Fairy gnomes

May I ask that you read my previous post, “Let’s build a house” before you read this one? See! I just tricked you into reading more of what I write. I am very clever that way!

In that post, I wrote that I am building my house on trust and respect, the two key elements I need in a relationship with a man. The third thing that I must have is very important. Fairy gnomes, or as the scientists like to call them, pheromones. The fairy gnomes are so small that you can’t see them with the naked eye, but they are oh-so-real, and you either have them or you don’t.

Chemistry, as some like to say. Sex appeal, as the tooth paste ads of the 1970’s promised. Basic animal attraction, since we as humans are, after all, animals. And I mean that in the best possible way.

Who knows what makes the fairy gnomes come around? I surely don’t. A woman can feel the fairy gnomes with a man who is not all Hollywood handsome, so it really doesn’t have a lot to do with how he looks. And the fairy gnomes don’t tell you anything about his character. I’m sure many a good woman has gotten into a heap of trouble with a good for nothin’ man, all because of the fairy gnomes. So we have to keep our heads on straight and do our investigating and all of that, but without fairy gnomes, all I am ever going to have with a man is a friendship.

I love my friends, and I am not opposed to being just platonic friends with a man, but this house I’m building? It’s about a romantic and sexual relationship with a man, and while I hope we will be friends as well as lovers, I am not building a platonic house.

So there you have it. Three things I need when building my house. Trust and respect, the two key foundational elements. And flying all over the place, lots and lots of fairy gnomes.

I’d like to add that the term “fairy gnomes” came from a conversation I had with a friend, who mispronounced the real word, and I said it sounded like fairy gnomes, and there you have it.

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Let’s build a house

My friend entertains at children’s birthday parties, and one Saturday morning I went along to help her. The guest of honor was celebrating his first birthday, and his mother had decorated their home in sunny yellow. The theme was “One Trip Around the Sun.” Did you ever think about that? Each birthday is another trip around the sun. This young man was still very new to our planet, and in fact was still napping when the guests arrived.

His older brother and the other children gathered ’round, as my friend got everybody happy with bubbles and songs and dancing and lots and lots of being silly. She has lots of musical instruments, because she teaches music, dance and movement to little kids. We all got out the rhythm sticks, and we tapped them up high and low and behind our backs. They are simple little things, but if you know anything about small children, sometimes the less complicated a toy happens to be, the more things the child can think of doing with it. She is a great teacher, because she doesn’t dictate what the kids should do. There are no “shoulds” really, except that no one should ever put a stick in his ear, mouth, nose or run with it. Dangerous.

She said, “Let’s all build a birthday house for (insert the name of the birthday person.)” Down on the floor, we pretended we were building a house. All of a sudden, I had a flash, and I thought, “I’m building my house on trust and respect.” Do you see how I make things all about me?

I kept my focus on the present moment, because I don’t like to miss a thing. And also, because I was there to help my friend and not daydream in a distracted way in a room full of fifteen children. We cleaned up and packed up. We had homemade lemonade, and I had a delicious croissant, and we were on our way.

The thought stayed with me for a long time. The relationship that I have with a man is like a house. It’s where I am going to live, and where he will live with me, even if we don’t live together in an actual house. And the two basic, foundational elements are trust and respect. Those will be mutual, of course. I will need him to trust and respect me, and I hope I am the sort of person who doesn’t make it difficult to trust me and respect me.

And how I need to feel about him? Absolutely, we will have nothing else without my trusting him and respecting him. Those two elements are the very foundation of the house I’m building.

The next day I went on a second date with a match dot com guy. Our first date had gone well, and he had come up with a lovely idea for our second time out. Then I discovered that he had misrepresented himself in a significant way (significant to me, anyway) on his online profile. He did not confess it to me, and he wasn’t sorry he had done it. It came up in conversation in the early part of our second date, and I knew that I would never be seeing him again.

I suppose if I was already in a relationship with him, where he had a track record, and I discovered he was not truthful about something, it might have been different. Who among us has not shaded the truth for one reason or another? It happens. But right from the very start? And his reason for doing so seemed so weak to me, that I knew we had nothing on which to build a house.

