IT DIDN'T EVEN MELT YET. Well, not completely anyway.

This is perfect. I have nothing left to do. I did all my chores. I'm going to make a cup of coffee and watch Netflix and crochet a scarf.

So PJ ruins it.

What do you want for Christmas, Bridge?

(They've been bugging me for a list for a few days now. Days. Not weeks.

I was done shopping slightly after Halloween. Everything was mailed off late November that had to go across the country and I finished all my wrapping a week ago. I'm READY. Earlier than ever. Next year I may leave it until December twentieth just to enjoy the panic.

Or not.)

I square off with PJ. Oh, honey..

Don't Oh-honey me, just name something you want. 


Bridget, CHRIST! I mean something I can buy locally. 

Find me a good book. 

Nope, you read three books a year and at this rate your night table contents will be finished around when you turn sixty years old. 


I can barely deal with you now. 

That's like fifteen books? 

God, your math sucks. It's almost fifty books. 

Wow. I hate math. Get me a math tutor. Better yet get me a butler who does math on the side. 

God, I thought you said does meth on the side. Imagine the entertainment value?

How about you get me a pair of cool socks instead?

You wear all black. 

I know. Good luck. 


You know what I'd love? Some more of that English toffee syrup to put in my coffee. 

You're going to be a raging diabetic before you finish all those books, Baby. 

Look, if you're just going to trash all my other ideas, just go with the drugged up butler. You can't go wrong! Then you can make him shop for you instead of leaving it until the last minute.

Friday, 9 December 2016

3 Gs: Just like astronauts feel heading into outer space.

(All I want for Christmas is this.)
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
That seems to be the common theme for the point for 2016: Grief, greed and guilt. We are evenly split, divided into thirds, standing under our respective accusations as if they are our own personal planets and yet the moment we all stepped down off our pedestals and acknowledged our positions, we turned a corner so hard we drifted just a little bit and wound up in some new galaxy.

I squealed. It was cool.

We're going to call it The Future and as soon as we're settled and we don't feel these Gs anymore from rocketing around so much between the past, present and tomorrow we're going to be okay.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Hysterical deafness.

(This is probably disjointed. I have a stabbing headache from the cold.)

Lochlan is patient, accommodating and open. I wanted to go for a walk on the beach today before it gets covered with snow and I'm no longer allowed. The rocks get so slippery and you have to balance on them to get to the sand. Ironic since I used to walk the high-wire for a living. Ironic because when I was little he used to demand that I grow up and once I did that he regretted it profoundly and has wished ever since to send me back to childhood. But I got my walk and a long talk with him with no shouting or bickering, for once.

He's also talking to Sam because he thought maybe Sam was steering me straight into Caleb's arms but Sam is actually trying to teach me how to navigate by myself without plans or input from anyone. Besides, Sam and Caleb, as the living angel and the fallen angel in this story, don't exactly get along. Lochlan has some deep seated awful guilt that he carries with him as a huge chip on his shoulder and all of this has to be shifted or remolded into something we can all live with and something we can use productively, because we all have to live together. 

Or rather, we want to live together. All of us. But Caleb sometimes makes that very hard. 

One of the things Lochlan promises is that in the spring we'll cut a proper walking path to the beach so I can come down here on my own (never mind the steps I'm forbidden to use. Maybe he's putting in a giant escalator because we all know how much I love THOSE) which would be nice. 

In the meantime, he tells me to enjoy the view because we won't come back down until it warms up, that it's fucking cold and if I want to look at the waves I can use the binoculars and look out the window. 

(That wasn't a bicker, technically because I failed to reply, instead soaking up the sun and the salt as much as I can before we retreat indoors for we have become lightweights.)

Sam stopped short of telling me I should go to the beach alone if I want to after weighing the risks and benefits. Not as impartial as I thought. Caleb called and said if I wanted to go he can take me, not to worry. He works hard at finding their weak spots and punching right through, which I can appreciate but I see how it fractures the Collective as a whole. Maybe I always did but I chose to be blind. 

I hope he can unlock my hearing next. Maybe I just refuse to listen. Maybe it's a defense mechanism so I no longer have to hear the awful things I was told as a child, awful things that were done that left me at that age forever. As Sam likes to remind me, I have the grief under control lately. It's everything else I can't manage now but that doesn't mean I won't be able to in the future. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

A sea of bees.

