Friday, April 26, 2013

Not Mom Me :)

My blog & I are featured today at The Not Mom, a blog/site devoted to the 1 in 5 women who are childless/free for whatever reason. A big thanks to Laura LaVoie for the interview! & I love the photo chosen to illustrate this entry! :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Home and the world

One of the persistent assumptions/myths/stereotypes about those of us who are childless/free (whether by choice or not) is that we all travel a lot -- because we can! 

Well, as is often the case, some of us certainly do, but some of us don't. Msfitzita had a great post recently about why, for now at least, she has chosen to stay close to home.

Her post resonated with me, because I recently returned to work after a week's staycation. (Boo, hiss...) Highlights included trips to three different mega-bookstore outlets and one of the new Target stores that just opened here in Canada. ; )  We both did a lot of reading, & I got caught up on a lot of blogs.

And then I went back to work. And people ask me, "Oh, you were on vacation? Where did you go?" I feel like I'm disappointing them when I tell them, "Nowhere." (Or joke, "I went to Target!")

When did it become the mandated norm that you MUST go somewhere when you take vacation time??

I admit... I love a good staycation, now & then. There is nothing better than being at home in the middle of the day (while everyone ELSE is at work!!), sitting on the loveseat with my laptop or a good book and a nice cup of tea in hand, with the sunlight flooding into my living room. It looks like a completely different place in the daylight. When you spend 6+ months of the year going to work in the dark & coming home in the dark, it's a sight that's meant to be savoured. And I like being able to sleep in and setting my own schedule, not HAVING to constantly be at a particular place at a particular time. (At least once in awhile.)

Msfitzita wrote eloquently about what home has meant to her these past nine years since the death of her son, Thomas. "Home" has always been a word charged with special meaning for me too... maybe because, as I grew up, "home" was generally someplace different, every three years or so.  The longest I ever lived in one place before I left my parents was six years. By the time my parents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, our family had lived in 11 different houses in 7 different towns in two provinces.

My dad worked in the branches of two different Canadian banks over some 30 years (until he chucked banking altogether and went into real estate) -- and in those days, when the bank decided it was time for you to move, you didn't have much say in the matter. He often had very little notice (a few weeks, tops) before he was expected to report to the next job, and usually spent the first few weeks or months living in a motel & eating out -- and these were generally very small towns with few choices for lodging or dining -- looking for a place for us to live, and driving home on weekends. 

My mother was left to deal with selling the house, purging and packing up, dealing with the movers -- and dealing with my sister & me. The older we got, the harder it was to cope with leaving our established lives and friends. Today, kids can easily keep in touch by with texting, e-mail and Facebook. Back then, all we had was Canada Post and maybe (if we were really good) a few precious minutes on the telephone a couple times a year. (Long distance back then was considered expensive.)  The friend factor aside, it was hard to adjust to a new school.  Both of us were generally good students, but, for example, I'd find myself bored silly in my new English class, where I was light years ahead of my classmates, while struggling to keep up in math, because the curricula were so different. When I was in early grade school, we moved from one town to another where all the kids were sports crazy. In one of our first phys ed classes, we went outside to play baseball. I had never played baseball before. I got sent out into the outfield with a borrowed glove, and spent most of the next half hour praying that the ball wouldn't come anywhere near me, because I had no idea what I was supposed to do with it. When I failed to pick up the ball with due haste and throw it with enough force in the right direction for the pitcher to catch, the wrath and scorn of my classmates descended upon me. That set the tone for the rest of my school phys ed career and my ongoing relationship with organized sports and physical activity generally. 

(I digress....)

Fortunately for my sister & me, most of these transfers occurred in the late spring/early summer, so we were always able, at least, to finish out the school year. Many of my closest friends were the children of RCMP and air force officers (one of the places we lived was home to an air force base), who knew & understood what it was like to move around and be the new kid in school.

(I have a theory that my packrat tendencies are rooted in a desire to cling to the familiar, everyday things in my life, since my surroundings were constantly changing. Dh, who lived in the same house in the same city with the same people around him for almost his entire pre-marriage life, is much more of a minimalist and much more inclined to throw things away. I am sure there is a PhD thesis in there somewhere...)

