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So I rented my first apartment and now I have my first landlord problems.

My actual landlord can't be reached. That's the first thing. It's only her assistant that can be reached, and her assistant has an attitude problem.

From the beginning of our time in the apartment, all the way back in August, our living room window screen has been broken. We put in an order for it to be replaced. It's January, and guess what? Still no window screen.

And now our sink and bathtub drains are plugged, our kitchen window won't lock, and our burners fill the air with the smell of smoke. We've actually had to disable the living room fire alarm because it won't stop fucking going off every time we make tea or turn on the oven. They've told us to put the fire alarm back in, but have offered no solution to our problem. We've put in a work order for the kitchen window to be fixed and that, too, has gotten no results.

So my Dad, who's paying for this shit, called the landlord's assistant today and started talking threateningly about safety hazards. He knows exactly what to say to make people scared he's going to sue them -- he is a businessman, after all.

Today, without warning, we heard someone rip the living room window screen off and storm away with it. We waited... the screen was never replaced. We had duct taped the screen shut, and we can see that the duct tape was ripped away so hard some of it stuck to the wall. Talk about an attitude problem.

Really? You have to understand, this is a nice place. Unusually expensive for the area. We're paying extra money... and it's for this kind of service?

UPDATE: Well, a plumber came by the next morning to fix the tub and sink, and he seemed perfectly friendly. So maybe it was just that one service worker who was an asshole, to be fair.
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Dear Teenage Self,

I’m not quite sure how to begin. There’s so much I want to tell you; so much has changed. Most of it for the better.

First, I know being a teenager is hard. It seems like people are always trying to under-rate the problems of being a teenager. But I remember: being a teenager is insanely difficult. Just know that things will get better, if you give them time.

I know you think you’re ugly. I know those bullying girls in middle school make you feel like you’re ugly. And I remember what you look like in middle school: long frizzy hair, braces, snobbish little gold-rimmed cat’s-eye glasses, tomboyish clothes. I remember that you cried the first time you heard “I’m Not That Girl” from Wicked. You pretended you were smarter and more arrogant than everybody else to hide the truth -- that you never felt like you fit in, that you doubted you’d ever find a boyfriend or fall in love.

Well, guess what? All those bullying girls in middle school? They’ll lose interest in you in high school. Your braces will come off. One day you’ll just decide to cut off all your hair, and it will feel incredibly liberating. You’ll get some new square plastic black-framed glasses. You’ll learn to make your tomboyish look work for you, with band T shirts and checkered open sweaters and long wool coats and skintight jeans.

And guess what else? Guys will call you pretty. So will girls. You’ll be asked out on dates. You’ll make new friends. College will free you from the confines of teenage hierarchy -- yes, you have to wait till college, and it will frustrate you because it seems like everyone else has it all figured out in high school. (They don’t. Trust me.) In fact, you’ll go to prom stag with a bunch of your girlfriends instead of with some immature teenage boy, and you’ll have the time of your life. You’ll rent a white limo and put on a lavender ball gown, and you’ll giggle and silly dance on top of a ship overlooking the sea sparkling in the night. And then, eventually, a year or two later in college, you’ll have the courage to ask somebody out and romance will happen for you.

But you’ll also learn not to let your beauty define you. I know you can’t even conceive of this right now, but you’ll get into a relationship, realize this guy’s not right for you, and you’ll have the courage to tell him “no.” He will validate this idea of the beauty you never thought you had, but he will not be the right person for you, and you will realize that it is okay. It is okay for him not to be the right person for you. You don’t owe anyone anything just because they called you pretty.

And it is okay not to have a boyfriend. Especially in high school. Ya got time, girl! Go easy on yourself!

Also know this: you still haven’t completely fallen in love. I think you’re probably one of those people who falls in love really intensely, but only once or twice a lifetime. And you’ve realized that’s okay too. You’ve kissed boys, held hands with them, even made out with them, but you have never given your virginity away to a guy who hasn’t earned it. And your inexperience? That doesn’t bother you as much as it used to. In fact, you’re a little proud of it. You go slow, and that’s okay -- your relationship experiences will be more rewarding that way. It’s okay to wait until the time is right.

You will try to force it. There will be a point in college when you try to force relationships that aren’t there, out of some misguided idea that you’re supposed to. And guess what? You’ll get over that, too. It’s a phase. You’ll grow out of it.

Don’t get me wrong. You’re not always the paragon of self confidence or anything. You still have your self conscious moments, but you’ve learned that those are okay. Progress can be imperfect and still be progress.

I know you have a lot of celebrity and book crushes right now. You’ll grow out of those, too. Don’t get me wrong, admiring sexy guys is awesome and so are idle daydreams, but the intense crushes on people you’ve never met? I’ve found those usually fade as you get older as well.

I also remember that those bullying girls used to call you a freak. Behind your back, which is worse. Even now, you still haven’t forgotten that girl who cheerfully told you, “I know everyone says you’re a freak, but I think you’re really nice! Oh, wait. You did know people call you a freak, right?”

You hadn’t.

Yeah. Ow.

That one still hurts a little.

But overall, you’ve come far. Time heals most wounds, and all those times you were socially humiliated in middle school? Those times don’t seem so important anymore. You can look back now and see those bullies for exactly who they really were: immature airheads. You can remember the memory, and be exasperated by it, and not feel pain.

And you know what? You ARE a freak. And you should be damn proud of that! The freaks are the best! They’re the originals, the daring ones, the ones who will change the whole fuckin’ world! Dare to be different! Live it up! Don’t let those assholes weigh you down!

And don’t give up on your childhood dreams. Remember when you wanted to be a novelist, a poet, a musician, an actress, but everyone told you that would be too hard and so you gave up? Don’t give up! You’ll get to a place where you’ll feel brave enough to start dreaming those things again.

You’ll also get better at talking in front of people. You don’t just babble incoherently and shake like a leaf in a high wind when you get up in front of people anymore. You’ve learned to deal with crowds, parties, and yes, school presentations -- at least to a certain extent. They can even be kind of fun!

Don’t start drinking. Stick to your principles and instincts and don’t get caught up in that addictive cycle. It may separate you from your peers now, but you’ll be so grateful for it later. For the ability to have an occasional beer or glass of wine without feeling the need to get drunk.

