November 20, 2005

Living Variously

The great affair, the love affair with life,
is to live as variously as possible,
to groom one's curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred,
climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day.

Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding,
and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours,
life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length.

It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery,

but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.

~ Diane Ackerman ~

("found poetry" from A Natural History of the Senses)

I sat sleepily in front of the computer screen deleting the spam in an early morning fog. How many Rolexes and doses of Cialis and Viagara does one need? How many times can I lower my mortgage rate? While acting as my own anti-spam agent, I almost deleted the daily poem that comes to me from someone named Joe Riley whom I do not know. Sometimes I read them but often they seem like an imposition on my busy day. It is not so much that I am really busy, but I just like to hurry. Hurrying makes me feel important. So I often delete these poems, these bits of fluff that are meant to uplift but most often do the opposite, before they ever see the light of day.

I must have been in an expansive mood that morning. I must have felt like my little world could possibly take something in and learn from it. Or maybe it was the title of the email: “The great affair.” “Affair” is always a promising word. So I clicked on the email and opened up to this poem.

“Yes!” I shouted to no one. I knew what this poem was talking about. It was not an “Eureka!” moment when you figure out the answer that you have been searching for. It was more of a confirmation of a lesson that I have been learning over the last six months. It was a concept that I had stumbled on through experience, not through books or words. I had been trying to put the right words to the experience, but I had not been doing it well. Here, in the poem, were the words.

Six months ago I started my RV adventure. It took me to many places and experiences and added energy and vigor to my life. In some ways it made no sense. Before that time I would have told you that I did not like to travel and that I did not like to drive. Both statements were true. And then all of a sudden I was off on these adventures and I did not know why. I just knew that I had to go. And the result was a very jazzed life that I loved.

And here in this poem were the words for it. I was living “as variously as possible.” What a great phrase! The key to what I was doing was not the content. It was the variety. As the poem says, I was grooming my curiosity. I was excited about all kinds of things. I was happy.

I have spent many years looking for the key to happiness. I always thought that if I found just the right combination of activities, then I would just repeat them and I would be happy forever. I must boast about my success in this venture. Over and over I found a set of activities to make me happy – to make me want to get up in the morning. So I would repeat them, but quickly the bloom would die. And I would stagnate. I would be left unhappy, bored and eventually depressed. At some point I would be off looking for a new set of activities, but the result would always be the same. Each time my success was short lived.

I am now living in one of those bored and stuck places again. As the cold weather has settled in, the RV season has ended. Campgrounds in the Northeast have closed, so my RV is shut down and I have shut down with it. But this poem has reminded me of the new lesson that I have learned. It is not about the activities themselves. It is about the process. For me it is about grooming my curiosity which had lay dormant for so many years. It is about following new paths to new adventures. But it is not about either the paths or the adventures. It is about the “following,” the moving, the flow, and the newness.

To live “variously.” That is my challenge. I found a way to do that through my RV. Now I must find a way to do it beyond the RV. I have no idea where it will take me. Wish me luck.

October 20, 2005


“Girls just want to have fu-un.” I can hear Cyndi Lauper singing the song. What about boys? What about men? Can’t we “just want to have fu-un” too?

Having fun is a revolutionary idea for an adult. Sure, it’s great for kids. But for a grownup? Maybe a little bit of fun, but let’s set some limits here. Let’s not get carried away. Maybe on the weekends, after the to-do list is completed.

I have been breaking the rules. I have been riding around in my RV for several months now just having fun. Here are some of the places I have been: Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Chicago and Oak Park, a magnificent glass house, the Farnsworth house, in Plano, Illinois, Indiana Dunes National Park, an RV factory, a museum about Annie Oakley, the Football Hall of Fame, Acadia National Park, Campobello, the Bold Coast Trails in Cutler, Maine, Rangeley Lake, Quichee Gorge in Vermont, FDR’s home in Hyde Park, New York, Gettysburg, Amish country, Hershey, PA, Lackawanna Coal Mine, the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, a maple syrup manufacturing plant, a creamery, and many other places. I have found and visited old friends in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York and Maine. It has been so much fun!

