Live From Law School

Hi there everyone!

I wanted to give you all a little blurb about my first month of law school. I’m starting week four with a bang-or rather, with a really horrendous cold! Because of the attendance policies of law school, I was able to miss one class this morning, but showed up for my afternoon class. Honestly, I’m not sure it was helpful to me, but my name was on the attendance roster, and that’s a start. Now, I’ve been very good about medicating-I’ve got some serious DayQuil/Advil action going on, and I’ve been hydrating and other self-care recommendations. But I didn’t come here to talk about my cold!

What they tell you: Law school is hard-in a different way than undergrad. It’s supposed to stretch you as a human being and make you think like a lawyer. It will prove useful in all facets of your life, not just the ones that you would think. It will make you more annoying to be around, because you’ll analyze everything. It will force you to work on yourself in and out of the classroom.

What they don’t tell you: You will think about quitting every day for what feels like forever. You will feel completely worthless. You will hate the amount of homework you have. You will debate changing your life, settling for a career that is “kinda” what you want.

And then you’ll get out of the first two weeks and realize that this is something you can handle-it was all just an adjustment period, testing the unfathomably steep learning curve. And you’ll grow accustomed to the labor intensive study patterns, the crappy food plans and the weird cravings for comfort food in the middle of the night. You’ll discover a coping pattern for mornings-which usually require copious amounts of caffeine. You might even discover that you like mornings (I think that day is still a long way off for me, but we’ll get there).

Law school is this weird place where you bring a hundred people and on the first day you’re all strangers, but by the second week you have a core of friends who know everything about each other. You spend all day every day with those same people and suddenly you have friends that you respect, trust and celebrate with-even though you have no idea who they were before.

I came to law school thinking I was a good student. I have decent grades from both high school and undergrad. I thought I knew who I was, what I stood for and believed and that this would just be a quick two or three years of teaching me the requisite knowledge to become a legal professional. Read: this was a means to an end. And if I made friends, that would be great. If I managed to find people that I could enjoy coffee with-who also shared my passion, great. But if none of those things occurred, I would not be upset. 

My first month here has been, well, eye opening. I’m a good student-but I was not a good law student before. Now, I understand the change I needed to make. I’ve found that in the last few weeks, I’ve discovered more about myself than I have since my freshman year of high school. I have a new perspective and it shifts slightly every day, as I learn more. And friends? I have a group of them-5 people in fact, who I believe are the foundation for the best years of education of my life.

Life isn’t all about the expectation. You can plan and plan and in the end, it may not be the way you thought it would. And that was the biggest lesson of all. That no matter how much I thought I knew, how much I planned, some things are just gonna happen-without your permission. Your job isn’t to fight it, but to adapt.

Lawyered.

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I’m Only Human

 

I did a LOT of research when I first decided I wanted to go to law school. Like, obsessive amounts of it. And I think I needed to. I planned for every option I was interested in, found places that would accommodate my husband’s academic interests and then found schools where I would thrive, but also where I would be challenged. I went big-picking places I’d always wanted to go, places I never thought to look at, places I wasn’t sure I’d love but thought I’d try anyway.

I applied to a college in Kansas, Ohio and two in Washington (state). Ohio was my “not sure I’d love” school; Kansas, my “never thought to look at”; and the two in Washington, my “I’d love to go”. It was a journey getting accepted, to be sure. So when I found myself in a pressure zone, I applied one more time. This time, to a place I never even bothered to look at, because it was lower on the rankings, it wasn’t somewhere I’d ever heard of and I thought I’d hate it. Wouldn’t you know it, they were the place I accepted an offer from?

So I took a chance. They took one on me, I might as well return the favor. And so a new wave of research took me over. What were they like? Did they cater to their students? Would I fit in? Drawbacks? And I began making calls to apartments.

No one said anything bad.

And that’s not to say that I expected them to, but I’ve been looking into American Gothic stories and seriously-it began to sound like a cult. “The school is so wonderful.” “I have a relative who went there.” “We just love the school.” “The school has done so much for us.” And the list goes on like that. That’s the thing. I wasn’t expecting “Oh it’s terrible. You’ve made a mistake.” But EVERYONE had something nice to say. And they said it. You’d think *someone* would have just said nothing, but no. And a little flag popped up in my head. Maybe I was jumping into something WAY over my head.

