Saturday, August 29, 2015


If I quit, I suppose it would be a good time for me to reflect on some great things of my work over the last 20 plus years:

-Seeing so many clean and sober after deciding to live instead of continue drinking or using.

-Karaoke with the Childress' after they have moved out of our house and settled in their own apartment.

-Showing movies, especially the Wizard of Oz, which is the only movie I found which could silence a random crowd.

-Seeing teenagers come on a winter shelter night, freezing and alone, only to see them grow up, have daughters of their own, committed to raising their children better than they were raised.

-Having a couple come back, talk about how they moved to Alaska, got a great job and are well on their feet now.  Thanked us for all we had done for them.

-A couple who was having severe issues.  I gave them counselling, and eventually got a bus ticket to go to Reno.  They came back, she had a daughter, but wouldn't quit the drugs.  He got put in prison for a gang related offense.  In jail, he wised up, decided to do everything he could to raise his daughter.  He maneuvered through all the bureaucracy, jumped through all the hoops, took all the classes and gained custody of his daughter.  After a couple years of raising his daughter, he was attacked by a member of his old gang, and he suffered severe brain damage.  He still remained committed to his daughter, and after a number of months in the hospital, he got another apartment with his daughter.

-Troll disappeared after a visit in Tigard.  His sister was deeply concerned, because she hadn't heard from or seen him for eight months.  One day, out of the blue, he calls me on the phone.  He had been in a car accident, was in a coma for six months, and suffered severe damage to his memory.  After months of trying to think, the only contact information he remembered was my phone number.  He called me, and asked if I remembered who he was.  I said, "Of course, where have you been?"  After he told me, I immediately gave him his sister's number and they were connected again.  He now lives in a group home and comes over once a week to help us sort out clothes.

-Picking up people from the permanent locked down state mental health facility in Portland.  On the day of my ordination, one of the gals from the facility told me privately that the bishop ordaining me was a disciple of the devil, and that I couldn't have the ceremony done.  Despite weather problems and another woman with mental health issues disturbing things as well as Diane having pneumonia, the ordination went as scheduled.

-Diane and I seeking out a house for us to purchase, at my father's generous offer.  We wandered all over the city, but I felt that we should look close to downtown.  We were driving by on Williams and saw a huge house with a for sale sign out front.  "That one's big enough," I said.  Diane said that we could never afford it. On an off chance, we decided to ask about it anyway.  It was owned by an African American, Seventh Day Adventist couple, who was using the house for their family and for a foster care home.  They also would allow the homeless to stay in the basement overnight to get warm.  We knew that we were meant to have this house passed on.

-The wedding we performed on the steps of someone else's church, and held the reception in the meal for the homeless.

-The very expensive wedding of Bill and Sue Palmer in a local fancy hotel, catered with a chamber orchestra for the reception.  And all the homeless of the community were invited.  I remember the father of the bride having a great time with one of our regulars, getting drunk and reminiscing about how different the country used to be.  I saw the same father four years later when the groom died suddenly.  We shook hands gravely.

-Being called in the middle of the night because my friend's van, which was his home, was going to be towed in an hour.  I pushed it without a rope for about a half mile at two in the morning.  A week later, I did it again.

-Pulling strings so a friend could get his van, which he lived in, repaired so he wouldn't have it towed from him in the middle of an ice storm.

-My many conversations with the police, some hostile, some friendly, depending on their own prejudice against my homeless friends.

-Smiling as my homeless friends played and chatted with my young children, knowing they are substitutes for children my friends had but would never see.

-Walking down the steps of our house with a huge pot of soup for the meal that night, slipping and falling on the painted steps, soup everywhere.  I quickly checked the bank account, and found that we had just enough for pizza that night.  The pizza was delivered to the day shelter door.  We didn't get our bills paid that week, but everyone was happy.

-The Fire Marshal approving of our facility for a winter shelter after much struggle with city bureaucracy.  They approved us to have 75 people in the facility.  I laughed and said, "I hope we never have that many."  I ate my words when a hundred showed up at our door the next year.  We hosted a number of our folks in our prayer house next door.

-The many housed folks who learned to love and hang with the homeless.

-The many men who learned that violence isn't as effective as the way of peace.

-The many women who learned independence and power in their faith.

-The thousands of stories I heard about life on the street.

