I know about four or five people who I think are kind of brilliant writers and I could sit and read their words all the livelong day. And I thought it would make an amazing read to have each of them collaborate on a book wherein each person just wrote maybe three chapters, and each person’s chapters continued along a progressive story or theme, but the chapters would alternate and be all interspersed with the other writers’ chapters. Kind of like reading Maeve Binchy. So the reader would be like, “what the hell is this?? Did I accidentally pick up some Faulkner here? Are these people drunk??” Incidentally, that was my reaction upon attempting to read the first half of The Sound and the Fury. I thought I was having a stroke. Actually had to use Cliffs Notes in the capacity they were intended, to help me understand Faulkner’s probably-syphillis-induced haze. Whatever, it’s not libel if he’s dead. Right? Actually, by the time I finished reading that book I was so torqued up about it I closed it and immediately started looking for someone else who had read it so we could discuss. I mean, it’s too late NOW, so if you’ve read it, nevermind. Where were you 6 years ago??
I’d really like to just move on and start posting some new things here but I feel like after rereading my last post and then spending ten minutes of sheer panic just trying to remember my user name so I could log onto my own blog, I need some closure on that last post. Not necessarily for you. For the Virgos.
That one offer I had on The House? The guy was planning to buy it and then…then….RENT IT OUT. MY HOUSE. The bank said his offer was too low so we relayed that information and the guy (who reminds me very much of THIS guy) balked and hurled completely unwarranted insults at My House and withdrew his offer and is now, I believe, being investigated for possible deportation. Or maybe I’m thinking of the restaurant guy. Either way, fuck him. THEN I had another offer from a single lady, which pleased me, whose offer was accepted, and I sold My House (against my will… why do I always feel I have to include that phrase?) shortly before my 39th birthday in August, 2011. Please congratulate me for not punching the closing agent in the face when she kept telling me horror stories of other clients she’d processed recently. Stories that began with the words, “you think YOU have it bad…” Well yes. Yes I did, actually. And I am sorry for the other people who were in my proverbial boat but I swear to you on the great unwashed masses that I will put the ignition key to my RAV4 in a very painful place for you if you do not stop talking. No talky. Just sign-y. So I can leave and sit in car and cry for a while-y. Anyway, it’s over. And I’ve only driven past ONE time since then. And it hurt so I haven’t been back. She hasn’t done a thing to the house, by the way. Because it was already perfect, as you know.
I put all my stuff in storage and I stayed for a few months with my true, good friend Susan. She has a back room and a comfortable futon where she let me stay for three months so I didn’t have to sleep on my parents’ couch. (which is why you did not see my family’s name in the papers for gruesome parent/child triple homicide. We all love each other. But only because we don’t live together.) Then in October of 2011, a cheap apartment opened up in my old apartment complex (which I have since learned is populated mostly by single women, most of whom are old. No lie. My bathroom has those metal assistance railings in it) and then two months later I got a job. yay. </ingratitude> As an administrative assistant at a state agency.
I have taken to referring to this period of my life as The Hard Reboot. Sometimes I’m still sniffling a little when I say it. Sometimes not. And now I am 40 years old with a college degree and a steady work history, living in… well if this were New York City? My apartment would be amaaaaazing, and you know that’s just how I have to look at it. I have what I need, much of what I want. I’m still fat, I still don’t like my job, and most of my savings is gone. Gentlemen, I am a CATCH. And some days are more of a struggle than others. But hell, I’m paying my bills, right? Still gaming. Still have friends. I’ve done a couple of showOHMYGOD. I wasn’t writing this when I did my one woman show, was I??? Holy lord, I knew there was something big I’d left out in the hiatus.
So, Nashville has this new Fringe festival every August and it’s lovely (if still small, it’s only like three years old) and last year I booked an hour on the Bongo Java stage and did a show of crap I’d written over the previous few years. Wait, let me try to dig up a photo here.
Uh, yes, I did the first act dressed as Marie Antoinette. Or probably more accurately, one of her very large, borderline insane courtiers (judging from my face. What is that face?) Can you believe they had this in my SIZE? Actually, they didn’t. I couldn’t breathe the whole time I had it on. But I mean, when the hell else am I ever going to have the opportunity to wear this? People, you have to make your own opportunities here. I’ve decided that anytime hereafter that I do my own show, I will choose a different costume. Next time will most likely be pirates.
