Home at Last

Long time, no blog! I cannot say I am pleased with myself for not posting in so long, but you know, life happens. And by life happening, I mean I have been home from Australia for just over a month. I considered the options for first blog post after I got back from my Australian adventures—tips on transitioning back home, dealing with post-trip depression, what I learned while I away—the list goes on and on. I didn’t want to do anything too fancy or pretentious, so here are my responses to questions I’ve repeatedly received.

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My last picture from Australia

“So you’re actually going to be in America, Miss World Traveler?”

I cannot tell you how many times I heard this phrase or something similar. Yes, I was just traveling the world, but I did not forget where my home is! To be honest, exploring the world is still so important to me, but coming home to sweet New Jersey in summertime was the best timing possible. I do not want to be anywhere else than the Jersey Shore with my family and friends for a summer full of beaching, water-skiing and fun before I head back to Hofstra to begin my senior year of college.

“How was transitioning back to reality?”

Despite popular assumption, coming back was super easy. I luckily had a job lined up as soon as I got home, quite literally. I walked in my door at 11 p.m. on June 25, and started work at 8:30 a.m. the next morning. Jumping into work and a schedule made it simple and necessary to transition myself back to home life.

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Fourth of July at home for the first time in two years

“What was your jetlag like?”

Luckily I slept/cried for almost the whole duration of my first two flights, and stayed awake for my last, so my sleep pattern was not too far off. Waking up early the next morning for work was easy and I almost flawlessly transitioned into Eastern Standard Time. Of course I was tired, but my sleep schedule was nowhere near backwards like some people thought.

“How sad are you to be back?”

As cliché as this sounds, I am sad that my adventure is over, but so thankful I have heaps (still using popular Australian terms) of memories to look back on and new friends to outlive these memories. Like I said, there is nowhere I would rather be in the summer than New Jersey with my friends, family, awesome job and of course, my pets. If I returned in winter, it may be a different story…

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The best part about coming home

“Where to next?”

People who know me know I will go anywhere I can if I have the chance. I plan on staying in America for quite some time to finish my undergraduate studies and earn some of the money I blew through back. However, the next large trip I want to take is a cross-country road trip through America. I feel like I have seen more of “the world” than I have of my own country, so I’d like to focus on that.

Coming home after living in another country for months can be a huge change, but I think it is all about perspective. Yes, I was upset to leave the new life I created while away, but I had so much goodness waiting for me at home. It has been a beautiful and crazy ride, and I plan to continue my journey of world and self-exploration one day at a time.

1 Year of Whitmanythoughts

A few days ago, a sweet little memory popped up on Facebook: my first blog post on Whitmanythoughts. I cannot believe it has been a year since I started writing about my travels. I feel like I have written so much, yet have so much more to share.

I have expressed over and over again how amazing of a year it has been and how thankful I am for all I have gotten to experience. From traveling around Europe for two weeks with my grandfather to skiing in Park City, Utah with my dad, it has been a thrilling ride.

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I often wonder what will happen to my blog after I finish my time here in Australia. I know I won’t actually be traveling for quite some time, so I won’t have so many new and exciting things to write about. I can definitely see my content changing a bit to adapt to my (not as cool) lifestyle back at home. I do want to focus on my feelings a bit more and incorporate them into my writing so it is not so cut and dry. In the end, I realize I control my blog and as long as I like it, everything is dandy. In reality, every day is a new adventure, and I know I will have things to talk about.

Plus, this is WhitmanyTHOUGHTS for a reason: I have oodles of thoughts and I want to share them. I have so many things constantly swirling through my mind that I would love to turn into “thought” posts. I am not looking for fame with this site, and I am so happy with the 100 followers that I have. Although it would be nice to turn this blog into something larger in the future, I am so contented writing for the sake of my own memory and for my family.