My favorite place was Hershey. I did not visit the theme park, but there was so much to see and do, all in one day. And lots of chocolate to eat. On the trolley tour they passed around a tin full a different type of Hershey Kiss every few minutes. At the end of the day I was just infused with great energy.

Energy. Energy is what it is all about. I did not know this when I started on this RV saga. But I have found that having new experiences fills me with energy. It is strong and passionate energy for living. It expands me. It makes me bigger. It spills over into all the other things that I do in my life. Life goes better and is just more fun.

I have been trying to figure out why these experiences create so much energy for me. My theory is that they take me into “the now.” I hate to admit that. I have been an opponent of “the now” forever. I do not live in the past, but I love the future. So “the now” is an unusual place for me. I do not want to admit that those who talk about the benefit of “being in the now” are correct. But they are right. And I have found a route in that works for me.

But it is all so irresponsible! That is what I tell myself. It is not what grown men do. It is not a life full of purpose. It is not of service to anyone else. It is not valuable. It does not meet the standards of all that I have been taught and that I have taught others.

Is having fun OK? Can having fun be a purpose? It sure feels good. My friend, Jerry Jud, all the time says, “I just want to feel good. Even a worm wants to feel good.” Can a life be built around feeling good? Boy, that is a big proposition. I do not know the answer, but I am trying hard to find out.

And I need more kisses.

June 11, 2005

A Lump Among Lumps

I know only one poem. I have only bits and pieces of all the other poems that the nuns drilled into our heads. It is by Emily Dickinson:

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us—don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!

How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

At the time I memorized this poem, I was trying very hard to be somebody. It was the time of John F. Kennedy and he was our model in the Catholic elementary school. He was among “the best and the brightest.” I wanted to be president some day. I settled for president of the eighth grade, ruling over 50 kids. I do not recall exactly what “ruling” meant, but it made me a somebody.

In high school being a somebody meant being in the right group. For me it was the jocks. I never quite made it and I was always just on the outside looking in. I told myself that it because I was not a good enough athlete, but that was not it. My best friend was not an athlete and he was in the group. I just did not seem to fit.

In college I became dorm president when the first one, the good one, resigned. So what? I did nothing. I desperately wanted to join a residential group. I wanted to be part of a group, any group. No one would have me. I was a nobody.

I can recall many times that I did something in order to be a somebody even though I really did not want the job – secretary of Rotary, town finance committee, etc. All so that I could be a somebody. “There goes Jim the Secretary, Jim the Board Member, Jim the Partner – a real somebody!”

I have shifted. I do not want to be a somebody any more. Now I want to be a lump – just a lump. Lumps are not noticeable – a lump of sugar, a lump of coal. Lumps just are.

Some people strive to be “just another bozo on the bus.” That sounds too active for me, with all that bus riding. That sounds like trying to get somewhere. And Bozo was a big star.

No, I want to be a lump. A lump is immobile. It just sits there. It is a lump among lumps, not particularly noticeable. That’s it! I want to be a lump among lumps. Just a lump – a real nobody.

I’m nobody who are you?

May 20, 2005

Brown Hair, Blue Eyes

I believe in always telling the truth. And the truth was always right there on my driver’s license: “brown hair, blue eyes.” All my life I have been “brown hair, blue eyes.” It is who I am.

My wife and I decided to get passports in case I ever agree to travel beyond a thirty mile radius of our home. Filling out my passport application, I came to the question of hair color.

“What color is my hair?” I asked my wife.

She was silent. That question is the equivalent of a woman asking, “Does this dress make me look fat?” There is no good answer.

“What color do you think it is?” she asked.


She laughed.

I bolted for the mirror. I did not turn on the light because that would have been too revealing. I lowered my chin and pulled at the top of my head.

“It’s brown on the top,” I said. I knew it was. And if my hair is cut correctly, the top falls over the sides, which have some gray or which maybe are gray. Okay, the sides are not gray, they are white. But the top is brown. At least, some of the top is brown.

“Your hair is not brown,” she said.

“Liar,” I thought to myself.

“How about if I write in ‘brown with silver overtones?’ ”

She laughed again. “I don’t think they want that much information.”

“How about ‘brown with silver overtones with volumizer?’ ” My new shampoo gives my very fine hair “volume,” which I desperately need.

