As deep as a puddle after a hard rain

2023 Goodreads Reading Challenge

12/30/2023 |0 comments

2022 Year in Books Stats - 24,089 pages read, 62 books
2022 Year in Books Stats - 24,089 pages read, 62 books

I’m working my way through two books right now (L is for Lawless and The Last Action Heroes) but I’m not likely to finish either by tomorrow night so now is as good a time as any to post the results of my 2023 Goodreads Challenge. I set a goal of reading 40 books in 2023 - I read 62 books in total. I had also set a goal of at least half of those books being physical books. This was an attempt at working my way through the 900+ physical books I own. I didn’t do so well with this goal as only one of the books I read this year was a physical book (Lessons in Chemistry). Not only was it a physical book but it was a hardcover at that. I don’t tend to buy/read hardcovers as they are expensive and unwieldy but I’m also not about to say no to gifted books. Oh, there’s also the third, shadow goal that’s been haunting me for ages - which is to finish The Brothers Karamazov. That also didn’t go so well. As we know (or I do but you probably don’t because why would you remember such a thing?) the farthest I’ve ever gotten is about 300 pages but my reading of the book is so sporadic that with the latest attempt, I had to start over and I’ve only gotten to page 116.

Of the 3 goals I crushed 1 so around these parts that’s a win. Why? Because I make the rules and of course the rules are going to fall in my favor.

Now, to the rest of the books, the full list is below.

The highs and lows of my reading year:
Favorite read: Lessons in Chemistry. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the book and that the fantasy aspects of the story didn’t throw me. In fact, though many people online seem to find the following annoying, yes, my favorite character in the book was the dog. What can I tell you? A smart puppy is hard to resist. Remarkably Bright Creatures came in a close second. Hmm. Sensing a theme here as this book was about a smart octopus. Maybe I need to look into reading more books about smart animals?

Did Not Finish: But, Patricia, you may say, you put down a lot of books, how can this possible be a sensible category? Well, I’m a moody reader, yes, so I do tend to flit from book to book as the mood hits. But sooner or later I do finish the books. But The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins is one I have zero intention of picking back up again. I listened to the review of the movie on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour and it piqued my interest enough to borrow the book from the library. I read about 40 pages but I lost interest. It turns out I have little interest in learning how Coriolanus Snow came to be the evil president of Panem. I was interested enough to pull up the Wiki entry and read the summary, however. After reading that, I don’t feel as if I’ve missed out on anything by choosing to not go back to the book.

Most Annoying Books I Still Feel Compelled to Read: For this year this has to go to the Finlay Donovan series. I understand that if characters always made the right and safe choice that there would be no book but the decisions the main characters make in this book are so preposterous it makes you wonder how they manage to get dressed each morning never mind navigate the rest of their lives. That said, I still fully intend on reading the fourth book in the series when it comes out early in 2024.

Books that I Enjoyed in the Past but Have No Memory* of so Am Rereading: I’m working my way through the ABC series by Sue Grafton. Aside from the fat shaming I didn’t remember being so prominent in some of the books, I’m enjoying having Kinsey Milhone in my life again. Still makes me sad she didn’t get to end the series but am happy we got all the way to Y. *Slight exaggeration. I remember the salient points - she’s a detective, etc but actual details of each case escape me. I’m at L right now and the cases still don’t ring many bells. I’m curious to see how far I get into the series before the memory really kicks in. I also re-read the first three of the Children of Earth series because I get the urge to do that every once in a while. In 2022 I also started rereading the Lucas Davenport books by John Sandford. For the same reason as the Grafton books - I really enjoyed this series years ago but it’s been so long since I read the beginning of the series that I don’t remember much of the story details.

For my 2024 goals, I think I’ll up the number of books to 50. I’m going to keep the other two because I’m clearly a hopeless optimist. 2024 is the year I finish The Brothers Karamazov! And if not, then there’s always 2025! 😊

What was your favorite read of the year?

