Posted in Family, Personal, Relationships

Snail Mail = Sweet Mail

In the age of email and instant messaging, receiving letters leaves a giddy feeling in my system. Just like most millennials, I rarely get snail mail. By rare, I mean one letter/postcard a year, or even none. But even if I don’t get a lot of mail, I feel grateful to those relatives who took their time to actually write me something on paper. Sure, I appreciate my friends and family’s efforts through instant messaging, but getting mail is just special.

I’m having a great day, so far. I did wake up feeling “meh, it’s another boring day”. I went through my morning “routine”, feeling a little excited for the day, but everything changed during breakfast.

While eating an egg and a piece of pan de sal, my aunt comes in, and she handed me an envelope. She told me that I had mail. I took the envelope and looked at it. Well, well, well, it’s from Ohio!

I’ve never met my mom’s first cousin (therefore, my aunt) from Ohio, but she’s been very supportive of me. She’d often react to and  comment on my Facebook posts, even more than my relatives here at home would do. She might be one of my ka-vibes (same vibes) aunts, if ever her family hadn’t migrated to the US. She seems to be so cool, and she seems to be kind and nice. I’m happy she’s reaching out to her extended family here in the Philippines. It just means that she’s not forgetting where she came from, and the family that’s left here. It’s a bonus that she can understand my posts in Filipino, given that my mom said that her sisters don’t really speak the language. I’m loving this aunt of mine so much, and I very much appreciate her snail mail.

She wrote me a letter full of support and encouragement. She told me not to let my bipolar disorder get in the way of my dreams and goals. She also shared some stuff that I can apply in my social life. The things she said in that letter were simple yet beautiful, and they are some words that I needed lately. After all the ups and downs of my personal life (not school issues), here comes a letter from my aunt who I barely knew but who cared. It’s like the arrival of the letter was so timely! Indeed, everything comes in God’s perfect time.

This letter really made my morning, even my day. It really made me excited. It’s like I want to send mail to my friends now. Going back to old practices isn’t bad after all, like sending snail mail. It is more personal, and at this day and age, it’s really special to receive mail that’s not your monthly bills. Lovers, friends, and family used to send snail mail, and they feel happy and special upon receiving mail. Snail mail is, indeed, sweet mail. I hope more people send old-fashioned letters more often. It’s not a waste of paper, given that that piece of paper is full of love.

To my Tita Marissa, thank you so much for the letter. I really appreciate it. I hope I get to meet you someday!

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Posted in College, Education, School

College: Woes to Goals

Getting a college education is very important to me. Without it, I can’t be a high school teacher, and I wouldn’t be able to broaden my knowledge. The idea of going back to school gets me giddy, so I enroll. But as a few weeks pass by during the semester, my anxiety brings me down. This has happened three time already, and I don’t want this to happen again. So, I’ve decided to transfer to another school.

Deep in my heart, I did really want to be a UP student, even if I chose to go to UP out of practicality. I wanted to get to know the real world, meet different people, and discover myself. But when I made that decision to study in UP, I didn’t know I had Bipolar II Disorder. I didn’t know that my depression back in high school was just the tip of the iceberg; I didn’t know that it could go worse. After a semester of only 12 units, I enrolled three times, and applied for a leave of absence (LOA) three times. I felt like I wasted the money of my parents and the tax payers, but health first, right? If I hadn’t left, I might be dead. By dead, I mean six feet under the ground.

I’ve been thinking about transferring schools since the first time I was on leave, but it’s only this time that I thought seriously about it. At first, I wanted to go back to my alma mater. Then I wanted to try open university. After that, I considered transferring to either of the remaining schools in the “Big Four”. Now, I’m considering moving away from Manila just to study.

Why am I transferring, anyway? Well, I just couldn’t take the system of everything in UP Diliman. From enrollment, to the academic requirements, to the social environment, to how students are treated, to how the politics in school go, to everything. Sure, UP is a microcosm of the Philippines and maybe the world, but for a student with a psychosocial condition, UP may be a little too much to handle.

I’m not making my condition an excuse for me to “give up” or anything. Everyone is different, and everyone has different needs. What I need now is a school that will help me cope up with my anxiety. I’m not putting UP down, either. I believe that UP is the best school in the country, and everyone who graduates from the university is an armored, strong, well-rounded, nationalistic, and competent individual. It’s just that, I think I need to focus on building my armor somewhere else.

