Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Last 10

I've been doing a lot of reading lately. One of the most important parts of improving your writing skills is to read...a lot. So in the last 4 months I have read 10 books. That may not sound like a lot but considering all of my school work and my internship, I think 10 is good. So I'm taking the time to give a little review of the last 10 books I have read. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn- This classic was fantastic. A good writer has to be able to tell a good story and this was a great story. It was well written and you connected with the characters immediately. When I was done, I realized why this is considered a classic. I would definitely recommend it. I couldn't put it down. I didn't want to. A Purity Myth- I usually don't read a lot of nonfiction but when I heard about this book on Anderson Cooper's show, I had to read it. The purity myth discusses purity balls. During these balls, young girls promise their virginity to their fathers until they are married. Jessica Valenti presents an intelligent discussion about the sexualization of girls in our culture. She makes the argument that by basing a woman's purity on her virginity, we are perpetuating the sexualization of young girls. We are making their sexuality the thing that defines them which can be dangerous to the development of their identity. I found the book an easy read and extremely intelligent. Cat of the Century- Okay, so this isn't a Pulitzer Prize winner. But it is a fun and interesting read. My mom bought me this when I was in the hospital. I have a cat named Boo and I love him. So my mom thought this book would be perfect. If you want an easy and relaxing read, pick it up. Back to Work- This was one of my other endeavors into the world of nonfiction. This is a book written by Bill Clinton about what can be done to get the economy going again. It was insightful and full of good ideas. It was nice reading what a former President, who actually did bring the country out of recession, would do in this current situation. It provided a much needed perspective concerning how to improve the economy. That Used to be Us- This was a book assigned by my Policy professor. It discussed how the United States has gotten to its current state. There are too many discussion points to mention in just a few sentences, but it did spark intelligent conversations in the classroom. The basic premise is that we need to change how we invest in this country. We need to turn our attention to improving education, creating clean energy jobs, reducing the deficit, and investing in infrastructure projects and research and development. These investments is what got this country to its current state of greatness. Now we have to go back to that in order to improve our current situation and put us back on the right trajectory. The Marriage Plot- I loved this book. I absolutely loved it. Now, I will say, there are a lot of literary references in this book that you may not understand if you don't have a background in literature like I do. But the story is universal. It's sort of a coming of age story about recent college graduates. One of them is trying to handle the man she loves who suffers from a mental illness; he has bipolar. I think Jeffrey Eugenides gives such a realistic and in depth view of what it is like being in love with someone with a serious mental illness. I think he tells such a well-rounded and complete story. I couldn't put it down. When I should have been sleeping, I was up reading this book, anxious to know what would happen next. Middlesex- This is another book by Jeffrey Eugenides. The novel revolves around a young man who is a hermaphrodite. What is so interesting is that the physical abnormality isn't presented as something strange or abnormal. It is easy to relate to this young man's story despite the extraordinary circumstances surrounding his life. It is a great story about trying to find your identity and how to cope with life's difficulties. This author actually does a very good job with pacing the story and not having one of those hurried endings. I can't wait to read his next novel. Freedom- Okay...so...Jonathan Franzen. I was really excited about reading this book considering all of the positive things I heard about him. And I hate to say that I was disappointed. I think the book was average. And even though one of the books on this list was a cheesy mystery novel with some cats and dogs as major parts of the plot, I still enjoyed that book more. Maybe I had too high expectations. I think one of the things that ruined the novel for me was the ending. It was one of those endings that was tied neatly in a bow. I hate that. I think he is a good writer but the story was extremely scattered and at some points I thought the plot was all over the place. It was a pretty good book but I truly wanted more. