Friday, May 25, 2012

Reclaiming Control

Being a single mother by choice means often being out of control in regard to one's life, which is ironic because the definition of an SMC is a woman who has made her destiny happen -- she created her own family, though she did not have a partner to help her do it. What I'm
talking about is the actual living as the sole caregiver.

Parenting is so demanding a job that it feels like one is at the mercy of the child's schedule a good part of the time. The school schedule first and foremost but also the athletic schedule, the music or theater schedule, the scouting schedule, the summer day-camp schedule, etc. The pediatrician and dentist appointments, the teacher conferences, the homework, tests, special projects, and more. Weekends for SMCs are not partly about the kids; they are almost always completely about the kids. Vacations can't be taken at Club Med Turks & Caicos, which is for adults only. They are taken at Disney World or, in our case in previous years, at family-friendly Club Med Sandpiper, Florida. Tack on challenges unrelated to single motherhood such as career transition, professional and personal disappointments, neighbor problems, financial setbacks (hello, Internet fraud!), and the really big one -- STRESS!!! -- and you can comprehend why the caregiver/breadwinner can feel like her life is not hers to lead.

This epiphany hit me like a Mack truck last weekend when I happened to glimpse a divorced friend of mine in the company of her new boyfriend, a man I have known somewhat much longer than she has. Seeing them together reminded me what I don't have: a satisfying existence separate from my sons. It reminded me of my scarce "me time." And it reminded me how little control I have over my own life.

I know what you're thinking: "She was pining for her friend's boyfriend." Well, sorry but no. I was emotional that day because of my stark insight. Of course, it was hardly the first time I had come to such a conclusion. I've been in the 24/7 mother business for eight and a half years after all. However, I hadn't experienced a "moment" (gross euphemism) like that in a long while because I am very adept at not letting what I see get to me. In other words, I have grown a thick skin. A very thick skin. But not an impenetrable one.

Interestingly, the scenario -- having to stop my vehicle to allow a romantic couple to cross the street -- was very similar to one I experienced about ten years ago in Cambridge involving an ex-boyfriend and the woman for whom he left me. Actually, I felt less of a sting from that one (I wasn't crazy about him to start with, though he was a good amateur stand-up comedian) than this recent one.

Still, I am not made of metal. (Okay, I have two metal pins in my left knee.) I felt something. Yes, I did. I felt a painful self-realization -- so much so that I also felt a need to make a change in my life. What I saw propelled me toward self-improvement and empowerment.

I have been caught in a vicious cycle since February 2011 when two things happened: a. I injured my back and b. my boyfriend broke up with me (yes, in that order, the bastard). The former prevented me from being able to clean my home, which in turn prevented me from being able to have people over. And the latter caused me to turn to comfort food (well, the former did, too.) Yep, you guessed it: I put on weight. A few months later, a toilet malfunction caused water damage to my home, throwing it into further chaos. More dominoes fell as the year wore on. Needless to say, the die had been cast. I became unattractive in my own eyes. (Heck, it could have been much worse. I could have found solace in alcohol or another substance, but thankfully I don't have that predilection.)

Now the buck (and the russet potato chips) stop here. I re-enrolled this week in the Jenny Craig weight-loss program. Two years ago I dropped twenty-seven pounds in the program on top of the three I lost previously on my own, making for a total of thirty. I looked great. Then came the congratulating myself, the easing up, the stress, the ice cream, the slacking off, the stress, the s'mores, and the stress. My JC consultant had warned me about gaining the weight back, but she concluded: "I don't think you will." She really meant it. Well, famous last words. I have done just that and raised her fifteen L-B's!

I still don't think I look fat, or maybe I just don't want to admit it. I look like "a larger version of myself." That was my running line before, and I'm sticking to it.

As I write this, I have been on the program three days. I have experienced some hunger pangs but have been good -- quelching them with apple slices dipped in low-fat salad dressing or a JC "anytime bar" (nutrition bar designed to curb your appetite) instead of cookies or chips and guacomole or salsa. Though I am not as motivated as I was the last time, I feel I am off to a better start because I am managing my desire for snacks more effectively. I've been to ice cream shops with the boys at least twice in recent weeks and have abstained from indulging. That is heretofore unheard of. The real test will be watching Christopher and Charlie gobble down multiple gooey s'mores when we are away camping. I will tell you right now: there will be no denying myself. I refuse to deny myself. But I will cut back on my usual intake. Hopefully. Yes . . . definitely.

