Hilarity Ensued.

Okay if you read my last post, you know that I’m rearranging my hustle so I can work. TL:DR version is I’m very tired of providing a whole lot of free content and getting little material support regardless of what I ask for.

Ahem.

So first thing was a lot of sympathy. Messages, notes etc all expressing utmost sadness. I do appreciate it. The writing life is a hard fuckin hustle. Especially for someone like me for LOTS of intersecting simple and complex reasons.

Cool.

What did not happen?

Engagement with material I’ve offered for free and for paid medium users. Nothin. Nada. Fuck all. My current super check from Medium is a whopping zero cents. Between this here lil doohicky, followers at Medium, tweeter etc there are a good few thousand of y’all so honestly sometimes seeing all those juicy zeroes is just…..disheartening.

That said, I do find it dryly (bitterly) entertaining that instead of the free to do shares of shit I get a lot of advice.

Some of it is really bad.

First one, someone I’ve known for literal years suggested I take an internship that is for newbies who need to learn how to get published.

Bro.

BRUH.

HONEY BRUH.

I say this with love. PLS DO NOT GODDAMN DO THIS. Ahem….

I am in fact a professional. I know I am not slinging big dollar bylines but, I do my thing. I’ve been doing it since the late 1990s. I AM AN OLD. I SUBMITTED SELF ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPED WITH TYPED ON A FUCKIN NON HIPSTER TYPEWRITER. I skipped eating to buy stamps and paper. I know how to do publishing.

Yes, wanting to share an opportunity with me is great. However if it comes and it is very clearly not for me, yeah Imma feel some type of way. If it involves moving to NYC on a stipend, NAH I have a tiny family to care for and have a job, if it involves travel I can’t afford it.

Y’alls. I am very very open about my life. I work full time. Yes some stuff has changed since we moved.

Previously, my work days were basically up at 4:45 AM, out the door at six PM,  in the door between 5:30-6PM. Food and bathing and household shit until about 8 or so then attempts at sleep. On a good day I had maybe 2 hours of writing at home before I got too tired.

Currently, I have more time so I’m writing more stuff.

BUT I am still poor. I still have a full time job and a disabled partner to care for. This precludes me doing a lot of things because they cost money, don’t pay and cost time.

I don’t like capitalism but like everybody else I gotta play so I don’t starve to death and die.

Next thing. Do NOT approach me like we’re friends and try to sell me your super best seller marketing secrets. Do. Not. Do.

Look I’m not gunning for sympathy when I talk about these things. I’m open about them because it is a part of the writing life that is hard and just like every other broke fucker with a pen, I’m doing the best I can.

I face obstacles that I want to be open about. Some of them are of my own making. I say that because I have a big goddamn mouth and I acknowledge that my habit of talking about uncomfortable things especially in the context of the lit biz, turns some folks off. That’s fine. I’m not a universally loved flavor of human. Some of the obstacles are because I move around in the body I’m in, with the skin I’m in and that’s just how shit works.

I’m too old to believe that if I just find the magic formula, ALL THE CASH SHALL FOLLOW. I also don’t really want that.

Here’s what I want.

  • Write what the fuck I want.
  • Freelance a little bit with people I trust with my work.
  • Sometimes buy new underpants.
  • Read books.
  • Drink hot beverages.
  • Live.

Thing is, what’s important beyond just wanting to help is taking the extra second to think before you give someone something gross. Don’t insult folks who are in the shit, and know some shit. And yes, you might not mean it but sometimes offering up things that are not possible for people sucks.

Small lit life updates-

  1. Ten subs/pitches out.
  2. Two non response, one form rejection, one warm rejection.
  3. One solicited essay assignment turned in.
  4. MAKE THAT ELEVEN out, I just sent another poetry submission.

I have to go back in time so I can find some stuff to talk to editors I like about. This is the life, I ain’t mad.

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Side Hustle Thoughts.

I’m in a mood. Buckle in.

I’ve been (as always) looking at my hustles.

Before I dive in here is my view. I still don’t like freelancing that much. I’m not a fan of wading through new bullshit with usually White editors who mean well but ultimately exhaust me and I wind up doing a lot of emotional labor I don’t get paid for. I also don’t like publications that let their readership go fucking wild on authors and just delete the posts but not the articles.