Next time. What the what? Why would I ever say that? The first time was terrifying. I threw up earlier in the day and that night I don’t even remember being on stage. I just remember Vali sassing me while trying her best to lace me into that faux corset. However, I am lucky enough to be surrounded with people who love me (or at least don’t spend enough time around me to develop a strong dislike) and they were very, very kind. I’m glad I did it but there is also a sense of “whew, thank god, never have to do that again.” I called the show, “Special Snowflake,” although my good friend Elizabeth offered to let me borrow the title she was going to use for her own one woman show, should it ever materialize, “Swandive into Narcissism.” Which is really just perfect.
I guess that’s all I have to say about that. Except that it kind of jump-started my renewed love of flannel boards, from my Sunday School dayz. I just want to make short films using them now.
Et voila. Le closure.
Have you ever been in one of those places that really, profoundly sucks, and you hate it, and it’s hands down miserable to be there…. and it draaaaaags out foreeeeever…. and it is sucking your will to live…. and you don’t want it to end badly…. but eventually, you just reach a point that whatever the end is going to be, good or bad, you just need it to arrive already? That’s what has happened. Also, if I may digress for just a moment here, I have recently learned that it is no longer acceptable (as of like, ten years ago) to use double spaces between typed sentences anymore. From what I understand that is a now archaic practice that was only in place for the sake of typesetting and typewriters. Now, with the new-fangled computerin’, a single space between sentences is correct and people who cling to the old, busted way of typing are now becoming the butts of nerdy ridicule on places like Jezebel.com. And while I do enjoy me some Jezebel and Slate both, and being a lover of the written word do not want to be all gauche, I just don’t think I can do it. I… I can’t. It just doesn’t feel right. In MY day we learned how to type on typewriters. When I went off to college, I took with me an electric typewriter. And an Apple Classic IIe. That had Lemonade Stand on it. And used floppy discs. Literally. So people are just going to have to forgive me. What was I talking about?
Yes. Blessed resolution. My house, as you may know, was sent into foreclosure with an auction date of May 4. Now my brother suggested that I throw a big party and hand everyone a sledge hammer and invite them to trash the joint. Which was a very tempting idea. However, Virgo that I am, I couldn’t bear the mess. And after all, this house and I are not breaking up because the spark is gone. We are lovers being forced apart by The Man, who will no doubt be very, very sorry one day in an as-yet undetermined but certainly unpleasant way. So I don’t want to see the house get hurt. I just want to see it happy. With someone who can look past the outer shell to its inner beauty and treat it well. As I did. I just need a moment here.
I’m okay. I have to be, what other option do I have? I tried the staying in bed until 3 in the afternoon and not taking any phone calls or showering thing. But that only lasted for a weekend. I couldn’t stand not being productive in some way. Or being clean. Again, Virgo. Which leaves me with only one choice: accepting the inevitable and determining to go back to being a happy person. For the most part. So the house is now in short sale, which is kind of a step above foreclosure. If foreclosure is death, short sale is like a serious maiming. Like Mr. Rochester after the fire. Only Jane doesn’t come back and make him happy again for seven years. I think that’s how long it stays on your credit report. Anyway, I got an offer from the first showing and now we just have to wait and see if Mr. Potter at the bank accepts it. The offer is pitifully low and frankly insulting to the house. I suspect the house will extract some kind of revenge for this slight from the new owners, its rebound family. I like to think it will use them callously until it starts to feel better about me, then send me maybe one tentative text one day, maybe forward a joke to my email. Poke me on Facebook. Shyly wondering if I, too, have moved on. But I won’t have. I just know it. I will never love another house like I love this one because it was my first. And I’m only slightly kidding about that.
By the way, I will say this about selling a house. It feels very weird and invasive to have people come into your home and take a tour of it while you’re not there. Now I know how the aristocrats in Britain feel about opening their palatial family seats to tourists. Like them, I too had to hide my priceless jewelry and personal photos to protect myself. Now if I can just do something about the paparazzi lurking in my front yard.