I do have so much to still share. I have posts from my weekend getaways in Italy last summer as well as my extended trips in Australia this semester saved in my computer, yearning to see the light. Although I won’t be “traveling,” I have so many exciting things coming up in the second half of the year, from summer at the shore to a Fall Concert Series 2.0 to hopefully spending some time with international visitors…but I will just keep it at that.

My global travels may soon be over, but the adventures continue. Life is beautiful.  It is not always perfect, but one thing I have been reminding myself is that life does not give me obstacles that I cannot handle. Here’s to the last year of travel, here’s to my time left in Australia and here is to the next year of Whitmanythoughts.

Whitmanythought1: This has been the most epic year of my life and I am so thankful.

Whitmanythought2: How do I still have friends on Facebook with all the posts I share?

Whitmanythought3: Can I just keep travelling for another year?

Thoughts: Finding My Way to My Mom

I have no idea what it’s like to be a mother. I have heard, and fully believe, that being a mother is a gift and develops a love like no other. I also have heard that somehow and some way, Mom is always right and if you don’t believe it now, one day she is going to be the one you turn to for help—not your best friend, not your sibling, not your significant other—your mother. I always knew the above mentioned things, but I did not always actually believe them.

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Holidays with my mom

My mother and I are quite different. I tell people that I am like my father, and my sister is like my mother, and my parents are divorced. People usually get a laugh out of that. Despite the fact that I have realized our differences over the years, I have opened my eyes to all the incredible qualities my mom has that she has thankfully passed on to me. During my childhood years, my mom provided me with the love and laughter that every kid needs. During my teen years, I was convinced I would never have a super close bond with her. Now, in the early stages of my adult years, after I have seen my relationship with my mother ebb and flow, I can confidently say we are close than ever, and I know that is how it will stay.

My mom is no average mom—we joke about things that other moms would be appalled to hear. I can say literally anything to her, serious or not, and she will not judge me. Well, she definitely judges me, but it is with so much love. That is my favorite thing about my mother. She may have no idea what I am up to half the time (I can’t blame her because I can barely follow my own life), but she is always there to listen to my crazy stories and ideas (and to share my life on Facebook to her friends). Just last night I called her and made her listen to my new musical discoveries and she patiently listened as I screamed at her to pay attention. Honestly, it may have been one of my favorite conversations with her.

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Lakewood Blueclaws game with my mom

Something notable she said to me last night is that she wants me to live in the house forever. First of all, I have never heard her say this. Ever. As much as I told her I am convinced she wanted me out of the house ten years ago (which may have been true), I almost want to believe a part of her was serious. This really meant so much to me and was actually quite unexpected. It made me smile that even through our disagreements, my constant singing and squealing around the house and my crazy ideas that have driven her mad over the years, she actually would want me to stay home. Home is where the daughter is, right?

Earlier I mentioned the infamous saying that Mom is always right. My mom may not always be right about everything, but when it comes to people and life lessons, she’s always about spot-on. I have seen her eye for observation in me, and I am so thankful for that. It took me 20 years to not just know, but to believe, that Mom is going to be the person I can come to with anything, even if I choose not to. Mom will be the person who says, “I told you so,” and I will be happy she did. Mom will be my confident and person I can trust with anything. This comes after realizing that the stuff she would tell her friends about me when I was younger is very unimportant, of course.

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Monster Mile with my mom

The last few years have really shown me that Mom really is going to be the one I tell everything to, the one who is going to pick me up drunk from a bar (that has NOT happened, I am just saying it could), and the one who is going to give me her two cents, but usually just when I ask for it. She may think I am crazy, but I think she is crazy too. And that is probably what has made our relationship so great. I fully think my mom insane, but what child doesn’t? And my mom constantly reminds me how weird I am. So, thank you, Mom, for thinking I am nuts, because I definitely got it from you. Every time you say how crazy I am feels like an accomplishment. Thank you for being there, for being real, and for not being boring. I can’t wait to see you and make you do things with me, just like you do to your parents.

