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    It’s hard to write when I’m depressed. I don’t feel like doing anything, especially examining my past and explaining myself. My new roommate recently told me that he doesn’t understand depression because he’s never been depressed. “I’m in a pretty good mood most of the time,” he says. I don’t understand that. I’ve been depressed for as long as I can remember. I have been happy also, I do remember that, but I’ve had these black periods all my life. Everything seems hopeless. Nothing seems like a good idea. I don’t get excited about anything. Today I asked myself, “What would I be doing right now if I were happy?” Projects, I thought to myself, so I sorted through some fabrics to pick out something to work on. But none of them seemed like a good idea, and I have some beautiful fabrics.

    It affects me physically as well. When we are stressed, our bodies produce more of the hormones that are deleterious to our health. We get sick more easily when stressed. For me specifically, I have always “stored” stress in my neck, the thing I had surgery for. The surgery fixed the crushed vertebrae that was pinching my nerve. But I didn’t fix however it is that stress hurts my neck, and I’m afraid the problem has just moved down one vertebrae and switched sides. So now it’s my right arm that’s affected. I also have lower back problems that affect my walking and standing. I can’t walk across a grocery store, so going hiking is out of the question, and I love hiking. We all need to be connected to nature. I have been going to the river with my friend Michael, sitting and watching the water and the ducks, which does help. I get sick in direct sunlight, though, so it’s hard in the summer to spend time outside, since it is relentlessly sunny here all summer long. I don’t know why that happens. It’s just been the last three years or so. I’d think it was Oregon but it started happening back in SC.

    When I tell people about these physical limitations, it feels to me like I am complaining. I hate to complain. I’m just explaining my limitations, the circumstances under which I operate. It sounds to me like I am whining, though. I guess I am not used to being dis-abled. I think aging sucks, I planned on it not happening somehow. Of course nothing has turned out like I had planned. I’m a stranger in my own life.

    I used to put myself to sleep with a wish that I would wake up the next day in my “real” life, in a different time stream. I would turn to my husband and say, “I had the most horrible dream. You didn’t exist.” He would tell me that’s ridiculous. And then I would get my kids up and pack their lunches while Hubby cooked breakfast, then drive to my community counseling job. I hoped maybe if I thought about it hard enough, I could slip sideways into a parallel universe where I wasn’t so alone, so depressed, where my life wasn’t so meaningless. Where my life circumstances had been just a little less debilitating, or I’d been luckier, or made better choices.

    Sometimes I think that I am just a bad person. I know everyone thinks that sometimes, but I can point to my lack of lasting relationships as proof positive. I try to make up for it by being the best person that I can possibly be. I try to be kind and gentle to everyone I encounter. But sometimes I am in so much pain that I can’t do that. So I withdraw. When I’m depressed I spend even more time alone. I don’t like people looking at me at the best of times. It’s unbearable when I’m depressed. I’m trying to get over this feeling. But it’s pretty deeply ingrained.

    I’m also at odds with my friend. She treated me badly because she was in pain. When I have conflict with another person, I tend to withdraw. I might really psych myself up and reach out once or twice, but if I’m rebuffed, I give up. Especially if the person has hurt me in the past, I don’t want to risk being hurt again. It’s easier to be by myself. Over time this leads to no relationships, certainly no older, strong ties with anyone. Grandmother was the strong twine that held my life together, her love propping me up, but since she died there’s been no one who really knows me.

    My best friend Deidra, back in South Carolina, is my longest relationship, and we met not even ten years ago. I’m hard to be friends with. I don’t like to talk on the phone. I don’t need to spend a lot of time with people to consider the relationship close. I get caught up in my own issues or projects and I guess it can be hard to get my attention. I’m good at texting, though. I send cards and little gifts, but usually forget birthdays. I’m really good at presents though. I think I’m a good friend once you get to know me. I’m loyal. But the feedback I have gotten over the years is that I’m difficult to get to know. And I stay by myself so much that I rarely encounter new potential friends.

