Saturday, May 27, 2006

You gotta fight, for your right, to ... be employed

LUSH's Rubenesque manager (of the milky white, rosey-cheeked sort) regularly pesters me to work for her (granted, in a joking, unintrusive manner). I'm a bit reluctant because she turned down Readerdroid, and my skills are limited to the squat and point variety. But I would love to work a part-time shift and start earning my keep and rely less on my mother's saintly generosity. [*Update: That prospect seems to have to be pushed back because my marks just came in and there appears to be some A chips that are hankering to be cashed in at the Post-Natal Pavilion. Shocking, yes. But to whom?]

I'll only need it for the coming fall semester though because I have my eye on that TA position my kindly old professor offered me. (I totally backdoored it and fucked over proper applicants.) It's not that I believe working is a novel concept; my parents simply don't want anything to get in the way of my schooling. Understandable *cue sullen Soviet trumpeteering*. But mooching off them is getting to be a most tired enterprise and I don't necessarily feel proud of myself; it leaves a sordid taste in my (hyper-Dentyned) mouth. I've never exactly felt entitled to their big hearts, yet the fact remains: they don't want me working at no minimum wage-paying hole-in-the-wall (perched by a strip club, no less). So it seems that I have only one option: work in secret to wean myself from their bountiful teat. How urban 007!

That, or spend frivolously on eBay until they cut me off cold turkey. Sounds like a plan, marzipan.

***

I love the volume of female-as-protagonist movies out right now. I saw The Notorious Bettie Page a few weeks ago, starring the double-take-twin Gretchen Mol, and I'm probably going to go see Lady Vengeance by Old Boy-director Chan Wook Park tomorrow. Although, genres apart (the Mary Harron vehicle being a non-judgmental biopic), the polished core themes relish in grace and a noticeably feminine complexity. The people are flawed, yes. They are sympathetic, sure. They are portrayed the way any generically good character ought to be shown. But it is more than that. And simpler than that. What appears on celluloid is a kind of quiet optimism -- and bull-headed determinedness -- that idyllically unites women, if only cinematographically.

***

MArt teases me about not ever having watched Casablanca. Hey, I know it's always on television, but I don't do the tube. So he gleefully recites Bogie's lines to me in an effort to rub it in. ("That's Rosebud to you!" I feebly try countering with my Citizen Kane-o-dex.)

Wow, and with that, I just pieced together the reason he likes calling me, "kiddo." Man, sure took me long enough to figure out; I've always considered it curiously paedophiliac. The nickname's not too eye-roll inducing though: Who wouldn't want to be Lauren Bacall? Hubba, hubba.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Stand up, stand out

Ooh, how exciting! M called and requested that I be his main hair model for this weekend's show because my features look "stunning" on stage. Haha, cha ... right. Picture Joe Camel in a Liz Taylor wig and you're only half-way past Joe DiMaggio.

I don't know if this show is considered the big leagues des cheveux, but it's supposedly really uppity-oop. Located at a top tier hotel, attendees getting "piss drunk" afterwards, these factors alone seem to ooze, "Ka-ching, ka-ching. Mr. Belvedere is our bitch."

Anyway, I'm sort of hoping wardrobe is included because M told me a make-up artist will be kabuki-ing mon visage before the first event (I'm doing two) and I can always go for more statements of self-delusion. Nevertheless, the whole six yards is still something worth savoring. Mmm, the smell of superficiality. Me like.

I went to the FIDO store to get my phone fixed. [*Sidenote: The Frenchie who served me also threw in a new antenna. The entire rescue came up to be 0 dollars. Zip, zilch, nada. No surprise: a woman's currency is her cle ... charisma.] There was this dude seated in the waiting area, looked barely out of his teens, who tried to make eye contact as I took notes reading the International Herald Tribune (because I'm pretentious like that). Dressed head-to-toe in designer threads -- which included, but not limited to, Dior Homme peg legs and a classic LV messenger bag -- I found him still sitting where I last saw him when I returned to pick-up my walkie no-talkie son-of-a-bitch handset

So I chatted him up and found out his name's Tom. We ended up talking serious, serious shop. As in, fashion (ooh, bad pun). He's a first-year student in design school, sociable, and a mainstream brand whore (although maybe not as fanatical about it as I am; I was truly surprised he had no knowledge of Rochas nor the prodigy behind the helm, Olivier Theysken).

