I’ve broken one of the cardinal rules of navywifedom.
I’ve booked a holiday for when the ships due back.
And it gets worse.
Ive booked it for the day the ship gets back.
Because it’s my birthday that day.
I’m a total plonker.
It’s my birthday the day the ships back and it’s a significant number (30 ahem, I mean 21) and I’ve booked up a wholesome weekend in Centre Parcs.
(*waves at sniggering mumsnetters*).
So of course now I’ve cursed it. I’ve cursed my birthday, and homecoming and everything.
What the actual fuck was I thinking?!?!?!?!
Have my years as a military wife and prior to that, girlfriend, taught me nothing?!
Am I having some kind of delusional break?! Have I lost my grip on reality?!?!?!?
Of course now the homecoming date will change.
There literally is no point to this post apart from me
Freaking out about my (21st) birthday
Freaking out about having to see popeye and wear a bikini around him straight away.
Going on holiday with a man I haven’t seen in almost a year with two toddlers
The navy fucking up my (poorly laid) plans.
The actual logistics of sorting the house/kids/myself out, going to homecoming, turning around and bombing it down the A303
What I wanted was a lovely birthday and holiday with Popeye.
To be honest I was a little miffed that my birthday was going to be all about him.
What do you think? Am I being totally naive or am I engaging in some weird birthday self sabotage?
P.s if you get the MN and centre parcs reference, don’t jump to conclusions, get your mind out the gutter.
<update> of course something did go wrong and yesI did have to rebook the flipping holiday. I can hear the “I told you so’s” from here. Muchos love x
After a lot of nagging and emailing and threatening to withhold parcels, Popeye has written a blog post!
It’s a subject that I have always been very curious (nosey) about. What is homecoming like for the sailor actually on the gert big honking warship?
Here at Oyl HQ, that is exactly the kind of burning question we like to answer, so without any further ado, here’s Popeye, giving it a sailors POV:
*pause for drumroll*
I have been asked by my lovely wife olive to write a guest blog post for all of you lovely readers describing homecoming from the other side of the dockside!
Now my literary prowess is somewhat lacking when it comes to this sort of thing, however I shall endeavour to paint you a “word picture”, here we go…
So, the night before homecoming, affectionately known as channel night, in a bygone era, was an evening (and most part of the morning) celebrating and getting so drunk you can barely stand up.
Nowadays it’s a far more conservative affair, possibly with a few drinks and then early to bed to make the next day come quicker, a bit like Christmas when you were 5 years old.
Don’t get me wrong there are still some sailors that drink until they shit themselves, but they are few and far between.
The trouble with this is (and I have witnessed it first hand) the next day you are so hungover you are unable to actually enjoy your homecoming. You are in such a state that you would rather go back to bed than see your family. Or you would rather speak to God on the porcelain telephone than hug your mum.
When I was asked to write this, I got to thinking, these peoples families have travelled for god knows how long to come and see their sailor, who they have missed and worried about and sent parcels and letters to. They stand there all excited, and what they are greeted with is an absolute hungover mess.
This is a bit of an anticlimax I expect.
That’s why I fall into the 5 year old at Christmas category!
So the morning of the homecoming is here. Normally, you are woken from your lovely sleep by a whistle over the ships broadcast.
However on homecoming day they wake you up with Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Boys are Back in Town’ or Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Homeward Bound’ then it’s a fairly straightforward routine. Get up, shower, brush teeth put on number 1’s.
Realise that number 1’s do not fit, panic, realise you are trying to put on someone else’s, find your own, put them on and marvel at how much weight you have lost.
Have breakfast, unless you are morning watch chef, in which case you will be cooking breakfast.
After all this it sort of sinks in that you will be seeing your loved ones again after however many moths and you start to get a bit excited.
Everyone is buzzing, people you have never spoken to in 6 to 9 months suddenly become ‘alright’ and you can talk to them, you have common ground. All anyone wants to do is just get home!
Then there is a sort of time in purgatory. You aren’t going to work that morning but they have yet to muster you for procedure Alpha (that’s where we all stand on the upper deck) so you bimble about drinking tea and trying not to spill it down yourself.
You pointlessly check your e mails. You think about phoning your family, and then think better of it because it might dilute the joy of homecoming!
