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Oh Writing, I miss you so…it really stinks to have a day job.

Anyway, this doesn’t actually count as writing; I just wanted (needed?) to relay an observation. There is writing on the way though (she says, as if you have all been patiently waiting by your PC).

A while back I explained that there were some similarities between my son and my dog. It’s possible that by sharing such a recognition I seem like a bad mother, but nonetheless I need to add two more things to the list. I have no doubt that Max will bring these up to his therapist twenty five years from now.

Just like our dog, Max is obsessed with squirrels. When our dog sees a squirrel, she slowly and quietly slinks up to it to get close enough to pounce. When Max sees a squirrel, he bends forward slightly – to get on its level, I assume – and tip toes quietly up to it. Their techniques are similar enough that it makes me feel like I should have Max on a leash. I am hopeful that he is mostly interested to pet the squirrel instead of thrasing it about in his jaws, which is more or less what our dog has in mind.

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: Mom, I know what you are thinking. You can rest assured that I don’t let Max get close enough to any squirrels to get bitten and have to get six long needles poked into his stomach, like Grandma told me they do when you might have contracted rabies.]

The other possibly more disturbing comparison becomes apparent whenever I am eating. About a month ago, my son became very interested in my food. Even after I have attempted to fill the bottomless pit that is his stomach…even after he has given me the “enough” sign by waving his hands in the air…even after he has turned his attention to his toys or Sesame Street…the moment I try to eat something, anything, Max comes charging at me with his mouth wide open. I am not kidding. The second I try to feed myself, Max flies across the room with his mouth agape as an indication that I should drop some of my food into it. I don’t think I need to say more about how that reminds me of our dog.

And just to drive the point home, I took the liberty of snapping a couple of photos:

Phase I, The Approach…

Phase II, The Begging…

I think our dog actually gets points for being a bit more subtle.


Before my son was born, my husband and I became very interested in the idea of teaching him sign language. Proponents of sign language insist it’s necessary for minimizing a child’s frustration, since a person’s will develops before the ability to speak. But since motor skills develop early, a child can use sign language to ask for what he or she needs. As far as I am concerned, sign language is necessary for minimizing frustration for the parents, because when I am up at 3am listening to Max screaming his head off like I am torturing him or something, I just want him to tell me what in the hell he needs so I can just give it to him and go back to bed.

I never promised anyone a rose garden.

When Max was as young as two months old, I started introducing signs. One sign, actually, which was the sign for “milk.” While I nursed him I would make the sign, hoping that in the near future I would live in a utopia where Max would simply let me know when he was hungry because – no matter how many women told me I should be able to determine what he needed just by the sound of his cry – all of his cries sounded precisely the same to me.

(AUTHOR’S NOTE: You can see the sign for “milk” here if you are interested, but basically it entails making a fist and then opening and closing it like you are milking a cow. Right. That makes me feel so good about myself. I could expand on this but it really would have to be its own post.)

I was pretty consistent about making the “milk” sign to Max every time he nursed so he could associate the sign and the activity. That is, I was consistent until Max was about four months old. What changed, you ask? The answer is very straightforward: I went back to work. And from that point on, trying to follow through on all of my commitments to Max and to my clients became an exercise in bending the space-time continuum. When I was nursing Max I considered it a win if I only focused on him, instead of writing business emails in my head.

(ANOTHER AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is where my husband hangs his head Charlie Brown-style and lets out a sigh, because at this point his needs were a distant third. Sorry, Baby!)

Needless to say, once I started work again I rarely remembered to make the “milk” sign. So imagine my surprise when, just a couple of weeks before his first birthday, Max crawls up to me and opens and closes his fist like he’s milking a cow. With an expectant and slightly frantic look in his eye, he clearly told me that he just realized he was pretty damn hungry. I thought to myself:

What an amazing thing the human brain is! How incredible that, even though I haven’t made this sign to Max in about seven or eight months, he still learned it! He is like a little sponge! I can’t believe he is so smart! Well, he’s at least as smart as Koko the gorilla. Although in fairness, Koko knows over 1000 signs, so I guess Max isn’t quite as smart as Koko yet, but he’s showing great potential! It’s amazing to me that he can actually replicate something he last saw when he was only four months …..