The date was very nice. It involved afternoon sunshine, sparkling water on the bay, poking around in some lovely shops and viewing a display of some dazzling art by local creative people. It ended with some of the best vegetarian tacos I have ever eaten. I mean, really! A restaurant that has three different options for vegetarians? Three distinct, different kinds of veggie tacos. So delicious.

But you know what? I can’t build a house on sunshine, water, shopping, art, or even the best tacos I have ever eaten. Are you envisioning a house made of tacos? Because that actually would be sort of cool! But I think you know what I mean.

My birthday is coming up soon. I had to throw that in there, because I love my birthday, and I am after all, July Girl. I am making another trip around the sun, and while I am not all that wise for my years, I do have some experience just by virtue of the fact that I’ve been on this planet almost fifty-six years.

I once lived in house with a very shaky foundation. It was pretty from the outside, and for a while I focused on all the beautiful things we did have. But we didn’t have trust and respect, so eventually the whole thing crumbled.

I am not sure yet about all the other things I need to build my house. But trust and respect are the two basic elements, and have you ever thought about how they fit together so well? Really, you don’t have one without the other.

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Hold On Pain Ends

She is eleven, and like a lot of girls her age, she likes sparkly nail polish and texting. She texted her aunt this. HOPE. Hold On Pain Ends. Her aunt wasn’t in any sort of pain, but this child and her nine-year-old sister know something about pain. They live with their father, and have supervised visits with their mother to keep them safe. Their mom just had her fifth DUI, and battles other demons as well. Her demons take up a lot of her time, and she doesn’t have much time left for the girls. They have an extraordinarily good life with their dad, but there are just some things that won’t fill the void left by a mom.

One morning on the way to school, she was talking with her dad about how she would like to talk to her mom every day on the phone. The mom could call her, but she doesn’t do that sometimes for weeks on end. Calls and texts the girl and her sister make to the mom go unanswered. It took the girl a long time to come up with the kind of message she wanted to send her mother. When she finally had it to her satisfaction, she showed it to her dad and he agreed it would be a good text to send to her mom.

This was it. “If we talked every day, we would remember the good things and not the bad things. Like if I got all F’s one year, and then I got all A’s. You would remember the A’s and not the F’s.”

Do you think this young girl might be an old soul? And how could we all begin to do some good things in our lives, and make those the focus, rather than the bad?

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Pretty Girl

Some of my nighttime sleeping dreams are really vivid, as in more real than my daytime reality. That makes the nightmares really scary, but it also makes the good dreams epically wonderful. I am going to tell you about the most wonderful dream I had last night, but first I will tell you a sad story about something that happened to me. You need to have the sad story to fully appreciate the happy dream.

The last day of fourth grade, I got my first pet, a calico kitten I named “Pretty Girl.” I loved her so much. My mother wasn’t opposed to my getting her, but she wasn’t excited about it either. As was rather common in my culture growing up, parents often got a pet for a child and said, “You have to take care of it.” I loved my kitty so much, and since one of the main things I did in life was try not to annoy my mother, I would guess that I was pretty responsible in taking care of her. I remember giving her pouches of Tender Vittles cat food, and some cod liver oil so she didn’t get hair balls. I made sure she had fresh water and a clean litter box. I brushed her fluffy fur, and there may have been cats who had more love or attention, but I kind of doubt it.

One day when I was in eighth grade, I came from home from school and couldn’t find my kitty. I called for her, and I asked my mother if she had seen her. My mother smirked, and told me she was gone. Without any warning, while I was at school that day, she had taken her in the car and dumped her alongside the road. She told me she had done this. I became hysterical. My mother’s only explanation was, “I don’t want that cat around anymore,” but I knew my mother well enough to know she had done it mostly to wound me. When my father arrived home from work, I also went off on him, and as it turned out, he knew about it and did nothing to stop it. I was horribly hurt, and very angry at these two people, and what had become a predictable pattern. She would hurt me, and he wouldn’t do enough to stop her. Her cruelty combined with his impotence did something to me that day. I know that the little love I felt for my mother died that day, and my disappointment in my dad had reached a new low.

