Helpful, honest, happy family = amazing…

I’m sitting in my 4th-floor perch on a rainy Wednesday morning, observing the dog-walkers and the drizzled foliage while I savor the events of the past week. John booked a spur-of-the-moment flight to check in with the parental units, and his timing couldn’t have been more spot-on… we needed to see and celebrate with him. When he was here about this same time last year, life was feeling markedly unsettled for all of us including Auntie Rita… and much positive resolution has transpired since, so we toasted to every bit of it. On Sunday he treated us to a wonderful 18th wedding anniversary celebration at Basil Leaf… Italian food, wine, exquisite desserts, and the best company we could ever want, while we counted our blessings. Life remains good.

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Between the weather and timing, we managed a handful of walks… and the remainder of our waking hours were spent talking and eating, a true Midwest sojourn for Atlanta man. Tomorrow he’ll return to his oncology unit and we’ll resume our exercise routines in earnest, possibly skip a meal once in a while… and life will go on until we see each other again. The days since last Friday will keep my heart fed for some time to come…

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Until next time.

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The world delivers a load of stress to our doors every day. I’m glad real family, however we manage to come by those people, is there to help us handle it all and move on. I fiercely love and need my people.

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Laziness… the habit of resting before you’re tired

How to tell if something has become a habit… when you feel utterly miserable if you miss a day. Kim woke me up when he left for PickleBall, which I assume was around 6:30, and the next thing I knew it was nearly 8:00. When I stepped out onto the balcony the sun and thick hot air made me duck right back inside to think it over, whereupon I decided some buttery grits with toast and jam sounded more rejuvenating… and here we are.

If every day went according to plan, we’d be robots, but missing my morning walk will stick like glue and I’ll be looking for shade toward evening to make up for it. Seven months ago I couldn’t envision ditching the lifetime nerve pain and doing whatever I wanted to do… so now when I pass up opportunities to DO… I feel it. I’m calling that a beautiful thing while I line up the day… there’s usually enough to do.

I remember scorching summers, some total drought-makers, but the current heat wave feels ponderous even when the humidity is below 50%. In an era when all our chickens seem headed home to roost, I’m not holding out false hope for consistently milder weather any time soon, by which I mean I may never see that day again. Good to be old… I got to see most of it at least once. Live with this we will, kids, ’til we die. The human race is nearly inscrutable on every level, but one thing we know about us… even the gods can’t tell us a damn thing because we arrived here knowing it all.

Not a lot to write home about right now, just felt like checking in with everybody. And I saved another little stack of stuff to share with you…

Right off the top, a commentary on the past couple of weeks:

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In that vein, and don’t let on that I told you, but Kim always wanted to invent a Braille halter-top.

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Self-explanatory.

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This one’s just a freebie.

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I like to reiterate the following on a semi-regular basis to keep misinterpretations to a minimum if possible:

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This is critically important, so don’t skim past it…

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And this… shared by a wonderful friend… because I love it.

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Thinking in print…

If writing is one of your best emotional outlets, you know it doesn’t take much to plant the seed of a thought. I was out for my walk just now, in the early morning cool, and in that relatively brief span of time my senses were stirred in more ways than one.

I’m still opting for flat sidewalks ’til the spine says move on again, so that keeps me within the general downtown area, where early mornings are quiet, with mostly dog walkers and food delivery trucks for company. The route I picked out of the hat this time took me past the Salvation Army building, whose yard is currently hosting a tatty old recliner that must be holding onto several gallons of ammonia. Somebody haul that thing off, ‘k? My senses were definitely awake from that point on.

Once normal breathing returned, I started picking up the breakfast aromas along Mass Street and was ready to make the return loop toward home. Just outside our building I met a neighbor out walking a very beautiful, gentle dog with eyes that looked almost human. My neighbor introduced her as Rosie and said that she’s just recently rescued her from a puppy mill where Rosie was a breeder bitch. After successful pregnancies, Rosie exhibited a false one and was kicked out of the facility. No babies, no eat. No shelter, no care, no love, no survive. Beautiful sweet Rosie is clearly one of the lucky ones… she got out. And she’s sleek and healthy and not broken down… because she got out. But Rosie’s lonely. She misses her babies and her sisters. So my neighbor is on the list to get a puppy from one of Rosie’s sisters, who is due to deliver any day. And I hope Rosie’s sadness will turn to healing. I know, still breeders, but we fix one thing and then work on the rest. My heightened senses (thx, pee-soaked chair) are still rolling it around between heart and brain… and that spot inside that says “You see more than you understand.”

