Sunday, September 10, 2017

a mother named sandy. another named nature.

Sleepy Sunday wave from the North Shore of Massachusetts.  So my mother recently visited the blog. Not surprisingly her response was "It's all over my head."  Sigh.  Years old resignation.  At that moment, in that dialogue, I felt like Woody Allen when his character Mickey was trying to talk with his family.

"Who thinks about such nonsense?" asks the practical parent.

...But I'd rather turn attention to the intended audience, YOU.  Hi Hi!  Welcome, and how've you been?

It's been approximately two months since our last rendezvous.  With the speedy passing of nine weeks, autumn's returned to New England. I'm looking forward to a fall at the production company; spending more time in nature; and making my movie.  Following are more details for YOU, my darling kangaroo: 


The production company internship is going well.  I love it!  Tomorrow will be a long day of shooting a historical reenactment on a farm.  I was assigned to wardrobe, which I've done before.  Way back in 2003, I was the wardrobe assistant and props mistress on a production at the Chelsea Theatre Works.

This is the farm where we will be filming all day tomorrow, 10am until 12am.

In my experience, the most intoxicating aspect about being on a set hasn't been my assigned job.  It's the mad pace of hauling ass, so the schedule is maintained; so the project doesn't go over budget; so folks can maybe possibly get back home before 2 or 3am for a bit of snoozing. Everyone's working together.  Everything's bustling...  Until cameras roll* and then the set is quiet while actors do their thing.  Then the director says "Cut!  Great.  Thanks, guys."  And again everyone is back to working, bustling, prepping the next scene.  It'll be only my third time on a film set but, if tomorrow is like the first two times, the name of the day and similar chronology will slip away.  My skin will prickle with a feeling of timeless and eternal bliss, as I like being on set.  I've been completely content in that space.

* The production company isn't shooting on film, but I am going with the widely popular phrase of cameras rolling.

The sticking point with the internship is that it's unpaid.  I've pared down to basics:  I live with pals.  I try not to drive on the wknd, to ration gas.  Until I have an income, the website for my film company is offline because I can't pay the $20 monthly fee.  So I reduced my life to what feels like a fundamental level, because I prize my experience with the production company, but I'm beginning to feel flustered with a new unease.  Now in postprandial silences while washing dishes or brushing my teeth, I'm increasingly scared by the (un)certainty of what else at this level I may need to sacrifice.  ...But suddenly I hear the superego in my head, with its slightly militant edge, reminding me to buck up. "The production company, along with the rest of the free work you're doing right now, builds experience." One day I will earn a salary from creative work, and I will finally be able to pay my many bills bills bills.


This attic had been my home in Davis Square.  I desperately and wholeheartedly loved living there with that adorable cat named Bumbles.  The apartment was cheap and moldy as heck.  I've been breathing alot easier since moving, and I'm not joking.  Nevertheless, the romantic in me who laughs at mold illness, remembers this homespace with reverberating reverence...  (a moment of silence + a meow)

Now it is time to savor suburbia, to positively embrace my recent relocation as an expansion beyond city life, so I am trying to spend more time in nature, and it is something that I plan to do even during the winter months.  Over Memorial Day, I camped alone for the very first time.  I drove up and into Maine, where I stayed in a teepee nestled on the forested plot of an 11-acre homestead.  Surprised by how safe and unworried I felt at night, I believe this is the beginning of braving the woods on my own.

First, I had to walk along this path... this clearing and to this teepee, under the wide Maine sky.

It's a random but pretty angle, I think.
This is the back of the teepee.

Kept the top of the teepee open overnight, and that peeping spruce tree woke me up.
My picture doesn't do justice to the moment - but it was a very magnificent morning.

Additionally, a pal and I recently strolled thru the fantastically fecund Mary Cummings Park, and next we plan to hike around the Mill Pond Reservoir.  I'm gonna get outside more often! (ax wielding resolve)  I am going to walk and exercise, because I am aging...  However, that'll be a rant for another evening.

Its late and I'm sleepy, chickies.  I'm signing out with a this picture of the Mary Cummings Park.

To my contrary mother, if that clear blue sky is over your head, then it's all good. ♥

Thanks to YOU, who's as sweet as one of those trees in the field.  Windy air kisses.

