Love, life, tech, and scraping by in the Evergreen State

It’s been a few months since I posted here on my portfolio website, but there have been big developments in my life recently, so I thought it was time I wrote here again. Expect to read about some of my personal developments, other professional developments, and a few updates more frustrating and demoralizing, but still.

Unbelievable sunrise photo I took overlooking the Willametter River this spring.

Unbelievable sunrise photo I took overlooking the Willamette River this spring.

First for a piece of really cool news! I was invited to comment on a Huffington Post Live segment on Friday! An academic doctor (read… phd) and author named Emily Nagolski who I heard about on Twitter did an interview to promote her new book, “Come as You Are,” about how science can inform your sex life. A HuffPost producer had tweeted at me, wondering if I had questions, so I sent her three, and she got back to me saying I could ask one of my questions to Dr. Nagolski on their livestream if I wanted. It was a pretty cool experience, if a little bit cringe-inducing at times. The nearly hour-long segment included some pretty in-depth conversation about the mechanics of female sexuality, and for a naive nerdy guy like myself, I could barely contain my giggles at some of the things they talked about. I don’t show up in person until the end of the segment, but still. Check it out! Another blogger and I were in on a Google Hangout in the lead-up to the interview. I asked her about how a straight white male like myself, who wants to actively support feminists, ought to try to help the movement. She gave some really constructive answers, and seemed pleased to hear that I wanted to help.

Second, I’ve been suddenly swept away in a whirlwind romance! I met a beautiful and intelligent fellow Quaker named Marion, and we’ve been dating since February. It’s completely transformed my world. She’s intelligent, loving, supportive, and basically the best. You know that book “The Giver”, where a boy who grew up in a dystopian society suddenly is able to see the world in color? That’s what it’s like. Yesterday, after a Twilight Zone marathon and day-long Memorial Day date with her, we stepped out of my house and the world seemed bright and new and shiny and clean. It was sublime.

Third, more on my professional status. I am still looking for work. Safeway briefly moved me to the bakery, after working in their Starbucks kiosk for about six months, while supplementing my income overnights delivering the Oregonian. The Safeway bakery promotion was supposed to be a full-time gig, which was huge! Safeway Starbucks are bound by policy to only employ people part-time, meaning I could never have afforded their health plan. The brief glimpse of hope I had when I started working full-time in the bakery made me feel comfortable enough to wind down from delivering the Oregonian… but I was honor-bound not to just leave my news delivery job right away. Paper delivery people are supposed to give three weeks notice.

As it turns out, newspaper delivery, even for a great paper like the Oregonian, actually IS like a modern-day sweatshop job. On average, I made about $4-5 an hour and worked ridiculous long hours, nearly killing myself from overwork and fatigue. But if that was what it took to get started in the Pacific Northwest, fine. On the bright side, I did learn a lot about the news industry and about how these print newspapers manage to stay alive in the face of the merciless tech sector, where people  believe that information ought to be universally accessible free of charge, and what’s more, seem content to make deals with our government allowing the NSA access to ALL of it, with no concern for individual privacy. So, I worked 60-65 hours a week for an old-school print newspaper AND in the bakery for three weeks… and that was when my manager at the bakery took me off the schedule without a word of explanation. Once again, I was out to sea, thanks to lovely management! RARGH.

So I applied for a Starbucks job at the airport, and they offered 35 hours at Oregon minimum wage and benefits. Now I’m just desperately awaiting my background check to clear, so I can start making money and buying food with my own money again. In the meantime, let me know if you hear of any OTHER openings.

I’d been extremely excited about an application I’d sent to a Quaker advocacy organization in D.C. I thought the interview went really well. But I guess they decided to pay other people to work for them, and that they didn’t need another advocate for the environment in the Portland area. It really broke my heart, but at this point, FCNL could stomp me in the face with a steel-toed boot and I’d still think they are a better organization than half what I’ve seen in the D.C area. So I guess I’ll just have to deal with the disappointment… again.

The Northwest is so beautiful! I’ve taken some of the most stunning photography since moving here, and I love how accepting and inclusive the culture is here. Not only that, everyone here seems pretty tech-savvy. And that’s definitely cool, I think. I heard someone call us the “Silicon Forest.” That’s awesome. It’s about time that stupid famous Valley in California faces some real competition.

