What is a “Free Spirit”?

I think it’s sad that when you try to explain to someone that you are a “free spirit”, they automatically think “Okay, so you’re a hippie slut.” For example, one of the definitions on Urban Dictionary for free spirit is actually “Slutty; in a 70s way.”
Can someone please explain to me what the hell that even means?

To be a free spirit is not to be a slut. I cannot stress this enough.
I was talking to one of my ex-boyfriends one day, just trying to explain my mindset to him, and I finally got frustrated and just said “I don’t know. I’m young and I’m dumb sometimes. I’m just a free spirit.” His automatic response was to say that I am a whore, which is completely untrue.
So, what exactly is a “free spirit” if it’s not an easy hippie? A free spirit is someone who is able to think for themselves. A free spirit is someone who doesn’t automatically do things the way that society thinks that they should be done. Basically, a free spirit truly is a nonconformist.

My mind works so much different than most people that I know. I’m the type of person who loves relentlessly, and does everything that she can to be self aware in every aspect. I live my life for myself, yet not in a selfish way at all. I live my life trying to grow as a person and understand those around me. I try very hard to be empathetic and understand people and their emotions, the way that they handle situations.
Recently, I’ve went through the hardest breakup I’ve ever been through. In the beginning stages of moving on, I genuinely believed that there was no hope whatsoever. I believed that I was going to die if I didn’t have him back. One day, though, I decided that it was time to completely change my mindset, and it’s the best thing that I’ve ever done. Instead of searching for the negative day in and day out, I decided to really change my perspective and look at the positive things that are coming from moving on with my life without a man in my life.
This is when I truly started to see beauty in everything around me. I started to see the good things in life, the things that I could hold into to shape me into a beautiful soul. Instead of looking at our breakup in the “How will I survive without him” way, I changed my thinking to “If we wouldn’t have broken up, I never would have done what I needed to do in order to fight off my demons.” The entire situation with my ex made me realize that I wasn’t as happy as I thought I was within our relationship. I thought that he was the love of my life, but I realized that I’m not ready to meet the love of my life yet.

I’ve learned that it’s okay to be young and dumb. It’s okay to make bad decisions occasionally. It’s what helps you grow into yourself. It’s what helps you decide the type of person that you’re going to be.
I’m living my life freely. I’m not planning anything out anymore. I’m getting to know new people and getting to know myself for who I truly am and what my heart truly wants. I’m not listening to the people around me who are saying: “You will never be successful unless you go to school. You don’t have the money to move away and make it on your own. You will never be able to [insert whatever it is here] unless you go to college first.” blah. blah. blah.
None of those things are true. I just don’t live my life as a robot. I live my life for myself. I do what makes me happy in the moment, and honestly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I promise you that if you live your life with spontaneity and do what makes you happy and not worry about anything or anyone has to say except you, then you will experience life for everything that it is.
I’m so much more appreciative of everything and everyone around me. I am learning to be empathetic. I’m learning to see beauty in the darkness. I’m learning that being an optimist truly changes your mood. The way that you think truly matters when you are searching for the right road to take. I’m learning to be free, I’m learning to be me.

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Letting Go of Control

I was sitting at my piano the other day trying to think of a song that I could play and sing to take my mind off of some things that were happening. Most of the time, my go-to artist for situations like this is Paramore, simply because their music is simple, yet powerful. I chose to sit down with the chords to a song off of their latest self-titled album called “Last Hope”.

When I first started to sing the song, I realized instantly that my heart was filling up with emotion. I had heard this song multiple times since the album has been released, and honestly, it’s one of my favorite tracks on the whole album, but it didn’t dawn on me how accurate the lyrics were to my life until the moment that they came out of my mouth.