Full Reading List

  1. The Other Family, Loretta Nyhan
  2. Big Chicas Don’t Cry, Annette Chavez Macias
  3. Desert Star (Renée Ballard, #5; Harry Bosch, #24; Harry Bosch Universe, #36), Michael Connelly
  4. Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus
  5. K is for Killer, Sue Grafton
  6. Twice a Quinceañera, Yamile Saied Méndez
  7. L.A. Weather, María Amparo Escandón
  8. J is for Judgement, Sue Grafton
  9. Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun (Finlay Donovan, #3), Elle Cosimano
  10. Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead (Finlay Donovan, #2), Elle Cosimano
  11. Finlay Donovan Is Killing It (Finlay Donovan #1), Elle Cosimano
  12. I is for Innocent, Sue Grafton
  13. H is for Homicide, Sue Grafton
  14. A Very Typical Family, Sierra Godfrey
  15. Girl, Forgotten (Andrea Oliver, #2), Karin Slaughter
  16. The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks, Shauna Robinson
  17. Last Breath (Good Daughter, #0.5), Karin Slaughter
  18. By the Book (Meant to Be, #2), Jasmine Guillory
  19. Pieces of Her, Karin Slaughter
  20. How to Be a Husband, Tim Dowling
  21. Cleaning the Gold (Jack Reacher, #23.6; Will Trent, #8.5), Karin Slaughter
  22. The Good Daughter (The Good Daughter, #1), Karin Slaughter
  23. The Silent Wife (Will Trent, #10), Karin Slaughter
  24. Dark Angel (Letty Davenport, #2), John Sandford
  25. The Last Widow (Will Trent, #9), Karin Slaughter
  26. The Kept Woman (Will Trent #8), Karin Slaughter
  27. Advanced Physical Chemistry (Chemistry Lessons, #3), Susannah Nix
  28. Unseen (Will Trent, #7), Karin Slaughter
  29. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zevin
  30. Criminal (Will Trent, #6), Karin Slaughter
  31. Fallen (Will Trent, #5), Karin Slaughter
  32. If the Shoe Fits (Meant to Be, #1), Julie Murphy
  33. Snatched (Will Trent, #5.5), Karin Slaughter
  34. Romantic Comedy, Curtis Sittenfeld
  35. Part of Your World (Part of Your World, #1), Abby Jimenez
  36. Broken (Will Trent, #4), Karin Slaughter
  37. Undone (Will Trent, #3), Karin Slaughter
  38. Beyond Reach (Grant County, #6), Karin Slaughter
  39. Faithless (Grant County, #5), Karin Slaughter
  40. Remarkably Bright Creatures, Shelby Van Pelt
  41. Intermediate Thermodynamics (Chemistry Lessons, #2), Susannah Nix
  42. Pretty Girls, Karin Slaughter
  43. Fractured (Will Trent, #2), Karin Slaughter
  44. Kisscut (Grant County, #2), Karin Slaughter
  45. Blindsighted (Grant County #1), Karin Slaughter
  46. Fleishman Is in Trouble, Taffy Brodesser-Akner
  47. Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir, Padma Lakshmi
  48. A Man Called Otto, Fredrik Backman
  49. My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh
  50. Triptych, Karin Slaughter
  51. Heat 2, Michael Mann
  52. The American Roommate Experiment (Spanish Love Deception, #2), Elena Armas
  53. Ms. Demeanor, Elinor Lipman
  54. The Unhoneymooners (Unhoneymooners, #1), Christina Lauren
  55. The Mammoth Hunters, Jean Auel
  56. The Valley of Horses, Jean Auel
  57. Clan of the Cave Bear, Jean Auel
  58. Dating Dr. Dil, Nisha Sharma
  59. Sudden Prey, John Sandford
  60. Crying in H Mart, Michelle Zauner
  61. Fatty Fatty Boom Boom: A Memoir of Food, Fat, and Family, Rabia Chaudry
  62. The Book Haters’ Book Club, Gretchen Anthony


12/20/2023 |0 comments

As anyone with eyes and interest can see, regular posting isn’t a thing that’s, well, a thing around these parts. Which means that I don’t log in daily or even weekly sometimes so I don’t know exactly when the website got all janked up. While I’m not really very technical, I’ve been maintaining a site (if we use the definition of maintaining very loosely) for 23 years now. I quickly guessed that while I wasn’t paying attention the hosting company upgraded the PHP version and that was causing ExpressionEngine to break. Sure enough, when I logged on I saw that the site is now running on PHP 8; I rolled it back a bit and things looked fine but as I’m posting this I’m seeing error messages. No clue what to do about those right now - which is funny because I logged in yesterday with the express interest of staring at the screen until words magically appeared. Instead I had to pretend to know techy things and that was enough of an obstacle to put off writing for another day. Instead you get this. And by you I mean the general you - the you that probably only exists in my head. Which may be the best you there is, really. Trust me when I tell you that in my pretend universe you are magical, beautiful, and terribly smart. Who wouldn’t love that?