That’s all that I want to share right now! A friend who works for LinkedIn travelled north from the Bay Area to visit Portland yesterday, and that was pretty cool! I may be broke and likely to starve, but I’m happy! And who knows what life has in store for me next. Love and light, my family, mes amis, et tous les autres.

To Portland!

The City of Indie Dreams

The City of Indie Dreams

The one thing in my life that I fear losing more than anything else is my starry-eyed naivete and idealism. These qualities of mine approach but do not quite ascend all the way to empty-headed idiocy I hope. I love so much my hunger for new experiences, and my youthful belief in the idea that anything is possible. There have been times in the last few years that I have succumbed to fatigue, frustration, and a jaded approach to life that threatens to limit and contain my ambitions. Even when I was working long hours and living almost entirely on Mt. Dew and Thai food just to support myself, in my own hometown, and even when I was running cars back and forth from the parking garage and having my ears screamed off by Ethiopian valet parking managers, I tried my best not to retire my ambition to make a difference with my writing. I tend to run with the activists and the protestors, the hackers and the outcasts, and the people who just can’t seem to fit in with mainstream society. I think we all succumb to those feelings of depression and defeatedness some days. It is pretty frustrating that I am about to reach the twenty-seventh year of my life and I still haven’t nailed down a job that sustains me and gives me joy for the long-term. But hell, what more is there to this world than to throw ourselves into as many awkward situations as we can, see what works, then stick with it!

There is a difference between “responsibility,” as we boring bespectacled adults love to say all the time, and letting the tired, overwhelmed, droopy-eyed resignation of “I can’t change anything anyway,” take over your psyche. I understand that my friends and colleagues probably get frustrated that I’m easily distracted and that I like to have about 1100 things happening at once at any given time, and because I participate in protests and marches and activism and because if I’m not careful I communicate my daily plans less than perfectly. An older friend of mine once told me that employers are looking to hire people that make their lives easier and won’t be “brilliant but problematic geniuses.” I understand that… the need for efficiency, for your team to function like a well-oiled machine, and the need for the final product, whether it is an election win, a new product, or a public awareness initiative, to be pretty and clean and appealing to the masses. But damn it all to hell! I’ve tried for years and years for to be so clean and appealing and pretty, and it doesn’t seem to be working.

One thing I DON’T want my life to be is boring. I want to follow my flights of fancy, and explore the deepest corridors of possibility. I want to make things that are new and weird, and I want to be pushed way way beyond the realms of what is comfortable and into the world of the uncomfortable. If Jacques Cousteau could wrap himself in a hunk of iron and plunge to the depths of the deepest ocean, and Phillipe Petit could walk a tightrope extended between the Twin Towers in New York, and Jack Kerouac could write a book on a scroll while hitchhiking across the U.S. with his friends, think what I could do!!! A friend of mine just recently set off on a cross-country bike trip and is planning to go all the way to California and south into Mexico. On a bike. I’m still pretty young, and I’ve done some pretty amazing things. Seeing thee National Championship in Atlanta and the Red Hot Chili Peppers at Lollapalooza, and driving a pair of Bentleys and three Jaguars in one day, and competing with high school friends in a martial arts tournament in Cancun, and exploring Paris and Bourdeaux and Tel Aviv for god’s sake. It’s a heck of a life I’ve lived in the last twenty-seven years.

As I’m getting ready for my seventh annual Indian food dinner to celebrate another birthday, I find myself chomping at the bit to get out there and start living again. Don’t get me wrong, I love my little Southern Illinois hometown. We have the best peaches (sorry Georgia), the cleanest lakes, the most beautiful night skies (though Kansas does have us beat when it comes to sunsets), and more than our share of friendly people and challenges as well. I’m not an an organizer with the Democratic Party right now because I went to get coffee and read a book during lunchtime on a Saturday without telling him, instead of canvassing the very same neighborhood I had already canvassed earlier this same summer, to ggain support for a General, who I hadn’t even met! And that was two months before we were even going to need to vote! And after having been trained for 60 hours in the past week! Maybe it’s just me, but something about that seems a teensy bit odd.

