Lion Hearts for the Win

Not my favorite phrase: for the win, but in this case I will tolerate it. A much more beloved saying: fortune favors the brave. I’m feeling fortune-favored, at least a little bit. To what am I referring this time? Oh, just a friendly little conversation that has managed to continue for two days. It doesn’t seem like much but according to the revolving door of my life that so many people choose to go through, it’s heartening and frankly, really nice for a change. I’m just enjoying the lightness of tone and casual pace of the whole getting to know a kind and talented person. The fact that he is enthusiastically accepting of being playfully called “foxy face” is big points for him in my book. It’s nice to know someone so delightful–those are the kind of friends worth keeping around.

On another note, my muse for “Staged” is still MIA and as far as I know, dead in a ditch somewhere. That whole ghosting business that people do to each other (and yes, guilty here too) is really kind of cruel. I think I’ve finally reached a point of just wanting people to tell me straight out, “I don’t want to interact with you anymore”, instead of this other cowardly behavior. Seriously: save me the trouble of worrying about you and wondering if you’re dead or hurt, or contemplating something tragic, or whatever. Just communicate. It takes two minutes of your life. It’s really not that difficult. It also saves me time and energy. Don’t want to continue having a connection to me? No problem. Glad to know you, I’m moving on. Best of luck! At least I can retain respect for people who are upfront about stuff like that. The others? Dead to me whether truly dead or not. That’s really sad for everyone. In this muse’s case, kind of tragic. Now I have a piece of him in a story that will survive long after we do. In the interim, I get to be reminded that I probably said something wrong or whatever, when truly, I shouldn’t accept any sort of blame. That’s where honesty will get you though, I guess. I haven’t been able to touch “Staged” since before last weekend. There’s a part of me that wants to just push it off to another volume of The Doll Collection. I have enough stories for Volume One already, so really, this could wait if I decide to make it wait. Until I figure that out, the goal is to do my final edit on Sunday, pass it on to my editors, and once it’s formatted, never look at it or acknowledge it again. That’s almost like completely ignoring some aspect of your child–pretending it doesn’t exist. Wow–that’s  really awful. Thanks a lot, “muse”. I should probably mention that he’s not the first one to taint a book/story with this kind of maneuver. The Case Files are on heavy stagnation for a similar reason. That’s the trouble with writing a long series where a spoiled character appears at the beginning of the series, which also happens to be the end of the story–I can’t kill him off, even if he deserves it. The lesson here: adore the hell out of my muses, but never give them my heart–not even a little. Don’t even hint at it.

Ever.

Maybe also not let on how important they are, or how important their inspiration is to my Life’s work–it is my very existence that they are screwing with, even if they don’t acknowledge that. Sure, they can know that they have a part in it, but maybe it’s nonchalance on my part that will keep them from freaking the hell out and doing whatever stupid things they may be compelled to do. I swear, this sort of thing breaks people. Weak-mettled mortals. The disappointment isn’t worth the sharing of this information with them, clearly. At least the muse for Lt. Carver (The Pound) is thus far behaving himself. He is at double arms’ length, so we’ll see how well that works in the end. At least he was gracious to begin with. I can’t say they all start out that way. Very few end that way.

More, because I know this page will take it

My thoughts haven’t traveled very far since yesterday. Never mind that I have taken two Hx quizzes, read half a chapter on Ancient India, and gone through half a lecture on DNA and RNA, and more and more I feel like going into science–if only my mathematical skills were sharper. The rest of my thoughts? Still back on Sunday. This is why I get to have such high-highs and plummet to the lowest of lows. Though this time it feels a little more like I’m just trying to relish the sweetness of a few days ago, in the hopes that it will replicate in the near future. It’s about time for that, as my quota for other nonsense has been saturated. Nope! No more of the darkness, thanks. Maximum capacity has been filled. Here: take your change and go…

~I see that the rambling part hasn’t stopped~

Maybe it’s because I woke up in the middle of the night again, for no good reason. I read somewhere that when you have insomnia, it’s because someone is dreaming about you. Well, I don’t know about that, but if it’s true, I sure hope it was a good dream. I’ll never know–people don’t share that kind of stuff with me. That’s a ME thing–that’s something I do, and it freaks people out. Too bad. Get over it. Here’s hoping I can maximize the sleep pressure throughout today and actually stay unconscious for all of tonight. It would be one thing if I could make myself get up and be productive when the rare (and hopefully not trending) case of insomnia hits, but I can’t. I don’t. I just lie there in bed and think too much about the same things that consume my thoughts during the day. At least it isn’t with this:

Yeah, you’re welcome. I guess there’s a little bit of sadism that comes with not sleeping normally. And I was just beginning to enjoy it, too. (Normal sleep, that is. Everyone knows that I’m a masochist for all and who I’ve tolerated in this life.)