PS  Too exhauseted to go into my own filmmaking, but next time.  Sweet dreams, sweet pea.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

clerical swag + mobsters

Hey hey.

Last weekend I decided to post a blog this week, and then I decided to write it tonight, but it's already 10:35pm, so it's going to be a short zb!a@hdeegjda.  (New word alert.  And a yawn.  And sleepy eyes.)

In April, I wrote about a theater where I assisted the Executive Director.  I wrote about how it was a great experience for me.  I was honing my admin skills within a creative setting, and that's always a dream come true for me.  Then I was offered an apprenticeship at a documentary production company, and it was definitely a step ... no, a leap forward for me.  So now I'm at the production company, getting my hands dirty as an Associate Producer, and I love it.  Over the past few years, I've been focused on developing my clerical swag, so I revel in spreadsheets that I need to create and revise.  I've been doing archival work and learning to search for high-resolution images that visually tell a comprehensive story.  The project I'm working on is related to organized crime, and so I get to research the mafia and rackets, when I feel like my love and study of The Godfather Triology has properly shaped my perspective on these matters.  (Not.  Sleepy sarcasm.)  And all of that is amazing and blisses me out, but additionally I also feel very thrilled about learning to edit - woo!  I'm going to start with a program called Avid, and Avid is an entire world in itself, so I'm going to give myself the rest of this year to master the basics.  But if you have the interest and the five minutes, quickly google "avid editing," and you'll immediately understand Avid is a small tech microcosm.  By learning this editing software, I have a few long-term hopes, but primarily I hope to edit my own films.

To provide a visual of what is making me so excited, I'm going to use an example.  It actually isn't a fillm I enjoyed very much, although I'll watch anything with Sandra Bullock, because I'm a huge Sandy fan...  Before Gravity hit the theaters back in 2013, it had to go through extensive editing.  Like this:

This is a screenshot of the editor's work, using Avid, as he assembled Gravity's opening scene.

This is what was ultimately delivered to audiences.

What I choose not to write about tonight is how I'm am almost completely broke.  In a very scary way...

Instead, I choose to exclusively focus on the fact that I'm creatively growing, and THAT is why I'm alive, proclaimed with Nina Simone conviction.  One day I'll be old, watching films from the 1900s, with a few cats running around my assisted living studio.  Before mentioning poverty, I'll whisper to my favorite cat "THAT was the summer I began to edit."  I'm taking exciting steps forward with my creative growth.  That's my priority.  That's what I'll focus on and do, no matter how financially dire things become.

Always Broke Bridget.  Always glad YOU stopped by.

      MUSCLE.  xxoo

Friday, June 30, 2017

i love you, davis square. ❤

Oh gosh.  Get over here and give me a big electronic hug.  How've you been, pookie pie?  I missed YOU.

As has become our custom, let's jump into an update.  Because I'm pushing hard, and although my body is exhibiting signs of wear, I'm proud of the progress being made in my private wilderness of endless donkeywork.  So with stress-induced red bags under my eyes, but without further ado, let's hit it:


After about a decade of living in Cambridge/Somerville, I'll be moving out of the area.  I have so many memories attached to this zip code zone.  I've taken so many late night walks when I couldn't sleep. I have consumed so much falafal from the sandwich shop one block away.  I know where everything I want it is at.  I know how much it'll cost before I get there.  I am familiar with the face of the person who will probably assist me.  For ten yrs, I've had the same three librarians at my teensy branch.  When I first moved to Somerville, my goal was to plant down roots, and I think I've definitely achieved that.

In fact, I count my life in Somerville as a dream come true.  Small dream, but still a dream.  When I was growing up across the Charles River in Roxbury (which is now the South End), I'd tell family that I wanted to live in Somerville when I grew up.  Then in high school, I'd ride the train to Davis Square and take pictures of the neighborhood with my pentax camera slung around my neck - I liked this area that much.  So during my 20s, I felt very happy in Davis.  It was a psychological match for me. There's a reason The Architecture of Happiness is my second favorite book, and I mostly agree with this article and its cited quotation by William S. Sax: "People and the places where they reside are engaged in a continuing set of exchanges; they have determinate, mutual effects upon each other because they are part of a single, interactive system."  A friend recently claimed that Somerville is Boston's Brooklyn and, whether or not that's true, it's a fact that "Somerville is home to a thriving arts community and boasts the second highest number of artists per capita in America."[1]  I'd certainly credit Davis Sq., West Somerville with being one of the prime forces that led me to this exclusively creative life path.