What’s so frustrating to me about the real-life world of politics is what it does to you. It was happening to me within one week. My ego was swollen, I was treating my oldest family friends really terribly because of my “high and mighty” position (which I had just started), and I got kind of rude and self-absorbed. I’m usually a pretty nice guy, though I’ve recently been trying to be more self-confident and assertive so people don’t walk all over me all the time. But as soon as I was given a position of high responsibility, and found myself working for a Congressman, suddenly everyone was beneath me. That’s not who I am! I like the side of me that is artistic, and sensitive, and creative, and a little broken. I’m kinda proud to have been obsessed with independent artists like Pavement and the Pixies for much of my youth, and I’m VERY proud of the hard work and time I devoted to learn French in college with absolutely NO IDEA how it would factor into my career.

I don’t know where it is I’m going to settle, and god knows whether I’ll ever be able to stop embarrassing myself in front of people I’m trying to impress and saying weird things all the time that seem hardly explicable. But God, I just have to be able to love myself, and whatever it is I do end up doing, I know it’ll have to fill at least that criteria. So, my plan now is to chase down a job opportunity to help fight to close loopholes allowing companies to pollute a pair of rivers on the West Coast, in Portland. Who knows what will happen or what it’ll be like. I don’t even know yet where I’m going to live. But as a close friend once told me, life is an adventure. We’re only here for a little while, and the way I see it, our most important responsibility is to make our dreams a reality. So here we go! Let’s do this!

Home again!

I moved back to Carbondale, IL, the place I am proud to call my hometown, at the beginning of the summer, and it’s been a pretty great summer… probably the best that I’ve had for a long time! I spent much of my time applying to nearly every business in town that I know of, but nobody wants to hire me (except one Asian bistro in Marion, and the work environment there was no fun). This place has been so kind to me, and I love my friends here so much! They’re there for me, no matter what I’m going through, and I feel closer to them than to anyone. Even when my parents wouldn’t let me live in their home, my friends were there for me, and I always know that their doors are open to me, and that means so much. I’ve been working non-stop since I graduated, trying to support myself, and it’s not easy out there, particularly in this post-recession world.

This is the first summer since 2009, which I spent living with friends in their duplex outside Lawrence, that I’ve had entirely my choice of what to do with my time. It’s liberating! I have been able to practice guitar, polish my websites, play sports with friends here in Carbondale, and process more deeply my experience in Atlanta. It’s been a summer of action, a summer of surprises, and rest, and growth. I watched the World Cup from the food court at SIU, where it was convenient for me to camp out with my computer and bum the free Internet they provide. Those German football players sure were cruel! But that’s not too surprising: after all, they’re only Germans. And I had really been pulling for the home team! They sure would have loved that win. And now, come to find out, their longtime rivals Argentina are bankrupt!

The conflict in Israel-Palestine has ignited again, though, and I was not particularly surprised to find myself pinned between the two sides of the ongoing conflict. Older activists I’d met in Atlanta were vocally supportive of Palestine, and many of my good friends and housemates in the QVS house had studied the conflict there as well, and shared with me what they had learned. My friend Liz had even travelled to Ramallah in the early months of the summer! When the tensions escalated, I was so grateful that she had made it home when she did, and wasn’t there when things got bad. I think pretty often about my trip to Israel, and it informs the way I think about world issues to this day. When I was there, I met soldiers, and I saw Jerusalem, and I visited the cemetery at Mt. Herzl, and I saw the grave of my hero Hannah Szenes, and it really was a significant experience for me. There is one thing I do know. The idea that bombs dropped by drones will solve this issue is just stupid.

An image of Hannah Senesz, a Jewish poet and writer, pulled from RedHairCrow.com.

An image of Hannah Senesz, a Jewish poet and writer, pulled from RedHairCrow.com.

My education really was a good one, though I have struggled for so long to find good paying work. I got to visit France, and I visited Israel, and I Iearned so much about myself and about the U.S. For someone who could never have had higher education if it weren’t for scholarships and loans, due to my parents’ financial situation, it means so much more. I was challenged there, and forced to reconsider my preconceptions of the world, and I met people from around the world. I won’t say that it was a perfect education, but I had a pretty great foundation, both in high school and it KU. And now, my high school friends are finding such great success in their chosen fields, and though I am a bit jealous of them, I’m finding now that I know at least someone in cities throughout the U.S., and even throughout the world, who I still try to maintain contact with.