I’m about halfway through my homework for the week (half-ish?) and since it’s halfway through the week, I guess that sounds about right. I must get it done by Friday though, because Saturday at Clocktoberfest will be a wash, and I need as much of Sunday as I can spare to do final edits on “Staged”. An inexplicably MIA muse makes the process painful, so the sooner it’s completely down in a manuscript, the sooner it’s out of my head forever. It would also be nice to get back to The Pound. Granted, the many stories for volumes 2-4 of The Doll Collection need working on, but I’m not “there” at the moment. It might take a few more weeks of watching The Twilight Zone episodes, or more Tales from the Crypt. Whatever it is, the current playground feels kind of tainted so stepping away from it for a while is for the best. Might as well try and make the readers of The Quad happy and get cracking on delivering its sequel. A lot of the story is, at the very least, mapped out–just needs an ending. Preferably an ENDING, and not another lead-in to a third book. Dear gods, the multi-volume series are taking over. I have another writing project (already in progress and without a title thus far) that could easily be book three and–I really should refrain from doing that. The tone is actually different, so it won’t be the third book, even if it still carries the theme of “3” in it.

Blah blah blah. It feels like one of those days. Speaking of series: I have a feeling that there is going to be a stretch of days like this. The only upside is that there’s a certain numbness to it all, and compared to how raw I felt Monday and yesterday, I’m okay with this. I’ll take it. It’s still not quite out of the blues, but it’s quieter. Preferably not in a “misery loves company” kind of way, it would be nice to know that I’m not alone in any of this. Wishful thinking–one of my greatest talents thus far.

 

Royale Blue, With Cheese

Maybe not with cheese, (especially not blue cheese! None for me, thanks) though cheese goes with pretty much everything if you have a good enough imagination, and perhaps a willingness to take a dare.

(Seriously: I can’t think of anything else cleverer than that at the moment. And I’m a little put out that “cleverer” really is a word, and Grammar Nazis don’t like “more clever” instead.)

I’m still feeling blue (royally) and disenchanted with my return to the mundane, and also knowing that I can’t fit in any book writing unless I plan to do it in the shower or in my sleep. Tricksy, both of those options. As it is, I’m sneaking this in at work so one can expect that it will be a little disjointed, at best. I’m also feeling impatient and I think my skill at such a mindset should, at this point, earn me a place in the Guinness Book, or somehow reach a point of mutation by flipping itself inside out, so suddenly impatience becomes patience, and I’ll be full of it. You know: kind of like when a fever breaks or a dam holding back a stampede of kittens erupts, or some other soothing event. I’m waiting for it, impatiently. That, and too many other things. I guess that comes from being a planner and wanting to see some of the terrain in front of me, instead of just constantly whacking the brush immediately in front of me–it’s too easy to chop off critter heads that way and, well–not a fan of that.

Clearly, I’m not focused enough to really write much outside of rambling. Better than nothing, I suppose. I’d love nothing more than to get caught up in daydreams right now, but even some of those–even as they are full of sweet smiles–bring about confusion in their wake. Too many questions, not enough answers. I thought for sure I had reached a point where nothing was going to hold me back from just speaking my mind. If anything, for the sake of identifying closed doors and moving on. When did I slip back into being so rabbit-hearted? In honor of such a phrase:

(I’d totally attend this party, by the way. Just LOOK at those grapes!)

