A new CEO in town

Marissa Mayer is a 37 year old mom-to-be.

Oh and she was also just named the new President & CEO of Yahoo!.

This article by Anne-Marie Slaughter has sparked quite the debate about a woman’s ability to truly “have it all” in the 21st century, and if such a thing exists in the first place. In light of this on going discussion and the recent announcement made my Yahoo!, we thought we’d provide a quick round up of some food for thought:

On the book How to Be a Woman: Emma Brockes, writer for The Guardian, provides a review of British author Caitlin Moran’s biting, witty diatribe against the misconceptions and misrepresentations of the all too loaded word, feminism. Brockes’ assessment? Even if the language used is a bit excessive, this book is a fresh look at a topic that has long been overdue for a public perception makeover.

On strong career moves: Even though Yahoo! may be struggling to win popularity contests these days, new CEO Marissa Mayer doesn’t appear to be in the same boat, though she is now tasked with turning things around for the media titan.

On a new kind of network: Marissa Mayer’s appointment isn’t just an opportunity for Yahoo! to grow–but an opportunity for a successful woman to support and focus on other women–at least that’s what David McClure suggests in his open letter to the new CEO. Besides the social implications, McClure argues that this makes sense from an economic perspective. Imagine what Yahoo! could do if it became the premier women-focused company in the industry–that’s 50% of the consumer population.

On advice: apparently there’s a new guide in town–or at least an updated one. If you want a mix of the practical, the useless, and the utterly hilarious, check out Glamour Magazine’s updated version of “30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30,” a list that first hit newsstands in 1997.

And finally, a fresh perspectiveCheck out this response to the “having it all” debate by Julie Zeilinger, an undergrad at Barnard College. “The recent debate over “having it all” underscores the pressure women put themselves under to perfectly excel in all conceivable areas of our lives.” The gist of Zeilinger’s argument is that women can’t be expected to aspire to leadership when society makes it seem unattainable. On the one hand, I agree with her. Yes, there is a double standard between men and women, but on the other, is there anything wrong with having high standards? If we want to be successful, we need to aim high.

I think Forbes Contributor Kristi Hedges sums it up best when she says:

personally, I stand in awe of a 37-year old, 6-month pregnant woman who becomes the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Not because she’s the first this, or the youngest that. But because her vision of her own potential is big, bold, and rocks convention.

Mayer’s appointment has us talking, and more importantly, questioning what’s possible.

Just some food for thought to start up your week–Happy Monday!

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Intern Spotlight I: Anna Menzel,

Hi there sweet readers! Before summer comes to an end, Ishani and I thought we’d share with you some of the intern stories of the amazing young women we’ve come to know this past year. (Talk about young women leaders!) We’ve lined up some intern spotlights by young women our age who are doing everything from interning on Capitol Hill to exploring Africa to coding at Microsoft. Our hope is that these guest blog spots will be an honest and fresh look at the intern positions young women all over the country are taking on. We hope you’ll learn a little something about what it’s really like to intern, how the application process actually works, and all the little details and challenges that come along with being that ‘new intern’ in the office. So check back here every Friday to meet someone new :) 

And without further ado, let me introduce you to our first of two intern spotlights today: Miss Anna Menzel. Anna was a U.S. Senate intern in Washington, D.C. this summer and what follows is her experience in her own words…  Enjoy! – I&I

Cloak Room, Cupcakes, and Constituents

by: Anna Menzel

What do the cloak room, cupcakes and constituents all have in common? Besides alliteration they have been part of my fantastic experience as an intern in DC this summer. I am currently one of hundreds of interns in the senate this summer, not to mention the thousands that work off the hill. DC is THE place to be as a college student or young professional; the amount of opportunities is astounding and rivals New York or Boston.

I initially had no clue what I wanted to do for the summer, and applied for this internship because I had always admired my senator as a role model and someone I aspired to be like. I submitted the application, which consisted of a writing sample, essay, application and recommendation letters. After, I received an interview from the intern coordinator and was thrilled when I found out I was accepted as an intern for the summer. My suggestion for the application process is finding a connection to yourself and the person/organization you are applying for whether that be you are from the same area, know someone in an office, are interested in a policy area that they are on a committee for, etc.