He confessed that the instant we crossed paths, the first thought that came to mind was, "Damn! Girl has style!" [Emphasis his.] I thanked him for the compliment, noting that unlike him, I cannot afford anything by Hedi Slimane, but just like him, eBay is my crack, cocaine, and horse tranquilizer all rolled up in a Venetian-blown pipe. I knew we clicked the moment he unconsciously bent over and felt the leather on my boots and nodded approvingly. "Hand-made. From Italy," I confirmed. "New in box, never worn. Internet bargain."

Okay, full stop. The moral of this here story is that I met my first Montreal socialite ("I just came back from partying in Paris for a week. I'm going back again in July") and hopefully -- fingers crossed -- his friendship will get my foot in the chi-chi proverbial door.

I'm almost 20 and have yet to accomplish anything significant. I need to start making contacts and parlay them into lucrative opportunities already! Can't you just see me 10 years from now, painting pebbles on the corner of a Mexican restaurant, and selling them as breakfast cereal sculptures?

God ... that would really suck. Yet, positively confirmed.

***

Sartorial coincidence, three degrees of separation: My hairdresser, M, is close friends with The Rakes, who appeared in the Dior Homme show, currently Tom's favourite band and brand. Now if only I can snag me an invite ...

A girl can dream. Or hustle. C'est la meme chose.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Inside the evil lair

As it stands, I still stubbornly refuse to relinquish the notion that what I have with MArt is illegit, whereas he is appeasing my every hesitation to prevent me from following through on my neurotic impulses (like running off in the cloak of night. Albeit, in Prada mules).

I don't want to leave him; he's my antipode. I like that he makes me feel completely at ease. An anchor of a man, mellow and forgiving, he's ... s'wonderful.

There is a crisis a-brewing in Lill(y)put, a problem of epic proportions: Life. is. freakin' perfect. I don't know when this 5-alarm, snore-a-thon happened. Between bankrupting my mother in my heedless quest for shoes and taking precautionary EC pills (because in Canada, pharmacists don't confuse their profession with the priesthood), who would have thought existential tides could be so tidy?

We were in the midsts of love-making when an unintentional laugh escaped from the chasms of his lungs.

"What were you thinking?" I asked.

"Nothing, nothing. It's stupid."

"What?" I insisted.

MArt looked at me ponderously from below, cocking his head to one side, and smiled meekly. I did the same and gently brushed hair from my eyes, waiting for his reply in a motionless standstill. He put his hands on my naked hips and warned me not to over-react. I nodded in anticipation of "beer," "hockey," or "Zelda."

"You're beautiful."

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Glass

Foreplay lasts four hours.

The man is a beast.

I requested MArt's company at two this morning. He agreed after a bit of prodding. Dragging himself out of bed, he repeatedly rung the buzzer of some poor family living in an adjacent building before realizing he was at the wrong address.

He left half an hour ago. All 5'10" of him. I made him breakfast then kicked him out.

Sex with him is tremendously pleasurable. He is an extremely attentive lover. But I think he is beginning to get emotionally attached.

The twist: There's another woman.

Sort of.

MArt's friends - our friends - assure me she's just someone who cannot accept the demise of their relationship and continues to invite herself over.

Bullshit, I say with a chuckle.

"You're not the other-fucking-woman," MArt re-asserts.

"Then what is she?"

He looks down and rubs the back of his neck:

"Let's just say, she's not my girlfriend, but she would be very, very angry if I said she wasn't."

What does that even mean?

He spreads my legs.

"Shouldn't you be reporting this back to your woman?"

He digs into me deep, his beautiful saucer eyes holding my gaze with authentic adoration. "You're my woman." Pillow talk consists of one-liners hurled between political and artistic yarns.

He pulls out. I walk out. He pins me down. I struggle.

We joke, we laugh. He wants more. I ignore, capable of satiating only sexual appetite.

I fall asleep, against his heartbeat, inside his limbic cage.

Monday, May 15, 2006

"Woah, you taste like cocoa butter."

If everything is material, and everything is eventually recycled, then where does that leave consciousness?

