Calling Doctor …

I’ve told you about my friend J who recently had a cancer scare.  A few weeks ago I accompanied her to the day surgery unit of the hospital to have her cancerous mass removed.  Things move quickly when Doctors realize that something is malignant: she received word on a Thursday that it was cancer, and they booked her appointment for the following Tuesday. Of course, as things happen, they called Monday and rebooked her for Friday morning.  Whatever.

So she was told to report to the hospital at 7:30 for a 9 am surgery slot.  Fine.  She called me and asked if I were available, and if I could meet her at 6:45 so we could walk up.  Fine.

Friday morning rolls around and I meet her in the lobby at appointed time, and she’s in a tizzy: turns out she received a call at 6:15 asking where she was- she was apparently supposed to be their at 6am for a 730 procedure.  (First off- J is really on the ball- she called me before she booked appointment and I remember exactly what she said which was 730/9- and on another note- people call to confirm haircuts- why wouldn’t the Doctor call to confirm time of surgery?)

So we raced up to the hospital- they had asked her to get their as soon as possible.  J was flustered- she could tell her blood pressure was up.  This was not how anyone wants to go into a medical procedure.  I tried to calm her, but really- if I were her I would have been annoyed too.

So we get to the hospital, go to the 10th floor day surgery unit, and J goes to check in.  I sit in the registration waiting area, to, you know, wait for her. Out of the corner of my eye I see a figure in scrubs approach my friend.  I turn to get a better look. Ok- this isn’t just a figure- this is clearly the handsomest man I’ve ever seen.  And he’s talking to J.  He’s touching her hand and calming her down.  Turns out this creature from the heavens is the Doctor who will be assisting her Doctor.  And as he’s showing the utmost in bedside manner, I am staring at him, mouth open, in awe of his physical looks.

Seriously.  Best looking man I have ever seen.  Tall, body like a Greek God. Dark wavy hair perfectly sitting atop a face with the most sculpted cheek bones and piercing, big brown eyes .  I’ve seen famous heartthrob actors in person and not one has come close to the natural good looks of this man in front of me.

After a few reassuring moments he left J, she finished her entry paperwork, stood up to face me and simply said “Well, I’m calm now.” and then she smiled. “If I were 40 years younger…”

To which I could only say “I know…Oh my God, how cute was he!”

We were teenage girls. Giddy.

J went back to prepare for surgery, but when she was in her gown, I was allowed to go back and sit with her until it was time for her procedure.  Of course, when I got back to her curtain partitioned cubicle, Dr. Too Good Looking for Words was there.  Now, with breast cancer, or I guess any surgery being done on something that has a right or a left, every person in the hospital must initial the body part to be worked on.  S0, 2 nurses had already initialed her left breast.  When I was there, Dr. TGLFW asked her: “Can I take a peak at your left breast so I can initial it?”

Now, I had to sit on my hand because I wanted to raise it and say “You can take a peak at my left breast. Hell, you can take a peak at my right breast.  You can take a peak at anything you want.” But I didn’t.  I mean, this particular moment in time wasn’t about me.  But yes- that attractive.

So what’s the point, other than I’m attracted to a nice face?  Well, I guess that is the point: if I ever say looks don’t matter, I am so lying..

J was instantly calmed looking into his soulful eyes- and yes, I will admit his innate charm didn’t hurt either.

But his looks…

So there you go- I can be swayed by a pretty face..

But in the end it takes more than a pretty face- I need someone way smarter than me: Oh wait- he’s a surgeon in a world renowned hospital….

Good thing I’m totally in love with someone….

 

 

 

 

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A Little Help From my Friends

You know I’m sort of a realist- pragmatic, analytic, ruled by logic.  But sometimes I wonder if the Universe does really play with my mind.

A few months ago I read a piece about how women who don’t ask for help are lacking self esteem.  Which I sort of called BS on.  But somewhere between the idea and the post, something happened.

You’ve heard about my movie friend J.  She’s a woman in her 70’s who lives in my building, and we see movies together.  That’s pretty much the context of our relationship- going to the movies, and talking about movies.  But on the 15 minute walks to and from the theater, we would share little stories of our lives, and it was obvious we had a rapport.