[1]  City of Somerville.  Retrieved 2013-03-22.

Next month I'll move to North Andover.  To spare you tedious background, my motivation is to spend the next year rent-free.  I'm at a point where it's necessary to take a break from rent.  I completed a survey sent out by the City of Boston, and I ranked/tanked at 250% below the City's level of poverty. My income is so nonexistant, that the $650 per month which I work so damn hard to put toward rent must be redirected to neglected bills.  I need to repay student loans.  I need to repay my friend Iryn.  I need to repay my friend Jenn, and my friend Jenny.  I need to pay medical bills.  I need to repay everything. So I am sacrificing West Somerville and rent, and instead I'm gonna redirect that meagre $650 to other expenses and debts.  My explicit vision, for August 2017 thru August 2018, is to live rent-free so I can pay bill after bill after Iryn after bill after bill after school loan invoice ... on and on and on.

There are a few folks participating in this transition and all of its tedious background.  (My brief notes of gratitude might come off as glib or garbled, but I am trying to wrap up this segment of the update.)  
  • Thanks to my boss who took me to lunch yesterday and paused her meal to say "I want you know that I really appreciate all the intentionality you invest in your work and in your life."  I began to tear up over my omelette and hash.  I'm grateful for this supervisor who sees me as a valuable human resource.  Meaningful work and doing a good job are important to me, and I rarely sync up with a boss who is as empathetic, kind, supportive.  While crying over my omelette (because it's been a super rough month) I mumbled, "Thanks.  People don't always like that."  More about work soon.
  • Thanks to my friend Damien.  You know nights when you grow so anxious, dinner feels like the worst idea ever.  It was an evening like that, and I really needed to talk with a friend.  Damien is a busy dude, saving the world by getting people homes and putting out fatal fires.  He didn't have time to talk until late at night - like around 10pm - and then we talked for a long while, processing every private detail that I could not figure out on my own.  That was a "call the helpline" kind of night, and Damien was my helpline.  Damien and I often drive each other crazy!  (laughing and in fake boxing stance)  But like Damien heroically runs into buildings ablaze with fire, Damien heroically ran into my private wilderness ablaze with uncertainty.  xo
  • Thanks to Vera and Mike for giving me a room in their house.  I actually checked with blood family about staying with them rent-free, and they promptly said nope. Vera and Mike, who have been chosen family for about twenty years, didn't bat an eye before saying "Sure. When?"  I warned them that I need a year.  I warned them that I stay up very late listening to Bob Dylan and making mugs of hot chocolate.  I warned them that I have a book collecting addiction.  Yet they still didn't bat an eye, and they repeated "Okay.  Sure.  When are you coming?  And we eat dinner at 6pm.  Does that work for you too?"  My anxiety hasn't stemmed from a lack of choices.  My anxiety mostly stems from disappointment in myself because I am financially weak. Thanks to Mike and Vera for giving me the option of idyllic North Andover, and I hope that my recent fits of anxiety have not eclipsed my profound gratitude.
So, I'll be departing Somerville.  The transition has tossed me into a rabbit hole of doubt - self doubt, geography doubt, and a strange concern about CVS locations.  I was brushing my teeth and planning to scout out CVS stores in North Andover.  (rolling my eyes at myself)  It'll be ok.  I just worry alot...

...Ahmmm.  I guess, let's move onto the movie and film company.


I found a lighthouse.  Should this location process continue to productively progress, it looks like I'll be using Pemaquid Point Lighthouse as my external setting.  This lighthouse is in Maine.  In August I'll be making my first presentation to the Keepers of the Lighthouse - meeting them in person, discussing the production process, and discussing property insurance for when we shoot the film next summer. Not the lighthouse I envisioned in my imagination, but it is beautiful.  It offers several gorgeous angles, and I am grateful to the lighthouse keepers for saying yes.  (So many lighthouse keepers said no.  Or even more infuriating, they would say "That sounds like a great project!  ...  But no."  Just say no aaaah.)

                                           Pemaquid Point Lighthouse at Sunrise  (© VINCENT MISTRETTA)

I doubt I'll go for a look this washed out, but it's a second image showing how helpfully manipulable the aesthetics of this location will be.  We can go with dark and broody, or with a brightness promising innocent familial bliss.  

