Perfect Pairing

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The other day I had Thanksgiving.

I had Thanksgiving with Philly, Son, Son Wife and Daughter.

 

So it is the night before Thanksgiving and Son and Son Wife arrive from NYC. They have come with armfuls of stuff including three desserts: Bundt cake made by son wife, cornbread made by son, and one fancy pie from a store.

 

“Y’all made this?” I say to them both.

“Yes!” son says.

 

I did not know son was a baker. Or a cooker really. I have come to find out both Son and Son Wife are quite the cookers. They have all the modern appliances. They even have a mini deep fryer.

 

We here at the Philly house have mostly none of that stuff, except for the juicer which we still have not used because neither one of us wants to clean it.

 

I tell son, “You should deep fry a chicken!”

Son says, “It’s not that big mom.”

“How about a small hen?” I ask.

 

We talk a little before bedtime. About how son never used to separate the laundry into colors and whites. And about various aspects of cleaning. Apparently Son and Son Wife are very tidy. Son has even watched the Marie Kondo Series.

 

Then Son Wife prompts son to tell us something. “Are you going to tell them?” she asks.

I think: Yet another thing son has probably known for months but has told us.

 

And…I am right!

 

Son says, “I got a new job.”

“Really?” I say. “Didn’t you just get the job at that non-profit organization that works to feed the city?”

“Yes.” he says. “But that was temp to perm. Now I will be working in Development at a big NYC hospital.”

“How long have you known this?” I ask.

“Maybe since September.” he says, all casual like.

 

“SEPTEMBER?” I say. “What the hell?”

 

I am palms to the sky.

 

Son never ever ever never tells me what is happening as it is happening. Tonight he tries to explain this by telling me he is superstitious.

 

Ok.

 

Son and Son Wife decide to make some guacamole. Philly goes to the co-op to pick up some avocados. He comes back and the avocados are hard as a rock. We try as best we can to use them but it is impossible.

 

“Maybe we should go back to the co-op and just get guacamole?” I ask. “And we can add your special ingredients to it.”

 

“Ok.” The group says. Philly went last time so now it is my turn.

I go.

 

Son asks for if we have measuring spoons. This is funny because the favors at Son’s wedding were measuring spoons.

 

So I say, “Yeah I got them at someone’s wedding.”

Son and Son Wife start laughing.

“Oh yeah.” Son says.

 

Next day comes and it is Thanksgiving. We get up and after a nice run and breakfast we start the preparations. Philly is doing he turkey. I am doing the sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, broccoli, rolls, corn, and cranberry sauce (which we forget about anyway). And gravy.

 

I tell Philly, “If we had motorcycles we could go for a ride!”

And Philly says, “If we had Moon Buggies we could ride around on the moon!”

 

He is funny, that Philly.

 

By 5pm it is time to eat. We are desperately trying to get everything out at the same time so nothing gets cold. This is always a challenge for me when it comes to cooking. I get very frustrated and mostly no one wants to be around me.

 

When we sit down to eat we do the GRATS tradition. Everyone gets an index card and a pen to write down some things they are grateful for. And then we put them in a bowl and pass them around to read out loud.

 

I write:

I am grateful for the whole family being together

Things young adults say

Laughter

Husbands generosity

Finding support when I need it

Healing

Everyone healthy

Zelda

 

I would write everyone’s GRATS down here but first I would need their permission and I am too lazy to get it.

 

We eat. Everything is delicious. We move onto dairy free desserts and one dairy pie. My favorite is the Bundt cake all drizzled with white frosting.

 

Unfortunately, this is when a heated discussion starts to heat up. For various reasons, I will not discuss the content here. However, I will say part of it rides on generational knowledge and differences. The discussion goes on and I am getting very upset inside. This feels like I am inside one of those movie scenes where they show the family fighting at some holiday or another. I get so upset I wind up yelling. This never happens to us. Why is it happening now when Son Wife is here on Thanksgiving for the first time?

 

You know how they say don’t discuss politics (or topics closely related) at the table?

Well, DON’T.

 

I feel like crying.

I try to let go. I plan to make an apology the next day.

 

Next day comes and I make my apology. The Young Adults tell me their feelings. I listen. I just hope we can all let it go.