J is one of those women I admire.  She’s never been married, doesn’t have a significant other, and has never longed for one, nor bemoaned the fact that she is alone.  Quite the contrary- she embraces her singledom.  She has traveled the world, her only regret being that she has never been to Antarctica.  She spends her days as she pleases, and is perfectly content.  She is fiercely independent and doesn’t need anyone.  She is the last person to ever ask for help.

Then one day, after her routine check up, her Doctor saw something he didn’t like. He wanted her to come in and have a little surgery to remove a little something to have a little biopsy.  You know that after a procedure, hospitals don’t let you leave without someone- you need to ask for help.

J has family close by in New Jersey, but as asking for help is foreign to her, the thought of asking them to come into the city to help her was not an option she wanted to choose.  So she asked me.  She asked for my help.  I sort of downplayed it, not wanting to spook her into running into the woods like a deer. But of course I would help her, pick her up from the hospital. I gently asked if she wanted me to take her in the morning. She answered brusquely, of course not.  She was fine.

Then the day before the procedure: I’m pretty sure she hung out in our building lobby until I went to walk the dog.  And she gently asked, “Do you mind coming with me in the morning?  I’m a little more scared than I thought I would be. It’s early though- we need to leave at 6:15.”  Of course I said yes.

I know how hard it was for J to ask me, or anyone, for help.  She is proud of her ability to fend for herself.  But sometimes you need help.  Sometimes you can’t do everything by yourself.  Sometimes you need a friend.

I got up the next morning and took her to the hospital.  I sat with her until they took her in, and I hung out for a bit in the day surgery unit until it was time for her to go in for her procedure.  I left and came back at 330, the appointed time, and waited for her to feel better so that she could be released.

And a week went by, and I didn’t run into her.  I started to get a feeling.  My logical mind was being overtaken by intuition.  I “knew” the test results were not great.  I just felt it.  But, do I ask her?  Will she take offense to this overture and run away?  That’s the thing about proudly independent people- they can be proudly quiet and hold things to the vest.

Luckily, as we walked to see “Ocean’s 8” the other day, she just said the words.  Cancer.  Small.  They think they got it all with the biopsy sample, but they wanted to make sure.  Would I pick her up?  The procedure would be easy- ten minutes.

Of course I would pick her up.  Of course I would do anything she needed.  I was glad that she trusted me, to share this news with me.  I was glad that she wasn’t too proud to ask for help when she needed it.

So next week I will accompany my friend.  And I will marvel at friendships, whether they be people in your neighborhood, of friends far away.  I will sleep better knowing that there are people who will reach out to me in their time of need, and there are people I can reach out to.

And though I remain a practical, evidence based person- I can’t help but wonder if some greater force propelled me to read the article about needing help.  I can’t help but wonder if certain people come into your life for a reason.  I can’t help but wonder how much I am going to analyze these thoughts…

 

What Does Friend Really Mean?

Let’s start out with a disclaimer.  I get an idea for a blog, I pen it into my planner, and then I write about it.  My thoughts have been fruitful of late, so I’ve been about 2 1/2 weeks ahead in the thought process.  Now, since I took a hiatus, the idea for today’s blog came over a month ago, from a blog my friend Eilene wrote.  Here’s the problem- i don’t remember enough about her post to give it any kind of real reference as to what motivated me to write this.  But anyway…

What are the qualities you want in a friend.  Think about it.  I’ll wait…

Say, you want a friend to be honest.  Honesty is a good trait.  We want to deal with people in our daily lives who speak the truth and don’t lie.

Right?

Honesty is good, right?

We want our friends to be honest, right?

I binge watched “Grace and Frankie” (spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t seen it but plans on it) Before Frankie married, someone told her the man she was about to marry was gay.  Truthful, right?  Frankie didn’t speak to that person for 40 years.

Now, the person was honest, right?  But look at the outcome.  How honest do we want our friends to be?  How many people in our lives to we want to be completely honest with us?

Honesty often hurts.  When confronted with the cold, hard facts, we often crumble.  We get defensive.  My daughter recently asked me to review something she had written for her AP Lang assignment.  I told her it wasn’t very good, that she kind of skirted the question, and the voice was very passive when clearly the tone of the piece was supposed to evoke emotion.  My daughter stormed off.  She told me I was horrible.

Horrible?

Isn’t honesty good?

Don’t we want people to be honest with us?