I can remember talking with my parents about where they wanted to be buried when the time comes. "Where is home?" my dad asked, rhetorically.  He left branch banking almost 25 years ago -- he and my mother stayed in the last town where they had been moved by the bank, and have lived there for almost 30 years now. You might think they would want to buried there, but they've decided they want to be cremated, and their ashes interred in the small Minnesota town where my mother grew up -- not far from where my father grew up, just across the border, and where my ancestors (on both sides) were among the early settlers. That place, more than anywhere else, I think, said and still says "home" to me, in a lifetime of moving around.

*** *** ***

Anyway, as usual, I digress. The above is a long & roundabout way of saying that I understand the pull of home that Msfitzita expresses so well in her post.

At the same time, I do get the itch to travel. 

Travel -- not world travel, mind you, but spending long hours in the car as my dad drove us hundreds of miles across the open prairies, through swirling snow in the winter and blazing hot sun in the summertime (and most cars in those days had no airconditioning) to visit family and friends (back in those towns we had left behind) -- is a big part of my childhood memories. The towns we lived in were pretty small, so driving was a part of life. We thought nothing of driving an hour or so to shop or go to the movies in a bigger town down the road. When I was very small, we took the train to visit our grandparents, but as we moved around (and as more and more passenger rail lines shut down), we drove to visit them, at least a couple of times a year. When I was in junior high, we finally moved to a town that was JUST a two-hour drive away, so we got to see them more often.  (Packing for a trip does not faze me -- I usually don't start until the night or day before a trip.  I was packing my own suitcase from the time I was in grade school, so it is no big deal to me.)

When I was 7, our family took a trip (by car, of course) to visit Calgary and Banff, and when I was 14, we drove all the way to the west coast.  In Grade 12, I won a trip from the Rotary Club to spend a week in Ottawa along with a couple hundred other Grade 12 students  from all across Canada. It was the first time I had ever been in an airplane, and it was a life-changing experience for me. A few years later, when I graduated from journalism school in Ontario, my parents & I drove to my convocation -- through northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan on the way there, and across the top of Lake Superior on the way back (where some places were so remote that we couldn't even tune in a radio station).  Along the way, there were school band trips around the province, and camping trips, and treks down to the Twin Cities to see relatives.

I wasn't alone among my peers, at that time & place. For most of us, "travel" or "vacation" meant a trip to the closest city, or camping in a provincial park -- maybe a trip to Calgary or Vancouver or (slightly more exotic) Toronto (haha). Once in awhile, older friends of my parents would go to Las Vegas or Reno, and I remember one couple that went to Tijuana. I knew only a very few lucky "rich" kids who got to go to Disneyland (in California -- Disney World in Florida was just getting off the ground) -- and that was considered a once-in-a-lifetime experience. These days I read about parents who take their kids on a Disney cruise EVERY YEAR. Needless to say, I can't relate.

Dh & I spent our honeymoon in Banff & Jasper (we couldn't afford a big trip to an exotic location, and anyway, I've never seen the point of going to Jamaica or Hawaii in the middle of July...!). We've been back to the Rockies and out to the west coast (British Columbia, Washington & the Oregon Coast) a couple of times, with family members. We spent a wonderful week in Nova Scotia a couple of years ago for our 25th wedding anniversary. I did a bit of business travelling to some major Canadian cities, about 20 years ago (which mostly meant seeing airports, hotel lobbies and board rooms).  And we've taken a lot of long-weekend/mini-vacations, to Ottawa (must get back there again soon, it's been too long...), Michigan, Niagara, Stratford, Kingston, cottage country resorts, etc.

But I've never been to Europe (although I've dreamed about it for years). I've never been to Italy (dh has, to visit relatives when he was a boy, but not in the last 40 years, and never to any of the typical tourist spots).  I've never been to New York City, or to California, or Florida, or to Mexico, or to the Caribbean. I've never been further south than Iowa.

*** *** ***

So why haven't we travelled more...?

Time and money were big factors in the early years of our marriage. Starting out in our respective jobs, we only got 2 weeks vacation (the mandated minimum here in Canada). I think that increased to four weeks after we reached 10 years of service, and five weeks when we hit 20 years (which is the most you get, no matter how long you stay with the company). And, because I live 1,000+ miles away from my family & like to see them now & then, most of my precious vacation time in those early years was spent travelling to & from my parents' home, or hosting my mom (with or without dad) here. A few days or a week at Christmastime, a week or two in the summer & poof, there goes your vacation allotment. I don't think people who live close to their families quite "get" that sometimes.