    Another source of stress is not having enough money. I am out of money right now. Payday is coming up, but I don’t make enough to cover my expenses, so I’m constantly running short. I wondered what amount of money I need to feel OK, and I think that it’s $40. If I have $40 in my wallet, I don’t stress about money. I know that the USA operates at a loss, and I know that big corporations maintain huge debts, and get bailed out when they go too far into the red, and I wonder why I have to suffer like this, me and all of the American working poor. It’s not necessary; society could be arranged so that everyone is free from want. Our wealthy society chooses not to do that. This is the basic Democratic/Republican divide as I see it: shall we take care of the poor? Democrats say hell yes; Republicans say hell no. Being in poverty has an extremely deleterious effect on one’s health, mental and physical. At least now I have health care, due to living in Oregon, where they care for the poor. But being poor is still stressful.

    That’s why I haven’t been writing. It isn’t that I don’t want to. It’s that I’m dealing with this black wave, sticky like molasses, that slows me down and makes everything seem so hard. It will pass, and I will get better. But for now I just have to move forward as best I can. Once I’m better, I will return to my writing project. I haven’t forgotten, and I haven’t given up.


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    I was separated from my primary caregivers, my grandparents, when I was five; thirty years later I was separated from my four-year-old daughter. Now she is 19 and we are estranged. None of this is of my choosing. I fought it with all I had. I ended up with no family at all.

    I’m not comparing my suffering to that of the migrant families from Central America who are at our border. I can’t even imagine enduring a harrowing thousand-mile journey only to be ripped from your kids and thrown into jail in the promised land. It’s unconscionable and Americans stood up and said no. Now we begin the process of reuniting those families, tending their wounds, resettling them, and fighting for the rights of other refugees. I understand a little bit the trauma that will stay with all of them forever.

    Seeing all of this unfold in the country that I love is re-traumatizing me, and I’m not the only one. Lots of people have a family-separation story, and they’re all heartbreaking. For me, at least I got to see my grandparents as I grew up. I seldom got to see my daughter as she was growing up. I was prevented from being a part of her life. I’m having a hard time grappling with the enormity of all that I lost—from her first day of kindergarten, to picking out her prom dress, to what’s going on with her right now—the depth and breadth of experiences that I missed. The richness of bonding with one’s growing child and seeing their personhood evolve. I missed it all and I can never, ever get it back.

    Besides that, I am estranged from any family. Holidays are torture. It’s so hard to be alone and isolated. My attachment problems have prevented me from forming long-term relationships. I have no support network, except y’all.

    I always thought, “At least my daughter is fine.” By all reports she has been happy and thriving. But this happened to her, too. I understand that now; she has trauma of her own. She was only four. I wish I could help her but I can’t right now. Hopefully someday we’ll reunite.

    In the meantime I carry this wound. I must move forward with it, accounting for it, dealing with it. Most of the people who see me every day have no idea of how badly I’m damaged. It’s taken a long time for me to figure it out myself.

    I believe we should take in these Central American refugees and help them. Seeing them treated so inhumanely is breaking me. Those bad old PTSD symptoms are triggered. I’m confused and emotional and sad and feeling helpless. I wish there was something I could do. I see lots of others helping, though. If I could just take care of myself, that would be sufficient unto the day.

    If you are feeling this way too, triggered once more by this inhumane regime, and caught swirling in the worst moments of your past, you are not alone. Many, many of the people around you are feeling the same way. It’s all of us. Reach out to someone near you. Find the help you need. I’m  trying to do that too.

    If you want to read my work-in-progress about my family, it’s here. I keep telling myself: I am doing my best. I am not a bad person. Everything is cool; everything’s OK. I’m not feeling OK today, though. And that’s okay.

    Thank you for reading.

    Your support via Patreon or paypal is deeply appreciated. Thanks to everyone whose support has been vital to my survival in the past.


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    When we last spoke, I had moved in with Older Anal-Retentive Vegetarian and was dealing with her following me around the house, criticizing me, whenever I left my room. (You may remember that I have Asperger’s, or High Functioning Autism.) I’d retreated entirely to my room, eating only foods that take less than a minute to prepare. She never left the house. Any other roommate would leave the house occasionally, allowing me to leave my room and utilize the kitchen or laundry. I was like a cat trapped under a strange couch. A friend stopped by to see me on Mother’s Day and OARV was so angry at me. If I went out at night, I had to stay out til morning. I couldn’t have friends over. There were a thousand rules. I decided to leave. When I told her I was moving, in accordance with my month-to-month lease, she got mad and said, “I’m keeping your deposit,” and that’s exactly what she did. She sent me an itemized list of “damages” with photos of specks of dust, smears, etc. I was only there three months, there’s no way I did that much damage. She did send me a check for $4.50, I guess just to be insulting. I did not cash it yet.