And then it hit me. In that moment, I understood how completely screwed I was. Because at the exact same time that I was making the “milk” sign to Max, I was sleep deprived and cursing up a storm. My typical level of swearing once caused a man who worked for me to request that I scale it back a notch, because it made him uncomfortable to work for a truck driver in a skirt suit. Yes, sad but unfortunately very true. To make matters worse, my sleep-deprived cursing was more severe and a bit more colorful. So when Max clearly raised his fist in a triumphant gesture for sustenance, I realized that it was only a matter of time before he walked up to me and casually said, “Mom, do you know where I put my goddamn Elmo?! I swear I would lose my fuckin’ head if it weren’t attached to my goddamn body!!”

Again, I never promised anyone a rose garden.

Max found's all good now.

Following are the ways in which my son reminds me of my dog:

  • Whines when hungry.
  • Constantly drools.
  • Requires the use of sitting services.
  • Loves chew toys.
  • Gets taken for walks.
  • Has been featured on Christmas cards.
  • Tries to eat everything.
  • Requires me to spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with excrement.
  • Plays with stuffed animals.
  • Performs tricks, especially the High Five.
  • Gets excited when we say “Good boy” after said tricks.
  • Is highly flexible.  In my son’s case, he can put his foot in his mouth.  In my dog’s case, she can lick herself in certain hard-to-reach places.

Admit it…at this point they’re pretty similar, aren’t they?


I wanted to write a funny blog today, but I am still feeling pensive and I need to roll with it. 

Below is a photo I took of my son half his life ago, when he was a little over three months.  At first, I simply considered this a great photo opportunity and I was very self-satisfied with my abilities as a photographer.  Today I looked at it again for the first time in a while, and I found a lesson waiting for me.


When was the last time you felt this joyful when looking in the mirror?  How often have you looked at yourself, only to be critical of or disappointed in what you saw?  I would venture a guess that virtually everyone would answer, “A while,” and “Too often,” to these questions.   Yet I defy you to find a young child who looks in the mirror and does anything but smile at him or herself.  Young children certainly don’t look in the mirror and judge themselves, that I am sure of.

Many spiritual teachers proclaim that there is no good or bad, there only is what there is.  Over the course of our lives we develop and strengthen our identity or ego, but that is really just a collection of ideas and memories about our physical selves, to which we become attached.  Our egos spend all day judging things as inherently good or inherently bad, instead of accepting them as they are.  The judging we do clouds our view and prevents us from being truly happy and fulfilled.  Our essence or spirit, on the other hand, is unencumbered by judgment or negative emotions; it isn’t attached to how we look or to things we have or haven’t accomplished.  It is our pure potential, as Deepak Chopra puts it, and connecting with our pure potential is the key to happiness. 

My first thought is, “Gee, that sounds like a nice place to be and I wish I knew how to get there…”  But I am starting to believe that we all used to be there, and the challenge is just remembering how to get back. 

I recently read that, until about the age of five, very young children have not fully transitioned into the physical realm and they are still very connected to the spiritual realm.  In other words, young children are still in touch with their essence, and lack a sense of identity or attachment to the physical form they have taken in this lifetime.  Is that why a child can look at him or herself in the mirror and feel pure joy?  Child psychologists might say that developmentally, the child doesn’t yet associate the image with him or herself, it is something that needs to be learned.  Maybe.  But, what if that association is to be unlearned, or if the real learning is to remember that the physical form our soul inhabits is not who we actually are.

When I first became a mother, I believed that much of my role is to teach my child by introducing him to new experiences, but that is only part of this journey.  The other part of the journey is for me to learn from my son as well, and the first lesson is that I must reconnect with my essence.  I must let go of my attachment to my accomplishments, my failures, my successes and my disappointments.  I have to try to remember how to look in the mirror and see past my Self, so I too can experience pure joy.

I probably should have called this post  Lullaby Part Two

Why is “Rock-a-Bye-Baby” the most widely-known and easily recognizable lullaby?  I went to sing this lullaby to my son one time and then stopped suddenly.  Have you ever paid attention to the words?  It goes like this:

Rock-a-bye-baby in the tree top

When the wind blows the cradle will rock

When the bough breaks the cradle will fall

And down will come baby, cradle and all.

WHAT?!  Who is the sadistic person who wrote that song?  Why do we continue to sing it to our children?