I posed this question to MArt while we were in bed. We talked most of the night (after watching the Ah-nuld cheesefest, "Running Man") until I planted one on him:

"Maybe if we cut the girlfriend/boyfriend crap, I might not go running off like I did the rest," I suggested. "None of that, you know, typical stuff. Maybe then, I wouldn't be such a psycho."

He raised an eyebrow.

"Typical stuff, as in, dating?"

"Yes, exactly. Deal?"

"Deal."

I was listening to the shit I was feeding him beforehand and it dawned on me that I was just making excuses to dislike him. Physically, MArt is not my type: average height, average build, on the hairy side, a prototypical East Coaster. But mentally, I want to make love to him over and over again because the things he's well-versed in blows my mind - he is so intelligent. Not once did I feel the need to "explain" concepts, theories, anything to him - I've never been so at ease with anybody.

And the soundtrack to our heavy hanky panky? John freakin' Coltrane. Lord knows, I swooned.

I guess I took a lesson from NorIda and CatCouver (both of whom are having/had very good relationships with men less-than-aesthetically enviable): Wild men make for wild lovin'. Give them a chance.

MArt said something that implied I was out of his league. Hell, I've never met anyone as kind (and equally anal about good manners). So we're even.

"You know what this means?" I asked him as I rested my eight-pound head on his chest.

"What?"

"It means nice guys do win in the end. And psychos can too."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Deux semaines avant la fete des meres francaise!

Oh mommy, I do not squeeze money out of you like toothpaste.

A keg pump, maybe.

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

Red tips

Readerdroid came by my place yesterday. She asked me how I was, and observed that among all her friends, I am the only one who always answers with a shopping list.

It's true. I do.

Santa's contemplating suicide.

Ever since I started actively using eBay (and how could I not? A pair of Guillaume Hinfray d'Orsays for one-fifth of the retail price? Vintage Schiaparelli in the original box? A private lot of Lanvin scarves serving no meaningful purpose? Spare me the lecture - these are my liquid assets), I've noticed a dip in my libido.

Not to say my libido was ever springing through the cracks like bathroom mildew, but it's never been hesitant to make a cameo appearance before, and lately it's been quieter than an on-duty NSA agent. That is, until late last night when I awoke to a tremendous ...

Ahem.

The point is, if I'm going to be addicted to something, it might as well be sartorial in nature. Sex requires the kind of persistence I'm awfully glad I don't possess. Italian-crafted footwear offer the taste with none of the calories, and what's more, you don't have to owe them an entire evening of entertainment ending in the corner of a bar lit by the remains of half-molten aromatherapy candles the chick with the lopsided boobs stole from the 99 cent store down the street from the Kama Sutra Castle which you frequented until the cops busted them for panda smuggling, prompting you pack your bags and fly to Haiti, building houses for "coloureds" in a moment of conscientious clarity helped along by the occasional tax break or ten.

The point is, my subconscious might be telling me something in dire need of attention and provocation. Perhaps it is saying ...

Eureka! Buy more shoes! Well, Mr. Suppressed Psyche, if you say so. No point resisting intuition - braver men have fought and failed.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Low light

My linguistics professor is sort of an effeminate man. Naturally, I assumed he was gay, which explained why I was also strangely drawn to him. I paid extra attention to his tongue-in-cheek PowerPoint slides during the course of the lecture, then suddenly, one after the other, my fantasies were vaporized:

Bombshell #1: "I have a daughter."

Hmm, not the best situation, I thought, but nothing I couldn't live with.

Bombshell #2: "The other day, my wife and I ..."

That's an obstacle a bit more challenging to maneuver around, but perhaps she's open-minded ...

Bombshell #3: "My son's just now starting pre-school."

Two kids?! Holy shit, how often does this guy sperminate? Still, I was convinced I could make it work - Gen-Xers are capable of getting freaky deaky with one eye closed while watering the lawn with the other. Rest assured, I wasn't detered.

That is, until he launched his fourth and final attack:

"I'm from Cape Breton."

Well, fuck me, that did it. It's one thing to be effeminate because you were raised near a Polish eatery run by hitchhiking beatniks in Williamsburg. It's another thing entirely when you were raised on whiskey and cod. Bah, married professors!

... sure can work a black tee over corduroys.

