Thursday, March 1, 2012

Obsession: The Dream Killer

“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” Edgar Allan Poe

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I lost track of how long the stare contest had been going on. Liquid charcoal eyes stared unblinking into mine. Occasionally her eyebrow would arch knowingly. In jest, I threw up my hands. No hair off her brow, of course the blind dog won the stare contest, which started with me asking her what I should write. Shrugs; She’s my muse and no she doesn't play fair, but I get lost in those eyes where a world of wonder takes place – enough to clear my mind and shift gears.

Pickles cocks her head slightly still with that sarcastic eyebrow arch and grins like a lunatic.

“Knock it off you maniac, you still haven’t answered the question.” I scold playfully, while thumbing through a notebook of miscellaneous thought vomit I had written.

Words are like this secret elixir only I can partake of – my personal stash.

When was the last time writing felt like that? I wondered. Pickles continues to stare at me, waiting like a hungry vulture for me to answer my own dilemma. “Want to hear a story on how I lost my words? I ask. Those long toes of hers resemble monkey paws as they curl around my knee in answer. I pat the couch beside me and wait for her to get comfortable.

“Once upon a time (because all our earlier stories start that way), a woman had piles of words emulating every emotion she had ever experienced in handwritten journals, typed pages, and scraps of whatever was handy when the words overtook her. Words bandaged pain, soothed sorrow, and built bridges to hope and dreams. Then one day a horrible man shredded all her words and left her with a sea of mulched batting in its place.”

Pickles buries her nose beneath my elbow as I continue, “The woman swore off words and buried their likeness so deep within she forgot where she hid them. Years and years would go by while the words pushed and shoved against her breastbone, vying to escape. They wrapped around her heart becoming a fist full of memories squeezed dry. Until her psyche began to rot intellect like a rusted hinge exposed too long to the elements.” At this point in my storytelling, I glance at Pickles with her nose tucked between her paws as if to hide from a scary scene in a movie.

“The pile of words inside the woman grew and grew, threatening to engorge her lungs until she couldn’t breathe. Still she strangled the words and swallowed them deep to rot in her gut, until she became a numb caricature of a human being. Then one day, along came a pup, a pushy creature with a pickled attitude who demanded to be heard, just like the words she once knew.”

A wet nose nudges my elbow, encouraging me to go on. “Slowly but surely, the woman learned to purge the words which had been buried for so very long in the depths of her psyche and heart. For the first time in a long time, she could breathe. The woman realized she had never truly lost the words; they had been the driving force within her all along. Not unlike her dog, she wanted to be heard.”

I wink at Pickles and whisper, “The End.”

I remember fanatical sessions of writing for hours on end, to the point of a losing a year and a half in the creation of my books. Lately I’ve been wondering where that obsessive writer disappeared to. With no doubt, words still flow in their own stream of consciousness from my fingertips; although, nothing like those first few years of discovering my lost cache inside. Are my goals as a writer still something I am capable of accomplishing? More than ever…

I’ve learned something along the way though, obsession kills dreams. If you become so obsessed you forget to live or to enjoy the small moments in life, you’re strangling any hope of fulfilling those dreams. Everything in life needs time to develop to its full potential. In my case, my writing needed days to breathe, time to marinate into something credible. Besides, I still need those stare sessions with my perquisite pup (even though she cheats).

I’m not saying give up by any means, what I am saying (more so for me) is enjoy the journey. Don’t overwhelm yourself and lose touch with the enchanting beauty of why or when your dreams first began to hold sway over you.

“All we see or seem is, but a dream within a dream.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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67 comments:

  1. Years and years would go by while the words pushed and shoved against her breastbone, vying to escape.

    So apt for me. So too, the last part about enjoying the journey. Fanatical can be so beyond the daily living we were meant for. I am still so amazed at how much Pickles looks like our dog Tootsie. Same great beard! (poor girl)

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    1. In so many ways, you and I are alike sweet friend. Lately my words are cracking my chest wide open and leaving my heart exposed. (Hugs)Indigo

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  2. I think there is also something about writing freeing us - to be more fully ourselves. Maybe when we breathe out more fully we don't have the same need to write. We might miss some of the words that flow, but the breathing out is quite nice :-)

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    1. Breathing is most certainly not overrated. :)

      I couldn't agree more about writing freeing us to be more fully ourselves. In some aspects that linear truth is a bit frightening, clarifying, and exhilarating at the same time.(Hugs)Indigo

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  3. Those were some wild days writing for hours and hours. Personally I glad that phase is moved to someone else.

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    1. The frenzy I don't miss, the torrent of words is another matter. (Hugs)Indigo

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  4. Hold onto the dream -- that's the stuff. I honestly need to stop obsessing about publication so much and focus on my love of the craft itself. That's how I stumbled upon publication in the first place, and it's bound to happen again. Thank you for this post.

