28 September 2008

Risk = Individualism Squared

NPR this morning reported on an event that took place in 1971 in honor of the dedication of the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. The always controversial and extraordinary Leonard Bernstein was commissioned to create an original work for the opening ceremony. Bernstein, as you likely know, was a force for contemporary music and a devout non-conformist. He created a work in honor of JFK that included unique pairings of instruments, dissonant rhythms sometimes reminiscent of West Side Story and shades of Bach. Known only as “Mass” the performance was not well received critically at the time, but continues to be played by symphony orchestras throughout the world and is viewed now as a masterpiece.*
At its conclusion, the audience neither moved nor responded for three minutes. Deafening silence. Three minutes may not seem like much in the general scheme of time, but three minutes of stillness is surreal. According to the report, the silence was followed by applause and cheers from a standing audience for roughly half an hour. Ten times as long the jubilance as the silence.
Here’s what struck me on this story: who was the first person to clap? Surely one person broke the silence and initiated the thunder. What precipitated that sudden alteration? What is it that makes one member of a crowd break out? Surely it’s never easy to decide to be the one to stand apart from the pack, risking ostentation or scorn. Was it some sort of intuition that suggested the pack needed only one to lead? Or was it one individualist determined to answer the stunning absence of response?
I have always favored individualists and admired, even envied, those who listen only to their inner voice. Joni Mitchell is an idol of mine, not only for her exorbitant talent, but her steadfast determination to play her music her way and continually explore alternate genres. No surprise that Joni was also a painter, what she called her true talent, a woman with a devout sense of independence, what some have accused as selfish to the core, but perhaps only those who stay resolute to their vision retain true creative integrity. Other names come to mind, we all know who they are, and we know because the dared to be different.
Inner directness has been often maligned, but one can and should stay true to oneself, as Polonius directed Hamlet, while exhibiting consideration for others. The truth lies in one’s willingness to take risk. And what is risk after all but an acceptance that we cannot lose what we never had. That was a favorite saying of my father, a man who struggled his entire life with the balance between creating some sort of security for his family while living a larger opportunistic and frequently manic life. He was a gambler and as such recognized that easy come will easy go, and then hopefully come again. Something my financial advisor-friend keeps repeating as mantra, especially these days, related to the cycles of the economy.
So while I sit here in my little idle by the sea, having made this marginally bold mid-life move across country, I find myself fascinated with that one person who brought hands together to honor risk and in so doing took what in that theater in that moment must have felt a Herculean risk, only to discover that in the bold move he/she moved the mass. What can each of us do to lead such a charge and reap the rewards? Or, do we sit on our hands and wait for someone else to take the lead and, if no one emerges, do we take the greatest risk of all, that of complacence. What might also be known as inertia, that place we stay when we are too frightened to take that first step towards something if not bigger perhaps better and, if not better, certainly challenging. If we do not challenge ourselves, and others, we might find ourselves immersed within a metaphorical life of profound stillness. A collective flat affect reflecting off the walls of silence. I shudder at the thought.

*Though 37 years have passed since its debut, the spiritual and political messages of Bernstein's Mass are still as relevant as ever. Mass mixes classical music with a wide range of musical idioms: Broadway, opera, blues, rock, even a marching band! Commissioned for the opening of The Kennedy Center in 1971, Mass candidly explorers what Bernstein called "the crisis of faith" in our time.