***

I bumped into Cuisiniere in my lobby today. He was, as you may recall, the last man I fucked and chucked. (Now, now, it was over a year ago - I'm no longer the same person I was then.) I haven't spoken to him since my European national cinemas class the prior summer. Seeing the guy wasn't awkward; it was actually quite comforting. The chemistry's still there and, from the looks of things, he wouldn't mind getting back together. (Although, to my credit, I was a five-alarm death star in leather and lace.) Talk about a lasting impression: that one-night stand prevented me from walking properly for two whole days.

Not that I complained.

***

Spent the evening at MArt's again, working on my painting. I had sushi delivererd. We watched Futurama. He wore his other hibiscus-printed shorts.

They glowed in the dark.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Lonely is as lonely does, but still unwilling to settle

Okay, I was wrong. Apparently being asked to join the adult entertainment industry wasn't the strangest thing to happen to me during my week back home. Apparently being mistaken for my father's mistress is exponentially funnier.

"Who does he have with him?" the dim sum chef asked the waitress. "Look how he's parading her around knowing full well it'll get back to his wife."

Few people in the Chinese community know my parents have another child beyond my two siblings, so I am seldom recognized. The same people who used to be critical of my academic prowess ("Probably couldn't cut it in math," they'd tsk) now discuss my figure for fodder. How much I weigh, how small my waist, how "dainty" my feet appear in heels, everything is fair game for assessment. It's amazing the lengths people will go to avoid being engaging.

Now my mother is a true natural beauty: I have her smiling on my nightstand with immeasurable assurance. It is the face of limitless charity; I cannot compete. (*Editor's note: I become very sentimental whenever I bring her up. Layoff, it's a thing I have, like smothering breakfast items in ketchup and cutting phallic-shaped vegetables. What can I say? I love my mommy.)

***

Sacred and Profane Love (1515) by Titian

I don't know what to think. Techbiana's roommate, MArt, is smitten with me. He's inquisitive, attentive, and very quick - the first man to unabashedly reveal his affections for me without a hint of insecurity.

I am flattered, yet petrified.

The truth is, I hardly get approached by the male specie. Men ogle me, whisper vulgarities into my ear on the street, and gossip behind my back. They smirk, they fidget, some go out of their way to be rude, so I find it much easier to live a solitary existence than let those cowardly bastards castrate my self-esteem.

It is a special man who does not feel the need to put on airs with me.

MArt is a regular beer chugging Joe with a Canadian-bred obsession with hockey. And he's nice. So nice. And he's talented. A prolific peintre. And the least pretentious person I've met here. And I'm afraid.

Of a lot of things really. I'm afraid that he's idealizing me. My intelligence, my appearance, my walk, my talk, he has a high opinion of me that seems barely substantiable. I'm also afraid of what it would mean for my freedom: my mother has always told me to hold onto it for as long as I can. Furthermore, I don't date. I find it artificial, which is partly the reason why my mandate in the past has been fucking and fleeing. Cloistering myself away prevents me from encountering the possibility of acting on my impulses again.

MArt overlooks my superficial qualities: the exorbitant amount of shoes, the potty mouth, an inherent urge to stand out, and who knows what else?

I, on the other hand, cannot get pass his. He drinks, he smokes, he has Irish hair, and wears baggy hibiscus-printed shorts - I realize I'm nitpicking, but it can't be helped: He's just so Canadian. I'm resisting his overtures because rarely do men request my company without some sort of pretense. They keep me nearby for exhibition purposes (which encourages me to slip away unnoticed), and speak to me only to be spoken to (in an effort to appear more interesting).

This, you must realize, is disheartening. But I'm also not begging to be accepted; I loathe the sport of sponsorship. So my dilemma seems to lie between receiving someone without the hindrince of haughty inhibitions and holding out for "something better" because any combination of the two would just be immoral. (I *heart* Kant.)

It's the greener pastures theory with a twist: You can't expect me to be sensible if I've only ever been fed AstroTurf.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

4 a.m. ramble

Lots of things have happened since my last entry. I've been writing in my journal this past week which hasn't allowed any time for my blog. Please excuse me for my inconsiderate behaviour; I apologize to my single digit readership.

Today's topic: Repulsing the opposite sex.

I am afraid to leave my apartment partly due to my unconscious magneticism.

Seriously.