In conclusion, I’ll see about the warnings AND about writing more. After all, we’re coming up on the beginning of a new year when we all make promises we know we have no intention of keeping and who am I to buck tradition??

2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge

1/17/2023 |0 comments

My Year in Books graphic from Goodreads
My Year in Books graphic from Goodreads

I set a goal of reading 30 books in 2022. I ended the year with 67 books read. So the question now is, Do I keep the same reading goal for 2023 or bump it up? I used to read a book or two a week but that was so long ago that I can’t easily claim to be much of a reader nowadays. But I miss losing myself in a book, I miss the feeling of wanting to get done with a task because a story was waiting. So for 2022 I stuck to “easy” reads - so, no, I didn’t make any progress on The Brothers Karamazov. That continues to be my white whale.

Among the 67 books read, these are the ones that stood out:

Favorite reads: Project Hail Mary, Andy Weir; Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together, Heather McGhee

Most helpful: oh crap! Potty training: everything modern parents need to know to do it once and do it right, Jamie Glowacki

Weirdest: nothing to see here, Kevin Wilson

The YA that reminded me YA isn’t just for the youngsters: The Lesbianas Guide to Catholic School, Sonora Reyes; Lobizona, Romina Garber

The book that reminded me I really need to read more Latinae writers (and preferably in Spanish): The Book of Unknown Americans, Cristina Henriquez

The book that reminded me romance books can be fun escapes and started me down the contemporary romance rabbit hole that greatly facilitated the increased reading: Seven Days in June, Tia Williams

The book that made me pick up a classic I’ve been meaning to read: Re Jane, Patricia Park

The book that I didn’t realize had pissed me off so much until I picked up the sequel and discovered I hated the premise so much I couldn’t possible read past the first chapter: Dial A for Aunties, Jesse Q. Sutano

For 2023 I’ve decided to set two goals: read 40 books and to have many of those come from my own bookshelves. It would take several years reading at this pace to make a serious dent in my personal library but we have to start somewhere, no?

How to Lose Even When You’re Winning

10/17/2021 |0 comments

Earlier in the year I wrote that this would be the year that I finally finished reading The Brothers Karamazov. At the time I felt certain it could be done. “If I read 3-4 pages every day I’ll be done before the year is over!” Well, best laid plans and all that. I keep saying I like the story and that is true but given my atrocious reading habits for the past, well, decade and the fact that we are still living through a pandemic, even just 3 pages of a Russian novel a day has proven to be too ambitious.

Which doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading. As the image shows, I’ve actually surpassed my Goodreads reaching goal for the year. That hasn’t happened since 2015. So reading isn’t the issue. It’s reading something that actually requires the brain to really think that’s the problem. At the end of the day, when I discover that I’ve watched everything there is to watch on Netflix or Hulu, I turn to reading books that flow, that entertain but don’t tax the already overly taxed brain.

The Brothers Karamazov shall have to wait. Maybe next year. See, this is the good thing about books. You can literally shelve them and they never get upset, they don’t complain that you’re neglecting them. They don’t vague tweet or Facebook post about how you’ve ghosted them because you’re a mean mean person. And they smell good. So really there is no downside to books. You heard that here first. I’m sure.

If Words Get Blogged and No One Reads Them…

1/17/2021 |0 comments

When I set up my first “real” blog aka hosted on my own domain, using a content management system I had installed, I took the time to develop a commenting policy. I remember spending time on that, wanting it to be fair but also clear in that I wouldn’t allow people to get out of line. The amusing thing about this, now and then, is that no one knew I was setting up a blog. I told very few people I knew offline (or as we used to say back then, ‘in real life’.) But I wanted to be ready when the comments started rolling in. Even at my blogging peak, comments rarely rolled in. At best they trickled. Once spammers got good at their craft the comments were more often spam than an actual response to anything I’d written.