A sweet scenario would have been for a good girl like Rosie to meet a nice baby-daddy and settle in with him to raise however many litters of puppies they were blessed with… to be well cared-for… and to die at a peaceful old dog age without ever having been forced into any of it. That’s what my eyes see… my heart will work on the understanding. And already it’s saying “Every girl’s a good girl ’til life happens. And then she’s still a good girl, it’s just public perception that changes.”

Thanks, heart, I can always count on you.

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Almost the weekend…

8:30am

Big flash of lightning and now it’s pelting down rain, so I’m glad I got my walk in early. Now that they can actually go somewhere, my feet yearn for the sidewalks every morning and it’s getting to be a happy friendship. The annoying platitudes people have hit us with all our lives are turning out to be true. “One step at a time,” for example. Life in five little words. I can’t sit here for very long in the mornings before I have to put on my Tevas and get outta here, and by now I know old dogs can relearn old tricks, which is beyond gratifying.

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1:00pm

Guess what, I have no rant for you today. It’s beautiful outside, although entirely on the hot side, Kim and I went for a drive in the country after PickleBall, I got an egg & cheese croissant, and we stopped at a roadside stand where he bought sweet corn that was picked this morning. We’ll have it tonight with grilled salmon, and garden cukes & tomatoes, and does it get any better than that… ?

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So I’m just here to share STUFF, the bits and pieces I save all week with you in mind. I steal some of it from my friend Steve, and find the rest lying around loose. Enjoy…

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And maybe related, maybe not…

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Unraveling the threads…

The other day I shared this little story on Facebook and it generated a brief but interesting conversation…

My impression was that I surprised at least a few people in the convo, catching them off-guard with a confessional comment or two… and I’ve thought about it since. We give it all sorts of names and labels… apprehension, disquiet, restlessness, watchfulness… but by any description, anxiety can be crippling. The first two years of isolation after COVID began showed me just how intricately-wrapped I was in the arms of silent worry. That sense of disquiet has been with me since before memory, and the reveal came because the isolation left me with nothing but time inside my own head.

If anxiety lives under your skin you’re likely to identify with some of this…

I’m saving the pertinent details for my bestseller, so on the “how did I get this way” front I’ll simply say for now that LIFE HAPPENS. It’s been extremely sweet to me in certain ways, though, so I’ve had my good moments, stumbling through life, even at times feeling marvelously (and temporarily) in control of my existence. I cherish those times, which are ongoing. But the flipside that we’re not talking about right now never goes away, just hangs out in doorways and dark alleys waiting to trip me up and put me on the wrong side of myself. It takes only a word or a look, an image from the past, a riff of a song, a perceived disappointment… and that other me takes over. I don’t like her at all because all the things I want to be… she isn’t. I keep thinking year by year that we’ll reach a peaceful settlement, she and I… but she’s tricky and has been running the show far longer than the me I really am… the one who’s strong through everything and knows what she’s doing. (For some reason the witchy half of me just laughs when I say that.)

If you’re me, with Anxiety in the driver’s seat, you drag your feet about making plans, even though you want to see the people involved. It’s complicated. You make all your doctors’ appointments for afternoon because you need the whole morning to get mentally ready for it, which includes showering and dressing. Situations encompassing more than four people are anxiety-inducing because despite spending ridiculous dollars on high-tech hearing assists you can’t hear shit… all the voices and background sounds blend together, obliterating consonants from the beginnings and endings of words, which renders them unintelligible. My glued-on but sincere smile and the occasional nod of my head are intended to convey a general sense of understanding on my part, along with the acknowledgment that it doesn’t really matter, I know there won’t be a test, we’re all just being sociable here… as anxiety percolates.

Phone calls are a test of will, mine against the witch under my skin. The anxiousness attached to this one harkens back to the days before I realized I was losing my hearing, I just knew people were talking softer and faster and why was this happening all at once? I’m realizing that it’s really not such a big deal to have a phone conversation, and it’s where these expensive earbuds shine, so I’m on the verge of winning this one. In fact, since breaking out of the prison of nerve pain, I’ve been taking on lots of tiny challenges and winning, which bodes better for the future.

I’ve learned how to be a duck, calm on the surface, paddling for my life underneath, which as it turns out is the definition of adulting. And I’m learning that the world of my thoughts is the true one… as long as I keep them real. When I was little I wondered what people did after 40 or so, when they knew everything. Just read books ’til they died, I figured.