Cause if this was our destiny I'd treasure the fact
And I'd give you whats left of me if I'd held back

But I don't need a soul
No I don't need a soul to hold
Without you I'm still whole
You and life remain beautiful
I haven't been avoiding Sam.

Sam and I take hours-long walks or spend time just about every day. We do role-playing, we ask questions and throw out ideas, we dig deep. He sets up scenarios and I navigate them. He gives me things to try and I work at it. I come home or come back downstairs exhausted and mostly in tears. Sam opens the door for me and then when the whole house descends on him in a rage he nods. He doesn't tell them what we've been doing, he works with me, not them. He doesn't feel the need to reassure them. That's my job. He's the clinician, the counselor right now. He isn't their friend right now. It's a dirty job but he said he'll be damned if he spends all this time here and doesn't overturn every last stone to help me.

This has been going on for months and it's made everyone a little crazy. They've accused Sam of things, they've barred him from me, they've asked him to fill them in and he mostly lets them think whatever they want. He is indeed lonely but that was also a cover. It's a long story but I've made a lot of progress, I've slid backwards a few times (okay, dozens of times) and I swore I would hate him forever but then I realize I've turned another corner.

Since nothing else works he's been teaching me how to live with my demons and also my ghosts, how to exist in a world where I'm half-woman, half-child, how to use the things I've learned in the past to navigate the present and hopefully the future, and how to live on my own terms instead of those of everyone else.

How to grow up when everyone else wants to keep me small.

How to speak up when I can't hear the sound of my own voice. How to ask for what I want, and get it without danger, without harm coming to me or to those I love.

How to move on. Evolve. Change. Mature.

It turns out he is definitely qualified and ridiculously observant and has a much thicker skin than I realized. I'm growing a similar one as we speak. It turns out the boys, on the whole, are rather reluctant to see any of this take place as it interferes with things always staying the same. They want what's best for me but at the same time they've done nothing but fight to keep the status quo. Sam has also taught me that this isn't something I should be angry about, as I knew it all along, but that I can change their minds, I can lead by example, I can show them that this is necessary. It's so long overdue I may have missed the boat but then Sam said if I look hard, there's always another one going by that will take me to the same place.

Just cross your fingers for me, would you? I might be finally doing okay here, and that's what I want, even if it means the end of being perpetually twelve years old.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016


We did go to dinner last night, either as a coup or a mutiny or maybe just a moment where Caleb remembered he isn't Mr. Nice Guy after all and told Lochlan to shove it up his rabbit in the hat, that we were going to dinner, that he was welcome to come with, that sometimes Bridget needs someone around who doesn't cut her meat for her (WAIT. Is that a...euphemism?) and we'd be back by eight.

We went for Monte Cristos. Because I love them. Cake has been replaced, I think. All I want for Christmas is a fried sandwich and a pickle on the side (Oh, that's DEFINITELY a euphemism).

In fact, I think I might be the patron saint of that sandwich. That or the urban legend equivalent. Look into the mirror and say Monte Cristo three times and a Bridget will appear, scare you shitless and steal your sandwich.

Am I marginalizing myself?


Just to be a dick, Caleb had us back at eight-fifteen and Lochlan did his patented predictable behavior where he comes down the walk hollering things I can't understand even if I could hear him over the purr of the R8. Caleb raises his voice slightly in a plea for peace (for my sake), points out my relative intactness (HAR HAR) and Lochlan shuffles me inside where he'll grill me for ten minutes about the day before deciding if he's sure that I still love him and haven't left him for the devil.

I can't say I'd be any different but I reminded him he was INVITED.

I even stomped my foot for good measure. For emphasis. For euphemisms.

Monday, 5 December 2016

How the flinch stole Christmas.

Caleb invited me over for some Christmas cheer and asked if I could help with his gifts, in exchange for Christmas music, mulled wine and maybe some dinner out this evening if I could. I don't know about dinner but the rest is a go and I brought some olives and cheese with me so we can at least have something to snack on while we do his cards. 