News about my school options’ admission rules broke my heart. One doesn’t accept transferees for their education program. The other one doesn’t have my ultimate favored course. Another required me to finish another semester in UP. I broke down after getting that email from the last school that updated me. I told my mom, “Can I not study anymore?” through Facebook Messenger. I later on tweeted, “Can I just die?”. I was so depressed — I just wanted to die doing nothing. But then my mom told me before that water sort of helps ease depressed feelings. So I took a shower, and I felt better. I told myself, “wow, was that miracle water?”. But that feeling didn’t last. I grew frustrated (not depressed) in the evening because of doing my nails. Then everything followed.

The next day, I called my last school option, and boy I was so happy. This school is said to be a good school for students like me. It also offers my favored course. And guess what, the school accept transferees even if they’ve only finished one semester of schooling (provided that they have not failed)! Well, isn’t that good news? Well, the not-so good side of this is that the school is miles away from home. But hey, THAT’S OKAY! I’ve always wanted to explore other places, and I also want to know how it feels like to live independently. Nothing is final yet, but I have a strong feeling on this one.

When I was on leave, I kind of thought negatively of college. All I thought of was it was mental and emotional torture. But seeing happy college graduates added a little positivity on my perspective. Now that I have a school in mind, I am pretty much convinced, again, that college is a good thing. After all, not everyone is privileged to receive higher education. So I consider myself lucky. I’m lucky that I have a chance to change my life through education, and that I have a chance to change the lives of others through my education.

Posted in Education, School

For the Love of Peace (Education)

A college classmate interviewed me about the peace education I had in elementary school. I discussed with him the basics of our peace education and peace efforts in the exclusive Catholic school I attended for my basic education. During the interview, I cannot help but feel nostalgic about my school life. But aside from that, I missed all the ways I helped, in my own little way, to promote peace.

My school is very active in promoting peace. Our college department even has an institute dedicated for studies about peace. We have basic peace education in elementary school, but that was not enough. In high school, teachers incorporated our school’s core values (truth, justice, peace, and integrity of creation) in our lessons and projects. They often focused on peace, even if our society needs all four values. Why? I guess it’s because of our partnership with a school in Mindanao.

In Cotabato, where our sister school is located, chaos and armed battle is always present. Thus, our school is very active in helping our brothers and sisters, whether Muslim or Christian. Our school encourages its students to participate in the school’s efforts to provide aid to the sister school. We would have our annual “Lugawan Para sa Mindanao” (Porridge for Mindanao) in all of the institution’s units to raise funds for financial and other aid for the sister school. The project is a yearly success, trust me. How can a student of our school say no to our delicious “lugaw”?

When we had Peace Education back in seventh grade, we had a letter exchange program with the students of our sister school. When I read a letter from one of their students, I was really humbled. My pen pal described her life to me and my classmates, and I was teary-eyed. Then I realized that I was fortunate to be living in Manila, where there were no armed battles, even if Manila isn’t peaceful. I was humbled on how lucky I am to be living my life, even if I had my own problems. Besides, I’m not stereotyped as a terrorist. But, that letter exchanging experience made me realize that those stereotypes were just stereotypes. My pen pal seamed to be nice; she even wanted to be text mates with me and my classmates (too bad, we weren’t subscribed to Talk ’n’ Text. She said she wanted her text mate to be a subscriber of TNT).

The Peace Education I received changed me, even in the little ways. It taught me how to manage my anger (well, a little bit), and to appreciate the peace and order in my family and local community. It also taught me to have peace with myself, since back then, I had conflicts with myself. As I said in the interview of my classmate, the Peace Ed I received also sparked my passion and advocacy for peace. In fact, the class sparked my desire to teach about peace and my desire to help give justice and peace to the masses.

It wasn’t really effective to some students, but at least we learned about our rights, equity, some history, and iconic people who promoted peace. If I were given the chance to improve the curriculum, I would. But hey, enough of changing it. I think it’s good enough. At least my school had Peace Ed. 

I wish the Department of Education would look into adding Peace Education in the new K-12 curriculum, if it isn’t included yet. I mean, I think this is basic. I think everybody deserves to get this type of education; everybody deserves to know and experience peace. After all, we NEED peace on Earth. If DepEd has no plan in doing this, then it would be a great loss.

