Tag Archives: youth specialties

nywc promo vid

surely, it will be wonderful and a little bit surreal for me to be at both of the ys national youth workers conventions this fall (in san diego and nashville). but not being there would be, well, horrible. at least i’ll have more time to just hang out than i’ve had there for a dozen years!

i hope you’ll be there also.

here’s the first of the nywc promo videos ys is releasing. nice slo-mo, bay-bee…

thoughts on my 6-month anniversary of being laid off

the other day i was thinking about my lay off from youth specialties (really, from zondervan, in reality), which i don’t do as often these days. i happened to be looking at my calendar at the time, and thought about how it was october 19 when the shoe dropped. and, i was struck by the realization that today is 6 months. already. that surprised me.

it feels more like 3 months.

i spent a little time with current ys-staffer adam mclane last night, and, as is normal, we talked about ys and what’s going on in that world. they’ve moved offices (again – we’d moved to a new place last june). and there are only a handful of people there. and, i was once again struck by the reality that this new, or different, ys is moving on.

and so am i.

there’s no question that i miss so much of my old role. i miss the people i worked with (and am so lousy at that staying-in-touch-when-life-is-busy thing). i miss the buzz of a busy workplace, hearing laughter, wrestling with things together. i miss the working-together collaborative way we were trying to do things around there, particularly with the ys leadership team. i miss being part of a team, and leading a team. shoot — i even miss meetings (because our meetings were usually fun, even when we were dealing with tough stuff).

but here’s what i know today: if i were offered my old job, i wouldn’t take it.

in my first month, all i could really feel was the pain of what felt so horrible. there was anger and loss and anxiety and insecurity and sadness all smashed up into a nasty little ball of mush. but the dominant emotion was hurt. i could go into my head, and look at the piece-parts that added up to the reality, and knew that i wasn’t a failure. and i knew that the people who really knew the whole story didn’t see me as a failure. but my emotions still screamed, “FAILURE!”; and i was awash in a mostly inescapable feeling that the world out there was screaming the same thing.

but that feeling, once i got past the initial shock and pain of the corporate process in which i was let go, slinked away and was replaced by a combination of hope and sadness of loss. hope, for sure; but combined with a reality that i was losing people, experiences, and things i loved that would never return, never be the same. in the last few months, i’ve been charging forward on many new projects and opportunities. and it’s deeply good. other than some ongoing anxiety over whether or not what i’m currently doing will be sustainable in the coming year(s), i’m generally excited about what’s on my plate, about being home, and about the diversity of stuff i get to play in these days. even my increased travel has not been an issue (as it was in the past), since, when i’m not traveling, i’m home (and not going to an office for 10 hours a day). i occasionally feel a bit lonely and isolated, sitting here at my little desk; but i realize it’s the flip-side of the “i just need some time alone” feeling i used to have. and my relational tanks are pretty full these days, with the great people-stuff i get to be involved in.

i’m feeling a little melancholy today, particularly as i write this. but that’s rare these days. mostly, i’m pressing into what the week has to offer. in the last 10 days, for example, i got to speak to parents about teenagers, teach youth workers in guatemala, spend a day at home getting caught up, which included writing a couple magazine columns and a book chapter, conduct a 1:1 coaching time with a youth worker, connect with a non-profit i’m doing some consulting with and move that project forward, spend two days with the 9 youth workers in my youth ministry coaching program, and travel with my son to baltimore to speak to a couple hundred junior highers. what a freakin’ great week!

i’ll be coming to both youth specialties conventions this fall (in san diego and nashville) and doing a few seminars in each. i know the time there will be awkward for me at times, and i’ll feel a bit lost at times. but i also can’t imagine a place i’d rather be. well, other than, like, a beach in tahiti or something, or, ya know, heaven.

speaking to middle schoolers with “the wayne” in the audience

a few weeks ago, i spoke at forest home‘s middle school winter camps. the middle school director at forest home is my friend, nate rice, a fantastic middle school youth worker and a deeply good guy. but in a great quirk of life, nate is in a role that was once — decades ago — occupied by his dad. and his dad is none other than wayne rice, the co-founder of youth specialties.

when i was just getting going in middle school ministry, i heard wayne speak. he was the man, the guy who fairly single-handedly legitimized ministry with young teens as a calling (not merely a stepping stone to high school ministry). wayne saw himself as a life-long junior high guy; and brushing against that was a significant part of my own life-long calling to middle schoolers being formed.