    I’ve been putting off asking for help. I hate doing it, and I so appreciate your generosity, with friendship and kindness as well as dollars. The good news is, I left my caregiver agency and now work independently for the state. This comes with a $2.65 raise! And I joined the union! This hefty raise will put me right below 135% of the poverty level, so I can keep my Medicaid. It’s very important that I not make too much money because my Oregon Health Plan is nearly irreplaceable. I would need a VERY good job just to break even. But I’m thinking about returning to counseling. I miss it. And I think I am strong enough to try, at least. It’s time to live the rest of my life and leave the past behind. I CAN DO THAT.

    For now, though, I have to ask for help. If you can spare it, five dollars is a lot of money to me. When you’re used to having nothing, a little means a lot. I need to pay half my rent, pay my car insurance, get Leonard’s medication, and food. (My food stamps were cut a couple months ago; thanks, Trump.) So I need about $500, which coincidentally was the amount of my lost deposit. If you use PayPal, my email address is leannemnorth(at)gmail.com. Or click here. If you’ve been reading my work, and you want to become a patron, click here for Patreon. I have only one patron, so hi, Patron! I appreciate your support!

    The good news is, my new place is wonderful. My lovely roommate Matt is laid-back and easy to get along with. Also, he leaves the house daily. Sometimes he’s even gone a few days. If I left a cabinet door open, why, I think he would simply shut it without lecturing me about it. Lenny can go out into the backyard whenever he wants, he LOVES it here. There’s even a squirrel to chase that fusses at him. I can put my plants wherever I want in the back yard and we have a clothesline! I can hang out outside and even have friends over! I can use the kitchen whenever I want! And, get this: I can spend my time in the living room! That’s right, for the first time in many years, I am not confined to my bedroom. I only sleep there. I have space for my sewing machines and all my craft stuff. It’s like paradise!

    Thank you so much for being my support system, my community. It’s wonderful to have a community where it doesn’t matter how weird I am, or if I’m disabled physically, mentally, or emotionally; I still feel accepted. And all of the positive changes that I’ve been able to make to my situation over the past few years have been because of you guys, lifting me up, giving me feedback on my ideas, guiding me, and generally being there, in place of the family that I don’t have. You give me courage to try to keep going and improve things even more, perhaps by returning to my field. It’s so hard to escape the mire of a traumatic past; but I will keep reaching out, and hopefully moving up. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


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    Things change so quickly. Last week my client got mad at me and fired me for the nth time. He accused me of stealing, but I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to have stolen. He’s fired me before, but this time was different. He’d clearly decided I was a criminal and not to be trusted. I had been thinking he wanted a male but didn’t know how to say so, but I’d hoped to find him a new caregiver and train that person, and leave amicably with peace of mind. I handled it calmly, but I’m sad about it. I’m also worried about him, because he’s methodically pushing everyone in his life away, and it may be that he is using drugs. Meth is a huge problem here, which is new for me. I don’t know the signs. I never think of the elderly as having drug problems, but I’m sure they do.

    At any rate, I need to find a new client, and you guys know how softhearted I am. I want to help all of them but I’m trying to be careful and find a good situation for myself. I’ve interviewed a couple of people and they are colorful. And needy. I was really liking one guy but his dog just poops and pees on the floor as a habit. And that would be my job, cleaning up the shit. It was a hundred degrees yesterday and nobody has AC here in Oregon, so the smell was quite overpowering. Clearly he needed help, but I need to think carefully and not make a bad decision, which you may recall has been a problem for me in the past. I’m going to meet another lady today. There is a very long list of potential clients, unfortunately for those needing help, but I can find someone who is a better fit for me. There is a bit of time pressure and I need to get back to work. But I’m not going to commit to a bad situation.

