Be Cwiet



I found this picture in my son’s backpack yesterday. He’s in Montana this week, so I’m obviously missing him terribly, but there was something especially emotional about this drawing that I couldn’t attribute to maternal longing.

There’s usually some accompanying verbiage that goes along with any artwork that comes home, like a sliver of paper with “we all drew pictures of ourselves if we were trees!!” typed out in Comic Sans. Not this time, though. It was a lonely little drawing with a lonely little figure and a deafening statement: be quiet.

School is out now, but my son used to get in trouble here and there for talking. I’d imagine he got used to hearing “be quiet” at school. I know for a fact, however, that he got used to hearing “be quiet” from me too. Born with lead feet, my child can manage to stomp in his sleep. His sweet little whisper carries through brick walls, and no activity is worth doing if not carried out at approximately 800 decibels.

This intersects uncomfortably with my love of silence and the anxiety that I feel when hearing anything loud. Loud music, surprise noises, thunder, the sneeze of a medium sized cat…all of it fills me with fear and contempt. I have no explanation for this. To the best of my knowledge, nothing loud and traumatic happened to me in this lifetime. A friend of a friend suggested that I was autistic, which I guess is what someone says when they planned on being a doctor but settled on being a Web MD expert instead.

I spent most of my evening thinking about that lone figure and the words weighing upon him: be quiet. What if, I wondered, just what if we’re telling the wrong people to be quiet? Children observe the world around them with stark clarity, with a transparency that eludes so many of us adults, with our jaded vision and predetermined expectations. We tell our children to be quiet, when really we should be telling our fellow adults to be quiet. In fact, there are many of us who should be told to shut the hell up. I’ve compiled a short list of people who should be told to be quiet, and it’s comprised of: homophobes, racists, virtually all politicians, the willfully ignorant, and the birds that built a nest on my front door wreath that were novel at first but now keep me up at night.

But that’s just my list.

The moral of the story, I suppose, is that we may have gained this interesting picture by telling someone to be quiet, but what have we lost? I’m not implying that my son had the answer to the world’s mysteries or anything, but think about the number of people who’ve been told to be quiet who’ve complied. What stories are we missing out on?

Who is that little guy in the drawing, and what would he tell us if he hadn’t been told to be quiet?

And how much more chirping from these door birds will it take before I finally lose my mind?

A Lack of Creativity

I’ve never been the type of person to make things. I made another human once but, despite how labor intensive (heh) that process was, I don’t feel like I did much by way of participation. It’s kind of like buying someone a birthday present and having it gift wrapped at the store. Sure, I went to the store and I ambled my happy ass up to the gift wrapping counter, but in the end I just handed off a cute package and said, “you’re welcome.”

Not being a visually creative person wasn’t much of a problem growing up. There was no Facebook, no Pinterest. Instagram would have sounded like a Harry Potter spell if someone had mentioned it to me. Now, however, there are dozens of outlets for everyone’s creativity.  And I’m just sitting here being ever-so-slightly jealous.

This lack of creativity becomes painfully obvious around Halloween. Friends post pictures of the amazing, realistic costumes they’ve crafted for themselves and their children and I fight the ensuing panic attack associated with the pressure to pick a costume. A casual “What will you be for Halloween” results in me hyperventilating and shakily Googling “not too sexy but not too ugly unique Halloween costumes.” The result is nothing. I can either be a skanky witch or I can be a creepy witch. I throw my hands in the air and wind up jamming a pair of cat ears on my head and calling it a day.

I’m lucky because my son has learned to lower his expectations of me. When my son told me he wanted to be a werewolf this year, he knew that the most effort I’d put into that costume would be a quick internet search. He’s grown accustomed to waiting patiently for the UPS fairy to deliver what his mother couldn’t manage to create on her own. I imagine him conversing with his peers.

Kevin: My mom made my T-Rex costume using papier-mâché intricately plastered over a frame she constructed using PVC-free piping and reclaimed lumber. It’s 100% compostable and has been lacquered with fume-free glaze so the scales really pop!

My Son: My mom got my costume off Amazon Prime. She saved $7.95 on shipping. It smells like a tire.

Despite my ability to physically manifest anything, my son has managed to develop his own creations. Give him a ream of paper, some scissors, and a roll of tape and suddenly you’ll find yourself presented with an intricate sculpture that he’s made using his mind’s eye. I’ve decided that his art form is conceptual as it’s rare that I can discern what the fuck it’s supposed to be. “Guess what it is!” he’ll ask excitedly. “It’s a….um…it’s one of those…the—“ “Right!” he’ll say encouragingly. “It’s a Great White shark steering the Apollo 11 lunar module.” He knows I don’t see it, but I’m thankful he attributes that to some sort of artistic deficit on my behalf and not any lack of creative ability on his.

It wasn’t until about a year or two ago that I realized that I visualize things differently than most people. While everyone seems to be able to create or recall specific images in their mind, it’s rare that I can do this. Everything I see in my mind is a word or a string of words. When you’re picturing the White House, I’m seeing the words that describe the intricate details. The only thing that ever forms for me is a fluid paragraph describing an image. Think of it like a website—when you’re seeing the front page of a site, I’m seeing the coding. There are no pictures, just letters that somehow form together to make something understandable.

I don’t know if this is unique to me. It frightened me to think that this might be a handicap, but there’s not a whole lot I can do about it. Besides, how do I go about getting a diagnosis? Do I show up at my doctor’s office and blurt “I SEE WORDS” in his face? The only result I can imagine is him gently patting me on my shoulder and quietly asking if I’m still in therapy.

After a few months of anxiously wondering if there was something wrong with me, I gave up caring and decided to make peace with it. Maybe I’m not meant to be a person who can actually see things in her mind. Maybe I’m not meant to be a creative person. Surely there’s something that I’m good at, right? Sure. I just haven’t sorted that out yet.

I thought back to all the times my son had proudly presented me with one of his masterpieces and had patiently guided me to understanding what it was. It dawned on me that he probably knew. Kids are intuitive as fuck, and he had probably known all along that I couldn’t see what the hell he had made because I couldn’t find the words. Knowing that I lack creativity and inner vision is why he has made peace with the fact that his Halloween costumes will always arrive in a brown box on our doorstep.