Let’s think about how we define honesty.  Honesty is when we tell the truth.  Honesty is when we don’t lie. Lying is bad.

But are there things that are OK to lie about?  Are there times when a lie is justified?  Are there times when honesty is probably not the right course?

Let’s try this.  To be deceitful is definitely bad.  To tell a woman that you are single, when you are in fact married, is a bad thing.  Does anyone think this is an acceptable lie?

So, lying to be deceitful and not let someone have the whole story is bad.

Now I’m going to give you another TV reference.  Big Bang Theory spoiler alert.  On a recent episode, Amy picked out a wedding dress.  Penny and Bernadette thought the dress was hideous.  When Amy asked, Penny told her the truth.  Amy’s feelings were hurt.  Did Amy want the truth, or did she want agreement?

Which brings us to: if a friend asks an opinion question, is it OK to lie?  Would it really be a lie if Penny said the dress was beautiful?

In TV world, Penny ended up telling Amy that the dress was Amy’s choice, and it didn’t matter who liked it.  I thought this was the right approach to the situation, but does this choice make anyone feel better?

Opinion honesty is a tough call, because opinions are just that: opinions.  Opinions are based on a particular individuals thoughts, and might not necessarily be based on fact.  In my writing group, we share work.  Now as you know, writing work is very personal.  No one wants to be told that there is a flaw in their writing, or an inconsistency.  So I was in a quandary yesterday.  I told one of my writing friends (who is an absolutely amazing writer BTW) that I thought she had an issue with character development with one of her characters.  But it was based on my opinion.  True, i gave her examples of why I thought the character needed to be fleshed out a little more, but I don’t know if I’m right.  (mark this date down: I admitted that I might not be right about everything)  But I felt I needed to tell her how I felt, and why.

Should we give friends out true opinions of things, even when they are going to go against someone’s thought/beliefs/feelings?

So what are your thought on honesty as to how it pertains to friendship?  What is your definition of honesty?  Are you always honest with your friends about everything?  How about family?  Are you always honest with your family?

Discuss…

 

What Are You Wearing?

What are you wearing?

I sent this text to a friend last week.  Of course, as soon as I hit “send” and I actually looked at the text, I said to myself – “ooh….that doesn’t look good.”

And I quickly typed “That looked weird.  What do you think is comfortable to wear?”

Words right?  Powerful.  I knew what I meant.  My friend, who responded “LOL.  Leggings and t shirt” obviously knew what I meant.  But…in another circumstance….

Now- this anecdote really doesn’t have anything to do with the post I’m about to write.  I thought it was just a funny way to introduce the story about something I did last week.

I have a friend S, who is very cool and fun.  She is like me, an open minded cynic.  She is willing to give anything a try, but always has a little grain of doubt in the back of her mind.  This is the perfect friend for me:  we had saved a date to play, and when it came time to get an actual plan in place she said to me:

“Let’s do something different.”

“How about a salt room?  I saw a groupon.” I said.

“Great.  Let’s do it.”

FYI- I love friends like this- willing to try different stuff that is neither illegal or immoral.  Fattening is a plus however…

Salt Room.

How do I explain this?

It’s a room filled with Himalayan Salt.  And there’s lights on the ceiling. There is meditative music in the background.  There are two seating options: 1) lay on the ground on the salt itself or 2) lay in a zero gravity lounge chair.

So I laid back on this heavenly lounge chair, at least two comfy blankets on top of me, and I stared at the ceiling and breathed deeply.  In and out.  In and out.  For 60 minutes.

What is it supposed to do?

It is supposed to clear your sinuses.  It is supposed to relax you.  I don’t know if you know this about me, but I’ve had sinus issues of late.  I also have a little trouble relaxing.

Did it work?

Well, I felt relaxed.  Seriously.  My mind was clear.  My body felt a little tingle running through it.  I felt clean.  My sinuses didn’t feel inflamed.  My friend felt the same way.  About the breathing and relaxing anyway.  I didn’t ask her about the tingle.  I mean, I’d already started out the day by asking her what she was wearing- am I really going to ask her if her body is tingling?

Now- here’s the thing:  Did we feel good because the salt room actually worked, or was it a placebo effect?  We already know by my word play at the beginning, our minds are capable of convincing ourselves of anything, or interpreting things in a variety of ways.