So I did more research.

And either I drank the Koolaid, have fallen under the curse or something mundane, I have actually come to love the idea of moving there.

They have a chocolate festival, a library that’s decorated as giant classic books, a lantern festival (like floating lanterns-like in Tangled) and it’s in the capital, but it’s a fraction as populated as the one here. Plus, they have trees-a luxury I am currently not afforded.

Each time I get nervous about it (and it happens quite a bit), I sing “Defying Gravity” to myself. And it’s kinda fitting, but more so, I need that reminder that the only thing holding me back is me. It’s my choice to “close my eyes and leap”.

Now, when I announced I was going there, a good many people came to me and told me I was making a mistake. And while that could be true, the reasons were pretty limited to “it’s so far away” and “their political action right now is very damning”. And I have had some time to come up with responses.

First-I know it’s far away. That’s what I wanted. I want to see the world. I’ve lived in the same state my whole life, never seeing much of anywhere else. That doesn’t set me up to help people, does it? And my parents were both from Ohio, met in Colorado and then came back. My husband’s dad was from Ohio, met hubby’s mom in Arizona and came back. Wandering is in my blood-and there’s no way I’m letting other people run my life. I’m too old for that and I don’t have enough time for it anymore.

Second-there is a kids movie called Robots  (with Ewan McGregor and Robin Williams, may he rest in peace) in which a single line pops up repeatedly: “See a need, fill a need.” I knew from a very young age that I was meant to change the world. That sounds crazy, but it’s something I have never truly doubted. I thought I was meant to do that through medicine, but it was justice. And although I’ve had several talks with myself about my capabilities, I know that I can do this. So yes. Each state has their problems right now. Does that mean I should move in with my parents and hide away from the world until someone fixes it? ABSOLUTELY NOT. If I see something needs fixed and I have the ability to do so then it quits becoming a concern and starts becoming a duty. So while I know I’m moving to a pretty conservative red state, maybe I’m meant to change the world starting with them. And if this is but a stepping stone, I’ll have gained some lessons at the very least.

I saw a post in a Facebook group about the Bill Cosby case being a lesson in rape culture. The response was “if I had been on the jury….” and while I appreciate the sentiment, being on a jury isn’t the only way to make change. Being a lawyer isn’t the only way to make change.

It’s our duty as citizens of the world to be passionate. To be passionately involved, to be passionately informed.

Change is hard. Life is hard. But if we all pitch in, at least we’re all together.

As a White Woman, I’m tired.

I know-I’ve set myself up. But hear me out.

I’m tired of watching my friends with higher melanin counts be discriminated against. I’m tired of hearing stories of Muslim women getting their hijabs pulled. I’m tired of seeing violence against minorities. I’m tired of police instigated violence against those minorities. And I hear you, getting up in arms-I’m tired of police getting a bad rap for the crimes of the few bad apples too.

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? I’m tired of a few bad people ruining life for everyone else. I’m tired of ableist, sexist, racist, classist culture that tells people I love that their love isn’t good enough to count as the real thing. I’m tired of the people who decided that unless a person fits a certain mold, they aren’t worth anything.

I’m tired of people coming into fast food establishments on Sundays and looking down at the people working for being there on “God’s day”. Because if you didn’t come in, we wouldn’t have to be there either. And while we’re on the subject, I’m tired of being looked down on because it’s not a cross around my neck, it’s the symbol of my belief system.

I’m tired of people whitewashing. I’m tired of watching the political ideologies systematically remove the concerns of myself and the people who need to be heard so that those with the most money can continue to sweep us under the rug. I’m tired of our news outlets labeling every murderer and deviant as “mentally ill”-unless of course we’re talking about rape and the perp is a collegiate, white athlete.

I’m tired of listening to people apologize for their broken English because they’ve been trying, but it’s hard. I know it is. You’re trying-no need to apologize. And while we’re on the subject, I’m tired of seeing the fear in people’s eyes when they’re out and about. I know I’m not imposing that fear on them, but I belong to this culture and can’t help but feel it’s my fault in some way.