She laughed some more.

I recall the first time that I faced the issue of hair color. Twelve years ago I was in California for some training. A group of us were on our way to lunch. While crossing the street a woman whom I had just met asked me, “What color was your hair before is turned gray?” What a question! It had to have been the bright sunlight because my hair was still brown. I hated that woman then and I still hate her now

So you can see that this is still a difficult issue for me. It is not that I care what color my hair is. It does not matter to me that gray hair would indicate that I am aging or that I may, in fact, be old. It does not matter that my older brothers have hair darker than mine. No, none of this matters. I just want to get the answer on the application right. I do not want some border guard refusing me entry into some important country.

I stood over the application staring at the blank, but then walked away from it. I have found that it is better to put off difficult decisions when there is time. I wait for the answer to reveal itself. So I walked away.

But I did not want to be hounded by this dilemma. I did not want to spend the next three days thinking about it. So I gave in. I rushed over to the application and wrote in “gray.”

She made me do it. She made me lie. It is all her fault.

Thank God I still have those beautiful blue eyes. At least I think I do. Let me go look.

April 22, 2005

This Old Jim

Thirteen years ago, at the lowest point in my life, I was in a treatment center. Every morning at the community meeting each person was required to stand and say an affirmation for the day. After the first day another patient, John, a veteran of several weeks, said, “Jim, I have an affirmation for you.” “What is it?” “I’m good enough the way I am.”

I liked it. I repeated it over and over. It was what I needed. It fit. “Thanks, John!”

At the meeting the next day I rose and my mind was blank. I just could not remember that phrase I had been given so I blurted out something else. After the meeting I went to John and asked him to repeat it. This time I said it repeatedly all day. “I’m good enough the way I am.”

For the next two days, the same thing happened. I stood and could not retrieve the phrase. I returned to John for the words and worked hard to remember them. But I could not remember them. Finally, I wrote the sentence down. At the meeting on the fourth day, I rose and read my affirmation, “I’m good enough the way I am.”

I was unable to make that phrase a part of me because I did not believe the words. In my mind I was not good enough the way I was. I could have given you a whole list of reasons. Or maybe you could have just looked at the mess that was my life and known the truth about me.

So I have spent the years since trying to improve myself – trying to create a me that is acceptable to me. Like the houses that are rebuilt on “This Old House,” “This Old Jim” has been under reconstruction. Let’s make Jim newer, stronger and updated. Get rid of his old plumbing and wiring. Put in some new windows and skylights so that he will be lighter and brighter.

How many hours of therapy does it take? How many retreats and workshops? I guarantee that I have already done many more than the average required.

Have you ever lived in the middle of house renovations? If you have you know how wearing they can be. I am tired. I am tired of being under construction. I am tired of trying to get to somewhere else. It is time to live. I just want to live my life.

At what age do you say that this is who I am and I am okay? “I’m good enough the way I am.” How about age 85? Well, certainly by then. How about 75? I am not sure. What about 65? Maybe. 55? Why not? Why not just grab today how I am? Why would I wait another thirty years?

I have given up the reconstruction. What I see is what I get. And it is okay. Please note that I did not say, “What you see is what you get” What YOU see is not important to me. Your approval is not required. That is part of the letting go.

I am no saner today than I was last week, last month or last year. But I am more at peace. I am not searching, grasping and holding on. I am not looking for the next thing to fix a part of me. I am relaxing into what is – reality as is.

I have stopped the fight. The king has not returned triumphant. He realized that the fight was not worth it. Instead he has settled into the forest with his Queen and they are planting gardens and taking naps. He is breathing easier.