As an unpaid intern it was difficult to find an affordable place to rent, and money to pay for the expenses for the summer. The financial burden is important to consider when deciding whether to intern in DC, many internships are unpaid but you can find some that are paid. Another option is to look into school funding or community sponsors, or perhaps a part time job while you are out here depending on your work schedule.

The best part of my job is the people, hands down. I have loved getting to know my fellow interns and the staff in the office. They have all been so welcoming and great to work with. As interns we get lunch together every day and usually hang out on the weekends and outside of work quite frequently. It’s important to realize that every office operates in a different way; jobs will remain relatively consistent but the environment and access to your representative or senator will vary. The average day consists of reading the news, answering phones, sorting mail, running errands, doing flag runs, give tours, attending hearings or briefings, writing memos, and doing research for LA’s. Some days will be slower than others and days when the health care ruling comes out will be much busier.

Don’t kid yourself to think you are going to walk in the office on the first day and get to write a policy proposal for the senator; you definitely have to put in your time and build trust. Don’t underestimate the position though– you will be doing some really cool tasks by the end of your summer. Do take advantage of all learning opportunities and any task no matter how small or insignificant. Do dress professionally, act professionally, work hard and I have no doubts that you will enjoy your internship. Plus if you ever want to work on the hill in the future, experience is huge, knowing the difference between the coatroom (in the CVC) and the cloakroom (in the capitol, where you drop off bills, amendments, etc.), or where the stationary store is are necessary hill survival skills.

And if you want some pointers of what not to do check out this blog: http://dcinterns.blogspot.com/.

Advice: When contacting an office the best days are Monday and Friday while in session because these tend to be the slower days; otherwise contacting during recess is great too because everyone has more time. Take every opportunity you can to attend events, get coffee, meet people, and learn as much as possible.

P.s. Be back soon with an intern spotlight from Miss Dilia Zwart who interned at the European Parliament in Brussels this summer!

When you can’t put a bow on it

This is not one of those end-of-an-experience obligatory tie-everything-up posts. It’s not a how-to guide or a personal reflection about growth and character. Well, admittedly, there might be a bit of this thrown in.

At the end of a major chapter of one’s life or at the clearly demarked “change routes here” sign, it is often customary to reflect on one’s experiences. We use words such as “growth,” “lessons,” “perceptions,” and “fulfilling” when describing what it is we were actually doing during that month (or in this case two months) of Sundays when we were miles away from home, family, and familiar terrain. We often relive the telling moments as we put them to paper. But the way I see it, it’s really hard to put together a neat little package and tie it together with a loose ends-defying bow.

Bows aren’t on our packing lists for a reason—you can’t prepare to be prepared to leave.

I envision my “package” more like a durian, that monster of a fruit that I first witnessed on a Spice Tour on the island of Zanzibar. Never before had I seen something so deceptively sweet. Covered in treacherous spikes and hanging high above our heads, the durian smiled down on us as the guide pointed skywards and said, “it smells like hell, but it tastes like heaven.”

For two months of my life, I was a Harvard Global Health Institute intern with the Association of Private Health Facilities in Tanzania. And now that those two months have come to a close, I am unapologetically incapable of putting a bow on this internship, just as it would be silly to try to put a bow on a durian. It was meant to hang free and smelly, feared by many and enjoyed by those who are willing to take the plunge and try it.

Living in a foreign country is hard–not just inspiring, fulfilling, and adventurous 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, but full of durian spikes that get in your way and force you to accept uncomfortable experiences for reality. You will get lost, cheated, judged, and misled. You will feel tired after walking for miles in the hot sun and feel frustrated when the power inexplicably goes out. You will wonder why there is no free wifi around the corner and how long it will be before you hear your mom’s voice again. You will struggle with a foreign language and make many a cultural gaffe while you’re at it.

And then, you will be welcomed into homes and families who will treat you as their own. You will be led by total strangers who say only “karibuni, you are welcome” at each passing glance. You will taste exotic fruits and eat more rice than you have had in a Sri Lankan household. You will ride on a motorcycle for the first time and see some of the most beautiful sights you have ever seen in your life.