Techbiana has a thing for me. Her roommate has one too. Now my neighbours' friends? I can't take a shit without someone making a pass at me (and flat-out tell me so). Courting me is like fishing with a tennis racket. Now, to be reasonable, they are all very nice people, which is lucky for me, but bad for them since I am a leper (who just happens to buy really nice shoes and recently acquired a pair on eBay by Cacharel. *See photo*).

Here's the thing: I am not a pleasant person. At least, that's what I tell myself. To be sure, I am very sociable, but I am not - how do you say? - sane. That is to say, I am not anyone's favourite pillow. Indeed, I am closer to a neck brace ... after having broken a pool cue over your face.

My dad says he sees me with someone 30 years my senior. My mom says, "As long as they don't ask me for money." Frankly, they're too optimistic: I'm simply romantically inept. I've come to accept this tragic flaw because what are the chances everyone my age sucks? (Answer: slim to entirely possible.) No, I know something troubling must be going on underneath my epidermis. Yet, I have very little desire to uncover its origins. Perhaps I will maintain my solitary existence for as long as it takes to fully justify it (however nonsensical, transparent, and stupid my reasons). Until then, I don't really intend to find out what it is. (Maybe Barnum & Bailey's needs a new post-modern act.)

So forget it. Don't waste your energy on me. I am destined to live and die by the spinsterly sword.

But feel free to keep trying: I do enjoy the company.

***

"Don't you mean realities?" said the oh-so pretentious philosophy major in an effort to provoke, I don't know, bad bowel movement?

I'm taking a summer course in linguistics this year with a focus in cognitive science. Basically, we're studying grammar as a tool for communication by way of Noam Chomsky's pioneering works in the field.

There are two guys in my class who are so utterly obnoxious, I cannot even begin to describe how frustrated I am knowing their mothers actually gave birth to these baby-eating dingos by choice (or CIA conspiracy). After the one hour mark, one - whose name I did not catch due to my growing hatred for him - kept going out of his way to confuse the class with his engorged vocabulary of irrelevent information.

And I understood exactly what he was saying, which made me angrier. It was like listening to someone read from the official Scrabble manual because the masculine sounds of consonants turns him on. The guy talked like he was proud of the fact that no one could - or cared to - decipher his mundane ideas wrapped in fatty strips of inflated words. I grew increasingly impatient with him before exploding soon after he launched into another tired tirade:

"If this is a methodological class, then the results of our findings will be assessed with entirely individual results due to [*insert bullshit*]. [...] If language is something 'inherent,' then technically, institutions can use this to control us. [*Insert summary of The Matrix*] Essentially what you are saying, as I am obliged to ..."

The professor didn't understand the question. Of course he didn't: it wasn't a freakin' question. It was a statement with an intent on damaging the professor's credibility. (Not that it was successful since the teacher obviously knew his stuff ... and wore the sexiest jeans seen on man. *drool*) I wanted to shout, "No! If it's methodological, then the results tend to be standardized, and cannot be infinitely subjective, you googly-eyed melon head!" The schlub wanted to explore the possibilities of patronizing the teacher for his own amusement.

So I interrupted him mid-sentence instead: "Are you making a political statement or something? No? Then what's your point? We're all here because we're ignorant of the subject. Maybe you can find an answer to whatever the hell you're trying to ask after we move further along in the course."

That shut the fucker up. Jesus H. Christ, have they no shame? It's embarrassing. It's like some sort of over-compensatory high school redemption scheme. I just want to tell them to get lost. If they think they know more than the professor, then by all means, teach the course themselves.

Anyway, my outburst did help me make fast friends. Two guys sitting in front of me passed me a paper rose: "You are beautiful." And two girls approached me separately telling me they felt the exact same way. I wish more people would speak up when over-bearing bastards co-opt their learning experience.

I wish more people would speak up, period. There would be less assholes, like former lead singer and songwriter Tom Cochrane of "Life is a Highway" fame.

Or Phil Collins. Damn that pugly man! Damn him and his Tarzan motion picture soundtack to hell!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Paperclips

This has got to be the strangest thing that's happened to me this month. A random woman stumbled onto my MySpace profile (which I use to store secondary writings too long for PPP) and offered me a chance to work in the adult entertainment business.

No joke.