-The thousands of people who came our way and were changed.  Some just a little, some, their whole lives were unrecognizable.  We never did a lot.  But to be a small part of a change that God is working in anyone is a powerful business.

-Seeing Gordy still riding his bike with his huge bags of cans to the store, after twenty years.

Friday, August 28, 2015

August 28, part 2-- A Question

I have a question, but only for those who are willing to follow down the path of my spirituality.

I do not give my possessions, my life out of guilt of being born middle class.

Rather, I recognize, being born middle class American, white, male, educated and it implies, that I am called by Jesus to a certain path of justice.  Everyone is called to a path of justice.  For most of us, it is enough that if we have two coats, we will give one who has none.  For some of us, we must seek a path of balance between work and rest, between giving and being given to.  And that is good.

But to the rich young ruler, Jesus called a greater calling.  He said, "Give ALL that you have to the poor and then take up your cross and follow me."  This is a deeper path of justice.  The path I was called to.

This is the path of Jesus.  The balanced, the strong, those who have greater resources, must surrender, not to a balance, but to an excess.  Why is this?  Because the injustice in our world is excessive.  Some must surrender all, so that some may have some.  There is no way in the world that everyone in the world will have what they need unless everyone shares of what they have.  So some must be chosen to give all, absolutely everything.

This is the path of Jesus who surrendered his life on the cross.
This is the path of Peter and the apostles.
This is the path of Paul.
This is the path of Moses who wasn't called until he was 80 and then surrendered what little he had so he could be God's tool to lead his people out of Egypt and into justice.
This is the path of Elijah, who surrendered his mental health so he could lead God's people away from Baal.

Even closer, my path is the path of Barnabas, who surrendered what he did not need to so that the poor and the foreigner could have some.

Okay, so what is my cross?  What is my limit?

Admittedly, I wish that I had suffered from a heart attack or a stroke.  That is as clear of a message I could get-- and gives a finality that cannot be turned away.

But that's not what I got.  Here are my real symptoms:

I am overwhelmed by people.
I can't look anyone in the eye.  To talk to another human being, I have to look down.
If someone asks me a question, be it ever so simple, I struggle to find the will to answer.
It used to be I could solve all problems, now any problem is overwhelming.

Today, a trusted person had allowed another (not-so-trusted) homeless into our private facility, after he had been told many times not to.  I yelled at the person he had let in (because she had been in the facility before and knew she shouldn't be there), and I yelled at him... but in my heart there was such rage that could not be controlled.  I had to leave, so I did.  I came back with food and then I left again.  I couldn't talk to anyone, couldn't even hear a question.  I was finished.

What is the path of justice now for me to follow?  I still have the physical ability to give food to others.  I am incapable of leading, of providing spiritual guidance, but I could (in theory), follow my system to provide food, hope, work.

In theory.

I have cried to the Lord, many times, asking Him to escape this path, because it is too much for me.  It is the prayer of Elijah, who asked God to kill him, because he was done.  God's answer to Elijah was to accomplish three more tasks and then he was done.

I am not sure what I am hearing from God.

But this is true:  The poor man can cry out to the Lord for help, and the Lord will answer him, and give him a path that meets his needs.
The rich man, however, may not tell the poor man, "Ask the Lord for help and he will help you," for the Lord did give the poor man help.  He gave him the rich man, and the rich man refuses to help the needy, and this will be a judgment against him.

I am the rich man.
Am I refusing the poor, by claiming my mental weaknesses are enough to tell the poor, "Go and seek the Lord"?

What is the path of justice for me now?

A cross would be a fitting end.
Or a chariot of fire.
Or a heart attack or stroke.
But mental weakness?  

August 28, 2015

I guess I'm quitting early.  I thought I could make it to September, but nope.  Not gunna happen.  I quit now.

I am really broken right now, so I'm saying "quit", but I suppose I might get enough rest to make it back by October, but I really doubt that.  My mind is no longer able to do the unique thing that I have been able to do for twenty years-- take a ever-more-complex ministry, keep it in my mind and guide it from one place to another.

Homeless ministry is difficult, partly because no one, apart from the homeless, wants it to succeed.  (See the last post)  Partly because every homeless person is so different and it requires a unique point of view and plan for each person.  So a leader of a homeless ministry is like Jackie Chan running from the gangsters behind him and the police are ready to shoot him from the front, so you got to dodge all the bullets and you have to save the heroine who is screaming at you to do something.  Up to this point, I've been able to do that.  Not today.