There is no one way to sum up “what I learned this summer” or “how it has changed me,” nor will I be foolish enough to try. But I will say that I know I am different from the teenager who arrived at the Dar es Salaam airport two months ago. I knew from the time that airport taxi broke down that this would be a journey unlike any other—and it was only beginning as I began getting over jetlag and unpacking my bags in a new place. Experiences like this don’t come in neat, little boxes. They are imperfect and spiky, and sometimes you just have to bear the smell in order to get to the sweetness inside.

This country has told me a story.” These words were recently spoken by a friend and colleague and struck me as particularly apt to describe what it has been like to know a page in Tanzania’s book. Just like the visitor’s book that you will find in every hotel and medical clinic here, I have signed my name on the dotted line for some future visitor to read and wonder at.

Don’t you want to know who has been here before you?” Our mentor Joyce had said that, as she explained to me the concept of the visitor’s book in Tanzanian culture while we were sitting side by side on an afternoon in Shirati. Now that I think about it, I see that I do in fact want to know. I want to know who has come to this place before me and what has brought them here—their story too is a part of mine now that we share this place in common. If I have learned anything here, it is the fluidity of environment. A building is just a building until a familiar face pops through a doorway or history wraps you in its embrace and recalls you to a different time. When you visit a place, you leave a mark there. And strange though it may seem, leaving here means facing the reality that the wonderful people whom I have been surrounded by for two months of my life—strong and all-knowing Deodata, always laughing Grace, young and inquisitive Joyce, smile-like-there’s-no-tomorrow Martin, and so many more—are people whom I will probably never see again. I’ve always thought it strange that we accept the rising and lowering tide of people in our lives—how they come and go while we stand on the beach, waiting to catch our own wave. These people have forever made an impression of me, and their names too are etched in a page of my personal visitor’s book.

Though I have gone on at length about the futility of using cliché words like “lessons” and “growth” as I think about my Tanzanian adventures, that is not to say that I do not recognize their applicability. If I had to share just a few of these lessons they would be these:

  1. Don’t forget to keep up with your visitor’s book (figuratively and literally). The people who leave their mark there are those who have made an impression on you and one day, you will need their names to conjure up memories that you alone cannot
  2. You don’t know your true friends until you’ve been in trouble with them, or sat in a broken down tuk tuk, or loudly explained to 5 burly men why they cannot take your money, or fumbled around because one of you lost the hotel room key…
  3. Home is not where the heart is—home is where the people who make up the heart are. Physical places are deceptive. You will come to a new place and feel “at home” there after an arbitrary period of time has passed. So, when you think of home, do not think of a hometown, or your favorite stuffed animal, or your room—think of the people who make it so even when walls come crumbling down.
  4. Don’t ever, ever forget your family. No matter where you find yourself in the world, I am positive that some way or another you will be able to find yourself an internet modem and at the very least, send them an email. Iloveyouandmissyouverymuch. Write it, mean it, and press Send.
  5. Saying hello: we don’t value it enough. Tanzanians have taught me the importance of greeting someone, whether you are walking past them on the street or walking into their office, because first impressions really are everything. And they start when you make another person feel comfortable enough to talk to you. The real gems are where your conversation takes you after that.
  6. Breathe deep and ride a boda-boda. I absolutely love the feeling of flying through the wind at top speed, but that doesn’t mean that I am going to go skydiving (yet). But I am willing to hop on a motorcycle :) Think carefully about your risks before you take them.

As I wrap up my internship experience and my two month experience and my oh-my-goodness-what-am-I-doing experience living and working in Tanzania, I assure you that I cannot actually wrap it up and put a bow on it. This has been my durian—a unique blend of spiky and sweet. And, after all, once you wrap something up and put a bow on it, it would seem that you are ready to give it to away. For me, this country has told a story. The little I can do is tell one of my own when I return home. And therefore, I will have to keep my durian for just a bit longer.

Tanzania, I will see you again one day!

Till next time, Tanzania!

La bomba (del tiempo)

Yesterday, was, let’s just call it… a MUSICAL MONDAY here in Buenos Aires and I topped off the evening with a visit to the amazing drum fest that is “La Bomba del Tiempo” (the most accurate american slang interpretation for that might be– the bomb-dot-com :) And it was just that and so much more. Housed in an old oil factory of all things, this drum fest led by a Carribbean conductor draws crowds of young people from all over the city every Monday night. And for good reason. The beats… are out of this world. A little piece of Caribbean with an Argentine twang (is that even possible?) that just make you want to DANCE. And when you’re surrounded by so many Latin Americans, you can best bet that’s what you’ll be doing. Just be warned: Latin Americans CAN dance. Let’s just say I was pretty lucky to have my friend from Senegal show me a thing or two ;) Who knows… maybe the rhythm is gonna get to you this week too!  Have a good Tuesday! xo Inesha

P.s. Back soon with some thoughts on what I’ve been reading!