    Patreon also deleted my account for fraud, without ever responding to my pleas for information and help. Then they finally opened a ticket, maybe because other people got involved, and told me I was welcome to open a new account. I never got an explanation about why this happened. My account was tiny. I requested an apology, which they provided. If you were my patron before, I invite you to re-subscribe. I write here at DK, and I’m also writing about my childhood and adult traumas in an effort to heal them. Some of that I cannot share and you would not want to read it. But I’m writing a blog for my daughter, with whom I am estranged, and you can follow that here. I also plan to use my Patreon account to report on my progress, such as it is. Actually, I have made a tremendous amount of progress and am experiencing high levels of personal growth, which fucking hurts. Thank you to everyone for supporting me, sending your thoughts, prayers, good wishes, comments, questions and your own personal stories. Y’all truly are the wind beneath my wings.

    Last Saturday my new roommate and I went up to Sahalie Falls and spent the day climbing up and down the falls and sometimes just looking at the amazing pools and falls along there, hugging trees, as one does. It was really great to get back in touch with Mother Nature. I expected Her to be pissed at us. But I did not experience Her as angry. Sad. Resigned. Maybe She knows more about the future than I do. You know, I’m trying so hard, and I’m so hard on myself, and I’m trying to change that. It feels wrong to just love myself and not be constantly self-critical. But I want to enjoy the second half of my life. I want more joy and less sorrow (and a lot less cleaning up shit.) I want to reach out boldly, and not get burned. I want to be my authentic self. I want to love, and to accept love. And I want all that for you too. Blessings, y’all.


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    Three years ago, I left South Carolina, hoping for a better life in Oregon, propelled by the Kossacks, Class of ‘15, who earned my deepest undying gratitude and restored my faith in human nature with their generosity. A lot has happened since then. But I am undeniably better off, in many ways. You may recall my main goal was better health care, which would have been quite simple to achieve since in SC I had no health care whatsoever. And toward this goal I have succeeded 100%. I now have Oregon’s expanded Medicaid, Oregon Health Plan. It is the best health insurance I’ve ever had, and I’ve had professional jobs. It’s the insurance everyone should have. It covers nearly everything and there are zero co-pays. I choose my doctors, I don’t have to wait unreasonable times, and it’s simple for me. The only drawback is that I have to stay poor, within the income limits. To do otherwise would require me to work much more than I am capable of at this time. Oregon Health Plan is excellent.

    That’s s good thing, because I am technically disabled. I have Asperger’s, but that’s my superpower. Depression and anxiety are my disabling factors, along with increasingly, the arthritis in my spine. So even with unlimited medical care available to me, I still have difficulty accessing it. Luckily, I have an excellent mental health center where I get counseling, psychiatric services, and access to other stuff like yoga and groups. I did have minimalist mental health care back in South Carolina, but I never made progress like I have in the past three years. My counselor’s warmth and acceptance, as well as the expertise of the psychiatric nurse practitioner who prescribes for me, have allowed me to make remarkable progress towards living a full life.

    I have a job that pays a living wage, and that I enjoy. I’m a home care worker for the disabled, so I’m not using my master’s in counseling, but I am starting to think about exploring more opportunities in that direction. At any rate I am working regularly, although shit always seems to happen. I try so hard, and yet landlords keep my deposits, elderly clients become unmanageable unpredictably and have to be replaced, and roommates’ exes steal my mail so I don’t get paid on time. And so, I have to keep asking strangers for help and friends for patience. But someday very soon I will have worked my way out of that, because now I’m getting in touch with my personal power. And I have a lot of that. It is formidable. It is indefatigable. It is mine.

    I also have friends, both here and IRL, and that has historically been very difficult to nonexistent for me. My best friend is what sociologists call a “connector”—she is a person who can’t help but bring others together. Because of her, I have access to social opportunities, and lately I have been getting out more. And it’s been wonderful. I have been dancing, y’all. Also, I have noticed that my mental jukebox is back up and running, providing a soundtrack for my life that makes me wonder, when did that stop? why didn’t I notice?

    But that doesn’t matter now, babies. Because now we are going forward and we are not looking back. I have punished myself enough. I have suffered enough. It’s time to live the rest of my life. I don’t know what that will look like. I will always carry these sorrows with me. But I am ready, if I dare ask the Goddess so much, to be happy.