 

Later we discuss the virtues of using towels after a shower vs air drying. I myself prefer a towel. And staying up late vs going to bed early. And a few other things. I am trying to find out what Son and Son Wife are learning about each other since they live together now. I find out lots of things which I cannot discuss here. Suffice to say they are in DISCOVERY mode.

 

And then we are done. We begin the assembly line clean up. Table to kitchen back to table to kitchen. Washing and drying and putting away.

 

Since there are five of us it goes pretty fast.

 

Next day Daughter, Son Wife and Son go to see Knives Out. I stay home. Maybe we will go axe throwing later. For now I need a nap.

 

The rest of our time together melts away. We go to the restaurant daughter works at. We do some more talking about Marie Kondo. Apparently son has this very neat and orderly way he keeps his drawers. Some things are even categorized. And perfectly paired.

 

“Wow!” I say.

Son Wife smiles. “Yup!” she says.

 

I don’t know how son has become so orderly.

Philly says, “This makes perfect sense really.

I think about Son’s ways.

“Yes.” I say. “I guess it does.”

 

It is almost time for the train home. As usual I feel time has gone by so fast. Do you feel that way reader? Like there are so many things you want to do together but time runs out.

 

Off to the train we go. The roads are clear and it is a quick drive. We pull up in front of the train station. I ask if they need any help because they really have a lot of stuff with them.

 

“No, its okay. We got it.” Son says.

 

And that’s it. I watch them pull the golden handle of the train station and enter the station.

I think about our visit.

It was good to see Son and Son Wife for their first married visit.

They really are a perfect pair.

 

I think: I always want things to be just right.

I think: They never are.

 

We had time together and shared a meal and conversation.

And that is enough.

The Invitation

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Yesterday I attended a birth.

 

Actually, the birth began the night before.

 

It is the night before yesterday night. I am just crawling into the bed. Philly is standing next to the bed saying goodnight since he himself is not going to bed.

 

He says, “So when is your client going to have that baby?” Because she is a few days late.

I say, “Speak not of it!” because I am right at that moment about to go to bed.

 

TWO SECONDS later the iphone rings.

Yes, it IS my client.

 

I give Philly a dirty look.

“You did this.” I say.

 

“Hey, don’t blame me.” he says.

 

I pick up the phone. It is Client’s Husband.

“Hello?!” I say with some enthusiasm because really why else would he be calling me at 10:30 at night?

 

“Hi!” he says. “Well her water just broke. No contractions yet though.”

“Ok.” I say. “Did you call your provider yet?”

“No.” he says. “We are deciding whether or not to wait to call.”

 

This is something I cannot recommend either way. There are risks on both sides of the equation. I CAN tell them to check that the water is clear and odorless. I can discuss the likelihood their provider will tell them to come in to the hospital – and they will be admitted.

 

We discuss communication going forward. They will text me smaller updates but call for major happenings.

 

I get a text: We are going in. Light contractions.

I text: Ok.

 

I put my phone on the highest setting of RING and lie down to try to get some sleep before the next call comes.

 

I wake up and it is almost morning. I frantically look at my phone, hoping I did not somehow miss a call.

 

But there is no call. Just an update: 3cm. Irregular contractions.

 

Now comes the confusing part. I have a class to teach this morning. I have to weigh the likelihood Client will progress quickly OR slowly. Really there is no way to tell. I text my back up sub so she is ready to go if I need her and I head out to teach my class. Philly makes me the usual Doula pack of food. I bring all my doula stuff with me, JUST in case.

 

I check in with Client and Client Husband right before I go in: No change.

 

So I teach. I come out thinking I am heading to the hospital.

I text Client: Hello! What’s the latest?

Client texts: We are still waiting for the doctor to come in. Everything else is pretty much the same.

 

I drive home.

I eat a burrito.

I take my vitamins.

I brush my teeth.

 

The phone rings. It is Client Husband.

He says, “Contractions are getting more intense. She is 5cm.”

I say, “I am on my way!”

 

It is the middle of the day. I hit some traffic, but not too bad. I get there in 18 minutes.

 

Luckily, this particular hospital has excellent parking. I get a spot right in front of the main door. When I go up to the information desk I say, “I am a doula for Client.”