Yes, you WILL find jobs. You'll volunteer at the local library for a year in your senior of high school, edit someone's book for publication for a fee, and you'll have a really cool virtual internship doing business writing for an environmental company. (Your major right now is Creative Writing, with a minor in Marketing -- this may surprise you because I know you were thinking Psychology. But really, budding young writer, is it such a surprise?)

Also, you know that girl you’re best friends with? The daring, original one who loves goth stuff and who you walk home with every afternoon so she can show you her anime collection? The one you really admire and envy for her sheer comfort in being different? The one who takes you to the cool rock concerts? The one you wear bandanas with because you want so badly to be her? Yeah, you’re not really friends with her anymore. Not because you had a big falling-out or anything, but just because you both went off to different colleges and she turned out not to be the kind of friend who wanted to keep in contact with people she didn’t see every day -- even though you DID turn out to be that kind of friend.

I’m not going to lie to you and say that won’t hurt. It will. It’ll hurt like hell. It’ll feel like a betrayal. But eventually, you’ll come to the realization of this: that girl you admired and envied? You ARE that girl now. You’re comfortable being yourself, and being different.

And maybe you’re not different in the same way she is. Maybe you don’t wear dark eye makeup and dye your hair twenty different colors. But that doesn’t make you any less special and unique. Guess what? She’ll admit to you one day that SHE always really admired YOU -- for your dedication to your creative endeavors, especially to your writing, a dedication and creativity she’s found she can’t quite match.

Another compliment you’ll get, from a completely different girl, at the end of high school? That you’re “mysterious” but “passionate about your music.” And here was you always thinking people don’t talk to you because you’re a dorky loser. They may actually have been intimidated by you!

Speaking of that girl you’re friends with, you actually did want to go to the same college she did. She got in. You didn’t. And guess what? She was fucking miserable there. You cried when you didn’t get in, and she didn’t even like the goddamn place. So you moved far away, to a college in a different state right in the downtown area of a big city. You explored different kinds of cuisine. You tried online dating. You got interested in politics. You became addicted to coffee. You found out that snotty private school kids can be cold, bitchy, judgmental, and mean.

What I’m saying is -- first, you’ll get into college. Don’t worry about that. But second, the college you first went to? That wasn’t even your final destination. You ended up transferring to a totally different college, a public one in a small, rural town, and meeting some absolutely incredible people there. You’ll move out on your own, share an apartment with your college-age sister. The two of you will become incredibly close. You will successfully become independent.

Somewhere in between the first college and the second, you’ll be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. That’s right, all your online research proved you right. And I know that right now you’re trying to convince other people that how you’re feeling is an illness, and they’re grownups so they’re trying to tell you it’s really just because you’re not doing THAT and THIS and THAT OTHER THING.

So I just wanted to validate you. You were right. And finally getting that diagnosis and starting on the path to recovery? It’ll feel like a huge relief.

That brings me to my central point. I know you’re feeling suicidal. I know your parents are angry with you because you withdraw and hide in your computer so much, but you’re just trying to get good grades in class (you feel a lot of pressure there) and ignore the feelings welling up inside you. And I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you -- it’ll get worse before it gets better. There are times when you’ll sob and scream. There are times when you’ll just want to fucking die. There are times when you’ll feel broken. You will lose people. You will be bullied and abused. You will act fucking insane. Horrible things will happen to you.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret: It. Gets. Better.

You will go see a psychiatrist and a therapist. You will find a medication regimen that works for you, and learn self management techniques to keep bad thoughts from controlling your life. You will also start being healthy -- going out walking regularly, eating more frequently and healthier, sleeping more (but not too much), and you’ll travel and find tons of new hobbies! (You’ll even feel brave enough to take night classes in swing dancing downtown above a really sketchy bar.) These might all sound cheesy in isolation, but put them together and you’ve got a great recovery strategy.

Recovering from depression and suicidal thoughts is the most incredible feeling on the planet. All of a sudden, you’re grateful for everything -- you’re so much wiser, and you take a whole new lease on life. Life is an incredible journey, and you’ll want every part of it.

And the realization will come to you, over and over and over again: That you made it. You survived. You’re a survivor. And that realization never stops coming. It’s the gift that never stops giving. You will feel that triumph again, and again, and again. Every time you learn something, every time something good happens to you or you get reflective, you will feel that triumph again.

Like today.

So congratulations, kid. You’ve hit your twenties. You made it.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
So, I've always been uncomfortable coming into physical contact with people I don't know very well.

When I was little, the only people I enjoyed touching me or hugging me were my parents. Later, my sister was let into the group, as were my two closest friends. And they're about it. I have never liked to be touched by anybody else, out of all the people I have known in my life. It sets me on edge, and makes me nervous and uncomfortable.

This is a problem with dating. I have never known how to tell guys that I need them to wait on the whole physical intimacy thing for a while -- perhaps for a long time -- without it coming across like I'm trying to insult or control them. Additionally, I have always had some issues with this part of myself, because society tells you that you have to kiss on the first or second date and be having sex by the fifth or sixth. That is way too soon for me.

For this reason, I am still a virgin, and in fact I'm perfectly happy with that because I have NEVER known a guy well enough to even want to do that with him.

So I was talking with a good friend of mine the other day -- the married one, who I met through fiction class -- and she told me to just tell the guy I'm dating (the kendo guy) that I'm not ready for things like kissing and making out yet. She empowered me by saying some people are just like that and it's a perfectly valid way to feel. She goes slowly in relationships herself, and she found someone -- her husband -- who was willing to wait for her. She agreed that me and kendo/Cowboy Bebop guy already making out is way too soon. We've known each other less than a month -- feminist club aside, and we barely even talked in feminist club.

We've been on a couple more dates. One to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. But I always feel really nervous and uncomfortable on our dates, because I dread the kissing or making out at the end. It's not comfortable for me, I don't know him that well yet.

So I told Cowboy Bebop guy this -- face to face -- trying to phrase it in as polite and positive terms as possible. I told him he would see me a lot more often and I would feel a lot more comfortable, and thus the relationship would progress better, if we took physical intimacy off the table for a while (not forever).

