Dammit I Don’t Have Time!

Guys! My brain! I just don’t even know. I had a couple of ideas for what I wanted to talk about, but then the day got going and everything went to hell. As it does.

So whatever. I’m not above just babbling, as you well know.

The final round of voting in the Favourite TV actor category of the Reelie awards got underway this morning. Only a couple more categories to go after this one and then it’ll be time to do the live show to announce the winners! Stay tuned for that!

Tim and I are shooting the first of one of the new Mind Reels segments tomorrow after work. This one will be done weekly, or as close to weekly as time permits, so while I fully expect growing pains while we iron out all the kinks, I still think it’ll be a fun little addition to our spate of regular episodes. Getting excited about it, and have even started trying to work out a sort of format outline for it. We’ll see how that goes!

I got approved to attempt another Guinness World Record, which is kind of exciting. Doing this one on my own, I guess, but we’ll see. I kind of want to make some sort of event out of it, and I wish so much that I could tie it into a book launch, or something, but I don’t see having anything ready in time to do it right, so I’ll probably just make the actual attempt part it’s own thing. I don’t know. I haven’t really planned out very much yet, because I just delved into the specific guidelines yesterday. I also found an attempt that was made in April, so I’m using that as the target to beat, instead of what GWR lists as the official record, just in case that other one gets verified in the meantime. It’s just easier that way, I think.

For a brief time this morning, I was seriously considering signing up for a Writing Workshop that takes place in August. I was trying to figure out which manuscript I would work on beforehand to take with me and get some feedback on, but I decided to look into which agents would be there so that I could query my best with someone who might actually be interested. I checked the cost and it’s far from horrible, even with the agent query added on, but the problem is that it’s right before Fan Expo, and there are a couple of once-in-a-lifetime things I am interested in getting done there, too, if I can. Though, to be fair, I don’t know the pricing of that stuff yet, and might not be able to afford any of it, anyway. Then there are all the other things I want/need in the meantime, from a new pair of jeans to more tattoos. I’ll still keep it in mind (knowing me, with all the other stuff already spinning around in there), but it’ll probably end up on the back-burner (with most of the other stuff already spinning around in there). At least this time.

I really want to go, though. There’s one agent in particular that I wouldn’t mind querying, but I’d also definitely want to get it right the first time, with her. What I should be doing is practicing. Actually, I should first be editing and revising and just freaking writing more regularly. Like, instead of just here. I have all those writing projects on the go and none of them are where I want them to be yet. Not even Carving The Light. Yet.

Then there’s crafts I still have to make, another GWR attempt that I may or may not follow through on, a few vague project ideas typed into my phone notes (where I keep pretty much everything) that I desperately want to look into further but as of yet have not been able to find any time. No time.

Speaking of time, I also really want to get the battery in my watch changed. I haven’t worn it in years but have been thinking about it a lot lately.

There’s just so little opportunity to be creative when you’re so busy adulting all the time. Which is particularly annoying when you’re not really very good at either, nor even at finding a balance between the two.

Adulting sucks.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Last night, I finally finished reading my friend’s book, The Summer Of Letting Go. Okay, so maybe Gae Polisner aren’t friends in the traditional sense. I mean, we’ve never met in person. But we met as writers, which is almost as good. And I actually would like to meet her in person someday, especially if such a meeting included her little doggie. Charlie pics and videos have gotten me through many a bad day, after all!

But I digress. I’d already been ugly crying over a particularly powerful episode of Chicago Fire, and then decided to read a bit before trying to sleep. I was closer to the end of the book than I’d thought, though, so I ended up staying up a bit late to finish it. And ugly cry some more.

Dammit Gae!

So, first off, it’s a really good book. I’m not about to write a review of it here, or anything, though (I will, however, try to remember to do it on Amazon and the like), because that’s not quite what this post is about. It’s more about the emotions it brought up in me.

I can’t claim any kinship with the protagonist – my little brother is alive, I don’t feel like my parents hate me, and I’m not a teenager. I don’t have a Lisette, nor a Bradley. Nor a Frankie Sky (though…maybe Brody would fit that bill, a bit). But there is definitely something in the way she blames herself for her brother’s death, and understands and accepts that everyone else must, as well. It’s not even something that needs to be discussed. It just is. She understands it as simply her reality, and the way she interacts with everyone else in her world is a result of believing that they understand reality the same way she does.