 

Information Desk Person says, “5th floor.”

 

Around the corner and down the hall I take the elevator up. I buzz the Labor and Delivery doors, which are always kept locked so no one can go in there and steal babies.

 

Nurse answers the buzzer, “Yes?’ she says.

“I am a Doula for Client.” I say.

“Come on in!” she says in a cheery voice.

 

If you are a Doula you know this is a good sign.

 

I wander through the hallway until I find room seven. I knock lightly and open the door. Client is kneeling over the bed. Husband is applying counter pressure to Client’s hips. Client’s mom is sitting in a chair in the corner.

 

I ask, “What has been working so far?”

Client husband says, “The back pressure and also no talking.”

 

Client says, “MORE PRESSURE! On my back!”

Client is a very clear kind of person.

 

And so we begin. Client Husband and I trading off on the counter pressure so we don’t wear out. Giving counter pressure for hours can be quite tiring. Now we are changing positions every 20 or 30 minutes. And we are walking. And moaning, deeply.

 

In a few hours Doctor comes in to check the progress. I KNOW Client is hoping to hear 9cm. Instead she hears 6cm.

 

“6cm in almost three hours!” she screams.

Doctor acknowledges her feelings and reassures her things can change on a dime.

She tells her, “You are doing GREAT!”

 

Client does her best to accept this from Doctor.

I think: I like this doctor.

 

We go through several rounds of slow progress checks. Baby is in a posterior position and Client is having a lot of back pain. I try a few Doula tricks to encourage baby to slip out of the pelvis a bit and rotate around. I hope it helps.

 

I am also doing the things Doulas do to offer comfort and support as labor gets more intense. However, client has said in our Prenatal meeting she might want the epidural.

 

Turns out she does. Nurse says, “Maybe this will help relax you and you will open up more for baby to descend.”

 

Baby has been hanging around -1 or -2 station for a while now.

 

After the epidural is in, we get the peanut ball adjusted between her legs to help keep the pelvis open. We turn her side to side. Eventually Doctor comes back for another check. 9cm! Station 0. Client is very happy.

 

There is a small forebag of water preventing baby’s head from applying full pressure on the cervix. With Client’s permission Doctor ruptures the forebag.

 

I have a feeling things are about to speed up quite quickly now.

 

And…they do. In just twenty minutes Client is 10cm and baby in at station +2 which is really, really great. Doctor asks Client to give just a little push to check out how fast this baby is going to come.

 

“Stop pushing.” she says. Because that baby is seriously on the way out.

 

And suddenly everyone is running around the room, uncovering the birth tray, taking the bottom off the bed, making ready.

 

Nurse and I are on each side of Client’s body, holding her legs to help her push. I look down and already the baby’s head is RIGHT THERE. Three more rounds of pushing and the baby’s head comes out, next push and the baby’s whole body slips out. Client Husband makes the most joyful noise I think I have ever heard.

 

I look at client. She looks back at me. I say, “Your baby is here.”

I cry a little tear, like I always do at this miraculous moment as a new being enters the world.

 

Client Husband goes over and kisses his wife on the head. “You are amazing.” he says.

 

Baby is a little blue and so Nurse needs to take baby over to the warmer to give baby a little prodding to get going on the breathing. Not too long and baby is pinking up! Nurse brings baby back over to Mama.

 

Baby and Mama look into each other’s eyes for the first time. She speaks and baby’s head turns toward the voice it has been hearing all these months in the womb. It is a sacred, beautiful moment. I feel so lucky to witness this.

 

In a little while it is time for me to get going. The whole family tells me, “Thank you so much. Thank you.”

 

And I say, “You are welcome. Thank you for letting me be part of your birth!”

 

As I walk out the door and down the hall I am filled with love.

I am blessed to do this work.

I am very, very grateful.

 

Yes, I am.

You Are Not Alone

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The other day I was talking about addiction.

 

There seems to be a lot of talk about addiction lately. The opioid crisis, the emerging benzo crisis. Some pill that supposedly can “cure” all kinds of addictions. The more I listen the more I realize how many people struggle with addiction in some form: drugs, gambling, alcohol, sex. debting, over eating.

