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Wildly Exaggerated: February 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

[REDACTED]: More Than a Book Review

As some of you may know, I recently took a week-long vacation. And it. Was. Awesome! I learned a little history, a little geography, a little about myself, and a lot about terrible horrible writing for which the author should be tried at The Hague.

You see, when I take a relaxing vacation, I like to bring along a book that's set in the city I'm visiting. It's fun to be able to see the actual settings of specific scenes and it helps bring the story to life...if the story has any life in it to begin with. This brings me to the book I read on my trip, [REDACTED]. I've decided not to actually name [REDACTED] here because, as a person who has attempted all kinds of different writing myself, I can appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that went into writing it, and I'd hate for the author to Google his or her "book" and find what I have to say about it.

I can't say it was the most awful thing I've ever read, because that honor will always, always belong to Pierre Drieu de la Rochelle's les Chiens de Paille, unless I someday decide to read something by Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly. Actually - no, scratch that, because if I ever find myself confronted with reading anything by one of those two, I really will literally kill myself. So yeah, it's always gonna be les Chiens de Paille. But this "book" is easily the second worst thing I've ever read. And I've read The Fountainhead too, so that's saying something!

The story was OK. It was a murder mystery, and I didn't know whodunit til the big reveal, which is something. Of course, that might be because I got so little actual information that I had no basis on which to hazard a guess. Or maybe it's because I did not care one iota about any of the characters, so I never bothered to wonder who did the murdering, though I did kinda wish the murderer would just randomly take everybody out with an M-16 so the last 100 pages or so could just be pictures of kittens. That would've been better.

You might be wondering why I bothered to finish the thing, and believe me, it's a question I often asked myself during that week. There were 2 reasons:
#1: I paid $2.99 for it and I couldn't get my money back.
#2: It was so badly written that it was hilarious.

I want to be very clear about the phrase "badly written", because this is important. I'm not talking about the plot, or the dialogue being unrealistic (even though a lot it TOTALLY WAS), or anything like that. I'm primarily talking about an author who couldn't be bothered to write any kind of transition whatsoever, so that everything in the book "seemed to happen suddenly". There were sentences like: "Suddenly she realized she no longer wanted to dust in the study, so she went to bed." Translation: "I AM BORED WITH THIS SCENE AND I ALREADY TOLD YOU WHAT I NEEDED YOU TO KNOW SO IT HAS SERVED ITS PURPOSE AND I'M GOING TO BED." My absolute favorite was the phrase: "Later she would wonder why she did what she did next, as there was no logic to her actions." SERIOUSLY? Translation: "I CAN'T BE BOTHERED TO THINK UP AN EXPLANATION FOR THIS EVEN THOUGH THAT IS THE VERY ESSENCE OF MY JOB AS A STORYTELLER AND BESIDES 'MURDER SHE WROTE' IS ON SO LET'S WRAP THIS UP!" When I read that sentence, I was thirty five thousand feet above Arkansas, and it was all I could do not to hit the Flight Attendant Call button and say, "Yeah, I need you to show me how to open the emergency exit door because I do not want to live in a world where I've paid $2.99 to read this sentence."

Thankfully I'd had the forethought to pay $11.99 (well spent!) on a Margaret Atwood novel before takeoff, so the second I finished [REDACTED], I could crack that one open and be reminded how English is supposed to work. And hopefully it will only take another week or two to heal all the welts on my head from banging it on cafe tables, park benches, walls, and passing seagulls in frustration as I plodded through that God-awful book. So please, people, learn from my experience: don't buy [REDACTED] ($2.99 on Kindle).

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Not Funny Not Bitter Holiday Post of Luv

Good morning, class.

Today I have decided to give you all a Valentine's Day present, in the form of a handy (and uncharacteristically serious) Guide to Love. I will share with you - FOR FREE - the most important lesson I've ever learned about love. Am I saying it's the most important thing to know about how to love people? No. I'm saying it was the lesson that I most needed to learn. Your mileage may vary.

Our lesson today comes to us, as all great lessons do, from the Book Movie of Forrest Gump.