I am sad to leave behind my friends in Atlanta, but we made some awesome memories, and we lived and loved and struggled and worked, and that’s what life is all about. I’m sure I will get to visit them again sometime soon, and I’m sure that our story is just beginning. I mean, just thinking of the experiences we shared there fills my heart with warmth! I know many of them have moved far away, and I miss them, but that’s part of life. And I know man of them will probably stay in Atlanta for the long term, and settle down, and may change completely before I ever hear from them again. But, honestly, we don’t always get to be near the people we love. In this new, globalized age, it’s really not too hard to contact anyone, though. If anything, I think I am a little bit overeager to stay in touch with people. 🙂 I get the sense it starts to get annoying to the really busy, hardworking ones. 

Well, that’s all! Off to Bum’s Beach for a quick swim! Peace and love, y’all.

A Letter to Atlanta

Dear Atlanta,

I have walked your streets. I have seen the splashes of colorful graffiti adorning your walls and I have languished in the torturous and disorienting trudge of your traffic. I’ve talked to folks in the red-clay streets of the southern suburb of Clarkston, just outside the perimeter, where the American Dream towers from afar like something shining and new. And I’ve talked to folks arcing their necks to see the skyscrapers up and down Peachtree Street, looming and beckoning like some futuristic metropolis. I have walked down the central drag, admired the towers and sculptures and the worlds of fantastical art and culture within this city, products of the human imagination contained in each of us.

I don’t understand you, Atlanta, but I appreciate you, in all your honesty and brutality, bless your heart.

1400808_10101655762186269_470048246_o

A piece of public art seen along the Atlanta Beltline, a recent municipal project here.

This city is more than a little bit sneaky and subversive. The coolest spots are sometimes tucked away, behind (quite literal) trick bookcases and hardly recognizable side alleys. There seem to be decrepit streets emerging in every direction, but they are speckled with commercial projects  “being worked-on” and lovingly imagined but yet to be realized city markets (one on Krog street, one on Ponce de Leon), which color my neighborhood with an expectant aura, a buzzing energy and incipient, burgeoning potential for growth. There is a dedicated ’20s club dressed up like a speakeasy, a cavernous Paris on Ponce antiques store lined with curious oddities and remarkable trinkets, and underground clubs with names like MJQ, and The Graveyard, where the drinks flow like water and the dancing is unbelievable.

It was here that I re-earned for myself the confidence that I have something in me that is valuable and precious. It is here that I reignited the hope and inspiration in me to write for a living. I found warmth and comfort and acceptance here from people who, like me, were searching for a way to live with meaning in the world. In the year-long volunteer program I was a part of, I found camaraderie with other young people engaged in the same struggle I was. Having all recently left college, we, like so many others, were all faced with the imposing question: “What now?” And now, well into my life on the other side of that experience, I continue to face that same burning question.

After the volunteer program, I was suddenly thrust back into the job search, and I picked up the first promising job I could line up for myself, at a community newspaper, and worked my ass off for them, but this project didn’t work out for me  in the end. A couple friends and I had settled into a new intentional community with each other, and set up a foothold for ourselves in a new neighborhood. We helped each other get on our feet, and through the transition into new jobs and new roles. Some stayed with their organizations, others moved home, and a few of us stuck it out in Atlanta. I still see and talk with them all the time, and they remind me of good times.

But  now, I am working in the heart of the city, observing it from the inside out, as a valet in a hotel here. It was so strange to go from the outskirts to the interior, and to see the city through the opposite lens. Where before I would write stories of struggling, hard-bitten entrepreneurs, new Americans and former refugees for my non-profit organization, I was now writing for myself only, and solely when I had the chance between shifts of parking cars.

work long hours, and living off tips is thrilling but unpredictable, and I find it difficult to find time to devote to my life’s passion. This is a shared state of affairs for many if not most mid-twenties millennials. We are an under-employed, over-worked, tweaked-out, tech-addicted, narcissistic generation, but give us some credit. We were mostly raised by our iPods, after all.