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close- Exceptional writing. Those are the two best words to describe this novel. It could have easily been about 9/11. Jonathan Foer could have easily made 9/11 the focus of the plot but I found myself forgetting about the event and concentrating on the characters. I thought Oskar was so intoxicating as a character. I laughed, I cried and I got angry in this book. To be honest, he was the writer that made me feel a little insecure about my own. He was funny when he needed to be and serious when the occasion called for it. I can't wait to read something else he has written. I would definitely recommend this novel. I was hooked after the first paragraph. The Hunger Games- Again, not a Nobel prize winning novel but it is a good read. The book is extremely fast paced and a lot happens in such a short novel. Sometimes I wondered if it was too quick but I did take into consideration that it was the first of three novels and there was time to learn more about the characters. But, I didn't get invested in them. I think the plot moved too fast for that. But I'm just going to assume that as I read through the rest of the trilogy, I will become attached to Katniss or Peeta. I think it is a good, but not necessarily original, story and the first one made me want to read the rest of them. That is the point after all. This is how I would rank them, 1 being my favorite. 10. Freedom 9. Cat of the Century 8. That Used to be Us 7. The Purity Myth 6. Back to Work 5. Hunger Games 4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn 3. Middlesex 2. The Marriage Plot 1. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close In my opinion, all of that hype surrounding Jonathan Franzen really was just hype. But that hype can unreasonably raise expectations, which is possible. And yes I realize all of the nonfiction are clumped together. But I'm a fiction girl. :) Next on my reading list is to finish the Hunger Games trilogy and then read a book I heard about on NPR called Escape From Camp 14. I'll let you know what I think about those.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I have always wanted to publish a novel. I will always be a writer but being an author was my dream. I worked hard on my first novel and edited and revised over and over again. And then it was time to find an agent. That turned out to be fruitless. I don't know how many agents I sent my first chapter to. I do know that all of them rejected my work. So I decided to take matters into my own hands. Thanks to James, I found a website that will publish my novel electronically for free. I knew that would be the best route. I just finished my Masters in Social Work and will be starting a PhD program in the fall. Because I didn't want writing to necessarily be my paid career, I just wanted to get my words out there. I wanted people to read what I wrote and be affected by it. (I do also have a dream of my book being discussed on NPR) So it came time to hit that publish button on the Smashwords website. The formatting was done. I had done all of the editing I could without being obsessive. (Most writers will tell you a novel is never done. They can always find sentences to restructure and plot points to change. The key is to get to a place where you have done your best). And it took me hours. Took me hours to hit that button. Why? Because that would open myself up to rejection. My words are like my children. I want to protect them. I want to keep the best possible opinion of them. And I know some people will not like my book. I know there will be people who won't connect with the story. I know this and I'm afraid. I'm afraid that this criticism, whether constructive or not, will affect my ability to write. I don't want to lose the confidence in my ability to tell a story. I'm no Philip Roth, Jeffrey Eugenides or Toni Morrison. But I think I'm a good writer. I'm definitely better than Stephanie Meyer (sorry if I offended anyone who is a fan). I just have to have faith in myself. Faith in the thoughts of those who have already read my novel and said it was great. I know my feelings may get hurt but in the business of creativity, it is inevitable that someone will say something critical. I have to be able to read it, figure out if it is beneficial and apply the advice if necessary. I must also believe that there will be more good than bad. That I can tell a story. That if I weren't good and not so motivated to write that I wouldn't be editing my 2nd novel and starting my third soon. One thing I have learned is that you don't have to be destined to just do one thing. I don't have to just be a social worker. I don't just have to be a writer/author. I can be both...and I will. And I can use my passion for writing and helping others. One, I can use my ability to write to make the things I learn about substance abuse treatment available to a lot of people. Secondly, real life makes better stories. And my clients can provide inspiration for good stories (of course I will not break confidentiality). They will also give me insight into what people can relate to. I hope that my first novel does well. I hope that my stories connect to people on the deepest of levels. I hope the beginnings keep them reading and more importantly, that the endings make them want to read my next one.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Empty by Adrienne Baldwin