From Tanzania: Boda-bodas, Mango love, and Swinging

Motorcycles.

Today… I jumped onto the back of a stranger’s motorcycle, and rode off down the winding road, my hair waving behind me like a flag in the wind…

Well, that’s not exactly how it happened (and yeah yeah I know, a bit cheesy:))—but I still felt like my first ride on a motorcycle was as adventurous, as mysterious, as exhilarating and as picturesque as that description. I can’t imagine riding a boda-boda on an American highway but I daresay that it was far more exciting to fly past the small shops and curious glances of Shirati natives as I traveled in style—pink UVA hat, purple backpack and all–down the dusty village roads.

—————

Mangoes (and other fruits).

We love our fruit markets! Watermelon, pineapple, mangosteen,
frogfruit, soursop, rambutan, sugarcane and so much more…yumm :)

One day, after leaving the hospital (again on boda-bodas), we headed to the local market. Our shopping trip brought us home with a huge bag full of sweet, sweet small mangoes (a variety which I have never had before coming to Tanzania.) When we arrived back at the lodge, we sat outside on the small veranda, sucking on our mangoes and chatting away as the sun set in the distance.

So much mango love <3

—————

Swinging.

One day at the lodge we decided to take a turn on the swings. As we slowly ambled through the grass, I suddenly felt the urge to break into a run and claim the first swing I saw—old childhood habit, I guess :) Swinging has always brought me a feeling of indescribable freedom and joy, no matter where in the world I am.

As the three of us swung we talked about all kinds of things, but mostly the conversation centered around the fact that our time in Tanzania is coming to an end, what we would be doing when we returned home, and then plans for school and beyond. After all, Tri will be graduating this coming May. Wow, it’s a scary thought—even for me who still has 3 years left. What is that period after graduation like??? As we were talking I realized just how much we students often feel in limbo. We 20-somethings and too-old-to-be-young-things and just plain-old-confused things. In a way, our trajectory is like that of a swing. We arch our feet and crane our necks as we gather the momentum to take us to the top of the arc. And then we come flying back with as much carefree momentum as the wind while our limbs sway without a care in the world. Right now, we’re in our arching and craning phase, but I know the swinging will come soon.

Those moments–the swinging ones– really are the golden moments, but that doesn’t mean that we forget all that it took us to get to the top of that arc so that we could come down easy.

When I think back on my time growing up, especially those sweet, sunny days I spent in Sri Lanka, I can’t help but feel that they too fall solidly in the “swing” category. Those were days when everything seemed possible and nothing seemed temporary. The ice cream man would be here tomorrow and the next day just as he was here today. No matter what gunfire or bomb blasts were being heard in some other land, the world as it was surrounding my childhood self would stay just as it was, day after day.

But of course, it doesn’t happen that way. One day you look around, and you’ve grown up.

As our crew of three glanced at our watches and prepared to leave the playground, we suddenly saw some local children come wandering in. This was their daily play place, and all of a sudden we were here, disrupting their every day constancy. We had suddenly become the factor of change. But they didn’t shy away from us or run away—instead they welcomed us to this place that they had known for years and had probably remain unchanged in that time. I realize that we shouldn’t be afraid to do the same thing that those small Shirati children did—to embrace and welcome the change that colors our constant, unshakable environment, because in the end, that’s what will make the tapestry worth looking at.

—————

And one last thing…

Kyra said something the other day that I really loved.

She said, “I want to stay in a place long enough that I know when the fruit is ripe.”

In the moment, maybe it didn’t seem like anything special, but her words really struck a chord with me. I realize that our traveling around so much here, while extremely enjoyable, is also not out of the ordinary. I’m always moving around these days—from Tanzania, to China, to Harvard Yard, and then back to Richmond. Nothing really feels constant, because, in all honesty, its not.

And for now, that’s ok.