There's a certain kind of brain that can accomplish this.  I have never trained anyone to do a ministry like Anawim because I don't think anybody could do it.  I built it around my unique mental abilities.  My brain changed.  The ministry changed-- by becoming more complex.

Well, I'll give it up to God.  It's beyond me now.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

August 25, 2015

This week I've been working my regular schedule.  Most days I've felt unable to continue.  But, like Travis says, "It's almost over" so I press on, only occasionally asking people firmly to stop talking to me.  I'm also getting occasions of rest.  Today, unlike most Tuesdays, I spent the day by myself, in a fast food place and in a chilly church basement.

Last night, fall started.  Most of us remember the heat and don't trust that the temperature fell below 60 degrees last night.  But the trees have been on edge, waiting to shed their leaves.  As I drive to St. John's, overnight, the colors on the tops of most trees have turned.  It's time.  The trees know.

I want to write today about living a truly unique life.  I think I'm one of those few who chose his life. God directed me, Diane trained me, but this life I've chosen was mine for the last 20 years.  I chose a life of compassion, Diane and I chose to accept the sacrifices required to make it, and we pursued it long enough to completely burn out, unable, perhaps, to take another step.  This is the path I chose, I wanted it and followed it to the end.  If I died today, I could say that I met all the goals I set for myself twenty years ago (except that I have not yet published a print book). Not many people could say that.

But choosing one's own path, living a unique life, has to have an end.  There are pressures everyday to stop living a unique life.  To live a life of compassion and empathy.  It might seem an easy task, but every social worker and counselor and church planter knows exactly how difficult the task is.  There is the burden of taking up other's burdens, which I mentioned in the What's Wrong with Me post.

There is the other aspect of being committed to develop a community of the outcast.  To create this community-- a community that respects the disrespected, that gives strength to the weak to make their own positive decisions, a community that honors the independence of every poor person who asks for help-- requires many different groups to create it.  In our case, we had a denomination (Mennonite), other local churches, a community of financial supporters (no grants), a group of prayer supporters, churches committed to share a central piece of property, two church networking groups, a few loyal volunteers, as well as many, many homeless people over the years.

Everyone sees this as "my" work, "my" ministry, so they are always asking questions, and I have been just as happy about that.  I have in my head a vision for a homeless church community, an idea of what a family house full of the homeless looks like and a vision for a multi-culture, multi-ethnic shared church property looks like.  The visions are really detailed, and the direction for some may look petty-- the details that some think are unimportant are essential for the establishing of the vision.  It is so detailed that I can't explain it all.  It is as if I have three Brothers Karamazov in my head, and all I can do is point at each detail and say, "That fits.  That doesn't."

This may sound as if I am a micromanager.  I certainly was when it comes to seeing these visions become reality.  I know, now, that I can let them go.  Even if the stack of cards I laid so carefully out crumbles, I know that the work these three visions accomplished are solid.  But if they continue, they must change.  Because I won't be there to replace every fallen card.  I can't.  My fingers are numb.

Developing communities of the outcast, however, are a tough responsibility.  Everyone is there to tell you what's wrong, from their point of view.  Of course, everyone told me, at some point, that I was wearing myself thin, and I couldn't deny that.  But some of the complaints were unique because, ultimately, no one could agree that the visions I had in my head were the right ones.  I guess I can't  disagree.  Maybe another's vision would have been better.  But how many visions have we seen come to life like Anawim?

-I remember a church group, who had never (at that time) worked with the homeless, came to me and told me how I should set up my organization like theirs, focusing on a logo, constitution and fundraising.  I smiled and said that I appreciated the suggestions, but that wouldn't help our problems.

-I remember a homeless man sitting me down, telling me how I'm not helping the homeless as I should.  I need to force more discipline, to require more effort for what I'm giving, otherwise they'll never learn discipline.

-Another homeless man, whom I've never met in person, but was trolling me from Canada, insisted that I was using homeless people for my own profit.

-Recently a police officer told me that I had to tell the homeless to go away, to clean up more (when they were already cleaning) to be more polite (to people who were screaming in their face).

