The Man

"CRITICAL MASS", 22" x 22" x 4", matches, earth

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Since I will be off line a few days, I wanted to leave you with something special.

I have tasted the teachings and miracle-mongering of many revered teachers in my lifetime.

In the end, all the trying we might do hoping for answers to ease our shared suffering and ponder pesky questions like: “What is the purpose of life?” urge us inward, not outward.

Here is an interview with someone I love and greatly admire for his ability to reduce the flotsam into what feels essential and practical.

It is kindof a longish interview but you can take in in in stages like eating a warm and gooey chocolate cake…

The focus in the interview is yoga but you can substitute any old thing: illness or frailty, relationship, politics or choosing an apple from the grocery store..

The point being to access that still place inside us and ask for prompting regarding how to better negotiate this sometimes rugged road we all walk.

Open, listen, receive, trust, move.

Red apple or green one?

See you soon in my new home.

Mission Statement

"PORTRAIT OF RICARDO", 22" x 22", 2003, earth,nest,shell,rattlesnake rattle,feather,mica,ceramic,pearls,dice,fish spine

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“To live content with small means when need be; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy not respectable; and wealthy not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly… to listen to stars and buds, to babes and sages, with open heart; await occasions, hurry never…. this is my symphony.”

-William Henry Channing

Chaos

untitled, 2003, 4' x 4' x 4", earth, ceramic, mica

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If you came to my door this morning and entered my home for the first time, if you were a truly intelligent sort you’d leave immediately..

CHAOS!!!!!! EVERYWHERE!!!!!

Boxes and stuff and melted snow (storm last night) and a freaked out chihuahua and a limping woman and a half eaten avocado and a broken vase and a list of storage space prices and a huge pile of treasures that will blessedly belong to someone else tomorrow after they get to Goodwill…

MY LIFE!!!

MY PRECIOUS LIFE!

It is oozing into other environs..

I know it knows the way.

But I lost the map somewhere in this catastrophe..

Bear with me this next week as I find home..

xxx…

Further

untitled, 1998, 11 x 11 x 4" each, m/m

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I’m reading a book right now in which they talk about the mantra of “FURTHER.”

I like it.

Not in a running- away -from- something kind of way.

But more like moving ever toward the sense of something larger than we know.

“The core of goodness,” a wise man named Erich Schiffmann once said.

What I have learned for myself is that when I move from one point to another; either physically as in the relocation I am in the process of making now, or trying out new behaviors or making new marks in an art piece; if I do that from an inner prompting instead of pure rationality, stuff works.

‘Further’ feels awkward at first.

The familiar is giving way to the ‘call.’

Unknown, untested territory.

But what, I ask you, is better than THAT?

Yes, things don’t always work out the way we have decided they should.

If I always got every thing (read: Tom, Dick and Harry..) that I was so SURE were right for me, well… I’d likely be cavorting around in an apron with my mouth duct taped shut and the tires slashed on my car.. (no bitterness, just noticing..)

Because I now have a solid sense of myself as an authentic being, I can trust the the whispers that urge me further.

This trust is an earned thing.. not a given.

Most of the time it’s fun to watch the unfolding of my life into something tuned beautifully to my nature.

Except when it’s not and then, if I have my wits about me at all, I laugh and decide again.

Or cry..and decide again.

Really, it is all about the stretch.

It excites me even in this bone-weariness of moving.

Further, further..into the wild.

Power vs. Force

"GEOMETRY", 2007, 30" x 30", earth, ceramic, mica, gold thread, pearls

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I am a very poor dog trainer.

Olivia is confused.

She loves me and wants to protect me from all harm.

Her giant spirit in a little, little package pulls out all the warrior paraphernalia when men approach my door.

If the man wears a cap.. forget it.

Yesterday, David came by.

I met him on my first trip to New Mexico in 1989.

He loves rocks and fossils and is the perfect roadside geology man.

If dinosaur bones get you all atwitter.. he’s your guy.

We began our 20 year friendship watching the world with witness-glasses and enjoying an easy commentary together.