There are a small group of editors I trust and some opportunities I’ve been extended. Some of the problem with that for me is, I do not have the ability to do what equates to a bit more than a part time job especially when the pay is not commensurate with an actual PT job.

Okay.

The essential going advice is pretty much Field of Dreams- If you build it they will come. Most advice talks about offering the good content, promote it, make it available etc. I do that and unfortunately as I’ve said and experienced for like a decade, it just does not work for me.

Again, recently at the behest of some folks who were super hype, I reopened my Swag Shop.  And again, not ONE of the people who asked shared it, looked at it or purchased anything.

I know my price points tend towards beyond reasonable. At one point I was offering up about 110K words of fiction, non fiction etc for 11$ and only one person bought it. I have a TON of content I offer for free via this blog, medium etc. I am always very specific about how folks can help out. Even if you can’t drop a dollar, I always ask that things are shared.

This does not work for me.

Quite frankly, I get the most support if I’m having a public internet meltdown about not being able to pay for something and frankly doing the I AM POOR AND PANICKING dance is humiliating and exhausting.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and every time I try with the side hustles it comes down to this. I do a thing, write a bunch of shit or whatever and after a few days when there are zero reads, no shares etc, I feel completely devalued.

I am a Black Queer non binary femme person. I have to deal with being undervalued constantly in my life. From my dayjob to engagement with people, to the thousands of hours of emotional labor I’ve put in around meatspace and the internet, it is something that is just a shadow in my life.

For a few years now I have tried really hard to believe that if I provide the good shit, the good shit will flow back in return. I had a come to Odin talk with myself and really examined my pricing and whatnot. On one hand, folks have told me to charge more for stuff, that I am worth so much more than the few bucks I ask for.

Yet, the proof is not in the pudding.

Here is what I have come to believe now. It doesn’t matter what think I am worth. It doesn’t. The thing is, I can’t pay myself. I also can’t keep getting my hopes up. I am a terribly sensitive flower. I want so much to believe that the work I do can help sustain my life and do some good in the world, when there is just zero interest or follow up it just crushes me.

On one hand, having started in short literary fiction I am primed for rejection. When I’m in submission mode, I eat rejection. But, that rejection is not the same. It isn’t the build up and then nothing. That is the thing that is wrecking me over and over again.

The truth is, like a lot of other marginalized folks, the people who have shown that material support, who have bought my echapbook and stories and whatnot are in the same position I am.

The truth is, I’m not the beloved type of Black person with opinions so the people in the position to do the most, don’t.

They don’t.

And I’m not even necessarily talking about strangers. I’m thinking about people in my immediate circles who I’ve seen elevate other people, triple funded vacations, therapy everything and I can’t get a share of a link?

Y’all.

Real talk?

It fucks me up. It hurts my heart, it hurts my wallet it makes doing the shit I’m good at harder. And to have the idea reinforced that if I provide, others will provide so jammed down my throat, it hurts because obviously that is not for me.

I have to make a commitment to myself that is loving and preservative of my sanity and feelings.

I cannot give space to the whole woowoo idea that the universe (or my community) will do shit for me unless I am doing my poverty dance. I can’t.

I’m not sure what that means in terms of my work and how I offer things. I may just go to submitting only and freelancing a little and trying other avenues of revenue that aren’t writing.

I dunno. All I know is that I can’t keep working so hard and trying to hard and winding up with a deficit of both coins and good feelings.

That’s it for now.

Some Free Advice for Editors. V Eleventy Million.

The partner Uniballer and I almost have our wee fambly moved.

SO Imma talk some shit.

Buckle up babes.

Lately part of me decompressing after doing move related stuff has been research and note taking on what’s going on in the freelance world. Something I keep seeing is bothering the shit out of me.

If you are an editor for whatever publication and are seeking to diversify what you’re doing asking for what you want is great. It is amazing.

How you do it matters.

I’ve seen no less than about ten calls for QTPOC to contribute around places. What isn’t great is when the same editors can’t seem to name or come up with a single QTPOC they’ve published to serve as examples of the work they want. I feel like it leads to some of us side eyeing said editors because, if you have really not published us, why would we trust you with our work?