April 17, 2005

All Gone to Look For America

by Simon and Garfunkel
’let us be lovers we’ll marry our fortunes together’
’I’ve got some real estate here in my bag’
So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs. Wagner pies
And we walked off to look for America

’Kathy,’ I said as we boarded a greyhound in Pittsburgh
’Michigan seems like a dream to me now’
It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw
I’ve gone to look for America

Laughing on the bus
Playing games with the faces
She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy
I said ’be careful his bowtie is really a camera’

’toss me a cigarette, I think there’s one in my raincoat’
’we smoked the last one an hour ago’
So I looked at the scenery, she read her magazine
And the moon rose over an open field

’Kathy, I’m lost,’ I said, though I knew she was sleeping
I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They’ve all gone to look for America
All gone to look for America
All gone to look for America

The song “America” has been rolling around in my brain since 1968. It has taken up space not casually like many other songs from that era, but it has occupied the space reserved for “unfinished business.” It haunts me. When I sing it to myself, dark and melancholy feelings rush to the surface.

About nine months ago I started to get restless. In my journal I was writing about the need to let go and to create more open space in my life. I had no idea why. I just knew that I had to do it. Now I had a pretty lean schedule to start with. I had more open space than most people. But I wanted more. So I began to give up some responsibilities and cut back on some commitments. I knew that if I created an opening in my life, something would fill it.

I had been threatening to take a road trip for many years – just jump into my car and go. In May I became energized to do it and I headed for Charlottesville, Virginia, the home of Thomas Jefferson. I stayed in a cabin in a campground and pretty much lived out of my car. I loved the “on the road” lifestyle.

I had a great time in Virginia learning all about Thomas Jefferson. I had never been interested in history much, but now I could not get enough. All my life I had lamented the fact that I was not a very curious person. But now my curiosity about many things just started to flow. Something shifted.

And that is how I stumbled onto my obsession: RV’s. I was not looking for an obsession. But I love my obsession and it loves me. For many years I have had a fantasy of owning a small motorhome. I wanted something not much bigger than a car. I did not want a big monster to drive and I did not want to tow anything. I was sure that anything towed would fall off on the highway due to my mechanical incompetence.

This fantasy was about hitting the road. The line “all gone to look for America” was running through my head for almost forty years. The fantasy was about freedom, travel and adventure. It would build upon my experiences hiking and backpacking.

After the Virginia trip I began to research RV’s. I learned way more than you would want to know. I narrowed down my choices and visited two dealers to actually go inside an RV and drive one for the first time. It was not long before I bought an old RV on ebay.

You must understand that I did not do this in my spare time. It took all of my time. I began waking up every day at 4 AM to hit the computer. I became obsessed. A writer, Dan Koeppel, recently said that an obsession “is like an oil spill. It covers everything up and eventually becomes all you can see.” That was me.

An obsession is fine and great if you do not have a life – if you do not have work, family or friends. It is so energizing! My focus could go on an on for hours and days. However, I was unable to be in relationship during this time. I could not be present to anything that did not have to do with RV’s. I tried, but everything else just paled in comparison. RV’s were just so much fun! There was so much to learn! There was always more! My wife said that living with me was “challenging.” She was being overly kind.

My first trip with my new motorhome, “Rosie,” was a great adventure. I picked it up at the airport in Chicago and drove off with little instruction. I made all the mistakes of a na├»ve buyer. At my first campground water gushed out the back. No, it is not supposed to do that. The vehicle needed, and still needs, lots of repair. It is nothing that $1,000 a day cannot cure. Oh well, money is meant for fun, right? And I am having fun!

On my trip back home I visited old friends that I had not seen in years. I stayed in campgrounds under the full moon with the fireflies dazzling. I visited wonderful Frank Lloyd Wright houses. I was off “to look for America.”

The song was released in April, 1968, during my last few months of high school. I was preparing for the first big adventure of my life – going off to college. I would be moving eight hundred miles away from home. I wanted to enter into the world after high school with courage. I wanted to be brave like the young couple in the song traveling across the country. I wanted to taste freedom.

I remember the high of the first few months of college. I sucked in the newness and the freedom. But after awhile, the euphoria gave way to sadness and depression. The album was played often on our turntables and eight tracks. “Kathy, I’m lost,” I said, though I knew she was sleeping. I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why”. My college years were lost and lonely too. These were supposed to be the best years of my life. And yet I was “empty and aching.” And I had no clue about why. In fact it would be twenty four years before I found out why.

My first year college roommate and I lost track of each other after graduation. On my trip back from Chicago we reconnected and I learned that immediately after college he took off for a couple of years “to look for America” by thumb and VW Bug. I asked him why he did it? “Because I was unhappy.” I had no idea that he was so unhappy. We lived together, both unhappy, and yet did not know that about each other.