Cultural Notes II: Ojo, Buenos Aires!

Hi y’all! Just as we promised, here is Part II of our cultural notes– this time all the way from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I must admit these are less cultural notes and more “hey here are some quirky things I’ve observed, and by quirky i mean… you probably can’t find this in America :)”

1. Walk down the street and you will find… pigeons. and poop (there is a serious dog-walking culture in BA.) Oh, ok, and choripan (a type of food) vendors. Oh and you’ll probably hear some bells ringing around you at some point– if you do, MOVEEE… you’re in front of a garage and a car is about to come right at you! (Unfortunately, I must report that I’ve learned this the hard way!) Gotta love the city!

2. So you (think you) speak Spanish? Just remember that there is no tú (you) here, it’s ‘vos’. As my supervisor says, sometimes you just have to ‘argentizar’ things. Also don’t be surprised if just about every email you receive or phone call you finish ends with “Un beso! Un besito! Chau!” Yes, kisses for everyone :) Likewise, don’t be surprised if you get kissed (on the cheeks, of course!) when you greet just about anyone. No handshakes here!

3. Sometimes I feel like… Justin Beiber is just so much MORE popular here. But how can that be? (Granted, I am living with two hormonal adolescent teens, so judge as you will :) Still, it’s striking just how much the movie/music scene here is very much American. Hello there, Hollywood!

4. GAP sweatshirts are a thing here. Argentina might single-handedly be saving the once not so economically-healthy store!

5. Buy a bottle of ‘gaseosa’ (soda– good name right?) and you get a STRAW– why oh why does this not happen in the US of A?

6. Old-style elevators. And by this I mean you open a door and push back a venetian-like fold divider and wahlah– an elevator! There’s something just a little old-school about them :) Of course I wouldn’t know… the first day I got here my family told me their last host stay student got  stuck in the elevator. Helloooo staircase.

7. But the stairs just can’t save you from the food. Argentines like their meat– steak specifically. And have ice cream to die for (I’m sorry, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before ;) Dulce de leche is the equivalent of butter here and meriendas (snack time is the worst translation but the only one I can think of at the moment…) happen everyday in the afternoon. Of course it’s pretty much a necessity seeing as Argentines don’t eat dinner till 9 pm or after…

8. On Sunday, you sleep. Ok so this a no-brainer, but it’s important to know that if you wander into BA on Sunday morning (let’s say before 10 am because you’re an early bird like me), you will see… that’s right… NO ONE.

9. BA is pretty well known for it’s night life– and what I really should say is morning life since you go to a bar (to drink, if you prefer) at midnight and THEN go to the boliche [club] to dance… and get home at around, well, 6/7/8 in the morning. Hence why the city is dead Sunday morning!

10. Eating fruits with knives (by that I mean cutting your apple, orange, etc. with a knife and eating it like a civilized human being) is a thing here. My homestay sister actually got mad at her younger sister for eating her apple by hand. So, my dear americans, resist the urge to eat that darn apple like a savage.

*Note this may be a family-specific observation, still this definitely is more common here…

11. TOMS were inspired by Argentina. Who would’ve thunk it? The story goes that the founder– Blake Mycoski–came here in 2006 and was touched by the sight of so many children growing up barefoot. So he created this shoe– inspired by the Argentine gaucho shoes– and started his one-for-one movement. Of course, you can get a pair of the ‘real’ TOMS here for about 40 pesos, right around $10… go figure.

12. There are A LOT of different cultures here in BA. Chinese, Japanase, Armenian. But brown people? Not so much. And yes, I was greeted on the street with a very well-intended ‘NAMASTE.’ Sorry, I’m not from India. A brown face in a very white place? What can I say?

13. GUARD YOUR MONEDAS [COINS]!! Never will you ever appreciate the sound of all those worthless coins clunking around in your wallet. Here, you need them to use the buses. Problem, there’s currently a shortage of them. Yeah, guard those babies with your lyffeeee!

14. PEOPLE. People are sooooo nice here. And boy are Argentines passionate and expressive. Talk to them, you won’t regret it!