I asked why she didn’t warn me, because we could have put an ad in the newspaper or maybe I could have gotten a friend at school to adopt my kitty. Why did she just do something like that? I would have hated to give her up, but that was preferable to her being cold and lost and alone and possibly dead. A few days later on the school bus ride home, I saw a lifeless cat lying by the road, and I don’t know if it was her, but maybe it was.

Last night I had a wonderful dream. I was at the boarding gate at an airport, my purse and my small carry-on bag beside me. I was waiting for boarding to begin for my flight home to San Diego. An older man in uniform, hassled and harried and hating his job, came striding up to me. He had a scraggly gray moustache, and his uniform was wrinkly, but he had a TSA badge on with his picture on it. “You have something at baggage claim,” he said. “No,” I told him, “I don’t. All I have is my purse and carry-on,” and I gestured. He sighed heavily and asked, “Are you Susan (insert my last name here)?” in a tone that implied he certainly knew I was. Then he slowly but not very patiently said, “Then you have something at baggage claim.” Knowing that there was no point in arguing, and that soon he would see that whatever he thought was mine actually belonged to some other passenger, I followed him to an area, where he pointed. It was my kitty! It was her! I picked her up, and she curled herself around my neck and shoulder the way cats do when they are happy. She purred loudly, and she felt just like she used to, and she smelled just like she used to. He handed me a carrying thing for her, but it wasn’t the standard issue crate. It was a beautiful turquoise and yellow handbag sort of thing, specially designed for a beautiful kitty. It was gorgeous and luxurious and looked very expensive, but it didn’t look half as good to me as she did. I thought she might not like being in it, but she did, and I put it under my seat as I flew home. Every once in a while, I would slide my foot back just to make sure she was there. And she was. And I knew without a doubt that I would get to keep her forever and ever.

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Fifth grade

“I’m not going to be able to send you on to sixth grade,” she warned me. I remember standing at the side of her desk. No one else was around. I don’t know if it was recess time or before or after school. I was crushed. The shame of being “held back” would be more than I could bear, and it struck me as ridiculous that I, someone who had tested out to be in the gifted program, would not be able to pass fifth grade. She explained that although I had kept up well with all my work, I had missed so much school that if I missed any more she wouldn’t be allowed to promote me, because “the state has rules about attendance.”

That school year I had what my mother called “the stomach flu” a lot. Vomiting and diarrhea and endless days of waiting for the school bus to arrive where my friend would drop off my assignments. Then I would go back to school and make up quizzes and tests. I didn’t want to stay home. Being alone with my mother? I hated being around her. She was so mean. School was my haven, but I got sick so often. And it was hard to pretend to be okay when others can hear you throwing up and having diarrhea, even with a closed bathroom door.

After the discussion with my teacher, I told my parents what the teacher said, and I vowed within myself not to get sick any more. I don’t know how I did it. Was it sheer will power? I have an amazing amount of will power, and I am very good at putting my pain away and not feeling it. A little too good. But I was promoted, and went on to sixth grade.

If you’ve been reading here at July Girl for a while, you know that my son and daughter-in-law mistreat my grandchildren. It’s not an exaggeration to say that they are being abused, verbally, and hit and humiliated and other things that break my heart.

My ten-year-old granddaughter’s birthday party was Saturday, and while I always enjoy seeing her and her brother and sister, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to seeing her mom and dad. I don’t even have the words to articulate how it feels to know my son is the sort of father he is. I thought I was mentally prepared, but as I ran some errands Saturday morning before driving to their city, all of a sudden I felt like a helpless three-year-old, absolutely terrorized that there are mean people in the world who hurt children. My head, neck and back were in horrible pain, and it felt like someone had punched me in the stomach, although I’ll confess no one has ever done that to me, so I don’t really know. It was bad. I was determined to go, and so I did. It all went okay. My son was all right, his wife seemed to be on her best behavior, and I had some silly fun with my grandkids, who are always delighted to see me. I was relieved when it was over, and it took every ounce of strength I had to make the drive home (about an hour and a half.) I was freezing. So cold. I was also shutting down emotionally.