Jealousy aside, I’m beginning to accept that this doesn’t make me less of a mother. I’m doing my best, even if my best is Kraft Mac & Cheese for dinner. We can’t all be awesome, so I’ll leave that to the other mothers who make Mummy Meatloaf that’s both fun to eat and doesn’t manage to poison anyone, as mine most assuredly would.

I’m leaving all the creative stuff up to my son from now on. He knows what he’s doing. And, in the off chance he ever needs to see something using words, I can help with that.

Now I’m off to get my Halloween costume on. It’s a white t-shirt that has “lizard” written on it in Sharpie. That’s about as creative as I’m gonna get.


Dining and Dying

Serves miso and doubles as an instrument.

Serves miso and doubles as an instrument.


Tonight was my mother’s something-year-old birthday and, as anyone who reads my happy little portion of hell on the internet knows, she was not in attendance. Regardless, my dad and I make it a point to go out to dinner each year to celebrate. It’s not necessarily a somber affair; it’s more of an acknowledgement that she’s still alive to us. Before you get ahead of yourself, know that this is merely symbolic. I’m not suggesting we had her taxidermied and hold a vigil each year while praying for the reanimation of her corpse. It’s just that we’ve recognized that someone can physically die, but they’re never really dead until you forget them. To us, Connie is very much alive.

Connie’s favorite restaurant was P.F. Changs, a place that serves Americanized Asian dishes and is a step up from, say, TGIFridays. It’s not a bad place, just not all that inspiring to me. We went though, the three of us, because that’s always where she wanted to go on her birthday.

Her passing did nothing to break this routine. Every September 10th, we’d pile into the car and head off to have some lettuce wraps and marinated sea bass. It was three years into this ritual that we finally admitted to ourselves that we fucking hated P.F. Changs. We’ve tried to celebrate in other ways ever since.

We went to our favorite restaurant this year, a tiny hibachi-style Japanese place that cooks your dinner at the table. Per usual, there was no pomp or circumstance. The three of us sat down at our own table and enjoyed the evening as we would if it were any other night. Connie wouldn’t have wanted us to dwell on her lack of presence. In fact, if any of us had gotten nostalgic, she probably would have shown up with an eye roll and said, “oh for Christ’s sake.

Overall, dinner was good and uneventful. We made the requisite jokes about Connie picking up the bill and/or haunting us, but that’s pretty standard for us. Just as I was thinking about how pleasantly normal the evening was, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. There was a change in the room, a distinct chill. I felt that chill to my marrow, and I knew, I just knew – she was there.

Sure enough, I looked up, and there she was. A woman with a vapid expression and a vague sense of reality was careening toward the table next to us with three young children in tow. She was that mom. Her boyfriend meandered behind them.

They sat down, and she casually settled each child into its proper receptacle. I turned back to my son who was telling me about Pokemon in a language I have yet to understand, and then it began–the symphony of terror began as I had anticipated.

The two little girls were whining about how they wanted a certain drink but the mother had said no. They turned to the boyfriend with hope in their eyes, but that hope was misplaced, because he barely acknowledged their presence. The son, who I’d place at an undersized 4 years old, was loudly banging his fork against his ceramic plate. Mom didn’t seem to notice. I will admit that becoming a mother gives you this awesome ability to filter out certain noises, but there was no mistaking this sound. My dad who is 60% deaf heard it, and if he heard it, so did the rest of the world.

Mom didn’t seem to notice when her son, desperate for attention, began screaming wildly as if possessed by actual Satan. This went on for a solid minute before she managed to tear her eyes away from her boyfriend (who was also oblivious) and pick said child up in order to distract him. Good, I thought. Show him some attention, have a discussion with him about proper behavior, and shut that shit down.

We were on the same page until the part where she took him up to the decorative gong and encouraged him to play the song of his people, a cacophony of metallic punches and kicks that failed to adhere to any rhythm. Satisfied, the young conductor sauntered back to his chair and resumed his post. Mom fell in step with a pleased smirk on her face.

Peace reigned for a whole three minutes before the tiny musician found a new instrument: a plastic bowl. He banged it wildly on the granite tabletop. Unimpressed by the noise, he threw it forcibly on the tile floor. Everyone in the restaurant cringed at the noise, much to the glee of the boy. My father and I exchanged horrified glances. What circle of hell were we in? What had we done to deserve this treatment? WHY, CONNIE, WHY?

A passing gentleman picked up the bowl and returned it to the little dude. Mom thanked him for the safe return of the instrument and murmured a vague, “what do you say?” to her son. His response was to strike up another tune by throwing the bowl yet again. Mom laughed. My dad and I exchanged looks once again. Had we…did we drink all the Sake? Were we trashed? Was this real life?

I want to tell you that the Mom finally had enough and talked some sense in her child, but that’s not what fucking happened. Ten more minutes of this horrific concerto continued.

I managed to tear my eyes away and I looked over at my son who was quietly eating his chocolate ice cream, giggling to himself about God knows what, and that’s when I realized how lucky I was to have such a well-behaved child. I realize that every parent thinks their child is some mystical gift from God, but I really hit the jackpot. Never once have I had a real issue with my son. I attribute 60% of this to his complacent, introspective nature, and 40% to me being hyper-vigilant that he wasn’t one of those kids. I looked back at that Mom with confusion. Why did she let that happen? Did she not care?

As I tallied up my winnings, I lost focus. Soon there was an interruption in the bowl smashing choir and an uptick in amused laughter.

I looked over, and there he was, my well-behaved angel doing what I suspect is the Harlem Shake in-between the tables.

Maybe this admission makes me a hypocrite, but I’d like to point out the obvious difference between a child loudly slamming a bowl against tile and a child quietly jiving in the corner for your entertainment. Not to mention, this kid has some fucking MOVES, even if I don’t fully understand what those moves are.

We paid our tab and left. A couple people gave my son high fives. I didn’t give the miniature maestro a second glance as we piled into the car and headed home, but I’m still thinking about him.

Parents…there will always be people who are displeased to see that you’ve brought your child out to eat. Those people feel that way because some parent out there lets their children destroy the peace and sanctity of a nice meal out. Quit being fucking lazy and teach your children some respect. If you can’t manage that, then don’t take them out.

It’s really not that hard—I managed to instill a sense of appropriate behavior in my child and I fucking kill fake plants for Christ’s sake. You can do this. Get your shit together. And if you can’t manage to do this but absolutely must go out, take your kid to Chuck E. Cheese. They take all kinds there.