I was going to embed the scene here, but it doesn't appear to exist anywhere on them internets. It's the very very very very very last scene - not the one with the title "Final Scene" on all the YouTubes, the ACTUAL final scene right before the credits. Where Forrest and Little Forrest are waiting for the school bus. Little Forrest starts to get on the bus, and Forrest, looking concerned, yells, "Forrest, don't..." Then he pauses momentarily and says, "...I wanna tell you I love you." Bust out your DVD copy and re-watch for full effect.

The lesson comes in two parts, and it's all clearly stated in Forrest Sr's parting words to his son:

Part I: "Forrest, don't..."
THIS IS ME. THIS IS HOW I ALWAYS AM WITH PEOPLE. My side of a relationship ends up disproportionately filled with:
"Don't go"
"Don't drive too fast"
"Don't forget to call me when you get there"
"Don't date that jerk"
"Don't leave me"
You get the idea. It's all well-intentioned, but it's also all clinginess or bossiness or worrywarting. And the truth is, people do what they want to do. Every time, no exceptions. If they want to stay out late, they will. If they want to date guys who take advantage of them, they will! If they want to leave you and never look back, they will. If they want to do drugs, they will. And if they want to harm themselves, they'll do that too. Not saying there's anything wrong with trying to help people, but when you've passed the point of helping and become a broken record, you need to say something else. And when that happens, you have to be sure you say the right thing.

Part II: "I wanna tell you I love you"
Everything from "Don't do drugs" to "Don't date that jerk" to "Don't drive too fast" is just code for "I love you". And when you just say that instead, everything - everything - gets a lot clearer, really fast. So now, every time I hear myself about to say "Don't..." or "I wish you'd..." or "You should..."; I try to stop myself and say "I wanna tell you I love you" instead. Because I do wanna tell them that. And maybe you do too. Because even if they go and do something stupid that means I never see them again, that is the thing I will never regret having said. Ever. Happy Valentine's Day :)

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Kimberly Welsh Must Be Stopped.

If any of you sees Kimberly Welsh, could you please pound her stupid face in for me? Thanks.

I know what you're thinking. You're all like, "WHHAAAAAAT? But you're Kimberly Welsh!" And to that I say, "I KNOW RIGHT?!?!" But sadly there are a lot of people who don't know, and therein lies the problem. Because it is often said that the only thing you have in this life is your good name. And mine has been stolen.

I don't mean it's been "identity-theft" stolen (not recently, anyway), but I mean I have a name-doppelgängerin, and she is a law-breakin', bill-not-payin' MACHINE! I know this because I started getting friendly phone calls for her in the first month I lived in my condo. This period in my life is also referred to as "That Time I Spent 4 Straight Weeks Walking Around Wild-Eyed Screaming 'WHAT HAVE I DONE?'" Homeownership was not an easy transition for me. Just to paint you a picture: my cat tore the blinds down in my bedroom within an hour of moving in. On the first night, the smoke alarm malfunctioned, which is why I ended up standing on a chest of drawers trying to knock if off the wall with a broom (I succeeded). The next morning, the cat perched himself atop a box, which was sitting beside an open box full of measuring cups and other cookware...and then he puked directly into the box with the measuring cups and cookware. On my way to the kitchen to wash cat puke from my cookery, I noticed that the ratio of ants to food in my dog's bowl was approximately "so many ants that you can no longer see the food". That afternoon, I heard a strange noise and realized that the microwave had turned itself on and was gleefully heating itself up, completely empty, as it continued to do every few hours until I finally just unplugged it.

In other words: things weren't going well at 7pm, when I received my very first phone call on my shiny new phone and a VERY angry VERY pushy person wanted to know how and when I intended to pay off the balance on my Sears card, which I had incurred by purchasing a $2,000 sofa over a year ago. This confused me, because:
1. Do I look like a person who buys furnitureat Sears? I have no need for a Craftsman sofa.
2. Do I look like would rack up $2,000 of debt for anything other than pizza, Midori, or eyeliner? Girl, please.
I was even more confused when the person on the phone insisted that I was definitely the person he wanted to talk to. The issue was only finally resolved when I gave him the last 4 digits of my social security number, thereby confirming that there are, in fact, multiple (2) Kimberly Welshes living in this town. 