A clear glass sits
Centered on a table
Stuck to the laminate cover.

Its bottom empty,
Every drop evaporated.

All traces of sweat
From a cold sweetened drink,
Have dried.

No odor
Emanates from its opening.
No lipstick
Colors its rim.

The only evidence
Of humanity’s touch
Are smudged fingerprints
Staining its surface.

It goes unnoticed for days.
Ignored by the dishwasher.
Invisible to a cleaning hand,
And brushed aside for
More important tasks.

It can’t be lifted,
Or removed,
Not even gently,

For it has been
Still for so long
It has melded to its
Supporting surface.

And it sits
Clearly smudged,
While everything around it

Ready to break.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Getting Lost in the "We"

I was single for a long time before my current relationship...like four years. And I was okay with that. I wasn't about to lower my standards just to be in a relationship or not be the only single person in a room. One thing I liked about being single was only having to consider myself in my decisions. Because I know me...I know my personality. I know I have a tendency to put the person I'm with before myself. And well, when this "I" became a "We" despite my independent tendencies, it happened again. And my mom warned me about this. She warned me that in love, it's easy to forget about what you want and what you need for the other person. I've done that. And I can't even blame my boyfriend. He didn't ask me to be super accommodating and considerate. He didn't ask me to manipulate my plans so that they work for him too. Yeah...I wish he would acknowledge it more often, but he didn't ask me to put myself second so I can't be mad at him.
I sit here and I think about my future and he is in it. So much to the point that every night before I go to bed, I think about when he gets off work and plan my entire day's schedule so that I will be done by the time he gets off. So much so that when I decided I wanted to move overseas to Australia after I finish my Ph.D, in doing my research, I found out what would be easiest for him in the profession he wants to be in. I researched how he could do what he wants to do in Australia. And I want to go when I graduate, but he may not be done with school. I automatically just said, "okay...I'll just wait." THAT IS RIDICULOUS!! It didn't cross my mind to ask him to adjust his plans. It is my idea so I feel obligated to do the research, invest all of the energy, make the plans to save money, and adjust my plans because it is MY plan. But I want him in my life so I should be willing to sacrifice for us. Yep...us. I'm not sacrificing for me but for us. And what is he doing?
I am pissed off at myself for being complicit in this. I am pissed because I should know better. In every past relationship I was the one waiting. I was the one being patient. I was the one investing everything I had into something I believed was important. I was the one sacrificing and being the most accommodating and low-maintenance girlfriend on the planet. And they were just being themselves. They were walking around not noticing that in every decision I made, I thought about them. I was the one...making myself less important than the person I was with.
I'm going to have to stop. The "We" has go to go!!! It's nice to picture my life with this person, but it's detrimental to my "self." It overshadows who I am and what I want. I didn't think this was love. I didn't think that in order to be a couple, I had to be compromising. (and making compromises and compromising myself are two different things) It was so much easier when I just loved myself.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Managing my Life...Not Just A Disease