Last but not least, Happy Birthday, Mom. I firmly believe you sent this experience to us just to spite us, and for that I’d like to dedicate this slow clap to you.


Games Played While Alone



I was talking with friends the other day about being an only child. Only children are these strange hybrids of normal children because their lives are dramatically different than of those who grew up having to share a bathroom with a sibling, share toys with another small person, maybe even share a bed.

The way they interact with other children, and adults once they grow up, is also markedly different. They may not follow the social norms that people with siblings are accustomed to. They tend to be obnoxiously loud or suspiciously quiet. If they’re the former, they’ve probably explained their life history to you because they’ve misidentified you as someone who had a fuck to give and you’ve kindly bestowed it upon them. If they’re the latter, it’s not because they’re shy; they’re watching you. Observing you. Making a mental catalogue of your nuances. You’re intriguing to them. If this creeps you out, then good. It probably should.

There’s a joke about vegans that goes like this: How do you spot a vegan at a party? You don’t. They’ll tell you.

Only children are the same way. Regardless of whether they’re outspoken or reserved, they will find a way to make sure you know that they grew up devoid of siblings. For some it’s a bit of a warning. A casual, “hey, if I seem weird as hell, here’s the reason.” For others, it’s like a merit badge or something, like they proved themselves to be so utterly amazing that their parents threw their hands up in glee and said, “Fuck it! We’re done! You’re all we need!”

I know these things because I am an only child, and it frightens me to associate myself with any of my generalizations because they’re embarrassing in how blatantly inherent they are. Unfortunately, these awkward quirks are something I find I am unable to avoid. I embrace them most of the time. Then I go home, buddy up with a bottle of wine, and lament that I can’t fight fate.

One question that I get asked a lot after I’ve stood on a table and unnecessarily announced to the world that I’m an only child is, “Wasn’t it lonely?” The simple answer to this is no. It was not. I spent most of my young life being alone, but I never felt lonely. Lonely is a feeling that I associate with losing something or someone. It’s an impenetrable void that will suck you in and turn your world black. Loneliness is soul-crushingly excruciating and heartbreakingly beautiful in its own extraordinary way. Lonely and alone are not the same to me.

Alone…alone is my comfort zone. I often tell the story about the time when I was young, 6 or 7 years old, and I accidentally locked myself in a closet for a couple hours. I tell this story because it amuses me. You see, I was playing hide and seek and nobody came to find me. Nobody came to find me because I was playing by myself. That’s what you do when you’re an only child—you play multi-player games by yourself out of necessity and, oftentimes, out of comfort. You get to be the hider or the seeker. I was the hider that day, and it was wonderful once I got over the initial panic of realizing I’d probably die in the closet.

People usually have questions after I tell this story. The most frequent one is, “where were your parents?” My dad was working in his office in the basement and my mom was in the other room watching Matlock. It’s not that they were being negligent, they just hadn’t been informed that their child would be gallivanting throughout the house playing hide and seek by herself.

The next question is typically, “how long were you in there?” I often times say 6 hours, because that’s what it felt like, but the truth is it was 5 episodes of Matlock long, so I guess that’s about 2.5 hours.

The question I never get, however, is, “what did you do in there?” I imagine that people assume I was banging on the door the whole time, but I really only gave it about two solid minutes before I settled down in the corner. What I did after that will forever be a mystery. I got lost in my mind. I was completely at peace. I liked being in that closet, alone, lacking company. Being alone never scared me then, and it certainly doesn’t scare me now.

I’m lucky to have amazing friends who understand me and who know how deeply I crave my personal time–my adult closet time, if you will. I don’t measure it in Matlock episodes now, I just calculate it based on the end result. Have I come out of my hibernation a better person? Have I resolved whatever conflict may have inspired me to play grown-up hide and seek? I really can’t leave my theoretical closet until I’ve accomplished what I locked myself in there to do.

I worry about how much it hurts the people I love when I want to play this game by myself. Maybe it doesn’t at all. Maybe it upsets them terribly, because they’re not used to having someone not invite them to play along. But that’s the difference between only children and the rest of the world—I never learned how to share. Sure, I can share physical items, but my aloneness is something I will always be selfish about. That and my cheese.

Being alone is something that’s weighed heavily on me for quite some time. I went on a business trip back in May and looked forward to it with sheer glee, because HO-LY SHIT, how alone was I going to be? I got there, went to the first day of my conference, and I went back to my room. I sat down in the arm chair and read the newspaper they’d slyly slipped under my door. I tried to read it a couple times, but I kept stopping to look around the room. Something was off, but I couldn’t place it. Was my luggage gone? Nope, there it was on the other bed looking like it’d been packed by a blind man with a serious case of the shakes which is a method of packing borne of sheer laziness on my part.

I returned to my room the next night and tried to read the paper again, but I couldn’t make it through a single sentence. I lowered my paper, looked around the room, and I finally figured it out. Nothing was amiss about the room, it was amiss with me. I wasn’t alone there in San Francisco. I was painfully lonely.

That night and the next were spent in agonizing reflection of my life and who I was meant to be. I flew back home feeling like I’d escaped something. The next night, I went to a party with all my friends, and I hugged each one I could get my hands on. The feral look of confusion and fear in their eyes is something I’ll never forget, but I didn’t care at the time. I was just happy to be out of that closet I’d locked myself in and out in the wild with people who’d never had to go there in the first place.

I lost that game of hide and seek in May because I chose to hide, yet I found myself despite my best efforts. But that’s the beauty of playing games with yourself—you can be the hider or the seeker. Maybe I was the seeker after all.

Oh, and Matlock won the trial, guys.

Classic Matlock. 

Dating and Rating with Hashtags


“2 out of 5 stars. Would not recommend.”

I think I’ve had enough excitement for one week. Let’s get back to normal, shall we?

My good friend Chris (of Mad Men Internet Shorts fame) recently directed me to this article asking, simply, “Is this a real thing?”

The thing he was talking about is an app named Lulu where women can rate men, and yes, it apparently is a thing. It’s also breathtakingly hilarious.

I couldn’t not download this thing. I mean, it had the potential to be the most amusing app in the history of ever, and it did not disappoint.

So here’s what you do…you download this app and it immediately tells you that everything you do through it is anonymous, despite the fact that it links to your Facebook account. Your Facebook account is where it draws your potential reviewee, or victim, depending on your perspective. Right off the bat, you can see which of your male friends have been reviewed. It tells you what their average score is (1-10), how many other women have picked them as a “favorite,” how many people have viewed his profile, and then it gets fucking magical.