 

So I am with speaking with Person. Person is struggling with an addiction. Person keeps trying to stop but Person cannot. Person has tried many methods and while they have some success, ultimately they wind up back in their addiction.

 

I tell Person, “I am concerned about your addiction.”

Person asks, “Why?”

I say, “Because you are hurting yourself.”

 

I have watched Person hurting themselves for some time now. It is painful to watch any person hurt themselves reader. But I know because of my 12 step programs there is nothing I can really do. 

 

All addictions require one thing before all others: WILLINGNESS

Without it there can be no progress.

 

When a person has true willingness it is possible-one day at a time-to not pick up a drink, or to refrain from debting, or whatever a person’s drug of choice may be.

 

In the rooms of recovery one will find many people who are willing to give their time and energy to newcomers, to help them get clean and sober. To create a safety net together.

 

When one gives up their drug of choice, they come to know themselves, like peeling an onion, the layers are shed. It is not always pretty. One needs support.

 

If you are out there reading this and struggling, I want you to know: 

 

RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE. 

Help is available.

You are not alone.

Leave a space

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The other day daughter came for a visit.

 

Daughter comes for a visit sometimes just to say hi. We don’t really have anything special to do. Sometimes she comes just for the comfort of her old home.

 

I think this might be one of those times.

 

I text: What are you doing?

She texts: At work.

Then she texts: Can I come over? I will be done at 5:45.

And then she texts: Can you come pick me up?

 

I think for a minute because I kind of had plans of cooking some Brussel sprouts and brown rice.

 

I text: Ok.

I put the rice on to start cooking. I know daughter will be hungry as soon as she gets here.

 

5:45 comes and I hop in the KIA to go get daughter.

 

She texts: Where are you?

I text: I am on my way.

 

Yeesh.

 

I arrive and daughter is waiting outside for me.

I pull up and she hops in. “How are you?” I say.

Daughter says, “Ok.”

 

When daughter says “Ok” it usually means not really so ok.

But it IS ok because I know she will eventually tell me.

 

When we get home daughter sits on the couch with her iPhone for iPhone time. I get the rest of the dinner going.

 

I grab my bottle of water and go sit down next to her.

She says, “I want water.”

 

This is daughter-speak for get-me-water.

 

I have to admit it has kind of become a little bit like Mom’s Hotel over here lately.

 

I say, “There a whole bunch of it over there in the kitchen.”

Yes, she does give me a little bit of the stink eye as she gets up to get the water.

 

Meanwhile the Brussel sprouts are cooking. Philly is on his way home. We are waiting for him to get here so we can eat.

 

“I’m hungry.” daughter says.

 

I KNEW she was going to say this.

 

Eventually Philly makes his way home. We eat. We return to couch sitting. Philly is reading political news, daughter is scrolling through whatever young people scroll through nowadays. I cannot keep up.

 

“Are you looking at Knock-Knock?” I ask

There is a pause.

And then daughter busts out laughing. “Do you mean Tik Tok?” she asks still laughing her head off.

 

For GOD’S sake.

 

“Yes. I MEANT Tik Tok.” I say.

 

I need to mention here I actually had to text daughter while writing this to make sure I spelled this Tik Tok app correctly. I mean it could be Tic Tock, or Tick Tok or any other incarnation of these words. If I spell it wrong I would look even stupider than I already feel about my relationship to technology.

 

You know, I think somewhere along the line I just gave up trying to keep up. Now I just don’t really care.

 

Anyway, now it is ice cream time. Philly is the official maker of the ice cream treats around here. I ask, “Can we have ice cream now?”

 

Philly says, “There is no ice cream left.”

 

!!!

 

“Oh my GOD!” I say. Then I say, “Can you go get some?”

There is a little gas station mini market down the road with ice cream AND gas, which we also need.

 

“No.” he says. Just like that.

 

“No?” I say

“No?” he says.

 

I cannot believe this. Philly never says no. I start pleading with him. “PLEASE.” I say “PULLLLLEEEEASE!”

 

Still he says no. That he has things to do.

Reader, I know you are thinking: Why don’t you go get it yourself?

 

And the answer is because I drive around most of the day. I do not wish to get back in the vehicle to drive around some more.