I need to make this weight-loss attempt stick -- if only to gain some measure of control over my life, which too often feels like a circus act. Juggling and high-wire tightrope walking come readily to mind.

If I can persevere and be successful, I will regain the confidence lost in regard to my appearance. I can lead a more engaged life with adults, and perhaps someone else will have to stop her vehicle to let me and my future mystery man cross the street.

That would be nice.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

End-of-School-Year Burnout

When I feel extra stress,
I know it's that time of year again --
being thrown like a boomerang out
before returning back in.

Of the school year
remains only the last few weeks.
Days are cluttered with
commitments, academic and sportif.

The back and forth
is making me rapidly wear down.
I feel a cold coming on;
my face is wearing a frown.

Scout cleanup, tee ball:
the start of one day's six activities.
Then came a raffle, soccer, Little League,
and birthday festivities.

'Twas way too much and for what?
Just downright ridiculous.
How we got through the day
is certifiably miraculous.

To make the schedule work,
I enlisted other parents to agree
to drive both my boys
to two places. That was key.

It seems awfully trite
to say "never again" or to make a vow
because surely there will be
another day like that soon, just not right now.

This kids' rat race
I'd like to beat.
Yet how? Home school? No clinics or teams?
That would be quite a feat!

Would I be able to live
such a life? Could my sons be happy?
Giving up what they know --
very risky, perhaps really crappy.

Still a fantasy. But who knows?
Let's throw away the plan.
Just go out to do things
whenever we choose, whenever we can.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Scammed!

Last week I became the victim of an Internet scam to the tune of $2,887.80.

To make some extra cash, I responded to an e-mail advertising a part-time job as a mystery shopper. The position sounded perfect for me: It paid $200 per two-part assignment. I would get to keep the merchandise (worth $50) from every shopping task. It would only take a couple of hours of my time per week. And I could perform it at my leisure, even with my kids in tow. In addition to stores, I could be sent to restaurants where my boys and I could eat delicious food I hadn't paid for or other business establishments.

Being a writer and natural critic (I am a Virgo!), I was genuinely excited about the opportunity to "evaluate" businesses. I make a paltry living teaching memoir-writing to adults, thus far through a park and rec department and a nonprofit community center. You can only imagine the big bucks I am bringing in! Not. My goal is to gain experience -- it's my first time teaching anything other than a sport -- while also making connections that can be later used as references. Within the next year or less, I plan to step it up by applying for a real position at an area college. (My Master of Fine Arts degree enables me to teach writing and literature at the college level. Heck, I am qualified to become a tenured professor! I just need to get there. Baby steps, starting with baby steps.) I have a completed book manuscript for which I need representation, but I have put my search for a literary agent on hold since the fall in favor of "building a platform." I came very close to landing the most incredible New York agent yet was rejected in the end largely due to my lack of same. Taking her words to heart, I am racking up teaching credentials, blogging, and have applied to lead a parenting-preparation workshop for adults with a single mother friend of mine. Overall, I am happy with the way this hodge podge of activities has proceeded for the past seven months, though they are by no means lucrative. My blog brings in no money; it is not that kind. (Actually, it costs me $3.71 each post to put the photos or other images I use on a CD. I have posted every five days since January 1, so you can do the math.) And the quarterly workshop, which my friend and I have been planning since last fall, will bring me no money until it starts running four months from now, provided we get accepted to run it!

Clearly, I am in a year of transition (and, boy, is that an understatement!) -- my first year working a job post-children (my oldest is eight and a half . . . years, not months), my first year working a job post-memoir (I worked on it seven-plus years, finishing almost one year ago), and my first year working post-graduate school (I graduated in December 2005).

It has been an exciting seven months. I have thoroughly enjoyed my students in the classes I have taught in two towns and been immensely inspired by their stories. Before the term "blog" was even coined, I wanted to do something similar: write a column. Tapping into my basic introverted nature in this creative way has been more than satisfying. But most of all, my blog has provided me with a voice -- one that has, thus far, otherwise been squelched since my memoir and another I wrote earlier about growing up a Christian Scientist in a dysfunctional home remain unpublished. The workshop we have planned goes hand in hand with my single-mother memoir and blog: all three seek to educate would-be parents (while the "Mad Mom" memoir/blog combo pack also strives to entertain and connect with actual parents) to better prepare them for the shock that is bringing Junior into the world.