I don’t even know myself at all
I thought I would be happy by now
But the more I try to push it
I realize – Gotta let go of control

Gotta let it happen
So let it happen

This is the first verse in the song, and after singing it, my heart immediately filled up with sadness and self revelation. After being engaged for the previous 1 1/2 years, I really didn’t think for a single second that I could be where I am right now. I never thought that we would be apart. Honestly, I thought that we would be married by now. But we aren’t.
Within the past month or so, I’ve been doing everything that I could to “win him back”, because I truly believed that it was our destiny that we end up together. However, because of my heartbreak, because of my constant rejection from the one person who I love the most, I have also made some decisions that I shouldn’t have made by seeking out the attention of other men. This reaction is completely normal for a lot people, though, so I’m not going to sit here and beat myself up over the mistakes that I’ve made, because there is no point in that. What I need to realize, though, is that the attention of another man isn’t going to take away the pain I feel because of the absence of another man. I’ve been doing a lot better with this realization as of recently, and I’m trying really hard to do what I need to do to.
Another realization that I had, is simply that “letting go” is what absolutely has to happen in this situation. Not just with me, either, but with my ex-fiance. At this point in time, there is no reason for us to speak to each other. He feels so much resentment and hatred towards me because of all of the problems that I have caused in his life, and rightly so. The more we continue to communicate, and the more that I try to push him to forgive me and take me back so we can fix all of our problems, the worse both of us feel. So, what’s the point in even talking to each other at this point in time? We obviously both still care so much that we don’t want to fully let go, and we are both completely in denial that that is, in fact, exactly what needs to happen.

It’s just a spark,
But it’s enough to keep me going.
And when it’s dark out, no one’s around
It keeps glowing

These powerful words are the chorus to the song “Last Hope”. Words cannot even begin to describe how much I can relate to this. Every single day, I find something new to hold onto. Sometimes it’s something very, very small. Sometimes it’s just a simple “I know I will make it through this.” Other times the spark is a little bigger than that. Either way, I find something positive to hold onto every day that helps me remember that I will not feel this hurt, rejection, and shame for the rest of my life.

Every night I try my best to dream tomorrow makes it better
But then I wake up to the cold reality
That not a thing has changed

But it will happen – Gotta let it happen

After I come home from work or a night out with my friends and settle into my house with my dogs by my side, the sadness starts to creep in. It almost never fails. Sometimes it’s a lot worse than others, but it’s always there nonetheless. So what else do you do when you’re emotionally and physically exhausted? You sit and you think to yourself “I’m just going to go to bed. I will feel better when I wake up.” That statement is bullshit. Sorry for the language, but it’s true. Going to bed and waking up the next morning never fixes anything, simply because even though it feels like you’re erasing your problems, you’re really not. When I wake up in the morning, my heart instantly starts racing again. The pressure reapplies itself to my chest before my feet even hit the ground. The thoughts of my love start pouring in, and it’s like I am starting the healing process all over again. You would think that it would lessen with time, and I’m sure that with enough time, it will. However, after a month and a half, I haven’t seen a difference in it at all. I still wake up feeling like I’m going to die. I still feel like nothing will ever go right for me, because it’s not what I deserve. That’s what I’m being told over and over again by the person that I love the most. I’m being told on almost a daily basis that I am a terrible person, that I should lose sleep over everything I have done (which I do), and that I deserve to be miserable for the rest of my life. When someone that you admire so deeply tells you these things, it’s hard to not believe them. It’s hard to be like “No, you’re wrong. I am a human being and I deserve to be happy whether it be with you or someone else.” So then that reality sets in and I start to dwell on how he’s right. He’s 100% right and I will never be happy. But no, it will happen. The sleepless nights will subside, along with the heartache and panic attacks that strike me out before my feet touch the ground in the morning. It will happen, I just have to let it.

And the salt in my wounds isn’t burning anymore than it used to
It’s not that I don’t feel the pain, it’s just I’m not afraid of hurting anymore
And the blood in these veins isn’t pumping any less than it ever has
And that’s the hope I have, the only thing I know that’s keeping me alive.