Education is the key to growth, and Peace Education is the key to unity. I hope the authorities realize this statement.

Posted in Mental Health, Personal

Anxiety: The Eating Machine

I missed another doctor’s appointment today, and I feel bad about it.

Three weeks ago, my psychiatrist told me to read and answer some pages of a workbook that would help me in dealing with anxiety. Today, I realized that I failed to do my reading assignment. And for that, an anxiety attack came. My knee started aching and I got nauseous.

I started tearing up when I texted my mom and my doctor’s secretary about my current status. I really felt irresponsible and weak. I just wanted to stay home and cry in a fetal position. My mom came home and told me that my doctor will be fine if I go to my appointment without doing the assignment. But I still didn’t go. Anxiety ate me up already.

Anxiety will always be a part of my condition, and it’s been haunting me since childhood. It’s like anxiety is my sickness. I get anxious over the little things and the big situations. Will my classmates like me? Will my professor accept this late yet mediocre paper? Will everything be okay tomorrow?

Fear and anxiety will haunt me from time to time, and I’m sure about it. It’s natural for living beings to feel scared and anxious. It’s just for some people, fear and anxiety will completely consume the person for the time being. Sure, we can surpass it, but it will take some time, and a little (or a lot of) effort too.

It’s hard to learn how to manage anxiety. Trust me, this is the second time I’ll be learning about it. It really takes time for someone trying to manage anxiety to learn “techniques” on how to be stable when anxious. After all, it’s not easy to unlearn old habits.

When you have anxiety, everything becomes complicated; everything may a negative meaning, everything may be awful in your eyes. It’s like you have the whole universe on your shoulders, and sometimes, you just want to give up. But remember this: there is hope. Anxiety may just be a part of you, but it is not you.

If you think you can’t handle your anxiety alone, go out and seek help. Don’t be afraid, others will understand. If they don’t, it’s okay. You can feel bad about it, but not for forever. Take your time to regain strength, and go out to seek help again. If you get anxious, it’s okay; it’s normal. Rejection brings anxiety, but try not to let anxiety consume you. It’s always good to have a little hope in the bottom of your heart after all.

Anxiety is a part of human nature, but it can be managed. Don’t be afraid of it, you’ll get more anxious.

Posted in Media, Personal

Me After “Me Before You”

Yesterday, I watched a movie with my brother Kyle. We watched the movie adaptation of Jojo Moyes’ novel “Me Before You”, starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin. I caught myself crying in the theater once or twice while watching the film. The hopeless romantic in me reacted to the film right away, but then the critical PWSN/PWD in me was outraged once I got home. Here’s why:

Will (Claflin’s character) is paralyzed from the neck, down to his feet. This is due to an accident involving a motorbike. He rides a wheelchair most of the day, doing nothing exciting and worthwhile. He sees himself as someone who is better off dead. Then Lou (Clarke’s character) comes into his life, and she fills his days with sunshine. Despite his happiness with Lou, Will goes to Switzerland for assisted suicide. In the end, Lou is left with a bank account by Will; he left her money to start a new life and to “live well”.

I took out the romance of the story in the summary I wrote up there, because I’m not here to talk about how love can affect (or not affect) one’s decisions. I’m here to talk about the message of the film. I don’t know what the message is, actually. The only thing I got from the film is that it’s okay to kill yourself when you feel worthless. And that message is NOT a good one.

I know how it feels like to be in Will’s shoes. I, too, am a person with disability (I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder a year and a half ago). I felt useless more than once in my life, too. I attempted to commit suicide, too. But here I am, writing this review/rant essay. See, even if I’m different than “normal”, I still chose to live.

I get it, it’s all about choice. But to show the message that suicide is the solution to your woes to the public as a movie isn’t really a brilliant idea. Many PWD organizations have reacted negatively to this film due to Will’s fate. These people want to let the world know that even if they are differently abled, they can still live life to the fullest. Thus, the hashtag #MeBeforeEuthanasia. Their message is this: all can live boldly, no matter how or who you are.

I totally agree with the PWD organizations. I do believe that everyone has hope in making their lives worth living, and not merely existing. Whether you are fully-abled or not, we all have a shot at being happy. Being “disabled” is not a hindrance for achieving happiness and self-worth. I just wished Will had realized that. Losing everything is not the end of the world.