Despite the devastation of losing my house and moving back into the apartment complex where I lived before buying it (to add insult to injury; it just knew I’d come crawling back), it is a relief to finally have some resolution to the whole mess. I am very grateful to the realtor who is helping me through it and dealing with the banks on my behalf. Honestly at this point my eyes glaze over at the mention of the words Wells Fargo, mortgage, foreclosure, short sale and day job, so anything that helps me avoid discussing any of these topics makes me well up with tears of gratitude. The house must go. And I must go. On. To other things. I feel like I’ve been dead for about two years and the cryogenics lab just got around to thrusting that syringe of adrenaline in my heart. (that’s how they do it, right?) Still really sad and irritated when I think about the details of my soon to be ex-house, and my ex-job, but I’m genuinely trying to just stop doing that. Sweating the deets, that is. I mean, this means I can go anywhere now, do anything, right? Now that I no longer have that pesky stability weighing me down! Now that I don’t have to sit around knowing exactly how I’m going to pay my bills every month! Stupid security. Who needs it?? Not me! I watch this video every damn day, and that’s all I need, is this video.
And that’s the only thing I need is *this*. I don’t need this or this. Just this ashtray… And this paddle game. The ashtray and the paddle game and that’s all I need… And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that’s all I need… And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control, and the paddle ball… And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game, and the remote control, and the lamp, and that’s all I need. And that’s *all* I need too. I don’t need one other thing, not one… I need this. The paddle game and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches for sure. Well what are you looking at? What do you think I’m some kind of a jerk or something!? And this. That’s all I need.
Also, one last thing, about that video? I have done several of those things: waded in the deep end at the beach, auditioned, taken care of business, run head first into a wolf in the woods (don’t ask). However. Even if I were smoking hot with the body of a triathlete, I could never, ever cross a room and stick my tongue down a guy’s throat. I can’t really even tell a guy when I like him. Do women… I mean, are people doing that now? Crossing rooms and kissing strangers? Maybe it was a bet. Have the courage to win bets.
My dad’s oldest brother, my Uncle Melvin, died. He was 77. My dad is 75. It honestly never occurred to me that either of them could die, so I’m afraid this came as a great shock to me. He died of cancer, like so many people I have known lately, which really pisses me off. I can’t quite shake the idea that someone, somewhere is sitting on the cure and just refusing to release it because there’s too much money to be made off of cancer. I know, I sound a little bit cray-cray but that’s what happens when you are, for all intents and purposes, a shut in. Let me be a lesson to you.
Of course when I found out that he had cancer, the first thing I said to my mom was, “is it because he lived with second hand smoke for so long? Is that it?” Because I desperately don’t want the big C running in the family. So whenever I find out that someone I’m related to has it, I immediately start sleuthing for a perfectly reasonable explanation that has nothing to do with genetics. “Now, she lived close to a power grid for years, didn’t she?” “I’ll bet it was all that asbestos he inhaled doing construction work in the 70s.” “Hey, he was a physicist wasn’t he? You think he ever handled plutonium?” I do, in fact, have an uncle who was a physicist for Dow and now has cancer. But I think he worked on non stick pans or something.
[Note to self: google cancer causing agents in non stick cookware.]
Uncle Melvin’s funeral was very nice and dignified, I think he would have liked it. He was buried in a suit, which was weird because honest to god I don’t think I ever saw him in anything other than overalls and a baseball cap with the name of some local mechanic shop on it. He was a mechanic, a really good one. And did a little farming. On the video photo montage they do at all visitations now, the family chose the “farm” theme. You pick a theme like golf or farming or something that had meaning to the deceased and then they use stock footage as backgrounds and filler between the photos. Uncle Melvin only farmed the few acres behind his house, it was not a big operation or anything. More of a hobby. But of course the footage features these giant threshers in wheat fields and silos and mountain ranges. The only problem with this concept is that it confuses the hell out of the old folks at the funeral home. They think it’s all real footage provided by the family. And we just kind of went with it. I stood watching it for a few moments with my cousin Roy, Uncle Melvin’s son. When footage of what looked like the middle of Montana came up, Roy said, “hey remember when we had that plantation in the Sierra Madres? That was awesome.” One thing I can say about the visitation is that I laughed pretty much nonstop. And as my father said, that was the ultimate tribute. Incidently, I wonder if the funeral home offers a “sinner” theme with footage of like theater stages, orgies and people snorting coke.