Is it a veiled threat:  go to sleep or I will put your crib in a tree and wait for a strong wind?  Even the title is sketchy – “Rock-a-BYE-Baby.”  Put the baby in the tree and then…see ya.

Maybe it’s just me, but that doesn’t seem right.

Last night, I was desperately trying to get my son to go to bed at an appropriate time and he was not having it, so he was crying.  Of course, no one likes the sound of a crying baby; I have to assume that is a genetic thing wired into all of us so that we attend to the little ones.  Well, my guy was screaming as if someone were torturing him, to the point where he was hyperventilating, so I was stressed and pulling out all of the stops to soothe him.  I even resorted to singing lullabies – Lord knows why this kid actually stops crying when I sing, because most people start crying when I sing.  I have to assume that is also genetic.

But last night even my singing would only work for a second or two before the crying resumed and I would have to try again.  I have a limited lullaby repertoire, and I had to do quite a few repeat performances because this whole mess was going on for at least 45 minutes.  First, I tried “Mama’s Gonna Buy You a Mockingbird” (which I think is the name) because I just learned all of the words on a baby-related website – it’s shocking how much my life has changed.  Next, I tried “Amazing Grace” because my friend told me that she sings it to her son at bedtime and I thought that was really sweet.   Not only is my rendition nowhere near the quality of her beautiful take on the song (yes, Carey, I mean you), but I couldn’t remember the second verse so I just made it up.  On some level, it feels like a sin to make up the lyrics to a hymn.  I’m not talking about the same degree of sin as murder or mouthing off to your parents, but a sin nonetheless.

So after a couple of performances of those two songs I was almost tapped out – I told you my repertoire was limited.  Then I remembered the classic:  “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”  It’s soft, it’s pretty, and it’s about the night.  Excellent!  I sang my best possible version and…still no luck, the kid was screaming bloody murder.

After a couple more repeats of the aforementioned songs, I remembered “The Alphabet Song.”  OK, I don’t normally think of that as a lullaby but I was grasping for straws and it couldn’t hurt to throw in a bit of learning, right?  So I started singing it:  A, B, C, D, E …oh forget it, you know how it goes and if you don’t you have issues.  Anyway, sing it in your head right now, I’ll wait.

Now sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

Notice anything?

That’s right – it’s the same tune!  The music for “The Alphabet Song” is the same as the music for “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star!”

I felt totally and completely gypped.  All of these years I never noticed that those two songs used the same exact tune.  Now some of you are thinking, “Duh.”  And others are thinking, “I had the same experience when I sang those songs to my (child, niece, nephew, friend’s baby) – welcome to the club!”  Still others are thinking, “WHAT?!  I feel gypped too!”  I know.  I am not sure why it irritates me so much, it just does.  Neither of those songs are that long, so how hard is it to come up with a new tune?  For real.

Oh, it gets better.  So now I am annoyed and distracted and I still have a screaming baby.  I finally decided that I needed to take him downstairs after an hour of this because even though I am trying to set up a bedtime routine, Rome wasn’t built in a day and, besides, I need to know which song came first so I can determine who ripped off whom.  I know, I need to step up my parenting game but again, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

So I hand the child over to my husband so I can look up the origins of the songs and, assuming the Wikipedia entry for “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” is correct (always a good thing to consider), it gets worse:

  • Not only does “The Alphabet Song” share the tune with “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, it is also used for “Baa Baa Black Sheep.”  I mean, come on.
  • The original melody was taken from a French song – so we’re back to the French, are we?
  • This is the best:  the French version of the song is about a girl recounting to her mother how she was seduced by man who beat her afterwards.  Now I am speechless.  And if you believe that I’m speechless, I have a bridge to sell you.

I was a little disturbed that a few lullabies could send me off on a rant, so I tried to accept what I cannot change:  that these three songs share one tune.  I suppose this is just another more step on my path to peace and serenity.  After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I recently gave birth to Max, my first child, at 39 years old.  I mean, I was 39 years old, not him.  This is not a Benjamin Button scenario.  It was all good with the pregnancy, even though the first doctor I went to said he would need to order some extra tests due to my “advanced maternal age,”  which is obviously just a euphemism for old.  I fired him, but not for that.