 

I decide to ramp it up. I get down on my knees, grab onto his leg and start whining, “Its ice cream time! Its ice cream time!”

 

Daughter is laughing and saying, “Oh god! What the hell is that?! I look over and see her holding up her iPhone to film this little escapade.

 

“Are you going to put this on Knock Knock?” I say just to make her laugh.

“Yes.” she says.

 

Secretly I wonder if it will get a lot of likes, or whatever one gets on Knock Knock.

 

Slowly I begin to wind it down. It is almost time for daughter to get going home.

Inside I feel a little sad. I miss having daughter around. Now I have no one here to let me know about things like Knock Knock.

 

Sigh.

 

Sometimes the best times are the times when I think there is nothing to do. And there is a space left for something to sneak in and bring laughter and comfort.

 

As daughter leaves I smile.

That daughter. She brings light into my life.

Yes she does.

Listen Carefully

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The other day I FaceTimed with son and his wife.

 

We do this once a week since we cannot see each other that much since he lives in NYC and I live in Philadelphia.

 

I text: When FaceTime?

He texts: Around 2?

I text: Ok.

 

2pm comes and I am running late.

I text: I am running late.

He texts: No problem.

 

Soon I am free. I call him up on the FaceTime. When he answers he is sitting in his living room on his brand-new couch next to Wife. We start with the usual check in of: How you been doing, how you been feeling?

 

We talk for a little while and Wife jumps in and says to son, “Aren’t you going to tell her?”

 

See, this is why I like her.

 

I ask, “What? What is it?”

 

Son makes a son face and then tells me, “I got a new job.”

 

Just like that. Just like telling me he had a rock in his shoe or something.

 

“What new job?” I say. “I did not even know you were looking. I thought you liked working at City Harvest.”

 

“It is at the Harlem Children’s Zone.” he says.

 

“Oh! Cool.” I say. “How long have you been looking?” I ask.

 

I am expecting a month or so. I get: Since late fall last year.

 

!!!!

 

Omg. WHY does this son never ever ever never TELL ME ANYTHING?

 

I ask him, “Why don’t you tell me anything.”

 

“Because it was not definite and I did not want to try to answer questions I don’t have answers to.” he says.

 

Son always seems to think I am prodding into his life when I am just trying to be a part of his life.

 

“When do you start?” I ask.

 

“Tuesday.” he says. In his best man-of-few-words voice.

 

“Alright then!” I say.

 

Eventually we move on from the big news. I think: I sure am grateful for Wife. Without her I might have never even known son had gotten a new job. I wish son would be more forthcoming. But I know he is not likely to change.

 

And so, I will have to accept this last-minute kind of news.

I guess it is better than no news.

 

Right?

Yeah.

City Girl

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The other day I looked at some pictures of houses.

I looked at some picture of houses because Philly and I are thinking of moving into the city.

 

Our address SAYS Philadelphia, but really we are in the suburbs.

I do not enjoy the suburbs.

 

We actually live in the woods. Right near a whole bunch of really large trees and a creek.

Some people would love this situation. But I am lonely here with mostly trees and dogs barking. And having to drive everywhere.

 

I miss the rows of houses and front porches to sit on and navigating all the people walking down the street in the city. Or sometimes just sitting out in the little local city park watching the children play.

 

Or just generally SEEING PEOPLE.

 

I miss the sound of the bus right under my bedroom window and walking everywhere. I miss usable public transportation.

 

If we lived IN the city proper I could use the subway (which only goes in two directions but still). Or take a bus or ride a bike. But not so much from here. Not with my schedule. The subway doesn’t come out here and so one has to take the Regional Rail. This is a train like The Long Island Railroad in NYC. During the day the schedule becomes very thin and spaced out and kind of unusable for Yoga Teaching out and about.

 

And so we are considering moving. But the thought of ACTUALLY moving, the details, the packing up, the displacement in transition, these things make my head spin. I need someone to come and pack up all my stuff and bring it over to the new location. And then I can just show up and put my stuff away.

 

And there is the fact that Philly does not REALLY want to move. He WILL move. But he really does not want to move.