24 September 2008

New Places, New Faces

People travel in packs. This town is a very friendly and welcoming place, but most grown-ups have long-standing relationships and are not exactly foraging for new ones. Being the newbie is not easy. Making friends, real friends, takes time and cultivation. Something most of us at this age haven’t had to do in a long time, relying as we do on our own pack for the comfort of connection.
Shortly after I settled in Laguna Beach, I placed an ad at CraigsList for a middle-aged movie buddy. Strictly platonic. A like-kind responded immediately. A quintessential New Yorker, although she’d been in CA for 25 years, she had a big personality, an east coast sort of neurotic endearment, and an apparent interest in many things artsy. As she was single and perpetually on the prowl, she preferred meeting at big noisy theme restaurant bars that I hate, but I was determined to go with the flow and grateful for the company. We began to tell each other our stories and I found to my dismay that while she was a welcome cohort in those first lonely days, our values did not mesh. An awkward stumbling block. After all, one cannot be friends with the first or perhaps second or third person you meet. Friendships evolve and there must be common ground. But how do you reject a 50-something gal pal? I began to be busy and, in the end, she dismissed me as unfriendly. I suppose I deserved that.
Bit by bit, thanks in large part to a stint as Lois Lane at the local newspaper, I got to meet and interview many mostly interesting people. Thus, walking through town, I slowly discovered familiar faces and became less of a stranger. Still, making friends is hard. Friends, just like lovers, must be courted. You meet for coffee. You share stories. You make the call to go to a movie or shopping or to a local event. You invite each other to dinner with or without spouses/partners. You call now and then just to chew the rag, but not too often to appear intrusive. Finding friends is like finding a good job – it takes time and effort and a willingness to put yourself out there. And as important as friends are to me, I am too frequently content to curl up with a book or Netflix.
And then there are the friends you lose too soon. My first and best friend in Laguna, my next door neighbor Byron, moved to Hong Kong. The blessings of Skype keep us close but he is no longer the constant presence that made my relocation so much easier. Always just over the fence, we both worked at home and frequently ended the day with a dog walk and a glass of wine. Couldn't have scripted a more perfect union, but, alas, not to last. My other neighbor and walking buddy Joanne moved back East. Melony, a new friend but clearly a friend of another lifetime, moved north to a simpler lifestyle. Easy come, easy go. However, bit by bit, there are people in my California life I can call friend. Not the same as the forever friends, those with whom kids are raised, graduations rejoiced, disappoints and despair shared, weddings and now grandchildren celebrated, funerals mourned. However new friends are a different sort of blessing. One is truly oneself in middle age and unafraid to bare our personal truths. Unwilling to compromise who we are. This makes for more instant and honest friendships. And there are many ways to meet new people… Always a book club. Fundraising luncheons. Film programs. Yoga class. Talks at the local Business or Women’s Club. Friday night wine tastings where, at communal dining tables, you get to know the regulars and perhaps become one. And now there’s http://www.meetup.com/ where you can latch on to all kinds of shared-passions groups from hikers to diners to pug lovers – a gold mine for newbies. Volunteers are in need. Mah Jong is enjoying a Renaissance. There is always a garden club, if that’s your fancy, and always a class to take. And along the way, you discover more and more of who you are in the choice of friends, and in their reflection. There are good people everywhere. And, the more known, the less alone, and more at home.

13 September 2008

A Serious Soul

"Nothing holds its truth for long enough. Home leaves us, not the other way around..." Words of wisdom from Helen Humphreys, Canadian writer, from Coventry, her new novel to be published in February [Until then, read Lost Garden or Wild Dogs or Afterimage]
I am a serious soul. Have always been. Frivolity does not come easy to me. I do love to laugh and appreciate sophisticated humor, but I tend to be a bit high brow. I come by this naturally. I was the only child of immigrant parents, much to live up to, although in the homes of Eastern European immigrants there was always more laughter than despair. However, most of my life, my mother was struggling for her own life, which she lost when I was an adolescent. Thus, at a very young age I took on more responsibility than any young person should shoulder, and also found myself recognizing the fragility of life, needing to feel a sense of meaning in all things.
This sort of personality does not easily embrace anything that seems a waste of time. Or a waste of imagination. I abhor frat-boy humor and find myself increasingly embarassed by American pop culture. My book group thinks I'm a snob, which in literary terms I am. I don't read chic lit and rarely watch network television. I thank my blessings for NetFlix so I can always watch a good film of my own choosing in my own home. Although I confess I saw Sex in the City opening week-end, for the fun of it, and I saw the Dark Knight for Heath Ledger's final breathtaking performance. I blast rock and roll at home and in my car, but at concerts I rarely stand or dance, rather listen with intent.
I married a similar sort and we ended up taking our differences way too seriously.
I took one of those personality tests recently for a seminar at work and I was classified as a "Thinker." The life coach looked at my profile and said "You really need to have more fun." This of course made me laugh. It's funny to me to be nailed so quickly by a stranger. What was not funny to me was when I was invited last week to attend a chocolate tasting-sale at the home of an acquaintance. I stared at the e-invite with disdain. So much of the world is at war. Poverty is ubiquitous and ignorance rampant. I work for an organizaton that shelters the homeless and I shudder at their lives on the streets. The right wing has taken over the Republican party and Rove is once again master-minding a candidacy that may permanently mark this country, founded on religious freedom and opportunity, as fundamentalists determined to do battle with perceived evil across the world. Women are being bamboozled by an inexperienced opportunist. Greed is imploding our banking system, while war and special interests are mounting insurmountable debt. I watch my portfolio hemmorage and my hopes for any sort of retirement vanish into a far more distant future than was in reach only a year ago. Friends are battling cancer. There are people who still don't believe in global warming. And the other day, I was invited to a chocolate tasting and sale at the home of an acquaintance. I stared at the e-invite in horror. Who has time for such nonsense? One of my friends asks - why not? She's right. One must balance reality with a bit of frivolity. Still, the chocolate is Dove, and if it were Scharfenberger or some new Swedish conconction, I might have felt differently. Dove? I'd rather munch on M&M's.
Truth is, I can and do have fun. I recognize that serious can border too often on stuffy. I get that. Still, life is short - each of us must choose how we spend our time and I prefer a more existential existence. We are meant to know ourselves and live accordingly. And though living in Laguna Beach is instantaneous lightening up, home is within.