I’m tired of being caged in a rape schedule. I’m tired of living in a country where more than half of the people didn’t want DJT to be president, but because of a 200-years-outdated system, and laws which require fealty over logic, here we are. I’m tired of speaking with my international friends and hearing them talk about “Americans” with hesitation and an almost disgust-and completely understanding why. I’m tired of feeling like I belong to a country that hates diversity-because that’s the most awful thing a country could do. Apart from create refugees and then not take care of them.

I’m tired of being poor. And now, I know that comes with degrees-and I’ve heard the “it could be worse” speech-and that’s true. But I know what it’s like to go through a food pantry line and receive moldy, outdated food and have to make it work because that’s all you got. I know what it’s like to live on pizza rolls and peanut butter and jelly (all off brand of course) because that’s filling, but not really nutritious. I’m tired of being poor enough that it hurts, but not poor enough to qualify for help.

I’m tired of seeing people on the news who served the country and are now homeless. I’m tired of seeing families on the street because life was hard on them in one way or another. I’m tired of abusive spouses or partners taking their anger out of others. I’m tired of the justice system that is “innocent until proven guilty” unless you’re talking about rape or domestic violence, because then it’s guilty until, well, always guilty in some way.

I’m tired of people being removed from their homes because they weren’t born here. I’m tired of seeing families broken apart by immigration officials, because their kids were born here but they came in hopes of a better life and now they’re getting that life ripped away from them. I’m tired of hearing the word “illegal aliens”-because it’s impossible to be an illegal human being. All humans are equal-because we’re all humans. And it’s beyond time for our social structures to catch up.

I’m tired of people getting denied healthcare because their bodies came a little frayed at the edges when they entered this life. I’m tired of people rising from the ashes who forget what it’s like to be at the mercy of the system.

I’m tired of abuse of our people. I’m tired of waiting for the corrupt government to tell me that instead of waging war on women’s rights to choice, they’re waging war on poverty, on neglecting human rights. That they’re going to provide healthcare to the people in Flint-because they’re owning up to what happened. I’m tired of wondering if those poor kids understand that the government fought for them to gestate nine months, but because they’ve been born, no one cares if they survive. I’m tired of staying up all night wondering if the heroin epidemic that took people I went to school with could just end if our education system didn’t cause so many mental health problems.

I’m tired of watching the injustices done against the First Nations. Since the first white people came to America, all we’ve done is pillage and murder and worse. And for what? Manifest Destiny? Since when does the white people’s god desire human blood to be spilled in order to gain redemption? And why are we still taking? Why is there so much greed for something that we’ve already taken by force? I’m tired of watching the government I have to pay taxes to use my money to wage war on the health and well being and sacred lands of the people who were here long before the ones who look like me.

I’m tired of being lumped in with the people of past generations who believe that you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps-because so many of us don’t even have boots. I’m tired of people looking at my generation, the most diverse one yet and lumping us all together as lazy, ungrateful, entitled. Because maybe all we’re entitled to are the liberties denied us by those who want to use our own identities against us.

I’m tired of being made to feel ashamed because my sexuality doesn’t exist. I’m tired of being ashamed because my mental abilities aren’t neurotypical. I’m tired of being made to feel less than because my weight is “more than”. I’m tired that it’s 20-effing-17 and we still don’t have equality-even though it’s been fought for for much longer than I’ve been alive.

I’m tired that there are people who think human rights are negotiable. I’m tired that people are abducted from my neighborhood and sold into modern day slavery, with the promise of money to fix their poverty. I’m tired of explaining over and over again that feminism is equality-and it had better be intersectional or it’s not even feminism, it’s just a lie. I’m tired of fearing for my friends who are transgender, because the patriarchy is so ready to have them removed.

I’m tired.

I grew up with stories of having dreams, of independence, of resistance. My fourth grade teacher threw out the lesson plans and we spent all year learning about African American individuals who would largely go unnamed in history. My seventh grade teacher spent the year teaching us about the Holocaust and how when books were burned, it was work on progressive sexuality first. I grew up with a fondness for people like Thurgood Marshall, Sojourner Truth, Phillis Wheatley, Noor Inayat Khan, Cleopatra, W. E. B. DuBois, Amra binte Abdurrahman and Sayyida Nafisah. I was taught the stories of First Nations people-the story of the Great Turtle, Coyote and Iktomi, and the to-be-feared power of a woman during her cycle.