I went to bed that night, then woke in the wee hours of the morning feeling even worse. All of a sudden, with no warning, I had to throw up, and I didn’t even make it down our carpeted stairs before it all come flying out, projectile-like, just as little children throw up. Can I just tell you now that I live with an angel? My friend and roommate got me a pillow and a blanket and some ice, and I lay on the floor in our bathroom (where I finished up; sorry for the graphic details.) She cleaned it all up, and when I protested, she said, “You would do the same for me.” And I would.

I cancelled my first meeting with the new match guy, but we are going to reschedule. Today I am eating for the first time, but I called out sick at work, which I rarely do. I can’t remember being that ill for a long time, but I remember when I used to be like that a lot.

It was very triggering, which makes me realize that I need to handle things differently with my son and his family, so that I can continue to be a positive force in their life without destroying myself. I don’t know quite what I’m going to do, but right now I’m just concentrating on getting stronger and better. I know the answers will come.

The birthday girl told me that their last day of school was Friday. “I’m going into the fifth grade, Grandma,” she said proudly. I remember the fifth grade. All too well. And clearer than ever.

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It’s not that far away

I live less than forty miles from the United States border at Tijuana, Mexico. I have been to Mexico many times, although it’s been years since I’ve visited what the kids around here call “TJ.” Mexico in general is not as safe as it used to be, and how the tourism industry has taken a huge hit. I was thinking about those employed in tourism, and how that has affected their lives.

A woman I just met recently had a double mastectomy a week ago. She had hoped, and said her doctor had even suggested, that she might be able to avoid chemotherapy, but now she faces it. She is in a lot of pain, both physical and emotional. Her family members who are caring for her at home say she is despondent and not eating, and she wants to see no one. When she was diagnosed, a few well meaning friends urged her to end her lifetime habit of cigarette smoking, to improve her diet which consists of lots of processed foods, and to look at alternative and holistic approaches to her health. She is an intelligent woman and admits that she needs to make some different lifestyle choices, but she didn’t. She seems to think that western medicine has the answer to her problem, and has a somewhat disdainful attitude toward other types of healing.

Now maybe it’s easy for me to say this because I have never been seriously ill, but I’ll say it. “TJ’ is not that far away. And Tijuana is more than bars filled with American teenagers (the drinking age in Mexico is 18) and shops and crime and people living in conditions that would appall the average American. Tijuana has a medical community quite unlike that in America. Uninsured or underinsured Americans in my area travel to Tijuana to go to the dentist or doctor, because the cost is much less. Now there is a down side to that, of course, because the lack of regulation means that there are some “doctors” who are not really doctors, and bad things happen.

But there are also clinics there devoted to holistic medicine; that which views the patient as not just a patient, but a whole person. Nutrition and acupuncture and meditation, and a positive approach to health and healing. These clinics are expensive on the surface, but it’s not that much more than what most out-of-pockets are going to be when we are faced with something serious. There is also a positive mental attitude which can be quite contagious to the patient and his or her family.

I think that sometimes there is a better way than the normally accepted route that the masses take. I believe when it comes to taking care of our bodies, minds and spirits we should be ruthless and thorough in seeking our own paths. I respect this woman’s right to choose what she feels is best for her, but her dilemma has caused me to ponder how we live and what we eat and how we think, and what influences our choices.

Each day I have a time of meditation. I suppose it’s similar to a daily time of prayer that some have. I was thinking of this lady, and sending her love and light and healing. And I had the thought that Tijuana is not that far away. Unless it is.

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You have Wite-Out on your knee

I love my new job, for so many reasons. The energy in our office, and among those of us who work there, is dynamic. It feels like it is more than just a job, as if it is a springboard to bigger and better things in my life. I like being back in the Monday through Friday world, and having weekends off. Driving home at 5 o’clock feels like the middle of the afternoon, after all the late shifts I worked at the store. I love being able to wear high heels again. I love high heels. They make me feel both feminine and powerful all at the same time.

There is a freedom there to take risks and try things, with no awful consequences. I thrive in that sort of environment. If I perceive that something terrible might happen if I fail, I become very conservative and cautious. It’s not that I am a catastrophic thinker, for that is not my nature. But I lived for many years where there were dire consequences for making mistakes, and I love working in a place where I am encouraged to try new things and where making a misstep here and there is not a big deal at all. I am learning something new pretty much every day, a lot of it just figuring it out for myself, and it’s fun. It makes me feel free, and the days of when I used to close myself off and carefully guard my heart seem like so long ago. If I know it’s okay to make a mistake, I will take some audacious risks.