-I had a number of neighbors tell me that I have ruined their neighborhood, that I brought all these homeless people into their neighborhood, when, in fact, I have been inviting the homeless into this same neighborhood for longer than they have been living here.  That a church is about welcoming the outcast.  That if they thought a church was about quiet judgmentalism, then I'm sorry to have broken their stereotype.

-I had churches who worked with us tell us to tell the homeless to stop being on the property when I wasn't there, because the homeless scared them.  I told them that they needed to get to know them, that their parishioners were on the property without them at times, and that they needed to stop being prejudiced against people because they didn't have walls surrounding them.

-I remember, years ago, the police lining up my church in the parking lot yelling at them, and accusing them of stealing and generally being worthless.  The officers screamed at me to get into the church building, and I refused so I could be a witness to what they were doing.  Twelve officers showed up that afternoon and when the Lieutenant asked for who was in charge at the facility, I said that I was the pastor.  He asked, what church are you pastor of?  I pointed at the dozen homeless people on the ground, some handcuffed, and said, "This is my church."  The Lt. looked at me and said, "You are the pastor?"  "Yes." "These people have permission to be here?"  "Yes."  He shouted out to all of his officers, "This is private property and they have permission to be here.  Let's go."  And they all left.  But not before one incensed officer shouted in my face about how I am enabling criminals in the city.

-I remember when we were renting the same church building from the owners, and the owners decided that my homeless folks were the cause of a recent break in, so they planned to lock my people out of the front of the church (where the bathrooms were).

-I remember being at a "mediation" session between that church and ours, when they were allowed to express lies about our congregation, but when it was our turn to say our peace, they shouted us down, not allowing us to say what was really going on.

I guess what I'm saying is that when you are developing a community of the outcast, everyone thinks you're doing it wrong.  And you are the one who ruined everything.

All I can say is, accepting the outcast is a tough job.  Putting other people in the place where they have to accept the outcast (even accept themselves) is tougher.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

August 20, 2015

It's been a while since my last diary entry.  I've been busy and it's been too hard for me to write.  How much more depression can anyone read, anyway?  I promise this entry will have hope.

After determining that I am beyond the point of no return, I did what I always do: make a plan.  I don't believe in hopeless situations.  I think we can always make things better, if we just plan it out.  So I need to re-evaluate my life and work.  How do I do this?

First, I need to separate out that which I was called from by Jesus and that which I am not.  That was pretty easy.  The one, big thing I was not called to is to manage the three acre Sanctuary property.  I am called to the homeless, and I am called to care for my family and I am called to write.  So I've got to release that unnecessary burden, because the rest is enough.   So I handed in my resignation of that job earlier this week, and we had a meeting which determined what is part of the job and what is not.  I've got some work to do to organize for the next person, but I should be able to finish that out by the end of the month.  Of course, if no one picks up the pieces, we could have chaos... but we might not.  The owners of the property, the Mennonite Conference is willing to wait and see.  Good enough.

Second, I need some time to evaluate, and to revitalize self-care and my spiritual life.  So I am taking the month of September off from everything-- family, work, friends, the internet, everything.  I will still be doing writing, but not to instantly publish, so I can consider what kind of writing I should be doing, and what is growing my spirit and what is shrinking my relationship with God.

But what about Anawim during this time?  I got together a group of leaders and potential leaders in Anawim and told them that I was considering quitting and shutting down and that I needed to know if they were willing to step up to keep the facility going.  Most of these are people who don't need the facility or services anymore, but have used them in the past.  They all said they would keep it going, get the necessary training and to step up to take my place.  I have 16 people who are willing to help volunteer, especially during September.  So we will have it run without me, and see what happens.  Part of this is testing my delegating skills, I guess.

At the beginning of October, I will come back.  I will have evaluated myself to see what I am able to do.  I will get reports from Anawim and evaluate what Anawim is able to do without me.  And then we will plan for the future.

So, faithful readers, do you think this is reasonable?

What's Wrong With Me?

Well, this week has been a surprise.  First, I found out that people read this blog, even if I don't advertise it.  That was unexpected.  Sorry to have poured all my depressed/depressing thoughts out on you.  I really didn't mean to inflict anyone, but I needed to write and my blogs are the best place for me to put my thoughts on "paper".

I want to talk about three things: an analysis of what is going on with me; my plan for the near future and what has been going on this last week.  In this post, I'll cover the first of those.