In addition to Maine, I hope to go to Brooklyn in August.  There's a financer in NYC called Gamechanger Films, and they provide mentorship to women directors who are producing narrative films.  (Bishop raises hand in the air.)  That'd be me.  (Bishop points to herself.)  Gamechanger is a team of producers, who also function as advisors - as I understand from their website - but this team isn't responding to my messages.  I want to clear a week in August, when I go to Brooklyn and visit the Gamechanger office so I can get some sort of helpful information.  ...  My anxiety has recently peaked because - and I mean this seriously, word for word - if I do not source $100K, I cannot make the movie I spend my entire life producing.  This movie will not be made, and that cannot happen.  I'm not making any assumptions that the Gamechanger team can solve this finance problem for me, but I feel confident that they must have someone in their network of equity financiers who is interested in first-time directors.  Debut films happen all the time.  This film is my debut, and I need someone somewhere to lead me to the funding.  I think the door into this equity finance world could be Gamechanger.  So I want to spend a week being in Brooklyn - presenting myself in person and the film and simply saying, "Hey I am making a cool film, and I am looking for a cool Executive Producer.  Can you point me in the right direction?  Please."

By the way, Gamechanger financed one of my favorite horror films, The Invitation.  It'll feel very exciting to be in the space where production meetings were held for this modern exploitation film.  BLOOD AND GORE!  (twin peaks sort of snicker)  I'll take a picture of myself in front of the building!!

Alright bebe, it's time for me to sign off for the last time from Somerville.

Davis Square, I love you.  Thank you for being my home this past decade.

Waving goodbye to darling YOU, and cueing in the 1970s rock band Devo.
                big urges big love big hugs and see you soon xoxo

Monday, April 3, 2017

black american bisexual nerd ➡ bougie spike lee

Hey hey, you ultra handsome dumpling.
How have you been, amazonian queen?

Let's just jump into the creative update.


The maelstrom of change which marks my life continues to wildly whirl.  I have been pleasantly preoccupied, per usual, as I continue to gain creative professional experience.  Because time flies, many months ago I mentioned that I was searching around for a new theater to join.  I landed at a playhouse in the heart of Cambridge, MA where I'm super lucky to assist a very cool Executive Director. The support I provide is mostly administrative, and I love that.  I participate in program planning and management, and I spend alot of time communicating with actors.  Just to repeat a sentiment I've been screaming over and over again throughout the Broke Bridget blog - you know (more serious expression) - if I'm ever going to be qualified for a salaried creative position, I need to focus on acquiring the necessary experience.  Sometimes when I'm hunting down an actress' elusive headshot, I'm silently hoping praying pleaing "Let this be the experience I should be building - so that my 40 year old self has a full time and salaried job in a creative environment."  And I do think it is a productive step forward.  I understand that this very cool Executive Director is taking time out of her overflowing schedule, in order to mentor me.  I think that we have a great rapport.  I really trust her guidance, and I'm grateful for the entire experience.  So that, my beautiful reader, is one thing I've been busy with.

The playhouse is called Central Square Theater (CST).  Equidistantly smooshed between MIT and Harvard, the theater is producing a thought-provoking series which contemplates the question "Who is a scientist?"  Our upcoming play portrays a Muslim-American teenager who is passionate about biology. Here's a link where you can find more information and purchase tickets.  The Boston Globe reviewed the production as an ambitious yet accessible collision of "[s]cience, poetry, faith, and romance." Sounds like a perfect Friday night!  Grab one of your favorite people, and we hope to see you at CST!!

Image result for Central Square Theater
the entrance to Central Square Theater

Nutmeg + Mustard
an arthouse film production co.

I've launched the first incarnation of the company's website, and it's basic.  Definitely in progress.  But my deadline was this week, and I was firm with myself about meeting that deadline, so I published a simple site.  Right now it's a single webpage, but over the course of this year I will be completing and sharing additional pages.  I'm not too proud of it yet, but it'll stay online so I can share my cinematic vision and hopefully - fingers crossed - snag the attention of any collaborators who may be interested.