I almost died. Yes...I almost died. Seven years ago I was put in the hospital with a blood glucose of 965; normal is between 60 and 100. After my five days in the hospital and learning how to check my glucose level, give myself insulin shots, and learn new nutritional habits, I was sent home to now manage my new diagnosis of type 1 Diabetes. It is scary sitting in a hospital bed while you are waiting to be discharged and have a doctor tell you that you almost died. It's like now I have to spend the rest of my life trying NOT to die.
I was sad after getting Diabetes. It was and continues to be stressful, frustrating, aggravating, and imposing. Sometimes I sit in my bed and wonder if I really will have to do this for the rest of my life. I ask God for stem cell research to advance in my lifetime so they can finally have a way to regenerate insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Every three days I will have to fill a reservoir with insulin and stick myself with a needle. Every day I have to think about the carbs in what I'm eating, and if I don't know the specific number, take a guess. I have to think about doing what I can so that one day I don't have to have a limb amputated or become blind because I didn't manage the disease well.
Sometimes I feel like I'm being punished. There is nothing I can do about this damn disease besides treat it; there isn't currently a cure. I want to live a good life. I want to be as healthy as I can, and so I have to make sure to manage my blood sugar levels. And honestly, it's a never-ending struggle. Managing diabetes becomes more difficult as I get older, so if I don't keep it under control now, it will never be. And let's not talk about the potential dangers and complications when I have children. I don't even want to think about that.
My endocrinologist told me that losing weight would help in managing my disease. (It's interesting that I call it my disease. I own it; it doesn't own me). I have type 1 so it wasn't brought on my weight issues. But, the less you weigh, the less insulin you need. Because guess what; insulin makes you gain weight. So the medication I need to live makes me gain weight, which is completely counterproductive. So now on top of the insulin I take Symlin. It is a medication that does a couple of things. First, it slows the emptying of my stomach so I get full quicker and eat less. And, it only allows half of the sugar I consume to be absorbed into my system. So it helps me lose weight in more than one way. The only bad side effect is that if I eat too much, I will feel bad, like painfully full. Also, the first few times I took it, it made me nauseated. (That doesn't usually happen anymore) So in order to combat the negative side effects of the medicine I need to live, I had to add another medication to my regiment. Sounds fun doesn't it.
Now, the rest of the time I feel like this disease has been a blessing. One thing is that I am definitely more conscious of what I eat. I don't eat healthy 24/7, but even being more aware of it has made me be more careful about how much of anything I put into my body. So many times we go through life on automatic; we do things without even thinking about them. I started just being more aware of my eating habits and that increase in awareness has trickled down to other parts of my life. I feel like I've become more conscious of my existence.
When I eat something now, I look at how much insulin it is going to take to keep my blood sugar normal and I ask myself "is this piece of double fudge chocolate cake the size of a small plate worth it?" The answer is usually no. So guess what...I eat a few bites. (You thought I was going to say no to the cake altogether right?) My doctor never told me I had to give up the things I loved to eat unless I was just completely incapable of self control. I gained self control and now I can have a few bites of cake and be fine. Actually, while writing this blog I was eating some candy corn. A serving of candy corn is 20 pieces so I took the amount of insulin I would need for twenty pieces. After I had the 10th piece, I was done. I'm trying to lose weight so I'm reducing the sweets. The most I eat of any candy is one serving; most times I just have half. As a result, it doesn't take that much sweet to satisfy my sweet tooth anymore. The only reason why I kept eating was because I had already taken the insulin for it and I didn't want my sugar to crash.
There goes another bad side effect to diabetes. Let me tell you...I much rather my sugar be too high than low. The feeling I get when my sugar is crashing is awful. I often can't move because any movement makes me feel like I'm going to pass out. I also get very quiet and very still, and I am easily irritated. The irritation comes from just wanting to feel better again. It also becomes hard for me to breathe. My mom gets the shakes really bad but I don't get those. And after my sugar has returned to normal, I get very tired and sleepy. It's like my body has expended all of its energy trying to return to homeostasis and there isn't any left.
So seven years after diagnosis, I am reflecting on what I have learned. I have definitely learned that a little inconvenience, no matter how annoying, is worth my life. I've learned that I can manage this disease and I have the confidence to do it. And I've learned that it's okay to get annoyed that I have a disease that will potentially be with me for the rest of my life. And I'm finally okay with that...maybe. :)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Did You Miss Me?