I am really touched by the responses by Clare and Jeanie to the last post.  Just to let you know: I haven't given up, and I'm working on things.  But I've been thinking about what you folks said.  It is very hard to analyze or come to a conclusion about someone from a distance, even when they are as prolific as I.  But still, there is some good insight there.

I'd like to talk briefly about acadia.  I hadn't heard of it before, although I knew that the deadly sin "sloth" has nothing to do with laziness, but has more to do with depression.  I never concerned myself with that because I am and am still one of the hardest working people I know.  If you look up "addicted to work" in urban dictionary, you'd see my name there.  And it is all self-started.  No one, besides God, is telling me to do any work.  I'm happy to do it.  Until I'm overwhelmed, and then I'm very unhappy to do it, but I still work.

But depression?  Yeah.  For ten years, off and on.  In my brief study of acadia over the last 24 hours, I came across an article on acadia and pornography, talking about how those who suffer acadia often trip into pornography, because they lack any kind of pleasure, and pleasure is a necessary human experience that our bodies will force us to have if otherwise we don't.  I've been there, and that fits me.

It seems, though, that acadia is best defined as "I don't care" which is often accompanied by "I don't have energy" or "I don't feel pleasure."  The last two are main descriptors of clinical depression, but the first seems to be the "spiritual depression" of acadia:  I don't care about my relationship with God, I don't care about my relationship with others.  It is a deadly sin, because we are commanded to love not to apathy.

But this isn't my experience.  I do care.  If I didn't care, I would just quit, throw everyone but my family out of my house and have done with it.  But I care about them all.  Perhaps, some would say, too much, but my compassion has not worn out.  I am exhausted.  I am deeply depressed.  But I do care about my relationship with God, which is why I am seeing a spiritual director and she is giving me spiritual exercises to do.  I care about my relationship with others, which is why I know that I have to back off of the work I'm doing.

Part of the issue is that there is a work I've taken on which is too large for any one person (or a small group of people) to do, but since there was no one else to help, I'll just do it myself.  It is a work of dealing with what a Red Cross worked said is "The primary emergency crisis of Multnomah County" the homelessness.  Most people overlook it because it is familiar, but I can't.  I see it deeply and I not only sorrow over it, but I must act on it.  So I do.  I work harder than anyone because I know the lives at stake and I can't bear to see one go.

A month ago when one of my friends passed away, I felt-- actually felt-- the sorrow I was keeping at an arm's distance for so long. And it overwhelmed me.  It wasn't just a sorrow for one person, but for the whole community of homeless that is devastated by daily harassment and suffering.

But here is the thing I've been learning about myself through this whole process-- I believe that I have a small amount of Asperger's Syndrome, enough that I am on the spectrum.  It really only comes out in times of stress, but the symptoms are clear then.  I wouldn't have thought this, but two of my children are on the Asperger's spectrum and it is passed genetically through the male.  (If you don't know about Asperger's or "the spectrum", think of it as a mini-autism.)

When I am very stressed, I can't have people touching me or near me.  I can't have people talking to me.  I feel as if there is a weight of details about other people's lives that rest upon my neck, shoulders and back and every time someone talks to me to tell me their problems or to give me solutions to my problems or whatever then it is another pebble placed upon the huge weight of pebbles already on my back.  When I feel that weight, I cannot look at people's faces because it is overwhelming for me.  And I might, although this is rare, yell at someone or snap at them or even push them away, because they are overwhelming me.  A person can see I am overworking and they will ask if they can help and I will snap a rude answer back because them asking just adds to my burden.

This is all very Asperger's.  When we see someone like this, and it only displays occasionally, we can think of them as rude or as having a bad day or if they aren't always like this we can make up excuses for them.  Really, we need help.  There is a weight that no one sees that we wake up to every day. Often we just don't know we do.

If this is my problem-- and it has yet to be formally diagnosed-- then I have been doing my work wrong for the last ten years.  I need to have balance between working with people and working without people.  I need extra time to process the details people are giving me, so it doesn't overwhelm me.  And I need a place to go where no one else is.