In the intervening years, as that Sears card debt has been passed from shady collection agency to shady collection agency, and they have taken turns calling me every 3-5 days, threatening to take a baseball bat to my kneecaps. Over a sofa. From Sears. I've learned that when they say, "Are you Kimberly Welsh?", the correct answer is, "I am a Kimberly Welsh, but I doubt I'm the one you're looking for." And then I take the earliest opportunity to do my SSN trick and escape, Houdini-like, from their bullying nonsense. (Sidenote: Seriously - those bad debt collection agencies are SHA. DY. The government should do something about them, as soon as they're done beating the living crap out of the credit reporting agencies, but that's another issue.)

I never understand why they call me. The debt is now at least 5 years old, and she has evaded them this long.  Do these people genuinely think they're the first ones to search her name in a phone listing? Why has no one thought of this before? Do you really think that after all this time, it's as simple as calling that number? Really? Do some work, lazyface. 

But this isn't nearly as perplexing as the one (and only) (knock on wood) time I got pulled over. I had allegedly rolled through a stop sign, but it's very a much a he said/she said, to be honest. Anyway, I dutifully gave the officer my license and waited patiently for him to run my information. When he returned to the car, he said, AND I QUOTE, "I thought I was going to have to arrest you." And I thought, "Wow. They're really cracking down on rolling stops on barely-trafficked surface streets." He continued, "I ran your name, and there's a warrant out for your arrest." And I thought, "Damn overdue library books!" And then he said, "Yep, you're wanted for...


driving without a license."


"But, um,'re holding my license. That's my license. Right there. In your hand."

"I know. That's how I figured there's a different Kimberly Welsh..."
"Oh you have GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!"

So please. If you are on Team Law-Abiding Bill-Paying Licensed-Driver Kimberly Welsh, and you know someone who can put their hands on Law-Breaking Deadbeat Pain in My Ass Kimberly Welsh, yank her deadbeat butt of that Craftsman sofa and turn her in to the authorities. 

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Let's Talk ABOUT the Bathroom

Ah, the ladies room. There are exactly 8 things you're allowed to do in there:
1. Use the potty
3. Do yo' hurrrrr
4. Dance
5. Sob uncontrollably
6. Transport yourself to the Ministry of Magic
7. Steal TP
8. Sleep it off

You'll note (OH YES YOU WILL) that "have a long, involved, whispered conversation in the corner" is not on that list. Furthermore, you'll note (OH YES YOU WILL) that the items on this list would make for some incredibly bad background noise for your precious conversation, if you were dumb enough to try and have a conversation in there. And yet. AND YET! There are women in this world who take their private pow-wows directly to the ladies room! WHY? Actually, you know what? I don't care why. "Why" is not the point. The point is that it's WRONG WRONG WRONG. When you insist on having your little chit-chat in the potty room, it means that everyone who comes in for one of 8 perfectly legitimate reasons has completely lost her anonymity from the moment she walks in the door. Because as she walks by, you and your interlocutor are gonna glare at her like she's interrupting, like she has no right to come and pee where you are TRYING to have a conversation. And then she gets to try to do whatever she needed do knowing you are judging her the whole time.

I don't tolerate that crap, and you shouldn't either. But the problem is that most offices still refuse to designate a Bathroom Enforcer, so when you try to evict the chattering class's potty party, you get slapped with the old "YOU HAVE NO AUTHORITY HERE!" nonsense. Don't waste your time. Here's what you do instead:
1. Make eye contact with your foes as you walk in; they need to know you are aware of them and their foul, foul nonsense.
2. Enter the stall even if you only came in to do numbers 2-4.
3. Close the door.
4. Lick your inner elbow
5. Stick your open mouth on your inner elbow and blow, thereby making the loudest, wettest, nastiest fart noise you can.
6. Wait for the Talkative Tinas to beat a revolted retreat.


For the record: YES, I do this. And you should too. Making gross noises in the stall is not shameful; it is arguably THE WHOLE POINT OF THE BATHROOM. But standing in a restroom to have a conversation? That is shameful. And it needs to stop immediately. Stay strong, people.