These days, we both get 5 weeks per year -- but we still haven't done a lot of travelling. Money is part of the reason, I suppose. Many of our peers use(d) their income tax refunds or bonuses at work to fund vacations (or put them on their credit cards...!), but until we had our mortgage paid off, any extra funds we had or came into went toward that goal. In recent years, saving for what we hope will be an early retirement became the priority.

(FIL did have a house in Florida for a few years, back in the 1990s = cheap accommodation -- but they always had a huge mob staying there with them whenever they went. Sharing a bathroom with 15 other people wasn't my idea of a vacation, so we never made it there before they sold.)

Also, having the vacation time is one thing;  working around our coworkers' vacation schedules is another complicating factor. We both (but dh especially) work on teams that are pretty thinly staffed and in posts that require some backup. It's understood that if we want the same week off as one of our immediate teammates, it's not very likely that we're both going to get it. This recent "staycation" came about after dh spent the week of Ontario spring break covering for not just one but two of his teammates. "I need a vacation," he said to me, but when we looked at our respective vacation schedules & the time off booked by our respective coworkers, we realized it was either the first week of April, or... mid-June. :p

Then there's also the issue of getting dh to agree to travel, to where and to a plan. He likes the idea of travel, in theory, but getting him to commit to a time, place and agenda is sometimes another story.  

Perhaps we'll get to travel more once we retire, when we're not as time-restricted and don't have the everyday pressures of work to clutter up our thinking on the matter. Europe is high on my list, & there's still so much of Canada I want to see.

But time just keeps flying by, and while retirement is looming in the not-too-distant future, I don't want to put all my travel eggs into that basket. As Mali recently put it, delayed gratification can be overrated.

I remember one of my aunts telling me how glad she was that she & her husband took a few big trips together, including one to England & Scotland for their 30th wedding anniversary, and a long-desired driving trip to California shortly after they both retired at age 65.

Less than a year later, shortly before my aunt's 66th birthday, he was dead.

Friday, April 12, 2013

This week in grief

  • Dh & I spent a few hours at the local mall one afternoon during our recent staycation.  We had split up for awhile, and as I was making the rounds, I found him sitting on a bench, nursing a coffee, right outside a women's wear store... called (wait for it...) Katie. I knew EXACTLY why he chose to sit there. I wanted to laugh & cry & hug him all at once. It was the cutest thing. It also completely broke my heart. :(
  • This past week on "Dallas" (you knew it was coming, right?? lol) -- Pamela Rebecca Barnes (niece of the original Pamela Barnes Ewing, as played by Victoria Principal) was horrified to realize that her own father, Cliff, was responsible for the oil rig explosion that ultimately killed her unborn twin babies. What horrified ME (and grieving mothers everywhere, I am sure) was hearing her father tell her that her loss "was probably for the best," since the babies would have tied her to the hated Ewing family forever. You and I probably don't have parents capable of ordering a bomb to be detonated when they knew their only, PREGNANT daughter was onsite and at risk (and thank goodness for that...!)(that's the soaps for you...!) -- but how many of us have had to deal with similar painful comments??  (Season finale coming up, this Monday night...!)
  • Did anyone see the parents of the children who were killed in Newtown, Connecticut, on 60 Minutes last Sunday night?  Absolutely heartwrenching. :(  (And horrifying, especially watching them being totally ignored by certain members of Congress. :p  )  And although I have never experienced such a tragedy (& hope I never will), there was so much there in their grief and love for their children that I could relate to as a bereaved parent (albeit bereaved in a different way). I was in tears by the end. The segment is available in two parts online, here and here
  • On a related note, Timothy Egan's Friday column in the New York Times -- titled The Power of Loss -- bookended some pointed observations about the gun control debate in the U.S. with some powerful references to the Newtown parents that resonated with me (emphasis mine):
  • Opening paragraph:  "Their grief is so immense, their sadness so deep, that when the parents of children slaughtered in Newtown, Conn., tried this week to make a political point, most people could not see beyond the swollen red eyes. It was all hugs and pats and God forbid, we can only imagine if that had happened to us."
  • And closing: "Bill Sherlach lost his wife, Mary, a psychologist, to Adam Lanza’s Bushmaster AR-15. He was in Washington this week, his broken heart on reluctant display. “We’re just private citizens,” he said, “who are now part of a club we never wanted to be in.” "

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Making the right decision, or making the decision right?