We still do that witnessing thing and still enjoy one another in a ‘chosen family’ sort of way.

He is a painter. Has always gone out into the wilds and moved the pleasure of his intimate connection with nature from his heart to the canvas.

Yesterday he brought me a few paintings to see.

They were spare and and ‘haiku-esque.’

So accomplished in the removal of EVERYTHING non-essential.

The two of us had not seen one another in quite awhile.

So the movement within us both was apparent.

He is far less than I remember.

I am emptying out as well.

What I SAW yesterday, was a man approaching my door.

My friend.

He looked quite the same.

But he was less.

Olivia sensed him and knew he was good.

I had prepared him to be patient as I had my dog at the door, on the lead and ready to make the corrections I am learning to train her away from barking and nipping at strangers.

She wagged and squeaked and wriggled as I opened the door.

No barking…

She had no need or desire to protect me from this person.

I just stood there as he came in and watched the two of them enjoy the recognition of a mutual ‘something-or-otherness.’

My sense is that she noticed his pure heart, emptiness and lack of type A ‘I want a particular outcome and I’ll do anything to get it’ kind of human tactic (read: Cathy in the dog training process).

He has POWER in this instance.  A quiet and undefended approach.

I think I see that where she is concerned, I am mistakenly going after FORCE.

Little jerk here, a push-away there..

YUK..

Something about this equation is wrong.

Today, I am going to try to translate what I learned from their interaction into my dealings with my health and well-being.

Instead of attempting to force feed my body with health enhancing activities by rote, I will court spaciousness.

I will let that innate thing come forward without the costuming of effort.

Those clothes are worn and tattered anyway.

Familiar at best, but threadbare and spent.

I am tired and bored today with the ever-so-purposeful-and-incessant-hand-on-the-tiller navigation of life.

The intelligence of emptiness .

This is intriguing territory to me.

Finding Home

detail, "SELF PORTRAIT", 24" x 24" x 4"

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COMING HOME

by Mary Oliver

When we’re driving, in the dark,
on the long road
to Provincetown, which lies empty
for miles, when we’re weary,
when the buildings
and the scrub pines lose
their familiar look,
I imagine us rising
from the speeding car,
I imagine us seeing
everything from another place — the top
of one of the pale dunes
or the deep and nameless
fields of the sea —
and what we see is the world
that cannot cherish us
but which we cherish,
and what we see is our life
moving like that,
along the dark edges
of everything — the headlights
like lanterns
sweeping the blackness —
believing in a thousand
fragile and unprovable things,
looking out for sorrow,
slowing down for happiness,
making all the right turns
right down to the thumping
barriers to the sea,
the swirling waves,
the narrow streets, the houses,
the past, the future,
the doorway that belongs
to you and me.

*****

I found my new home yesterday..

It is small.

And so bright with SUN!!

And quiet.

My small loveseat covered in white linen will sit in the bay window.

There is a big brick porch.

With chairs and an umbrella.

The walls are smooth plaster.

And the floor is sealed earth.

My dog has grasses and stones and trees to explore.

Without me. On her own.

The kitchen holds only one.

Or two, if you really like each other.

I feel safe there.

It has a presence I recognize and trust.

I can heal there.

I will heal there.

Pressure

"WEATHER", 2000, 30X30", m/m

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Lately, my sleep pattern is broken into 3-4 segments during the night.

I seem to wake alert, and unable to soften into sleep again, I read.

In the deep of last night I stumbled upon a story about a process in which after cremation, a person’s ashes could be made into a diamond.

One could certainly see this as a tawdry gimmick unworthy of attention.

But it got mine..

The metaphor was breathtakingly overt.

If enough pressure is exerted on a bunch of carbon-based material, alchemy shows up at the door and VOILA! We have a glittering, reflective gem you can take anywhere.

I don’t mean to make light of this technology.

There is a part of me that is completely blown away by this and I see that I make it a bit trivial because it moved me so much.

On the one hand, this idea of purposely exerting pressure upon the fly away ashes of a person and coming up with a diamond seems so right..