I had an editor with a call out contact me and on the face of things I was a little titillated. Largeish byline, good money. What I wasn’t so thrilled with was that the subject matter suggested to me had zero to do with what I do. This is an editor I know somewhat casually through friends and when I asked them why contact me with the request and after two weeks now no answer.

Something else I keep seeing is in um, groups of women and women id’d folks and femmes, I keep seeing white women big upping each other or trying to grab at opportunities being offered to QTPOC specifically. Stop.

If you are someone interested in expanding who you publish there are things to think about before you start taking work from folks or asking for it.

  1. Don’t come out of the gate patting yourself on the back.
  2. If you aren’t already publishing QTPOC for example, maybe think about why.

Let’s stop there for a second.

#2 means you have to be about some shit and not just in it to say, LOOK AT THE BROWN PPL I HELPED or whatever white saviour bullshit. #2 means, you have to get very uncomfortable with your own biases.

What biases?

Let me look at my own back catalog of ghostings and rejections.

I have a longer essay that is written as both memoirish, exposure and an object lesson in how we folks in the Black community MUST do better in order to save our children. I use myself as an example. One rejection said that it was “too focused” on Black people and that I should rework it to try and make it more universal.

I said no thank you and how dare you.

Another rejection came after some go rounds with other editors who were not comfortable with some of the subject material. Was it the childhood suidical ideation? Nope. It was me framing the religion of oppressors as part of why my community is fucked up.

Got a note to submit to a magazine “something really intense and personal that you do so well” (not a direct quote) I did. Ghosted for um, let’s say four months now.

Here’s the thing. Don’t ask for Blackity Blackness, or make it known that you are open to it and then be too uncomfortable to deal with it. I had one editor reject that piece because they “didn’t know how to edit it without coming across racist”.

Y’all.

If you are familiar with a writer enough to say, YO I WANNA PUBLISH YOU. Don’t be shook when they deliver.

I’ll be honest and say the piece I’m talking about needs some extra work but y’all, shit is good.

It is rough.

It will make non Black folks uncomfortable and being uncomfortable is okay.

If you are really into diversifying and using your privileged gatekeeping ass position for the good. You can’t just publish the Nice Negroes/Queers/Brown folks.

On one hand, I suppose that when a lot of our most famous voices write in very particular ways, it is very easy to use them as the measurement of what’s good in terms of stuff outside of your lane. It makes sense.

However, stopping at reading the most famous among us is not going to really help you out in the diversifying your editorial stuff. Some of what you find will in fact hurt your feelings. Some will come from folks who might not seem like the type of folks you want to just hang out with or squee about.

So at this point the decision is, is what do you really want?

Do you want the cachet of saying, you published X famous marginalized writer?

Do you want to really start dismantling the whiteness that is the publishing world?

Do you want to take a risk?

That is where you should start before you ask for shit you ain’t ready for.

Experiences like the one above are really a huge part of why I don’t freelance in a more ambitious way.

Frankly, y’alls. I am not famous enough to be acting up like this. I’m not. I’m not famous enough to say no. I’m not famous enough to be so choosy and so mouthy.

I know I am likely as has bee prophecied by others ruining my tiny career. That’s okay. I’ve accepted my role as Purple Lipstick Wearing Loudmouth.

I have some folks I like working with and trust.

So-

Fuck it right?

I Made a Mistake.

I’ve got a story in the works that is as I said on facebooks:

A thing i’m working on is a little post apocalypse, a little sf (very soft) with a little sauce of horror. I feel like it is spec fic. Perhaps even a bit Afrofuturist ish. A thing that I’m almost done with and after that will likely have ZERO idea where to submit because I’ve never read anything quite like it AND it has cis people upsetting things like gender fluidity as the norm and as indicated with spelling and punctuation, disabled people and no portal to or from Whiteness.

Now this is a departure from stuff I normally write but I had this wild ass idea I wanted to play with. I started with the question, what would some working class brown queers do in a post (unspecified) apocalypse where capitalism had resettled itself? I wanted to present a world where there are monsters and things are dark but not one where humanity has been regressed to clubs and grunts and learning to poop in the woods.