The crux of the profile is broken down into 3 categories: Hashtags, Reviews (as in who has reviewed this person) and Important Stuff, namely relationship status, college attended, and age.

Hashtags is by far my favorite category. When a woman goes to review a guy, she gets to select from a whole slew of pre-determined hashtags that she meticulously combs through and picks in order to paint a bigger picture about this poor unfortunate fellow. There are two portions of this section, Best Qualities and Worst Qualities. I’ll highlight a few of my favorites:

Best Qualities: #RespectsWomen (well thank God) #Manscaped (Uh) #StrongJaw (so if you have to punch him or something he should be fine) #LocalCeleb (lol what.) #OneOfTheGoodOnes (not THE good one, just one of them) #Big.Feet. (who the fuck ca—OH.) #SexualPanther (sounds exotic and shit) #SnuggleMachine (time 4 cuddlez VROOOOOOM) #NotADick (solid) #CaptainFun (this is, hands down, my absolute favorite) #WatchesSunsets (#ProbablyNotAVampire) #CanBuildFires (this is an absolute must if you want to date me, fyi. So vital.) #PleaseF**kMeILoveYou (WHAT WOAH SLOW DOWN) #Mysterious (#ProbablyAVampire) #WantsBebes (not babies though.)

Worst Qualities: #NothingBadAboutHim (huh?) #ForgotHisWallet (forgetful dick.) #AirGuitarist (hell no, fuck that,) #BurnsCornflakes (sounds like me, so I can’t really hate,) #WearsEdHardy (SHUT THAT SHIT DOWN,) #GoneByMorning (#ProbablyAVampire) #DrinksTheHaterade (I have no comment. I just wanted to share this with you guys.) #OwnsCrocs (NOPENOPENOPENOPE) #PlaysDidgeridoo (that’s actually quite impressive…)


You might be asking yourself, what kind of women are posting these reviews, and that is answered in the, you guessed it, Reviews section. You get to pick from 6 options to explain how you know this guy: Ex-Boyfriend, Crush, Together, Hooked Up, Friend, Relative.

I’m pleased to report that there were only 5 of my Facebook friends who have reviews about them. Most of the reviews were positive though, so I guess that’s good? One of those friends happened to be my ex-husband who had a pretty decent score despite being docked for being a #BabyDaddy (high five for claiming our child and not trying to pass him off as your little brother!)

My friend who had one of the lower scores was reviewed by a “hook up.” His lower score is probably due to the fact that this fine young woman identified him as #BeingInACult, but she did allow for the fact that he does have #GreatHair, so there’s that.

How do I feel about all of this? Topically, I think it’s hysterical just because it’s so silly. How would I feel about this if it were an app where men review women? Horrified. No, I’m not turning this into a gender thing, I’m just putting myself in these guy’s shoes. It’s kind of fucked up that an app like this exists. Whatever happened to plain-old word of mouth? Not to mention it’s not like you have to provide any proof that you know this person/have hooked up with them/whatevs, so any person could stumble onto this app and ream you via hashtag. That seems rather unfair.

I guess this post is thematic for me as I’ve recently dealt with the unwavering courage that anonymity brings to people (check out the fun little comment on my post before this one!) Being able to hide behind a computer screen or behind a mobile phone seems to galvanize some people and bring out the worst in them. This app is just another venue to collect that unnecessary cruelty, so while I give it an A+ for hilarious frivolity, I give it an F in being useful or meaningful.

Guys, if you feel so inclined, you can check out your profile online here. You can also change your profile pic and write a review of yourself if that’s how you roll. No, I’m not kidding.


The Anti-Feminist Feminists

"I was told there would be feminism."

“I was told there would be feminism.”

The drive to/from work is one of the few opportunities I have to let my mind wander wherever it wants to go. Anything goes during that time; it’s my time. I get to think about everything or nothing, and that uninterrupted 15 minutes is something I cherish, because it’s fleeting. Once I get to work it’s time to check e-mails, return phone calls, make sure I’m still employed and I haven’t turned into the pixie version of Milton from Office Space, hunt down my pens that have come to life overnight and sauntered off into the void.

And then I go home and it’s the same distractions but with different faces. I need to get dinner ready, I need to catch up on personal projects, I need to finish up work, get my son prepped for school the next day, double check that he’s still alive, take a shower…the list goes on and on.

That car ride though, that 15 minutes of peace before and after the chaos, I treasure it. And on this particular morning, I let my mind wander to a looming conflict that I know I’ll have to settle at some point. I looked at both sides of the argument and realized that neither of us were right, but that seemed like the lazy way out, so I crafted my “let’s make peace” speech. My opinion on this particular conflict is unwavering, as is theirs, and despite my complete disagreement with it, I feel like it’s important for me to both acknowledge and respect their opinion. Respect is HUGE to me. In fact, it’s nearly as important as cheese in my life, and that speaks volumes because I would gladly eat cheese for every meal of every day in my cheese castle while lounging on my cheese couch wearing my cheese dress.

It’s very easy to respect other people’s opinions when you commit yourself to understanding that everyone is different, therefore their perspective leads them down a different path than yours. It doesn’t mean they’re right or wrong, just observing a situation/conflict/whatever through a different lens. Additionally, I don’t feel like it’s my place to tell anyone that they’re wrong.

Until today. Today I read an article by, uh, The Chicks on the Right, and thank God I didn’t wear one of my favorite dresses, because my brain exploded. It was a messy affair and frightened my coworkers. I reassembled my brain and tried to sort it out.

These women are starting a series of columns about how they are right wing feminists and their first column, no shit, opens like this:

“The word “feminist” has been hijacked by liberals, and we’re taking it back.

You see, we ARE feminists.”                                                                                

I immediately double checked to make sure I hadn’t been redirected to The Onion, because, well, that’s the most unnecessarily aggressive series of statements I’ve seen come from the “feminist movement,” and I hope you see now why my head actually exploded.

I could summarize the article, but I think it’s important that you read it for yourself because a full summarization coming from me would be rife with sarcastic undertones, and I don’t think I could properly convey how utterly wrong they are. Instead, I’ll pull a couple of statements that stood out to me and just….do my thing.