The lovely young woman who hired me is out in the field a lot, but every couple of days comes into the office. She and I will be working a little more closely together in the coming weeks and months, as I assist in her in some exciting marketing. When I saw her yesterday, she exclaimed, “You must be working really hard! You have Wite-Out on your knee.” And that brings me to another question. The Sharpie brand of markers advertise that they are smearproof. So why do I seem to get them all over my hands?

I am having the time of my life. I have high heels on my feet, Sharpie on my hands, my heart on my sleeve, and Wite-Out on my knee.

Wite-Out is a registered trademark of BIC Corporation. Sharpie is a registered trademark of Newell Rubbermaid.

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You shouldn’t be here alone

Since I am not in a sexual relationship now, I do lots of masturbating. I would prefer to have orgasms in a more organic way, with a man. So I take care of myself, until I have someone to take care of me. I go to some interesting places when I orgasm. Sometimes it is purely the physical sensations, but sometimes I feel as if I am disconnecting from my body and going somewhere. I have been to some wonderful places, none of which I can really describe. Words seem to fail me.

Yesterday I had a most spectacular orgasm from a physical point of view, but when I arrived at this other place, it was as if someone was telling me, “You shouldn’t be here alone.” After it was over, I had a huge drop. I understand the science of endorphins and adrenaline, and how after a really high high, the low can feel very low.

I took care of myself by drinking a lot of water and having a snack and being gentle with myself, and after a few hours I felt much better. But during that part of it, I also felt that I shouldn’t be here alone, that not only did I need someone to go with me (take me there?) I needed someone to be with me during the aftermath.

Last night I watched my favorite TV show, “Mad Men.” It was set around the time of the moon landing in 1969, which just happened to take place on July 20, my eleventh birthday. Do you know something about me? That lovely old song, “Fly Me to the Moon?” I think that is all about having an orgasm.

“Fly Me to the Moon” written by Bart Howard

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Who’s the alpha male now?

My father died in 1976, a week before my 18th birthday. I can remember as a child listening to him to talk to people, and he often had others ask for his advice. I felt very important and very smart when I was a teenager, and he began to converse with me just as he did the adults. He didn’t talk down to me. His death was sudden and unexpected, so I had no idea that the conversations we had would be the last.

He taught me to drive. It was during those times, me with my learner’s permit learning to drive a stick shift, and he next to me, calm and patient, that we began to have some of the best conversations, just the two of us. As he had me stop at the top of a big hill over and over, and not drift back down, as he taught me to parallel park perfectly, we would talk. We talked about a number of subjects. I find it interesting when something happens, and I reflect on how my dad predicted that. When President Obama began to advocate for public preschool, I recalled that my dad said that in the future, as more women went into the work force, there would need to be care for the little ones that everyone could take advantage of.

Our little town was divided between Protestants and Roman Catholics, with the Catholics outnumbering the Protestants significantly. Our family really never did attend church, but I suppose we identified as Protestant. My older sister became a Catholic shortly before she married her husband, who had been raised as such. She was careful to explain that she did not convert “for him,” but that she was a seeker and chose to be a Catholic. Some didn’t like it, and I asked my father what was their objection. He answered that he didn’t know why others felt that way, but it bothered him that “the church doesn’t respect women.”

My father had me learn to drive in a stick shift because “I don’t want you being one of those women who can’t drive a stick.” He taught me how to write a check and balance a checkbook, because “I don’t want you to be one of those women who don’t know how to handle money.” He didn’t treat me like a boy. He treated me like a smart, competent girl, who was the equal of any man.

The Los Angeles Times has an in-depth piece today on Elliot Rodger, the latest young person who went on a killing rampage. Some of his rage was directed at girls who rejected him. The article quotes him as saying, after he purchased his firearm, “Who’s the alpha male now, b*******?”