This was my primary assignment from my spiritual director.  Find a place of peace without anyone else around where I can be comfortable and rest... even sleep if necessary.  Not to add to my burden with additional prayer, but to just be who I am for a few hours without forcing myself to conform to another person's standards.  Because my soul is homeless, just like my friends.  It has no place private to be.  I need a space with no internet, no one interrupting, no one telling me that they just have one little thing to ask me.  Just peace and quiet.

I did this for a few hours this week, and it helped. Somewhat.  I'll have to work out what this means for my future work, but I think I'm getting to a place where I understand what is going on with me.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

August 11, 2015--This Is It

I'm done.  I can't do this anymore.

If you only know me from Facebook or my more active blogs, you might think that I'm as active as ever and I'm doing just fine.  If you've read my blogs before, you know there's something wrong, but figure I'll bounce back.

That's what I thought.  I always have before.  I'd faced the worst of burnout before, almost exactly ten years ago, and my wife and I faced it down and kept on with tough ministry, threats, raising our kids, people moving in our home and dying in our home.  It's been great.  But I can't do it anymore.  Something has to radically change.

I knew this a year ago and I set a plan in motion to cut back.  So we did.  We cut back for three months, with only one day a week of normal ministry, and much training and negotiations with neighbors, co-churches and the city.  We were set to open up.

It turns out, I wasn't.  Now I realize it's time to stop, or something.  After the following indications:

a. I read a quote by Mother Teresa which said, "Without love, there can be no justice."  I'd been working for justice, but I don't have any love in my life anymore.  I just don't care.  I'm going through the motions.  I cannot create justice in this context.

b. My spirituality is pretty much dead.  It isn't just that I don't "feel God", which I know doesn't mean anything.  I feel no reason to pray and haven't for a couple years.  I can't go through the motions, and leading worship seems hypocritical.

c. I can barely converse with my wife.  She and I have always had a strong relationship, and we could talk through pretty much anything-- even when I struggled with porn, even when it felt pointless to continue ten years ago.  But I am having a hard time even talking to her right now.  That takes my problems to a new level.

d. Jeff Strong and I both received the same word, which I assume is from God:  I have taken on a double burden-- both what Jesus has given me and what I put on myself.  I need to give up.  That doesn't mean I have to give everything up, necessarily, But it means at least that I've got some serious cutting back to do.  Rose pruning, if not serious digging up.

e. I realize that my spiritual life is related to the time I spend alone in silence.  I also realize that I have surrendered every private place I have to others.  I've got no where to go, but a monastery 40 miles and an hour away.  I know I can gain peace there, but that's quite a commute.

f. I understand this is depression.  I've struggled with it and tried a number of medications, but I'm worse off than I ever was before I tried them.  Ultimately, I need to realize I am no longer the person who started this ministry.

The only thing that really stops me is finding someone who could take my place.  I don't know if I can. Maybe it's time to just give it to God and allow Him to figure out how to help.  Maybe I can just stop taking care of the property, and just run Anawim.  One way or the other, I need at least a month to focus on me and to see if I can establish a little of what I used to have.  Or maybe I just throw in the towel and see what happens.  

Honest Introvert Facebook Posts

"Avoided conversation with cashier"

"Best time ever in my room reading. No one knocked."

"Am enjoying the Sounds of Silence for the 1000th time."

"Best YouTube ever! "

"Berated by coworker for "not listening" as she talked about her neighbor's cat funeral."

"My spouse insisted we go to a party. I sat in the corner and whimpered."

         REPLY: "My spouse and I had a great time in bed tonight. We read our own books for hours."

"I play Sims so that some part of my life can be orderly."

"Mr. Darcy is so handsome, I could just eat him up. Not Firth or Macfayden. The one in the book."

          REPLY: "I know. Viggo Mortenson is okay-looking, if you go for that, but Aragorn in the novel is just dreamy."

"What are you doing tonight?"

           REPLY: "Bingeing Gilmore Girls until my eyes pop out. Or I laugh myself to death."

           REPLY: "Oh, I wish. I have to go to a concert with my girlfriend."

"My secret dream is to be the boketto world champion."

"Since when is it not okay to be alone? For instance, when someone you love dies, everyone has to come over and tell you how sorry they are.  Why?  Why can't I just suffer in silence instead of having you come over and increase it exponentially?"

"Who allowed the extroverts to control our lives?"

"I hate it when people ask, 'How are you?' In my head, I'm thinking, 'Well, I was okay, until now.'"