“We’re sick of liberal feminists who screech “WAR ON WOMEN!” the second they’re faced with challenges — or with having to pay for their own birth control. It’s laughable when they depend on a cradle-to-grave government to take care of their every want (like guilt-free abortions and taxpayer-funded contraception), and then dress up in vagina costumes on Capitol Hill hollering for the government to keep its hands off their “lady parts.”

But…trying to take away a woman’s right to, as you put it, a “guilt-free abortion” IS a war on women. Me asking the government to take care of my every want would be me demanding a permanent discount at Mod Cloth because, fuck me, I love dresses. I would like to buy a new dress every damn day, and I think the government should pander to my desires. Buying a new dress is right up there with safe access to a medical procedure that I currently have the right to get.

As for “dressing up in vagina costumes,” there are much worse things, like Crocs. Crocs are egregious and serve no purpose whatsoever. A vagina costume makes a statement. You see, not everybody gets to have a trite little column in the newspaper, so we have to find a way to make an impact without the aid of western media.

“They either need to own up to needing a Sugar Daddy (whether he is in the form of a mate or a taxpayer) or woman-up and take care of themselves. Liberal “feminists” are proving what conservative feminists like us have known forever: They’re not feminists at all. They’re parasites.”

Here’s the crazy thing: there are many women who are actively trying to “take care of themselves.” The problem with “womaning-up” is that we still live in a country where we’re paid less than our male coworkers. It’s not a matter of not wanting to be independent, it’s a matter of logistics. I’m a single mother who has managed to make it work. I don’t need a man or a sugar-daddy to provide for my son and me, and I work for a pair of bosses (both male) who treat me with respect and compensate me for the work I do, not for the gender I am. I am a rarity. If anything, my life is an example of what could and should be, but let me reiterate this is a rarity. Let’s not ignore the fact that I’m a white, college-educated woman who grew up in an upper-middle class household. If you think that doesn’t play some part in me making it to where I am, then you’re stupid. My heart bleeds for the brilliant, hard-working women who didn’t have that leg up. No amount of “try” can break down the barriers of race, classism, and gender inequality, but I can see how thinking that would be easier. Easier, in this case, is synonymous with lazier, and most of your arguments in the article were born of sheer laziness. If I followed your logic, then I would be sitting here at my desk thinking, “you know, if I just imagine that a giant block of cheese will appear before me then it will actually happen.”

Magical thinking belongs in books and movies. Magical thinking is fiction.

“In other words, you’re not a feminist — you’re just pathetic. Rather than fall for the manufactured war-on-women nonsense that helped hand President Obama a second term, women need to know the truth — that they’ll fare far better in life by taking responsibility for themselves.”

I don’t know how much I can reiterate that assuming women aren’t trying to take responsibility for themselves is the exact opposite of feminism. Many women take responsibility for themselves and calling a woman “pathetic?” I just cannot. One of the basic principles of feminism is loving and supporting your fellow woman with the hope that we can all rise up and grasp that equality we deserve. But yeah, if you want to beat down other women because things didn’t seem that tough for you, therefore they should just suck it up and dream harder, sure. Go ahead with that. That’s not fucking ridiculous at all.

“Ironically, conservative “feminists” like us are accused of being the ones trying to set women back. But we know any government (or man) powerful enough to give us something is powerful enough to take it away.”

Jesus Christ in a Cracker Jack box, I wonder how on earth someone came up with that theory? Maybe it was other vapid, vitriolic women like you who think the answer lies solely in women changing. I agree that women should be internally strong, but that only goes so far when our government waivers and shies away from breaking down the remaining barriers to gender equality. You can dress up like a chicken and start clucking, but unless the biology changes, you’re not going to start laying eggs. That’s just not how things work. Speaking of work….

“Now if someone would please pass us our stilettos. We’ve got to get back to work.”

That’s pretty cool that you have a job. There are a lot of women who wish they could have a job. I guess they just didn’t try hard enough, right? They just didn’t want to be independent.


I’m going to need some sort of verification that these women are actual people because I’m convinced that Rick Perry and Richard Mourdock are currently trolling the fuck out of us.

Now I’ll leave you with a brilliant response from my dear friend Jenny who also considers herself to be a feminist.

“You know what real feminists don’t do? Generalize a large group of women with varied opinions and causes as ‘pathetic harpies'”

A Letter From Governor Rick Perry

Esteemed Governor Rick Perry

Esteemed Governor Rick Perry

I wrote a letter to Texas Governor Rick Perry asking him, simply, what made him feel like he (and the rest of his party) had jurisdiction over the female body. I was genuinely interested in hearing his response. Thankfully, he replied back almost immediately.

Here’s my response from Governor Rick Perry.


deer jena,

hai. I m guverner ricj perry n i want 2 thx u 4 writting 2 me about my resent legestlatrion about abroshion. 1st of all i m relly RELLY happy 2 see that u can writ. i think its grate that affermative axion has given u girls the “rite” 2 an educashun. its neat. it really is. in case u did not writ this, tell ur husband i apploud his pashience with u. it takes a strong americun man 2 allow his wif 2 adress anothr man, n u r AWSOM! 

jena, (jena’s husbend) u asked me y i felt lik i had “jurisdiction” (awfulley big word 4 u!) over ur body, and heres the thing. i dont know. i jest vagely remember someone at church tellin me that ur my property n that i kno what is best 4 u. 

being a women must be hard. i seen how hard my wif works to keep the house cleen and make sure we have food ready wen im done doin my man things. i kno she loves it but i still werry that it mite be all 2 much so i thout to myself, rack, wat can i do 2 make thins easer? thats wen I decisioned 2 make decisions 4 her. now she dosnt have 2 worry about thinkin 4 herself n stuff. i hope u enjoy this gift ive given u. 

anyway, if u culd just male me 1 of ur filopian tubes id be happy 2 look aftr it until ur husbend says its okay 2 use. 

ur loveing gorevnor, 

rock perri


Well, there you have it. Thanks for your time, Gov. Perry!

There’s More Than Scorn In Indiana

Gov. Claw

Gov. Claw

If you’re a longtime reader of my blog, you’ll have probably picked up that I live in the good ol’ state of Indiana. We’re in the heart of the Midwest, a veritable hotbed of inactivity, unless you stumble into our capital, Indianapolis, which is a thriving and constantly evolving community.