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    1. Your welcome Milo. I think sometimes we can't help having that publication gulch siphoning off of us. Yet, the urgency and want of those first days of writing is something we need to keep us grounded; a marriage that stakes us to the heart of why we write. (Hugs) Indigo

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  5. I was brought to tears reading Pickles has lost her sight. She is amazing and I know she is in the best hands with you as her guide through this life. Give her a big hug from me and keep your dreams, one day they will come true.
    xxx
    Lisa

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    1. ((Hugs)) Thanks sweet friend. Pickles is truly amazing. I think in time, she'll be perfectly fine in her blind world. We make a pair.

      I'm holding on to my dreams as tight as I can. (Hugs)Indigo

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  6. That's a lesson I first learned from one of my favorite contemporary authors. I wrote him a letter talking about how often I submitted to magazines, and how often I was met with rejection. In his response, he wrote "Remember, it's not a race to get published."

    You're right: it's about the journey. It's easy to forget that.

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    1. I'm glad to have been a reminder sweet friend. I'm finding myself needing those reminders more and more these days. And your right, it's not a race, although some days it feels like a slow crawl.(Hugs)Indigo

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  7. When I first started writing, it was all I could think about. I've slowed down a lot, LOL! No sense in rushing the journey as you say.

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    1. I know the feeling. I've had people think my characters were extended family they've never met, because I talked about them so much. (Hugs)Indigo

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  8. Cooper is my writing muse, too. My stories come slower than they used to, but they need less work since I hold them close longer.

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    1. Happy Belated Birthday to Cooper! He's a handsome fellow for four.

      Love the thought of our writing needing less work since we hold them closer longer. That line made me smile. (Hugs)Indigo

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  9. All I have is my blog but I nurture and obsess over it. I really missed it when I wasn't blogging. Several people have encouraged me to write, but I keep saying I don't have time. Mostly, I'm afraid. I like the anonymity of the blog.

    Indigo, are you submitting a book to publishers? Can we expect to read your book later? You write about it, but I'm not sure where you are in the process.

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    1. Hi Lou,

      I am indeed planning on submitting a book at some point this year. In a few months I hope to start querying for an agent and go from there. At present I'm finishing up revisions.

      I write about my journey a lot here for one reason, I think it keeps me accountable and reminds me why I do write.

      Several of my readers assume by the way I address my writing (and life), I'm writing a memoir or non-fiction book. Although I have plenty (way too much actually) fodder for a book in those categories, my latest book is actually a paranormal/suspense. I enjoy delving into the frightening aspects of the human psyche a bit too much. (Hugs)Indigo

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  10. Lovely description. Everything you write is filled with such honesty and truth and strength. Love it.

    I've always written for myself - but it's never been consistent until the last few years. Even then, life gets in the way all the time. And that's okay because my real life will always come first :)

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    1. Thank you for the compliments Jemi. I couldn't agree more, real life should always take precedence over anything else. No truer words could be said for a writer, for it's our life experiences that temper words and weave imagination. (Hugs)Indigo

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  11. Everything you write ... or at least everything I've read... is achingly beautiful. You always find just the right word to express the feeling behind the words. That truly is a gift, but I sense a subtle change in your tone with this post. It's as though some of the intensity is softening, and moving over to make room for more humor. Personally, I think that's a good thing. Maybe it marks a change in your attitude about writing. Passion, yes. But obsession? I don't think so. Not anymore. Now you can just let your love of writing drive you in a gentler, softer way. And you can find more enjoyment in it.

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    1. Susan thank you. Your comment hit home in such a wonderful way, I'm at loss for words. (Hugs)Indigo

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  12. Your words are marinated to perfection. Thank you. ((Hugs))

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  13. So lovely! "If you become so obsessed you forget to live or to enjoy the small moments in life, you’re strangling any hope of fulfilling those dreams." <--THIS. So much THIS!

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    1. So very much that... :) (Hugs)Indigo

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  14. we all deal with struggle differently. you are wise to remind yourself that you are taken care of and all will work out. how we deal with slow patches on the journey of progression of whatever sort is important for our good psychology and probably creative development.
    i obsess. you are right in what you say about it. i work through those issues.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words Ed. (Hugs)Indigo

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  15. I would love to photograph you and Pickles. A black and white done in your writer's room would be lovely. I wish we lived closer.

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    1. So do I sweet friend. Sounds like a perfect author photo shoot for a book jacket. (Hugs)Indigo

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  16. Love it. I struggle with the same thing, missing the obsession but knowing the determined work is the real drug.