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Sunday, February 5, 2012


The internet has been all atwitter (no pun intended) about Pinterest for a few weeks now, and as per usual, I took it upon myself to get out in front of the trend to figure it out for you, both of my dear readers. Because the phrase "online corkboard" is kind of meaningless, and it's difficult, if not impossible, to figure out what the point of such a thing might be...until you've used it for yourself.

After a few weeks of intrepid testing, I'm ready to explain
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Pinterest But Didn't Care Enough to Ask Because Honestly? It Sounded Kinda Dumb

First things first: It's not actually that dumb. Pinterest, like pretty much everything else on the internet, is as dumb as you allow it to be. It can be put to good use for planning things, collecting ideas, finding book/recipe/movie recommendations, etc. But Pinterest, like pretty much everything else on the internet, is also heavily abused and misused by morons. For the most part, these morons are harmless, and some are even amusing! I believe the key is knowing what to expect going in. To that end, I've created some handy descriptions of the most common pins you'll find on the ol' homepage:
Blue Balls for Crafters: This is one of the funnest games on Pinterest, in which someone finds a really cool/cute/fun/quirky project and posts a picture with a comment like "DIY cold fusion! Neat project for the kids!", but because they've pinned the picture from Google Images (rather than any kind of instructional page), you will never ever figure out how to actually do the damn project, ever. Find the one where you knit a beard for your baby and show your favorite crafter and watch her rip her hair out! Neat project for the kids!
Memes: Pinterest is ground zero for memes. One of the most common is this bizarre thing where Ryan Gosling's face gets pasted behind something that starts with "Hey girl..." and ends with some supposed fantasy man phrase, usually about how awesome her hair looks or how much he loves shoe shopping with her. This is officially stupid until it looks like this:

Wedding Porn: OH MY DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN ENOUGH WITH THE WEDDING PORN! Pictures of brides, pictures of veils, pictures of hair, pictures of seating, pictures of wedding cakes, pictures of dancing couples, pictures of tuxes, pictures of lighting ideas, pictures of invitations... STOP. JUST STOP. Oh, and let's not forget the most common of the wedding porn pics:

It would be one thing if it was primarily pics that said "This is my engagement ring!" But most of them say something more like "I want this to be my ring someday!" LADIES! THE RING IS NOT THE REASON WE GET MARRIED! WRITE IT DOWN! And just to be clear: I'm not hating on the women who are planning their actual weddings, for which they already have a groom lined up - my issue is with all (and there are A LOT OF THEM) the teenage (or younger) girls who are investing all this time and effort into compiling ideas for their ideal wedding. Trust me on this, girls: you need to find the guy first. He's kind of important and finding him WON'T be the easy part. I KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT HERE.
Depressing Bucket List Crap: The "Bucket List Board" is very popular, and not a bad idea! Some of them are full of genuinely awesome ideas like this one:

And some of them are more like this:

I can no longer find my all-time favorite, but thankfully I found it shocking enough to save to my drive when I first saw it:
Really? REALLY? Is that an "achievement" or a "biological coincidence"?
Half-Naked Women: The interesting thing about the half-naked women is to note whether they were posted by men or women. Women post WAY more half-naked lady pictures than men do, and where the men are posting with a note like "she's hot" or "gorgeous!", the women's remarks are more along the lines of "I wish I had her [fill in body part here]" or "I WILL be this thin", etc. Basically, the men are making deposits to the wank bank, but the women are using these images to remind themselves of everything that's wrong...with themselves. C'mon, girls, get it together.
Psychologically Damaging Quotes About Thinness: This really just follows on from the above.

Yes. Hey, are you gonna eat that cake, Skinny McStarvingson?
I'm all in favor of health, and Lord knows I could afford to lose a few pounds. But I worry about the mindset of someone who trawls the internet all day looking for images and quotes with which to beat him/herself up for being fat.
Pictures of Fried Food/Pictures of Desserts: Just for the sake of irony, you'll often find these flanking the thinness quotes on the homepage. But you have to look quickly in order to see it before your head explodes.
Simple Wisdom: Not "simple" like "homespun profundities"; "simple" like "idiotic nonsense". There are a lot of meme-generators on the web these days, and there is no IQ test to prevent morons from using them. As a result, you will periodically find pins featuring a generic stock photo in the background, and a really profound observation like "sometimes people will be mean to you even though you like them". And you will think to yourself, "Someone on this planet actually had nothing better to do than spend their time creating that. We should reinstate conscription."