He pretended to be okay with it, but I could tell he was not happy. Yet he still wanted to see me again, and we're hanging out on Sunday. So I'm not sure how to feel. Should I be angry that he seemed upset and appeared to take it personally, despite me saying I'd always been like this and it was nothing in particular against him? Should I be upset that he didn't understand me not wanting to make out with a relative stranger unless I didn't find said stranger attractive?

Because that's how I feel, sitting here thinking about it. I feel annoyed. Angry. Not understood. Even if maybe that's not so rational.

This guy's not very supportive, either, which is another count against him. I tell him about problems that are going on in my life, and he listens willingly enough but he always cops out and never supports me and never says much of anything with any emotional undertone to it. He doesn't even argue with me or tell me how I'm feeling isn't valid. He just... doesn't say anything. And so I don't feel supported when something upsetting happens.

I just... I don't know about this. He's sweet. Funny. Smart. Cute. I do like him. I just... I'm trying to tell myself not to expect perfection.
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We got a weather warning saying winds should hit seventy miles per hour. Power lines and trees were expected to go down. We were told to "stay safe."

I immediately felt the first stirrings of anxiety.

I went outside and that made it worse. It seemed every sharp-blowing wind was about to knock me off my feet. The world seemed dark and scary. I had to hold my sister's hand all the way to the bus stop. I needed to go to class today; this class in particular I've been missing a lot lately.

I got to class, but about ten minutes in my heart started racing. I got dizzy, numb, and tingly, and I was having trouble breathing. I stumbled out of the classroom in the middle of someone reading one of their poems for a workshop, which I'm sure was incredibly rude. I sat outside for a couple of minutes, just breathing, and then I went back inside and whispered, breath ragged, next to my teacher's ear that I was having a panic attack and I needed to leave.

I was making anxious noises and squeezing my sister's hand all the way home.

So now I'm probably going to fail that class, I feel like shit, and the weather's awful. Great.
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So I was supposed to do a presentation on African American blues music for my African American culture class. I had a partner, a girl who came in blasting loud headphones every day and who sometimes never even showed up to class.

We traded numbers. I texted her about a week before the project was due and asked when she wanted to meet up. We agreed to meet after class on Thursday. I brought all my materials to school with me that day, but the girl never came. I didn't get a text from her -- nothing.

So I just did the project myself, and told the teacher I was doing such.

Two days before the project was due, she texted me and asked if I wanted to meet up, making the excuse that she'd "been out of town." She'd done some research of her own and wanted to combine her research with mine, supposedly.

Not wanting her to piggy back off of me, I said that since we'd each done a project, we should each present on blues music this coming Thursday. I emailed the teacher and she agreed -- I do the first presentation on Thursday, my ex partner does the second.

My ex partner seemed really annoyed. But honestly, what had she expected me to do? Let her skate by on one of our most important presentations of the year? If you've done the research, present it yourself.
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Yesterday was the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, so today I'm going to talk about my memories of that time.

I was barely old enough to remember the 9/11 attacks -- just a little third grader, an eight year old girl. I went to a little alternative learning elementary school: three grades to a classroom, the classes focused on small sized lessons and kinesthetic and auditory learning, with a little garden outside. We could sit anywhere, around tables or on the floor or outside, and just as long as we finished our individual packets of work by the end of the week we were left alone.

Well, we had a janitor everyone called Mr Dan, a friendly man who listened to a portable radio attached to his hip as he worked. He heard what was going on that morning through the radio. He hurried into our classroom, pale. "Turn on the radio," he said to our teacher -- one of my favorites I've ever had, the woman who taught me how to love reading by walking me through books side by side with me.

Our teacher turned on the radio and started crying. Everyone looked at each other, silent. Not a single one of us knew what was going on.

We were sent home early that day, and for the next few days all anyone did was sit around the TV screen and watch what was happening in shock. My mother cried. My father called everybody he knew just to sit in silence with them over the phone and say over and over again, "Are you watching this? I can't believe this."

I remember certain images from the TV broadcasts. I remember the huge buildings falling in hails of fire. I remember a woman and her baby, freshly saved from the buildings by first responders. They were both covered in blood. The woman was clutching her baby, screaming. My mother saw my face and quickly turned the TV off, scolding my grandfather for letting the image run while I was sitting there. But maybe he thought I deserved to see it. I've certainly never forgotten it.

And I remember it just making me think: "How can people be so cruel to each other? There is no excuse for anyone doing this to anyone else -- none at all."

Rude People

Sep. 5th, 2015 03:07 pm
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I hate rude people. The thing is, rude people in real life usually think they're being nice.

Some random woman came up to me the other day and said, "Did you know it takes less muscles to smile?" So in her defense, she was trying to get me to smile. She just in the process implied that there's something wrong with my normal face. Rude people are always like that -- they're socially retarded.

I took a beginning poetry writing class last year in college and we had what is called workshop. In workshop, all your classmates would read your poem and then sit around and tell you all the things that were wrong with it to your face. You weren't allowed to speak till the end. So, sensitivity in criticism was a must, especially because poems are usually so personal and first-person.

Well, one pretentious asshole had no idea what sensitivity even was. I had done a poem on my favorite childhood stuffed animal, a little yellow rabbit I carried around with me everywhere. In the poem, I called the rabbit "my best friend." One guy said, "So she didn't have any other friends besides her rabbit? That seems kind of sad and pathetic."

The thing is, I hadn't intended it like that. I'd had friends in elementary school; I just wanted to emphasize that the rabbit had been my BEST friend. So I could see what he was trying to say -- that that hadn't come across. It's just in the process he majorly insulted me.

Here's what a socially savvy person would have said: "What I'm getting from this is that the rabbit was her only friend in school. Is that what she was trying to say here?"

But rude people aren't socially savvy -- they are, in fact, what a normal person would call "socially retarded."

I encountered another rude person today in fiction writing class. She critiqued my story by calling it "boring", "meager", and "cliched" and by telling me she hated the entire plot.

Here's what she should have said: "I'd have liked more detailed description and a few nice surprises in this story. Perhaps you could try this __?"

And honestly, if she'd put it like that, I'd have been a lot more willing to listen to her.