So- did the room do what it promised?

More importantly- does it matter, since the end result was two less stuffy nosed and calmer people?

So here’s todays dime store wisdom:

  1. Try new things
  2. Groupon is good if you manage to get the special before it runs out (we missed the special price, but were so excited about the concept we did it anyway- that’s how we roll- we did it without the groupon)
  3. Be open minded, but not naïve
  4. Find a friends to have adventures with
  5. Breathe.
  6. Relax
  7. Find your inner peace
  8. Be careful of how you word a text
  9. Enjoy the experience that is life
  10. Don’t add a number 10 just because you have to have some sort of logic to your numerical list

Namaste

 

 

 

Fortune Cookie Wisdom

The onset of the new year always makes me nostalgic.  I think about fond memories of the past year, and the past in general. And then I think about the future. I think about all the good things that are in store for me.  and sometimes the thoughts about the past, the present and the future all sort of blend together.

A few weeks ago, we ordered Chinese take out.  For the most part, NYC restaurants go longer send fortune cookies and Chinese noodles with the food.  We’re more “elevated” here, or cost conscious, or “cheap” to do that.  But one neighborhood place still sends out the cookies along with the wonton soup and fried veggie dumplings.

“Reconcile with an old friend.  All has been forgotten.”

That’s what the fortune said.  I placed it on my magnet board, because oddly, I’ve been thinking about an old friend.  I considered reaching out to this old friend, right around the time I got the fortune.   Weird, right?  Is it a sign?  Or am I just trying to make it a sign?

I’m not one to hold grudges- I think that life is too short.  I don’t like being at odds with people- I think it is a waste of energy that should be used positively instead of negatively.  It takes the same amount of energy to be happy as it does to be mad.  These are not some sort of fortune cookie wisdom- these are my own personal mantras.  These are things I try to live and practice.  And to be fair, I probably did once see them on a fortune cookie.

But back to the actual situation.  I had a falling out with a friend a few years ago.  To be clear- both of us were wrong and both of us were right.  It was a pretty evenly sided falling out.  But I miss talking to this person because they are smart and funny.  And a whole bunch of other things, but we will leave it at,  their absence in my life is felt.

So now, do i reach out to this person?  According to the fortune cookie, they are ready to make amends.  But, are they?  I might need to get an order of wonton soup just to get a fortune.  (Actually, I’ll need to order two things because I need two fortunes cookies- if I only get one I will just give it to my daughter, and I will be fortuneless)

Are some things better left alone?  Are some friendships meant to die out?  These are going to be thoughts for the upcoming year- be prepared for some blogs about them.

Happy New Year!!!

The Day I’m Not so Nice

I am usually a somewhat kind person.  Don’t get me wrong- I have mean days, days where I tell and tell people off.  But for the most part, I’m fairly Ok.  Today, I am going to write in a somewhat spirited and not altogether kind way about another woman.  Sorry- sometimes women do things that piss me off, just like sometimes men do things that piss me off.  But- be forewarned.

My Husband has a good friend from college.  Great guy.  Intelligent, funny, trustworthy, loyal, great Father, general good person.  R used to be married.  I will not mince words- I (and just about everyone) hated his ex wife- she was cold and calculating and rude.  I saw the handwriting on the wall and their eventual break up.  It was a  nasty contentious divorce because she was being so petty about everything, and he gave in to just about everything, except joint custody of their teenage children.  The kids were his Maginot Line.

While the divorce was in its final stages, he began trolling Facebook for women he had once been interested in during college, and for whatever reason, they never dated.  I did not think this was a good idea. While I love the idea of this (I’m actually using it as a device in my novel) realistically, I find this a bad idea on so many levels. People change, and we’re all at different stages- can you expect the same attraction to be present?  Also, I think it’s a little desperate- it’s like you just want a partner and it doesn’t matter who it is.  You’re throwing out bait and hoping something catches on.  So, I wasn’t crazy about this girlfriend through Facebook experiment.

But- he did begin dating two different girls- one was geographically desirable, so he ended up with the convenient one.  In the beginning, my radar flashed me warning signs- I saw someone who took offense very easily, who would feel slighted very easily.  He was going to have to walk on eggshells around her.  For the record, I do not like to be around people that are overly sensitive.  I like people who realize that not everything is a direct attack against them, and that people are not hiding things from you.   These type of people are emotionally draining.  I don’t like to be emotionally drained.