I should remember that when something deeply matters, getting ridiculously timid is a thing for me–which is totally uncalled for. I am not the Lamb–I Am The Knife!! All right, that was over the top. Lion-hearted: that’s where I meant to go. Maybe I should make a note and put it on the wall–or a framed collage. I’m pretty crafty sometimes, and I think I could pull together a decoupage image that would suit. I’d have to do it in my sleep time though, as it permits. If I wake up in the middle of the night again as I did last night, that could be the answer. As the alternative, I think merging crafting and a shower might be a bad idea, so I’ll just skip that one. If I do get around to it, I’ll put it up on one of these:

A WONDERWALLGet it???? To hang the collage on…the one about having a lion heart even though I feel all timid-like when I should just be saying, “HEY! What’s up?!?!” You know: Wonder Wall. “I WONDER when I’m going to Get It! And stop caring when I don’t get the answer I am hoping for, so just freaking speak up!” –On a wall.

Okay. Cracking on.

And now I’m hungry. Feeling blue (in any hue), flustered, impatient, can’t write/daydream, and hungry are never a good combination. T-minus 23 minutes and I can take care of one of those. Were it not for reading homework for History (henceforth referred to as Hx), I’d be daydreaming my brains out during that upcoming hour. There’s still a pretty good chance of some of that happening anyway (…That smile thoughYou’re Killing Me, Smalls!) I hear that Ancient India can do that to a person–bring forth the daydreaming, I mean.

Ganesha: help me.

Image result for ganesha

 

Electric to Indigo

I can’t remember when I had post-con blues that hit this hard. It has been a while and somehow I got off easy from the last few shows I did. Odd. What was different this time? I think it was the people I met, and the fact that I didn’t feel fully into it until yesterday–the last day. That just figures. I was stuck working on a history paper during the convention on Friday (which is NOT what I wanted to be doing!), and Saturday was just a blur. I suppose having been stung by a bee that morning probably had a little to do with it. As far as I know, I’m not allergic to them–not like I am to yellow jackets–but in retrospect, I didn’t go without some side effects.

Throughout the day, I kept thinking about how I wanted to be there longer than just for the show, but couldn’t due to school being in session. I was in a not-so-comfortable costume, and that is always a distraction. I remember reaching a point on Saturday where I was just wishing it would hurry up and be over. Wow–how foolish of me! I also didn’t really start talking to other people there at the show until yesterday and that was an incredible mistake. A lot of mischief was packed into a few measly six hours, and to think what I could have accomplished had I spent the entire time that way! Well, nothing I can do about it now. I’ve come away with a renewed interest in working on The Pound, thanks to a guy who looks exactly as I pictured Lt. Lucas Carver. It was a ‘character materializing right before my eyes’ kind of moment, and I actually got the nerve to talk to him about the book. His enthusiasm helped, and I got some ironically fitting insight from him–all without his even knowing what the book is about. That just blows my mind. So that’s three times this year that I have had some reality/otherworldly cross over. I’d love for this to be an ongoing trend. Preferably for the rest of my life.

Here’s a picture of my set up. I haven’t had a decent picture of this for a while because I never seem to have enough table space to display all of my books. Of course, I forgot 2 stands so I still have two books lying down and you can’t see their covers. I’m going to have to hunt those stands down and rectify this for the next show (which is Clocktoberfest next Saturday, Columbia, PA by the way). I’m also going to need to build upward with the layout, if I want this to work effectively. (Terribly blurry. Apologies.)

And then the mischief making…I managed to rope “The Walking Dead’s” Michael Koske (of all people) into helping out with it. I feel like I came away with a new sibling because of that. A second accomplice: the one and only Dolly Maully.

As for my “victims” who were incredible fun and great sports about it…. Well, I got a lot of smiles for and from that and may have also come away with a crush on one of them. I can’t help it if I have a severe weakness for foxy faces! Especially silver ones, and ones that smile at me…I’m not sure if my heart stopped or started, or both. In any case, it is a treasured moment in time. At least I get to keep that, if nothing else. A song for him, should he ever read this (place your bets…)–

Now back “home” and facing down finalizing my history paper before I submit it, getting into this week’s round of homework, and trying to put this apartment back in order. More and more I feel like I’m staying here temporarily–like I’m on an extended business trip, and I’m just biding my time until I get to go home. Wherever that is. They say “home is where the heart is”. Well, when my heart’s other half arrives, I’ll know I have as well.

Oh, Barbra

As I arrived to work this morning, “Guilty” by Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb was on my radio (don’t ask). I had zillions of profound thoughts because of this song and as I put my car in park, and of course—2.5 hours later—I don’t remember any of it. Maybe by the time I’m done with this ramble I will remember, though it’s probably best if you and I don’t hold our breath on that. Probably best if I don’t hold my breath on anything no matter how good at it I have become, but that’s another post for another time.