This is why we need lessons on how to critique politely in K-12. Because no one fucking knows how to do it. I think it would eliminate a lot of rudeness and unintentionally offended people.

Now, don't get me wrong. On none of those occasions did I get really angry, or go home and cry. I'm an artist who's been bullied and I'm used to being criticized. I've learned through hard times to be proud of my flaws, and to keep my feelings and my feelings about myself in separate places. When I'm criticized these days, my NT side kicks in and gets really clinical and "fuck you" about the whole thing.

But I still find rudeness kind of annoying. And I wish people would just learn to be polite. It's not that hard.

You see this in celebrities all the time. Just recently, Keith Richards began in interviews to criticize all sorts of bands, from Black Sabbath to Metallica to The Beatles to rap, calling them things like "a joke" and "a pile of rubbish" and "music for tone deaf people." And I get that he gets to get away with a lot because everyone thinks his shit comes wrapped in gold foil, and I get that by this point he probably thinks his shit comes wrapped in gold foil too, but that's still really rude.

I'm not saying he can't criticize those bands. I'm just saying he shouldn't have made blanket comments about music so many people like -- he should instead have explained specific technicalities, the parts of the music being made that he didn't like. I mean, I get that that takes more words, but I'm pretty sure everyone's okay with hearing Keith Richards talk about music.

For God's sake.

I dunno, though, maybe this is just me. I've never had any time for angry immaturity. I was always taught to wait till my anger simmered down into a cold, vindictive thing, and then to use that to sophisticatedly and politely shut down whoever tried to hurt me. And I have no patience for people who can't meet me at that level.

Needless to say, I have no patience for a lot of people.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I was going to meet my friend today at the mall. My sister wanted to come, because she was new in town and wanted to meet what amounted to my closest friend here at university. We've been friends for over a year. We met during our time at the dorms, and she was one of the only good things to come out of any of my dorm experiences.

But we waited for over an hour at the mall today, and she never showed up. I tried texting her, calling her -- nothing. And I'd walked in the rain all the way to the mall to meet her on time.

Eventually, me and my sister just began shopping around the mall ourselves. It wasn't a complete waste -- we got cookies from the cookie stand, my sister got a new hair ribbon, and I got some air freshener for the apartment. But I was still kind of disappointed and annoyed.

In the end, I texted her this: "Well, I just went shopping with my sister instead and am about to head home. I hope everything's okay. I think this is kind of rude."

Understatement of the year.

It's always annoying and disappointing when you realize you're not as important to a friend as you thought you were. This girl used to be really cool. She was totally unafraid of what anyone thought of her, an artist who was on the school Quidditch team -- the nerdiest sport in all of history. She loved My Chemical Romance and iZombie. She had this boyfriend she'd been in love with since high school, and she was expressive and funny, nonjudgmental and very supportive.

We met once this year before school started, outside the student bookstore. And, she hugged me and said hello and everything, but I don't know. There was something different about her. I just couldn't put my finger on what it was.

Anyway, I'm not too upset. I have my sister, and next week I start attending meetings for the feminist club and the international affairs club, where I should meet plenty of new people. It was just kind of disappointing that my old friends won't transfer over. I go into every new friendship hoping it'll last forever, just because that's the only way I know how to be. But sometimes I get let down. That happened with my goth friend, the one I went to Projekt Revolution with in high school, too. She just... stopped responding. And sometimes I'll think I'm becoming friends with someone, but then they'll ignore me -- that's happened too.

Honestly, I wish she'd have just told me she wasn't going to show up. I'd have preferred honesty.

Why do social lives have to be so complicated?

Anyway, now I'm back at home. I'm sipping some herbal tea, hiding from the rain and watching TV with my sister.

UPDATE: She texted back hours later and said she was sick. Do I believe her?
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Our "new friend" texted us and wanted to hang out tonight. That didn't go well.

First, she wanted to go to her favorite restaurant, not to ours. She only went to the restaurant we wanted to go to after her restaurant had an hour-long wait list.

At the restaurant, things seemed okay. We revealed to her about my bipolar disorder and my sister's stutter and learning disabilities; she, in turn, revealed that she'd had a learning disorder and a speech impediment when she was younger. She also liked astrology, sci-fi, video games, and anime, and so did we.

But then she took us shopping. I kind of felt like she wanted to give us a whole new makeover. Like she thought we were these fashionably challenged, socially retarded poor people who needed help. She kept inviting guys over to meet us, telling us about huge parties, pushing us to try more expensive and girlier clothes, and asking us to tell our parents "we were making friends!"

Another person might have enjoyed that, I don't know. But I was kind of annoyed, I felt condescended down to, and my sister was uncomfortable. We were fine the way we were. We had a few good friends instead of lots of distant ones, dressed casually, didn't spend much money, and preferred relaxing in front of the TV on Friday nights, and we were happy like that. It's not the first time people have told me my retiring preferences are wrong, but it never gets any less infuriating.

Eventually, I put my foot down. We couldn't spend more than forty dollars per person, I didn't do well at parties, and I wanted to go home after this because I was tired. It was the end of my first week back at school, a Friday night, and I was tired. She seemed really unenthusiastic after that. She took us to a cheap clothing store, stopped trying to dress us up, and just let us pick out a couple of five dollar shirts. She agreed to drive me home.

When my sister said she wanted to go home too, however, the really uncomfortable thing happened. "Well, I need a girl with me at this hang-out I'm going to," she said. "My ex boyfriend will be there and I don't want to be alone."

"Your guy friend will be there," I said. (We'd met him earlier. He was nice.)

"I need a girl there," she insisted.

So, what? She was just going to shove that on two girls she'd only met three days ago and make us feel guilty? After we'd already told her we were exhausted?

"I think my sister's really not feeling well," I said firmly, "and she needs to go home." My sister wanted to say that, she'd told me so earlier, but my sister's never been good with verbal confrontation.

In the end, she drove us home. It was basically a complete fiasco.
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I don't like gossiping about people, but since this blog is so anonymous I feel like venting about someone in particular here.

I have a friend. She's a great person and we've been friends since we were six years old. She's kind, adventurous, artistic, and accepting. She's braved lots of illness and is very tough. She has tons of good qualities. She's a devout Christian and she has a two year degree, currently working as a bartender.

But she has some annoying qualities too.