Thoughts on Turning 21: Continued

If you told me I would be celebrating my 21st birthday in Australia, I would have deemed you crazy. While I was in Italy last summer, another person on the trip celebrated his 21st birthday at the Amalfi Coast, and I thought about how grand it must be to celebrate your birthday in such a fantastic place. Little did I know that I would get to feel exactly what it is like a year later (it feels awesome).

I already gushed about how incredible the past year has been in a previous post, and touched on the fact that I felt so lucky this birthday, but I really just need to explain how fortunate I truly feel. I have never felt rich as many times as I have in the last few months in my entire life. This is not rich with money, of course, but rich with friends and happiness.

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Birthday dinner

When I planned my trip toAustralia, I did not intend to do anything for my birthday. I thought everyone can already drink and I will be with people I just met, so why would it matter? Well, my friends showed me it mattered.

First, I am one of the luckiest people ever because I get to celebrate such an important day in such an incredible place. I’m in Australia, baby!

Second, my friends made it clear that I would not be doing nothing for my birthday. As soon as I met them in Fiji and I told them when my birthday was, they were down to go out. I told them I did not want to do anything, and they thought I was crazy.

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Out with my girls on my birthday

Third, my friends went out of their way to make sure I had a fantastic birthday. Nicole said we could do whatever I wanted, and when we were talking about my party, she decided to create a Facebook page for it, complete with a picture of Justin Bieber as the cover. I got a Facebook event for my birthday. Can you imagine?! Stivia, Hannah and Courtney’s housemate, Brent, really helped me out with deciding where to go. He put time aside during his busy week to email and call prospective places and would give me the low down afterwards. I am not even super close with him, and he cared about the night as if it were for him.

Before we went out to dinner on my birthday, Nicole was in my room ready to surprise me with chocolate cupcakes in pink wrappers and two chocolate bars. She even had a bunch of candles and sang “Happy Birthday” to me with Sierra. There I was, 21 years old, getting sung to by people I had just met, but might as well have always been inIMG_1430 my life. Unbelievable!

Before my birthday party, I went over to Jordan’s where she was kind enough to do my makeup. When I walked in, she had a present for me from her, Nicole and Sierra wrapped in, of course, a pink and black bag. Another surprise!

When I got to my party, there were pink and black balloons that Jordan and Nicole were kind enough to blow up for me to make the place festive. People showed up throughout the night and I felt like a million dollars.

The night out was incredible. Sierra stayed by me the whole night to make sure everything went smoothly. I felt like she was my assistant attached to me ready to fight off anyone who came too close. I am sure we just looked like a bunch of featherless peacocks trying to show off our feathers, but I felt pretty good.

I could just go on and on about how special my night was. It would not have been so extraordinary without my incredible friends, though. They truly made me feel so special and I cannot thank them enough. It is easy to celebrate one day, but with these people by my side, it is easy to celebrate every day.

Thoughts on Turning 21

I remember turning 10 years old and having my mom say, “You’ll be in double digits for the rest if your life!” I thought that was scary. I recall becoming a teenager and having some friends over for some Wii Olympics. I remember deciding whether or not I should have a sweet 16. Turning 18 was an exciting day because I was finally a “legal adult.” My friend surprised me with balloons and I had more friends over for a bonfire that night. Then, I left my teenage years behind and said hello to “the best years of my life.” Now, I am 21 and I am speechless.

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I turned 20 last year and I had just confirmed that I would be studying abroad during the summer. I did not do anything special on my birthday, but formal was right after it, so I counted that as my celebration. I was ready to take on a new year and navigate through whatever came my way. I had no idea that 20 would treat me so well. I visited Costa Rica with my father and sister, explored Europe with my Pop Pop, I lived in Italy for a month and made some memories that are not even comparable to those from Australia. I landed my first internship at a big company and I even tried the college dating scene last fall. Then, I was lucky enough to ski in Park City, Utah for the first time with my dad and head to London with one of my best friends for two weeks. Of course, it was not all happy—I lost one of my closest friends growing up and experienced heartbreak—but that is all part of life. Regardless, I am in awe when I think about the last year and I am forever grateful for it.