I’ve lived in Indianapolis for about 23 years. A transplant from Atlanta, I quickly learned that my southern accent was not welcome, so I attempted to adopt the flat, unaffected tone of a “Hoosier.” I still, to this day, have no fucking idea what a Hoosier is. There’s a decided opinion that if you have to ask, you’re not one.

Do I like it here? I do now. Indy has seen a renaissance in recent years, inspired no doubt by the Super Bowl. Thankfully for all of us, the rebirth didn’t peter out after the drunken revelers trekked back home. Something new is created here each day, and I find that exciting.

Stumble outside of the city, however, and you’re confronted with mostly small towns. Farming communities abound. There’s a reason why people think Indiana is all cornfields, and that’s because it mostly is. We have soybeans too. I’ve heard rumors of livestock, but I rarely venture outside of the city without the aid of an airplane, so I can neither confirm nor deny.

Politically, Indiana as a whole tends to lean to the right. Obama won the electoral vote in 2008, but the state changed its mind in 2012 and voted in favor of our old buddies, the Republicans. We’re on the ass end of the bible belt, but I’d consider us more moderate with GOP tendencies.

As for me, if you held a gun to my head and made me pick a party, I guess I’d say I’m a Democrat, although, truth be told, I’m completely disenchanted with both parties at this point. I’m socially liberal and always will be, but when it comes to fiscal matters, I can understand the conservative argument.

I’m a firm supporter of gay marriage. Homosexuality has never been “wrong” to me, so never once had I entertained the idea that two bros shouldn’t enter into a state of legal matrimony. In a country that is oftentimes confused by the concept of love, I see no harm in two people (humans, before any of you accuse me of supporting goat on lady marriage) expressing their commitment to each other the same way that I can. Trite though it may sound, love is love, and I’d love to see more overt examples of it in the world I live in.

That being said…I will always respect that people are entitled to their beliefs. There are many people who are disgusted by homosexuality. It baffles me and irritates me, but in order for anyone to respect my beliefs, I must first respect theirs. To be clear: I do not agree with them. I’d happily engage in an educated discussion with someone who held that belief, but I’m not going to show up on the doorstep of a recognized bigot and challenge their belief system. Most of my philosophy comes from the understanding that change can only happen when you’re ready to accept change. Quitting smoking is a good example. Nobody successfully quits smoking because someone told them to. They eventually go back to it or sneak around to do it. When that person decides  “enough is enough. I no longer want to be a smoker,” that’s when they can quit. Until someone shows me that they want to understand why love is universal and not just between a man and a woman, I know I can’t help them understand. Instead I wait until an invitation has been handed to me. TL;DR: I don’t waste my time with close-minded people.

That brings me to the real point of this particular post. In the last election, my state picked Mike Pence as our new Governor. I didn’t vote for him, but wasn’t too terribly disappointed when he was elected. Our last Governor (Mitch Daniels) was also a Republican, and I’m a big fan of his. Many of the good things happening in my fair state can be attributed to him. I’m sure some people disagree with me, but I really don’t give a fuck.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down by the US Supreme Court yesterday. If you didn’t know this, please e-mail me and explain how you’ve managed to get internet in your cave. I’ve considered moving to a cave for a number of years, but the lack of internet connection has always been a concern of mine.

Mike Pence issued a statement that started off as follows:

“I believe marriage is the union between a man and a woman and is a unique institution worth defending in our state and nation. For thousands of years, marriage has served as the glue that holds families and societies together and so it should ever be.

“While I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act, I am grateful that today’s decisions respect the sovereignty of states on this important issue. These decisions preserve the duty and obligation of the states to define and administer marriage as they see fit. 
“Now that the Supreme Court has had its say on the federal government’s role in defining marriage, the people of Indiana should have their say about how marriage is understood and defined in our state.”

TL;DR: I don’t believe homosexuals should get married. Now is Indiana’s opportunity to define marriage. (For those of you not from the US, marriage laws are decided per state.)

I don’t agree with Mike Pence that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, but I choose to respect his beliefs and opinions, just as I would hope any other person would do for me. As I read his statement, a tiny ball of hope was born inside me. It’s up to us to decide how we want marriage defined in our state. He was recognizing it, encouraging it. That hope was misplaced. I learned this as I read the remainder of the statement.

“Given that opportunity, I am confident that Hoosiers will reaffirm our commitment to traditional marriage and will consider this important question with civility and respect for the values and dignity of all of the people of our state. “


Gov. Pence has extended the invitation for Hoosiers (what the fuck is this even?) to exercise their rights as citizens of this state to define how we want to live as long as it coincides with HIS belief. HIS. Not ours, HIS.

Hey Mike, this isn’t YOUR state, this is OUR state, and if WE decide that we want marriage to be defined as between two people regardless of gender, then you’re going to have to hop onto this crazy train and ride off into the sunset with us.

In fact, we HIRED you to work for US. Your job is to listen to our needs and act accordingly. If this is something that you’re unable or unwilling to do, then perhaps you should find a different mode of employment.

Marriage doesn’t get to be defined by me, and it most assuredly doesn’t get to be defined by you. It gets to be defined by “we the people” of Indiana. For you to use such manipulative language to imply that there would be some disappointment on your end if your people don’t share the same beliefs as you is both egregious and unhealthy for the position you currently hold.

Express your personal beliefs without question, but when it comes to a matter such as this, take a step back and look at what WE want. This isn’t about religion. This is about what’s fair and just. Religion has no place in politics. Your beliefs are best nurtured in your church, not your office.

It could very well be that Indiana decides against gay marriage, in which case you can sit in your office, rub your hands together, and cackle like some political interpretation of Dr. Claw. However, if the people speak and say “this is what we want,” you need to support that decision.

You will be disappointed in Indiana as a whole if we choose to recognize all forms of marriage, but I can tell you right now, emphatically, I am disappointed in you for attempting to sway people to your beliefs instead of allowing them the opportunity to choose what’s right for them.

Shame on you, Gov. Claw. Shame on you.


P.S. If you don’t know who Dr. Claw is, may God have mercy on your soul. Inspector Gadget was the best cartoon of all time. ALL TIME.

Holding Back Laughter And Other Public Disasters

At a very young age, three I think, my mother sat me down in our living room and handed me a Berenstain Bears book. I don’t remember what it was about. Let’s just pretend it was the one where the little boy bear freaks the actual fuck out because while they were all on their journey toward moral enlightenment, he realized none of them had bothered to but on any goddamn shoes. Yes. I think it was that one.