I will never forget the first time that I listened to this song. My friend McKenzie and I were driving around listening to it, and both of us immediately shed a few tears at these lyrics. Whenever Hayley Williams sings them, you can tell that she is pouring her entire heart out into them. As you all know just from previous posts, I admire when I can really and truly feel the artist’s heart through their music. However, these lyrics now hit pretty close to home, along with the rest of the song.
Throughout my ex and I’s entire relationship, we were both hurting. We were toxic. We loved each other so damn much, but it was almost like I didn’t know how to love him. I didn’t know how to make him feel like he was wanted, and that’s the most important thing that you can do for someone in a relationship. All I needed to do was make him feel loved, and I failed miserably.
Everything in my life is the exact same that it was before. I’m not deathly ill, even though some days, it definitely feels that way. My blood is still pumping through my body, and I am still living my life. Knowing that, I realize that there is no reason why I won’t make it through this. It’s sad to think that I have actually sat down and genuinely wanted to die because of this situation. I’ve sat down and thought to myself that I wouldn’t be okay, and that nothing or no one could ever even begin to compare to the love that I had for my ex. If I couldn’t have him, I didn’t want to live anymore, because life without him wasn’t a life. It was torture. Yeah, all of those things are true in this moment in time. Definitely. However, I’ve decided to put on my big girl pants and try to let go of control. I realize that things will get better. I realize that he needs time to himself to become happier and independent. I realize that he needs a lot of time in order to move past his hatred that he has for me, that he needs time to forgive me. I also realize that once that forgiveness happens, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he and I will end up getting married and living happily ever after. Things for my ex and I really could be over for the rest of our lives, and I’m slowly learning to be okay with that reality.
I’ve told him time and time again that I’m in love with him and that I will do whatever I have to in order to prove to him that he is the love of my life, and that I will win him back. He’s told me over and over again that I need to do that for myself, and who knows? Maybe one day it will happen. However, once he sees me start to move on, once he sees me with a smile on my face, it’s almost like he freaks out. He tries to tell me that because I’ve told him how much I love him and how I will prove it to him, if I start to move on in any way, that means that “he isn’t worth the wait” and “everything you said to me was bullshit. Again.” I just wish that he would understand that that is not necessarily true. I wish that he would realize that in order for me to be okay, I have to let go of the “we will be okay and end up together” mindset in order to move on with my life. If I don’t, I will spend the rest of my life waiting, hoping, and wishing while he continues on with his life and his new girlfriend. It isn’t fair to expect me to sit around and have that mindset. It isn’t fair to expect me to wait.

The fact that I’m saying any of this is huge progress. Having the realization that the best thing that I can do for not only myself, but also my ex, is to let go and live our lives separately is the biggest step that I have taken through this whole process. Having that realization doesn’t mean that I love him any less or I don’t want things to work out, it just means that I’m doing what I have to do in order to let go and let my life play out the way that it’s supposed to instead of trying to force it to play out the way that I thought it was supposed to. My destiny isn’t for me to decide. That’s the beauty of it, and fighting it does absolutely nothing at all except make your life worse. I know that I will be okay. There’s a spark inside of me that will not burn out, and I am adding wood to it every day and hoping that it ignites sometime soon. I have hope that it will. The mistakes of my past do not dictate me as a person or what I deserve in life. My life has a beautiful future, and all I need to do is hold onto that truth with every ounce of strength in my body.

Heartache is no Joke.

I’ve realized recently that it isn’t socially acceptable to be heartbroken. People seem to forget about the pain of heartbreak until they are in position themselves. They look down onto you, expecting you to be okay within that very second. They just don’t understand that sometimes “You have to get over it” is just not a logical thing to say. “Getting over it” makes no sense in that moment. “Getting over it” seems damn near impossible. Yet, when you explain that, 9 times out of 10, all you receive is either silence or the classic: “I don’t know what to tell you. All things get better with time.”

What people seem to forget is that heartbreak is a physical pain much like hunger. When you go too long without eating, your stomach starts to have this constant growl and ache. Sometimes it’s easy to ignore, yet at other times you absolutely have to put food into your body otherwise it feels like your stomach is starting to digest itself. Unfortunately, with heartbreak, you can’t just sit down and eat a gallon of ice cream and magically feel better like people expect you to.
I’m not sitting here saying that I wish people could understand what I’m going through, and I’m also not saying that a single person has ever felt this way before. We’ve all had our hearts broken. Some of us with breakups, some with death, and some with a different kind of loss. However, once time passes and the aching slowly goes away, it’s almost like we forget what it feels like to be in mourning. Is it weird of me to say that I never want to forget this feeling?

I’m sure that most people are going to find that very confusing. Why on earth would I want to remember this pain? Honestly, there are a few reasons. The first one is simply because as human beings, we are here to embrace the life that has been given to us. We are here to live, breathe, thrive and feel everything. That might sound pretty “hippie” of me, but this new way of thinking has helped me move on with the recovery process of every ounce of pain I feel.