There is something innately relateable in that to me. Something powerful that goes deeper than circumstance, and brings up some pretty powerful emotions. That everything comes to a head at the end of the book, and that I chose to read it last night when similar emotions have already been building up inside of me, as well, made it a kind of perfect storm for ugly crying.

It actually still affected me this morning, too.

This sense that someone I love beyond reason, of whom I think very highly, could think far less of me, and in some cases actually hate me, is a feeling I fully understand. I don’t even have to know specifically why. Just that I am inherently detestable to those whose opinions matter most to me. That even if they love me back, at first, that will change soon enough. I don’t even try to fight it anymore. I just expect it, and accept it when it happens.

Even as I type this, I know how it sounds, and I’m sure there are people who think that telling me that’s not the case will impact my understanding of my own inner world in some positive way. It won’t. I know it’s rubbish, on a logic level. But further inside on a level even I can’t see, lurks something else. And writing any of it down isn’t a request for someone to try and argue it. It’s more an exercise in locating words to adequately describe a particular sensation; something which has always been there, and just never spoken about. Until now. See, that’s the thing with writing stuff down sometimes. Having someone else tell me something that lies inside of me isn’t true, or isn’t real, doesn’t actually change anything. Be me giving voice to it takes away its power; like shining a light into a dark corner and seeing for myself that there’s actually nothing there to worry about. Someone else telling me they turned on a light and didn’t see anything means nothing to me. I have to see for myself. That’s how one grows, really. Do the work yourself; don’t expect anyone else to do it for you. And trying to do it for someone else takes away their own voice; their own power.

This isn’t intended to be me saying, “I am unloveable and will never know happiness” or whatever it sounds/reads like. It’s about me admitting to myself that I sometimes feel that way, that it affects how I relate to other people – particularly the ones I want to feel closest to – and that if I can recognize it, put words to it, maybe I can diffuse it.

There is an enormous difference between thinking things in your head when you are alone, and actually trying to say them out loud, or write them down, or what have you. The transfer from vague thought and emotion into something more concrete…it loses something; some of its power. That holds true to really great thoughts and emotions, too, of course. There’s just no perfect way to convey our most powerful inner realities to anyone else, even though we all feel a lot of the same things.

We just don’t all feel them quite the same way.

Which can be frustrating. But when you do get something out; when you see the lightbulb come on in someone else’s eyes and know without a doubt that they get it; that they understand. A crazy kind of connection gets established in that moment, and even if the shared understanding is of something horrible, you know at least that you are no longer alone in it. And that’s worth all the frustration and effort, I think.

As for me…I’m not great at liking myself, usually, so it’s easy for me to believe that those I hold in highest regard wouldn’t, either. Part of me is always waiting for the other shoe to drop, and when it does, I claim that I knew it would happen, because that’s how things go for me. FML and all that.

It was pointed out to me long ago that it’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy to hold back for fear of being hurt if and when the other person stops being such a large part of your life. And I get that, so I try (sometimes) to curb the machinations of the dark beast within and force myself to aim for the lightbulb moments as much as I can. It’s not easy, and I fail more often than I’d like to admit, even to myself. I do get confused about what actually is true sometimes, though, and that’s where I fall into my own trap.

I guess, at least for now, I need to try harder to enjoy the time I do have, and spend less time trying to predict when it will end.

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For Michelle Nolden

Michelle Nolden is one of those actresses who turns up in things all the time (because she’s so talented), but that you keep thinking of her as “that girl” until a role comes along wherein her performance is so strong that her name is finally retained in your brain, and she ceases to be “that girl”.

For me, with her, that role is of Dr. Dawn Bell on CTV’s Saving Hope.

It’s funny, too, because in the beginning, I hated Dawn. She was Charlie’s (Michael Shanks) ex-wife, she pulled the plug on him when he was in a coma (but he lived, luckily for all), and she was a thorn in the show’s main love story’s side for quite awhile. Always cropping up to cause trouble for Charlie and Alex (the impossibly gorgeous Erica Durance). To boot, she became everyone’s boss as Chief of Surgery, and she ran a tight ship. It was annoying.