I usually don’t get too stoked for my birthday because it just means I am one year older. Of course it is always exciting to have people reach out to wish me a nice day and have a bit of attention, but I never got extremely into it. Although I usually don’t get too wild about my birthday, this year was different. With this birthday, I would finally be “legal” in the eyes of American nightlife. I would have finished 10% of my twenties. This year, I am surrounded by people I basically just met who told me I had no choice but to celebrate my birthday and it feels awesome. This year, I am actually eager to become another year older because it means I am growing, learning and experiencing.

I feel so much love this birthday from all around the world. I had people from America  texting me “Happy early birthday,” I had people from New Zealand and Europe wish me a great day and I had all my friends and acquaintances here showing me love. Nothing is better than feeling loved and celebrated on my special day. It is pretty cool, because I feel like I have two birthdays since it is May 2 in Australia 12 hours before it is in America. I’ll have to keep this in mind during my birthday celebrations in the future.

I am so grateful for all the things I got to experience, all the new people I got to meet and all the new places I got to see during my twentieth year of life. It will be hard to top what I think was the best year of my life, but who knows what the future holds. With that being said, I am so thrilled to see what this year has in store for me. Wow, 21.

Oz: Purpose World Tour

Monday, March 6 may not see like that important of a date to most, but I had been looking forward to it for months. It is the day I saw Justin Bieber on his Purpose World Tour at NIB Stadium in Perth, Australia.

As soon as I found out he would be in Perth when I was, I knew I was getting tickets. The only uncertainty I had was if I would be going alone or not. Luckily, Jordan is a huge fan, and Brian wanted to see the special guest, DJ Martin Garrix, so I had two friends to share the experience with.

The opening act, Sheppard, is an indie pop band formed in 2009. The leads are both super talented and I thought to myself I would have to check them out. Then, they played their last song, “Geronimo,” and I realized I had heard it before. I became super excited I got to see a fairly popular band and hear a song I already knew.

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Sheppard

 

The next act was Martin Garrix, who I almost saw in Ibiza. He played an hour long set, weaving in and out of remixed songs and beats set to vivid graphics and tricked-out light and fire effects. He ended with his new song “In the Name of Love.” I enjoyed his music, but one can only listen to a DJ for so long. I was ready for The Biebs.

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Martin Garrix

The lights went off. The screen came on. A video came on the screens with Justin’s silhouette teasing the audience. About a minute later, the one, the only Justin Bieber rose from the stage in a clear box, which we wrote “Mark my words” on, which was his opening song. This was it. He was finally here. Someone I have supported for about ten years was right in front of me.

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Justin Bieber

To make it short, his whole performance was absolutely marvelous. This was my seventh time seeing him, and I can confidently say this was his best performance yet. For a while, he was going through a rough patch in life, and seemed like he was just moving through the motions of touring. However, this time around, he was joking, smiling and talking to us with meaning. I had never been more proud of him and thankful to be in his presence.

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My favorite photo from the show

On top of the spectacular show, my seats were super close to the stage, about 25 yards away from him, so that was just fantastic. He wore Adidas soccer pants the whole time and only changed his top three times, which is a smaller amount than usual. He thanked Australia for having him back, and I thanked him for being there.

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Jordan, Brian and I had such a great time. I think Brian even turned into a bit of a Bieber fan, even though he doesn’t want to admit it. I can’t wait to see Justin back in the states!

 

All Things in Life are Temporary

2016 was a whirlwind of a year. I’ve said it. We’ve all said it, for better or for worse.

As I mentioned earlier, I was really trying to change my lifestyle a bit when I first got into college. I have really worked on who I am and achieving the life I want to see while I am in the “best years of my life.” With some much self-evaluation spiked with a rapid recognition that I am now 20 and have to live it up because I am 20 and that’s what I am supposed to do (right?), I have come to a huge realization: All things in life are temporary.