Roy also sounds *exactly* like his father. So he’d pitched the idea of having a microphone somewhere so that when people approached the casket he could say, in his father’s voice, “well whaddya say there, buddy?” or “you sonofabitch, won’t be comin over unannounced any more, will ya?” This is the same guy who had a heart attack two weeks before his father died and had a stint put in an artery. He explained that it looks like a little spring and he was trying to find something that looked similar so he could put it in his mouth and then open his mouth to speak and have it fall out so he could yell, “OH GOD! MY STINT!” These are the people I come from.
There was the traditional KFC in the break room as well as a lot…. people a LOT of pimento cheese (all good) and chicken salad. And some cupcakes which had experienced some kind of extreme trauma during transport. Disappointing lack of a casserole of any kind but the Church of Christ ladies fed us after the funeral which MORE than made up for that. Holy crap those old ladies can cook. But the most interesting thing to me about this particular family funeral is that for the first time it really struck me just how good my mother is, and to some extent my dad, at working a visitation. I mean, she was working. That. Room. I think she spoke to every single person there. Got their names. Got their stories. Gave the pertinent information. Which allowed my dad, who has never been one for small talk, to stand there and let her do all the work. Which I guess in times like this is kind of her job. And y’all, she is GOOD. I just stood to the side and watched for a while, picking up on things she would say to keep the conversation going. Now, my mom can talk a hole in a wall but I wondered how she and my dad had become so very talented at working these things, until I realized that this is one of their hobbies. Visitations. They’ve been to at least 8,000 of them. Partly because my dad has been doing genealogy work for the last 50 years, partly because they’re getting to the age now that their people are starting to die off in alarming numbers. But their training appears to be paying off. If there were an elderly Olympics, my parents would be gold medalists in Funerals. Hm. Geriatric Olympic sports.
*Funerals and Visitation
*Going to the Y
*Rides in the Country (my parents would also be contenders in this one)
*AM Radio Stations
*Family Reunions (and this one. I think they go to four a year)
*Rescuing Offspring from Financial Ruin
*Eating Out Really Early and Only at Cracker Barrel (No lie for my mother’s 70th birthday we ate at Cracker Barrel for “dinner.” At 4PM.)
What was I talking about? Oh yes, Uncle Melvin’s funeral. Well it was a simple graveside affair on what turned out to be a really lovely day. The preacher, for being Church of Christ, did a really good job and actually talked about the man we’d lost, not just preaching a sermon. And when it was over we strolled over and had a look at my parent’s future condo. They’re in the same cemetery (my dad’s people) and they already have their stone up. Yyyyep. With the names of all three of their children engraved on it. So, that’s nice to see. My name on a funeral stone. They have two extra plots next to it but I’m hoping that when my time comes I will be lying in state in the Washington Cathedral for a few days before being enshrined somewhere like Lenin.
I have decided to appropriate Charlie Sheen’s response to being fired as my own. With a few edits.
“[My former employer] continue[s] to be in breach, like so many whales. It is a big day of gladness at [the Ministry] because now I… never have to look at whatshis[expletive] again and I never have to put on those silly shirts for as long as this warlock exists in the terrestrial dimension.”
I’m actually thinking of making this my email signature.
I’m unemployed.* Two years and one month now. Which I still can’t freaking believe. I don’t want to scare anyone out of getting a French degree, but…. well. I’m just saying. Two. Years. I started out teaching high school French, against my better judgment. But that didn’t work out. As in, I left during Christmas break of my third year. But that’s all in the past. Or so my mother tells me. Only it’s not, really.
Another sparkling gem from my mother which is well intentioned but only Serves to Infuriate™ is, “you and 10 million others.” Again, I can’t really argue that. And at first, determined not to throw a pity party for myself (I gave up on that about two months in), I agreed. But around the one year mark, I started to reply, “you know mother (which is what I call her when I am extremely peeved but trying to contain it because the woman changed my diapers), I know you’re right about that. It’s not just me. But saying so doesn’t really make me feel any better. So, you know, stop saying that. Please. Can we just go to lunch now so I can medicate with food? Thanks.” At least I’m polite about it.