Over time, however, something changed, and Dawn slowly became one of my favourite recurring characters on the show. When I saw Michelle Nolden’s name in the opening credits (because by then I totally knew her name), I was certain viewers were in for a treat.

Like, more than usual, because I freaking love this show.

Anyway, once I got to that point, I reached out to her agent to see if it would be possible for her to join The Mind Reels at any point over our Guinness World Record-breaking weekend. It turned out that she had to work a long, emotional day on set, but that she would try to stop by if she could. I was ecstatic, and said we’d definitely make time for her if she was able to be there at all.

Much to my joy – and, if I’m being honest, surprise – she DID make it, after all! I saw her come into the hotel lobby that first night and completely forgot I was interviewing someone. I said, “Michelle is here! Yay!” and flagged my team down to make sure they knew to sneak her in between guests. I wasn’t feeling well already that night, so I barely remember what we talked about, but I know there was some discussion of the evolution and growth of Dawn’s character arc, and I gave her condolences for what happened to Dawn’s little sweater-wearing guinea pig that she didn’t even want but then fell in love with.

Since then, we’ve been wanting to bring Michelle into the studio for a better/longer chat, but there hasn’t been time or opportunity – yet. I’ll keep checking in with her agent until we make it happen, though!

However, turns out Ms Michelle Nolden won a Canadian Screen Award last night, and Tim and I made sure we were there to congratulate her on the red carpet in the press area after she left the stage!

You see, this season in particular has been insane for Dawn, and while there wasn’t time for chit chat, I do have a few things I wanted to tell Michelle about how her performance has affected me, and how much I feel it comes from a place of truth.

So I’ll do that here, instead.

There’s an episode – and anyone who’s seen it will know exactly what I’m talking about – wherein Dawn is raped – violently – by her colleague/boyfriend (Shaun Benson)…in her office. It was so powerfully filmed and performed by both actors that I can’t even remember anything else that happened in the episode. Just that, and the immediate aftermath. The rape scene was violent and disturbing without being graphic – a tight shot on Michelle’s horrified eyes with Shaun’s voice whispering in her ear. Gah!

To be clear, I know and adore Shaun Benson. I think he’s a fantastic talent. But part of me wished he wasn’t THAT fantastic as I watched that scene, because it was like watching a nightmare, and it’s stayed with me ever since. Damn you, Shaun!

There were red flags, of course; little warning signs that viewers and Dawn could pick up on, and then promptly ignore because he’s just so damn charming, and in a position of power, to boot. I still don’t think I expected what eventually happened to be as powerful and real as it was, though. In her office?! With windows everywhere, the space that she’s made her own. Her refuge from the trials and stress from running a hospital. And all the power she had job-wise didn’t make a lick of difference in the face of her attacker. Not only was it someone she trusted, but it was also done in such a way that everything Dawn had believed about her world was torn apart and demolished. Everything. She had nothing left to hold on to.

Well, almost nothing.

The next time we see Dawn it’s at the end of the episode, and she is alone again in her office. She is bruised, and in tears, her sensible work skirt ripped almost completely off. Her sanctuary looks much the same as always, but it no longer feels safe. Not to Dawn, and not to any viewer who’d just witnessed what transpired there.

In my mind, I wanted to hug her and get the police and all the big guys she works with and go beat the shit out of Shaun…’s character (haha He really is that good). I wanted to scream from the rooftops about the crime that had been committed, and go get the bad guy once and for all. I wanted him to lose everything, just as he’d taken everything from her.

Instead, I watched the scene play out as it was written, and was thunderstruck by how absolutely right it was. Dawn frantically searched in her desk drawers for something, and when she finally located it, she sat on the top of her desk, composed her features, and began to sew her skirt back together.

I lost it.

It hit me like a truck…how appearances inform our interiors sometimes…the attempt at retrieving a semblance of normalcy and some sense of control over something. Over anything, even if it’s something as simple as mending a ripped skirt. It wasn’t about pride nor humiliation. Not even fear, or anger at what had just happened to her. Dawn’s facial expression changed and her concentration was total. In that moment, that skirt was all she had.

When I was in University…I want to say third year? I decided to walk the few short blocks to McDonald’s (as you do) and grab myself some dinner. It was around this time of year, so even though it was only 7pm-ish, it was already dark. It was also unseasonably warm, though, so I was feeling pretty giddy with the touch of spring in the evening air.