Then they finally muster you for procedure Alpha. Now you would have thought getting a bunch of people to stand along the side of a ship is a pretty easy thing to organise. You would be wrong. You have to be placed in order of height and then marched down the side of the ship and told where to stand. I know it doesn’t sound like much but this can take anywhere up to an hour to sort out! So you stand in your spot looking out at Portsmouth/ Plymouth or wherever you happen to be coming in to and it is cold. It is so fucking cold! Number 1’s are not renowned for their thermal retention properties. All you are thinking is hurry the fuck up because I am fucking freezing!
So you start to enter your port of choice, lots of people waving from the beach and stuff, obviously you can’t wave back because it’s not very military! Oh and as soon as you start to enter your port of choice it for some reason becomes really windy, so with wind chill it’s about -50 degrees Celsius.
You start to shiver and your lips turn blue. Your feet hurt because not only are they cold but you have squeezed them into a pair of pussers’ shoes that you have only worn twice and they are extremely uncomfortable!
Then you see a huge throng of people with banners all shouting and cheering.
Then you allow yourself to be very excited, now in the normal running of things you are not allowed to move or wave back until the first rope has gone from the ship to the dockside.
So you frantically scan the crowd looking for your family, it’s sort of a silent competition, spot them before they spot you. We do have an advantage in this game by being all dressed the same. Olive described it as the hardest game of ‘Where’s Wally’ ever.
You finally spot them and for me, the first thing I think is “Thank god she’s turned up and not run away with some bloke she met in her yoga class called Fabian who pronounces Barcelona with a ‘th'”she is waving at me. I can’t wave back. She stops waving and gives me the look of “why aren’t you waving back?” (#sadface) then another look of “oh god have I just been waving at a complete stranger?!?!” You try to telepathically communicate that “you are waving at the right person but I cant wave back, look no one else is waving back!”
Then the first rope goes across and you are allowed to wave but by that time you’re arms and legs do not want to move. Your muscles are all stiff and cold but you make the effort and give them a wave.
I have always found this fairly awkward. You are waving and stuff but you can’t get off the ship until the gangway is down. So what is the waving etiquette? When do you stop?
Obviously I can’t stand there waving like an idiot for half an hour.
So you stop waving and try to mouth things to your loved ones but because they are to far away to hear you. They have no idea what you are saying. You try to find someone to talk to so as not to look stupid but at the same time keep one eye on the family in case they move! It’s all very complicated! Then the gangway goes down and wait for the captain’s family to come on and then you have to wait for the bloke who won the ships raffle to be first off the gangway.
You are finally allowed down the gangway. You move through the crowd like a ninja, not brushing against anyone and twisting this way and that, then you see them and suddenly everything is alright again.
You forget your hypothermia and broken feet and have the best hug ever, then a kiss, and then you become a bit nervous and wonder what to say.
I always say the same thing ‘alright?’ with that word I reassure them that I am the same person I was when I left. Then the answer I get is ‘Yeah, you?’ and with that I know they are the same person they were when I left and everything is going to be alright.
Popeye leaves for his 9 month deployment very very soon. Obvs can’t mention dates etc but let’s just say we aren’t talking weeks here.
He’s said his goodbyes to the outlaws and is gearing up to say tatty bye to our daughters. And I guess me too but I can’t even go there right now.
Each deployment is different. Usually I’m a sobbing, snotty, puffy eyed wreck (attractive). This time however I’m like totally numb. I’ve zoned out and can’t even get words out of my mouth when we talk about it.
I have no idea why my brain has done this but all I can guess is my minds gone “no, no. Nope. Can’t handle this. Too painful. Too much. It’s too much! I’m checking out. See you later conscious brain. Catch you laters!”
So I am calm. I am dangerously calm. Like the normal emotional reaction is a rip current but I’m happily bobbing about on top on my dinghy. Probably doing a sudoku.
My little escapist, denial dinghy that I’m fairly sure has a puncture.
It’s going to deflate at some point and then I must face the depths of this.
For instance, certain questions I should be addressing such as-
How do we explain this to our two year old?
My brain: No idea. We’ve got nothing here captain (plays magic roundabout theme tune loudly on repeat whilst doing some thing Pinterest fail-esque).
Have we got all the grown up pre deployment shit sorted out? Like making sure his Skype account and mine are good to go. The emergency numbers and his phone card numbers are taped to the fridge, and the Christmas decorations are down from the loft.