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    Due to an error on my paperwork, I’m not getting paid this week. Or next week. I don’t know when. I’m trying not to freak out about it, but there are several things that are urgent. As Leonard’s fans know, he has an issue with his anal glands. I called to schedule a butt squeeze, and there was a recording saying the low-income vet has closed. Permanently. So I’ve been trying to find a new vet, but they all want to do a full exam before treating him. He also has fleas, I’ve been bathing him every day to try to keep him comfortable, but he usually takes the anti-flea med. A visit to the vet always seems to cost about $300. He also needs his anti-itchy meds urgently, which is $50.

    If you’ve been following my story, you may remember that I have to keep my income below the poverty level in order to stay on Medicaid, which Oregon kindly expanded, because I am disabled. Yes, I could apply for disability, but I have this weird theory that I can take care of myself with a little support. I live with depression and anxiety, and am diagnosed with PTSD, and am blessed with Aspergers syndrome, which tends to put me out of step with society. Here in Oregon, I’ve been able to grow a lot. I have a counselor who is actually helping me. But dealing with my childhood traumas, and working on my social isolation, these are very difficult things that I’m doing. I’m like a duck: everything is happening below the surface.

    Bad things happen, seemingly more often to me. Paychecks are delayed, but rent is due. I reached out to my estranged mother and daughter, but was rejected. The car desperately needs tires; my spare is dead. My new clients are unruly. I haven’t been able to establish a routine, which is hard for me. I’m dealing with my setbacks much better than I used to, though. My bestie Blue is proud of me; “That was only a little freakout,” she said last night, when I found out I’m not getting paid. “You’re getting better.” But it’s so hard, y’all. Emotional pain comes out of nowhere like a black wave, and I have to push back against it, or be overwhelmed. I am getting better. But the mental price is very high. And it just takes time, there’s no rushing it.

    I need help; my situation is bad. If you can spare a few dollars, I would be incredibly grateful, and so would Leonard. Even five bucks is a lot of money right now. My roommate has to pay the rent and I need to give him something, at least half. And gas and food for two weeks. My goal is $600 but if I can just get Leonard taken care of, I won’t be so worried. It’s astonishing, the toll poverty takes on one’s mental health. Here’s my PayPal link or you can use my email, which is leannemnorth (at) gmail.com. I have a brand new Patreon with no patrons yet; I’ve been doing a lot of the kind of writing you burn afterwards, and bury the ashes. But soon I’ll be back to writing I can share.

    Thoughts and prayers are good too. Thank you all so much, just for being there, and hearing me. I’m trying to become less isolated, but I still depend on all of you being here every day, coming together in fellowship, towards a better life for us all. I couldn’t handle these times without you. Thank you.


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    Recently I was triggered by something Trump said, as so often happens these days. His response to questions about Saudi Arabia’s latest human rights atrocity, the likely murder of a journalist, centered on profit: his imaginary hundred million dollar arms deal. He sounded confident that this rationale for letting Saudi Arabia off the hook for murder was entirely self-evident: such a good customer!

    I’ve worked a lot in the service industry, mostly as a cashier, and it’s been my experience that a lot of men think the money they spend, along with their self-perceived status, entitles them to bad behavior. Management frequently agrees. So servers, cashiers, hotel staff, housekeepers, and other low-paid, mostly female workers, are expected to put up with daily harassment ranging from sexist comments all the way up to assault. Because such good customers couldn’t possibly be offended. I can’t believe US foreign policy has become The Customer is Always Right.

    We’ve got to get out the vote like never before and get control of Congress. This administration is driving us straight into a cliff. Our collective mental and physical health is deteriorating, not to mention the health of our planet. People are suffering, families are being torn apart, our neighbors are being deported, and Goddess knows what else, while the clowns in the circus perform ever more frantically, while our children’s future slips away unnoticed.

    The time is now. We’re going to have so much work to do just to clean up the mess, before we can get back to making progress on things like climate change and prison reform and corporate accountability. Let’s plan for that time instead of paying attention to the clowns, because they certainly won’t go quietly. Don’t be afraid. Be happy, like a pug in a field of tulips.


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    I used to wonder why I’d hear Republicans call Obama a socialist. Can’t these morons use a dictionary? I’d think. Back then, I still thought words had precise meanings. I didn’t understand that the radical right was busily redefining words like freedom and liberty. Words like Democrat and socialism.