All of this said, Pinterest does not have to be a huge waste of your time, so long as you understand from the very beginning that a lot of it is useless. Like all social media, the problem with Pinterest is: people. But you can get on there yourself and make it better! Pin something useful! Or at least something funny! See if you find something other than breasts and knitting patterns on the internet! I know there is more out there! Let's find it together! SPECIAL BONUS FUN: If you think you're up to the challenge and you want a Pinterest invite, feel free to shoot me an email (see link on the ride sidebar) with your email address, and I'll send one along :)

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Blubber and the Burbs

Wanna know a secret?

I'm not Carrie Bradshaw.

I'm not even close. When that God-forsaken crap was on the air and every woman in America was yelling "OMG! Her life is EXACTLY LIKE MINE!!!", I was licking orange Cheeto salt off my fingers and dumping Midori in my margaritas by the quart so I could get good 'n drunk before completing my work on "Little Matthew Vance", a rhyming children's book I wrote and illustrated, about a kid who has no friends and never gets invited to parties, so he tells his parents he's going to a party (so they won't think he's pathetic), but really he just goes into the woods and talks to an amphibian for fifteen pages. Hey - they always say "write what you know"!

Aaaannnnyhoo. My point is: there was never a moment, ever, in my entire life, when I saw a single parallel between Carrie Bradshaw's life and my own. And yet, the Cult of Carrie seems to have become such a basic part of American culture that everyone else thinks there must be something wrong with me if I'm NOT Carrie Bradshaw.

Hi. My name is Kimberly. And this ain't Sex and the City.

See, I am currently taking a hiatus from the improv theatre where I perform. I needed a little mental health holiday. But somehow, every time I say "I'm taking a break from the theatre", every woman within earshot hears "I AM NOW DEDICATING EVERY WAKING MOMENT TO THE HUSBAND HUNT AND WILL GLADLY MARRY THE NEXT PIECE OF PRIMORDIAL SLIME THAT LOOKS AT ME SIDEWAYS! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE GIVE ME ANY TIPS YOU HAVE ON HOW I CAN LOOK SEXIER, BE MORE APPROACHABLE, OR, MOST IMPORTANTLY, FIND AVAILABLE MEN!!!!"

I appreciate what these women are trying to do, but it's just not gonna happen. As a point of reference, I should tell you now that while no one has EVER said "Wow, you are so much like Carrie Bradshaw!" to me, a dozen different people who do not even know one another have said: "Holy crap. Tina Fey owes you royalties for basing Liz Lemon on you."

I don't want a purse dog, I'm not gonna go to church just to meet men, I would sooner go to an AA meeting than a "running group", I have a policy against straying more than 2 feet from the food table at parties, I categorically refuse to read The Rules, I don't wear makeup to the gym, I think the editors of Cosmopolitan should be tried at the Hague, I don't shoe-shop recreationally, I HATE dating, and no, thank you, I will not stop putting mayonnaise on everything.

Look, I'm not completely anti-men or anti-relationship. I've been in some downright pleasant relationships in my time, and even now, there's a guy out there I would not mind sharing my Cheetos with. But you know why I like him? It's because: he's fun to watch TV and/or shoot pool with. That's it. I don't like guys who hit on me when I'm out at a bar wearing a metric ton of eyeliner with a headful of gorgeous curls that smell like burnt hair (because FYI boys, that's what gorgeous curls are made of: acrid smell-of-death burnt hair). I don't trust guys like that. They don't like me. They like my eyeliner and my burny hair. Those guys would have no appreciation for my favorite pastime of yelling "EEEWWW!" and laughing hysterically while I run a neti pot through my nose. I want the guy who joins me in making fun of 2am infomercials. Because he can't sleep either, and neither one of us is getting up at 6:30 to go to the gym.