The second reason is a little more personal, and I will try to not bore you with the gory details. The reason why I lost my previous love is because the timing of our relationship could not have been worse. Between my severe anxiety and depression disorders, there were also issues lying deep in my being that I would have never confronted if I hadn’t been to therapy recently. Because of these things, to say that I treated my fiance badly is an understatement. I treated him terribly. When I look back, I can’t help but think “Damn. He held on so much longer than I ever would have.” Constantly fighting, constantly making him question his self worth, constantly leaving him, and more things that I personally don’t want to have plastered all over the internet, but obviously he should have left me long before he did. All the time that I’m treating him this way, I had no idea that I was as unstable as I truly was. I really had no idea just how far down the hole I had fallen. The pain of this heartbreak will always serve as a reminder to never lose myself again. The guilt that I feel for pulling him into my life when I was so clearly unstable is crippling. If I could go back in time to the day that I met him, I would turn the other cheek and never have talked to him, simply because how I treated him was so badly. But, while talking to one of my friends about feeling this way, they said something to me that really helped me get through a pretty bad time. “Being unstable doesn’t make you ‘the bad guy’, it makes you young.”

I constantly find myself trying to figure out my entire life instead of just letting it pan out the way it’s supposed to. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and I’m also the type of person who needs an answer for everything. Why did it happen this way? Why did they ever walk into my life? Why did I fall in love with him the second that I met him if it wasn’t meant to be? Life is unfair. Because I fell in love with my ex-fiance the second that I laid eyes on him in high school, I was absolutely sure that we were going to be together for the rest of our lives. That’s the only outcome that made sense. I’ve started to realize that sitting here and questioning why it happened and why it failed, I should just be glad that because of this relationship, I realized that I needed to reach out to someone for help. I shouldn’t sit here and be distraught over something that I cannot change, but be thankful for the good times that we had together. Life is funny sometimes, and things always have a way of playing out better than you could ever imagine them to. Holding onto the light, and surrounding yourself with those who fill your heart with love are the only things that you can do to get through the hard times.

Listen to Alt-J. The Talent is Immeasurable.

As a musician, I often find myself feeling music a little bit deeper than the average person. I just have a passion for well written music, and I appreciate it when I hear it. Whether that be fantastic instrument playing, or the poetic lyrics. However, I have never quite connected to a song or artist the way that I have connected to Alt-J.

Who is Alt-J? A band who isn’t “well-known” or plastered all over the media. However, they are a rising artist, and it makes my heart swell with happiness to know that people are beginning to recognize true artistry when it presents itself.

The first time I heard of them, I was at a friend’s house. Occasionally one of the more popular songs would play in the coffee shop that I worked at, but other than that, I had never really sat down to listen to them until just recently. There is a song on their most recent album called “Hunger of the Pine” that really stood out to me. I wasn’t even sure why. I couldn’t really understand word for word what the vocalist was saying, but all I knew was that the song was gripping onto my heart and not letting go. It just made me feel broken, hurt, but it a way that made me realize that everything was going to be okay – almost hopeful. So, I decided to watch the music video. Maybe that would help me with my interpretation, right?
The video consisted of one man, running through the woods, and getting shot over and over with arrows. No matter how many times this man gets shot, he perseveres. Over and over… a shot to the leg, multiple shots to the chest, yet nothing is stopping him.
Honestly, this just confused me even more, considering making out the lyrics was still difficult for me. So finally, I looked them up.

Sleeplessly embracing
Butterflies and needles
Line my seamed-up join
Encased in case I need it
In my stomach, for my heart
Chain mail
Hunger of the pine
Sleeplessly embracing
Yawn yearns into me
Plenty more tears in the sea
And so you finally use it
Bedding with me you see at night
Your heart wears knight armour
Hunger of the pine
Sleeplessly
Embracing
You
Realisation grew on me
As quickly as it takes your hand
To warm the cool side of the pillow
I’m there for you, be there for me
I’ll hum the song the soldiers sing
As they march outside our window
Hunger of the pine
Sleeplessly
Embracing
You
Une immense espérance a traversée la terre
Une immense espérance a traversée ma peur