I invited her to a movie today. She texted back and said that she had to ask her best friend if she wanted to come along first; only then would she come.

Two things about my friend:

- She can never just do something one on one. She always has to invite extra people.

- She always attaches herself to a more confident girl and does everything with said girl.

It's always been like that. It hasn't always been this one girl, but it's always been some girl.

When we were in elementary school, it was a different girl. Once, me and my friend and her current best friend were eating in the cafeteria. Me and my friend were done, so I suggested we go out to recess and leave her best friend to eat with another friend of hers. But my friend just HAD to stay with her bestie -- she was physically incapable of playing on the playground for ten minutes without her. Even after said bestie told her she could leave.

Another time, me and my friend were going to do a project together. At the last minute, her bestie asked her, so she copped out on me and went off with her bestie instead.

She's always been like that. It's kind of hard not to take it personally. It gets very frustrating. It's almost not worth hanging out with her sometimes. Someone once told me I've never been her bestie because I'm too independent and I don't guide her enough -- they said she wants someone who will decide what they'll do and dominate the conversation.

And they're right. That's not me.
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I just had my first "women's doctors appointment" today. They recommend you start at 21, so that was the age I came in at. I was dead nervous -- scared shitless -- that kind of thing.

Here's how it works:

You have to fill out a form. I filled it out, and the most important thing I told the doctor is that I'm not sexually active -- the most I've ever done with a boy is kiss him. Simple, right? So after you hand in the form, they call you back into a standard medical room.

First, they do the usual things like weigh you, run your temperature and your blood pressure, etc. After that, the assistant pulls the screen around the bed and leaves the room. You change into an open-backed hospital gown, sit down on the table, and drape a sheet over your legs.

The doctor came in, a Chinese man who was also my general practitioner. He remained calm and kept his sense of humor throughout, telling me interesting little tidbits of information and anecdotes here and there to distract me, so he was pretty good.

First, he removed one shoulder of my gown at a time and felt my boobs and armpits to see if there were any lumps. (There weren't.) Then he sat down at my feet, and had me bend my knees and slide all the way down to the end of the table. He used a press instrument to widen my vaginal opening.

This hurt. A LOT.

He seemed surprised by how much pain I was in. I kept saying, "Ow! Ow!" Finally, when he wouldn't stop, I flinched and moved away. He stopped in surprise.

"We almost had it," he said. "Do you want me to do it again?"

"No!" I barked. He laughed, which did not help matters, by the way.

At last, I bravely asked him to try it one more time. He did, and I said, "Hurry! Hurry!" because I could only remain still in pain for so long. He quickly brushed against my vaginal opening, removing some tissue so it can be studied in the lab, and removed the instrument. The hardest part was over.

Later, he put some gel on his finger, stuck it up under my ovaries to push the ovaries against my stomach, and felt my stomach. And he realized what was wrong. He removed the finger and let me get re-dressed before he explained it to me.

It turns out, my uterus is tilted too far forward. That's why my OBGYN appointment hurt so much. I got it from my grandmother, who I also inherited my small, petite stature and bipolar disorder from. I talked to the doctor about it and then later talked to my Mom about it and called my grandmother's widower, my Papa. Here's what I've found out concerning my uterus being too tilted:

- OBGYN appointments (one is required every two years) are always going to hurt until the uterus is fixed. It's possible going into the appointment with a full bladder could tilt the uterus back to normal again, and lessen the pain.

- Sex could be painful until the uterus is fixed, but it isn't always. Part of it depends on the man's dick, which should preferably be on the small side.

- Pregnancy could be hard until the uterus is fixed. My grandmother had trouble conceiving and then had a miscarriage.

- With all that said, all problems will be solved if the uterus is tilted back to normal, which was possible even sixty years ago when my grandmother was young. Now, the theory holds, it should be fairly easy. Once the uterus was fixed, she conceived two months later and had three healthy kids.

I'm not going to run and have it all fixed tomorrow. It all depends on what comes up first: my next appointment, painful sex, or a desire to get pregnant. Basically, I'll burn that bridge when I get to it.

One last tidbit: you always have to pee after going through an OBGYN appointment. Always. My pelvic area was still sore, so I was afraid peeing would hurt, but it didn't. (My bladder wasn't affected, after all.) One thing that can help with soreness is pressing a cold wet piece of tissue to the vaginal area.

I got a Starbucks coffee as a treat afterward for my bravery during a traumatic experience. Vanilla bean frappuccino with toffee nut and caramel.

At last, after all the worrying about what it was going to be like, it's over and I don't have to go in again for another two years.

UPDATE: I found out my doctor billed me for an active diagnosis, instead of a preventative checkup. Active diagnoses are only possible when there's a previous gynecological history for the patient, which was not the case in this circumstance, but active diagnoses also cost money while preventative checkups don't. I certainly won't be going back to this particular doctor.

Flooding

Jul. 19th, 2015 04:32 pm
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
It's raining so hard here, they've issued a flash flood warning.

All the pools have flooded over, and the ditch out back so resembles a river that you could probably go whitewater rafting on it. The water went into the garage and right up to the front and back of the house, before finally receding.

At least one small business we've heard of has already flooded right through and been completely ruined. Police and ambulance alarms are blaring up and down the road every five minutes, and there have been car accidents and mud slides. Some people are trapped inside their houses.

Dad says we should stand on the roof with a boat, a paddle, and a sign that says "Somewhere Else or Bust." He's only sort of kidding.

This isn't the first time I've lived through some alarming natural disaster. Once, when I was in high school, me and my family had to evacuate our house and sleep on our grandparents' house's floor because of a wildfire burning through hundreds of acres of territory near our place of residence.

We haven't lost anything important yet, but we'll have to see. We're somewhat afraid the shed out back is going to collapse because of poor, muddy foundations.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Me and my family got up early in the morning and drove off to do errands.

I took an old worn out to-go cup full of coffee for the journey, since I had no time to sit and drink my coffee like I usually do. The to-go cup kept spilling coffee everywhere and it was really annoying.

Dad got some shots for an illness he has at the local clinic. I went into the girls restroom in the clinic and found a little boy in there with his sister. Their parents were nowhere in sight.

My sister got me a colorful dragons bracelet at the gas station.