it’s been wonderful and at times surreal, over the years, to get to know wayne due to my time at youth specialties (though he and i never worked there at the same time).

but it was off-the-charts surreal, and somewhat intimidating, to find out that wayne was going to be sitting in the audience at my second weekend of winter camp. he was attending as a cabin counselor, with the kids from his church. yup, wayne was and is still living out that life-long calling. but it was trippy to have him sitting out there, amongst a room full of 600 middle schoolers, as i was speaking. he was nothing but gracious, and said some lovely and encouraging things to me in private and on his blog. but, really… he’s “the wayne”! and i wouldn’t be where i am were it not for him!

that’s why scott rubin and i dedicated our book, middle school ministry, to wayne. he took many of the early hits, carving a path for many of us to follow.

here’s a pic from that weekend, with me, nate and wayne.

tic long and the new ys

i am genuinely and overwhelmingly pleased.

the reason, which is talked about on the ys site (as well as in an awesome user-generated youth ministry tribe video pulled together by the amazing adam mclane), is tic long’s return to youth specialties.

the last year (really, the last 18 months) were a surreal and difficult period for ys. it wore us all down to the nub. unquestionably, one of the most difficult aspects of that period was the gut-wrenching move to lay off tic (which was announced last february, and took place officially in late july). tic and i had developed a very rare and life-giving working relationship with each other that constantly and intentionally blurred the boundaries between friendship and co-worker. we had developed a deep respect for each other’s gifts, and often acted as a counter-balance to each other in the leadership of ys. without him, i felt like i’d not only lost a significant portion of how i wanted to lead ys, but that the youth ministry community was going to suffer for it.

when i was brought into the discussions already underway between zondervan and youthworks about the then-possible sale of ys, i traveled to minnesota to meet with the quality dudes leading that ministry. in the midst of our day together, i said, “i want to throw out a crazy idea: what if we hired tic back again?” i was blown away when they laughed, and responded that they had been thinking the same thing, but didn’t know how i would respond. we kind of “tabled” the idea for then, since there were so many other bridges to cross at the time.

so i was immensely pleased when tic (with whom i’ve kept up a close relationship and communication over all these past months) told me he’d been contacted by youthworks (in the weeks just after my dismissal from zondervan). and now it’s a reality. tic is returning to ys to give leadership to whatever it is that ys will become in the months and years to come.

probably the biggest aspect of this that gives me joy (in addition to just being happy for tic) is that i’ve been very concerned that, as well-intentioned as the leadership of youthworks is, a significant portion of the ys “vibe” would be lost with so many of the key leaders of ys no longer part of the future. but with tic there, the commitment to loving youth workers and holy irreverence that has always been a hallmark of ys will be retained, even as the organization continues to morph into its next chapter.

many have blogged (including tic) about how “my ys” was gone, and whatever ys became was going to be something new. but this move gives me hope that both can be acheived: ys is going to be something new, and “my ys” (the youth specialties i have so deeply loved for decades, even before i worked there) will not fade away.

tic and i spoke on the phone last night, expressed our commitment to one another, and our desire to continue to find ways to partner and work together. and my heart was warmed. really. i love the guy; and this is such a huge gift to the youth ministry community, i can hardly find words for it.

so join me in raising a toast and a prayer of thanks. three cheers and a prayer of blessing on tic as he re-begins. three cheers and a prayer of blessing on the leadership of youthworks for having the insight and humility to bring back a leader of such character, skill, and childlike wonder.

wrestling with god and demons in the desert

my six days of silence in the desert was such a significant experience and turning point for me in my post-lay-off process that i haven’t been able to bring myself to blog about it until now. somehow, it felt like i would be commodifying it had i jumped right into a blog post within days. so i’ve let it sit with me for a couple weeks (it was actually two weeks ago today that i came home); and i think i’m ready now.

let me back up.

the afternoon i was let go from my role at ys, i knew i was going to need some time away, alone, to rest and process. i have struggled my whole life to be present to my emotions. and in more recent years, as i’ve grown in this area (really, starting with yaconelli’s death), i’ve also learned that i can go there, but it often requires a conscious act of space clearing. i need space, without the chatter of appointments and cell phones and email and television shows waiting on the dvr, to be gentle and welcoming to those emotions that i need to process and be present to. it’s almost like my deepest emotions are skittish little animals, and any sudden movement sends them scampering back into their holes (i’m thinking of the biblical “coney” right now).