I also wanted to play with this idea of a sort of future tinker. But tinker not in a disparaging way, more in the holy shit you are amazing way.

There’s some other stuff but that is the gist.

NOW.

Y’all……….

I fucked up. I did something I have not done in a long time. I joined a small loose crit group and sent over the WIP in the post your WIP conversation.

Shit went fucking sideways.

The cis hets were pretending like it is impossible to understand gender fluidity being signaled by language and punctuation.

The white people (most of them in the group) couldn’t understand that these are Black people because I didn’t put neon signs and AAVE in it.

None of the crits I got were based on weird punctuation I was using, nor was it based on me signalling my main characters using ASL and me denoting it with special punctuation, none of it was based on my hella soft sf and non disclosure of what the monsters are exactly.

It was entirely gender and race.

*Insert the longest sigh here.*

None of them commented on my use of language, or remarked on me asking about the use of X punctuation vs Italics or something.

…………….crickets on literary shit.

Lots of opinions on why my scenerio is impossible that don’t involve shit like zombie references.

THIS is why the fuck I stopped joining such groups. I left a note for the mods and left.

I am close to done with the piece and would like to see it pubbed somewhere good. For to steal a Deadpool phrase, dick kicking revenge.

I dunno. Shit is exhausting y’all.

However-

I am reminded that there are reasons things like VONA exist even if I can’t participate.

Want a bite of the thing?

Here ya go:

“Let’s retire and have some babies. Bae, really? You want to make babies with me?” They hadn’t really discussed the idea, people in their position in life generally didn’t. Babies were a time sink and not really something people who grew up in the Dirty districts of the cities thought about. Sure, they happened sometimes but it was never something to be planned, never something to be cherished. Khalid/a smiled, feeling Viola rumble and yammer her pleasure. Their head turned slightly, one slim brown hand gesturing. “Sweetie, I can’t hear you.” 

PS

My move is still full of fuck and terrible so, posting shall remain erratic until life is less bullshit.

Be That Shit: My Hustleverse

*This appeared in a longer version at Patreon*

Let’s talk about how my writing hustle breaks down by readership, interest and earnings.

First a snapshot of my follow counts across various platforms.

WordPress as of the end of 2017:

631 followers.

7769 Views

143 likes

23 comments.

My most read post was my where to read my work post. https://shannonsdreams.wordpress.com/where-to-read-my-work/

At Medium:

1.1K followers.

At the end of December, I had a total of, 498 reads views, 248 full reads (on Medium views means someone clicked reads mean they spent time and read the thing).

In general, my Medium nonfiction pieces get about a 20-30% read. My fiction or fiction related work on Medium is lucky to get 1-3 reads a month and zero interaction.

So being that I’ve used those the most in 2017 let’s talk about what it has shown me.

In trying to work out how to make my artistic life more sustainable, what to do with my Self Care Like a Boss concept and work and trying to yanno live, I’ve been keeping steady track of what works where, who reads what etc.

Now I am not fishing for compliments here so please don’t, this is what the data has shown me and reinforced over the years.

When I collect up the hard stats on what happens when I do stuff, a lot of the time it doesn’t look good. My fiction and Self-care stuff does terribly across all platforms. My poetry on occasion performs well at Ink Node. Overwhelmingly, when I publish or post work myself, the support of folks who have often asked for said work is nil. No retweets, no shares, no clicks, no reads.

I’ve tried a long list of methodologies and there’s the usual FB fuckery in terms of what shows up when but, there is legit a circle of about 20 or so people who click, read and/or share. The same group for years now and who have mainly been the ones to keep me from ragequitting.

The thing I spent most of 2017 trying to make sense of is this.

If a large number of folks tell me, HEY PLS YOUR WORK PLS MORE!! Or are gassing me up in public but, the actuality of numbers shows me the opposite, what do I do?

This has extended a bit to Patreon. When I was polling prospective Patrons or trying to rather, nobody really answered except to literally on my survey tell me to stop begging. The thing that was really fucking me up for a while was this huge discrepancy in what has been asked of me as a creator and what has been given to me.