I am truly enjoying Max, although there are times when I am convinced that old ladies like me shouldn’t be having babies.  I have developed an ache in my back that will not go away.  When I have to wake up a few times per night to feed the baby, which is pretty much standard, I feel as hungover as if I had been on a two-day bender except that I don’t have all of the great stories at the end of it.  But more difficult than the physical adjustments are the behavioral changes I have to make, not the least of which is the dreaded schedule

Intellectually, I accept the fact that children should be on a schedule; structure is very important for children and the predictability and consistency of a schedule helps them thrive.  But herein lies the problem:  I myself have not been on a schedule for over 20 years!  Actually, I have been on a schedule, it’s just a different schedule every day.  Does that count? 

Ah, my early 20s.  Life was so simple, so straightforward.  At that point in my life my schedule looked like this:

  6:30a – Wake and shower

  7:30a – Leave for work

  4:00p – Work on lesson plans (I was a teacher at the time)

  6:00p – Drive home

  8:00p – Order pizza

  9:00p – Watch Melrose Place and heckle mercilessly

10:00p – Procrastinate

11:45p – Finish grading papers

12:30a – Go to bed

On a Saturday, it might have been more like this:

  1:00p – Get up

  1:30p – Get bagels

  2:00p – Start watching movies on cable

  5:00p – Take a break from movies to order food

  5:30p – Eat and finish movies

  8:00p – Shower and dress

  9:30p – Meet friends at 8th Street Tavern

10:00p – Play pool

  2:30a – Go home and go to bed

Years later a lot had changed.  In my late 20s and early 30s I was more focused on my career, and that created its own set of schedule-related challenges mostly due to the ways in which I had complicated my life.  I would characterize this stage of my life as one when I felt lucky if I didn’t have to eat a meal in my car.  On any given morning when I worked too long the night before, I would have a hard time getting out of bed and end up being late, leading to me shoving a bagel down my throat while driving a stick shift and checking voice mails on my cell phone.  I know that is a frightening image but scarier is that I was still driving better than 80% of the people on Route 78. 

One day I would be able to jet out of the office at 5:00p (rare) and others I would get stuck at work until they turned the lights off at 10:00p (sad and pathetic).   Some days I would plan my meetings so I could escape the office in time to get home and eat a meal at my dining table – I paid extra for a condo with dining area, after all – and then my boss would call about some fire-drill that would keep us working until 9:00p.  On nights like that I would stop at a diner or something on the way home and just eat by myself, a situation which made my mother very sad although I think it would have been more sad for me to have been starving and not stopped because I was too embarrassed to sit by myself.  Besides, eating alone at restaurants helped me find my favorite pastime – eavesdropping.  I might have to dedicate an entire post to how interesting it can be to glimpse into a moment in someone else’s life and then make up the rest in your head while scarfing down a bacon cheeseburger.

But I digress, as usual (stop snickering).  My question is:  How in the hell am I supposed to get a new baby on a schedule when I have spent 20 years just rolling with it?!?  What I described above is only the tip of the iceberg.  Somehow I have to find a way to reshape the behaviors that took two decades to develop! 

It all comes down to this…I have waited a long time to have a family because that’s just how things unfolded.  Now I am a mother and I want to be a great one and I know that means putting my child first which I am more than happy to do.  I just never realized the simultaneously subtle and gigantic ways in which I would have to change my life to do that.  If you thought it was hard to start a workout routine, imagine how hard it is to change an entire lifestyle of frenetic unpredictability.

Wish me luck…I need it.

Having a new baby is an amazing experience in so many ways.  But that’s not what we’re going to discuss in this post.  We’re going to talk about how having a baby can be stressful at times:  the lack of sleep, the constantly dirty diapers, the efforts to figure out why the baby is crying, and….trying to dress the baby.  Would you believe me if I told you that dressing my son has been the hardest part of having a baby so far?