the first 3 or so weeks got quickly filled up with whatever stuff fills your days when you experience loss — communication from friends (and many wonderful youth workers i don’t even know) and family, processing, filling out paperwork. when the cincinnati nywc came around, i was crawling out of my skin with anxiety and restlessness. that time, i just needed a distraction, not a deep dive into the emotion of it all. so a buddy graciously agreed to road trip with me, on about 16 hours notice. we spent three days in las vegas, having (good, clean) fun and being blissfully disconnected from the maelstrom.

desertcabinbut, eventually, i knew i needed that time away. a lovely couple in my church have a cabin (i guess you could call it that — really, it’s a home, but a funky one) in a desert canyon about 90 minutes from where i live, and have generously allowed others to use it for retreats like this. so, after a stop at costco for food (really a bad place to grocery shop for 6 days by yourself — i had massive portions of about three meals), i headed out.

i’d met with a therapist the day before leaving (who i’ll continue meeting with over these next few months), explained my situation, and asked for guidance on framing the journalling i wanted to do. she suggested i journal on what she considers the five primary emotions: anger, hurt, sadness, fear, and joy. this instantly resonated with me; and i found it really helpful that she was validating anger as a legit piece of the pie, as i’ve often heard others talk about anger as a secondary, or masking, emotion. but my experience was that i needed to process the anger before i could really access the true stuff of hurt, sadness and fear (which were the three things combining to gift me with so much anxiety).

each afternoon, i spent time in prayer and meditation, preparing myself to journal about whichever of those 5 emotions i was going to give space to that day. then, i spent anywhere from 1 to 3 hours writing, unedited, whatever came to me about how i was feeling. if it was anger, i was pounding my keyboard with a ferocity that proved the durability of macs, as i was really giving myself over to the feeling while i was processing thoughts about what was generating it. similarly, when i wrote and wrote and wrote about – for example – how and why this hurt so much, naming all the aspects of specifics, i had tears on my face the entire time. after each session of writing – which just naturally wrapped themselves up at a point where i felt “done” – i had to respond in some way. on the day i wrote about my anger, i had to go for a hike in the canyon to blow off steam. on the day i wrote about hurt, i sat for hours on the screened-in porch, smoking a cigar, watching as the sun slowly set; then, i watched a short comedy so i wouldn’t spend the entire evening in depression!

all of this felt like prayer, really. i was very aware that, as i wrote, i was writing in the presence of god, and that god was with me in unearthing, naming, and in some cases, purging these feelings.

at the risk of being an emotional flasher, i’ll paste a few very carefully chosen snippets here, to give you a sense of the unfiltered rawness i was trying to tap into…

I’m afraid of my anger. I don’t want it to take control. I’m nervous about allowing it space, or granting it any freedom. If I give it even the smallest bowl of milk, I have this gnawing sense that it will not only stay, but will grow into a feral, feline monster, shredding and screeching and tearing without the goodness to discern.

I’m only 46, and I still feel so young. I feel like I have so much of my life still in front of me. I feel like I was just beginning to really hit my stride in this role, that I was learning humility and how to serve youth workers. I feel like I had a voice and a platform. I did. And it’s gone.

The sun is quickly fading from the sides of the mountains across the desert valley, as it drops behind the ridge behind me. It’s only 4:27pm. Too early to be evening. Too early for night. That’s what this feels like – my daylight has faded, been taken, way too early. Way too capriciously. Way to easily. And it’s quiet. And lonely. But it’s the isolation that’s killing me. Too easily expendable, and too easily forgotten.

I’m afraid of becoming a shell of myself. I’m afraid that I’ve “peaked”, and nothing else – work wise – will come close to providing the meaning and fun that I’ve experienced.
I’m afraid I won’t be able to tell thousands of youth workers that they really matter, that they’re not crazy. I’m afraid I won’t be able to tell them they need to change and try new things. I’m afraid I won’t be able to encourage them or push them or paint a picture of a new reality.
I’m afraid I’ll have to be normal and boring and conventional and predictable.
I’m afraid it’s all downhill from here.