It is a demonstration in form of what I feel happening inside myself dealing with this health challenge.

I continue to rise each morning and have an intimate conversation with a body that is stiff and weak and getting more so.

I tell her, moment by moment, that we have it in us to make the next move, with grace even, if we’re lucky.

And when we don’t, we don’t.

We stop and recalibrate.

Eat or rest or stretch or take a pill.

And then do it all over again the next hour or day.

A constant pressure toward what?

Moving forward toward life, whatever that looks like, is what I do.

I am grateful I already know my ‘diamondness’ and don’t need the ring.

Of course, I WOULD BE THE RING so the point is moot..

Inherit the Wind

untitled, monoprint, 1993, 30" X 22"

untitled, monoprint, 1994, 30" x 22"

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I watched an old Spencer Tracy film last night called “INHERIT THE WIND.”

From the Bible: Proverbs
11:29 “He that troubleth his own house shall INHERIT THE WIND: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.”

The theme was Evolutionism and Creationism.

I find it interesting to watch old films take on big ideas..

There is a void of the smokescreen of sophistication and we are able to see clearly and laugh at the innocence of it all.

Because NOW WE KNOW BETTER what our forefathers grappled and groped to discover.

Newness is messy.

And inconvenient.

Because we are a species which LOVES TO KNOW WHAT WE KNOW…

And PLEASE don’t have the audacity to tell us different!

Have we actually come that far from the 1960’s film spouting fundamental bible-thumping vs. heretical free thinking?

I have a lot of people in my life who care deeply for me and are rooting for my healing.

I honestly can not imagine this gritty road without the solace of their support.

My particular healing choices seem to push people’s buttons.

I sense there is the occasional backstory of: “Why can’t she just stick with western medicine?”

Or this: “Does she have to keep skipping around from one healing mode to another? Why not just pick one and stick with it?”

Or: “Her walking seems to be getting worse. She has THAT kind of MS where there is no cure. Oh dear..”

Don’t get me wrong.. I am not in judgement here.

Just noticing that there are comfort zones we prefer to stay within.

Confines that help us relax into complacency, myself included.

The fact is that we DON’T know too much.

We like to think we do because it feels good.

Religions are formed around contemporary cultural valium pills; spirituality, health and politics to name a few.

Really, do things have any chance for change if we are not DIRECTLY AFFECTED by them?

If your leg stops doing what you want it to do, previously held beliefs may be dropped in favor of possibility.

If water stops coming out of the faucet, you can bet you’d leave your complacency about the earth’s precious resources at the corner.

The thing I have come to know is the power of the very state of duality we all share on this planet.

When I am FORCED outside my comfort zone, I see that I love life so much that I kick and scratch my way toward any threads that light up for me indicating the possibility of someTHING outside my sphere of knowledge that will give me more of that thing called LIFE.

THIS IS UNTIDY TERRITORY.

And because I am putting myself first for once in my life, I have absolutely NO APOLOGIES for any mess which ensues.

The Ride

detail of monoprint, 1991, 22" x 30"

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Havin’ the ride of my life over here..

I sold my home and need to find a place to live before the end of the month, pack and move and stay OK in the midst of it all..

Funny, how part of me thrives on this terrain; unpredictable and full of all possibility.

I see that life opens up so purposefully when I get out of the way.

My attachments are few as I traverse this MS landscape.

Things once cherished drop away making way for the new, unknown, untried.

My ‘stuff’ holds no elan.

I decided to have a big ‘Cathy’s Giveaway’ sale instead of expending the energy to have people tromping through my home in a moving sale.

I’ve had ssssssssoooooooo much support over the last few years that it will feel great to just say: “I want you to have this.”

The energetic difference between a desperate and tightly held fist and a soft and openly generous one is a garden I want to tend.

It interests me the things I am choosing to keep around me; favorite mugs I love the feel of in my morning rituals, my art, shells and rocks, a branch covered in white holiday lights I use all year, my grandmother’s photo at age 20.

Simple things. Beautiful things. Heart things.

‘Stuff’, BE GONE!!!!