My brain: yes, really should do this. Got loads of time (we don’t). Will just do this first (gardening/drinking wine/ starting a quilt).
Spending quality time together.
My brain: so, it looks like date nights been a bit of a fail. Hey I know why don’t I write a blog post all about it instead of putting my phone down and giving it another shot. Genius.
Capturing each precious memory of the last week on film.
My brain: hey let’s leave the phone at home so you can’t take any pictures. Nothing like a bit of self sabotage to really help your early deployment mental health. Don’t want to make this easy for myself after all do I?
I didn’t really know how to end this blog post (I blame my obviously faulty brain at this time) so I read it to Popeye and he said it’s because this timeit’s not just about me and him.
This time I have two children to care for. Two small people’s brains who are looking to me to see how to cope with this.
This time is longer. 9 months is such a massive chunk of time when I think about it it makes my head go fuzzy and I start laughing in a slightly unhinged way.
This time it’s not just a couple saying goodbye, but a family saying goodbye.
With the return today of HMS Defender (and if many of you wonder why I bang on about this ship in particular ok I will just say it- it’s Popeyes old ship where I met most of my NWBFFs and felt part of the Royal Navy community for the first time and not just some kind of Lone Ranger navy wife freak) and im filled with such excitement on their behalf, I’m so crazily proud of the families who have waited 9 months for them to finally come home.
(After doing basically a 7 month deployment about 2 mins before this one- mental).
I can see the wives and the girlfriends, the sisters and the brothers and the mummy’s and daddy’s in my minds eye in a few short hours, finally getting that hug and kiss they’ve waited and waited and waited some more for.
But as well as all of this excitement for them, and soppiness and nostalgia it’s reminded me that it’s my turn to say goodbye next. For 9 months.
And I am seriously freaking out.
After I did my first deployment and met Popeye at the homecoming I was naive. I didn’t pause to think there will be another one. And another and another.
The second he stepped off the ship a new countdown started to the next time he would deploy.
What happened? We had a minimum of a 6 month deployment with less than 12 months inbetween for four years. That’s a lot of deploying.
It was awful. It was hard. It was surreal.
But it was doable. I look back at “deployment Olive” with no small degree of awe. She was hardcore.
“Did I really do that?”
“How did I do all those deployments?”
“Can I really do it all again?”
(in a very small voice, like a stroppy toddler) “But I don’t want to!”
Thinking about this upcoming deployment is filling me with dread. Not just because I know how hard it will be, but because this time I’m on my todd with our two gorgeous baby girls. No pressure then.
And that’s going to bring a whole new level of shit and heartache and stress and strain that I haven’t encountered before.
And that is a type of deployment I know nothing about.
So watch this space my lovelies. Hopefully my blog will stay the chirpy quirky space it’s always been. Not some kind of weird online written record of my unraveling.
I need success stories please!
So as the WAGs of HMS Defender wave that mighty ship home, with the sodding brass band blasting, and the little tug boat getting zilch recognition; my thoughts are bitter sweet and let’s be honest, a bit “me me me.”
This navy life is (as my good pal Ronan would say) a roller coaster.
It’s a few days after homecoming, it’s the weekend, the sunlight is shining out of the edges of the curtains, birds are singing, you stretch, yawn and reach over to your phone to check Facebook obsessively, then your foot brushes up against a distinctly hairy *thing*in your bed.
“WTAF IS THAT????” You think, you flip over, iPhone raised heavenward and at the ready- a man is sleeping next to you! One arm raised, mouth slightly open, stubbly chin, and a *you know what* down there, yep definitely a man. Here. In my bed. Now. Doing a little morning fart.
“holy crap there is a man in my bed!”
(Whoops I mean our bed of course)
It is of course Popeye home after deployment and not some freaky stalker/narcoleptic burglar but if you are anything like me there will be the odd sleepyheaded morning moment when you forget that he has actually come home.
So (if you are slightly crackers like me) you try to slide out of the bed without showing any of the skin that was showing when you both got into bed the night before. Then I have to manically try to find something to cover said skin without waking him up so he doesn’t actually have to see me naked in the sunlight and be turned to stone. Or something.