For the past three mornings, I’ve immediately woken up from some extremely emotionally intense dreams. Maybe more than three mornings, now that I think about it, though the last three have been immediately before my alarm has gone off, so there’s been no cool down time for my brain. There has been anger, frustration, screaming, choking on sobs; heartache like a thick, wide blade right in my chest…You name it. Yet none of the scenarios dreamt really fit much with my current life. Unfortunately, I’m still left with a very real headache that feels like a knot in the entire right side of my head and down the back of my neck. I have the nerves of a hopped-up heroin addict in need of a fix, and I’m exhausted. Like, close my eyes for more than two seconds and I’ll be dead to the world, exhausted. I have no idea what’s happening here, what is causing this, or how to make it stop. Sound like anxiety? Maybe. Or maybe someone kicked my scales without my realizing it, and you all know how much I loathe that. Maybe a bunch of other things, but I’ll be damned if I know what they are. I’m not a fan of mystery, despite the fact that I write it. That’s only ever acceptable because I usually start at the end—I know the answer before the question is even posed. And that’s another thing: Maybe I’m not asking the right questions. Oooh, guessing games. Of those, I am also not a fan. I’m chalking up that connection as another, “Heather, thanks for playing, but you lose: as usual.” I’m just going to eat a huge piece of cake that is sitting next to me as I write this and so what if I cry my tears of frustration all over it? If it were chocolate and caramel, it would be salted for sure, and I hear that’s really en vogue.

It’s so easy to sit here feeling one way, and to mentally beat the hell out of myself the next—“Heather, get a grip already!”—but have no idea what is even left to grip. Unsettled, indeed. I’m a good one for recognizing when a situation is all wrong and formulating a plan to get myself out of it into safer pastures. Not having any clue as to the first move, or how to survive in the meantime as I wait for the first move (Because TIME usually plays a huge part in it and I have zero control over that) does slow up this sort of escape process. I have a two-year plan: it entails a lot of things that I can’t yet even touch. That leaves going minute to minute in the interim, and they are very long minutes.

The bottom line to this is that I have to let this sensation pass, and every minute of it that I have to endure while I wait, is torture. There are no meds for this that won’t damage my creative process—that won’t completely kill my beautiful imaginings that are also responsible for making life less than as I’d like it to be in every respect. As much as I would love for the nightmares to go away, I cannot afford to lose my dreams—day dreams, night dreams, any of my dreams. It is the air I breathe. The stories are my blood. If I also had the love of my missing True other half, I’d need nothing more for a pulse.

All this written out and I’ve yet to remember why the song from earlier roused the hornets’ nest of thoughts. Maybe it had something to do with the line: “You’ve battled on, with the love you’re living on…” Yes, I think that was it. And yes: I have. It hasn’t been much to go on—way too sparse for way too long. In my human biology class, we were just learning about Respiration and Fermentation in regard to the creation of ATP (energy for cells—without it, they die). When respiration can’t happen, fermentation does, but it’s not meant to last long term. In fact, the body gives you severe pain when you’ve used up the burst of energy given in this manner. Kind of like getting a sharp pain in your side when you’re running, and your endurance is non-existent. The pain happens because you’re supposed to STOP. If you keep pressing, you start to kill things inside of you—cells die. Eventually, you die. Well, I’ve been fermenting with what output is accepted, and what even tinier input of love I’ve received for too long and it hurts, but I don’t know how to stop. I don’t want to stop. That doesn’t bode well for me, now does it?

Forced Awakening

Last night I had a dream that has stuck with me all day today. I almost always remember my dreams, but they usually let go of me at some point during the day, even though some details usually remain. This one has continued to cling and it has carried with it a very heavy, melancholic sensation. I’m not exactly sure why that is, considering that by the time it came to an end, things were seemingly okay. Perhaps it’s because there were parallel stories going on: one resolved and one didn’t.