Throughout the contents of this song, he also throws in a little clip that says “I’m a female rebel” repeatedly when the beat of the song swells up.
After reading the lyrics to the song, I completely understood why it was gripping my heart the way that it was. I’m sure that I don’t have to explain to you all what the song means. He’s clearly yearning, aching, pining for someone that he loves very, very dearly. He talks about the amount of pain that he feels from his heartbreak, and then once you put the music video into play, it really shows just how he’s feeling. Heartbreak is a real pain. It’s a loss. It’s a suffering. It really does feel like your being stabbed in the chest multiple times throughout the day. The second that the person crosses your mind – BAM – instant heartache. If you meet someone with the same name – there it is again. When your phone vibrates, and though you know that it’s not them, you look thinking for just a split second that it’s a possibility that they could be talking to you, then you realize that you were right, they aren’t talking to you, and there it comes again. The sadness. Taking over your body and making you think that you’re dying.
I’ve never had music sit this way on my heart before, and honestly, it isn’t just this one song. Alt-J has several songs throughout both of his two albums that have latched on to my soul. Before I even knew the meanings of the songs, I felt the emotions that they poured into writing them, and that’s so rare in today’s society.

Everyone should really go listen to Alt-J if they haven’t already. They are growing more and more popular as the days go by. They actually just performed on the Jimmy Fallon show the other night, and it was amazing. Give them a chance to sing beautiful music into your heart, because it’s rare that talent like this presents itself to the media. Take advantage! For your own sake.

Better to Love & Lost than Never Love at all.

Recently my life has taken a tragic turn. As I have written about previously, I was engaged for about two years to a man that I very much adored. I wrote about my day-to-day struggle of my emotions flip-flopping more than the average persons. One day I would be head over heals in love with this man, and the next, I would be leaving him because I wasn’t happy. About a month ago was our last and final breakup.

During this breakup, I decided that it was time for me to reach out for help. Michael had told me time and time again that I needed to go to the doctor because he felt like I had bipolar disorder. During my negative episodes, though, I didn’t want to believe him. I honestly thought that he was just trying to make me feel absolutely crazy. I thought that Michael was the bad person in the relationship and that he couldn’t take the responsibility that needed to be taken in order to fix things between us, and that he was just trying to pawn it off onto me. This was the only explanation. I had lived my entire life up until that point with no problem, right? So why in the hell would bipolar disorder be showing up now?

After my appointment with my psychiatrist I learned that I actually did not have bipolar disorder. She explained to me that when someone is bipolar, their episodes don’t just effect the people that they care the most about, but even random strangers. Because my episodes where strictly to Michael and my mother, she explained to me that I have a major anxiety disorder. Basically, because I feel like those people were going to be there for me for the rest of my life, I felt like it was okay to make them feel not important and not really even realize when I was doing it.

Realizing that I’ve lived my life with this problem going untreated has really been difficult for me. It’s raised so many questions. What would have happened if I would have reached out for help before now? Would Michael and I still be together? But then I take a step back and realize something more… I do love Michael. More than words can describe. Seeing him move on with his life, finding another girlfriend not even two months after our breakup, it’s been difficult. Letting go has been nearly impossible for me, however, I have to realize that for the past two years, I’ve made him unhappy. Now, that he’s moved on, he’s found true happiness. No, it’s not with me, and yes that hurts tremendously, but all I can do is smile knowing that he’s happy.

Sometimes life throws curve balls at you. It’s unfair, and they hurt. But laying down and letting them get the best of you while you mope around in your own self pity does absolutely nothing except make the situation worse. All I can do at this point in time is move forward with my therapy and medications that the doctor has given me, and pray that God gives me the strength to move forward. I’ve already came so far in my thinking, so there’s nowhere else to go but up from here.

Music is Art, and should not be Prideful.

After this past year’s Grammy award show, I have had such a bad taste in my mouth about today’s hit music and top artists. I did not realize how difficult it is for most people to recognize and appreciate true talent. As I am sure most of you heard, Kanye West decided to pull another stunt where he took it upon himself to walk on the stage in order to express how he felt about an artist winning a big award. This time, instead of Taylor Swift, West “pretended” to interrupt Beck’s acceptance speech for album of the year, stating that Beyonce was more deserving of the award.