This is the second time someone has asked. I was approached the summer before freshman year by this dude who was the "modeling broker" on the set of a music video for a Canadian punk band. He was shopping for stripper shoes with his go-go bitches and passed me his card as I was working. "I have an office in Toronto if you're interested."

Maybe this is more common than I thought: the secret no one tells you about womanhood.

The lady euphemistically described the job as an opportunity to make a lot of money "hanging out with celebrities" and I'll get to travel around the world, she promised. It sounded like the description for a fashion stylist, and then I realized ... it wasn't.

In reaction, Steve said, "Let me tell you. If you had taken the job, your blog would be MUCH more interesting." I asked him if that was a challenge.

"Yes Lily," he replied. "Throw everything away and travel around the world doing porn and solving crimes. You can sell your story to Rubert Murdoch for millions."

Like something out of Nancy Drew and the Hard-On Boys, where the family jewels were discovered through a strip search with a hooked didgeridoo.

Sounds promising.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I heart Stephen Colbert 4ever

I'm number 40752 on Thank You Stephen Colbert. His performance was so good, it made even me uncomfortable. It was like watching a boy scout get too close to his squadron leader (played by a hairy, yet vixenish Alec Baldwin) during a canteen cook-off: what began as fun and games turned sticky.

Woohah! Colbert is bringing back the C in Amerika.

Broken record

*UPDATE*
He wrote back: "Okay. Whatever."

Did he get it? I think he did. I should be raving with joy right now, but it seemed a little too easy. But Sexy Spinster summed it up best: "[His letter] was mean towards you - taking punches wherever possible. It was very, 'I'm better than you. You have problems. You live a sad life. Follow my example. You're spoiled.' So if easy was a process that took over 18 months then OK."

Amen.

***

Hi [M. Biologique,]

You're right, you do live a good life. And I won't get there until you're out of it completely.

Have a great summer. Hope I don't see you next year.

Sincerely,

Lily


I wrote this in response to what he sent me yesterday. Frankly, I didn't even read his long-ass missive: I told Sexy Spinster to summarize it for me ("There is something seriously wrong with him"). It was apparently about how blah blah blah, he's in a "loving relationship" right now, how blah blah blah, I need to put my "overflowing issues" behind me, but how nevertheless, he wants to continue seeing me anyway (for my sake, I'm sure. He's thoughtful like that).

I had already found traces of contempt and bitterness in his voice over the receiver on Monday when I had last spoke to him. "What's new in your life?" he asked without much enthusiasm. I cheerfully listed off a thing or two, including my recent award in the mix; he put me down flat: "It's about time you wrote some useful shit."

"So what else is new, Lily?" he repeated.

I told him about my job in the CCTV foreign news department. He was audibly annoyed: "In Beijing?! Humph. Journalists don't know anything; all they do is tell lies."

Correcting him, I giggled: "We're propagating information so people like you can make a change. Can you say pro-pa-ga-tin'? It's a 4-syllable word."

I tried to maintain composure as he hemmed and hawed about the hollowness of my life, ladling on the sunny remarks even when he was saying the most ridiculous and obscene things: "Look at you, buying shit all the time. You're such a materialist. Did you go and buy another 50 pairs of shoes? That's stupid. And you wear too much makeup."

I laughed; he sounded like a raging alcoholic: "That's because I'm an old woman, you see, and I know you like your women young."

He chuckled, nervously changing the subject.

"So what are you doing for the rest of the day?" I politely interjected.

"Why? So I can come play with you? You never do anything productive."

"Well, let's do something productive then. What do you suggest?" I proposed. "Go diving into dumpsters in search of unexpired milk to drink?"

This man is utterly, utterly consumed by his elephantine resentment. He's apparently going to northern Quebec this summer to learn about sustainable growth so "we don't have to fucking send fucking tree planters to do shit anymore."

Oh Lord, unrepentable, absolutely unrepentable. Like Peter Pan without a Spielberg deal, a latter-day American hippie jihadist. He's constantly acting out like a child and - surprise of all surprises - cannot subsequently maintain any sort of working relationship with anyone for any measurable amount of time. (And that's assuming fucking isn't considered a chore.)

I might sometimes be blind, deaf, and dumb, but when life moves on, it does one hell of a spring cleaning.