So my mother sits me down on the couch, hands me this book, and says, “I’m going to teach you how to read.”

It turns out that either she was an actual wizard, or I had picked up the basics prior to our lesson because I read the entire book in one go.Now let me pause here and explain that I’m not trying to advertise myself as some advanced creature. While I started reading at a young age, I reached other milestones at a slower pace, things like walking and, believe it or not, talking. My point is that despite the medical pacing we’ve subscribed to, kids just do things when they fucking want to. I apparently wanted to read young.

My son is much different. Fueled by what can only be explained as demonic prowess, he started walking at eight months. (If you’ve never had a baby, this is fairly early.)  Because we were stupid, my ex-husband and I celebrated this with the unparalleled glee brought to us by ignorant first-time parentage. I will not encourage such a thing next time around. In retrospect, it was a rather unsettling event the first time he walked. He’d pulled himself up using the table (also his first time) and then he just fucking walked off. I imagine you’d feel the same panic and confusion if you walked in on your cat smoking a cigarette.

Anyway, back to the point. As soon as I figured out that I knew how to read, I never stopped. I suspect that this was part of my mother’s master plan for peace. You can’t talk or run or scream when you’re reading. She played a well-executed game of literary freeze tag, and I have nothing but respect for that. Nicely done, Connie.

Here we are now, present day, and I’m on my way to a convention. I forgot to fully charge my iPad last night, so I had to take a trip back to Paleolithic times and buy an actual book with pages and shit in it.

They didn’t have any trashy historical romance novels available (my poorly concealed, highly embarrassing guilty pleasure which may or may not surprise you.) They did, however, have Tina Fey’s book Bossypants which I’ve meant to read for years as I highly respect her sense of humor.

We’re about two hours into a five hour flight and after cheating my way through a crossword puzzle, I decided to read a bit.  The book is a surprisingly easy read. I’m not sure what I expected, but it’s definitely worth picking up if you haven’t already.

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I read…I’m gone. It’s gotten better since I’ve had to constantly listen for the sounds of a small child, but if I know I’m in the clear, I disappear. I’m gone. I don’t know where the fuck I am, what time it is, who in Christ’s name is around me – I basically get sucked into a black hole.

Whilst in my Tina Fey black hole, I apparently laughed out loud a few times. “Out loud” is probably an exaggeration as I was more giggling quietly to myself. I know what I did because I was there with me, even if I was in my black hole. It was more along the lines of a visible laugh, less of a physical one, like when you know someone is undoubtedly amused but they’re not quite wheezing and choking. I don’t know why I’m feeling so defensive about this or why I feel compelled to excessively explain this, but whatever. I digress.

Since I was in my black hole, I forgot that I was sitting fairly close to someone. I was in the window seat, and he was in the middle. He must have arrived at the arm rest auction before the aisle guy and myself because he won all the arm rests. In fact, I wrote this blog post in my journal with my face pressed against the window. I have the marks to prove it.

While I was IRL LOLing, he had begun, unbeknownst to me, to stare at me. I have no idea how long he was staring at me, but I froze mid-shoulder shake when I finally realized. I then turned slowly toward him assuming he’d been trying to get my attention. Maybe he needed to move into my seat since he’d already claimed half of it with his elbow. I tried to be accommodating.

All he did was stare at me. It wasn’t an angry stare. It wasn’t a gaze of admiration. He was merely looking at me like he was silently acknowledging that I was in possession of a face and he’d just so happened to notice it.

He continued to stare even after I looked away. He finally looked back at his laptop a few seconds later and carried on like nothing had happened. I pressed my face harder against the airplane window and struggled to hold back the laughter that would be nothing like the soundless snickers of yore.

Holding back laughter is always disastrous. I tried doing this in the symphony once. I was with Amanda and our friends Joe & Chris who no longer speak to us. We got a case of the giggles and wound up laughing and snorting our way through a particularly sad piece about the death of a young friend. The difference then was that I could blame my laughter on Amanda and I could claim that she was culpable for egging me on. This time I was just a girl smashed up against a plastic partition teeming with all manners of terrific diseases, and I had lost the battle. I was laughing loudly, tears streaming down my face.

I eventually calmed down until I caught him staring at me again. Another round of laughter. He eventually went back to his work.

I still have no idea what about that situation made me laugh. It’s not particularly funny – more odd, to be honest.

Why was he staring at me? I wasn’t being loud. I hadn’t attempted to reclaim the armrest THAT WAS RIGHTFULLY MINE BUT WHATEVER I’M OVER IT. I just don’t understand what he was looking at.

I don’t know, maybe it’s peculiar for people to laugh when they read. I just enjoy laughing and there are obviously unfortunate repercussions when I try to hold it in. (Amanda and I miss you, Joe & Chris.)

I’m not trying to get all ‘Murica on you guys, but I think it’s well within my right to laugh wherever I want. Speaking of that, I concluded that there was no way this man was American. Americans don’t stare at you and make unwavering eye contact with you unless they’re trying to sell you something or they’re going to kill you and turn your skin into a replica Hermes bag.

I have no idea what the purpose of this narrative is other than maybe…do what you want. If you want to laugh at the symphony, do it. If you want to start walking really young, have at it. Embrace your inner kid and do things whenever the fuck you feel like it.

And if that doesn’t resonate with you, at least leave with this: I probably sat next to a serial killer on a flight to San Francisco and I lived to blog about it.

Manufactured Realities

Your baby’s gonna love this ride.

As I mentioned in my last post which I’m sure you’re getting around to reading, I’m in San Francisco this week. I want to send up a hearty high-five to God for pulling a fast one on me and sending a cold front through here during the only days I’ll be around. Well played, God. Well played.

I won’t bore you with the finer details, but I’m here for a marketing conference. I don’t know if I’ve ever explained that this is what I do for a living. I am in an industry that is designed to mislead you for money. I’m part of the problem, just like you. I get paid quite well for it though, so I put on a smile while I pervert your view of the world, then I go home, bury said smile, and criticize you for falling for it all. I get up the next day and do it all over again. And again. And again. And…

Reality is something that’s been weighing on me lately. Do any of us know what reality is? If you live in America, you may have noticed that the vast majority of our lives and our experiences are completely manufactured. Vacations aren’t just about seeing something new, they’re about consumerism. Even if we don’t realize it, we go to the most exotic locations we can afford so we can rub it into everyone else’s face. We take pictures and smile broadly. Look at us! We’re happy! Terribly so! DID YOU SEE HOW FUCKING HAPPY I AM? I POSTED IT ON FACEBOOK!