Maybe this is a circumstantial hope and peace I’m feeling right now – more a result of the quiet surrounding me and 5 days of not talking. But at least I’ve had an appetizer of what I hope and expect to feel in the days to come. At least I’ve had this dress rehearsal. At least I’ve been given this gift of foreshadowing.
It’s getting darker now – the remaining light of the day is very close to being gone. The single sound I hear other than my keyboard and my breath is the quiet nibbling of a bunny, chewing the birdseed I put out earlier. He’s looking at my now, between nibbles. Other than that little crunchy sound, there is absolutely no sound at all – no cars, no white noise, no mowers or machinery of any kind, no planes overhead. Nothing. Just the sound of peace.

two weeks later, i’m in a very, very different space than before i went on that “pilgrimage”. my anxiety has dramatically decreased, and my hopefulness has dramatically increased. i was able to write that post about ys and zondervan and youthworks in a way i could not have written it two weeks earlier. i’m able to hold loosely to my future and the future of ys, believing that what will be will be, and that things will play out as they should, and that god will make good of it (whether god orchestrated any of it or not).

the youth specialties/zondervan/youthworks story, from where i stand

now that the youthworks deal is public, i think i can tell the story and add my thoughts, as so many have been asking me to do.

let me start with a few preliminary thoughts:

– first, i’m really sorry i’ve had to be so silent this past month. the reasons for this are many, of course, and include both my own need to lay low and process my emotions and thoughts, as well as an appropriate respect for the process happening with zondervan and youthworks.

– so many have blogged wonderful sentiments that i agree with. these include (but aren’t limited to) tic, karla, doug/walt, and wayne. if you haven ‘t read those gracious and moderate posts, i encourage you to do so.

let me back up and re-cap some of what was written in those posts:

when yac died, 6 years ago now (geez, hard to imagine it’s been that long), everything at ys changed. of course, he’d been the soul of ys in so many ways. tic and i stepped it up in the years that followed, and learned new things about each other and leadership. karla was fond of saying, in those days, that yac’s death was his final gift to us; and, as weird as that might sound, those couple years really were an amazing time of healing and growth — both as an organization and as individuals. tic and i learned to deeply respect each other’s gifts and roles, and we forged a whole new way of leading ys collaboratively. and, as much as we loved karla, and grew so massively close in those days, it was clear to tic and me (and to karla) that her role as owner/ceo wasn’t the best fit for her. so when our long-term friends and partners at zondervan came around, asking if it would be ok to consider discussions about buying ys, we all felt it was the right direction.

this is important for me to state as clearly as i can. tic and karla and i all felt selling ys to zondervan was the right decision. and, in hindsight, i can say with 100% certainty, that if karla had not made this choice, ys would not exist today. ys would not have survived the financial turbulence of these last two years.

now, let’s fast forward a bit.

the changes we made at ys early this year (resulting in letting go of 14 staff, including tic) were brutal on us. but we saw those changes as the only path forward for survival. i’m an evergreen optimist, sometimes at the expense of good business sense. i say that to couch my next comment: i think ys would have turned around, financially, in the next 12 months. but i also realize that my belief in the mission of ys, my passion for the “customers” of ys, and my natural optimism and hopefulness colors that greatly. i also know that the leadership of zondervan was deeply challenged in the complex stew that was made up of a genuine affection for ys and the financial pressure and scrutiny they are also under.

all that to say: when i was first informed that zondervan was considering selling ys, and that the organization on the other end was a ministry non-profit, i saw it as good news. i felt this was, potentially, a win for everyone (zondervan, youth specialties, youthworks, and youth workers in general).

and here’s what i really want you all to hear from me: i still think this whole thing is, potentially, a win for everyone (zondervan, youth specialties, youthworks, and youth workers in general).

i spent time with the leadership of youthworks, and can affirm what tony jones has written, they are good and honorable people with a heart for youth workers.

i had thought, over the couple months leading up to my dismissal, that i would go along with ys to youthworks. that was my hope. but, ultimately, they had other plans, which is fully their right to do. and my former boss at zondervan felt it would be better for me, ys, and youthworks, if i were out of the picture during the final days of that agreement and the announcements to follow. whether i agreed with this or not is hardly the point. i certainly wasn’t a fan of the process, but i’ve come to see that it was what it was, and – from a corporate kind of perspective – i’ve been dealt with fairly. my 6 days in the desert this past week (which i’ll blog about separately in the days to come) were instrumental for me in turning the corner and letting go.