I haven't blogged in forever. I missed it; I believe it brought me a sense of peace because I was able to vent and put into words my frustrations with this world, my government, other people etc. Well, I am going to make a concerted effort to blogging again on a regular basis. I know not many people see it or read it...but perhaps something I say will resonate and affect someone's life in a positive way.
What have I been doing?
One, I finished the rough draft of my novel. Yes...you can give a resounding hooray. Now, the annoying part. Writers love to write, but most writers don't like to edit. You create something. Finishing that creation was a task itself. Now, you have to go back and find all of the things that are wrong with it. And if you want to publish, you have to struggle between what would get it published and maintaining the integrity of your work. It isn't easy and finding the balance is essential. I hope to be done editing the first draft by the end of this month and then search for an agent. Which, after some research, has become daunting. There are so many agents out there I don't know where to begin. Luckily, I have an awesome former English professor who is helping me.
Secondly, I started Graduate school Yes...go ahead...give it another hooray. :) The hardest part hasn't been the material itself, but learning to manage my time again. I enjoy the material and I'm a nerd so I enjoy going to class and learning. Despite the having to get up at 7am every Saturday to drive 45 minutes to school, and possibly run into some crazy game day traffic, ROLL TIDE, I still look forward to it every week. Does that make me weird? Also, I've decided to go beyond a Masters in Social Work and get my Ph.D with a concentration in policy. I'm actually excited about the research and writing I will get to do.
Third, honestly, I've been entrenched in my relationship with my boyfriend. I know, it's sad, and I shouldn't let my relationship take over my whole life, but I love him. What can I say? I actually like spending time with him. Isn't that a good thing?
If I'm not doing schoolwork, or working, I'm with him. And I'm not ashamed of that.
Speaking of work, the fourth thing I've been doing is looking for another job so I can quit blockbuster. They just pissed me off a couple of weeks ago and I'm not going to get over it. I was going to stay there until I finished Graduate School, but now, I am looking forward to the prospect of leaving. To make a long story short, my District Manager, who is a HORRIBLE person, forced me to resign from my supervisory position because I'm not available to work on Saturdays because of school. Now, I've been in school since June. You come and tell me that I have to be available on Saturday four months later?! I don't think so. I told the store manager in my interview that I wouldn't be able to work Saturdays starting in June and nothing was said. He said that was fine as long as I had a certain number of available shifts total. When my D.M. interviewed me she didn't ask about my availability or tell me about it. So I reported her to the ethics board. Nothing will probably be done but I did my part and I feel good about that. I actually have an interview tomorrow at Brookwood Hospital. I am totally excited and praying that I get the job.
I really feel like so much has gone on. I am now one year older...my birthday was September 19th. My birthday present to myself was a new tattoo. It is beautiful. It took four hours to do, and it's not completely done, and cost a bit of money, but it was worth it. Besides that, I had a very low key birthday which was awesome.
I went on my first vacation with my boyfriend to Savannah, Georgia. That was an amazing trip. It is the perfect place to go if you just want to relax and chill. I can go clubbing and bar-hopping at home. When I'm on vacation, I want to relax. And eat a lot of good food. And let me tell you, there is a lot of GREAT food in Savannah. We stayed like 8 hours longer in the city on our last day just so we could go to Paula Deen's restaurant. And it was sooooooooo worth it; the food was heavenly. I really want to go back to the city soon. It was beautiful and fun.
I got to meet Michele Norris from All Things Considered on NPR. I went to hear her talk about her new book and it was wonderful. Two hours went by so quickly. She is extremely smart and intelligent. I haven't finished her book yet but I'm working on it.
Oh...and speaking of books...my boyfriend let me borrow this book by Robert Jordan called The Wheel of Time. I'm not usually a fantasy novel person, but I enjoyed it. It took me like six months to read because my life has been so hectic. I will say this though. He is like encouraging me to read all of these books he likes. I just haven't convinced him to read the type of books I'm more interested in. I have to admit, my boyfriend is one of those people who tries really hard to get you to like the things he does. He even tries to get me to play his XBOX. I like video games...but I am definitely more of a Wii girl. :)
I did something else and it is directly related to video games. I don't know if I lost my mind for 24 hours but I actually went to Best Buy with my boyfriend for the midnight Halo Reach release. And...played with a Halo Reach sword. And...wore a Halo Reach beanie. And...hold on...wait for it...I encouraged him to play as much as he wanted. I do believe I lost a few brain cells. That is the only thing that could account for that behavior.
And people...I have decided to move to Australia when I finish school. That won't be for a few years, but I am already excited. I feel like I need to get excited about it now so I will always keep that goal in mind and work towards it. I would need to save some money so it's important that I start working towards that now. And since my Ph.D will concentrate in policy, I can work in a little international policy there too. I think that would make me a valuable Social Worker or professor in Australia.
Now, I will tell you. When I told James, he was all for it. But he is so chill about it, it makes me uneasy. I don't know if it's indifference but I needed a reaction from him and I'm not getting one. Honestly, the only thing I've ever seen him get outwardly excited about was Halo Reach and a new laptop his dad gave him. Oh...oh...and a flat screen tv. So I guess I should have expected a blah reaction. It's just his personality; I can't change that. But I need something.
So I guess I've got you all caught up. I'm doing well in school. I'm doing well in my relationship. I've got some great future plans for myself, and I'm looking forward to no longer being an employee of Blockbuster. I feel like I'm forgetting something. Oh well...when it comes to me I'll just write another blog. :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Let's Just Get Rid Of All The Mexicans