I passed a young guy about my age, standing under a streetlight by one of the houses lining that portion of the street. Once I got by him, however, I could hear his footsteps on the sidewalk behind me. Warning bells went off in my mind, but I shoved them aside, because paranoia can be a dangerous thing, and usually when we think something is cause for concern, it ends up being nothing, and then we feel dumb.

Like, can’t a guy walk down the same street as me? Who the heck do I think I am?

I got near McDonald’s, and turned to go up a little grassy hill that led to the drive-thru and parking lot. As soon as I’d stepped off the sidewalk, though, I was banged into from behind, and felt two powerful-ish arms pin my arms to my sides. Well, my hands were in my pockets, so they got pinned there.

It all happened so fast, I was still thinking that it was someone I knew, just being a jerk. The force of him slamming into me actually pushed me further up the little hill, and he didn’t have his balance enough to lock his hands, so I ended up a step or two in front of him for a second. I turned to look at him, expecting a friend, and saw a stranger instead. He wasn’t looking at me, but rather past me, to where the cars were lined up in the drive-thru. I think at that point he realized we could both be seen, so he turned and jogged away. Or walked away. I don’t really remember. Just that it all seemed so normal, and wouldn’t draw attention to him either way.

And what did I do, you ask? Now that I was momentarily safe and had just basically been assaulted (see I can’t even call it anything specific because it still sits as a possibly jerky but innocent boys will be boys act), but it could have been way worse but now I was in full view of lots of people in a public place?

I went inside and ordered a Big Mac combo.

Yep. I didn’t make a sound. I didn’t try to confront him, or call for help. I simply composed myself enough to order the dinner I’d been looking forward to, and then sat down at a table by myself.

I tried to eat, but got nauseous, so I threw most of it away. Kept the fountain Coke, though.

I wasn’t sure what to do at that point. Had I been targeted? Or was being a female alone on a busy street enough to warrant what he’d tried to do. What had he tried to do? Rob me? Beat me up? Kill me? Rape me? Where had he gone? Was he still out there, watching me through the windows of the restaurant and waiting for me to come out? How would I get home? Could I stay in McDonald’s until morning?

So many questions.

I couldn’t figure out how I felt, nor how I should feel. I wasn’t sure of his intentions, and wasn’t sure I had a right to be angry or afraid or upset. I had no idea what to do.

I sat and thought and waited and finally decided to take a chance on crossing the parking lot to the phone booth on the corner. It still didn’t occur to me to ask for help, because I felt like…not that I’d deserved what happened, but more that nothing much had happened. I didn’t feel I had a right to expect anyone to come to my aid. My brain kept coming up with excuses for the guy, even. Maybe he’d just stumbled and lost his balance. Maybe he’d thought I was someone else and left when he realized his mistake. All kinds of crap went through my mind.

And because I’m old now, there were no cell phones. I had to get to the phone booth on the corner. At least it was lit up, and there were lots of cars nearby. Cars he could also be hiding behind, but maybe he wouldn’t know I would try for the phone. I didn’t know.

So I finally got my courage up (or stupidity…tough to tell sometimes) and speed-walked to the phone booth. I’d gotten a quarter out and had it in my hand to save time. I called the home of friends who lived down the street. I’d actually passed their place on the way.

Thankfully, they rocked.

They came to get me, en masse, and while I’m pretty sure Izzy in particular would have rather tracked the guy down and beat the tar out of him with her bare hands, they all convinced me to call the police. That the guy had done wrong, and that a crime had been committed, and that it was worth reporting.

They walked me back home, and stayed with me while I made the call, and together we waited for a police officer to arrive. Even though I was going through a myriad of emotions by then (including wishing I’d beat the tar out of him myself and humiliated him and perhaps ruined any chance he’d had of procreating), one thing that kept nagging at me was that maybe I was wrong. Maybe I’d misread what had happened and misunderstood the whole thing.

Maybe I was wrong.

I worried that the cop wouldn’t believe me, or brush it off as the non-incident I feared it was, or that he would believe me but the guy would never be found and how would any of it ever be proven, anyway? I thought at most it would end up on the back-burner and eventually forgotten.