Maybe Baby, Maybe Not (who is blogging through her decision on whether to have children) had a really interesting post this week, musing on a quote from (of all people) TV's Dr. Phil (McGraw):  
"Sometimes you make the right decision, and sometimes you have to make the decision right." 
(Sounds like Dr. Phil, doesn't it?)

I know that, within the childless/childfree/barren/notmom/nomo/non-parenting/choose-your-favourite-label segment of the ALI community, many of us struggle mightily over the question of whether our situation was an actual, active decision or choice. (As I often say sarcastically when discussing this subject, "Some choice...") Even if we can agree (however reluctantly) that it was a "choice" (of sorts), if only by default -- it certainly wasn't the first one, the one we really wanted.  It's not a choice that most of us embrace, at least at first. It was just the best one we could make in a bad situation with the resources (financial, mental, physical, spiritual) we could muster at that point in time.

It may not FEEL like we made a decision, let alone the right one (at first, anyway).  But, as MBMN points out, "the onus is on you to make it the right one."  ("Make it right" -- hmmmm, how did we get from Dr. Phil to Mike Holmes??)(But -- I digress...!)

Whether we actively chose this path, or felt like we had much of a choice in taking it -- or even if it was clearly the WRONG decision, in hindsight -- the point is, here we are. This is your life -- "your one wild and precious life," as a famous Mary Oliver quote puts it. What do you plan to do with it?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The 700 Club

No, not THAT 700 Club. ; )

This is my 700th published post. : )  700 posts over 5.5 years. Not too bad!

Just had to make note of that. : )

Fur kids

Me (left) & my sister, with our one & only puppy, Honey.
One of just two photos we have of her.
I've been pondering a post about pets for awhile now, and Mel's posts (here & here)  about the passing of her family's pet hamster, Cozy Jackson, prompted me to pull up a pet-related post I started awhile back.

Among the many myths about those of us living without children:  if we don't have kids, we must have pets. 

Some of us do, of course. I have many childless friends & relatives who may or may not have wanted children, but dote on their "furkids."

I am not one of them.

It's not that I don't like animals (reptiles of almost any sort being the one big exception -- although my sister & I did briefly have a pair of turtles when we were pre-teens). If I come to your house, I will happily sit and stroke your dog or cat. I have fond memories of visiting the chirping little yellow chicks at my grandparents' farm.  I used to love going with my (other) grandfather to the 4-H Club barns at the county fair to see the animals, or to go for long drives in the country with him after supper, hoping to spot some deer (followed by a trip to the dairy bar for ice cream). He and my grandmother loved birds, and had a bird feeder outside the dining room window.  I am thrilled everytime I see a rabbit hopping through my backyard. (Perhaps less so when it's a pesky squirrel or raccoon. Or skunk.)

But aside from the turtles, the only pet I have ever had was a dog -- and reading Mel's post about Cozy Jackson made me realize that my very first experience with loss was the loss of a pet. (I'm sure I'm not alone in this.)

I was a pre-schooler, probably about 4 years old, living in a small town in Saskatchewan, when we got our puppy. I think it was my mother's idea -- although I find that kind of hard to believe because, for the rest of my growing up years, she was never keen on having pets around the house. (She did have a couple of dogs when she was growing up -- although I find THAT hard to believe, because my grandmother wasn't very keen on pets either -- she absolutely loathed cats.) (The turtles were a gift from a dog-loving neighbour who insisted that my sister & I needed a pet. I think my mother could have killed her, and was secretly relieved when both turtles finally died.) 

I have memories of being taken down into a dark basement to see a new litter of puppies (no particular breed), and delighting in holding them (and, of course, wanting to take them all home). The puppy we picked -- which we named Honey -- was, my mother says, probably too little to be taken from her mother . She whined all through the night, for the first while we had her. I remember my bleary eyed father getting up in the middle of the night to check on her. We put an alarm clock (the old-fashioned kind that ticked) into her basket with her, and gave her an old sock to chew on. Cleaning out mom's basement a few years ago, I found pieces of an old child's jigsaw puzzle with some of the edges chewed away -- by Honey. 