For a lot of 2017, this discrepancy left me feeling both used and unseen. This doesn’t even touch the free labor I’ve been asked for in terms of things like FB arguments, random dm’s from white folks demanding I teach them how not to be so racist etc. This feeling comes from my own community at large.

I had to learn to accept a few things.

First thing is that this is a real thing. Years of analytics from way back when I was a semi-popular fat blogger and got a book deal dangled in front of me to the occasional agent related hey I like your work –but- notes from social media etc to these days when I’m sort of methodically shotgunning what I do with work I don’t necessarily believe will sell that, I’m just not gonna be the one if I put it out myself.

After feeling shitty about it, let down and just uh, wrong as in the wrong sort of Black person I decided fuck it. However, as fuck it as I feel sometimes, it still gets me down.

I think for the work I in particular do, this is just going to be a thing.

I’ve accepted that in this particular timeline, my most idealized dreams about what I do with my writing will likely not wind up being sustainable. The biggest component I need for that to happen just is not there for me at all. At least not on the level I need in order to be both sustainable and be able to spend the time, spoons and money on stuff.

So here in 2018 I’m spreading my hustle a bit.

The big thing is I decided not to go ahead with my plans for Self-Care Like a Boss. The main reason is that the level of work it would take for me to get it all the way I want it, and the cost of hosting and paying folks for guest blog posts (another thing we’ll get to why I don’t do so much anymore) was just too much for me to foot the bill.

That decision took months of crying, writing, cryng some more and a lot of bitterness because when I started publishing and talking about self-care, well people went fucking in on me. My first self-care book sold a good number of copies, I still have folks who talk to me about it. The second version wasn’t my best work and I failed at it and thus the book didn’t go well.

That said, when I got the blog going and other things and I wasn’t asking for money the support I was counting on, that I was told from various sources was just not there. Not for merch I designed, not for me presenting that work as an independent creator. Real talk, it was devastating and really made my vision for SCLAB (and the domain I bought) just unfeasible. It was a hard decision but, I had to make it.

Beyond the feasibility, the thing is this. I’ve had to not only acknowledge but embrace the fact that I do not possess the spoons to produce work on the scale that I used to. I have had to really take in and live with this. I may want to provide my community with ALL OF THE GOODNESS I have. But I can’t do that without support. Well let me put it this way, support that doesn’t evaporate when I ask for something.

In terms of production, I’m still doing okay. I write a LOT of shit that never sees the light of day because it sucks. As I mentioned in my blog, I have a roster/short list of editors I’m comfortable with and will be doing some more freelance work this year. I have a pretty clear idea of what I want to pitch/sell and what I want to put out myself.

Some of that work is going to be Old Queer Yelling at Clouds and I’ve accepted that. Some of it may earn me some coins behind the paywall at Medium and any coins are good coins. I am gonna write what the fuck I want to write regardless and I have to adjust my expectations of what that looks like for me.

This is where I want to talk very specifically about y’all.

 

[redacted Patron only section]

As bad as I want to be the high dollar mega super star, I want to write what the fuck I want to write.

I’m learning to work with my output. What’s amazing to me is that unlike in years past, my fiction writing is much slower and more deliberate. Less in the planning way and more in the, I have a goal with a story and am thinking carefully about how to get there way. My non-fiction is kinda flowing far easier. I’ve got subjects on deck to tackle that I’ve been afraid to previously.

2018 I am setting myself free artistically speaking.

I’m going to work the fuck out of my Weird Voice. I’m gonna write and make some ugly shit, some of it will shiny up nicely other stuff well….some stuff just gets put away.

I’ve got a lot of stuff I want to try out creatively and I’m going to because yanno, life is too goddamn short for me to be torturing myself because I fail at being a “successful” artist.

That’s how it is going down.

 

A Few Thoughts on Output

This morning I realized that I have now typed about 100K words or so on my little purple computer (I named her Dinky) and I wanted to talk a bit about output.

On average for every 2k words I produce, the world sees maybe half. That includes blog posts, stuff for Patreon (though, Patreon folks get to see a LOT of naked me talking myself through a first draft), stories, essay drafts, stuff. Poems. A lot of things.