The policeman arrived, and even though he was kind of cute and had a kind face, I wondered briefly about the decision to send a male officer over to talk to a female who’d just encountered a less-kind male. He was, however, pretty great. Took us all for a ride in his police car (I got to ride in the front, though), so I could show him where everything happened.

The problem, of course, is that a lot of it was murky in my mind. I could not remember exactly which house he’d been standing by. I couldn’t remember the colour of his clothes, or his hair, or even if he’d been wearing a hat. I could see him in my mind, but I couldn’t see him at the same time. There were no details. Unfortunately, even when there are warning bells and red flags, I don’t go into super spy mode and memorize every detail possible. Stuff happens, and I apparently can’t quite recall the main points to any helpful degree. The chance of catching him was getting slimmer. It was a University town, after all. Maybe he was just visiting, and didn’t go to school there at all. Who knew?

Definitely not me.

My lack of recall, coupled with my inability to completely agree that the guy had done anything really all that wrong was crippling, and as a result, my case got more flimsy by the moment.

The police officer, however, was on top of it. Less than two weeks later, he called me and wanted to come over with a photo line-up for me to look at. Apparently some other poor girl had been sexually assaulted in the same area, with the same basic desciption of her attacker.

(Insert guilt forever that I wasn’t able to stop him from going after other girls)

I looked through a book of mug shots and more candid photos, all of guys who were roughly the same age and description as my guy. The officer told me to take my time, and even pick out a few photos, if any of them had certain qualities that reminded me of the guy. He said I didn’t have to be certain; that I could kind of pick parts of some of them to give a better idea of what little I recalled about the dude. He said the guy may or may not even be in the line-up. It was just to get a better idea.

I chose 3 different photos, two of them were on the same page. One was mostly based on angle, because when I’d turned to look at him, he was no longer facing me directly. It was more of a profile view. I can’t really remember what drew me to the second photo. But the third, there was just something about the third. I couldn’t shake it. I kept going through more photos and always came back to that one. Finally I just pointed it out and said that it maybe wasn’t exactly as I remembered (vaguely remembered), but that it was the closest one. I wasn’t confident enough to proclaim, “THAT’S THE GUY!”, but it was the only one which felt close enough to be accurate in the light of day.

The officer wrote everything down, and then collected his things. He told me he wasn’t allowed to confirm or deny if the one I’d pointed out was the same guy they’d arrested in the other attack. I said I understood.

And then he winked at me.

We had our “man”.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone over that night – and a few other incidents which have occurred over the years – and re-written it all in my mind. I change how I reacted, I…sometimes become kind of violent, and I always, always stand up for me and mine.

My reality, for whatever reason, has always been very different. I freeze, I shrink, I keep walking, I put my head down, I stay quiet and still, I ignore the signs, I make excuses for the perpetrator, I wonder if there was something I’d done to cause it in the first place. After the fact, I am all indignant righteous rage. But during? I just have never figured out how to go against my very instincts and react differently.

The following year I was walking home from an evening class, and heard footsteps behind me, running up the sidewalk. I flashed back to that other time I’d felt the warning bells, and in a moment of pure terror, I spun around at the last second to at least greet my inevitable end head on.

But the jogger went right on by.

I see something like this portrayed so realistically – and intimately – on screen, and I’m all, “I would have done THIS!” But at the same time, I know from repeated experience that I would not. I only wish I would have.

That is what struck me the most about that episode of Saving Hope. Sometimes there are no heroes rushing in to save you. Sometimes you don’t suddenly know street fighting. Sometimes you don’t keep weapons on hand and aren’t afraid to use them.

Sometimes you don’t do what you “should” do, or even what you think you’d do.

Sometimes, all you can do in the moment is order a Big Mac, or mend your torn skirt.

Time To Run

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Tonight, Tim and I welcome back the subject of our very first real interview, director/writer Jeremy Lalonde! Our friendship with this incredibly talented and funny guy began after we caught the opening night screening of his first feature film, The Untitled Work Of Paul Sheppard. We’d originally gone as a show of support for a couple of the cast members, but by the time we left, we were both quite in love with the film itself. Tim wrote a glowing review, then contacted the director to see if he would be interested in speaking with us for our podcast. It felt like a Hail Mary at the time, but Jeremy responded with an enthusiastic yes, and before we knew it, we were sitting down with him in a pub and sharing laughs over a couple of pints. I’d say the rest is history, but in fact I think we’re all still writing our histories as we go, so I am super excited to embark on this next chapter with Jer, and see what all he’s got on his plate now!