I remember when Beyonce released her most recent album, because she kept it a secret from everyone (including many people that work for her label), and did not tell a soul until the album was released on iTunes. This was the first time that that has ever been attempted in music history, and the album sold millions of copies. She also restricted single track sales for a week or two so people were forced to buy the album in it’s entirety, claiming that people needed to listen from start to finish so that they could fully understand the story of the album.
Looking back, I can fully appreciate what Beyonce did and how risky it was not advertising the fact that she was releasing an album, because marketing is extremely important in today’s industry.

Now let’s take a look at Beck. A man who plays 17 musical instruments, and who has written every song he has put out himself. Beck has been around for over a decade now, and he’s clearly not slowing down. Beck has toured the world with many headlining tours, and once even toured with Johnny Cash. Beck wrote, produced, arranged, and recorded his entire album all inside his own home.

The Grammy’s are the biggest night of music every year. The Grammy’s are filled with class and high end people who gather together to celebrate one of the greatest gifts that we have in human life. Music brings people together in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine. Looking back into history we see that slaves used to use songs to communicate with each other. Music holds a special place in all of our hearts, and it’s something that deserves to be celebrated. When someone as talented as Beck comes along, he deserves to be appreciated for he is a true artist. Beyonce, on the other hand, has many other people write her songs for her, she doesn’t produce her albums herself, etc. Now I’m not saying that Beyonce isn’t talented by any means. If anyone loves Queen B, it would be this girl, but I also know when to recognize someone as a true artist when they deserve to be recognized.

It makes me so sad to see today’s society ripping true musicians apart, and giving glory to those like Kanye West, who literally view themselves as Gods. Someone who so clearly thinks he and his friends (Jay-Z, Beyonce, etc.) should be held higher than the others around them because they are so popular, but popularity does not define true artistry. We see that when we look at some of the people in Hollywood today like Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton, the Kardasian sisters, etc.

This is just something that has truly been weighing on my heart, and I needed to express it.

…and we pretend that racism doesn’t exist.

Living in West Virginia seems to have both it’s advantages and disadvantages, as would most places. It’s absolutely beautiful here, and there’s a sense of community unlike anywhere I’ve ever traveled. However, sometimes there are people who ruin that by sticking their noses where they don’t belong.

Racism in West Virginia has recently been proven to be a real problem. I’ve just recently learned that in the county bordering where I live, a interracial couple have been experiencing some issues with someone that lives in their neighborhood. The couple owns a small business, and when they went to talk into work one morning, they noticed that someone had spray painted “NIGGER LOVER” across the building. To me, this is childish and completely unnecessary, as it would be to most people. What troubles me, though, is that there are a select group of people that not only feel this is justified, but also find it comical.

I have a very close friend named McKenzie, and she is in a situation like this, and so I see every day what it does to a person to receive negative comments every day about being in a interracial relationship. McKenzie has a boyfriend named Brandon, and well, the two fit together like pb&j. Brandon is African American, he’s a rather large guy considering he was part of West Virginia University’s defensive line up until this past football season. Their personalities fit together almost seamlessly, and honestly, I have never seen her so happy with anyone in her life. I’m so proud of her and all that she has accomplished. She has been through so much within the past few years, and now she has finally gotten a good job, became truly happy with herself, and found a man to share that happiness with. You would think that everyone who knows and loves her would be supportive of this, yet her entire family except a very select few, make snide comments and tell her what a terrible person she is for dating a black guy every single day.

It truly makes no sense to me. Why on earth would someone’s family not be able to see true happiness solely because of the color of someone’s skin? I can only imagine what it would be like to have that argument every day of my life. It would be enough to make a person crazy.

What is even more insane to me, is that when you bring up the fact that McKenzie’s family is racist directly to their face, they will look you in the eye and say that they aren’t racist and that they have no issues with black people. So explain to me what racism is then, if it’s not automatically hating your daughter’s boyfriend who treats her like the princess she is, solely because of the color of his skin.

I guess what I am getting at here is that I would like to say that I admire people who have the courage to be together regardless of race in this single-minded, ignorant world we live in. It really does take courage, and I think that it’s amazing. I would also like to say that I am in love with mixed babies. They are the most gorgeous children, and 99% of people would agree with me, even though they are close-minded to the couple that made the beautiful child. So guys, keep doing what you’re doing. The race of the person should never matter when it comes to true love, and if it does, then you should probably just choose to keep your mouth shut about the subject, because nothing that you say can counteract the love that people share. Get your head out of your ass, America!