This is just one of the weird post homecoming issues I have had to get to grips with, others include:
Shower diplomacy. With my own husband. I never knew how annoying it is to have to have the “no no you get the first shower”, “no it’s fine you go for it” with someone who isn’t even a freakin guest.
Being a considerate human being #1. All of a sudden I have to factor in what he likes for dinner and the sad realisation that special k with red berries just won’t do for two.
Being a considerate human being #2. Having to decide what to watch on tv in the evening. Together. And like compromise and shit. Eurgh.
Washing two peoples worth of clothes and feeling a teeny bit resentful about it.
Forgetting he gets hay fever and buying loads of flowers that are reduced in tesco (my bad, sorry hubby).
Letting him drive my (our) car. It’s a bit how I imagine my mum felt when she gave me my first (and last) driving lesson.
He eats all my chocolate. All of it. End of.
Eventually I/we realise we have become a “we” again. It takes time and a lot of reality checks, deep breaths and compromises on both sides to be honest.
The reality of being an “us” or a “we” or a “them” after so bloody long being an “I” or a “me” takes just a little while to sink in.
And first thing on a Saturday morning it’s easy to forget that it’s us in our bed after so many days of it being me in my bed.
So once ive got my head around the fact that he is actually home with me it’s usually quite a good time to refocus my thoughts on what other activities we can do in our bed.
“Ooh are they coming home already? Wow the last 9 months have really flown by haven’t they?”
The above are probably the two most dangerous sentences you can say to a Navy wife or girlfriend at the final sprint of a deployment countdown.
To the friend/co-worker or family member with (obviously) good intentions and also a possible death wish:
NO IT HAS FUCKING NOT FLOWN BY.
It has been an almost hysteria inducing, vast stretching of time that has at times has felt swamping and insurmountable.
Time now, at this final push, is threatening to reduce the strong, capable, independent adult from the last few months into a (at times) quivering, adrenaline pumping, vom inducing, panic stricken bag of nerves and self doubt.
The “flying by of time” should be given more appropriate descriptive metaphors such as-
Ninja Snail Time- I.e went really fucking slowly then went all stealth ninja-ey and fast right at the end, catching the poor unsuspecting Military WAG off guard.
Untrustworthy Time-I.e the homecoming date and subsequent countdown has changed more times than I’ve changed my knickers. Don’t trust it.
Alternative Reality Time I.e time, as a concept, has passed completely differently for you and your sailor. He is expecting home to be some kind of time capsule of half a year ago and you can’t remember what family occasions and days out he has missed because there have been so bloody many he has missed. You are in separate world and separate times.
To all you who dare utter “the two sentences of time” (outlined above, can’t bring myself to type them again) can I just say this:
Time has NOT flown by for us.
We have walked, limped, crawled, carried and been carried to get here. But we have not flown. (We have not sailed through it either before anyone gets punny on me.)
So please for the love of God and all that is Holy do not patronise us. Do not comment on it. You don’t get it. Don’t pretend to. It’s like a cat trying to understand why a dog likes walks so much when they can go out through the cat flap at any time.
Yippee! I have officially made it to the end of BOST (Basic Operational Sea Trials) without killing the children or having a nervous breakdown! Go me *proud face*!
I attribute my success in Forces Spouse Parenting to a winning combo of rosé spritzers after the kids bedtime, going out to the park a LOT and lowering my housekeeping standards to just above “slovenly”.
Popeye phoned last night and because of crap signal we of course got cut off mid conversation (standard).
I didn’t get to do my usual “Some things are different and some things are the same” potentially slightly patronising debrief.
Let me elaborate, Popeye, and I suspect many other sailors and service persons out there, find it quite difficult to understand that time has passed here at home.
Some things have (duhn duhn duuuhn!) changed. The house he left does not look exactly the same as when he left. I have (shockingly) kept calm and carried on. Without him.
During the couple of months of BOST par examplé I have-
Moved the basket where we keep the towels and swapped it with the laundry bin. (Duhn duhn duuuuhn!)
Moved the microwave to under the boiler on the other side of the kitchen. (Omfg I’m a monster)
Put black out curtains up in sweet peas room because I was fed of of waiting for him to do it. (Sweet Jesus the humanity!)
In a mad fit of “the good life meet gardeners world” weirdness I dug and planted a veg garden with tomato, courgette and runner beans. (Side note: there is an 80% chance they will all die).