here’s another truth i want to go on record with: zondervan is not an evil empire. zondervan is made up of good and honorable people who love jesus. yes, they’re a business. yes, they want to be profitable. yes, they’re more corporate than ys (which isn’t a bad thing!). but so many of the people there became dear friends of mine. really, the loss for me in all of this is not limited to leaving ys and the youth workers we served — it’s also leaving zondervan and my friends and colleagues there. moe girkins, the president and ceo of zondervan, is a brilliant and compassionate leader with a commitment to doing the right thing. we didn’t see eye-to-eye on everything, but that was always part of what we appreciated about each other.

i have been out of my role as president of youth specialties for over a month now. it almost baffles me to even type that. but, i can say this: if i ever had any ability to predict the future for ys, it is most certainly gone. really, i don’t have a clue. what i do expect is that youthworks will do everything in their power to make wise and god-honoring choices about the future of youth specialties and serving youth workers. what that looks like remains to be seen for everyone. i’m not a huge fan of the “system upgrade” metaphor used to describe this process at the nywc this past weekend in atlanta. that doesn’t feel honoring of the past enough to me. but i do think change is — while often hard and painful — completely necessary at times, and often the only way an organization or organism will survive. i think it’s highly likely that we will all look back, in a few years, and realize that ys would not have survived had the sale to youthworks not occurred, just as these last four years with zondervan were an absolutely essential part of the ys story, as well as the story of my life.

i pray god’s richest blessings on zondervan and youthworks, both organizationally, and on the lives of the people leading the missions of each.

and, my heart will always have a very special place for youth specialties, that amazing and wonderful idea. i cannot imagine my life story without the 11 years i worked there (plus the many prior to that where i was speaking and writing for ys). i love the staff of ys, and i love the mission of ys, and i love the quirkiness of ys, and i love the place ys has in the kingdom of god. but mostly, i love the “recipients of ys” — youth workers in the trenches, loving teenagers with the gospel of jesus, sticking it out through times much tougher than my own, and following god’s calling into unappreciated and challenging corners of culture. and i’m full of anticiapation about how god will have me play out that love on a daily basis, as my story continues to unfold. in the mean time, and no matter what else happens, i’ll still be with the five 7th grade boys in my small group each week, living out my own youth ministry calling.

youthworks and youth specialties

what a big sigh of relief for me, today, to hear that zondervan and youthworks were announcing the sale of ys on stage at the nywc in atlanta. and, from a very personal point of view, what perfect timing for me, as i’m just back from 6 days of silence and journaling and wrestling with both god and my demons in the desert. i mean that the timing is perfect in that i would have been a mushy pile of anxious and raw emotions a week ago (i mean, in response to the “going public” part — i have known about all of this for months); but my inner world and anxiety and anger are all so very different after my time in the desert. as a result, i can, today, very honestly say: god bless you, youthworks; god bless you, zondervan. and i sincerely hope and pray, with great expectation, that ys will continue to serve and love and encourage and resource youth workers for many years to come.

i’ll blog more about my time in the desert, as well as further responses to the yw/ys/z stuff in the days to come. but for today, i’m just happy that the story is public. feels like a bit of permission to move on with my life.

welcome to whyismarko.com

it clearly didn’t make sense for me to re-fire up this blog under the name ysmarko. so, welcome to the “new” whyismarko.com! yeah, there’s a little play on words (or sounds) there; but the new name is also reflective of the stuff i’ve been wrestling with for the past year.

really, as i look back over the past year, i’m just stunned at how much god has been lovingly preparing me for this transition.

– last december, when i was told i had to re-organize youth specialties, there was a week or so when i thought i was supposed to leave also. it created a massive panic within me, that, in hindsight, i wouldn’t trade for anything. even when i settled back into my role, i was left with a new awareness that my identity and my work were completely enmeshed, in a very unhealthy way. i was struck with the question: if i were to lose my job for any reason, who would i be? and, the really disequilibrating bit of that was that i did not have an answer to the question. sure, i had the cognitive answers. but they weren’t “soul answers.” i started down a path of unraveling marko from ysmarko (the persona, not the blog). this resulted in lots of prayer and thinking, lots of conversations with my wife and a few trusted friends.