So I've been thinking about this new Arizona law. And...well...no matter how many people tell me it will be effective...I think it is ridiculous and encourages racial profiling. I mean, I thought we had already proven that these types of methods don't necessarily work well. And honestly, if I lived in Arizona, I would want the police focusing their energy on more pressing issues, like finding killers and rapists.
I will say that this measure has only been taken because the federal government has been lax in their immigration reform. But I think this bill is taking it too far and will do nothing to actually control illegal immigration.
Police officers are allowed to ask for a person's papers showing they are legally here only if they pulled them over for something else, like speeding or running a red light. Now, my first problem is that people assume that police in no way shape or form abuse their power. (It's funny just writing that.) And it assumes they won't continue to abuse their power with this new law. (That is even funnier.) I will say, most police are awesome and beyond brave and noble, but some are assholes. I've encountered a few. And it is naive to think that some won't use this law just to exercise their power.
And my major issue will be shown through the following scenario. Let's say you have two illegal immigrants. One is Mexican and the other Canadian. They both get pulled over for speeding. Do you honestly think the police officer is going to ask the Canadian to pull out their citizenship papers? I DON'T THINK SO! The Canadian is going to look "American," whatever that means. So yes, it is racial profiling. There is a focus put on Hispanic immigrants, when there are immigrants from all over the world in this country. They are the only ones being singled out and it isn't fair.
I think the government needs to do a huge reform of immigration. First, I think they need to provide amnesty for the illegal immigrants already here. I know a lot of people think that is ridiculous, but what else are you going to do. I think that would be easier than trying to round up all 20 million illegal immigrants already here and sending them back to their countries. It would also show that America still remembers that this nation was built on immigrants. Unless you are American Indian, your ancestors were immigrants. We need to remember that when we are treating these people like shit instead of human beings. That's it...amnesty will show that America still has its humanity.
Second, the government needs to make the border stronger.
Third, the government needs to make the citizenship process easier and this is what I would do. Remember back in the day when all a person had to do was sign their name on a registry at Ellis Island and that was it? Well I understand that things are more complicated now, but I think we need a modern day Ellis Island along the Mexican border. I think this facility would be a place anyone wishing to come to the United States can go. Officers would run criminal background checks and make sure they have no connections to dangerous drug cartels. They would register all family members coming with them and they would give them a work or school visa, whatever reason they are coming here.
So now there is a number attached to them so they can be monitored. The government should monitor them for six months. They should make sure the person finds a legitimate job. They should make them take English classes. The children will have to be enrolled in school and attending regularly. They have to show they will be productive members of this country. (Unfortunately a lot of American citizens aren't productive but that's beside the point).
After monitoring them for six months and they have kept a steady job, haven't committed a crime, have learned enough English to function, their children are in school and doing well, and have taken the pledge of allegiance, then make them a citizen. And get rid of that damn citizenship test. Most natural citizens of the US can't pass that test.
After that process is done, they are citizens. Do you know how much more revenue the government would have with 10-15 million more people paying taxes?
I think sometimes Americans forget our ancestors were immigrants. I think we forget to be humane and forget they are coming here for a better life. I'm flattered that these people are willing to risk their lives to come here and have real opportunities.
(I get so tired of people saying they are stealing our jobs. No, they are taking the jobs we don't want. I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who want to paint houses for 14 hours a day making barely over minimum wage without health insurance. I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who want to bus tables for barely anything. I'm certain there are so many of you out there who want to cut grass in 95 degree weather for 10 hours. They are taking the jobs many of us think we are too good for.)
I don't think we think about the fact that many of these people are being taken advantage of by employers. They are just so happy to be here and have that chance at the "American Dream" they are willing to do anything. They don't know their rights as employees and are okay with getting treated like trash because at least they are here. (Sometimes it's like they appreciate the benefits of this country more than we do. They are willing to work extremely hard for nothing, and are still happy. Makes me wonder.)
I am so tired of hearing stories about coyotes leaving people dead in the mountains. I'm so tired of hearing stories about coyotes killing people if their families couldn't pay their fee. We need to make the process easier, if for nothing but people's safety.
No matter what country they are from, they are still human beings. They still deserve to be treated with respect. Remember what is says on the Statue of Liberty.
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-lost to me."

This country was founded on the idea of escaping oppression and welcoming anyone who wanted to get away from that life. We pretend we don't have enough resources, but we do. We don't think about how much we waste everyday, especially food. This country is wealthy enough to help people who would be happy with just the bare minimum.
Remember we claim to be the land of opportunity and we need to prove it. We have so much already. Unfortunately a lot of us can only see what we don't have. Why can't we share this beautiful country with others?