Here in Atlanta at least, we young people breathe in and out a spirit of reckless agitation and righteous fury, touched with a glimmer of edgy self-expression and provocative invention. There are arts festivals and parades nearly every weekend throughout the summer, scattered among Atlanta’s many neighborhoods. We are just as likely to be celebrating through the weekend as we are to be working hard at our regularly-scheduled jobs during the week. There are more than enough fantastic concerts in the pages of Creative Loafing than I could ever scratch the surface of, especially on a volunteer’s budget. Every other person is an aspiring musician, poet, or artist on the side. Our generation of movies, like Frances Ha, explore the neuroses and ambitions of our generation, and paint engrossing portraits of lost artistic souls just trying to make it in the city (a timeless tale.)  This story is the prevailing story of the emerging adults of the new millennium.

Atlanta_rose

A rose in front of a house in Old Fourth Ward, my neighborhood in Atlanta.

And after all, why not? This is, after all, the hotbed of the Civil Rights movement, where young people struggled and fought to redefine the old boundaries of a dated society, and actively, mostly non-violently, challenged the prevailing prejudices of America. Atlanta, you have been my friend in the midst of these torturous twenties, where nothing can be taken for granted and the future is a big neon-colored UNKNOWN. Your confusion mirrors mine, and your extremes match my own, the pulse of which I am becoming more familiar with every day. Atlanta, you bleed extreme joy, extreme anguish, personality, and a deep, almost religious fervor and spirit. You are as grounded as the cold pavement of your streets, if sometimes a little bit fumbling and polite.

I am glad to be here, in the urban capital of the South, and I am glad to have learned from and with you, through the Snowpocalypse, and the most recent election, and the emergence of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones as national obsessions. I was here for the National Championship in the Georgia Dome, and I saw Muse and Sting and Dave Matthews perform in Centennial park. I mourned with my colleagues during Sandy Hook, and I watched with horror on the day of the Bostan Marathon bombing. I have searched for jobs here, and I have searched for houses here, and I have explored your coffeeshops and restaurants. I am so lucky to have found myself here. Atlanta, you have been a difficult friend, but the kind that is endlessly rewarding to know. And I’ve enjoyed spending this piece of my twenties with you.

Anyway, that’s all I really felt like saying. I hope you’re ready! Spring is here! It’s pollen season. The leaves are coming back. Let’s enjoy this warm weather, and celebrate the fact that we are alive and young, and that our future awaits us, and that really, truly, anything CAN happen, and here in Atlanta, it probably will.

Affectionately yours, Justin

The Lights are Calling Me

In the two years of restaurant work following senior year, and extending in my life far before that, music has been such an important source of strength for me. It has sustained me and awakened me, and it has piqued my intellectual curiosity and comforted my pain. It has been my guardian angel.

Throughout four years of college, I never my quit my shift as a rotation DJ at the local radio station. This entailed extremely late hours, little recognition, and long walks in the snowy Kansas winter to reach the Shack, a ramshackle building at an obscure corner of campus. I would delve myself deeply into a nearly endless library of music, playing them over the studio speakers at as high volume as I could muster without shattering my eardrums.

 As a rotation DJ, I had access to the entirety of KJHK’s stacks and stacks of music, both CDs and vinyl, not to mention our own music or the nearly-unlimited selection we could stream through the station’s computer. I would watch my view of the sunrise from the tiny window of the DJ booth overlooking downtown Lawrence, down the western side of Mt. Oread. I would toil through late nights between the hours of 2 and 6 am, spending hours weaving songs into and out of each other, one after the other, and keeping my eye out for the flashing white light that meant I was receiving a listener’s call. It was overwhelming at times, and I am sure that my tracks sometimes did not flow as well as I would have liked. But it was a necessary and enriching escape for me from the intensity of college life, and I occasionally would receive a call from listeners who appreciated my music selection. It felt good to accompany the occasional early-morning runner, or late-night lonely soul, with good beats and a voice on the other line.

 I delved into endless catalogues of various and indescribable music, plunging into the depths of the shelf devoted to electronica, and even occasionally flirted with the stacks of metal. Always, I was aided by the words of DJs who had come before me. They used to write reviews of every album the station would receive, and tape them to the front of the CD’s jewel case, accompanied by star ratings and personal opinions. Someone, at some point in the station’s history, had listened to and reviewed every album there, and they could provide hints and clues as to which songs would rock the hardest or jam out the most.

And when things in my life became challenging, as they often did, I found it was the music that inevitably pulled me through.