– in march, i began a one year leadership coaching program with john townsend. it’s a 360 style thing, where a team of 8 of us meet with john for a whole day, once a month, and have regular interaction on a closed networking site in-between. i was asked to share, at our opening meeting, what i hoped to get out of this program; and, among other things, i talked about this un-entwining i needed to delve into. in the months since then, this team has walked with me as i’ve wrestled and prodded and queried and cried. really, i can hardly imagine what this current transition would be like for me had i not been processing all of this with that group all year.

– in may, on a ys leadership team retreat, i was deeply struggling with these issues. and, in an exercise our consultant led us through, i had an imaginary conversation with a 60 year-old version of myself, who was worn out and tired, and spoke to me (it was kinda freaky!), saying, “you have to stop!” for about an hour or two, i was interpreting that as meaning that i needed to quit ys! but in a side conversation with our consultant, i realized that i needed to take a significant step away from my “ysmarko” persona, at least for a season. i knew in that moment that i had to shut down my blog, cancel my twitter and facebook accounts, significantly reduce my travel, and pursue presence (both with my family, and with the staff of ys during that difficult season).

– in june, i was still regularly struggling with anxiety over the thought of “well, what else could i even DO with my life?” i brought this up in with my coaching team, and townsend wisely counseled me that my constant stiff-arming of the question (which i saw as a distraction) was actually keeping me from presence. he encouraged me (it was actually my “homework” for that month) to do what felt counter-intuitive: to focus on coming up with some answers to that question, so i could then set it aside for now. i went on a silent retreat, and i met with our consultant (who is also one of my closest friends), and came up with a handful of buckets of things i could imagine being life-giving for me, if a “post-ys” time ever become a reality.

– then, the last few months have been a roller-coaster ride. and i was very emotionally prepared (as much as one can be, i suppose) for the news that i was being let go. even three days before it actually occurred, i connected the dots and walked into the meeting completely knowing what was about to go down.

all of this was god’s grace. all of this was god lovingly preparing me (and, i think, in a sense, preparing ys) for this current season.

oh — one more: a week before i was let go, i got an email from a youth worker i’d never met. she’d been at the ys convention in los angeles, and wrote about a vision she’d had. she expressed that she was uncomfortable emailing me about this, and that she’d never done this before – especially with someone she’d never met. but she’d been standing in the back of a big room (general session), and suddenly had this vision of a man standing at the foot of a mountain, with hiking boots in his hands. he was looking at the mountain, trying to figure out how to best start his climb. then, he noticed that there was a picnic laid out on a blanket next to him. it looked so inviting, and he was conflicted about whether to attack the climb, or sit and enjoy the picnic. she knew the invitation to the picnic was the real deal – the loving invitation of god to sit and rest in god’s love. then, she wrote that she felt god telling her, “this is for marko — i want you to share this with marko.” she wrestled with this, and tried to dismiss it, as she didn’t know me, and thought the whole thing was just too weird. but, weeks after the convention (and one week before i was laid off), she took the courageous step of emailing me, telling me this story, and writing, in the most understated way, “i don’t know if this means anything to you right now or not.”

i was blown away. and that image of the picnic blanket laid out on a grassy hill, with cool fall breezes blowing, and yummy picnic food, has stuck with me in a profound way over this last month.

so, other than the cutesy play on words/sounds, that’s why this blog is now called whyismarko. i’m not done figuring all this out — that’s for sure! but, even when i do land in some other role, i want to be a new man and a new leader. i want to be confident in who i am as a child of god, a husband and father, and as a leader; and i want to lead from those places.


and now, the technical stuff: i’ve reset feedburner, and the 500 or so of you who were subscribed to the old blog shouldn’t experience any problems. but if you do, just drop that feed, and subscribe to this one. with the help of a friend, all the old ysmarko stuff should be here, but it might take a week or so for all the images to work. and i’m sure there will be technical glitches we haven’t foreseen. if you still have a link on your blog to ysmarko, i’d greatly appreciate it if you would update that to this URL. i’m still not going to re-start my twitter account; but please do feel free to tweet this new URL.

i’m very stoked about reconnecting with the conversation, thinking, and fun we’ve had on this blog in the past. i’ll not be posting with the frequency i once did, because i refuse to become obsessed with this thing. but i expect i’ll show up here a few times a week for now, and see where it goes.