So yes. My skin is a pale tan. But my heart breaks for the suffering of people who bleed the same color as I do. And it is for these reasons that I have accepted my admissions offer to the 2017 Fall cycle of law school where I will focus on a combination of criminal law/trial advocacy and tribal law. I cannot speak for anyone other than myself, but I can stop this cycle of being the white woman tired and start being the white woman trying.

SAAM 2017: Engaging New Voices

The theme for Sexual Assault Awareness Month is Engaging New Voices. According to the NSVRC (National Sexual Violence Resource Center), the targets for involvement are: Greek life members, Coaches, Fathers and Faith Leaders. It’s one of those occasions where I get to don my faith leader hat and use it to further an important cause.

I’m Pagan. Those words are already a turn off to a lot of people, and I know that. All it means is that I find the divine in nature. I think that’s pretty amicable grounds-Chrsitians often cite nature as a way to prove their beliefs. Islam’s holy book is filled with depictions of nature. It’s universal because it surrounds us. But I’m bringing this up for a different reason.

A LOT of mythologies contain depictions of assault. Native stories about Coyote have them, Celtic stories, Norse stories, Greek and Roman traditions, even Slavic ones. And there are mentions of it in Judeo-Christian texts as well. It would seem, from the beginning of the written word (at least), sexual assault has occured. I think though, the most well-known story about it is Medusa. This story is one that I hold dear-but for a little different reasons. I’ve told other people, but I think it’s a really good lesson for others as well, plus it fits with the current climate.


(Cellini, 1554)

The version that is spread around in academic settings, and even in pop culture is the following.

Enter Medusa, an incredibly beautiful woman who devoted herself to her beliefs. She worshipped the goddess Athena, who was a virginal goddess-meaning her followers would also be virgins. Poseidon, god of the sea, seeing that Medusa was beautiful, came to visit her and try to woo her. Medusa was devout and refused his advances, returning inside the temple to pray. Poseidon followed after her and raped her. Athena, then angry, cursed Medusa to live as a Gorgon-a winged snake woman with snakes for hair and eyes that turned men to stone. Medusa is then killed by Perseus and her head was removed and used later. Perseus is hailed a hero, having vanquished a foe, with the help of other gods.

But that’s not the version I know. Here’s the version I learned.

Medusa, an incredibly beautiful and intelligent woman, lived her life devoted to her faith. She worshipped the goddess Athena, known for her wisdom and strategy, as well as being a virginal goddess. Her followers, then, chose to remain chaste as well. Poseidon, god of the sea and enemy of Athena, saw that Medusa was beautiful and came to visit her, to try to woo her and make her one of his followers instead. Medusa refused his advances, returning to the temple to pray in safety. Poseidon, angry at her rejection, followed her and raped her, then left. Athena returned to her temple to find Medusa, no longer a virgin, crying. Athena told Medusa that she could no longer be a servant in the temple, but that Athena would like to help her. When asked what she needed, Medusa told Athena that she needed a way to protect herself from all who would harm her. Athena then turned Medusa into a Gorgon, giving her the power to stop anyone who came to harm her in her tracks.

The first version is told from a male perspective. Perseus conquers the monster and sets everything back in balance. The thing I couldn’t ever get past was Athena punishing Medusa for being raped. That wasn’t her fault. Rape is NEVER the victim’s fault. And for the longest time, I felt like mythology had made a giant mistake. Until I came across the version I know. Instead of punishing someone who was already punished, the victim became a survivor. And that’s why I share that story.

Sexual Assault and Rape and Domestic Violence is not the victim’s fault. It doesn’t matter the circumstances, the clothing, the drinks, the location.  That’s why SAAM is important. 

Rape culture isn’t a new concept. It’s not a myth. 

They didn’t know I was a seed.

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” -Cynthia Occelli

This quote means so much to me. Especially that last sentence. Today’s been rough.

I set out with the goal of going to law school. And Friday I got my final letter. In the fall, no one wants me. After 10 weeks of waiting, I finally heard back with news that was crummy: waitlisted. That means that unless enough people reject them, I have been rejected myself.