I am proud of my ventures but, alas, they don't cover my mortgage, health insurance, utilities, groceries, or other seemingly countless bills that come due each month. That is, needless to say, a big problem. So when I saw the e-mail advertising the attractive mystery shopper job, I thought it looked very good, indeed.

How could I not pursue it?

As a single mother by choice, I am the sole breadwinner of my family. I have received no divorce settlement, and no child payments are made on my behalf. Does my situation make me more vulnerable than other people to fraud? I say yes. SMCs are not, by nature, more foolish than other women. To the contrary, I would argue that they tend to be smarter cookies than your next average woman because they have had to achieve a certain level of career success and financial stability to be even able to contemplate raising a child on their own. However, their aloneness -- in terms of perhaps not having anyone to bounce every decision they make off of -- coupled with their lack of a salary-contributing spouse make their financial situation more tenuous. In general, losing a job or being taken for a ride via fraud can have a much greater negative impact on the SMC than on the married mother.

Now don't get me wrong: I did not jump at this chance to earn more money. I was very hesitant to sign up for a job online because I know there are scams out there. I am almost always an extremely careful person. I have a policy not to give or even pledge to give any money to anyone over the phone, no matter how worthy the cause. I am tight-fisted about donating money, period. Granted, that has more to do with my financial state than anything else. I lock all my doors; have an unlisted phone number; carry identity-theft protection; cut off boyfriends and friends the moment they become abusive, manipulative, or deceptive toward me; have refused to advertise on Craigslist, eBay, or the like; and follow safe procedures when dating online.

But my system is not perfect. I have faltered at times and been taken for it. I had $350 lifted out of my purse in my SUV in broad daylight one morning when I failed to lock the door because I expected to be away from the vehicle only a couple of minutes. My then-three year old's beach toys were grabbed out of the SUV one night I forgot to swing the bike rack back into the upright locked position. An entire summer was stolen from me developing an online romantic relationship with a man from Match.com who turned out to be a Nigerian fraud. My travelers' checks and a sentimental bracelet I was making consisting of eight charms carefully chosen from the eight Asian countries I had thus far visited was taken in Thailand when I left a backpack on a bus during the driver's break. My brand new downhill skis were ripped off at Sugarbush North when I was in college. A rolled-up Chinese painting was removed from my backpack without my knowing it while I asked for directions in China. And when I was a child, my Snurfer -- the first snowboard on the market and the best Christmas present my parents ever gave me -- was snatched at a golf course in my hometown the first time I ever used it. I still have not gotten over that one, nor the fact that my parents refused to buy me a replacement.

This may seem like a lot of thefts (and I'm sure there are more), but I am fifty years old. That's half a century I am talking about. The biggest ticket items were the cash out of my wallet and the skis -- each worth in the low hundreds of dollars.

But the Internet theft? Close to $3,000. A whole 'nother level monetarily, and a whole 'nother level criminally. The loss of the money really hurts, particularly in my low-paying year of career building. So what went wrong? I made two errors that led to a third: A. I wrongfully believed that cashier's checks are bombproof. B. I wrongfully believed that a check "clearing" the bank means it's valid. And C. I wrongfully believed it was okay to send someone I didn't know (another mystery shopper, a.k.a. fellow employee) money via Western Union per part two of my assignment because cashier's checks clearing the bank = nothing fishy here.

My bad. My bad, bad, BAD!

Cashier's checks are the checks people ask for when I want to buy a big ticket item. I have bought many a new and used car with them, for example. The dealership doesn't want a personal check; it wants a bank-issued check. The cashier's checks sent to me certainly looked legit. They had a bank name on them, and they didn't raise any red flags among the bank employees who saw them. (I was scammed out of all but roughly $100 of the first of two checks I received. By the time the first check was deemed counterfeit, I was attempting to withdraw cash from the second. It was at that point that the bank employees informed me the first was invalid, making the second suspect and thereby preventing me from removing the cash per my assignment. The $100, incidentally, was spent on items purchased at two different Walmarts as part of the two assignments I nearly completed. I was entitled to keep the purchased merchandise, and as it turns out it was my own money anyway!)