Bought two plants to put next to the front door so we look posher than we are. (They are from lidl. Fucking love lidl and its mystery aisle. )
So stuff has moved around. And there is new stuff in our house.
Popeye does not like this. I can just tell he feels uncomfortable or a bit miffed when he steps in the house and it’s not a photocopy of how it was when he left us.
I swear he thinks the second he departs on that bloody tin can time freezes here.
Even though I do tell him on the phone that I’ve bought X, Y, Z or I’ve put up a picture or whatnot; he doesn’t really ever seem to register that it has actually happened. What I am telling you on the phone is my real life. Like actually real.
Im not making it up. I’m not trying to dupe him. I’m not trying to make him feel out of place or confused in his own home.
I’m running a household. I’m doing exactly what I would have done had he been here.
I won’t put my life on hold, or wait for him to be home in order to get stuff sorted out in Maison de Oyl.
So I usually have a special “some things are different and some are the same chat”.
Except I couldn’t this time because we got cut off after talking about the girls.
I guess that’s another different thing. He left me as a blubbering, exhausted, desperate for help mother of two under two asking herself “how am I going to do this with no help?!”
Instead he will come back to find me a coping, exhausted mother of two under two. Still in need of help but not in that panic zone. Still in love with my Popeye, still hating the navy.
Because I’ve bloody done it. And it feels amazing. Amazingly different. And amazingly the same.
P.s if you like reading my blog, or if your wife/partner keeps sending you links to my posts and find yourself lol-ing when reading them onboard how about voting for me in the MAD blog awards? I’m a finalist in the best lifestyle blog category and it would mean SO much to win it. I’m the only forces person in the whole awards (guilt trip guilt trip). It takes 2 mins. Click right here and vote for ME! Ta muchly X
This special guest blog post is by one of my NWBFFs, “Pepper” (see what I did there- running with the condiments pseudonyms like a boss). Pepper is tackling a 9 month deployment after literally just finishing a 7 month one which is when we met as SWAGs (Sailor Wives And Girlfriends don’t you know). She’s here to tell us what the eff to expect and how shit it really is *gulp*. Take it away!
The 9 Monther
Ok so “monther” isn’t actually a word, but it is what I and other MW are calling it, in fact it is the polite term used for this long, looooooooonnnnng deployment.
I have to confess that I haven’t been a navy wife for very long, just under 2yrs in fact, but in that time I have dealt with him leaving for a 6.5 ‘monther’, several mini deployments(3-6wks), BOST, extra sea trials, and we are just over the half way mark of a 9month stint. Yay! Deep-End well and truly jumped.
He was on the 6mth tour when we heard the dreaded news(via the news funnily enough, I mean why give us actual navy families a heads up? Let’s sell the idea to the all knowing civilians first), and safe to say us wags were pretty upset. BUT, our guys were already deployed so this won’t affect us for ages, right? HA! Wrong!
4mths back just before Easter leave, the sailors are told they will be getting important news, WHEN THEY GO BACK!!! Seriously? Well done RN, just let us stress throughout the only time we’ve had in ages with our sailors. Well we did stress, as the RN are as transparent as clingfilm stretched thin on a toilet seat and just as unpleasant.
The “news” as expected was a 9mth draft starting in 5mths.
OK, OK, Calm down, it’s not that bad, I mean, this is what we “signed up for” right? …urgh, worst comment ever! But 9mths, not too bad, 40wks, 280 days…OMG! I can’t do this, nope, I CAN do this…the truth? I HAVE to do this because he HAS to do this.
Anyway, you know the drill, we don’t see them much whilst they prepare to leave, if you’re lucky you get to spend a week or if you’re REALLY lucky 2wks just before they set sail.
You console yourself with the other navy ladies, we are strong, we make plans to make it all easier, “look at it in chunks, not the entire thing”, ” 3mths until Christmas”…Oh God, Christmas! He’s not here, ok, it will be fine, it will distract us, 3 birthdays in December, Daddy isn’t going to be here, that’s fine, Mums do it alone all the time. New Year, well who cares anyway? It’s just another night, that’s what wine and Jools Holland is for.