Then we got haircuts. We got nasty looks when we came in because the hairdressers were already so busy, and we had to wait a really long time to get our hair done, and not by our usual lady either but by a total stranger because she was the only one available.

On the plus side, the hairdresser was nice. She said I had a very nice curl to my hair, and we talked a little bit about animals -- I told her my family used to own chickens. My haircut was chin-length and layered, with long side bangs.

For most of my childhood, I wore my hair long -- a long, frizzy mess. I used to get made fun of in school for it. Eventually, in high school, one of my friends -- the same one who likes goth fashion and invited me to the Projekt Revolution concert festival -- recommended I cut my hair short. She thought it would look really nice.

I came to like how my hair looked shorter, and I kept it short until my major episode at my first college. That time, I let my hair go because I was so distracted by what was going on inside me. So when I came home, during my year-long recovery period, I went out with that same friend, bought some new clothes, and cut all my hair off. It was a way for me to feel better about myself. I donated all my cut hair to a cancer charity and came out with a new look.

I've kept my hair short ever since. Short hair means I'm healthy, long hair means I'm not.

Anyway, after haircuts we went home. Everybody's in a terrible mood and I'm really stressed out trying to help my younger sister sign up for college.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
My heat rash is gone. I put hydrocortisone on it and kept it covered for a couple of days.

The dorms waived my 35 dollar fee. They replied to our formal complaint with an apology and a wish for the best for my next year of college. It's amazing how far formal complaints can get you in official institutions -- they literally are required to respond to you.

So far, life is going well. :)
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I read this article and it was very thought provoking for me:

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/jun/25/musicians-touring-psychological-dangers-willis-earl-beal-kate-nash?CMP=share_btn_fb

It made me think of John Lennon.

I have studied John's life extensively, and I am of the very strong belief that he was bipolar. Something about certain things concerning him just fundamentally connects with me. There's his history of violence, his drug and alcohol abuse, his rampant sex addiction, his extremely well documented moodiness, his frequent suicidal periods, and what he said in an interview once, that there are "just some days when he wants to throw himself off a building." (He claimed the mood swings got better as he got older -- in the last years of his life, he'd stopped taking drugs. Also, surprise surprise! He's a jumper, like me.)

And now, after reading that article above, I want you to consider a couple of things:

1. If it's that hard being an ordinary musician, what would it have been like being a Beatle? With the screaming fans, the utter impossibility of ever going outside, and the constant demands for yet another album or tour?

2. And if it's that hard being a Beatle, what would it have been like being a Beatle with mental illness?

Because being bipolar is hard. You can't stand crowds. You can't take loud noise. You need a certain amount of exercise per day. You can't take drugs or alcohol unless you want to cycle into an episode. You need plenty of sleep. And even then, you're moody and prone to periods of extreme panic.

Can you imagine being a Beatle and being bipolar?

There's one moment I remember keenly. I was watching video footage of John Lennon's apology after the Bigger Than Jesus scandal. A little background:

John, a great reader, gives an interview in which he mentions Nietzsche's theory of the decentralization of Christianity in the twentieth century. John predicts that at the rate we're going, Christianity will soon disappear. Some asshole disc jockey from Alabama takes one part of one sentence from a whole paragraph, reads it so that it will sound like John thinks he's better than Jesus, and then bans Beatles music from his station. No one bothers to verify with the original source, of course -- it makes for a better media story if John's just an asshole.

So John's sitting there, crowded on a couch that's too small for all the Beatles to sit on together, with a clamor of hundreds of voices shouting accusations at him and wall to wall cameras flashing really bright lights. And I remember watching that footage, and feeling so intensely what John felt. The isolation, the pain, the fear (people were setting things on fire and threatening to shoot him), and the anger.

Later, a photographer tells the story of barging into the bathroom to find John hiding inside. John is crying. "Why couldn't I have just kept me big mouth shut?" he says.

And I think that was the first time John thought he really couldn't do this anymore.

Because being a Beatle basically ruined his life. It totaled his relationship with his first wife and oldest son. He was never home, and even when he was he was either busy or exhausted He got addicted to drugs and alcohol to try to deal with the pain. He went through periods of extreme depression and extraordinary self hatred. (His pictures from the mid sixties are hard for me to even look at, the self hatred and despair is so clear to me.)

They asked for two albums a year. Two albums a year. On top of all the touring. And the noise. And the screaming. And the never seeing his family.

And then John fell in love with Yoko Ono. He tried to include her in his world at first, and when that didn't work he did the right thing for the first time in a decade. He dropped the band and kept the family. It was an incredibly courageous thing to do, frankly.

I think by the end of the Beatles, John just couldn't do it anymore.

And when I think of it like that, all his anger makes sense to me. I can totally understand John thinking, by the end, "Fuck them! I gave ten years of my life to that fucking band! Isn't that enough?"

Isn't that enough?
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I am here to complain about dorm living. Oddly enough, I'm not going to be complaining about roommate problems at all. I've already covered those, as can be seen in this post:

https://grimrose-eilwynn.dreamwidth.org/470.html

But wait, there's more!

I lived for a year in the dorms at my current college. It was pretty awful.

Let's start with the cafeteria. The minute you walked in, an awful smell wafted through your nostrils, coming from the dirty dishes piled up near the door. The food ranged from okay to subpar to downright dreadful. A lot of it was cold, or soggy, or lumpy, or had almost no flavor whatsoever. Some of it actually made me gag.

As a classmate of mine once put it, "Well, the food there will keep you alive."

Then there were all the things that didn't work. The shower head didn't wash all the soap off of you, and the spray came down so hard it irritated your eyes. The bathroom door slide didn't work. Neither did the light switch. I got head lice while staying there.

Roommates could be sprung on you with little notice. Once, I got an email at five o'clock on a Friday afternoon. "You will be getting a new roommate," it said. Everyone in the housing office had by that point already gone home for the afternoon, so there was no one I could talk to. At nine o'clock at night on that same Friday, a new roommate showed up to move in with me.

I signed up for dorm living for the next year, before deciding partway through the year that I was going to look for an apartment instead. I told housing, four months ahead of time, that I'd changed my mind and would not be moving in next year. They still kept ninety dollars worth of the deposit money.