10 September 2008

Beach Town Brat

The downside of living in a beach town is that you are always at the beach. While this sounds like a paradox, for an east coast winter weather resident, there are particular joys associated with leaving home and heading to a beach. In the depths of winter, when you have been chilled fully through to the bone and wonder if you might ever again be warm, a holiday to a tropical place is Nirvana. For me, there was an indescribable jolt of joy at that moment when stepping off a plane, usually onto one of those rickety aluminum staircases, to feel that blanket of steamy air envelope your body, shocking in its torpor, with that simultaneous thrill of knowing you have left behind the cold and stress and tedium of the every day and landed on vacation at last. For me, the only reward of living in a cold weather climate, besides that phenomenal first flush of spring, is the leaving, and also the always welcome first days of summer. That moment you open your windows to capture the breeze and banish that stale overheated winter air. But it isn't only in winter when leaving is a delight. We spent many joyous holidays on Cape Cod and there is nothing equal to the thrill of crossing the bridge as that salty clean air fills your lungs and you know, once again, you are on holiday, in a totally different place, albeit familiar. A place that resonates with summer. For some, it's a lake that shimmers in the sunlight. A cabin in the woods, screen doors slamming all day and the nearly deafening sound of crickets at night. A bungalow on a secluded beach on an exotic island. An old-world hotel sitting on a hill in a secluded small town where the pleasure of the day is measured by tanned faces at dinner. Where sleep nearly overwhelms the body, eclipsing all sense and sound with the exception of that delicious flutter of moist night air through an open window. Ah, vacations in the warm. I have never been a winter weather vacationer, no skiing for me, but I suspect, beyond the difference in temperature, that the thrill of the familiar in an otherwise unfamiliar place is the essence of holiday no matter the climate. All wonderful and all the more wonderful because it is different. Away from the every day, not matter how wonderful. Okay, I'm a brat.
Understand please that living in a beach town is a gift and I know this. I see that fantastically ubiquitous Pacific every day, and delight in cool sea breezes blowing through the night. I can walk to the beach, even for a moment in the middle of the work-day, when the intensity is a bit too much, and that soothing sense of being that one can only find at the beach is always within reach. So wonderful. However, by virtue of its constancy, the beach town loses distinction. Hard to imagine why one would want to get away, and yet even the best in high doses can lose its glow. So, I’ve planned a holiday to Mexico with my daughters and even though that western coast offers not much more than what I have right here in Laguna Beach, when I get off the plane, I will be somewhere else, with different sights and scents and sensibilities. The sand might feel different, the scent of the sea perhaps more or less, and I might happily while away an afternoon at the hotel pool, my nose buried in a book, occasionally dipping my toes into cool water that is perpetually refreshed. Pools are a different feeling entirely, a vacation feeling. The beach is organic, connected to earth and sky, strengthened by the undulation of ocean waters and punctuated by the natural cushion of a billions of grains of sand. Pools are man-made and no matter their irregular edges or infinity shapes, they are an artifice, and as such, a distinct change of scene for a girl from a beach town. I will look forward to lounging there and enjoying the sounds and flavors of our southern neighbor, with the distinct pleasure of knowing that I will return to my beautiful little beach town refreshed and always grateful. How blessed are we, always to return to this place by the sea.