The greater of the two: I was outside during daylight hours and happened upon a bunch of cocoons hanging on a few plants. Most of them were starting to open and butterflies were emerging. I recognized monarchs and there were a few caterpillars of the same persuasion getting ready to chrysalis nearby. All of these were easily 2 or 3 times normal size. I wasn’t out there alone–someone who was “brotherly”, but not one of my brothers, plucked a half opened cocoon from a branch and started peeling it open further. I was protesting and crying that he shouldn’t do that, that he was going to hurt it. He ended up tearing off one of its wings and then tossed it all onto the ground before walking away. I picked it all up and took it into the house to carefully finish opening the damaged cocoon. It was a luna moth (not surprising, considering that “Staged” is still heavily in my thoughts), about the size of a sparrow. Indeed, one wing was completely torn off. I begged my younger brother (a real one this time) to help me repair this lovely, traumatized creature. I held it on my finger while he carefully ran threads of superglue onto the moth’s wing base, and I reattached the wing. There was no telling if it was going to survive the damage. I transferred it to a dowel or chopstick or something and let it rest. At one point, I checked it and by the way its legs were drawn in, I feared that it had died. Lo and behold, the repaired wing gave a flap and it was still with us. I kept it near, and may have awoken before I had a chance to let it free.

The second thread: There was some gentleman, whose company I suppose I was keeping, hanging around, who kept trying to speak with me. By no fault of my own, it didn’t happen and he left the scene. I didn’t recognize him by face or otherwise, nor for the fact that I got the impression that his name was George. I don’t think I even know anyone named George, and definitely no one who resembles him. After the repairing of the luna moth, I happened to look at my phone (and cell phones are as about as realistic in a dream as ice cream is…yuck: Styrofoam), and there was a message inviting me to see a movie. It was my last chance. I realized that I had wanted that chance, but I was about 2 hours too late. Any attempt to call the number from where the message had come was impossible. Figuring out how to even use the phone was impossible. There was a thick wave of devastation over everything from that point on, and I don’t now know why. A stranger and a missed opportunity–in a dream. Such things shouldn’t matter to me. If that is, in truth, my subconscious speaking of other near strangers–but those in my waking life–let me miss not a single opportunity, because that would be distressing beyond measure, and accepting would matter to me beyond words. That said, may he not miss, either.

For some reason, this song–this version–reminds me of him…

Dearest muse: Have you any idea…?

And perhaps some more completion (aka Rewrite)

I guess it isn’t fair to say that “Staged” has undergone a rewrite. It hasn’t. Some heavy editing, yes. I came across four parts in my many read throughs this week where things were too closely repeated (two different themes, twice. Are we getting into math here??). Even though one of my editors looked it over and didn’t mention them, they still didn’t sit right with me–the ending flew with her, by the way. I think today’s work on it has set things fairly straight. I will, of course, read it Again tomorrow and/or Sunday just to be sure it is as ready and final as I can possibly make it. I hit a snag in revealing too much, in playing on perceptions of my muse and even some rather blunt expression. None of it is bad–it’s all extremely good, in fact. I just have a fear of being presumptuous and having that translate in an unwanted sort of way when read. I will just say upfront that there’s only one opinion of this story that will ever matter to me and mine comes second. It is not unstressful, wanting to please a muse as deeply as I do, especially one who is so very dear and I can put no logical reason to it. The planets aligned, or energies matched up, or something. I have no answers, no explanations. I cherish it and those are all the words I have for it–everything else is between him and me. I feel honored and grateful. I’ll probably keep saying that, too.

Back to what I was saying…”Staged” is much closer to full completion, much closer to being ready to go into TDC. My goal is to get it there by the end of next weekend at the latest. On that note, Felix has all of the images needed to illustrate this one. I also received the final drawing for “Wanted”. “Secret”, “Part’n’er” and “Trystan” should be coming along soon. The cover design has also been discussed, so perhaps the book’s release won’t be too much later than initially planned. I can only imagine what it will be like to hold this one: Book Baby 17. Probably pretty damn exciting and I’m looking forward to it for countless reasons. Not the least of which is immortalization of so many amazing and beautiful things.

Coming soon!