This is something I have always known, and that is why I think I placed so much importance on relationships growing up. I remember my seventh grade self strolling with my friend in the mall and asking her, “We’ll always be best friends, right?” However, we had different schedules and interests, so we eventually grew away from each other. I tried my best to not get upset and forced myself to understand it is no one’s fault, and I had great friends around me anyway.

All things in life are uncertain. Enjoy the good while it is there, and stand up to the bad, knowing it can’t last forever.

I have always been so sensitive about things I care about. Why would I want to leave something or someone that was once my world behind? In high school, most of my friends were either older or younger than me. I knew what it was like when my friends left for college and I knew what to expect when I left my younger friends: I would do everything in my power to stay super close with them. To a certain degree, this has worked. I have stayed in touch with and have not changed my relationship with people who equally wanted to put in the effort to cultivate our friendships, and it is beautiful. I love the fact that I have so many friends at school, yet some friends from home are still clumped into the “best friend category.” I actually recall feeling boisterous pride when my sophomore year roommate was intrigued with the amount of friends I still had from home.

That is all fine and dandy, but there are the friendships that did not stay the same and weakened. College has really armored my sensitivity. I have learned to let things go and try to accept the mindset that all things happen for a reason. Moreover, that all things are temporary: friends, family, love. It is up to the individual to decide how he or she makes these things count.

Nothing is certain. It is up to the individual to make every moment count.

It is completely okay to throw your whole soul into a friendship or relationship or a job. Get the most out of it. Watch yourself and the people around you grow and accomplish new things. Be honest with yourself and those around you, be kind, be ready for change that you may not see coming. Most importantly, be at peace with the fact that not all things are in your control, so enjoy it while you can.

One of my biggest fears is having something in my life that did not make a positive or memorable impact in some way. I want to look back on these years and understand why I made the decisions I did and not regret a single second. Coming to terms with the variability in life has made me a stronger and an even more appreciative person. Now, I can venture through life knowing that although things in my life may temporary, they will make an everlasting impact.

A Reflection of My Blog

It seems that I often find random sparks of passions to write on my blog; however, those moments are never times during which I can actually write. Then when I go to write, I have absolutely nothing to say. I see this as a concern, considering I am a journalism major. A person who wants to write and talk for a living and does not know how to put her thoughts into words—scary, right?

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I know my blog is quite mediocre, but it still makes me happy. Although I am not reaching the world with this small space for my thoughts and travels, every time my grandparents comment on a new blog blog post or say how it brightens up their day, I can’t help but smile. I have wanted to upgrade my site into an actual “.com” for a while, but things such as a job, classes, an internship, extra-curricular activities, a social life and my lack of computer skills have seemed to step in the way.

My main concern, I suppose, is that I put out content that I am proud of and that I allow the outside to have a glimpse into my mind. I did not write as much as I wanted to during the semester, but I did not completely leave my little sanctuary behind in the dust like some people who claim they get swallowed by life do.

This blog post is actually a little challenge for me to spew out my thoughts and warm up my brain so I can actually start writing about what I wanted to write about for so long. So, this little post will end up in the “Thoughts” section of my blog for all to see who may be interested in learning about how I think. To whoever reads this, I hope I have interested you with my thoughts.

Fall Concert Series: Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood has the most effortless voice in the world. You won’t catch me listening to country music very often, but Carrie is an exception to all the laws of the universe. Honestly, she might not even be human; she is more like an angel.

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Before the show

I recall my nine-year-old self watching Carrie on American Idol and rooting for her until she claimed victory, and seeing her in concert not too long after. I yearned to see her again ever since. When I heard she would be touring this year, my friend and I immediately bought tickets for her first-ever show at the “World’s Most Famous Arena,” Madison Square Garden.