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I don’t know the answer to the question posed in the graphic, but I know I’m a champion at letting things steal my joy. I can break my own heart in record time with conversations that never happened, slights that never came my way at all. It’s crazy.

But never mind, it’ll all be in the book…

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Personhood…

Ironically, Mr. Salinger was one of them.

Tomorrow will be the coolest day this week at 89º, then mid to upper 90s after that for the foreseeable. Mornings are prime and on this one I managed to kick myself out the door after doing less than nothing all day yesterday. I love wandering around East Lawrence… there are no two houses alike, and I see something new every morning. There’s art everywhere… on the porches and in yards… not for sale, but because artists on this end of town are crawling out of the woodwork and then carving it into fantastical shapes. I’ve been staying on good sidewalks for a little while… just a stage in the process… but I’m about ready for all-out hiking with Rita again when it isn’t dangerously stifling outside.

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The fallout from the Supremes’ ill-advised meltdown continues, and it affects every one of us who values herself as a person, especially since it takes some of us a lifetime to get there after being “groomed” to believe we’re weak, ineffective, wrong, and less-than. I was close to 60 before I started really getting to know and appreciate myself, and this official smackdown feels personal despite the fact that I turned in my baby-making equipment decades ago. It was never about babies anyway… it’s always been about power and control. For all the reasons, I have a problem with that approach, and I know I’m not the only one. Millions of women are still consistently voting against their own safety and well-being, but millions more know we’ve been had from the beginning, and I doubt your run-of-the-mill man-on-the-street has a clue how deep that current runs. We can’t please everyone, nor is that our reason for existing.

Why would I care… I’m old, right? Why do I even harbor an opinion? What if half my fellow Americans want me to fade out and shut up about all of it? Sorry, not that old yet. I go on Twitter in the mornings and wave my freak flag around for a while, happily giving a heart to everything I agree with, mouthing off, venting, picking up a few laughs… then wander away to Facebook with my adult face on (sometimes). I’m harmless, if annoying, and people should be grateful I don’t have the piss & vinegar to be an actual problem, which is true of most “old” people I know. Word of advice: Don’t turn your back on us.

I say we purposely go about changing the perception that we’re accessories who are better seen but not heard in public…

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General male wisdom** holds that feelings and emotions interfere with real life, but Mansi and I say…

**My personal husband Kim Smith is exempt from all such aspersions.

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Apropos of nothing, and reflecting only a mood of fond reminiscence…

I’m fine, it’s fine, everything’s fine, hope you’re fine…

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Living in harmony…

Good morning, fellow conspirators, I hope your day’s spooling out in proper order so far. In my own little world, I was gently awakened with the words “There’s a bagel waiting for you,” and indeed there was. Everything… toasted… still warm…with veggie schmear… after which I was ready for anything, so I walked to Massachusetts… and from there to the Kaw to watch it roar and tumble. I stay close to the head-high railing because lots of bicyclists go back and forth on the walkway and I can’t always hear their shouted “On your right” or “on your left.” This morning I waited for someone on a bright yellow bike to pass, but instead the rider slowed and pulled to a stop. He turned out to be a very cheerful skinny old man my age who immediately struck up a conversation about how much water continues to sluice through town from the west. Turns out he’s a retired professor from Baker University by way of Atlanta, lives not far from downtown, loves to ride the bridge, and has a knack for making somebody’s day. Old people are so precious… if you make eye contact we’ll talk to you, so watch yourself, but we do know shit and we feel seen when somebody acts marginally interested.

From the category of Unsought Information… you see me talking about walking to various states. Here’s the deal… I’ve always heard that our north/south streets were named in the order the states entered the union, so here’s what I did, I googled it. Right there’s the fraction of difference between thinking you know something and finding out. Here’s what I found…

ARE LAWRENCE’S STATE STREETS REALLY NAMED FOR STATES IN THE ORDER THEY CAME INTO THE UNION?

Great question! The answer is, sort of. Here are the states by order of entry into the Union. If you go by this list, the state streets in Lawrence are numbers 1, 2, 3, 11, 5, 13, 9, 6 (Massachusetts). Then numbers 14 (Vermont) through 27 (Florida) are in perfect order. Then it goes 32, 30, 38, 31, 29 (Iowa). It seems that after Iowa Street, the city planners pretty much gave up. Here is a great article on the reasons (or lack thereof) behind this order. It’s interesting to note many of the southern states were purposefully left out.