I want clean lines.

Nothing to obstruct my gaze.

Space, light and a bit of substance.

This will be my new estate.

My new place TO BE.

To BECOME… and keep becoming the woman just now drying her wings.

She needs sun and air and horizons to seek.

To expose her underbelly to the gleam off the lake…

Ordinary

"SIDE OF THE ROAD", 30" x 30" x 3", 2005, earth,gravel, washers

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My life is moving very fast.

The public speaking seminar I just completed was wonderfully inspiring and intense.

My home has sold and I need to find a place to live within two weeks.

I know what to do when the anxiety of ‘too much’ rings my doorbell…

I return to the earth.

Start at square one..

Get dirt under my fingernails.

Sit on it. Smell it. Notice it. Let it take me.

I created the piece shown above from earth I gathered on a trip to Utah.

I travelled solo and was happy just spending a few days lookin’ around and driving..

Wind- in- my- hair kind of thing.

The kind of days when you just look up to where you think God might be and say out loud: “LIFE IS GOOD.”

The day I gathered the materials for this piece, I was driving down the long empty road and had to pee.

I stopped and walked a bit to a somewhat sheltered spot.

There was NO ONE around for miles but I am shy that way..

Walking back to the car I looked down and saw the most gorgeous combination of color: warm rust and seafoam green and a hint of mustard.

There was clay in the soil and it had formed in appealing shapes.

I went to the car and got a pail (ever ready in Cathy’s car) and collected my treasure.

When I return my attention to the earth, the world with it’s trials and confusion and velocity fades to grey as the ordinary and sensual pleasure of dirt opens me to possibility.

My priorities instantly shift into a more sensible order.

And my whole being softens to hear it’s whispered wisdom.

You can’t be loud when dealing with the earth because you’ll likely miss the best parts held between the lines.

Eyes closed, breath soft, senses heightened..

The gifts of the low-down and ordinary…

Learning To Speak

"WHITE TREE", 2002, 11" x 11" x 4", m/m

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I just finished up my 2-day intensive on PUBLIC SPEAKING FOR PROFESSIONALS.

I jumped at the chance to do this as I actually get a great deal of pleasure speaking to groups of people.

But I want to know how to do this WELL so I don’t waste peoples’ time.

It was an impressively conducted, jam-packed event peopled with interesting and inspiring folks.

I’ll write more on this but today, as I recover a bit, I am struck by how HEALTHY I feel!

Tired but alive, engaged and curious as to the pleasure I took in using ‘life’ muscles I had all but forgotten.

It’s been a couple years of reclusion, seclusion and ‘wrap-yourself-up-in-a-blanket’ to conserve energy for the trip to the kitchen or desk..

Fully out in the world for the past two days, I remember myself as someone who has energy enough to care for herself AND some left over!!!!!!!!!

I am reclaiming health.

The crucial medication being CONNECTION.

I’ve taken time to reconnect with myself and because of those choices I now have it in me to reintroduce myself to the world.

Often, these choices have proved unpopular.

But wait! I am voting for myself, now.

SPEAK FIRST FOR THYSELF.

Only then, turn to your neighbor.

Speak Up

untitled, 12" x 12", 2001, m/m

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This morning I am off to a professional public speaking seminar for two days.

This is how things go in my life..

Yesterday, I had no idea this was taking place.

And today, I have secured the last seat available.

I love to speak in front of people about my own story of change and resurrection.

I am interested in change.

It is common to us all.

How do we do it?

I mean, how do we change?

There are ways to negotiate this terrain with the outcome leaning toward a thriving life.

Or not.

My choice is the former and I seem to be well on my way toward that end.

Truth be told.. I’M SMACK IN IT…Thriving inside change.

And today, I will join 11 other people to practice talking about just that…

…Because it makes me happy and I want to make public speaking a big part of my life now.

But I want to do it WELL.. and EFFECTIVELY.. and HONESTLY.

So- I’ll sidle up next to those who make this their profession and see what I can learn.