I’ve debated how I want to say this-having typed up four different blogs and then trashed them. Because no matter how frustrated I sound, or how hopeful, nothing quite “gets it”.

You see, I started writing this blog on Friday, when I found out. I was so full of emotions that the words were pallid, flimsy. I spent all day Friday just moping. I mean, I was at work, so I didn’t mope too hard, but I moped. Saturday came the hard-hitting break down. All I wanted, all I’d worked for-gone. And there were a lot of deep questions that went unanswered. I reevaluated everything. I gave myself a one-over and grew frustrated. Nothing had gone the way I’d planned. If I got off the waitlist, it would be because someone else rejected their offer. I’d be getting hand-me-downs. Not how I wanted to start law school, to be sure.

And I woke up this morning. I barely slept last night-so there was lots of coffee involved. Over my second or third cup of coffee, I realized that I wasn’t as sad any more. I realized I was in need of a plan. So that’s exactly what I did. I sat down and got to work.

Most law schools begin classes in autumn. But there’s one school that I applied to for autumn that also has a spring start. I looked, and the application for Spring 18 opened yesterday. That means that I’ll be applying incredibly early (as compared to my other applications) and I will be closer to the top of the pile (meaning I’ll get a decision first). I know that that decision could just as easily be another “waitlist” or worse-“denied”, but I sat down at my computer, spit-shined my application and submitted it without a second thought.

It’s been a whirlwind weekend. I cycled through a lot of emotions, a lot of coping techniques and a lot of coffee. But I came out the other side. And I came out on my own terms. “If I can’t say I wish for this to my choices, I have the power to make different choices.”

I’m a seed. I was buried, and I burst open. My roots are coming out and I’m starting to grow. It’s hard, it’s dark, but there’s sky above me and that’s all I can ask for at the end of the day.

It’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month. And that means that my fight goes far beyond just myself. It’s time to rise up, for the greater good.

And nobody in all of Oz, no wizard that there is or was, is ever going to

bring me down.

Reminders from the Universe

I think it’s really easy to get caught up in life, in the way it makes you feel or overwhelms you. And I’ll be honest, I have those pestering thoughts about where I’m taking my life. I worry that I burn so brightly that I’ll burn out and be of no help to anybody. And I thought about what I might do if I walked away from everything-from justice, from law, from my home and just started over some way. I think that you think about that a lot when you have depression or anxiety or whatever. Just starting over. Taking the knowledge you had and using it to make better choices. But to that effect, I offer a quote:

“But then I wondered how I’d feel… Would I feel relieved or would I feel sad? And then I realized how many stupid times a day I use the word “I”. And Probably all I ever do is think about myself. And how lame is that when there’s like seven billion other people out there on the planet…But then I thought, if I cared about the other seven billion out there, instead of just me, that’s probably a much better use of my time.” -Mia Thermopolis, The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot.

And in the grogg of all that, a news story came across my FB feed. Now, before you roll your eyes, let me just say that I don’t take things at face (lol pun!) value-I investigate. So when I saw the article, I left Facebook and began my search. It was like getting punched in the face. 

If you search “16 year old received no jail time”, there comes a list of stories that aren’t for the faint hearted. They range from racial bias to toddlers to every manner of monster available. And that was when I stopped thinking about myself for a minute. I detached as much as I could and just thought. No amount of me feeling sorry for myself or scared of what the future holds makes any difference. I know that what I want is difficult and scary and it means that I need to be able to hold my own at all times-even in the worst of my bad days. Why?

Because if I don’t keep burning brightly, how will these problems be illuminated? If I don’t keep speaking up, who will speak for the children who can’t, for the people who are scared? They deserve their justice, their safety-just as much as I do. And if no one will help them, I will.

I force myself to read each news story that comes across my feeds. I read them and I burn a little brighter, a little stronger. I don’t know if that’s good or bad-but as far as I can tell, it’s how it has to be. Why? Because this cannot be. There are judges across the country who aren’t holding up the law. They’re letting criminals of the worst kind fall between the cracks. I can’t sit by, in my fear and worry while the last stronghold of justice fails.

And that’s why no matter how scared I am, no matter how frustrated and tired I will become, I have to keep fighting. If not for me, for the people who need me and for the future. So stay tuned for a blog in the future where I tell you which law school I will be attending.