That’s all that I can remember for now– I’ll probably be back with some more soon! Something about all the little things here that are different always fascinates me and I hope you might be a little intrigued yourself. I mean to Argentines, we Americans are probably pretty weird, right? Ok, maybe I’m just speaking for myself :)

Till next time, UN BESO GRANDE! – Inesha

the epic saga of my life: getting lost.

have you ever gotten so completely, hopelessly lost?

isn’t it just WONDERFUL?

wait. say whattt? she did not just say that.

actually, i did. i mean it. cause i actually did get lost today. i mean 10 blocks that way-20 blocks the other way- take a right turn when you feel like you’ve reached the end of the world kind of lost. yeah, it was bad.

it all started this morning (i was running late, forgot my passport, had to run back to my apartment… but i digress) when i stood waiting at the bus stop with my friend mayumi for, i don’t know, 20 minutes. that’s probably being generous. especially because we ended up taking the wrong bus. yeah, that happened. we took the wrong bus for a good 40 minutes, got lost in conversation and, trusting that we knew buenos aires well enough (seeing that we have been here for 6 weeks or so!) but alas, we looked up from our conversations not knowing where the heck we were, panicked, asked the driver for directions… only to hear that we had already passed the closest street to the street we were supposed to be on. and by “passed” i mean passed-it-about-20-minutes-ago. yes, excellent.

and so we jumped off that bus mighty quick and walked BACK the direction we had come from. for like 2o blocks. TWENTY, count ’em. of course, learning from our mistakes, we were sure to ask plenty of people which way to go (just to be sure and because, well, neither of us exactly carry maps…) note: if you’ve got more than 10 blocks to walk, argentine people will pretty much always advise you to get a colectivo [bus]. yeah, they’re probably on to something there. ignorant american tourists that we are, we stuck to walking. and of course even when we got to the road we needed to be on we walked down the wrong direction, realized the numbers were going down not up and of course then had to turn around AGAIN (this, my dears, is seriously becoming a theme in my life) and walk back to the place we  had started just to walk another 20 blocks or so (ok, i probably exaggerate here but whatever) until we reached the prison we were to be touring. yes, prison. (i will save that story for another time.)

one would thing i learned my lesson but alas i got lost AGAIN after leaving our destination for my workplace. yes, again. i’ll save that saga for another time. but, you know what? i wouldn’t take back my incredibly hopeless navigation skills for anything. mayumi and i talked endlessly. about her mother, about Peru, about why she chose Harvard, about all the little things in between. we laughed, we nearly cried (ok, i nearly cried) and… we got there. now that, that is the important part.

and on my way to work i didn’t mind the whole getting lost bit (i have to make ammends for my patheticness, you see) and really, i did enjoy getting honked at, whistled at, and practically almost run over by a red car– i didn’t know you were allowed to back up INTO A CROSS WALK in the MIDDLE of a lane but alas i am not an experienced nor licensed driver in argentina so it was great to almost get rear-ended into (?) by a little red sports car. ok so maybe i didn’t enjoy all of that. but the weather? it was perfect. clear skies ahead and it felt just like spring. the conversation? so worth it. and for the first time i felt like i really was walking this city (i guess 50 or so miles– ok, fine, blocks– will do that to you) and getting to know it. the streets, the sounds, the people. the european-ness. and while i covered buenos aires with my feet, i covered peru and kansas, macedonia and harvard, the US and argentina with my conversations. i talked about the trials of being a college student (yes, our lives are oh-so-hard ;), what we all actually mean by poverty and privilege, the military, the malvinas, the relationship between this country and mine, the cold war and the author of that book i read in spanish class in 10th grade who just so happened to be the daughter of a former chilean president who…. you get the picture. What would my life be without a few screw-ups, a lot of getting lost, and a whole lot of exploration? i mean, i always find my way back  home… eventually. :)

hope you got crazy lost in something today! what can i say? it happens. xo inesha

*please forgive my oh-so-impeccable grammar… clearly it’s my feet talking to you, not my brain– right, Ishani? :) i promise to be back soon with my cultural notes!

*and mayumi, if you’re out there reading this… you are a doll! could not have imagined a better person to get lost with! but seriously. :)

 

———-

“Ain’t no rhyme or reason,

No complicated meanin’

Ain’t no need to over think it…

Let’s go laughin’

Life don’t go quite like you plan it

We try so hard to understand it

The irrefutable, indisputable fact is…

Pshh, IT HAPPENS :)”

———-