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Okay, there ya’ go, make of it what you will… or can. My job is to keep walking cross-country.

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Currently making the rounds online is a rant that requires a second and third look and a well-measured rebuttal, which someone has been kind enough to provide. I hope everyone on social media who reads the first installment will also read the second. The first makes one kind of statement, the second another.

From the article accompanying the quotes:

“The most interesting thing about the initial post is the sense of victimization coming from the original poster. It seems to say that having to pay attention to issues of justice and civil rights and being asked to acknowledge the ongoing impact of historical oppression and what role each of us might play in keeping others down somehow takes something away from them.

“Being asked to see and care about victims of injustice doesn’t make you a victim yourself. The logic there is so strange. And what does it mean to shove being gay down someone’s throat? Because of course it would be reasonable to push back against someone actually cramming something down your throat, but in this context ‘shove it down my throat’ usually means ‘did something publicly in my line of vision.’ Not the same thing.”

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A commenter said: “I spend so much time surrounded by straight guys who talk about nothing except women’s bodies and sex, but my pride flag bumper sticker is apparently throwing my sexuality in people’s throats.”

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See interpretation below…

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We want to believe that the divisions are many, but it’s really all one thing and nobody wants to deal with it down to a nubbin until it’s actually solved… how to survive together on a small planet.

Raises hand. Looks closely.

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Let’s talk about home and comfort…

Friends will be surprised to hear that I walked to New Jersey yesterday morning. Strolled from 8th to 9th to Connecticut to New York to New Jersey, which kept me on good sidewalks and brought me out at the train station, ready for the return loop home. Went out just after 7am but it was already getting steamy, so 45 minutes’ trekking was about right. This morning I woke up later and it was already breathless outside, so I’ve declared this to be Paperwork Day (why do we still have PAPER work??), while soothing any trace of guilt with iced coffee. Oh, there’s all that laundry, too, of course, good thing I conserved energy right off the bat, so wise…

The days grow ever weirder while that other shoe takes on weight, so here’s some nonsense I saved for just such days…

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I love you, fellow weirdos, we must hang together. Or we will hang separately…

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Thomas Wolfe wrote a whole novel centered around the fact that You Can’t Go Home Again, and someone’s explanation says “If you try to return to a place you remember from the past it won’t be the same as you remember it.” I think it’s the other way around – we can’t go back because the people who never left won’t let us be anything other than the labels we wore then. That strikes me as an important fail-safe… if nothing changes over a lifetime, a society is dying, so home has to be wherever we find ourselves.

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I hope your heart feels at home today.

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The Koch Libertarian Project vs. America

Hot off the Kansas prairie and explains pretty much everything.

Diane Ravitch's blog

What is happening to the America that we swore allegiance to every day in public school? what happened to the America that was “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”? How did we get a rogue Supreme Court that recklessly demolishes women’s rights, the separation of church and state, gun control, public safety, and efforts by government to prevent climate disasters? Who kidnapped the conservative Republican Party that believed in stability and tradition? From whence came the people who scorn the commonweal and ridicule Constitutional norms?

Former state legislator Jeanne Dietsch has an answer. Connect the dots by looking at what has happened to New Hampshire. The coup failed in Washington, D.C. on January 6, she writes. But it is moving forward in New Hampshire, with many of the same characters and all of the same goals.

If you read one post today, read this.

She writes:

During the last…

View original post 723 more words

Expectations v the real world…

It’s a beautiful 4th of July, but it’ll be a quiet one… nobody in this house is in the mood to celebrate the recent annulment of independence on what was a holiday in its honor. Independence is solely for straight white Christian men, so all the glorious speeches today about what it means to live free or die will ring hollow and mean little. Fireworks are a sad joke… they torture innocent animals while everything goes up in smoke and noise, truly a metaphor for the day. Women have been put firmly back in our “place” which we’re supposed to “know” and adhere to. It’s been made crystal clear that we are brood mares, entitled to room and board but tasked with every responsibility men don’t care to own. And since the Court has for the first time in its history REMOVED rights from U.S. citizens, we can realistically kiss them ALL goodbye. So far, we’ve seen the demise of women’s hard-fought right to manage our own bodies, the striking down of birth control rights and freedom even for married couples, and the right of every human to breathe clean air. Now Clarence and Company are taking a second look at Obergefell, and anyone who thinks the right to marry the person you love won’t be erased… is delusional. As the dominoes continue to fall, swerving conspicuously around Clarence’s mixed marriage, once illegal and calling for death-by-citizen, they’ll get to our right to vote, and women will truly be out on our ear. But none of this is new nor recent… Abigail Adams’ entreaties to her husband were made nearly 250 years ago.