I don't mind-I love doing wrapping and addressing-and he pays very well. Plus Lochlan didn't hesitate when I asked him if he minded. I didn't ask him if I could go, just if he minded and then I would make a determination from there but he was gruff and dismissive about it so I took that as a 'don't bother me, I'm busy' mindset and I packed up the snacks and headed across the driveway in the...the....


(Which lasted all of fifteen or twenty minutes before it began to melt as it hit brick and swiftly turned to straight rain again. I got lots of chilly vitamin D yesterday and things aren't so bad weather-wise right now, I can handle a little more rain and I promise I won't complain about it.)

When I went over he had Christmas music cued up and wine that he was pouring into mugs. He looked up as I opened the door and held up my picnic basket. 

Hey! Somehow I didn't think you'd be coming. 

And yet you're pouring two mugs. 

Yes, well, my second choice was John, if you couldn't come over. 

He'll be flattered, no doubt. 

He's not as pretty though, so it's a distant second choice at that. 

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Anyone watching Westworld? (No spoilers)

Okay, honestly? Westworld has so much potential, they just haven't figured it out yet. The sets and clothing are gorgeous, the acting unparalleled. The only problem is the story, sadly. The show's creators were so busy trying to be clever and mysterious that they forgot to care if we were invested in the characters or not.

We weren't. Maybe next season will be better? I hope so. 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

It was sunny when I woke up, and yet too cold to go outside and linger in my pajamas and so after letting the dog out we (the dog and I) went back upstairs and jumped back into bed with Ben and Lochlan. I fell back asleep for an hour dreaming about maybe going for a walk in the sun later and when I went back downstairs it was raining and everything looked dark, dim and dreary. Same as always, same as ever.

So we went out for lunch at a greasy little diner and went Christmas-light shopping and came home again to hang up the lights. 2 more strands for the tree and the rest strung from the ceiling all over the place. Which is PERFECT and looks busy and festive. We put them high enough so that Ben won't garrote himself but you can still see them. I love the way it looks. They won't be coming down after Christmas either, like the ones outside.

Because I always wanted to go back and live on the Midway and now I get the best part but also it's safe and warm and we don't have to pack up every eight days and go on to the next town.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Sixty days of rain (like 30 Days of Night but with only one monster).

I should write a book.

How not to keep your sanity when it's been drowned in a puddle. 

It'll be a bestseller and everyone will call me 'refreshing' and 'honest' for my insistence that it's okay to be a goddamned mess. Aren't we all at this point? I can pick mushrooms off my shoulders and eat them. My hair never dries. I can't stand the darkness anymore and I want to scream.

I used to say this about snow and endless winter, endless cold. Then I moved to the rainforest where it hardly gets cold enough for a jacket but it also never. 





August is shopping for a SAD light for me. I've only been asking for one for seven or ten years now. I want to sleep all the time and I can't seem to accomplish much and then I have a manic/panic flurry and catch up in the bright artificially-lit room, like a moth, sticking my face right up to lightbulbs and frowning madly at the dark.

Flap flap flap. 

(goes the giant blonde moth)

Where is the perfect place for me? It isn't endless winter, or endless rain, it's a little bit of everything, tempered by the beach, which doesn't care what weather we're having as long as I'm there spending my time like a new-money millionaire in an exclusive strip club.

Except I don't want to make it rain anymore. I really don't.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Indulge her, oh she with the tiniest of rants.

I'm appalled that so many of the Christmas crackers you can buy now contain wine charms.

(I'm aware: first world problems)

Especially since in this day and age one should never leave their drink unattended. What am I saying, 'in this day and age'. The warnings to keep an eye on your drink/keep it with you have been going around since the mid-1990s and if you think you can wander back into a room, pick up a random glass and point to the charm on it and say, Yes, I was the umbrella! That's right, and go on as if nothing happened means...well, you're probably going to tamer parties that I ever have, that's for sure.

I gave up wine a long time ago anyway. Go hard or go home, says the Scotsman and I usually snort and give him a look that says I like it when he goes hard but he means hard alcohol. And no one's going to come out with whiskey charms, because fuck that, we're smart enough to hang on to our drinks and sip them slowly, you flighty, wine-y motherfuckers.

(But if we did have markers to delineate our drinks they would be made of bone and barbed wire and maybe bits of hair and teeth, because what doesn't kill you...certainly won't drive you to collect fucking wine charms.)