"Clearing" the bank. Yeah, right! Clearing, I have come to learn, is a misnomer. When a cashier's check has cleared, its funds have only just become available. It has not yet been determined to be a good check. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? I think it does, and I believe the misleading terminology provides a giant loophole when it comes to banks protecting their customers. I waited until each of the two checks cleared before withdrawing the funds in the first case and attempting to in the second case. Had I been informed at the bank that "clearing" isn't what I or any other regular person would think of as clearing, I most certainly would not have pursued withdrawing cash at that time! I would have said: "Huh?" And that would have led to an explanation that I needed to wait several more days to be safe.

Perhaps I should have stopped what I was doing when I saw the name of the country I was sending the money to for the next mystery shopper: the Philippines. It did make me wonder just a little bit. But then again one of my mailing envelopes had a return address of Canada on it. It was an international business I was working for (or so I believed), so the international nature of using Western Union in and of itself didn't prevent me from continuing.

And that's the definition of a scam, folks! The criminals fly just enough inside the perimeter of believability to fool people into trusting their motives.

I have reported the fraud to my local police department, providing all of the e-mail and hard-copy correspondence along with my Western Union receipt. I have no protection from my bank in case of fraud, and I am awaiting a reply from my home insurance company about whether or not I can file a claim for theft by fraud. I conducted my communication with the mystery-shopper company while at home.

This is only the beginning. You can bank on that! Today I am almost $3,000 poorer yet unquestionably wiser. I feel violated, and I feel like an idiot. But I am grateful it wasn't more money, and I soothe myself -- misery loves company -- by reminding myself that I'm not alone. I don't wish this on anyone else. I just want to nail those sons of bitches and get my money back.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

In Praise of Mothers

*Dedicated to Frances Elizabeth Flack Siems (2/10/21-3/25/95), my mother

With Mother's Day around the corner, I want to take this opportunity to tip my hat to mothers everywhere. Being a mother, whether single or married, is the hardest job in the world. That's what they say, and ain't it the truth! I certainly know that.

Every single day -- not just 9-5 like the stereotypical job -- mothers get up early (if they haven't already been woken numerous times during the night) to tend to their babies and school-aged kids. For the littlest ones, they feed from their breasts, prepare formula, change diapers, rock back to sleep, clean up vomit, take temperatures, administer medicine, put a new sheet on a crib mattress, strap into a high chair or swing, and perform so many other duties necessary to keep a baby healthy, clean, and safe. For the older children, they rouse late sleepers, serve breakfast, pack lunches and snacks, hand over lunch money, help pick out clothes, gather together homework in backpacks, walk to school, drop off by car, watch the boarding of school buses, and more.

And that's just first thing in the morning!

Every hour, every day, every week, every month, every season, and every year brings its own particular responsibilities and potential challenges for a mother. There is sickness, injury, and sometimes death. There is school suspension, teenage pregnancy, special needs, bullying, and poor grades. There is juvenile delinquency, still living at home at age thirty, unemployment, rejection from college, and suicide.

Being a mother means being present and active toward the well-being of her young one (or ones) every single day. It is an unpaid job, and that is a crime.

Fortunately, though, being a mother is also the best job in the world. It is giving birth to one's own flesh and blood, witnessing first steps and the first smile, cuddling with a sweet-smelling and warm body in the dead of winter, watching the growth of a child, helping him or her learn to read and do math, teaching swimming and skimming stones, playing board games and camping in a tent, guiding moral development, and on and on.

It is sharing one's life with another person (or persons). But unlike a roommate, partner, or spouse, he or she enters the home extremely needy. His or her personality has also not yet revealed itself. That individual is not living in the home short term. That person's ties to his or her mother are strong and permanent.

Being a mother is loving one's child. Unconditionally. Who can one turn to if not one's mother? Who is one's biggest cheerleader? One's mother. Who will always protect young people? Their mothers.

It is difficult to describe the job of a mother because it is all-encompassing. It means different tasks to different people at different times in their lives. But one thing is indisputable: a mother is The Great Protector. She would lay down her life for her son or daughter if necessary. She has his or her back for as long as she's alive.