She’s out in the world after a long hiatus and fairly chompin’ at the bit…

Hands Off

"BETWEEN", 1995, 22" x 36", m/m

"BETWEEN", 1995, 22" x 36", m/m

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When I look at this painting, I see a crevice.

A free fall between two hard places.

I think when I did this it was supposed to be a landscape but things change..

I am so tired from working so damn hard to reclaim wholeness and health.

After awhile one just has to stop for awhile and do something else.

I’m noticing that when I take my hand off the tiller a very interesting thing happens.

It almost feels like another kind of intelligence kicks in and throws up it’s hands in relief.

THANK GOD SHE HAS STOPPED ALL THIS INCESSANT ‘TRYING TO MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN!’

Tool kits are exchanged and while I sleep, small but gorgeous men and women file in and begin their song-singing or nervous system whispering or color bathing.

Whatever weird and wonderful, otherworldly medication they deem appropriate.

And, lo and behold!   I wake refreshed and lively. Having DONE NOT A THING but make room for healing to happen.

Pressing into a health challenge (or any other for that matter) has it’s limits.

But do we know when to let go?

That line between the fight and taking the gloves off is a sensitive one.

I don’t want to neglect doing anything that offers support toward healing.

But working too hard toward a desired outcome is exhausting and leaves room for only narrow results.

Miracles happen when our vision gets a little fuzzy so something beyond what we know can sneak in and take it’s place at the table.

That doesn’t mean collapsing into an expected result, desired or not.

Nor does it mean armoring up in your finest chain mail suit.

The action/non-action I am trying to get to is a little bit of both, it seems.

On top of that razor’s edge it can get windy and the weather changes fast and without warning.

But it is not a malevolent weather pattern.

There is a surprising quality of support that wind has..

Balancing on the very edge and keening back and forth; the wind is at your back when you need it and to the left when you need that then it changes direction to break your fall by pushing against your right side as you lean up against it reclaiming your footing.

In that place up there NOTHING can be decided.

Surrender but avoid collapse.

It seems support is always there for me in that very moment I release the tiller.

One must drop the reigns and be moved.

Windows

For many years I have been known to look closely at my eyes in mirrors.

The urge comes upon me when I notice something vaguely ‘off’ energetically.

During the 99% of my life I lived inauthentically, I would never have had the where-with-all to discriminate exactly WHAT was off because there was not a real and true person behind those eyes.

And so I looked.

Checked out my eyes real close.

Were they sort of grey and filmy?

Or distant and removed?

Maybe I got surprised by seeing bright white with a generous dollop of hazel floating there.

More often they were veiled and almost mute.

By doing this weird ritual, I was getting a reality check.

I couldn’t give it to myself because, well… I wasn’t THERE!

As I write this I am thinking about who I was on my recent trip to Colorado.

I have been gestating at home for a couple years now. Truth be told afraid to travel because of logistics and fear of the unknown in general, actually.

I had no idea how to move through the world independently.

I also REALLY needed these couple years to segue into this version of Cathy.

All this sounds like I know/knew what I was doing but I don’t/didn’t.

I didn’t know this whole gestating time would give rise to the confident and extroverted woman I experienced on my trip.

She was new to me.

She made relationships wherever she went and felt life in her blood whether she was exhausted or rested.

There was ABSOLUTELY NO NEED to look in the mirror because I was right there for myself and everyone else..

Right there… present and alive and vulnerable and curious and tired and worried and grateful and willing..

All of it.

And it was GREAT to meet her!

Had no idea she was as together as that.

Together isn’t really right..

I AM HEALTHY! .. AND VERY ALIVE.

I see that I couldn’t have known the changes which have taken place in me had I not left familiar territory behind.

As an artist, I know the value and need for times of gathering.

It often looks to others like withdrawal and quite possibly depression but certainly disengagement.

In my art life I never really felt the need to explain or apologize for those times because I knew I was filling myself up and eventually it would appear in form.

How is it that I did not extend myself the same generosity of spirit in my healing process?

Why have I been thinking I SHOULD be producing more or BEING more?