So I get to the end of the year, and find out I have a final on Friday of finals week. I then find out the dorm requires me to be moved out by noon on Saturday. I ask if I can get a one day time extension -- they refuse.

So in less than twenty-four hours, I have to:

- Pack up all my things

- Get some of it to a storage warehouse

- Get the rest into a suitcase

- Catch a bus to the airport

- Take a plane back home

I get back home and find out I forgot to return my mail key. Which, by the way, my RA never reminded me about. I offer to give the key back to the school; they refuse and fine me thirty-five more dollars.

I am just so fucking done with dorm living. My parents and I sent in a formal letter of complaint and I am very, very ready to have my own apartment next year. It'll be my first time living completely on my own -- I'm nervous, but excited!
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
We found out our dog had cancer.

He was a very sweet yellow lab named Wellington. He wasn't very old -- only about ten or so. We found out he had to be put down.

My sister spent lots of time with him and took pictures of them together. Because of her stutter and learning disabilities, she'd had trouble making friends at school, and he had been her closest buddy. He was very quiet, slow, and sleepy, like he was in an enormous amount of pain.

The next day, he was taken to the vet to be put down. We cremated the body and put the ashes into little gold heart necklaces.

It took our family a long time to move on from that. (We eventually gained another dog, and took in a starving stray cat who kept following us home.) I remember, in the aftermath, feeling very strangely. I kept waiting for rain to pour from the sky, for the world to end.

But it didn't. Things just carried on as normal, and it left me numb.

The same thing happened when my grandfather passed away. He was sitting in his armchair one afternoon and he just stopped breathing. His heart just quit on him. Death was almost instantaneous.

This loss was very sudden -- we hadn't been expecting him to pass away. Everyone seemed terribly upset, and yet again I didn't know how to feel. The numbness had returned -- the feeling that the world was normal, and it was hard to process that this terrible thing had happened.

My grandfather was buried in a quiet green graveyard which carried its own pond. The land was peaceful and pretty; ducks flew over the area. He was buried next to a little blonde girl who had died when she was three years old. Death doesn't discriminate. I was sitting in the back row at his funeral -- there were only two rows, it was a rather small one -- and I watched people come up in turns and talk about my grandfather, wearing black.

His sister was nearly inconsolable. She was crying and had to be supported as she came up to talk about her brother. He was her older brother and he had always protected her and looked out for her. She kept saying how much she would miss him, and suddenly it hit me that this person was dead. Death -- death hit me. I began crying, sobbing very loudly, for the first time.

I processed death that one time, and then I never cried again.

I was sad, but didn't cry, when my Nana passed away. Her death was expected. She died slowly and painfully in a hospital bed. We went to visit her sometimes, and I made sure to let her know how much I loved her.

"I know, darlin'," she said, tired and distant. She was ready to go by the time she passed.

If I could describe death, I would describe it as heavy. Death is exhausting -- at least for the bereaved, if not for the person who is dead. I'm not much of a cryer, so death is hard for me. I'm too stoical to express much of the distressed emotion that so many other women do. This is not a positive -- expressing emotion is our first step in getting rid of it.

But I can't do that. I try to cry, and no tears will come. There's only the heaviness -- the inexpressible, indescribable heaviness.

Bullying

Jul. 11th, 2015 12:53 pm
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I was bullied, in different ways, throughout most of my childhood.

When I was a little girl, in preschool or kindergarten, I remember a girl named Taylor. Everyone liked Taylor; she brought her Mommy's makeup to school with her and let everybody try it. One day, a group of girls were gathered around her as usual under the jungle gym at recess, partaking in her makeup. I decided I wanted to join.

I walked up to Taylor shyly and smiled, saying, "Can I join your group?"

Taylor sneered. "No," she said. "You can go make your own group over THERE." She pointed across the playground.

One of my friends, Savannah, was sitting in the group. I turned to her, silently asking her to come with me. Savannah looked down in shame, and didn't move. She wanted to be friends with the popular girl far more than she wanted to be friends with me.

I sat in the corner by myself, drawing a circle in the wood chips and watching the other girls play together. I let just a few tears leak out.

Taylor didn't like me, it turned out, because I got better grades than she did. She got all the other kids in our class to avoid me, so no one would work or play with me anymore.

Later, in middle school, lots of people made fun of me. I wasn't like the other kids -- I didn't act popular enough. I had frizzy hair, glasses, and braces. I didn't wear makeup. I wore jeans. I didn't want to date anyone. I was quiet, shy, and retiring. I was nice to my teachers. Sometimes I got in trouble for reading during boring lectures. I didn't fit their ideal image of what a young girl should be.

Science class was hell. I was surrounded by popular people at my lab table. They would demand help with their homework, all the while making fun of things like my appearance and my lack of interest in dating. They let me know that no one would ever want to date me anyway. The teacher never even noticed.

Once, in history class, a girl started making fun of my appearance right in front of the mostly silent classroom. My face turned to one of flame. The teacher said nothing, but he did pat me on the shoulder as he went by in a way I'm sure was meant to be comforting.

Another time, on my way to the cafeteria, two boys started laughing loudly at my hair, making fun of me.

And another time, a girl was talking to me at lunch and she said brightly, "You know, people call you a freak, but I don't think you're a freak at all!" I pretended I knew people called me a freak behind my back -- I hadn't.

So that was me in middle school. I was the Ugly Freak.

The laughter continued into high school, but by then it had faded, gotten quieter. I never reacted to the bullying, I had friends and was fairly well adjusted. I grew slowly out of my awkwardness, physically and otherwise. I wasn't a very interesting target.

I wish I could say I had some magic answer to the problem of bullying, but I don't. I don't think asking the two kids to "talk it out" would have done a single damn thing to waylay any of the bullies I encountered. I also know that just because you stand up to a bully doesn't necessarily mean that they will go away. Bullies usually come in the form of people who have a very set idea of how the world works and take to mocking people who disrupt that worldview for them.

And I don't really know how to fix that.

On Alcohol

Jul. 10th, 2015 03:07 pm
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I almost never drink alcohol. I'm here today to explain why.