05 September 2008

Feminist Boomer

One can hardly be a boomer without being feminist. We are the perpetrators of the modern feminist movement. In 1970, the official launch of this phase, I entered the corporate world. Not by choice exactly. I had intended to be a writer or songwriter, but I lacked courage and I lacked resources. And I liked to eat. Quite by accident, I got a job as a gal-friday [remember that moniker?] at a marketing firm and because I was inquisitive and a quick study, I found myself suddenly elevated to a marketing analyst. The bottom rung on a ladder totally occupied by Harvard MBA's and former high-powered consultants and the only woman in a company that produced products for women. I didn't really want to be there but I found myself captured by the daily sense of productivity based only on good common sense, and an oppotunity to make more money in one year that my father had made in any five years of his life. I wasn't eager to be wealthy but oh how lovely to have money in your pocket and a savings account and a trip to the Caribbean each winter. I didn't exactly break any glass ceilings but I fractured a few. I wore pants suits with pride, although I steadfastly refused to wear those silk ties that truly serious business women wore in those days, and I remember an unexpected sense of achievement when I was refused entry to the Plaza Bar because I had pants on - I know this seems nearly barbaric now, but it was a rite of passage that we baby boomer working women endured. I mentored women in MBA programs both before and after I had my own. I stood up for flex time and part time assignments even though in those days they were anathema to the corporate big boys. I left my rising career slot at Lever Brothers when my first daughter was born because they refused me a 3-day a week assignment, despite my label as a "rising star" because, the personnel director said, "what kind of precedent might we set?" I withstood the advances of sales men at sales meetings, including the pressing of hotel room keys into my palm, and I resisted the advances of'[most]of my male colleagues, because it was bad form, although ultimately I married the man who had me at hello, but only after we were working at different firms. I kept my own checking account. I advocated for women's right to work and raise families or to choose one or the other. I educated my daughters to make lives of their own choosing and tried every single day to model such a life in order to prove it possible. And now, when a woman has advanced to a vice-presidential candidacy, I should be proud. Instead, I am ashamed that the candidate wants to ban books and drill into sacred land and holds her baby facing out as a talisman of motherhood, while neglecting to teach her daughter about safe sex. A woman who seems to see herself as a pit bull and behaves as such, and thus behaves more like a man, which I guess is her definition of feminism. Equal rights and equal opportunity, that's the essence of feminism, and the right to live the life of our own choosing, the same right generally afforded to [straight white] men. Opportunity not tokenism, that's what we're after, not opportunism or delusions of grandeur. I believe that we earn what we have, we seize opportunities worthy of our efforts, and we always, always consider the common good, not only for women but for all. Nearly 40 years later, we have part-time and flex-time and equal opportunity although still too often without equal pay, and we can have it all, but hopefully recognize that no one can be all things to all people and be equally good at everything. I've learned that good enough is often good enough, not to sacrifice goals or personal achievement, but because balance is everything, in all things. In the end, it is not our gender that matters, but our motives and our integrity. Truly, I want to be proud at this moment in history, but this is a set-back. And an insult to the many hard-working, experienced and wonderful women in important political positions who should have come first. Ironic that politics of the womb should be the greatest threat to equality for women since we first voted, and we need these votes to count more than ever. Vote for what matters, vote for the future in a way that fulfills the past.

02 September 2008

Making the Move

I never planned to move. I wasn’t sure what was in store for me once the kids had grown and my husband was gone. I just realized, after a lifetime of working and doing what was expected of me, that I was ready for something different, but what? I tend to be a planner, but this one time I rode the current of spontaneity and decided to relieve myself of winter and try something else on for size. I rented my house in CT and moved for three months to a little town I’d seen only twice in my life, but remembered well: Laguna Beach. My friend Ed called it a cross between Westport CT and Provincetown MA and that's a pretty good description. I didn’t even know about MTV or the OC at the time, but I knew that this town of craggy shoreline and voluptuous hillsides appealed to me. I have a fondness for topography and uneven edges. I like what the locals fondly refer to as shabby chic.