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We stand helplessly by as we watch democracy being systematically dismantled, the power of change having been removed from our hands while we weren’t watching. It’s all very sad and maddening, and in the end inevitable. Self-government requires that everybody pull their weight, contribute to the good of all, stay informed, and vote. We’ve lost much of that, along with the capacity to face truth, deal with it head on, and make the changes required to actually fix anything. Thus, the oligarchs are taking over, the Supremes are legislating from the bench, the legislature is ruling from the minority, and the presidency has been damaged and weakened. We came within a hair’s breadth of tyranny on January 6 of last year, and we are nowhere close to being out of danger as a nation. If there are American citizens left who feel an urging to help set things right, now would be the time.

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Crucial to bear in mind…

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And it contains no glee nor happiness.

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I wish everyone an honest July 4th, eyes wide open. Celebrate the wins, grieve the losses. Fully own the independent spirit that lives inside you, a force no one but you can cancel. Stay strong… Lady Liberty’s about to go through some things and she needs our support. And to quote John Prine, “I still love America, I just don’t know how to get there anymore.”

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Reality intrudes…

This was a ridiculous week to run out of my antidepressant and forget to pick it up… the week the Supremes decided to burn it all down. And now I’m awake early on a rainy Saturday morning, reading headlines. Just saw one alluding to Evangelical Republicans’ delight and joy at the pain they’ve managed to cause for women, for the environment, for the security of same-sex marriage, for the warp and woof of U.S. daily life. Looked at the article behind the headline and its tone was one of crowing success, disdain for human emotions and conditions, and overflowing with we-won-you-lost glee. The fact that it makes conservatives so happy when we’re sad tells me it would be a long trek back to actual relationship, and maybe that’s how they prefer it… throwing it all in our face and walking away.

Words are so freaking cheap, made that way by improper and dishonest usage. It’s a trip of the tongue to say you love someone, a trick of the brain to vote for people who will hurt them. I see younger people saying again that both parties are the same, the mindsets are identical, nobody’s to blame for anything, everybody’s to blame for everything, none of it means squat. They’re mostly young enough not to have memories of what fascism did to Germany, was allowed to do, was invited in to perpetrate, so I don’t take their declarations very seriously. There are two mindsets at work in the nation, and they have little in common. One has heart behind it, the other fear and control. One leads to life, the other death. It’s distressing to watch people cling to lies and desperation… on the other hand, I cannot help them without removing their freedoms as ours are being dismantled. One thing conservatives aren’t taking into account in their celebrations is that the Supremes’ decision to sacrifice the environment in favor of money will affect each of them in equal fashion with the liberals they want to end. Unless we have a few kabillion extra bucks lying around, we’re all eventually going to die the same suffocating death, so maybe don’t laugh too hard or too soon.

It’s always about the meanness, the cruelty, about how much butt-hurt people can cause to fellow citizens who are just trying to get through life. Where does that come from? What shapes one party of people into a given mindset, world view, automatic response? What has molded conservatives in such a way that the first thought is to PUNISH? To make people PAY for their supposed wrong-thinking. To line all the ducks up with a laser and forbid them to move. Where did they get the idea that they need to tell every individual what to do and how to live? And that by not following their edicts, we’re sinning. Clarence Thomas, having scuttled women’s right to full personhood… the right of married couples to use the birth control method of their choice… and the right-to-life of humans who need to breathe Earth’s air going forward by quashing climate change response… now wants to take another look at the case which decided same-sex marriage. He of course hasn’t mentioned Loving v Virginia, which makes his own mixed-race marriage to Ginni possible. After Clarence leaves, they’ll dump that one too, if not before. If Ginni ends up being indicted for the 1/6 insurrection, all bets are off.

In these years, with every part of life in turmoil and all of it changing, I’m okay with the fact that we’re two nations. We always have been, so we might as well accept it, deal with it, and try to live through it since our basic differences haven’t always kept us literally at war with each other. Until the major issues can be resolved, the two-nation thing keeps us from grabbing each other’s throats in any organized way, so it’s a necessary buffer, which is no doubt why we’ve built it, all of us, working together. Imagine that…

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And now we are here.

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