And I'm not going to spend my month looking for Mr. Right. Because the kind of guy who really puts the mayo on my tater tots, so to speak, is precisely the kind of guy you DON'T find by looking for him. So IF IT'S ALL THE SAME TO EVERYONE, I'm going to get back to doing what I want to do, boring and shut-in-y though it may be. I may not be Carrie Bradshaw, but at least I'm not a walking petri dish like she would be, and you can take that to my local American Red Cross blood donation center. Where they will vouch for me.

Lemon OUT!*

*copyright Tina Fey, no infringement intended

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

How To...Say What You Mean

Lately I find that more and more people seem to be talking just to get attention, or to start a conversation without explicitly showing that they want a conversation to start. This irks me; if you want to start a conversation with someone, just say, "Oh, I was meaning to tell you..." or "Guess what!" or "Do you have a minute?" Because when you just start talking and wait for the appropriate person to join in and say exactly what you want them to say, it's inefficient, and it may not even yield the desired result! I'll give you an example...

Person A: Gosh, I really shouldn't eat this entire sheet cake.
Person B: Oh, are you on a diet?
Person A: Yeah. It's this new diet I saw on TV...

Person A: Gosh, I really shouldn't eat this entire sheet cake.
Person B: (shoots Person A in the head)


Up in the Air

I like travelling, but I don't get to do it very much. And when I do get to travel, I find that I am generally doing so in the company of my parents. I love my parents, but there's an age at which you start to think it *might* be pathetic to have your parents as your sole travel companions. And when you reach that age (33), you have some choices:
Option #1: Meet an awesome member of the sex to whom you are attracted, who finds you irresistible, and get married! Now you have someone to travel with and you'll get a tax break! This option is favored by my mother, my married friends, and the more meddlesome members of my extended family. And to them, I say: OF COURSE! WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT?!?!? *irritated glare* Next.

Option #2: Travel with a friend! This is a perfectly legitimate option, provided you have a friend who meets all the crucial Travel Buddy Requirements and is interested in going to the same place you want to go and can get the time off from work and has no outstanding warrants in your country of origin or destination. That's a pretty tall order. And it gets a lot tougher when your best Travel Buddy options start going with Option #1.

Option #3: Travel alone! This can get pricey, as there's no one to share costs. And it might get lonely. It might even get boring. On the other hand, no one else gets a vote on what you do with your day, no one will know if you choose to have ice cream sundaes for all three meals every day of your trip, you can spend your whole trip in character as your alter ego (Mitzi Wong, international plus-size model and wine reviewer), and you don't have to go to a *single* modern art museum if you don't want to. WHERE DO I SIGN?

So this year, for the first time ever in my whole entire life, I am opting for #3. I have booked plane tickets and a hotel room. I've also booked a day tour, but I think I'm going to leave the rest of my itinerary open and see where the days take me. I expect it'll be something like this...

9AM: "I have deduced that these important cultural and historical landmarks are all in the same neighborhood, so I'll walk over there and spend the day enriching my brain!"
9:45AM: "There's a IHOP here? Hmmm. My brain won't get very enriched if I don't at least feed it first..."
Noon: "Crap! It's noon! I gotta stop reading Twitter and get up to that other neighborhood."
Noon 15: "Wait - there's a Little Italy here? Is there a Little Italy in every city? I can't believe I didn't know there was a Little Italy! HEY PIZZA!"
4:30PM: "Screw it."
6PM: Back in my hotel room with a bottle of wine and my leftover pizza.

Solo vacations are awesome. Also: I've just checked, and apparently there really is an IHOP less than a block from my hotel, so every day of my trip may literally go exactly as I have described above. Except Little Italy won't surprise me anymore after the first day.

So I'm pretty stoked, and I'm open to any suggestions or ideas anyone has. I'm not going to tell you where I'm going, because I don't want to be followed around by mobs of adoring fans and/or angry creditors. Let's just say that this place where I'm going has more than one modern art museum (WHY?), and I will not be setting foot in any of them!

Oh - and let's also just say that I'm not leaving for another 13 days, so it's not like I'm leaving immediately. Not that you could tell whether I'm home or not, since I've been so bad about blogging lately. Who knows? Maybe I'll think of something worth telling you in the next thirteen days! But just in case I don't...


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