In the last two years, it has chapped my ass to no end the things I have heard people say, although I recognize that I’m mostly exhausted with myself. I understand that most of these things are said with good intentions by people who, like acquaintances at a funeral visitation, really don’t know what to say. I realize I’m kind of equating unemployment with death here, but really it *is* a major life transition, like divorce or death. But unlike a Big D, when you lose your job you’re expected to just suck it up and see it as an “opportunity”; a word which I swear on all I hold sacred I am actively waging a smear campaign against in hopes that the general public will turn on and launch a Twitter war against it until the people at Merriam-Webster bow to public demand and remove it from the dictionary.
So. For all those out there who have been lucky enough to ride out this economic bitch slap relatively unscathed, I congratulate you on your good fortune. And if you have taken your unemployed friends out to dinner or for a beer, forcing them to shower and take of that nasty bathrobe and put clothes on and leave the house for the love of all that is holy, and NOT tried to make them feel better with any of the following phrases, then you are doing the Lord’s work and He gon’ bless you for it. But for those of you who know unemployed people and just don’t know what to do with them, I offer the following guidelines of what NOT to say. Please.
1. “Oh, you’ll find something soon. (in a few months, by Christmas, etc.)
The fact is that no matter how smart your friend is, you have no idea how long it will take to find another job. At least not one that he or she really wants or that will pay the bills. It could be, say, two years or more. And when people are in this situation, they desperately cling to any and all words of hope they hear. Then a year down the road, they start thinking, “hai! Where my job at yo?? Errybody keep telling me it’s gonna happen soon! Ding Dong man! Ding Dong, Ding Dong yo!” (sorry, I started out speaking in some weird rap dialect and then I started thinking about Weird Al Yankovic’s video for “Fat” and it kind of all went to hell from there.) Anyway, point is, please refrain, in your enthusiasm to bouy up your friend’s confidence, from making giant cosmic promises or assurances that you know damn well you can’t guarantee. It sets up false hope. And really, hope is all we’ve got people. And almost as bad as being a year into unemployment and finding those assurances unfulfilled is when you realize that your friends have finally stopped offering them. It’s like your medical team has finally realized it’s futile and they’re ready to call life Hospice for your sorry ass. Just avoid the whole promise thing altogether.
2. “Look at this as an opportunity! I read about this guy who…”
Okay let me stop you right there, Oprah. First of all, the great unwashed unemployed masses don’t give a rat’s ass about the guy you heard started his own company and became a millionaire after losing his job by just Following His Dream and selling hand-wrapped garden manure packets with photos of the cow whose ass provided them and a personalized letter from Bossy thanking you for “living green.” Actually, making a note of that. It could work. BUT. Seriously, by and large, it’s like telling an overweight person about the 700 pound woman you saw on Dr. Oz and how SHE lost all the weight and you can too! And look, here are some Women’s World magazine articles about people who lost over half their body weight! MAKE SURE YOU CATCH DR. PHIL ON FRIDAY HE’S GONNA HAVE PEOPLE WHO HAVE LOST WEIGHT OMG I SAW AN INFOMERCIAL HERE LET ME ORDER THIS FOR YOU DIDN’T YOUR COUSIN ROY’S HEART ATTACK MAKE YOU WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT…..
what was I talking about?
Yes. Silver linings. Fuck em. Don’t want to hear it. I know I could take this opportunity to do volunteer work or finish my novel or go back to school to be an embalmer (things I have actually considered doing, #15). I. Know. But just assume before you ever say it that the unemployed person to whom you speak has already heard this about 8.2 bajillion times already. And is already trying to force herself to believe it every day. So unless you have an actual “opportunity” to offer, then just… just stop talking. Please. In all Christian love. Shut it.
3. “Well you’re in good company. You and 3 (6, 10, 12, pick a number, any number) million others are in the same boat…”
*sigh* Okay. Listen. I understand that I am not the only person who was wrongly terminated from a job in the last few years. I know other people have been screwed. I know some of them have kids or disabled people living with them they have to take care of. I understand that some people are in this boat and have cancer. AND no shoes. AND a poor, blind, three legged dog to feed. I get it. But although a lot of unemployed people understand that things could be worse, still, that doesn’t make us feel any better. If I may revisit the death analogy for a moment, it’s kind of like telling someone, “hey, you know thousands of people lose someone every day, so you’re in good company.” Or, “you know half of all marriages end in divorce. Just get back out there!” As I tell my mom, “…and I feel for those people, really I do. But that doesn’t make me stop feeling sad about MY situation. I still hurt about it. I’m still embarrassed about it. The emotions are still there. And the knowledge that other people are going through the same thing, sadly, does not fix my feelings.” Which brings me to:
4. (as seen on FaceBook) “I read that the economy is picking up and 100,000 jobs are being created. So what are people still complaining about??”