A lot of those things are in fact crap.

They are often things I reread and I’m like:

Me: WTF IS THIS SHIT?

Me: ??? Que?

Me: WAT THE FUCK IS YOU EVEN DOING RN?

Me: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯- I DUNNO. GO WITH IT.

Ahem.

Half of my brain is like, I DO WHAT I WANT FUQ U AND UR PLANS…LOLOLOLOLOL.

That used to be a hang up for me. I really wanted to be a hot take type. Kick down them think pieces and make mega dollars. At least mega dollars in my little world.

Well, nope. That’s just not how it goes here at Shannon HQ and management would appreciate me not freaking out about it ALL the goddamn time.

Y’all real talk, I write some fucking hot ass garbage. And I write a lot more slowly than I used to. And it’s fine.

I’ve learned to accept that yes my process changes and that means I miss out on a lot of shit. But, on the other hand what I produce is exactly what I want to produce so, it is all to the good.

So really what I’m saying like I always say in my loveletters, be cool to your Weird Voice.

Don’t fuck up your process when you don’t have to.

Once upon a time, I thought if I was writing a thing I had to do something with it. At some point I decided that hustling for cash outweighed my need to make art. This led to some decisions I don’t necessarily regret but that I wish I’d given myself more time to do.

I put a huge amount of pressure on myself not only to produce ALL THE WORDS but to have them polished and ready immediately.

Nah son.

I wanted it so bad, I often fucked it up.

So yes, a lot of my published shit isn’t as perfect as it could be but, that’s just writing and it’ll be okay.

Before I go, real quick OMGOMGOMGOGMGOMGOMGOMGOMGAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

My book is shipping today.

Go check it out.

AYYYYYY we OUT HERE in 2018

Ahem.

Hi y’all. I hope the new year finds you upright and feeling not too terrible.

What’s good 2018?

So I’ve been in the background scheming and plotting and writing.

I’ve been making a lot of plans and working up a lot of decisions.

One of the things I’m thinking very hard about a couple of things.

Do I want to divest from a lot of traditional/mainstream lit world shit? The decision has been weighing heavily on my mind for months.

Honestly, 90% of literary pubs just do not cater to, serve or even on teh face of just reading them want shit to do with me. I feel like I’ve fought for the literary community so hard, I have done so much labor and wept and bled and had anxiety attacks and now, I just don’t know.

I’m very torn between my very deep and real love for the literary community at large and the fact that often after interactions,  I feel beat up.

For a while I honestly just thought, maybe my work just sucks now. I suck. I mean, I got fucking doxxed for doing the work in terms of decolonizing and whatnot a writing space. I fall down these terrible shame holes when I check the analytics on damn near anything I do.

I have a BIG ass essay about this and all my real feels but really why do I do this to myself?

I originally had planned on actively seeking out more mainstream lit (remember I DO include freelance work in my saying lit world) world opportunities. And then I was like, why am I trying to put myself back into the same position I was in before? Do I really want to tell myself lies on the level that yes I can do me and STILL get the opportunities?

Nah.

I did some heavy re-evaluating of what I want out of my creative life and here’s where I’ve landed for now.

Truths:

  • I will likely never be a super high dollar writer.
  • I have a sizeable distrust of a LOT of people in the industry.
  • I cannot work with people I don’t trust. I have to do that in the WHOLE rest of my fucking life so, I don’t want to do that with my creative work.
  • The other choices I’m making in my life in order to improve the quality of my lived life can apply to my work.
  • I have worked with some very amazing editors in the past couple of years, all of whom welcome me back with open arms and hearts and who appreciate me as I am.

So what am I gonna do?

  • Write like the mother fucker I am.
  • Continue to write what moves me and not what’s gonna make me money.
  • Continue using Medium as a small income stream.
  • Be a bit less shy about pitching the editors I trust.
  • Continue being adventurous with what I’m doing.

That’s all the fuck I need to do.

All I have to do, is the shit I know I am good at.

The rest, will happen. I have to trust myself and my process and my Weird Voice and my heart.

That’s what is going down.

Soon, I’ll be coming back to nerd real hard again about some stuff. So happy new year babes.

I love y’all.