 I don't know how long we had Honey. It wasn't very long -- months? Maybe a year, tops. I remember her cooped up in a rudimentary crate that my father built, which sat on the floor of the car at my sister's & my feet during the long drive to my grandparents' farm. We left her there as we continued our trip across the border to visit our other grandparents. And then we left her there for good when we went home again. I'm not sure why -- I remember my mother once saying "she was getting so big."  At any rate, my grandparents loved her.

And then one day we got a call or letter telling us that Honey had died. She was run over by a car on the road near the farm.

I remember crying in my mother's arms, inconsolable. I remember my mother telling me that Honey was in Heaven now, and what a wonderful place Heaven was, and that, if I was good, I might see her again someday. I remember asking if she would have lots of bones to chew on in Heaven, and being comforted by that thought.

We've enjoyed (even doted) on various neighbours' dogs over the years -- but neither my sister nor I have ever had another dog.  We -- and my sister in particular (always more keen on dogs & horses than I was) -- used to sometimes bug my parents about getting another one, but my mother said she was done with pets (& I can't blame her, since most of the work fell on her, as it usually does). And since being married, I've just never felt a strong urge to have a pet.

For one thing, our first apartment strictly prohibited pets at first (as well as children -- although both restrictions were eventually lifted while we lived there).  Dh did not grow up with pets at all. Many of his aunts & cousins consider pets unclean and are almost phobic about them. He doesn't mind smaller dogs, but if we are out walking & we see someone walking a big dog, heading our way, he will drag me across the street to get away from them.

I have to admit I'm not particularly fond of the big ones either. There is a vicious Rottweiler that lives across the back fence. Dh sometimes leaves that part of the back yard unmowed, because the dog will put his paws up on the fence and bark at him like crazy as he mows the lawn. We are actually quite surrounded by dogs here, and once one gets barking, it seems like the entire neighbourhood joins in the chorus -- usually about 10 p.m., just as we're trying to go to sleep. :p 

From a practical perspective, pets are a big responsibility -- and unlike children, they don't eventually grow up and learn how to do things for themselves. More importantly, working and commuting means we are away from home for almost half the day -- 11 hours, minimum, when you factor in commuting time. It would not be fair (or probably wise for the furniture...) to leave a pet by itself for that length of time (and doggy daycare is expensive). Most of my coworkers who have pets live much closer to work than I do, and/or have spouses who work from home or are retired and can look out for the animals. We're generally exhausted when we get home at night, and pets need to be walked and exercised regularly.  Having pets also means you can't just easily pick up & go somewhere. We travel to see my parents at least twice a year for a week or two at a time, and would have to bring the pet along with us (and some flights are pet-restricted), or board them at a kennel or with friends or relatives.

And, as it turns out, I am mildly allergic to pet hair.  I've never noticed a problem, being at other people's houses, but living with one might be another story. BIL is allergic to cats and can't be around one very long without his eyes getting red, puffy and itchy. 

Or maybe that early childhood loss has subconsciously made me shy away from further heartbreak? 

Whatever. I just wanted to make the point that "childless" doesn't automatically equal "pet owner."  People will sometimes ask me if I have kids, & when the answer is no, the next question is often, "Do you have any pets?"  Ummm, no to that, too. Sorry to disappoint you -- twice. :p  I AM a nice person... really...!

There are plenty of ways we can give and receive love in this world -- pets and offspring are just two of them. To each their own!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Giving up vs letting go

I am not sure who Danielle Koepke is, but this quote was part of a longer post that someone shared in my Facebook newfeed today, and I thought it was a perfect explanation of my situation (& possibly yours as well): 
There is a big difference between giving up and letting go. Giving up means selling yourself short. It means allowing fear and struggle to limit your opportunities and keep you stuck. Letting go means freeing yourself from something that is no longer serving you. It means removing toxic people and belief systems from your life so that you can make room for relationships and ideas that are conducive to your wellbeing and happiness. Giving up reduces your life. Letting go expands it. Giving up is imprisoning. Letting go is liberation. Giving up is self-defeat. Letting go is self-care. So the next time you make the decision to release something or someone that is stifling your happiness and growth, and a person has the audacity to accuse you of giving up or being weak, remind yourself of the difference. Remind yourself that you don’t need anyone’s permission or approval to live your life in the way that feels right. No one has the authority to tell you who to be or how to live. No one gets to decide what your life should look like or who should be a part of it. No one, but you. ~ Danielle Koepke