 

I don’t mean to sound grateful. Unappreciative. There is a lot of beauty here. I guess I am just not a woodsy kind of girl really. I prefer vertical living.

 

My friend “G” always tells me, “Move in! I used to live where you live. I was DYING out there.”

 

And I tell her, “I just don’t know if I have it in me right now.”

 

And she says, “You can do it!”

 

Often, I waiver on the whole moving thing. I remember leaving Brooklyn six years ago and how happy I was to finally have a washer and dryer INSIDE the house. And to have a food co-op that wasn’t as crowded as the Brooklyn food coop, which was sometimes insane with crazy NY people. In this co-op I only have to work six hours a YEAR. In Brooklyn I had to work two hours and forty-five minutes every four weeks. That co-op had so many members that often there wasn’t any work to do during your co-op shift. But you still had to do your shift anyway.

 

Daughter says, “Moving is not going to fix your problems.”

 

This is the kind of thing your kids will throw back at you when they have had some therapy and program.

 

“Yes Daughter. I realize that.” I say.

 

I think: For God’s sake. I know what pulling a geographic is. I am not doing that Daughter. Ugh.

 

Son says, “Well you ARE a city girl, mom.”

 

He is right reader. I enjoy the pavement and the crowds and living vertically with everything at my fingertips.

 

Sigh.

I do not have the answer about moving.

So I am waiting.

I am listening for the solution.

 

I hope it comes soon.

Yes I do.

Friends

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The other day I saw Old College Friend.

 

Way back in the 1980’s we went to college together. I don’t remember the last time I saw him, but it has been a long time.

 

Now, Old College Friend is in town.

He texts: Hey there, is this still your number?

I text: Yes, it’s me!

 

We decide to meet the next day after I get out of class for a lunch/brunch. At my house. But I don’t have to cook anything! They are at Reading Terminal Market PLUS Old College Friend’s Husband went to culinary school!

 

I know they will come to my house with delicious food.

 

I am very excited to see them!

 

Next day comes and I go to class. OCF is awake early, because he is always awake early. Husband is still sleeping. We wait for him to wake up for the festivities to begin.

 

I tell Philly, “OCF is coming over!”

Philly says, “Great!”

 

Soon OCF and Husband arrive. OCF looks just the same but older. This is the first time I am meeting Husband. He is very nice and also dashing.

 

They have brought breads and meats and fancy cookies. And probably a few other things I am forgetting. The feasting begins. I make myself a sandwich. After the sandwich I have a piece of rye bread slathered with butter. I forget I am not supposed to eat rye bread because it makes my bladder burn. Reader, I hope that is not TMI. It is the truth.

 

However, I will save that whole situation for another blog.

 

We eat. We talk. We catch up on all the many things that have happened over the years. We talk about September 11. I did not know that OCF volunteered right after 9/11 happened and for a time after that. I got a freelance job in the months after right near the site. For a long time the whole area smelled like burning plastic. And there were guard dogs and men with large guns standing near the entrance to the subways.

 

Many many things have happened since the days of Art School. Our lives have been touched in many ways. OCF has been following my blog! He knows a lot about my life. Still, it is going to take more than this one lunch to REALLY catch all the way up.

 

I say, “We really have to see each other more often.” I am feeling so happy inside being with him.

OCF is in agreement. In fact, while he is here he is going to see another Art School Friend who is showing his work on Governor’s Island.

 

OCF says, “We all are going to get together next weekend. Art School Friend, Art School Friend #2 and Art School Friend #3. Can you come too?”

 

“I have to look at the date book to make sure.” I say.

I really want to go. I hope my calendar is open. It is a little bit of a trip since we have all spread out from the NY School Days.

 

Soon it is time for OCF and Husband to get going to make their train. Before they go I give Husband a little tour of our house.

 

It is decided I will drive them to their hotel. Even though their hotel is pretty big and in the middle of the city, I do not know exactly where it is.

 

I never really know where things are in this town because I rely on that darn GPS. The other day there was road construction in a neighborhood I am unfamiliar with. I was driving around in circle even WITH the GPS.

 

We get to the hotel. OCF and husband hop out.

 

“Bye!” I say.

“Bye!” they say. “See you soon!”

 

I really hope that is true reader.

Yes I do.