I’m reminded of that as I work on the back end of the site; again I’ve told few people I’ve restarted the blog and I haven’t set up a way to track web traffic so I’ve no clue if anyone is stopping by. The spam, however, is hitting every day. So I’ve been playing around with ways to block that annoyance. I briefly considered turning on the CAPTCHA option but opted to not do it when I read the disclaimer in the EE manual about how CAPTCHAs can be hard for folks with visibility issues. I have no true expectation to be getting many comments. I have no idea if anyone who does stop by to comment will have issues using the CAPTCHA and yet - on the chance that someone wants to contribute a response it seems unwelcoming to put up barriers.

This is the way my brain works. As people have often told me, I over think things. I do. I can’t even say I would want it to be any different. Under thinking things doesn’t seem terribly appealing actually.

So, the comments are open albeit through moderation. An annoying compromise.

My Moby Dick isn’t a Whale

1/11/2021 |0 comments

I have been trying to get through The Brothers Karamazov for probably two decades now. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve started it. I do know that one time I read about a third of the book before I lost it in a move. (I lost a whole box of some of my favorite books during the same move; a fact that still causes me pain to this day but that’s not the point of the post.)

People ask me why I keep trying to finish this book; they tell me life is too short to force oneself to read books, even if the book is a classic. I had a doctor once tell me, when she saw the book in my hand, “I am Russian and I am telling you, do not read that. He was crazy.”  The thing is, I do like the story. I do like the writing. It’s just dense. That magical time when I read about a third of the book, I still had no clue who killed the father. I am not giving anything away here. You learn early on that one of the three brothers kills the father. Three hundred some pages in and not one clue! How is that possible?! I have read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and The Idiot and found both to be great reads. I’m not sure what the difference between the three books is - maybe it’s just that as I’ve gotten older my attention span has shortened and dense reads make for really, really slow going.

It’s been so long since I last picked up the book that I’m realizing I will have to start over from page one. I don’t mind - as I said, I do l like the book. But I am awfully tired of having it get the better of me so I’ve resolved that this will be the year it is finally finished. So with this entry I announce my intentions - every day I will read at least three pages. If the mood and time permits I can read more but it has to be at least three pages a day. This means it will potentially take me all year to finish the book, if I only read the minimum but we’re all about manageable goals this year so that’s okay.

So, periodically I will provide updates. Let’s see how it goes, shall we?

Website Update, January 2021

1/4/2021 |0 comments

Maintaining a personal website, as with anything, has its pros and cons. The desire to have an online presence hasn’t changed since those early days in 2000. I like having the space to write, experiment with coding, post photos, etc. But liking something and actually doing it are different beasts. Over the years I have to admit that I wasn’t diligent about keeping Expression Engine, which is the software that powers the website, up to date. This means that when the hosting company made some changes to the way it handles files some months ago, my outdated copies of EE just stopped working.

I didn’t worry too much about it for several reasons:

  1. I wasn’t using the site much; the only section that was getting regular updates was the weekly game
  2. I (mistakenly) assumed that updating things would be simple.
  3. I didn’t properly anticipate how little interest and energy I would have during a pandemic to making the needed changes.

So, after months of trying to cobble time here and there to get things back the way they once were (except with updated guts) I had to admit that setting things up exactly the way I wanted just was not going to happen. So I simplified the idea. The game and the blog, which used to live on their own domains, are back under the main URL. Something that hasn’t happened since the mid-2000s I think. What’s old is new again, I suppose.

I tried out different content management systems in my attempts to put things back together but I just don’t have the bandwidth that I used to have to learn new things. Gone are the days when I would spend hours, whole weekends, teaching myself how to make my site do what I wanted. Now those are hours are spent taking care of a incredibly cute, curious and very mobile toddler. And when that’s not happening I’m vegging out in front of the TV or in a book, trying to steal a little rest from work and childcare.