Saraghina and Gloria Morin, two worship worthy characters from the Italian film 

I've been meeting really active, amazing, and experimental artists.  Last night I met an actor who had the sort of off-center, vague, and gothic sense of humor that I enjoy.  We snickered about sinister metaphors and swapped closeted creative fantasies, both of us excited by meeting a kindred nerd.  It was one of those brainstorming chats where you're riffing inspiration, and the other person is like your mirror or your lightning rod.  I'll probably never see this kid again, but for me it was a clarifying conversation, and here goes the part of our chat which was delightful and which has stuck with me:

ACTOR:  "I might make a painting where the world is ... (cautious pause and glance) ... molten lava!"
ME:  (wide eyes)  "OOOOh my gawd yes do it."
ME and ACTOR adolescently snickering.
ACTOR:  "Ha, really?  Yeah probably.  I've never actually said that out loud before."
ME:  "But do it.  You gotta paint it."
ACTOR:  "So tell me about the film company."
ME:  "Take Spike Lee.  Keep the all black cast, but make the production as bougie as fucking possible." 
ACTOR:  "Cool, with a whole bunch of gay on top."
ME:  "Yeah.  I really love queer literature and cinema.  And just very visually beautiful interpretations of literature with black and brown actors.  I - personally - am yearning to watch something like that."
ACTOR: "Wait, let me get my phone so I can show you my friend's film.  They used a great camera..."

Then we started talking about cameras and color correction, which is less inspiring than birthing ideas.  But there was a switch in me when this guy said "with a whole bunch of gay on top."  Inside my head, I've spent the past few weeks reframing - or maybe more clearly understanding the frame I'm already in - but articulating to myself who I am and how this identity is gonna come through in my filmmaking.

(Conversations can be cathartic like that for me, which is why I really love talking to other people.)

I'm a black American who reads, who obsesses over indie films, who is bisexual.  The collision of these elements is the mission of Nutmeg + Mustard.  I am not satisfied with the webpage that I published this morning, but my cinematic vision has crystalised, and I want this vision out in the ether.  Now if a producer or actress or financier, who possesses sympathetic stirrings, comes across my reworking of Virginia Woolf's with a black cast - then maybe they will contact me at

Frances - (throat clearing)  Notice that the comment boxes have been left open...  Request granted.
Andrew N - Ours def was a cathartic conversation. A chance encounter brimming with kismet, cheers.
Iryn, Jenn, and V - We've shared conversations for so many years!  Let's have them for so many more.

And YOU, divine beast.  If we were sitting together, I'd say "Wanna see a play?  You want another brownie or a cup of water?  You tired?  How are you feeling?"  Because I heart ya.  Stop by again, okay.

fake and friendly lion roar + a sleepy hug

Bridget, forever broke and forever yours


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Senegal in Chicago

HI honey pies.

I thought tonight's reunion could be pics from my trip to Chicago.  My travel style lacks the luster of a wild adventure, but nevertheless I had a fantastic return to Chicago.  I walked streets with my camera, pausing in bakeries for snacks, before continuing to stroll around a neighborhood or museum.  I felt happy to be there over the Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend.  I felt proud I had set aside that long weekend to celebrate the Civil Rights Movement in the home of the Chicago Freedom Movement.  And I'm happy to share these snapshots with YOU.  So ta-daaaa, here you go:

The next few pictures are from the Field Museum of Natural History.
On my maternal side, our African ancestry is rooted in Senegal, so I was excited about this exhibit.

This was a favorite moment for me:  There was a gallery of mummies at the Field Museum, and this child mummy was about the same age of the little boy who had his hand pressed against the glass partition.  In Spanish the little boy was repeatedly questioning his grandmother, "¿Está muerto?"  ("Is he dead?")  And the grandmother was repeatedly responding "Sí, chico.  Sí."  As the boy continued to press - I think, disturbed by the deceased little boy in front of him - this grandmother eventually reassured her grandson, "Pero es antiguo."  ("But it's ancient. /  But it's history.")  I was so fascinated by this little boy's reaction!  I smiled at his grandmother, and then we started to chat about why she was visiting from Argentina and why she thinks it's more difficult to learn English.  -  On a separate note, the Mummy Exhibition felt sacred.  I do not post this picture casually.  Please view it respectfully, and I do not give permission for this image to be reprinted elsewhere.

I grew up with pet finches, so the museum wing housing stuffed birds was really interesting to me.