What more could any child want?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

SMC Stands for Seriously Manless Chick

Being a single mother by choice, by definition, means the woman is okay being manless. I'm not talking about her father, uncle, brother, or brother-in-law, though I have none of those. I am speaking about a romantic relationship with a member of the opposite sex. She has decided to step away from society's expectations of the traditional family. She is not the woman who always has to have a boyfriend or the one who puts marriage at the top of her personal-goals list. She is also not the chick who goes out in the evening all the time because you can't do that when you are an SMC. That lifestyle usually requires hiring a babysitter, and that becomes too expensive.

It may have been very painful for her to have reached this place of peace by which she was able to honestly look at her situation, come to grips with her years, consider her biological clock, and say to herself: "For whatever reason, at such and such an age, I am single. I am not in a relationship." Or "I am not in one leading toward marriage." Or "My relationship is not heading toward commitment fast enough." Or "I don't want the one I'm in to become something serious. I want to have a child." Or "I want to raise a child." The final statement, of course, in this fraught chain of thinking is "I want to become a single mother."

Little girls don't grow up dreaming of becoming single mothers. No one's written "Cinderella" from the perspective of a woman pining for single motherhood. No one, not even either of the Jennifers (Aniston or Lopez), has acted in that "First-Choice Plan." To choose single motherhood is to take a radical path. Usually, though not always, it is a default position. Plan B: the plan turned to when Plan A doesn't work out.

Deciding to become a partnerless parent potentially means making huge sacrifices in regard to one's freedom, one's social life among them. There are exceptions to every rule, of course. One former full-time single mother I know was able to maintain a robust love life because she lived very near her sister. The sister and her husband, childless at the time, were more than happy to babysit her son so she could go out. And go out she did! She found one husband and, when that relationship failed, found another. But let's not kid ourselves. Though she resembled one (other than the relationship part and a couple of child-free weeks in the summer), she was not an SMC. Her first husband just lived on the opposite coast.

My best single-mother friend knows an SMC from the D.C. area with two young children who married a friend from work. I have read about another with two children who married someone she met after relocating back to her Midwest hometown. She and her husband had an unconventional marriage, more of a part-time marriage, in the sense that they did not even live together. However, I have since learned from someone who knows her that the relationship has since fizzled. In the Seattle area, the mother of one of my sons' half-brothers (through their sperm-donor father) got married in the last year. I have met an SMC who remarried from my own Boston chapter of Single Mothers by Choice. And one of the chapter's former leaders, in a serious relationship at the time she volunteered for the post, got engaged to someone she'd met through work shortly thereafter! She has subsequently married him.

Stories of SMCs finding love, marriage, or some other type of commitment do exist. Yet in my experience, they are fewer and farther between than one might think. As an attendee of SMC Boston meetings for close to ten years, I have observed with interest how often (or, most likely, not) the subject of dating has come up for discussion. In my early days with the support group, it was rarely raised. I felt it was the 800-pound elephant in the room. But, when it was, I was invariably the person who brought it up. I listened while other members talked about how hard it was to fit dating and a relationship into full-time single motherhood. As I naively and wishfully often do, I thought to myself: Phooey! I'll manage it.

Well, lo and behold, didn't I manage it for three years starting exactly one month after my oldest son was born! However, the admittedly casual relationship became too difficult to maintain following the arrival of my second son. Charlie was a difficult and colicky baby, making me even more of a wreck than I had been already (hint: that's not easy to do) and continuing my downward slide into chronic fatigue syndrome -- a condition I suffered from for four and a half years, two and a half of them spent not getting so much as one decent night's sleep, thanks to my little horrible sleeper!

Following the breakup, I could not even think about finding a new relationship for two solid years because I was in the throes of utter exhaustion. I was just trying to survive -- get out of bed, get dressed, take care of my sons, and work on my memoir. Prop myself up, basically, like a limp scarecrow overseeing the garden.

When I finally felt "well enough" to venture into those waters, I found online dating much harder to manage than it had been pre-children. There was the issue of pulling myself together to look nice when I usually felt like crap -- granted, not as crappy as before but crappy nonetheless. There was the issue of keeping up with the communication satisfactorily enough to get a first, second, or third date. I often failed at this juncture, being unable to get to the phone often enough, talk long enough, place a return call within an acceptable amount of time, or reply to an e-mail with the right amount of enthusiasm. Geez. Let me tell you: it's hard to be enthusiastic when you feel like crap!