The first time I drove down the winding access road that insulates the town from the noise and grit of the freeway, I marveled that only seconds removed from a 10-lane highway the canyon takes over and you might be in Colorado or Utah for all the similarity to what most of us think of as Southern California. Brown in summer, green in winter, exactly the opposite of where I’d come from and only one of many fascinations. I was immediately charmed. No longer tethered from the type-A life of the East Coast, I learned to move a little slower, talk a little slower and savor much more of the natural environs. It was 2005, the winter of the rains, but even so, more often than not the sun broke through and the sky seemed bigger and brighter to me, and that Pacific Ocean was always there, a guidepost - one can never get lost because the Pacific is always south/west and mountains east. The ocean is always a slightly different shade of blue, sometimes churning, sometimes nearly flat as a lake, and perpetually enthralling for those who love water and love the color blue, as I do. Solitude those first three months was at times oppressive, and yet didn't damper my enthusiasm for the place. In fact, I discovered some comfort in the solitary life, with the environs of this lovely town a constant and true companion.

Three months later I returned to the beautiful suburb of New York City that I called home, happy to reconnect to my wonderful friends, but found myself longing for outdoor café’s and hikes in the hills and those remarkable sunsets at day's end. Truly, if you had ever asked me that I might find myself in middle age living in southern California, I would have asked you what you were smoking. I lived in San Francisco for a few months after college but it wasn’t a good time for me then, so I returned to NYC. All through the years, California called to me, despite my life-long love affair with NYC. I thought I might find myself someday in Berkeley, a wonderful place for literarati’s and intellectuals and social advocates, and also people who love great food. Or maybe Sausalito, that patch of land that shares some of the characteristics of this town. I spent a week-end in Santa Cruz once, another interesting coastal community, and of course have always marveled at Big Sur and Carmel and the endlessly hip and blustery towns further north, but I’m here on the Southern shore now, and I’ve found a way to make a life, a good life. Slowly but steadily making friends and becoming more and more familiar with the surrounds. Just last month I visited all the people I love most in CT and NYC and hated to leave, but as I drove back into the modest bustle of summertime Laguna Beach and caught sight of sunlight glimmering on the water, I felt that I had come home.

If you have even an inkling that there’s a place out there that might suit you better than where you are, or delight you in some new way, take the risk. A great way to get in touch with yourself, and who you might wish to become in the later stage of life. I’m not talking about retirement, I’m talking about simply another way of life. What’s that platitude? Never too late to become the person you want to be. I would say it’s never too late to adopt a lifestyle that you’d like to live. If nothing else, you challenge your own senses and perspective and shake yourself out of the inertia where so many of us too often reside forever. I prefer Laguna Beach.

01 September 2008

In praise of breakfast

This was a very good day. Labor Day, designated a holiday in order to skip labor. Well done. The day began [after the obligatory dog walk] with breakfast with Byron. Breakfast with Byron is one of my favorite pastimes, unfortunately more past than present as Byron now lives in Hong Kong. The best we can do as a rule is eat at the same time as we Skype, not the same. Now he is here visiting friends and family and we frequently meet in the morning. Breakfast is an under-rated outing. People gather for lunch or drinks or dinner, all good, but breakfast at an outdoor café may be the best dining out of all. Europeans know this well. So do South Americans. And Lagunans get it as well, as every morning, every café in town is flush with patrons sipping their lattes and munching on muffins and either scanning the newspaper, especially Fridays when the two local papers publish, or arguing the merits of town planning and politics with intimates. I know people who meet every morning this way. They all have their favorite place. Zinc is the chic breakfast place, known largely by locals but occasionally found by tourists who are forever confounded by the one door to the take-out market and another to the café, largely because all seating is outside.

There are at least a half dozen similar breakfast café’s around town, and all close by four. As if to clam that daylight is the best time for food with friends. Meetings are best held at breakfast. Deals are done as much over breakfast as on the golf course. Awakening to a new day we’re relaxed, open-minded, cheerful. The stresses of the day have not yet set in. Breakfast is an intimate act, like that first morning after the night before. It’s the time we once spent with children and before that our own parents. With room-mates and spouses and lovers. I like to meet friends for breakfast, although I’m known as a lady who lunches, which I also like to do, especially on the spur of the moment, and frankly, I’m quick to put down my pan and meet for a light dinner. I like scanning a menu to choose just what suits me at the moment. I like someone serving me with a smile [or not as in Europe. In Spain, they bark at you, Diga me! And of course one must order from the menu, no special orders as we Americans have turned into high art. Still, the experience is enhanced by the very presence of someone else doing the work.]