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    1. Thanks Laura! There is more quality to the writing without the obsession, more enjoyment. (Hugs)Indigo

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  17. I don't want to be obsessed by anything today. I realize that in the past, obsession did me harm. Burn out, unmet expectations, anger turned inward and outward.....not going there. But to be passionate about something doesn't have to mean obsession. Slower steps, less mind race, more appreciation of the craft--all seem doable to move toward the end goal. Take care, Indigo. You and Pickles are beautiful.

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    1. Thanks Syd! I agree, passionate is a far cry from obsession. The unmet expectations, are what throw me for a loop. (Hugs)Indigo

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  18. Breathe a little...the ebb & flow has it's own way...or so it seems to me with anything creative..your creativity never ends nor ceases to amaze me! hugz!

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    1. Wonderful advice dear friend. Breathing has never been underrated. (Hugs)Indigo

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  19. I love the last message of enjoying the journey Indigo. I really try to do it, to learn from the moments I didnt do it and dont commit the same mistake, but it is actually very difficult.
    congratulations for your blog, its such a nice one. You have a new follower =)

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    1. Thanks for following Anne! Yes, it is difficult to learn from the moments, but oh so necessary. (Hugs)Indigo

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  20. Sometimes I have a hard time enjoying the journey too. Especially when I'm over analyzing the writing. Ugh!

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    1. Over analyzing the writing is so hard 'not' to do Carolyn, especially when there is so much weighing on our words. At some point we have to be able to type "The End" and let it go.

      I'm in the same place right now. On this part of the journey it's difficult to remember the earlier joy we found in words. I have faith in your words sweet friend. (Hugs)Indigo

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  21. I stopped by for solace, hoping there would be something about Pickles and was so delighted by this. I felt as if I were in a chair in the room watching you tell the story to her. And you pack such a great lesson in at the end. You and Pickles were a part of the journey I stopped to enjoy this early morning. Thank you. xo

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    1. Thanks Lydia! You continue to be in my thoughts sweet friend. In the end I hope Pickles and I share the same beauty and enjoyment of life, you and Abby shared. (Hugs)Indigo

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  22. First off, i don't know if i've ever told you how much i love that your dog's name is Pickles. I love animals named after food.
    Second, i love this: obsession kills dreams because it's so true and i get so frustrated for people when i see them in the grasp of obsession

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    1. Thanks Sarah! I'm reminded of the saying, "It's not the destination, it's the journey." I'm probably paraphrasing here.

      Pickles arrived on my doorstep with that name and fit her so well, I couldn't imagine changing it. (Hugs) Indigo

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  23. Having had my own experience with a horrible man who shredded my words into mulch, I can definitely say that giving it time, and more time, and even more time, helped. It helped even things out, so to speak, so that I wasn't as obsessed with taking back the words that had been so long hidden inside me. Time heals.

    Stephen King used to say - in his brilliant book On Writing - that for years he put his desk in the middle of his office. It was the center of everything, and it became an unhealthy obsession. Put your desk in the corner, he advises. And when you're not writing - go out and live your life.

    I have remembered reading these words from years ago. And they still ring true. Put your writing desk in the corner of your life. And go out and live the rest.

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    1. "And when you're not writing - go out and live your life." Sage advice sweet friend. Thank you!

      I actually have Stephen King's book On Writing on my shelf. I should dust it off and finally get around to reading it. Always a delight having you here Tracy. (Hugs)Indigo

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  24. A story within a story
    interwoven
    and a message worth remembering.

    I wonder about these things, too,
    when to write, when to wait,
    you're lucky you have pickles there for you
    to offer support. :)

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  25. For many years a man told his family and friends that someday he was going to write. They would ask the man “what will you write?” His reply was always “books”. Then he would destroy his life in a way only a select few can. After the dust settled he would again tell his family and friends, although there were fewer of those to hear him, “one day I am going to be an author”. And on and on and on the cycle went.
    The man reached a crossroads one day and he needed to make a change in his life. He had already stopped destroying himself in that way so few do. No work was to be had, so off to school he went. He faced only one problem, one he had told only two other people about…he couldn’t write. Having reached the end of his rope, he told another.
    “When I try to write” the man told the other “at first everything comes out all right. But within a few words, or a few sentences things start to screw up” “how so?” said the other. “Letters get put out of place, words get jumbled around. Sometimes they go from cursive to D’Nealian in the same sentence or even the same word. What looked ok for the first few words devolves to ugly block letters and gibberish shortly thereafter. I think I have dyslexia” the man said shamefully. “That sounds more like dysgraphia” said the other, and something broken inside the man finally had a name, dysgraphia!
    That was a year and a half ago. The man’s words are no longer trapped in his head or stuck in his hands. He learned that even though he could not use a pen, he could use a keyboard. And he got to learn at thirty four what his son will learn by the third grade, but that was all right…he now can write.