Let me explain.  I can’t dress myself and anyone who knows me would attest to that.  I have never found enjoyment in expressing myself through fashion.  For me, wearing clothes is a means to an end – I put on clothes so I can leave the house without getting arrested.  Does this sound like an exaggeration?  Here are a few data points for you:

  • Throughout the 90s, I wore one type of outfit for weekend nights out:  blue jeans, ankle boots and a black jacket, which my friends referred to as my “uniform.”  There were a few variations on this theme, such as replacing the jacket with a black shirt or wearing black sandals in the summer instead of boots, but that was more or less how I dressed for almost ten years.  Once or twice I switched it up and wore a denim shirt and black pants.  Toward the end of the decade my look evolved to a black shirt and black skirt (that’s right) with black knee high boots for winter or black wedge sandals for summer.
  • I wear black almost all of the time.  One of my brothers actually jokes that my closet looks like it belongs to a super-hero because it is just rows of black clothes that look exactly the same.  I used to let people in the suburban New Jersey office where I worked think that I wore a ton of black because I spent so much time in New York City and I was just that cool.  Neither of those things are true.  The real reasons I wear so much black are (1) if I always wear black I could use the same black shoes and purse all of the time, and (2) if I spill something on myself it won’t show (anyone who has seen me eat knows this is a real issue).  For confirmation about my black fixation, see my previous post about my son’s baptism where I am dressed like I am attending a funeral instead of a Christening.
  • At one point, circa 1997, I realized that if everything I ever bought had a little bit of spandex then I would never have to use an iron again.  I never looked back.
  • A woman who worked for me once called me out for wearing the same black boots every day for over six months.  You should have seen her performance review after that!  Just joking, I don’t believe in retribution in the workplace, as far as you know.
  • A man who worked with me once offered to take me shopping to help me expand my wardrobe – what?!  Yes, it’s true.  He and I worked together when the term “metrosexual” became mainstream, which I thought was impeccable timing on behalf of the Universe.  One time he was explaining the importance of spending $100-$200 on a pair of jeans because of how good they make your butt look and I was just floored because it never occured to me to spend more than $40.  Yet, when I needed new sunglasses because the pair I had bought three years prior had broken, I took him with me at lunchtime to help me pick out a pair.  I bought two pairs and I will never admit how much I spent, but I did get a lot of compliments on them.  As I am writing this it occurs to me that I haven’t gotten compliments on those sunglasses in a long while.  Maybe that’s because the shopping excursion was in 2005 so they are probably out of fashion by now.  Yikes.  I might be beyond help.

That’s enough.  I mean, there’s more, but I am choosing to stop because I am becoming appalled with myself. 

So now I am responsible for dressing another person.  That is, I am responsible for it until my son can pick out his own clothes and then we are Big Daddy-ing it all the way, and I won’t care if his teachers call the Division of Youth Services because his outfit raises concerns that he might live alone. 

For the first couple of  months of my son’s life we both wore pajamas every day.  It didn’t make a lot of sense to put actual outfits on him (or me) since we were pretty much homebound while it snowed outside and I spent every day figuring out the whole “Holy crap I have a baby” thing.  That wasn’t such a big deal except that this phase lasted a week or so too long and one day when my mother came over in the afternoon she said “Aren’t you going to dress him for the day?”  I was like, “Um, I guess.”  

There are some things about dressing a baby that are easy, like how you can buy complete outfits thus taking out a lot of the guesswork.  Initially I thought, “This is a cake walk,” and then tops and bottoms got separated and all hell broke loose.  Maybe what happened was he spit up on the shirt so that went into the laundry separate from the pants, or maybe it was just that when things came out of the laundry it wasn’t obvious what went together.  I would look at a little animal on a shirt and ask myself, “Is that a little bear that goes with the pants with the paw print on the butt, or should it go with the overalls with the other little bear?”  One time I chose a cool shirt that said “Future Rock Star,” which had a white background with lines and stars and stuff on it, and I paired it with navy blue pants.  It wasn’t until we got to where we were headed that I realized the lines on the shirt were red and BLACK, not blue, thus thrusting my son right into fashion victim status with the rookie mistake of mixing black and navy blue.  Where are Garanimals when you need them?!  (Authors Note:  In the process of writing this post I did a quick search and found that Garaminals still exist – woo hoo!) 

Eventually I figured out which tops and bottoms went together, and in some cases I even made little outfits out of things that didn’t come together, so it was all good…for about two or three weeks until the unthinkable happened – my son grew!  And the “uniforms” I had established for him no longer fit.  Back to square one.