My Statement of Purpose

I said I’d let you all read my law school application’s statement of purpose once I’d sent it out and heard back from the schools. And that is true-mostly. As I write today, I have only heard from half of them, but I’ve got one no and one yes! No matter what, I’m off to law school in the fall. So I am here to provide you with my very own, one of a kind, successful SOP. I modified it for different schools by clarifying the programs and whatnot, but this is the one I got in on.

powerful-statement-of-purpose

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I’m an individual with opinions, aspirations and flaws, for which I offer no apology. Of the facets of my personality, fandom presents a unique outlet conducive to my lifestyle choices. What began as casual consumption of fictional realms and revolutionary ideas rapidly refocused into philosophical pondering over gender norms and fan theory. I am determined to spend my life as a crossover between Les Misérables, Supernatural and Daredevil.

Our country was set up with the ideals of justice and freedom at the core. I believe that to be true not just for the majorities, but for each of the minorities as well. I helped organize protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Columbus, Ohio because I see the actions of that company to be against the values of equality. Sacred and treaty lands are not something that should be impacted just because of business. I also have been quite vocal about justice for rape and sexual assault victims, engaging with others through petitions to government and protests against unjust rulings. Just as Enjolras in Les Misérables, I do not intend to remain silent at the injustices I see, especially when I have the capacity to enact change. I refuse to be silenced, my passion will only be raised.

Building lasting connections with people is not only how the human species has remained a persistent force on our planet, it’s how we find meaning in our work. I have a network of support at The Ohio State University which I find invaluable, who have aided me in narrowing the scope of projects, degrees and law schools to pursue my muses. These connections are vital in my work as a social justice writer, both in my blog, where the focus is on sexual assault survivor advocacy, and on my work through The Mighty, where I contribute writings about mental health and suicide. I started writing about these issues both out of personal experience, but also because of my growing appreciation of Supernatural. The show in and of itself is an extensive metaphor for mental illness, sexual assault and many other harrowing issues under the guise of demons and monsters. I know how important it is to always keep fighting for the greater good, and helping other people along in that journey. Dean Winchester, a main character, was saved from death with the understanding that he had work to do. So too, do I feel strongly convicted about my purpose in life.

Of all of the Marvel superheroes, Daredevil was my favorite male character-well before I knew I wanted to go to law school. Matt Murdock engaged his clients with a dedicated compassion, and not only did he stay dedicated to the need for law and order, the same level of tenacity he showed in his studies before his accident, he continued to maintain after he was blinded. In a proposal I gave to The Ohio State University, I chose to take a stand for victims of sexual assault by educating students about risks, but also by providing gender inclusive actions post-trauma. Instead of furthering the victim-blaming rape culture, I provided a course of action which refocused the blame onto the attackers and sought help for the victims. I will carry this project and it’s ideals with me to law school, where I will continue to work with administrators and educators to ensure a safer future for all people-regardless of demographic.

I take pride in being a well-rounded, open minded millennial member of several minorities. I voted in an election where there were two female candidates for President of the United States of America-something that just a hundred years ago would have been inconceivable. I spend my spare time officiating and planning weddings, amongst which I count the marriage of my brother to my new sister-in-law. I market myself as completely inclusive in thought, offering my services not only to the traditional couples but to anyone who wants to engage in a union with someone they love. I use my title to promote equality and unity, because that is something I believe is going to be an asset in the future of the world. Building on my ministerial duties and privileges, I am attending conferences about how to enter politics-something I had not even considered until I educated myself on the policies I voted for in the general election.

I’m going to use my law degree to become a district attorney. In my research of sexual assault, the numbers are overwhelmingly clear that the two demographics which need attention most are LGBT individuals and Native American women. The path to ending rape culture, for me, means that I graduate from law school with experience in criminal prosecution and social inequality, practice as a prosecuting attorney while I build my rapport with the people in the community and then further my reach as district attorney. In order to do this, I simply have to be myself and continue building on the foundation I laid in undergrad.

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So, class of 2020-here I come! And when I cross that stage to pick up my diploma, you can bet I’ve already got plans. Happy weekend everyone!