And so I want you, yes you who are reading this piece, to know that you are loved by many. Many people have your back. There may be reasons to die, but there are always more reasons to live. Live life to the fullest. Love yourself. Love yourself. Life is precious. Don’t waste that gift.

In the end, “Me Before You” was an okay movie, if you want to cry. I just wish the film raised awareness for PWD welfare and mental health awareness instead. The world needs that, not more negativity.

Posted in Relationships

The Right State of Mind

I was talking to two of my best friends about relationships (in general) earlier tonight. One of them told me that I am a “love guru”. It wasn’t the first time that I was called that, but I can’t help but chuckle a little every time someone calls me a love guru. Why? Well, because I’m not.

My friends tell me that I give good relationship advice. I didn’t consider them good, especially when I was still in a vulnerable state. Perhaps I only gave those words that they wanted to hear because I was trying to feel their pain, but really, I just wanted to make them happy. I sometimes didn’t take my own advice, knowing that I couldn’t do so.

Those poor advice-giving days halted once I went to psychotherapy in 2015. My doctor, through a workbook, taught me to always think with my wise mind. What’s a wise mind? Well, emotions + logic = wisdom. That’s what makes a wise mind. Well, being logical while considering feelings is hard, especially when feeling strong emotions at the moment. But it is possible. Trust me, I’ve done it.

Now, how does one do it? First, let the emotions fade a little before making big decisions. When your emotions are calmed down, try thinking logically. Try to think about the consequences of the things you’re about to do. Then, weigh your options: what do you think is the best thing to do for yourself and others? Try to think long term if you can. After that, execute it with caution.

Another thing I’ve learned with mindfulness is that things aren’t black and white. It’s like two things can be right and wrong at the same time. When arguing, two parties are both right and wrong in some points. It’s just all about perspective. The important thing is that both parties see that right and wrong about the arguments. That’s the right path to reconciliation.

I know these things I shared are hard to learn. I mean, I had to go undergo therapy just to realize those things. I had to unlearn things in the process, but hey, all the hard work was worth it. Now, I have better relationships, and I see the good in everything, even in myself.

I want you, yes you, to try these methods. These aren’t exact, since I forgot where my workbook and notes are. But I promise you, you’ll feel better about life when you try these.

Posted in Personal

Is It Too Late Now to Say Sorry?

One day, I told someone that I don’t want to be friends with her anymore. Today, I sort of regret saying that.

I hate ending relationships. I rarely do that, on purpose. So now, I’m swallowing my pride to say sorry to that person I ended things with.

Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t want to be friends with her again. But I miss our friendship sometimes. But I believe that things happen for a reason, and I know that I’m doing myself good by ending things with her. But we didn’t part well. That’s why I want to apologize to her. I might have hurt her, but I was hurt too.

When I get hurt, I get hurt a lot. This ex-friend of mine hurt me many times during our years of being “friends”. I’m sure I offended her a number of times, too. I do say that I’m sorry, but she doesn’t respond. I know that she’s having trials too, but I think that she should have been at least civil towards me…unless I’m the problem. I just got offended by her being not there when I needed her. That’s why I declared “friendship over”.

I know I have no right to reach out, but I just want to say sorry. As Justin Bieber’s song goes, “is it too late now to say sorry?” Well, is it?

Posted in Music

OPM’s Not Dead

I’m turning 20 in less than two months. Looking back on the highlights of my life, a huge part of my 20 years on earth is music.

In my early years, I was exposed to the music of foreign boy bands and girl groups, courtesy of my cousins from Australia. When they went back to Sydney, I had no means to listen to foreign songs. Then, I was exposed to Original Pinoy Music, better known as OPM. I grew up listening to Spongecola, Hale, Cueshe, Kamikazee, Parokya ni Edgar, MYMP, and many more local music personalities.

I seldom listened to foreign songs, until I started to attend this all-girls school for the moderately elite. Kids in my elementary school did listen to OPM, but they listened to foreign songs more often. I stopped watching a local music channel called Myx when I became very busy with school. It resulted to me to not knowing new OPM songs. Added to this is my exposure to radio stations that only played foreign songs. This continued until I was in high school.