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Staycation, all I ever needed... ; )

  • Dh & I are on staycation this week. During our schools' recent spring break, he was doing the work of three people, covering for co-workers who were off sunning themselves on some southern beach with their families -- and doing his own work generally is enough to leave him exhausted. "I NEED A VACATION," he told me. We both have seven weeks this year, including a couple of carryover weeks that we must use or lose by year end, so it's not like we don't have the time to take.
  • When to take it, of course, is another matter, especially when you start factoring in other people's schedules & coverage at work. We started comparing vacation calendars, & figured out it was either this week... or June (!) -- he has co-workers taking time off later this month & into May, and one of my teammates is taking three weeks in late May/early June to return to her country of origin to see her family. So here we are...!
  • We haven't been doing anything too exciting... but sometimes that's good too. : ) We've been out every day, going for brunch, shopping, checking out one of the new Target stores that just opened here in Canada. : ) I've been doing lots of reading -- a new book (review to come when I'm done), magazines and blogs (catching up!).  And, of course, NOT getting up at 5 a.m. every day. ; )  (Aside from Monday -- we had dentist appointments in the city for 8 a.m. & decided to keep them. We then rewarded ourselves by spending two hours at the city's flagship mega-bookstore, and then went for lunch before heading back home.) 
  • I could get used to this. ; ) (Three more years... three more years...)
  • Tuesday, we had lunch at at Tim Horton's at the local mall. We got there around 11:30, hoping to beat the noon hour crowd, but the place was still busy -- teeming with grey-haired senior citizens. "Take a good look around -- this is our future and these are our people," I teased dh. "Well, we won't be THAT old right away," dh said.
  • April 1st was chilly, hovering around the zero (Celsius = 32F) mark, and there were flurries in the air. (The next day, we drove home from the mall through a mini-blizzard while the sun shone brightly through the clouds. Totally bizarre.)  I knew better than to call my sister to complain, though -- where she was, it was -18C -- the coldest April 1st they'd had in 16 years. No April Fool-ing. :p
  • Monday night's episode of "Dallas" opened with separated couple Pamela & Christopher dealing with the loss of their twins in their own individual ways -- he by taking apart the cribs he had so carefully put together in an earlier episode (& eventually, smashing one in grief and frustration);  she by putting hers together (at first I thought she was taking it apart as well). She did pack up some stuff (blankets, stuffed animals) -- but later spent time sitting in the finished nursery with a shell-shocked expression on her face. John Ross came to visit and said he wasn't going to leave until she was feeling better. Pamela responded with words to the effect that "That won't be for a long time." "I'll give them credit for this," dh remarked.

(Mis)conceptions in the news

There was an article in my FB newsfeed this week: "Study reveals Canadians' most common fertility misconceptions." I knew that most people are woefully uninformed about fertility issues (and that I'm probably more informed than the general public), but the figures in a new poll from the University of British Columbia still surprised me:
More than 90 per cent of respondents in the National Fertility Awareness survey incorrectly believed or were uncertain whether in vitro fertilization could help a woman have a baby with her own eggs right until she hits menopause. In reality, less than two per cent of IVF procedures are successful for women in their mid-late 40s using their own eggs.
Another eye-opening statistic from the survey: how few people realized just how costly IVF can be. Many women believed it was under $5,000; in Canada, the costs generally range from $8,000 to $12,000 per cycle.

No wonder we get so little sympathy from the general public -- they honestly haven't got a clue about what we're up against. :p

The author of the study, Judith Daniluk, a counselling psychology professor at UBC, has launched a new website, My Fertility Choices, aimed at debunking myths and helping adults make educated choices.
“The concerning part is more people are ending up childless by default, because when they delay and they get to the point where they start to pursue treatment, treatment can’t compensate for age-related declines,” Daniluk said.  “We don’t want you to get blindsided.”
Did anything in the survey results surprise you? (I'm assuming the results would be relatively the same if it were done in the United States or elsewhere.)