After college I did not hit the road. I stayed on the straight and narrow path: graduate school, profession, marriage and family. My roommate eventually got on the same path, but much later. He married at age thirty seven and now has small children.

As I was leaving his house in my RV, he said, “Jim, I’m jealous.” He also wanted to explore the back roads.

“But you already did this,” I said.

“Yeah, I guess you are doing the same thing that I did. We just did it in a different sequence.”

But the sequence matters. I am not off “to look for America” because I am unhappy. I see my now sudden urge for travel and adventure as an add-on to my life. I am not lost. I am able to do this now because I feel secure in my foundation at home. I am moving forward with great energy.

And yet there is still a melancholy stream coming to me from that song. The eighteen year old in me still hears, “I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why.” So perhaps there is also a part of me that is still looking for something, still “looking for America.” Only time on the road will tell.

March 17, 2005

Doors of Anxiety

Last week I stepped outside my house and heard birds singing. It had been so long since I had noticed their songs. Where had they been? No, wrong question. Where had I been?

I had been gone for so long, locked up in a struggle with anxiety. All of my efforts were focused on the future and I heard little of the present. I do not have clarity on the number of months that slipped by this way. I was going through the motions of life, doing the best I could, but the joy of life escaped me.

And my heart was closed. When I was anxious, I did not like myself and I did not want to be seen. When I do not want to be seen, I close my heart.

It was like being caught in a subway turnstile. Have you ever tried to rush through a turnstile? You put your token in and push quickly against the bar. It pulls you up short. So you push harder and faster. It does not give. To get through you must stop, have patience and gently push the bar forward. It unlocks and spins forward. In anxiety, I keep pushing harder and harder on the bar, getting more and more frantic. I was stuck.

Somehow I broke free a few weeks ago. Was it the couple’s weekend at Shalom Mountain? Was it a visit to New York City to see “The Gates?” Was it a bit of medication? I do not know.

Was it yoga? I have been going to a yoga studio regularly and frequently for about three months. Suddenly I was breathing deeply again. I was finding stillness and relaxation. I was finding a center. Did the yoga break the anxiety or did the break in anxiety open up the yoga? Who knows?

I have been conflicted about going to yoga. It takes time and a lot of my energy. And it does not add to the Gross National Product. It does not make a difference in the world, only in me. It is not productive. And if it is not productive, how could it have value?

“Productive” and “value” are loaded words for me. I was taught early that in order for me to have value in the world, I had to be productive. For many years I was very productive, doing volumes of work. It defined me. After I stopped working I struggled with my lack of production. So I convinced myself that the real issue was quality, not quantity. I was doing a low volume of things that directly helped people. That was better than a high volume of work that did nothing but produce money. This argument gave me my value back.

When I made yoga a focus in my life I did not fit into the measures of either quantity or quality. It had no production at all. So I was conflicted and I fought it.

At the last Gathering I was deep into a process with a partner in which I was asked, “What is your truth?” I would speak my truth and then the question would be asked again. Each time the answer came from a deeper place. Suddenly I voiced that my truth was that I wanted to make yoga the priority in my life. I felt a rush of freedom and relief. I was no longer bound by production and value. This was true letting go. I knew that my truth was right for me.

Since that night I have been breathing deeply a lot. When people ask me how I am I reply that I am happy. I describe my energy as calm and smooth. They ask, “Who are you and what have you done with Jim?”

I have known intuitively for some time that my life is now about surrender and letting go. But I fight it. I like to take things on. Instead, I am dropping things off and sitting in the stillness. I am providing an opening and watching for what shows up.

All of this is very new. I do not trust it. Part of me is waiting for it to end. I am so used to the three sectioned revolving door of anxiety, depression and living. The smallest section was living as I constantly revolved through the three.

Today I am sitting outside the door. I am not going anywhere. To my surprise, I often smile to myself. I feel blessed. And my heart is open again.

I could not have done this without all of you. I could not have done this without my family, friends, fellow retreatants, walkers on the paths of Central Park, the students at the yoga studio and those at the Gatherings. I could not do what I do in a vacuum. I need all of you to help me through and to continuously call me to love and be loved.