I was still exposed to OPM in my school years, but I didn’t appreciate it that much. I still found foreign songs more appealing, but everything changed when I started watching Myx again when I stopped studying in college. I fell in love with the new OPM artists. Now, my music preference in terms of country of origin is now balanced.

Some say that OPM is dead. I guess they say that because they no longer hear nice OPM songs in the radio. I, for a while, thought the same thing. I was sick of OPM songs that not only sounded the same, but also say the same thing. Not to mention that all I heard back then were ballads. There were some interesting songs, but they didn’t beat the foreign songs I listened to. It was like the quality of local music was slowly decreasing as time passed by. Oh, I forgot to mention that some actors try to sing too. Hey, some of them have great voices, but some of their songs don’t have the appeal to please me. Anyway, there: OPM was kind of dead to me.

When I started to watch Myx again, and when I started going to the UP Fair, I found a new appreciation for OPM. I found new artists with good sense of musicality. I also followed local song writing contests that produced great and catchy songs. Then I started to believe that OPM is not dead. I started to prove to myself that nothing that keeps on growing and evolving is dead. OPM is still evolving and growing. There are many new artists waiting to be discovered, and they are as great as the famous artists now.

I fell in love with OPM once again, and I couldn’t be any happier with what happened. It’s like I was reborn again in music appreciation. Don’t get me wrong, I still like foreign music. But my love for the local music scene is alive again.

OPM was never dead. As long as there are Filipinos who want to make music, OPM will not die.

Posted in Family

Beachin’ Around

I never loved the beach. But this time, I was excited for the annual family summer outing of my dad’s side of the family in Bolinao, Pangasinan. My (immediate) family rarely goes to outings with my relatives because they usually go during Holy Week. But since Holy Week is over, and we were available, we went with my relatives last April 15-17. Kelvin, my sweet friend, came along with us. It’s because my brother can’t come, and he was already paid for.

I clearly didn’t know why I was excited, but I was ecstatic for the outing. Although the planning of the trip was messed up and there were some moments that were not that fun, I did enjoy the whole experience.

The trip by land took longer than a trip to Baguio. Kelvin and I fell asleep thrice during the trip…it was that long. When we arrived in Bolinao, we had lunch at Sungayan Grill – a floating restaurant. We had a scrumptious boodle fight, and we sailed through the river delta. Kelvin and I had a photo in the Titanic pose, and it was so funny. I did manage to get the pose wrong, but what the heck. After a few photos, we went straight to our hotel. It was roughly a 15 minute ride, but it was filled with fun.

We got to the resort, and then rested for an hour. It was to hot outside, so we stayed in. Kelvin and I went out at around 4pm to have our photos taken (we couldn’t afford to waste the beautiful view, despite the giant rocks). At 5pm, we went to Patar Beach and we had a little fun there. Kelvin and I tried to bury each other in the sand, but the waves were a little big. The waves would keep on washing the sand away, and Kelvin and I would laugh.

Washing the sand off of ourselves was a challenge, but we were pretty successful in doing so. We had dinner after that. The thing was, we had seafood for dinner… Kelvin and I don’t eat seafood. Good thing there were some chicken and pork, but the smell of the seafood made my feel sick. Alas, my blood pressure was elevated before I went to bed. But everything went well after some White Flower oil and a little company with my cousins. Even if my cousins and I weren’t close, I had a little fun that night.

The next day was filled with adventure. It was also my mom’s birthday, and also my niece’s birthday. But before that, we had a photo op with the morning view. Why put the beauty of the place to a waste, right? Then, we had a quite boring breakfast: daing na bangus and scrambled eggs. Quite plain, right? On to the adventure! We went to Hundred Islands in Alaminos City, Pangasinan. The trip was a bit stressful due to the “bipolar” weather, misunderstandings, and fickle minds. But it was an okay trip.

We went snorkelling, and I wasn’t able to swim back to the station because my knee acted up. The water wasn’t clear, too, due to the motorboats. My goggles also acted up, and I was stressed. Oh, did I mention that my head ached before going snorkelling? Yep, it did.

We had lunch after that. We ended up eating in the boat due to the unexpected rain and the huge amount of people in Quezon Island. Food distribution was stressful…really stressful. But we did manage to eat…except for me. I didn’t have a god appetite the whole day. But thank goodness for soda and polvoron. At least I had sweets to give me energy.