But I do still want to have a space to write so here we are. It’s bare bones, using the default EE templates. I have this thought that I’ll spruce things up a bit but we’ll see. I’m trying to remind myself that what matters most is just getting back into the habit of writing. A bare bones, simple site facilitates that just as well as something with more bells and whistles, right?


Happy 2021!

Cloudy with a Chance of 80s Pop

7/24/2017 |0 comments

My personal computer died several years ago.

Well, having typed that I feel the need to clarify. I might have had a slight role in the killing of said computer. It was a refurbished laptop that my brother had kindly gifted me due to the fact that my old old computer had decided it no longer wanted to do more than five minutes of work at a time. It booted up fine but after a couple of minutes the fan would kick on, give it the old valiant college try and then say, “Nah, girl. Your Facebooking isn’t worth this heat. Bye!”

So to the rescue my brother came. And that new old computer did the trick for a while. And while it was tricking (wait, what?) I would hear tell of this thing called the cloud. And articles and people would marvel about the flexibility and portability of the cloud! The cloud would solve all problems and I am certainly a fan of a problem-free life. But I also have this thing sometimes called procrastination. So I didn’t back up anything to the cloud. Besides, anything and everything I cared about (my photos and thousands and thousands of songs) was saved to my trusty external drive. Pfft. I’ll be fine, I figured.

You see where I’m going with this, yes? Of course you do because you’re smart. Smarter than me, definitely. So where were you when I most needed you?!? Hmm. That’s trouble of a different kind, no? Let’s move on.

One day I decided to upgrade the OS on this old new to me laptop and that’s when that laptop also said, “Nah, girl. Bye!” Except, perhaps knowing that the afterlife of any computer used by me (which means a drive full of badly Photoshopped images and messy CSS files) would be lonely, it decided to take with it, the external drive that I had neglected to disconnect prior to the upgrade. Really, when you think about it - it takes a special kind of skill to kill not just a computer but an external drive too.

I despaired for months over having lost thousands of mp3s collected over more than a decade. I’d say maybe a quarter of which I can recover if I take the time to rip my CDs, which thankfully I still have so that’s something but there’s other music that I’m just not going to be able to recover. Upon hearing my sad tale of musical woe, a friend tried to salvage the external drive and he ensured me he’d been successful. So for a year and some change I’ve been content with the knowledge that once I got a new computer I’d be able to pull my music back in and then do what I should have done ages ago, which is back it up to the cloud.

Sadly, so far the friend’s had no luck figuring out how to extract my music from his iTunes library. So close yet so far. You’d think that after almost 3 years of doing without my music library I’d not miss it anymore but I still feel a slight ache whenever I think of it all being gone. Granted, that’s probably due to the memories attached to many of those songs. Someone I cared for a lot ages ago helped me build that collection and that person and I are no longer in touch. And if we know anything about me, letting go of people I care about deeply isn’t the easiest thing for me to do.

Speaking of music, during the second adoption training class the group somehow got to talking about music and I made a joke about how my poor kid will grow up hearing 80s music and there was a collective groan. “Oh no,” someone said, “Don’t let that happen!”

So who knows. Maybe the loss of the music is the universe’s way of helping me to move on or sparing any poor child that I adopt from endless rounds of the Cover Girls or Expose’s greatest hits. Really, one shouldn’t question the Universe. It knows best.

My Reading Rules

3/7/2017 |0 comments

After reading a blog post on Bookriot about reading rules I started thinking about mine.