But after the Shack was replaced by a modern, state-of-the-art studio towards the end of my senior year, and I DJ’ed my final rotation show, I said farewell to my beloved KJHK and returned to the real world. As a dishwasher in a restaurant, music kept me company while working 8-hour shifts, and my fellow restaurant workers had a great collection. You can always expect to hear the best music from the speakers of a bustling restaurant kitchen, where the energy and tempo of the music is the best company you keep while chopping vegetables, picking basil, or manning the industrial dishwasher. It was songs like these, and songs like Lights, by Ellie Goulding, that spoke to me most deeply, and kept me sane during that time.

Lights is shimmering, pulsing, and sensual. It is about the call of city lights, the itch to be alive, and the urge to dance, laugh and cry. Ellie expresses the sensitivity and fear that it takes to move to a new place, and to build for yourself something brand new, with people you have just met, and to seek love and joy, while embracing your flaws. Her lyrics of “turning to stone” speak of a vibrant soul calming her firing nerves, picking up the pieces of her shattered self, and mustering the courage to fight on.

 Image

In my two years at the restaurant, it became clear to me that I couldn’t stay there forever. I knew that this wasn’t the work for me. I knew that this wasn’t my dream. I knew that there was so much more to see and to do in the world. I felt, in the depth of my soul, the passion and call to follow my dream and reach out for what the world has to offer. And it was Ellie Goulding that became the soundtrack of the months leading up to my eventual move to Atlanta. Just as the lights were calling her, in the song, the lights of Atlanta were calling to me.

If it is music is that kept me going through my darkest moments, both before and after college, it is music that will carry me into the future.

Now here I am, working in Midtown, across the street from the historic Fox theater. I am going to see Ellie Goulding perform there in exactly one month. Her light show, her reverberating sound, the texture and depth of her voice, and the cheering crowds await me.

Artists like Ms. Goulding, who inspire and guide us young people, deserve to be celebrated. We owe them our lives. Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep tinkering in the lab at night, keep writing your raps and sonnets, and keep weaving melody and harmony and instrumentation and beats and effects. Do it for us. We love you.

New Years in Wonky Haus

I am blown away by Wonky Haus, and the world I have found myself with, and the people that I find myself with. I love this place so much, and I can’t even describe how lucky I am to be here. Wonky Haus is a place where you can feel enthusiastic about life, and intrigued about the possibilities of creative expression and pursuit, and not feel like you are the exception to the rule, or that you are betraying some unspoken rule, or that you must project your superiority at all times. I don’t feel self-conscious here, and that is a gift that cannot be measured. It is a new year, and I felt obliged to reflect on this. Happy New Year!!!

Image

Thanksgiving Travels

This Thanksgiving, I was fortunate enough to travel north to Chicago and visit my family in the suburbs of Evanston and Skokie. The northern suburbs of Chicago were beautiful but the weather was bitter cold. It was a day-long, shotgun, last-minute journey, one that I barely managed to schedule with Spirit Airlines when a pair of other bookings fell through. I literally was not sure until the very last moment that I was going to make it. But I did, and it was so worth it.

Image

In the air between Dallas and Georgia

As I was in the air over Dallas, I looked down at the earth below me. “What magic,” I thought to myself. What a miracle that we simply spend $300-$400 dollars, and suddenly have access to any place in the continental U.S. We live in an age of miracles, and we often forget that, I thought to myself, as I looked down at the fields and highways far below me.

Unfortunately, my time with the community newspaper in Clarkston has ended, and I had to seek other work. I learned a lot from my time with The Broadway, and I put my all into it, speaking to some fascinating people and cementing my love and respect for the people of Clarkston. I was unemployed for a brief and miserable two weeks, but I finally found a position as a valet at a historic hotel in downtown Atlanta. It is an amazing and interesting job, and I am learning a lot about the hotel business and about life and urban economy. I work mostly for tips, and I park beautiful, marvelous cars for a living. I come home exhausted but satisfied from long but legitimate work.

It is not the dream job of meaningful writing that I am ultimately looking for, but it is life sustaining and it is comfortable and reliable. I am learning that the journey often contains surprises, and it is the best we can do to maintain an even emotional keel, and to keep a handle on what is most important: our relationship with our friends, family, and loved ones, and our habits of self-care and self-respect. As I looked down on the earth from 30,000 miles, I couldn’t help but thank God for my health, and my loving family in Chicago, and my community of friends here in Atlanta, the place I am coming to think of as my home.