One of the things my father predicted that I thought about today, was that as women enjoyed greater freedoms and became equals with men, there would be a backlash from some men, and it would not be pretty. I think that some men do feel disrespected and emasculated by the media, by the way they are treated in family court, and certainly our public school system in America favors girl students and caters to them. I understand how they could feel that way, and one of my pet peeves about some women who identify as feminists is that they seem to think we women can get a leg up by putting men down. Misandry is just as wrong as misogyny. I am proudly and unapologetically a feminist, but I certainly don’t hate men. And I am in no way defending Rodger’s actions, but I am saying it is food for thought as I contemplate how we older people have created a culture where these tragedies are becoming more commonplace.

I lived in a home where my mother showed open contempt and disrespect for my father on an ongoing basis, and I rarely ever saw him or heard him retaliate. I mostly wanted to be a good girl, and I loved having his approval. He was not all that hard to please. I thought he hung the moon. I still do. I would think every man would love to have that; someone or perhaps even more than one person, who looks up in that black night sky and believes he put it there.

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Patriot dream that sees beyond the years

This is a holiday weekend for Americans, since Memorial Day is on Monday. We honor the men and women who died in the service of our country. It is noble, to value something or someone so much, that you would give your life for it. They deserve our gratitude, not just in words, but in deeds. A way in which we collectively as Americans could show that we appreciate those active duty and veterans, and honor those who died, would be to make sure that they are cared for properly. That takes money, and a different appropriation of the money now being spent.

We say that they died for our freedom, and it is true that we in America enjoy freedoms that others in the world do not. That includes freedom of speech, and the luxury of criticizing and challenging the status quo. If we would not take the attitude that we are right about everything, and that our way of doing things is best, perhaps we would free ourselves to make changes that are long needed.

We say that they died for our freedom, but not every military engagement has that as its end. Sometimes war is about something altogether. My older son was in the Air Force from 1999 to 2007, which emcompassed the 9/11 crisis and everything that took place after that. I am luckier than some mothers, because he came home safe and sound. But I disagreed with many things our country did during that time, and if he would have died in the service of his country, I would have felt conflicted. What would he have died for? Some noble cause? I don’t think so. But I respect the fact that he did his job, even when I (and even when he) didn’t always agree with the decisions those in leadership were making.

The death of a young person is always sad. Life has value. Each life has value, but when it’s someone who leaves us way before it seems time, it is a tragedy. And while death is simply a part of life, a natural course of events, aren’t some deaths preventable?

This Memorial Day weekend, we have another example of a young person with a gun killing people in Santa Barbara, California. We as adults have set up a society in which kids kill other kids, and yet nothing is done about gun reform.

My hatred for guns comes from my childhood. I grew up in a volatile household, with a mother prone to rages. There was one night in particular when she and my father were fighting that I was so scared I called my older brother to come to our house. I feared someone was going to die that night. It was real. It was palpable. It was not some little girl’s overactive imagination. I felt it. I smelled it. There were other nights that like, too many to count, but that one in particular put my radar up big time. My brother arrived quickly, and was able to calm the situation, but I have often thought what if we would have had a gun in that home? My older sister told a story of a time when she was twelve (this was before I was born) when our mother chased her around the kitchen with a large butcher knife and threatened to kill her. She believed she would. Of course, you can kill someone with a knife or other means, but a gun is just so slick and handy and easy and deadly.

So here we are on this weekend of red, white and blue. A time to remember those who served and died. And perhaps to remember those who died for no noble cause at all, but just because some troubled person had easy access to a deadly firearm. People say it’s a complicated problem to fix, and I suppose you could look at it that way. But other nations handle it differently, and do so successfully.

On Memorial Day we honor the dead. I honor them. All of them. The ones who “more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life” in the words of Katharine Lee Bates. The ones in Santa Barbara this weekend, whose deaths seem so senseless. All life has value. All of it has worth. We show a lack of respect for human life when we allow this.

If we don’t do something quickly, there will only be more of it. It makes me shudder, and it makes me remember. I hope that you do not know what it is like to be personally touched by violence, for I would wish that on no one. But aren’t we all as Americans being touched by it when these things happen? It gets harder and harder for me to say it’s them and not I. It is all of us.

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