Progress and Completion

This is the second morning in a row that I’ve been able to start my day out on my balcony. Both days have been overcast and cool and pretty much perfect for letting my thoughts wander. This may have contributed (along with the very large spiders–one writing and two striped garden variety–and the influence of my beloved muse) in getting “Staged” done. It was finished fairly easily last night. I’m unsure about the ending and may alter it a bit, as it took a really hard, Hitchcock kind of twist and I’m concerned that it has introduced too much of an element of humor. Dark humor, but humor nonetheless. I’ve sent it off to one of my editors to see what she thinks so it’s a matter of waiting at this point. This leads me to getting on to the next story… There’s a part of me that isn’t ready to move on–I don’t want to let go of the beauty of what I’m sharing with this muse. In reality, I don’t have to let go–there are connections that go beyond the influence and inspiration of this story, not to mention that he is part of a novel in progress and that has quite a bit of work left on it. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’d just prefer he be as permanent in my life as possible…

I have sewing that I need to get to today, if I still expect to be a part of the Grimm’s Harvest photo shoot next month. The sewing piece of it shouldn’t be terribly complicated, but it will involve embroidery toward the end, and there’s no telling how long that will take for me to complete.

I’m still so far from really being awake right now…Pausing in this just might be for the best. More to come…

In Dreams

Early mornings seem to be my ideal time for dreaming. Shortly before my first alarm goes off to be specific, which means that I start waking up just as they are getting interesting. Gods, do I ever hate that.

What I recall of this morning’s dream had something to do with kittens–a lot of them. They had some kind of agenda going on, they were gathering en masse, and a few had some non-traditional coloring (sky blue, for instance). A few adult cats were roaming about as well and I think I carried one to its meeting place. It had good manners and said thank you, or maybe it was just happy with my service to its needs.

A part of me thinks this feline brigade might have been there as a protective unit as well, because once they were all occupied in a little cave of sorts, I was under sudden pursuit of some guy, barely recognizable to me while I’m awake, though still familiar when I close my eyes. I put up a good fight, I escaped, I ran. But damn if he wasn’t just as fast and clever. No amount of carnival or Italian market pathway dreamscape was enough to shake him. I surrendered when I was cornered in a deli, more or less up against a cold case, and he was somewhat merciful–at least, he wasn’t violent. I “shouldn’t have run. It would have been better not to have run”.  So I was caught. My bindings were lavender colored Tyvek wristbands (I seriously need to get “Staged” finished…) with a Y-shaped network of chain attached to them. For whatever reason, my captor shackled us together. I was beyond running. I had surrendered. I had no ideas left for any kind of escape at that point–he had won and the shared restraints were unnecessary, I thought.

A lot of walking followed that moment of brief respite. When we stopped somewhere out in a desert or wasteland of some kind, a man and woman were also there with another woman–their prisoner. They were ruthless. They unchained her from themselves and shoved her into a shallow pool of clear water with harmless looking sand at its bottom. It was quicksand and it sucked her in just enough to keep her head below the water. We all watched her drown. “That could be you,” my captor told me just after the other man removed the shackles and chains from his victim. He stood there, holding those newly removed chains and looked at my captor as he spoke to me instead: “That should be you.”

In retrospect, I feel like I made a challenging retort, but it’s possible that I only spoke and kept the words in my mind. We left the area with the couple heading off on their own and leaving me to wonder what was to be my fate. I don’t think I really cared, and only just as my first alarm was getting ready to go off, I felt the blunt needling of Stockholm Syndrome dancing around somewhere inside of my thoughts. I got the sense that I wasn’t the only one who was questioning the situation, but those soft lavender bands never came off.

“Staged”

Last night, in the middle of doing homework for my Human Biology class, the ending to “Staged” came together. It figures–having nothing to do with domains on down to species, or cellular structures or function (or does it?)–finally getting that piece to the puzzle now that the semester is dominating most of my life, well that is just typical. Not only that, but the story is threatening a complete rewrite. I’m not sure what exactly that will entail or what will be altered, but in regards to the post I made yesterday, the demographics of the original idea have shifted. It’s a hard compromise to ease it back into something that won’t spin off into months and months more of working on it (ie. a novel): I don’t have months and months. As it is, the energy being put toward this story feels farther and farther away and I’m feeling distressed about that. I can understand that over time it might happen–never so quickly as this.  As far as timing to get the story done, in whatever capacity, my saving grace in this moment is that there are still five illustrations (including the one for this story) and the cover to be done. That should at least buy me some time to figure out what is going on and what will be the best course for this story to take.

In the meantime, all other muses have grown quiet. I can’t say I’m surprised by this–school. Things are about to grow pretty dark, but I’ll keep trying to navigate through it, with or without the light.