    That was a first, I have never written about myself in the third person. I like the way you put this story together. Thank you for your words on my blog and the follow.

    Wander

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    1. Thanks Chris! I loved that you included your story here in the third person. Your story is truly courageous and I learned something I didn't know before; I went ahead and looked up dysgraphia so I could have a broader understanding. I look forward to having you along for the journey and following yours.

      (Hugs)Indigo

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  26. pickles looks like a very intelligent muse in that pic.
    yes the journey. to m writing is like going to an art gallery a museum a concert and a walk in the woods all at once and it doesnt even cost anything and no packing either!
    :)

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    1. "to me" ...i often forget to check the message before posting still :/

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    2. Thanks River! I couldn't agree more about the journey holding all these elements of freedom for us. And yes, Pickles is an extremely intelligent muse. (Hugs)Indigo

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  27. spot-on!!! you have to feel the enjoyment in order to fulfill the dream. pressure (a little bit, hee hee hee) is good, but oh the enjoyment, has to be there in spades... thanks, indigo, have a stunning, enjoyment-filled weekend!

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    1. Thanks Shadow! I hope your weekend was infused with joy. (Hugs)Indigo

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  28. there was some really wonderful writing in your story, and the way you told it was so fun. i am obsessive at times. and a more moderate lifestyle is smoother, that's for sure. but it can be done any way, by burning out and coming back or carrying on in a more plodding way. i think the journey somewhere has to include serious bouts of obsession, doubts even. don't all genuine journeys? but the sense i get from you is one of shifting gears. you have revved so fast, and now you are capable of much more, as proven by the piece itself, in a higher gear. maybe you just let the clutch out with this piece:) i really liked how you capped it off with reflections. really good writer's post.

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    1. Thanks Ed! I think there is definitely an equal measure of obsession and doubts that play out. I like that analogy - one of shifting gears. (Hugs)Indigo

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  29. I need a dog. Of course, I also need the time that a dog needs. One day hopefully.

    I like this piece. You've almost created something of a fairytale or folklore in your few words about "the woman." And some good words of wisdom. I hadn't really thought about it that way. Often I will say that if one is a writer, they will always be a writer, regardless of whether or not they are doing it as a profession (and Wander's comments were fascinating).

    However, I never thought in the pursuit of a profession to be wary of obsession with acceptance of my work. I have to remember to enjoy what I am doing.

    Oh, and a funny side note. After replying to your comments at my blog, you'll never guess what I found last night buried away in my computer armoire... the last draft of my manuscript. I had forgotten my ceremony. Perhaps that is what is still holding me back.

    Have a good rest of your weekend.

    Paul D. Dail
    www.pauldail.com- A horror writer's not necessarily horrific blog

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    1. Thanks Paul! I commented to someone recently, I don't think we necessarily choose to write, rather writing chose us. Writing is a strange trip in itself, but I wouldn't change the journey in the least. (Hugs)Indigo

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  30. wow you have a lot of visitors here. often i will linger with comments as long as a post itself, but in this case, my first visit, with thanks to you for visiting me, i will just say you are a good writer and i get it.

    “The woman swore off words and buried their likeness so deep within she forgot where she hid them."

    turns out it's not possible, eh? that's good news for us writers :^)

    obsession kills dreams? what an interesting thought. i'll be chewing on this.

    xoxo
    kj

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    1. No it's not possible to bury the words. They become separate personalities that haunt us, until we relent and let them out.

      Thanks for stopping by kj! Delighted to have you here with me on the journey. (Hugs)Indigo

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  31. "I’ve learned something along the way though, obsession kills dreams." I can't begin to tell you just how deeply those words ring true for me. We can get so carried away with our thoughts that we forget to focus on what really matters, and we lose so many pieces of who we are along the way.

    Thank you for this gem of a thought, Indigo. And thank you for your kind visit and words in my space... and for leaving me your trail!

    Nevine

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    1. Thanks Nevine! I've had my work cut out for me the past year, trying to be true to myself and still carry out my dreams. I believe with an equal measure of both we can get there. (Hugs)Indigo

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  32. Very nice to meet you ~

    I am very new to writing and I am still getting to know my muse. I am little obsessed with writing but its fine because I know its the years of not writing that is pouring forth ~

    Happy day to you ~

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    1. Delighted to meet you too Heaven,

      I think we all continue to learn different aspects of our muse, no matter how long we've been writing. And I think the journey is different for all of us. Glad to meet another fellow writer. (Hugs)Indigo

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  33. so very true on obsession killing dreams...we should live to write not write to live...i have got that backward a time or two and it really does mess you up...i also used to put some serious pressure on myself to deliver every day...i still make it a habit, but i def dont force it like i used to....wise words ma'am

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  34. Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.

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Thank you for giving my silence a voice, my muse your words, and taking the time to discover my prose.