It wasn't long before I discovered the conundrum that my life choice has handed me -- men my age, already reluctant to date a woman the same age (pushing fifty at the time), were also not interested in dating someone with young children. Their children were in their mid-teens, in college, or even out while mine were watching Bob the Builder. As if these were not big enough strikes against me, let's just pile on the matter of my unavailability (no weekends free of child care, no weeknight off per week, and no adult-only vacation weeks like divorced mothers). Voila! Behold the surefire recipe for Undateable Middle-Aged Woman, or UMAW. Oh, but don't forget The Babysitter Factor or, as it is more commonly known, The Wallet Drain. A. My home was too messy to bring in a babysitter most of the time. B. I rarely found one when I tried. C. I couldn't afford one often enough to keep a relationship alive. (In case you're wondering, my former boyfriend was extremely understanding regarding all of these points. He was a saint, really. Yet even saints have their limits. He broke up with me.) Paying for a babysitter enough times to get a ring has got to be like shelling out for one year of college.

Despite my numerous disadvantages in the dating pool, I rejected several potential suitors because they were not my type. Yes, I am picky, too, which is one of the reasons why I am in this predicament to begin with. You would think that someone who chooses to be a single mother, replete with all the hardships that entails, would be domestic and possibly sedentary. Well, think again. That is not me at all. So I said "bye, bye" to those nice few men who were willing to put up with old, unavailable, not-rich-enough me along with young them (my boys). When not plagued with chronic fatigue syndrome, I am athletic and outdoorsy -- both characteristics of which presented the final Catch-22 in regard to finding a relationship: I had no free time (or very little of it anyway) to do the things I love and that I hope my companion also loves.

So it felt like an absolute miracle when a smart, successful, gorgeous man less than a year younger than myself -- a former Outward Bound instructor, no less -- decided to give me a chance. Since he had a flexible schedule, we were able to see one another during the day when my boys were at school. The arrangement solved my babysitter problem . . . but not my spending-money problem because I was losing work time while still paying for preschool. Alas, the strikes against me proved to be too much in the end: he could not get past the young ages of my children.

Has the simple fact of my SMC-hood also been a factor? No and yes. Mostly, I have found that men -- obviously, the ones I would be interested in -- are not put off by the unusual nature of my family. Instead, they tell me they admire the choice I made and call me brave. However, I have always managed to locate that one man who can't handle my truth. Before having children, I found the man who changed his mind about wanting to date me after I told him my parents had died and I was an only child. Somehow my misfortune made me "not family-oriented" like him, he said. I wonder exactly how family-oriented he would think I am today?! Likewise, leave it to me to find the man who rejected a woman for being an SMC instead of a divorced mother. Having pursued me for twelve weeks via e-mail, it was very obvious what the reason was for his sudden disinterest. He ended our first phone call right after I told him about my choice, blubbering on with some bullshit story about becoming closer to an acquaintance. The sole purpose of the call, I might add, was to nail down the particulars of our first date.

Once again I am taking a break from online dating. It took me a while to get over Mr. Outward Bound. Then when I felt ready to dip my toe back in, I rejoined the dating website that connected him to me. I had seen the profile of an attractive creative type who likes to kayak from the community next door. I wrote him an e-mail and cautiously awaited a response. Nothing. Rejected for my age again, I surmised, which was exactly the same as his. Feeling a rush of all-too-familiar disappointment, I let that website membership expire and have not pursued any other since.

I would welcome meeting someone in my real life, but I don't need to now. Having turned fifty last September, I have resolved to refocus on my career. I don't need a relationship and, for the first time in my life, I rarely even think about one. Perhaps this means that after eight and a half years of being a single mother by choice without a support network, I have finally and truly become an SMC -- a Seriously Manless Chick. And I am okay with that.

Hell, at a recent Boston chapter meeting, I was the one who responded to the questions about SMCs finding romantic relationships. My conclusion: very hard to do, easier if you have one child as opposed to two, you need money to hire child care, better to wait until the kids are older, and you need energy and determination.

I could tell my rather negative report on my own experience and the observation of others didn't sit particularly well with members of the group. It was not what they wanted to hear, and I could see my former self in them. "Anything is possible," they said hopefully.

Yes, I agree. But good luck with that.