This episode will mark our second time in the studio this week, as well as our second time in the studio this year. Which is…kind of sad, really. We have periods of frustration every once in awhile, and this is one of those times. We recorded our final episode of 2015 back in December, and it’s still not posted yet – and it’s awesome, so I really hope you guys get to see it! The Mind Reels welcomes Robin Dunne, whom we’d met in the home stretch of our Guinness World Record attempt! It was even more amazing to have him in the studio once we were more awake!

And there are guests we hope to have coming up very soon, but I’m finding it difficult to invite anyone to come in when I have no idea how long it will be before their episode goes up. It’s like we keep taking a step forward – and then a couple back. We just can’t seem to really get going. My level of frustration merely increases with the addition of several ideas that I want to implement, but when we can’t even seem to get a basic foundation going, it’s hard to see any way to build on that.

I feel much the same way about really all of the projects – and ideas for projects – that I have on the go these days. I can’t get anything flowing, it seems. In fact, there are so many now that I can’t even get started, let alone flowing along, that it’s actually kind of depressing sometimes! It’s still really exciting, though, so for the most part, it’s just the frustration that gets to me. I want to run, yet we can barely walk.

The other thing, too, of course, is that it’s all really more than enough for a full time job, if it’s done properly. Merely lining up guests and shooting episodes is just the basics. A lot of work has to go into marketing, and researching and pounding the pavement to keep growing the show and the entire Smithee.TV channel. We have the basics – a social media presence on several platforms, a physical studio to work out of, we even have our own app – but we lack consistency. In programming, in advertising, in finding sponsors, and in remaining a presence online. We need to do all the legwork, and do it all the time. So far it’s all been sporadic at best.

We need to really get known with conventions in the area so that we either have a booth where we can conduct live interviews with the guests on site, and/or get in there moderating celebrity panels more often. We need regular sponsors looking to advertise on the channel. We need the equipment to work properly, and we need to post content on a regular, at least once a day, basis. We also need to promote that content over the course of each day, more than once, so that it turns up in people’s feeds on a regular and consistent basis. We need to be more mobile and have the ability to conduct interviews and shoot episodes on-the-go. We need more new content, and different types of content, to build on top of what we already have on the go.

We need to really pull together and get this team off the ground. Right now we’re just bouncing around a bit, like a balloon that’s losing its helium.

We also need more volunteers to do the off-camera work – switching camera angles and monitoring the sound quality while a show is filming, getting the episodes ready to post, and uploading them to YouTube and iTunes, including proper tags and the like. We need people – everyone, really – promoting the shows online via Twitter, Facebook, etc, all the time, and tagging everything so it turns up in search engines. We need to get people talking, watching, and listening, and then keep them tuning in as we grow. We need to build a real audience, then maintain it, and grow it from there.

All of these things take time, and since we all have full time jobs keeping us busy as it is, it’s pretty much impossible to devote the kind of time required to do all of these things properly.

But I believe it can be done.

Maybe we just need some kind of schedule, wherein everyone gets a bit of the task list to do on certain days and/or times. If we get a few more volunteers to help with some of it, and maybe write up a couple of templates to make some of the written tasks faster and easier (Tim and I have a basic pitch letter that we send to agents and the like when we’re looking into getting new guests – it’s pretty much copy/paste and fill in the blanks), then most of those things would be a 5-10 minute time commitment, instead of longer. They could happen much more regularly, too, which would help boost our presence.

So many quick little things can make all the difference, but we really need to hammer out a basic foundation for the show and the channel first and foremost. Until we can say with at least some certainty that an episode will be up within a specified timeframe, complete with credits, tags and any other pertinent information required by the guest, we’re kind of just treading water. We need to know when we can go live consistently, too, and promote the crap outta that before even beginning to shoot the episode.

We need a plan. We need to be consistent with its implementation. And then we need to market and promote and shout it from the rooftops. Every day. More than once.

I believe it can be done. I believe we can rise up and be amazing.

I believe it’s time to take the first step – and then keep stepping.

I believe – with a little more work on everyone’s part – it can soon be time to run.