    Recently I finished Nancy MacLean’s work of true horror, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. It scared the hell out of me. I was taught as a child that Democrats and Republicans have different ideas about the size and scope of government. If only that were true! MacLean’s book explains that the radical right--which now wholly owns the Republican party, and right now, our entire government—actually wants to eliminate government. No more public schools, or roads, or libraries. Strictly pay-as-you-go, and if you fail to save enough money to pay for your appendectomy, you lose the game, and die.

    MacLean traces this idea from a Virginia economist I’d never heard of, James Buchanan, to today’s well-funded Koch organization and the whole radical-right apparatus. It is an entire system of propaganda, funding media and schools and think tanks and lobbyists and dark-money PAC’s, designed to turn out true believers to pack the courts, state and local governments, and all levels of the Federal government.

    Already this evil machine has worked away, hammer and tongs, bringing us ultra-conservative judges and lawyers and TV stars, bending the will of the majority to the monetary power of the few ultra-rich. Much damage to our democracy has already been done. A deep schism has been sunk into our social fabric. Many of these extremists are already entrenched in our political system, working to turn the USA into an oligarchy. The only weapon we have is our votes.

    Voting is more important than ever, and we must work to bring more of our friends and neighbors into civic engagement. It will take all of us to save our democracy. Let’s get started, now!

    I highly recommend Democracy in Chains. Check it out at your local library today.


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  • 11/10/18--11:12: Own Your Righteous Fury
  • “We are outraged,” she thundered. “Hell yeah!” I said to the screen. “More of that.” Stacey Abrams’ lawyer was on MSNBC last night, speaking about the ongoing Georgia vote count, which Brian Kemp is suing to stop. She has a right to be angry. We all do. It reminded me of how I’d wished Gore had fought harder, when his presidency was stolen by the right.

    I have a hard time accessing my anger, always have. When I get mad, I start crying, which is not very threatening and distracts me from my actual emotional state. That’s because, like millions of other people, I wasn’t allowed to be angry as a child. Women especially are not “supposed” to show their anger. Female anger is harshly discouraged. It’s bound, like the feet of long-ago noble Asian girls. That keeps us from going places, because anger is a propellant, when controlled and directed. I’ve always admired women who could communicate effectively while expressing their fury. I’m a Southerner, and it has always seemed to me that women of color are much better at this. Men don’t seem so handicapped. Plenty of them have no problem expressing their anger, and it’s just fine with society if they do so (see B. Kavanaugh; also D. Trump.) Unless they’re Black, of course. Black men are discouraged from anger by society also, but punished much more harshly if they break this norm.

    On the left, we like to blunt our anger into satire or sarcasm. That's certainly an effective means of communication. But many nonvoters don’t get it; it doesn’t read to them like it reads to us. We who shy away from anger do so, I think, because our opponents, the radical right, seem driven by rage, also fear. For decades they have used anger as a tool. It’s been very effective. When observing Trump’s behavior, we often say things like, “If a Democrat had done that, everyone at Fox News would be apoplectic! Rush Limbaugh’s head would explode!” As a tactic, their fake anger has been insanely effective. There are lots of people on the right who now seem driven mad, or terrified, because of the right-wing noise machine’s rage-filled fear-mongering. This phenomenon now has a body count, and we mourn as a nation for those who’ve been killed or had their lives destroyed.

    The actual anger, and fear, felt by the rest of America, is different. It’s driven by real concern about actual events. I’m not saying we should be running around like our hair is on fire. Except maybe we should be. Because all of this bullshit is distracting people from the very real danger presented by climate change. If Al Gore had become president back in 2000, maybe we’d have been fixing the problem for nearly twenty years by now. We’d have kept better pace with the rest of the civilized world. Things certainly wouldn’t be so dire.

    In the present, it’s time to fight like hell. All the alarm bells are ringing. All of the lights are flashing red. Now is the time to scream NO with all of your being. We’ve got the momentum. Own your righteous fury, and use it as fuel to change your world. We need to stand in the gap until the new Congress is seated, in the streets and halls of power, raising our voices, and letting our anger find its voice. Put on your pussy hats and get going!


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