The more I got to know her, the more I realized my internal radar was correct.  She is massively insecure.  We had game night at my place- she lost every game we played.  Now, we’re adults right?  Does it really matter who won Apples to Apples?  Well, the next time I saw her she told me that we were playing the game wrong.  WTF?  As my other friend said, well, we were all playing by the same rules, so really, but anyway…it was Apples to Apples.  Who cares?

I planned an outing for our group.  We were doing a scavenger hunt at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, through a group.  I love things like this, clues, running around a museum- I think it’s fun.  and, truthfully, I’m good at puzzles.  So the day of the hunt, we had our team of 6. 3 of us were excellent at this, 2 of us were really good at writing down stuff and reading the map as we gave out directions, and 1 of us was stopping to look at all the art.  During a timed race.  In a museum on the same city in which we live.  A museum I’m at at least monthly FYI- I mean- it’s right here!  So, when she realized she wouldn’t be the “star”, she checked out of the game.  Didn’t care at all that the rest of us were really into it.  just checked out.

A few weeks ago, we were having a big group dinner- a group of about 16 people who hadn’t seen one another in awhile.  We met at my place for drinks.  They were the last to arrive, even though she lives the closest to me of the group.  They had to walk her dog.  Well, they were at our house for about 15 minutes before we left for the restaurant.  As I was trying to shut lights and blow out candles and check on my own pets, she was whining to him about how her dog walker screwed up something, and the dog was not going to be walked.  Remember, her 5 year old dog was walked a half hour before, and would be walked in a few hours.   She kept whining and whining and whining.  Finally, after badgering him, he left the party, with his friends, some of whom he hadn’t seen in awhile, to go across town to walk her dog.  She sat at the table looking smug and self satisfied.  It was the ultimate FU to the people at the table- she was making a power play.  She was making sure we all knew that she was more important than his friends.

I don’t like this behavior.  I don’t like insecurity.  I don’t like people who try to separate someone from their friends.  I don’t like manipulation of this magnitude.  I don’t like bullying, and this is bullying.

She’s done about 1000 other little things that show what type of person she really is.  I feel bad, because the guy R, is a quality guy.  Yet he is now again in a relationship with someone who is not nice, or kind.  He is again in a relationship with someone selfish.  Obviously, there is something about this quality that draws him in.

Now, the other problem is, we all hate this woman so much, no one wants to see them as a couple. (Not that it matters- she’s not going to let him play with the others anyway)  We also can’t say to him “Hey- your girlfriend is the ultimate Bitch” because, you know, my Husband keeps telling me I can’t. (Though, two of the other guys voted for me to tell him)  But anyway.

Ok- thanks for letting me get off some steam.  The situation sucks because we love this guy, and we can see the handwriting on the wall of what his life is going to look like.  There are not enough good qualities in the world to counteract her bad ones.

And if you all have advice, would love to hear it, but really, my friends and I all know that there’s nothing we can do except hope that he doesn’t marry her.

November 15

Back is August I told you about a friend of mine who had died from Cancer a few years before.  How I was heartbroken because it was only 6 weeks from diagnosis to death, how me and my other friend did everything we could to help him out, how it crushed us.  August would have been his 53rd birthday.

Today would have been the 53rd birthday of another friend of mine, M.  The death and situation around it were vastly different.  Part of me regrets the situation with M.  Part of me knows it was the only way I could survive.

M was my closest friend in High School.  We met the first day of 9th grade- she sat behind me in homeroom.  I had just moved to a new town and new school.  For an incredibly shy kid, this was akin to torture.  M was outgoing and friendly and fun.  She also only lived a few blocks away from me, so I would have someone to go to and from school with.

Now, back in high school M was a little crazy.  She was famous for prank calling boys.  Repeatedly.  She had no censor.  If we told her she was acting a little strange, she would stop speaking to us.  She was the poster child for teenage drama.

I was a shy, quiet withdrawn kid who really never even stepped a little over the line.  It was exciting to have a friend that was a little crazy.  Her wildness was tamed by having a good heart- inside she was a nice person.  Well, when she wasn’t getting mad at you because you told her she had to calm down.