It used to be that the most poignant photographs were the ones taken when the subject was unaware that they were, in fact, the subject. With a flashbulb flashing, in that one tiny second it took to capture whatever image, we found and froze an emotion: joy, sorrow, anger, defeat. Humanity.

Now we pose ourselves to make it look like we’ve been caught being quintessentially human. Oh! You stumbled upon my lover and me engaging in a playfully romantic romp in a pile of leaves at the park! Haha! I was unaware you’d stumbled upon my husband and our infant son who’s dressed like he’s on his way to a hipster job interview. You found us playing in the fountain, just as any family with a young child does gleefully. Color me surprised, I had no idea you’d captured me as I contemplated my future as a high school senior there in that gazebo. With a whimsical smile playing across my lips, I had been completely unaware that you were capturing one of the most defining moments in my life. I’m glad I spent two hours on my hair and makeup that day.

Who are we taking these pictures for? Us? No, not us. Not immediately at least. I think we’re capturing these falsified images for everyone else. Perhaps we’ve gotten to the point where we can’t believe in our own happiness unless other people believe it too. We’ve come to believe that we don’t exist unless we’re seen. When did that distortion of reality come to be?

Up until I was six years old I thought that it was a law that your family had to take you to Disney World within two months of your birth. I haven’t the faintest fucking idea how I managed to come up with this. I don’t know what I thought would happen if you didn’t go. Maybe you’d turn to dust and all your toys would go to a child who could clearly follow simple instructions? Who knows.

Before I moved to Indianapolis, I lived in Atlanta and I distinctly remember a little girl by the name of Katie who lived at the other end of the neighborhood from me. Half the houses in the addition were under construction, these giant, looming frames with plywood floors and concrete basements. We’d wander through them alone, just the pair of us and our thoughts because apparently our parents were mastering the art of neglect. We were the same age, Katie and me, and we were both resolute in our understanding that if you didn’t go to Disney World when you were born, that was it. Game over. We’d part ways and go back to our enormous mass-manufactured homes and fall asleep to memories of tinier versions of ourselves in line for the teacup rides. Our families had followed the rules; we had gone to Disney World as expected. The world was all ours now.

We moved to Indianapolis when I was 6, and I completely forgot about Katie. I made a few friends up front, girls who reminded me of Katie, children who lived in the same manufactured neighborhood with giant, looming houses that had once been harsh frames and unpolished flooring. At some point I made friends with a girl in my class. She did not live in my neighborhood, she lived in an apartment with her mother, two brothers, and occasionally her mother’s boyfriend (if they weren’t fighting.) I think her name was Misty. She had a mullet and wore her mother’s bra to school a couple times. All in all, she fascinated me.

I went to Misty’s apartment for a sleepover once. We had to sleep in the living room because all the kids shared a bed. I remember her mother leaving us there by ourselves for a few hours while she ran errands. I remember feeling giddy because I’d never not been with an adult before – at least not inside a house where an adult could usually be found. The under-construction houses of my former world with Katie were different. They didn’t even have doors. There was a door on that apartment though, and it had been shut by an adult. I mistook Misty’s mother’s absence as a gesture of trust that we would be responsible while she was gone, and we sure were responsible! Misty made us dinner on the stove – soup. It was like playing real-life house and it felt exhilarating. We watched a movie that night too. I forget what we watched, but I do remember it was on laser-disc  If nothing else sent up a red flag, surely the laser-disc should have.

I was too high on this freedom and this alternate reality, that I didn’t notice how wrong the situation was. It wasn’t until later that night when Misty’s mother and her boyfriend came home and loudly had sex in the room next to ours before getting physical in a more violent fashion that suddenly this world seemed less charming. The next morning was a regular day for Misty, but I was haunted. She made me breakfast (cereal this time) and we ate quietly while waiting for my mom to pick me back up. I felt cold and tingly. My heart ached. I was having what was probably my first panic attack, but I attributed it to being sick.

“What do you remember about Disney World?” I asked her, desperately wanting to go to my happy place. She looked over at me, her face filled with confusion.

“I ain’t never been.”

Those words stuck with me not just because ain’t isn’t an actual word, but because Misty had cheated the system. Maybe this was what happened when you didn’t follow the rules. You got to stay home alone and use the stove. It blew my mind.

My mother picked me up and cryptically asked me how the night had been. Looking back, I realize that she probably had a feeling it would be an experience staying with Misty, although I doubt she knew how much of an experience it would be. My parents were far from helicopter parents which is why I have an arsenal of life-changing experiences to refer to. I’m very thankful for that.

I told her everything had been fine and left it at that. I didn’t want to remember the evening, even if it had been euphoric for a time.

Shortly before we pulled into our neighborhood with the precisely manicured yards and the children running through the streets chasing golden retrievers while their parents waved at other neighbors, I told my mom that Misty had never been to Disney World.

Connie seemed nonplussed. “So?” she asked. “Neither have you.”

I still remember the feeling. It was cold and painful. It hurt my stomach. I felt like I’d fallen really hard and had the wind knocked out of me.

“But you have to go,” I spluttered. “It’s the law!”

My mother explained that, basically, I was bat shit crazy. There was no such law. “Why would you take a baby to Disney World?” she mused. “What would you even do with it? Duct tape it to a seat at Space Mountain* and pray for the best?”

That was the first time I started to consider how artificial our lives are. Some of it is because our society plants these ideas into our head about how life should be. Some of it is something we’ve fantasized and struggled in vain to make a reality, if only marginally. All of it is our creation in a way, though. Who are we trying to fool?

Maybe we’re trying to deceive ourselves after all. Maybe that’s the point of life — to mislead yourself until you combust and are forced to face the stark reality.

If that’s true, how much of our current lives are manufactured? And how do you go about figuring out what’s real and what’s not?

And who the fuck would take a baby to Disney World?


*Many years later, my family and I went to Disneyworld. I really enjoyed it there, except for one harrowing experience on Space Mountain. I’m deathly afraid of roller coasters, and I get motion sickness pretty easily. My mother told me it was a kid’s rocket ride. I believed her. This was the beginning of a lifetime’s worth of trust issues involving my mother.

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