I've seen a lot of alcohol problems in different older, adult family members over my lifetime. Interestingly, all the people I can think of either were bipolar or had been treated for psychiatric illnesses in the past. My grandfather is the most obvious example -- I never saw him drunk, but I never saw him without a glass of alcohol in his hand either.

Other family members were slyer, but their alcohol problems still showed in little ways. Drunken phone calls, big bottles of alcohol left out with the trash, and other things.

I also saw the effect alcohol could have on someone's innocence in high school. It seemed like all the popular girls around me were forever talking about birth control and pregnancy tests. I'll never forget one particular incident.

I was sitting in math class, and the teacher was letting us work on our assignments in class. There was a low buzz of chatter throughout the room, with students talking as they worked. Some boys talking behind me were loud enough for me to be unable to avoid overhearing them. I can multitask, so I listened as I worked.

One boy -- who had a girlfriend he kissed every afternoon outside our math class -- was talking about the many girls he had fucked at the latest party. They had all been drunk, and he'd fucked about three different girls throughout the night. One girl was so drunk that she just kind of lay there. He relayed this with great humor and exaggeration, and he and his friends laughed as they rated the girls. They talked about getting the girl with the best score a fake trophy from the local 99 cent store.

Later, at the end of math class, one boy had noticed me listening. He seemed to automatically assume I wasn't one of the girls discussed -- I wear nice jeans and classy sweaters, don't wear makeup, have short hair and glasses, and have a kind of reserve to me that forbids popularity. I guess I must have been paler and more shaken than usual, because the boy said, "I'm sorry you had to hear that. These girls, they need to learn to respect themselves." In other words, it was the fault of the girls. They got drunk, they took the risk.

I promised myself I would never end up like that.

One incident really cemented it for me, though. I grew up next door to a certain man. He had it all -- he had a great life. A pretty wife, a job he liked working on cars, a nice house with a pool that was near the beach, a couple of dogs, and lots of friends who came over every weekend.

But this man had a drinking problem. He drank heavily every weekend, and had ever since he was a teenager. He came over one day, pale and sweaty. It was me who opened the door. "Do you have some Advil?" he asked, shaking and twitchy. "My head and back really hurt."

I went inside to get the Advil, and I heard a horrible, heart-wrenching scream from outside. I ran back to the doorway to find the man lying face-down on the ground. He'd had a seizure.

An ambulance was called, and the man ended up being okay. The seizure was small. The EMT said that the seizure had been caused by excessive drinking over a long period of time. If the man didn't stop drinking, another, bigger seizure could happen again.

The man promised to stop his drinking habit. But then he hurt his back at work, while saving another man from being crushed by a car. He was lying around his house all day, bored and in pain, and he started drinking again. He hated himself for being unable to quit his drinking habit.

One night, he got on his motorcycle and drove out to a local bar. He drank in the bar for a while. Then he got back on his motorcycle and drove out in front of an oncoming semi truck. No one could tell if he'd done it on purpose or not. He was dead on impact.

The whole town went out to his funeral -- everybody had known him and loved him. My family went, but I didn't go. Not because I didn't care, but because I'm selfish and I hate funerals. This man's death had shaken me deeply. He'd been a good friend of the family, and his horrific death because of alcohol frightened me.

I sat there in the quiet, empty house, and I thought about him. Probably throughout the whole funeral. I sat down, got up, sat down again. I paced a lot. I couldn't stop thinking about how he had died.

In the end, I promised myself: I would never get into drinking. Not at parties, not with friends, not ever.

And because of this, I have always stayed away from drugs and alcohol.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Fun fact: I have panic attacks!

So today, my aunt offered to take me out to some local lavender fields. Lavender is supposed to be soothing and she wanted to buy me a few things from the lavender farm's gift shop.

Now, here's a little background on my aunt -- she's a complete flake. Half the time you invite her she doesn't even show up, and the other half of the time she shows up two hours late and only stays for an hour. She has little to no capacity for rational forethought, wears really bright floaty clothes, has an alarming capacity for mood swings, and is really into eastern spiritualism.

But this time, she really seemed to be trying, so I agreed to go.

At first, it all seemed to be going rather well. Not only did she show up, she showed up on time! Wonders will never cease! As we drove, she got really into talking about ancient eastern philosophy and the all encompassing fear of death. (Apparently, "we're all dead, and death is where life begins.")

That's about when we found out we were lost.

It turned out, dear Auntie hadn't printed out Google directions, and she'd thought today would be a great time to figure out how her car's navigation system worked. Yay!!! We were lost for nearly an hour. ("I'm too fat for this!" my sister was shouting as she ducked underneath the car seat for the hundredth time to pick up the phone for directions.)

Eventually, we just stopped off at the nearest pizza place to have lunch. It was really small and cozy, with hand made pizza, and it had lots of band posters on the walls. The food was pretty good. That was basically the coolest part of the afternoon.

My aunt wanted to quit and go back home to have "me time" right there, but she remembered she was trying, so she gave it one more go. We wound our way down lots of rural back roads lined with trees, before eventually -- miracle of miracles -- we found the lavender farm. Aaand it was closed.

So many disbelieving questions ran through my mind: Why had she not bothered to call and verify the farm was open? Why had she not bothered to check whether lavender was even in bloom? "Closed for the Season," read the sign posted at the head of the road. Yeah. No kidding.

The guy at the cute little cafe next door recommended we call them and see if there were any chance we could stop by. I suggested we take a drive by, take some pictures of the fields, and ask if we could take a closer look at how lavender was planted. My aunt refused both suggestions, drove us home, dropped us off outside our house, and drove away.

Thanks, Dear Auntie. Great.

Even when she's not a flake... she's a flake.

So in the end, my sister and I went running screaming back to our parents, who took us out to the movies to see Jurassic World. So I got to watch dinosaurs eat people and blood go everywhere, which actually kind of made it all better. (Watching Spielberg and Stephen King movies with the fam? Best thing ever!)

We had burgers and nachos afterward and my sister won me a little pink dragon from the claw machine. I named him Freckles!

I am so glad my mother is my mother, and my aunt is my aunt. It really shouldn't be the other way around. You know why? Because Mom would have called to verify, printed out directions, and had the patience to drive to the end of the road and check out the lavender farm.

UGH.

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Hopeless Dreamer

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