We remained friends for years.  Now, the level of friendship changed.  We saw each other on college breaks, hung out a lot after college ended.  But we both had crazy jobs, and I moved off of Long Island, and was dating the asshole who would become my first husband.  The relationship shifted focus.  We saw one another every few months.  I no longer wanted to hang in bars trying to meet guys.  In truth, this had become our bonding experience- hanging in bars and clubs.  So every few months turned into dinner twice a year.

Now, it was one of those relationships where even though we hadn’t been in communication, we could pick right back up with where we left off.  She always had a crazy guy story to tell me.  Always a variation of this guy was so bad so I had no choice but to…..  Not unlike prank calling in 9th grade, or figuring out a guys locker combination and leaving things inside.  it didn’t seem quite as funny anymore though.

She had always been an excellent worker- highly intelligent and hard working and capable.  She tended to switch jobs a lot.  She got promoted quickly, but something always happened, someone was always not treating her respectfully so she would get another job.  When you produce results in your given field, this is easy.  At the end of the day, results count.

About 14 years ago, I noticed a slight change in her behavior.  Her behavior seemed way more erratic than it had ever before- spiraling from dizzying highs to swampy lows.  Now, 14 years ago, I had a 2 year old.  A typical 2 year old and a husband who worked a lot of hours.  I was typically exhausted and covered in some sort of young child thing- dirt, food, paint- you get the idea of mothering a toddler.  I didn’t have the time or inclination to hang out in bars and say stupid things to men.  My focus had changed.  And honestly, the only thing we ever did together was go to dinner at cool places.  I noticed how much she actually drank when we were out.  These outings weren’t fun for me.  I didn’t have the time or patience to do things that didn’t make me feel good.  These outings made me sad- she talked about fighting with her parents, her brother, whoever she was dating, whoever she was working for or working with.  Her life seemed to be a constant battle.  She was switching jobs about once a year, she was switching partners about once every two months.

We began seeing one another less, maybe every 18 months.

But about 8 years ago I began to get the texts and the calls.  She would contact me, drunk, and just yell about anyone and everyone.  Just incoherent rants about how the world was against her.  She would leave me multiple texts of just jumbled letters- some code that I could not decipher.

I began not picking up the phone when she called.

After a few months of trying to figure out message she was leaving on my voicemail, I called her during the day.  I told her she needed help, help that I was unable to give. I didn’t know if she had a mental disorder.  I didn’t know how dependent she was on alcohol and drugs.  I didn’t know.  I did know that I was not qualified to actually help her. I told her I would support her, but she needed to seek professional assistance.

She cut me out.

But every year, the rambling texts and calls would resume. I would repeat the same thing- I couldn’t deal with her in the state she was in, I couldn’t give her the help she needed, but I would support her while she got proper attention.

This went on till she died 3 years ago.

My Mother got the call from a mutual friend.  At one point, my Mom worked for my friend M, so there were mutual friends.

I sighed.  I didn’t actually cry.  I was relieved.  I hoped she was finally at peace.  I was the one who contacted our little high school clique.  I didn’t have much to tell them.  We didn’t know if it was suicide or an accidental overdose.  In the end, that’s just semantics.  I reached out to her brother.  They hadn’t spoken for the last 8 years of her life.  Apparently, he received the same treatment as me, and said the same things to her as I did.  She responded to him the same way she had responded to me.  He apologized for not contacting me directly- he said he didn’t know who she hadn’t pissed off.  It seems no one wanted to be around her anymore- she chased away anyone who wanted to help.

There would be no memorial or burial or any sort of service.

Now, I’ve often thought about what I could have done.  How could I have helped.  Was there more that I could have done?  Should I have dragged her to a hospital?  Was I selfish, only taking care of myself and my family?  Or was I surviving, knowing I could not help someone who didn’t want to be helped.

I talked about M with another friend.  We were saying that even back in High School we should have realized that something was off- that there was probably some sort of issue rattling around in her brain.  In hindsight, the signs were there.  We just didn’t know to look for them.  We just thought she was wild.

So, if you were to ask me about regrets, I’d say this situation might be a regret.  I don’t know how I should have handled it.  I console myself by saying everyone tried and failed to assist her, so nothing would have worked.  But that’s only rationalization.

So today, I silently nod and think about M.  And I truly hope she is at peace.