The next chunk takes us to mid-deployment leave…that’s right, you heard me, MID-Deployment leave. They can come home, funded kindly by the MOD, TWO WHOLE WEEKS, well 2 days travelling, but that doesn’t matter, 12 WHOLE DAYS, OK there might be flight delays, but we are positive souls us Navy wives, all that matters is our sailors are coming home, and we get to see them, the children get to see them, their parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins…hang on! Where did your precious 12 days go? He hasn’t even landed yet and the whole thing is planned and your 12 days slumped in bed for lazy mornings, sofa days, the odd romantic meal, they’ve all started blurring into the distance before he even stepped foot on home soil.
OK you’ve got this, you’ve got the exact dates he’s home well in advance so you can sort things with work etc, oh wait! You haven’t, what? So begin the panicked emails to your lovely sailor man, you “understand, it’s not your fault dear”, until the 100th email with nothing confirmed, then it “IS ALL YOUR FAULT, YOU AND YOUR STUPID NAVY JOB!!!” You get so riled that you’re not even sure you want them home, think of the disruption. All of a sudden your 12 precious days have whittled down to 8, maybe 9 because you haven’t been able to sort work at such short notice, but that’s OK, he can check in with the relatives whilst you work…
D-Day, you’re at the RAF airport, ID badge proudly on display, you’re getting your sailor back, you’ve done your Homecoming Maintenance, THEY LAND…with only 2hrs delay. BOOM! Time to see if that water proof mascara you bought especially, will hold up. And then they start coming through arrivals, you’re soooo excited, nervous, stomach clenching, and you spot your sailor and HE’S IN RIG!(right there and then you don’t care about the mascara, or the limited days), he’s home.
First night you get home, he drops his huge black bag, and hugs, so many hugs, smiles, tears, kids, dogs, cats. So much love, giggles. You find yourself wanting to get him everything at once. Is he hungry? Does he want tea/coffee/alcohol? Would he like you to cook? Ooooo take away? He chooses of course, you’re in your own little sailor love bubble…then bed, oh sweet heaven this is the best moment you’ve had in the 4mths since he left. FINALLY you have someone to “Netflix and Chill” with 😉…
You wake up, and excuse the language, you shit yourself that someone’s in your bed, but then the sweet realisation hits that it’s your sailor.
From that point the clock is ticking, you know that this isn’t homecoming, this is all going to end soon, way, WAY too soon. So it begins, everything you planned, well it’s actually revised a little, you haven’t taken into consideration that he wants to spend an “hour” on the Xbox, or have a loooong nap due to working and flying. That’s OK, let’s take it easy. Which you do, a bit too easy, next thing you know 5 days have gone by and you have hardly seen any of your family members, he never did the rounds whilst you were in work, he was actually doing the chores around the house that you planned to take up a maximum of 30min, until he explains that a “broken shower head” is in fact a broken pipe and takes half a day. So you start arranging to visit people, resenting the precious time it is taking away from your time with him(or is that just me?), “wish I’d just planned a family get together, that would’ve only taken up an evening and then he’d be all mine again”
Day 9, the plans have gone out of the window, you wake up feeling sad, the euphoria of having him home has ebbed, leaving a rock in your stomach and a lump in your throat. You spend every minute you can watching him, smelling him, staying up waaaay too late so you can squeeze as much time together as possible. You know what’s coming, Hell! It was only 4mths ago that you were going through the exact same thing. This time though you actually REALLY do hate the navy. You hate the 9monther, MID-DEPLOYMENT leave sucks ass! Whose stupid idea was this? Who is so callous as to think it’s OK to dangle your sailor in front of you, only to tear him away again after a few fleeting days? You wish he hadn’t come home, you don’t want to say goodbye again. NO! NO! NO!
You avoid looking at him, it makes you well up, when you catch each others eye, you both have that ‘knowing’ look. “I’m going to miss you so much” becomes the beginning of every conversation.
It’s time. Your bubble is burst, your sailor is in RIG and you hate it, he’s leaving you again. You tell each other you are half way done, “HEY! We got through the worst part, it didn’t go THAT slowly, we got this”…except you haven’t. Right there and then you haven’t got this. He’s leaving for over another 4mths, longer if it’s extended, shhhhh! That won’t happen. This time it’s only Easter, more birthdays, Spring/summer weddings, anniversaries, children’s exams, plays, graduations that he’s missing.
It’s basically another bloody deployment, and it sucks!