February 25, 2005

Donuts for Sex

You never know when just the right information will hit your email inbox. Atkins Nutritionals sent me the following official information: “Losing weight can improve your sex life.” Seven little words have changed my life.

It thought that things like a weekend of tantra at Shalom Mountain would improve my sex life. But it seems that the key to ecstasy is shedding pounds. I cannot wait to get started.

I have a problem when it comes to dieting. I do not have pounds to spare. So I am going to have to gain weight in order to diet.

This is like the double bonus on Jeopardy. Instead of buying a lifetime gym membership, I am calling Krispy Kreme today. I want a permanent seat next to the luscious waterfall of liquid sugar that cascades over each donut as it comes down the assembly line. A small side funnel should not hurt the flow.

And where is all of the leftover Valentine’s candy? I am ready for it now. How far off is Halloween?

I figure it will take me a week to gain twenty pounds. And then it will take about two years to lose it. Who cares? For two years my sex life will be improving every day. Talk about learning to suffer!

At the end of two years of constant enjoyment, I will have to slink my way back to Krispy Kreme to start the cycle all over again. I will be the one who looks tired but is wearing a big smile.

January 19, 2005

Three Yellow Buses

On my bulletin board hangs a drawing made by a three year old with the caption “Awaken to the Exuberance of the Day.” The usual stick figure and swirl of primary colors were created by me during an art process at a Gathering at least twelve months ago. I do not remember the process. I do not remember the instructions. But I remember the results.

My intent was to create an image of how I wanted to wake up every morning. I am not one of those people who slides out of bed and feels the way to the coffee pot. For them only deep breathing will do until the caffeine hits the bloodstream. I am one of those obnoxious perky people who hits the floor running with a smile and a cheery greeting. At least sometimes I am. On good days I am.

The moment of waking is a crucial part of my day. It is at that critical place that I decide how my day will be. This morning I awoke from a dream in which I was spending my time at work doing nothing, trying to look like I was doing something, and hiding out. How was I going to fill out my time sheets to bill clients if I was doing nothing? Doing nothing at work is hard. I have not worked in thirteen years. Some things just do not let go.

My malaise at work in my dream hit the reality of my awakened state and stuck. Today was not going to be a good day. I did not have any particular word that I attached to my beginning attitude, but if I had had one, it would not have been “exuberance.”

A morning attitude, good or bad, is like a pair of glasses that I put on for the day. Sometimes it comes from a dream. Sometimes it is like a hangover from the night before. These glasses are a filter through which all of the events of the day will be processed. How I greet these events will depend on whether I put on a good filter or a bad filter.

“Good” and “bad” sound judgmental and God forbid I should be judging myself. I have searched for other words. Several years ago I used to wake up every day convinced that the nature of the day ahead was written on my bedroom wall. Up at the top of the beige blank slate was one of two words: “shitty” or “good.” You can probably guess which one prevailed. So you see, good and bad are a step up in my world.

I am learning that there are other worlds out there. Better systems of morning attitudinal adjustment exist. I was wowed by the system of Christopher, the fifteen year old autistic narrator of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon. He counts the cars he sees from his morning school bus. If he passes four red cars in a row, it will be a Good Day. Three red cars in a row means a Quite Good Day. Five red cars means a Super Good Day. Four yellow cars in a row means a Black Day. On a Black Day he will not speak to anyone, will not eat lunch, will sit alone in the corner all day and will take no risks.

I love his system. It is orderly, even if illogical. Even he could see that it was not logical, but it worked for him. Is it any more illogical than my system of looking for words on the bedroom wall? Or just waiting for some lousy attitude to descend?

My system is not working. I am not “embracing the exuberance” too often. Too often my pair of glasses is dark and smoky. So I am adopting a new system. If I see two yellow school buses in a row, it will be a Good Day. If I see three yellow school buses in a row, it will be an Exuberant Day. If I see seven red school buses, it will be a Black Day. Who wants a Black Day anyway? I would miss lunch.

I have more to say about this, but the school day is starting soon and I have to hurry down to the elementary school before I wake up.