My response to this post was something along the lines of, “well, that’s awesome but what I am complaining about includes but is not limited to the fact that my house is in the process of foreclosure, I have no health insurance but I need to see a doctor, I have been unemployed for so long that my unemployment benefits have now run out, and I STILL can’t seem to get a job.” And then, like I do, I immediately felt guilty about it. But before I could go back and delete the comment, the person who posted it apologized for my situation and said she hadn’t meant to offend and that she was actually referring to the situation in Haiti. Now, I call shenanigans on that assertion, but I do get that at the end of the day, at least I don’t have to worry about getting Cholera from the drinking water. Well, at least until Wells Fargo decides it’s had enough of my sorry ass and taps into my water supply. I think most unemployed people understand that It Could Be Worse. We do. Really. But the statement “what are you complaining about?” just smacks of “let them eat cake” to me. You haven’t struggled with this so you have no idea what you’re talking about. So before saying, “I don’t really see what all these starving peasants are complaining about, everything looks fine to ME,” and heading off to the opera, let’s make sure we’re not logged into a public forum, okay Marie Antoinette? Thanks.
5. “I would LOVE to take some time off!” “Man, you’ll be glad you had all this free time when you’re working again!”
(rolls up newspaper and swats you on the nose) No. NO. BAD. Unemployment. Is NOT. A. Vacation. Not. Nnnnnnot.
When you are not employed by a tax paying, paycheck giving official employer? You still have a full time job. And that job is shitty, with no benefits, no paycheck and it is debilitating. When you are unemployed, your full time job is worrying. Stressing out, and worrying. And being embarrassed. And hustling. And lying some here and there. And handling harassing phone calls from creditors. And trying to figure out “how am I gonna get rid of all this crack?” (sorry, Chris Rock reference. Just came to me.) And sometimes struggling with depression, which is like a second full time job in itself. Looking for a job and trying to pay your bills are your full time jobs. And they are exhausting. This is not a vacation for us, people. We’re not kicked back on a beach doing some light reading and drinking fruity drinks while deciding what color to repaint the living room. We probably don’t have the money to buy paint. And if we face losing our homes, we’re damn sure not motivated to fix them up so the mortgage company can make more money on them when they resell them. Please, if you disregard everything else on this list, PLEASE do not indicate that the unemployed are “lucky” for being so. We are not lucky. We got handed a big steamy pile and we are doing everything we can to CHANGE the situation. Just… no.
Again, I realize that most people who say these things are really saying, “dude, I’m sorry, that really sucks. I think you’re really smart and cool and I hate that you’re in this situation. I wish I knew what I could do to help you. And of course if I hear of anything, I promise I’ll let you know.” Only instead of actually saying that, they feel like they have to keep things light! and cheerful! for you! Or else try to fix the Situation. The Situation being, of course, your attitude. I appreciate the friends and family I have who have been supportive. And I won’t lie, I’ve been dropped like a bad habit by a few who have found me to have “lost that sparkle” in the past two years (I was as shocked as you are.) I love that people care enough about me to at least make an effort. But all I’m asking is that the unscathed people of the world try to understand that unemployment can be seriously traumatic. Maybe not in a Darfur refugee camp kind of way, but still devastating nonetheless. You don’t have to fix us. Well, unless you own your own company or are sleeping with the HR person at one and can get us into a job. But barring that, just listen, feed us if you like, call or text our asses from time to time, and please don’t send us magazine clippings or ask us to turn on the t.v. to watch this one interview. Unless it’s with Charlie Sheen. Because I may have been unemployed for two years? But DAMN. Could be worse.
*In the last two years I have made money by: temping, dog-sitting, acting, writing, being a camp co-leader, and a brief maternity leave gig. I am not just sitting around living off the gub’mint. I have interviewed for a number of great jobs that were looking for snarky overweight red-headed French degree holding Virgos who are from Nashville and are named Rachel. I have not gotten any of these jobs.