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The stage

Upon arrival to MSG, I was mesmerized by the setup of the venue. Carrie’s stage was in the middle of the floor, right where I stood at the 2016 Video Music Awards. The stage was composed of a main circular part in the middle, with two long legs jutting out and stretching out across almost the length of the arena floor and ending in two more circles. There were also two shorter legs reaching out from the opposite direction, which also ended in circular platforms.

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Carrie’s opening acts, Eatson Corbon and the Swon Brothers, were fantastic and really got the crowd going. Before I knew it, it was time for the queen to arrive. The center, circular part of the stage rose, and a few seconds later, there was Carrie, looking like an edgy, rockstar cake topper rising above the audience high in the sky. She started the show with the first song on her album and one of my personal favorites, “Runaway Renegade.” I was in awe and I did not expect to have as large of a reaction to her presence as I did, but the mixture of tears, my shaky voice screaming “OMG SHE’S PERFECT,” and my rapid heartbeat were all there.

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Carrie rising above the crowd

Carrie put on about a two hour show filled with nothing but talent and sincerity. I honestly don’t know how she does it. One minute she was blowing on an electric harmonica, and the next moment she was belting a 16 note lyric. I’m telling you, she’s an angel. A highlight was when she cast pictures of her adorable son and husband on the screen as she beautifully sang “What I Never Knew I Wanted.” Talk about a sweet love story. I also got lost in her powerful voice with throwbacks such as “Before He Cheats” and one of her favorite songs, “Jesus Take the Wheel.”

The night was remarkable. I am so proud of Carrie for being a new mom, being in the business for over ten years, and still giving an unmatchable performance. I also appreciate that Carrie seems to still be a down-to-earth, “normal,” person, despite having a legendary career. The post-concert depression I felt after the show left me no mercy, and I cannot wait for warmer weather so I can blast her in my car as I drive around with my windows down.

Fall Concert Series: Charlie Puth

My boss: “I am going to the Charlie Puth concert, too.”

Me: “OMG, I love him!”

My boss: “So does my thirteen-year-old daughter.”’

That is what pop-music does. Its mainstream and general appeal attracts people of all ages to the artists. I attended Charlie Puth’s We Don’t Talk Tour and fan-girled just as much as the young teenagers and kids that surrounded me. And I have no regrets.

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Charlie Puth at Theatre at Westbury

Honestly, I did not expect to have such an explosive reaction when he came onto stage. But as soon as he did, I was taken over by excitement, my heart pounding and my voice trembling.

However, that is not the only unexpected thing that happened that night. To my disappointment, Charlie only performed four songs. He canceled a show a week prior because he was so sick. I knew he was still very ill during the week, but he had his NYC shows, and I know those are shows artists try not to cancel. So, I came to the concert concerned about his health, surprised he didn’t cancel, but ecstatic I would get to see him.

He started the show with his latest hit “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” and I was in awe that I was hearing the song live. Charlie admitted to us that he was still very sick and would try to push through his set if we helped him out with some singing. That sounded like a fair deal.

Charlie rocked on with his next song, “Some Type of Love,” and he looked so happy. He was owning the stage, banging his head in the air and dancing around his piano on the circular platform. Even with his incredible performance, his facial expressions and his drinking of tea showed that he was struggling.

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After four songs, he sat down and looked defeated. He apologized to us and explained that he just needed a quick break, because he had a fever and he was having a hard time breathing. I didn’t want to believe it, but I knew nothing good would come of this. He came back on stage five minutes later with a look of heartbreak on his face, and told us he had to cancel.

Yes, I was upset I would not get to see his full show, something I had been waiting on for a long time. But Charlie’s honesty with us and yearn to give us his best performance showed how true of an artist he is. For him to go out on stage and break the hearts of hundreds of girls, but with his health in mind, shows that he knows his limits. He is only human, and I am proud of him for taking care of his well-being.

Charlie is without question talented and passionate about his career. He received a standing ovation even with the news he broke to his fans. He promised he would make it up to us and I believe he will. I gained a lot of respect for him that night. Even with only seeing four songs by him, it was a fantastic performance.