I do not mean for a moment to disparage home cooking. I like slow food, freshly prepared. But home is where the phone is. Where email alerts ring out from the desk. Where chores remain incomplete, laundry and ironing to be done. There’s enough of that all day, and always waiting for the return home. On the way to breakfast, all that is left behind the locked door for quiet time with a friend. I confess, I often take a book to breakfast, another not-so-guilty pleasure. Also a great place to read the newspaper without interruption, although alone it’s hard to bitch or read aloud smart words or stories that sting. Lunch is better served as a quick visit with a friend or business. Dinner is social or the quiet end to a busy day. Breakfast, nothing has started, nothing to finish, nothing to distract, not just yet.

The one great irony… I don’t drink coffee. Only tea, usually iced, and I knew I had truly landed in Laguna Beach the first time I stopped in at Heidelberg Café, one of my favorites, and before I placed my order for a lightly toasted healthy harvest muffin [whole grains and nuts and sweetened with juice, hits the spot] when Fernando, one of the constants behind the morning counter, poured my iced tea, no lemon. He doesn’t ever remember my name, but he knows what I drink. There is something truly wonderful about being known. Especially at breakfast. Makes one feel right at home.

What is home?

What is home? Where the heart is? What heart is that – with your husband or partner, friends or family? Perhaps home is truly where you grew up, if you grew up in one place, although your parents or siblings are likely somewhere else and your childhood home is now a condo complex or a mall. I wonder if the whole concept of home is an economic construct, especially in this country, to support a consumerist economy where home means residence, with all the latest must-have stuff. A man I know makes his home on the street, by choice, largely because he’s easily frightened and claustrophobic, and his home he says is his guitar, a constant companion, which makes the sweet music one might associate with contentment. Home may traditionally be defined as native habitat, or perhaps a launch pad, and in cyberspace, the place to begin, like the home page, although home base is also the place one aims to land. A dictionary suggests home is simply an environment offering security and happiness, or a place of refuge. For those fleeing war, plague or poverty, home is their beloved country or the culture they cling to. What about the workplace as that home away from home? Surely we have multiple homes.

My first home was a tiny apartment where I shared a bedroom with my parents – my little bed pushed into a corner diagonally across from my parents’ not much larger one. In the dark of night, but before they came to bed, I listened to the distant omnipresent tremor of New York City and the regular punctuation of a subway train. Is home a series of sounds? Smells? I walk the streets of that city sometimes and the scents emanating from every bakery and restaurant remind me of the cacophony of pungent aromas wafting from apartment windows to greet a throng of street kids charging home to dinner. Is home merely environs that feel familiar? Or is home the place where you simply surround yourself with the familiar – my books are always first out of the box, and those few knick-knacks I retain only because they trigger sweet memories. Is home the place where you store memory? My parents moved from that tiny apartment when I turned twelve to a bigger apartment in a slightly more upscale neighborhood where my mother felt a sense of upward mobility and I slept in a little bedroom all alone, longing longed for the distant rumbling of a train. We lived there three years but I never felt at home there. As a young adult in Manhattan, I was awakened repeatedly by the sounds of drunks tossed from 2nd Avenue bars and the harsh blare of sirens, until I kept a promise to my new husband to move to our first of three houses in a picture-perfect suburb, sleeping to the sounds of leaves rustling on giant maple trees. One might say my home remained East Coast, or more specifically, the tri-state area, but in that pristine bedroom community I never felt completely at home until now when I go back to visit, and only because so many dear friends remain there.

Like the pioneers of old, when my husband was gone and my kids grown and flown, I migrated West, and soon after I relocated to Laguna Beach, my older daughter, who makes her home in London, visited me and said she was struck by the sense of home, she said, because our stuff was there. Stuff is easy to take with you. She, who in her short life has made homes for herself in New Orleans, Austin and Barcelona, forgave me moving away from her childhood home because, she said, home is where I am. So now I hang my hat in a beach town where I sometimes awaken to the sound of the surf, dulled by day by traffic along Pacific Coast Highway, and I feel at home, perhaps because I chose this place as where I want to be at this moment in my life. Is that all home is – the place that fits at this moment in your life? Works for me.