Once more, I shall put the pesky and larger-than-life judge to bed and try to leave her there without food or water.

And I shall eat cake.

Joe Montana and Lipstick

"DIRECTION", 1997, 30" x 30", m/m

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Yesterday, I bought a new shade of lipstick…

And last night I dreamed of JOE MONTANA.

I didn’t even think I knew who Joe Montana WAS!!

I don’t ever watch football because I can never find the ball in the midst of crashing maleness.

So, here I am, waking from a dream in which I meet Joe.

I am sitting on the ground with my back against a wall and he joins me there.

We like each other. He flirts. I feel fluttery. Life is good.

The conversation ends and it is time for me to get up and retrieve my walker which he has not seen yet.

The point of me telling you this is this:

In the dream, I did NOT cave to tears or apology or even anxiety in the unveiling of this new piece of information to my dream icon.

I JUST DID IT..

I got up (in my dream..) and got my walker and carried on with grace and the confidence of a true ‘warrioress in life.’

I know it was the new lipstick that ushered in this dream.

The perfect lipstick is a tool to be reckoned with.

Egyptian women knew the power of adornment better than any.

You may think I am kidding here…

Not a chance.

That dream was showing me what I have in me..what I have earned.

It was one of those rare iconic dreamscapes which arrive as a gift and message.

I am NOT my disability.

I am a woman interested in LIFE.

The fact I chose Joe to join me tells me that I may be playing too small.

Or, rather, I may have it in me now to widen my field of possibilities.

All this because of my new lipstick..

Transparency

"SECRETS OF WOMEN", 1992, 50" x %)', ceramic,wood,modeling paste

"SECRETS OF WOMEN", 1992, 50" x 50" x 5")', ceramic,wood,modeling paste

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This, I think is interesting..

A new site developed to graph comparisons between patients challenged by various diseases/symptoms.

I saw an 18 minute video presented to TEDMED which is a relatively new spinoff of TED.com (Technology,Entertainment,Design).

The man who designed this software had a brother with ALS and felt compelled to use his skill set to do what he could to help get information and get it quickly.

It’s heartening to see this type of comparative results graphing from various treatment modes etc. in a user-friendly and graphically interesting way.

Check it out, if you’ve a mind to..

Change

"BLUE SQUARE,RED TRIANGLE", 1997, 40" x 40", m/m

"BLUE SQUARE,RED TRIANGLE", 1997, 40" x 30", m/m

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Interesting how when one changes up one’s life in ANY way that the ripple effect stands true as a universal law.

If you read my blog regularly you may have experienced a redirect to another site in the past few days.

I had my blog tech guy upgrade WordPress and all hell broke loose.

Everything is better than fine now.

Speaking of change..after my trip last week my physical self is in integration mode.

The journey toward wholeness goes like that..

An action is taken which produces a reaction.

We live in a world of duality so this is the deal..

You do one thing and another thing happens because of it.

Installing a new and better computer capability or working intensively with a healthcare professional or even eating a new food or beginning a relationship.

Divinity and demons are built in.

I suppose the thing to do is notice them and make another action in the direction you choose for yourself.

Toward the ‘demonness’ of blame and loss of hope or ‘this is uncomfortable and I want it gone’ or ‘this is too hard and I’m giving up’…

Or perhaps ‘I wonder what’s around the next corner? It might be better than this,’
or ‘this is new territory (food,person,treatment,behavior,computer program) and I need time to get my sea legs.

For me, since I have lived a good deal of my life with a protected and hardened heart, I generally choose to move toward softness; any choice that leaves me less defended and more open to MORE CHANGE!

That really sounds insane when I write it.

But essentially that very thing is what I’m out for this time around.. moving toward wholeness whatever that looks like.

And as I am sensitive to my inner workings after all the work I’ve done on myself, I can pretty much recognize now when change might help me move closer to home.

Do I always ACT on that knowledge?

NOT.

And then stuff comes back to bite me and I GET TO CHOOSE ALL OVER AGAIN!

I’m telling you, if you can’t make this ride into an interesting one, you may as well get another car..