Regular readers know that I have the worst luck when it comes to love.  After reading this placard describing efforts that some male birds undertake in order to win a female bird's favor, I thought to myself "Sheesh, I wish!  If only someone would try to dazzle me..."  I'm thinking about going to a speed dating event, which may be the topic of a future blog post - right now I feel like it'd turn out to be creepy and disappointing, so I may not do it?

The Field Museum mostly features taxidermy, and they feature it pretty darn well.  The Field Museum is a cool place!  These are the Fighting Elephants, and supposedly they were a big deal back in the 1890s when taxidermy had never been successfully done with animals that were this large.

Downtown Chicago along the Chicago Riverwalk

crossing the Chicago River

the Civic Opera Building, and its classic art deco architecture

Monroe Street Bridge 

more Chicago Riverwalk 

I usually visit a church whenever I visit a city.  
This is the exterior and interior of Old St. Patrick's.

a lion guarding the Art Institute of Chicago

I've triumphantly arrived at the Bean.  Woo!

Last night in town, heading back to my Airbnb.  The exterior and interior of the CTA Station, Randolph/Wabash on the Loop.

It's very late, and I need to go to bed now, but I will end by sending love to these folks:
Dear Barack.  Dear Michelle.  Dear Sasha and Malia.  Dear Jill and Joe.  YOU are missed.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

holiday cards + chicago

Since it's been awhile, let's jump into a general update.  Sound good to you, cutie?  OKAY - let's hit it!

[1]  HOLIDAYS    I am big into hand delivering or snail mailing old fashioned cards - for birthdays, for anniversaries, but especially over the holiday season.  So to be totally honest about how much of a dork I am, I haven't written a blog in about 2.5 months because I've been preparing packages for the people in my life.  Annually, I start with my oldest and dearest - the college boyfriend who'll always be special; the childhood friends I've been close with for 20+ yrs; and the coworkers who over the years have morphed into confidantes and activity partners.  I deliver some cards to beloveds' homes - with pies, mixed CDs, and/or gift bags - or I drop bundles of notes into the mailbox. And this simulation of Santa will continue throughout January, as I continue to pass out happy-new-year handsels.  For example, next week my physician will receive her holiday package with mugs and other office goodies - because she's taken fantastic care of my health for the last decade...  So that's where I've been, dear reader:  Saying "Happy holidays" and "Thanks for everything" to folks I adore.

the 2017 card that i'm sending out this year

[2]  FILM COMPANY    On Friday morning, 30 December 2016, I went to the City Clerk's Office at Somerville City Hall, where I filed a certificate which serves to initially institute the film company as a local new business.  Now, though it may seem a surprisingly small next step, I think it's important that I get a file cabinet and soon.  Because I'm amassing various registration certificates plus similar paperwork which should be kept organized and all together, in one safe and accessible place - aka ... my bedroom haha.  (That was really funny to me for some reason.  Sleepy giggles as I type.)  So the company has been officially founded - hurrah! - and it was possible because of the film's very first investor.  Gratitude to this investor, and updates will continue - file cabinet photos and much more.

[3]  CHICAGO    I took off next week from my job, and I am going to Chicago.  I love Chicago.  I went regularly during high school with my pal Dan.  I love the train system and its elevated platforms, offering panoramic views of neighborhoods.  I enjoy the smell of the city.  I enjoy the food.  Most of all, I respect the people.  I love Chicagoans' Midwestern character - openness, friendliness, agreeableness, calm and steady warmth, authentically polite while quickly getting to the point - goddamn, I love it!  Being a vacation, I'll honor my inner turtle by taking it easy.  I'm going to bring my camera, and I'm just gonna do lots of walking.  Sometimes visiting a museum but mostly riding trains, roaming streets, and soaking in Chi.  Also - another exciting prospect - I got an Airbnb on the Brown Line, so for the first time I'll commute over the Wells Street bridge across the Chicago River.

the Wells Street drawbridge

It's almost midnight and time for me to turn in.  Wrapping up our first blog of 2017, I'll conclude with this:  Happy new year to YOU.  So glad you are YOU, and very grateful YOU continue to stop by our blog.  I hope your holiday was happy.  I hope you sleep tight, and I hope we speak again soon.  Huge electronic bear hug!  xoxo