It was too hot outside, and the stone stairs were slippery in Marcos Island. So I didn’t leave the boat. I didn’t want to go into the waters anyway. Kelvin and I just talked in the boat. And hey, I did have fun talking to him.

On the boat ride back to the mainland, we saw Bat Island, and an island with a grotto. We had a swift ride back, and boy we were so wet. When we got back, we had a little food trip, and we had our photos taken near the Hundred Islands arch. After that, we headed back to the resort, which was a good 40 minute drive.

We went swimming in the pool when we arrived. Kelvin and I had a little fun while in the pool. We tried to look for stars (they were covered by clouds), and he carried me on his shoulders. In return, I carried him on my shoulders, too. It was loads of fun! We waited for dinner – Jollibee spaghetti and chicken, and loads of cake. We didn’t sing the birthday celebrants a loud Happy Birthday song out of sensitivity to my relatives who never celebrate birthdays. Dinner was yummy. Duh, it’s Jollibee!

We woke up the next day to the same breakfast we had the day before. After that, some of my relatives went on an adventure nearby, while the kids, some cousins, and Kelvin and I stayed at the pool. Kelvin and I played with my niece LA, and she did a lot of fun. Kelvin and I had a little private time in the pool after everyone else left the pool. After a while, we went up to our room, being extra careful since we were wet, and there were no stair railings.

After packing up and a short photo op, we were on the road back to Manila. The trip was full of fun for me because of my adorable and irritable nieces. THEY WERE SO CUTE! After a few stop-overs, a little car drama, we finally reached home.

This trip wasn’t perfect, but one’s for sure: I had fun. It wasn’t just another family outing. Thanks to Kelvin, that is. This just means to show that everything will be fun – you just need to know who to be with.

Posted in Performing Arts

Les Misérables in Manila

Lats March 30, 2016, I was fortunate enough to catch Les Misérables in Manila with my family, my aunt, and my cousin. It was so mind-blowing, I still have a hangover from it. Come on Cloie, it’s been a week!

I’ve read the book, and I immediately fell in love with the story, despite the theme of…being unfortunate. I’ve seen the 1998 movie and the 2012 movie musical, and I fell in love with the story and the characters even more. I’m a huge fan of musicals, so I really enjoyed the 2012 adaptation of the stage musical. So when the news that Les Misérables the musical is coming to Manila, I was so stoked. I asked my parents if we could watch, and they said yes!

March 30th came, and I was so excited. I felt like I was about to get married to the love of my life! When we got to The Theatre at Solaire, I immediately posed with the Les Mis backdrops and asked random people to take photos of me. I even raised my left fist while posing! (tibak mode: on)

The show was about to start, so we entered the theater. The opening song (Look Down) gave me serious chills, but nothing can beat the feeling I had when the cast sang One Day More. It’s my favorite song off of the whole musical. I got emotional when Eponine was singing On My Own, which happens to be my favorite song to sing in the shower. The Epilogue gave me chills once more, and was so eager to stand up when they ended the show.

The whole production was sooooooooooo awesome! I mean, it went beyond my expectations. The set was amazing, the acting was on point, and the singing…don’t get me started on the singing. That peformance of Les Misérables deserved a standing ovation. Too bad, not all audience members stood up while applauding. I got a little irritated by that. But who am I to be irritated? I stood up only when Simon Gleeson (Jean Valjean) took his bow. Nonetheless, IT DESERVED A STANDING OVATION.

I loved the cast so much, especially Chris Durling, who played Enjolras. I’ve loved Enjolras since I read the book. All his passion for the revolution won my heart. Aaron Tveit (Enjolras in the 2012 movie musical) made me fall in love in Enjolras more. But Chris Durling came, and boom, more love for Enjolras.

All of them were amazing. Gosh, their voices were…eargasmic. Their voices fit their roles so well. What a marvelous cast.

I couldn’t say anything bad about the production. I just found it so perfect. This production of Les Mis is the best production of any musical I’ve ever seen (sorry, Wicked. I still love Wicked though). All the emotions from the production haunted me to my sleep. It was that effective.

So if I were you, I’d catch Les Mis! It runs until May 1st, so grab your tickets while they’re still available. I know I want to see it again! 😉