Below are two photos of my son. The first outfit I have affectionately termed “Laundry Day” and the second was my favorite outfit for obvious reasons (Go Giants!) but it’s too small now.



That’s it…wish this kid luck that he won’t be a social outcast someday because of his clothes.


I am happy to report that yesterday my son was Baptized, so now he is officially saved from the fiery pits of hell.  Here he is pictured with his parents and Godparents, whose destiny is a little less certain at this point.

This was an interesting day for me.  Spirituality has always had an important role in my life and has been something I have grappled with for the last few years.  In some ways I feel “less Catholic” than I used to and in others I am even more committed.  I have come to the conclusion that all organized religions have flaws, because all organized religions are based on something preternatural but are developed and managed by humans, and none of us is perfect.  As Eckhart Tolle wrote about in A New Earth, when people get too attached to their dogma everything gets screwed up (I paraphrased).  I guess Kevin Smith had it right years ago…

When I lived on Pavonia Avenue in Jersey City in the mid-90s, I became friends with a woman who was twice my age who lived downstairs.  We used to talk about stuff like this while she gardened and I watched, and I remember telling her that I was a “90s Catholic” because:

  • I don’t believe it’s wrong to use birth control,
  • I support a woman’s right to choose because I don’t think I should force my beliefs on someone else,
  • I don’t believe that people who haven’t accepted Jesus as Savior are going to hell,
  • I don’t believe that partnering with someone of the same sex is a sin, and
  • I believe women should be able to be leaders in the Catholic Church.

Her reply:  ”You’re not a 90s Catholic, you’re a Baptist.”

Her comment made me laugh and then caused me to investigate becoming a Baptist.  Turns out, that wasn’t a perfect fit for me either.  Why?  Because I had some issues with that belief-set as well.  What about Taoism and Buddhism?  Better, but still not a perfect fit.  I was even considering Kabbalah because the mysticism of it is so intriguing, but it was too trendy.  I mean, share a spiritual practice with Madonna and Britney Spears?  Come on!  Even on my path to enlightenment that was too much to take.

This was all a little frustrating at the time, because that was when I believed I was a hypocrite if I didn’t accept all facets of my chosen religion.  Now I know better.  They only perfect fit is the one you create for yourself.  As a wise woman wrote, “there are many paths to God.”  I truly believe that each person has a responsibility to develop his or her own spirituality in a way that makes sense to them.  Since every person is unique, that spirituality will look a little different for each of them.

So for me, I came full circle and I am back at Catholic.  I remember a Jewish friend of mine saying that Judaism is not just a religion but a culture.  Well, same goes for Italian-Catholicism.  When I say something off-color or mean, my immediate reaction is to make a quick sign of the cross.  When we listed our house for sale, my mother brought me a statue of St. Joseph to bury in the backyard.  Whenever I lose something, I pray to St. Anthony and he finds it (no joke, I’ll have to explain in a separate post because I have so many stories about that).

Now my spiritual practice includes studying the teachings of Jesus, going to Catholic Mass because I love the solemnity and joyfulness of it and because it is at least one hour out of a week when I will reflect, and raising my son Catholic because I want him to have a spiritual foundation.  Later, he can change his practice to something that better suits him if he chooses, but I want to instill in him the faith that there is something bigger, beyond what we can see around us.  That sort of faith leads to a feeling of peace, and I believe that developing it starts with spiritual discussions at a young age.  My father did that for me every week after Church, when he would annotate and sometimes modify what the priest said during Mass.  Thanks Dad!

Anyway, I covered a lot of ground in this post when I really just intended to put up the picture and make the crack about the “fiery pits of hell.”  Time to wrap it up…

Peace be with you.

I call this "Disturbing Portait of a Working Mother"

I call this "Disturbing Portait of a Working Mother"

I wish that I could honestly say this photo was posed.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t.  I guess the term “balance” takes on a whole new meaning when it is referring to balancing a computer and a child on your lap at one time while trying to make a phone call.  Isn’t that what laps are for?

If Max’s first words are “profit margin” or “cash flow”, I will shoot myself!

About Me

The purpose of this blog is purely self-expression - being creative for the sake of being creative. It has evolved into a collection of non-fiction essays.

All of the anecdotes and incidents you read in this blog are completely true and not exaggerated, no matter how sad, pathetic or unbelievable they may seem.


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