  • Never dog ear a book. I tend to not use bookmarks and if I do, it’s something thin, like a receipt or even a square of tissue.
  • Related to the above, if the book is new, I endeavor to not break the spine. For quick reads, it appeals to me to be done with a book and still have it look good as new.
  • That said, if a book requires thought and time to finish and understand, having it gently show wear also appeals to me.
  • I like to have more than one book going at the same time. They have to be of different topics so it’s easy to keep track of each book’s progress. I move between books as the moods strikes but inevitably one book will rise above the rest and compel me to devote my time to only it. I let the stories tell me how to read.
  • I’ve tried to get into reading books on the Kindle but I find that I still prefer reading paper books best. Although I’ve been reading A Tale of Two Cities on the Kindle, progress is so slow. I blame the ability to be distracted so easily. No matter how engrossed I think I am in a story, when I hear a ding or feel the buzz of the phone in my hand, I am pulled away to check emails or make a move on a game. I wish I were better able to ignore the notifications but that seems to only happen when I’m holding a paper book in my hands.
  • If it’s a series, I have to read the books in order.
  • I try to end at a chapter but that’s sometimes difficult if I’ve read long into the night and have to admit that sleep is more necessary than getting to the end of a chapter.
  • At some point in a story, I find the need to know the ending. I don’t fight this; sometimes all I need to do is read the last page, sometimes it’s the last chapter. Only once has this actually ruined a book for me. Knowing how a book ends detracts not one bit from wanting to know how it got to that ending.
  • No marginalia on quick reads. But I do make rare exceptions on school books, history/philosophy books, etc. Basically any books that I a) intend on keeping and b) require significant thought to understand.
  • Unless I am sure that I will be reading the book multiple times, I gift/donate the book so that others can enjoy it.

I think those cover my rules. Though it does feel as if I’m missing something.

A Lifetime of Nanoseconds

10/24/2016 |0 comments

As a non-religious person* I feel as if religious people think me incapable of feeling awe over the world and life in general. They are, of course, wrong. I am humbled by life, by what evolved and by what we’ve created. I often find myself thinking about the immensity of what we’ve accomplished by moving away from sleeping under the stars to arrive at these highly structured and complex lives. How is it possible to not be able to fully comprehend that span of time and also feel as if was just yesterday?

I found myself once again marveling at that sense of progress when I picked up The Federalist Papers tonight. I vaguely remember “reading” (aka skimming) sections in high school so when I saw a used copy up for grabs a year or so ago I let nostalgia (and a sense of guilt) talk me into taking it home with me - where it’s sat on one bookshelf or another ever since.

Maybe it’s the sheer lunacy of this election that sparked a real interest a day or so ago, but whatever the reason, tonight I cracked open the yellowed cover and began reading the introduction.

book cover of The Federalist Papers

I’d forgotten that the papers were originally written as a series of letters to the public. If you’d asked me, I’m embarrassed to say I wouldn’t have been able to share that bit of information but as soon as I read that detail the high school history lessons came flooding back. Reading that made me wonder, will anything written today rise to the same level of prominence a hundred years from now? That isn’t me dismissing today’s scholars or thinkers.That is a genuine question; I’d like to be more in tune with think pieces on history, science, etc.

The question is more of a nudge for myself to be proactive and thoughtful about waking up the dormant curiosity about life that used to spur me to learn HTML/CSS, to read psychology journals just for the hell of it, for example. With the way this election is playing out (that Trump is a legitimate concern is mind blogging), it would be easy to dismiss the current populace as being less well read or learned but to do so would require a certain amount of delusion and hypocrisy - as much as I would like to think I shouldn’t be included in that statement I can’t say I’ve been doing a very good job of staying on top of what’s happening in the country, much less the world. I’ve been living an insulated life lately (let’s define lately as the last several decades, shall we?) and thinking about these three men (Hamilton, Madison and Jay) as being so dedicated, focused, and daring as to take on the grand, visionary task of starting a new government makes me ask, “What have I done lately?!?”

I’m certainly not thinking I’ll be the mother of a new nation, but at the very least I could afford to be a little more connected to what’s going on around me, to do a little more living outside of my head. It couldn’t hurt and could only help.

Also? This bit from the introduction written in this edition published in 1961 amused me given the current fame and popularity of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton:

The story of how Hamilton persuaded and plotted and bullied his way over the months to the narrowest of victories in the New York convention is an epic of American politics that deserves to be better known.

Mission accomplished. That line alone has made me want to see the musical more than every article I’ve read, every news clip I’ve seen about the many awards the musical has won. What can I say? I’m slow to understand what’s happening sometimes. See above about living more outside of my head. In its own way, I hear that the musical is awesome (in the truest sense of the word) so, in the pursuit of awesome things in this life and world, maybe I should see about tickets.

But maybe first I should buy a few scratch offs as I hear the tickets are not cheap!

*Perhaps when those of faith stop thinking of atheists as kickers of puppies and stealers of candy from babies I’ll be able to use the label for myself without the awkward contortions.