Picture Perfect 22

The camera started. It had been years since Dan had done this sort of flash reading of a picture. The first one was of a child in a rain coat stooping over a plastic wading pool.

“This top one is commercial. Lighting is controlled. Colors too perfect. It was taken with a Hasselblad, using 1/100 settings, color was tweaked.”

“You can tell tech stuff from looking at a picture.”

“Modern stuff is easier in someway. This was actually shot on film stock as well, not digital.”

The next was Stephanie shaking hands with Brad Pitt at a film opening.

“This is a composite. You were shopped into this picture.”

“What!” Mike glanced at Stephanie. “You told us …”

“How can you tell that?” she asked.

“All in the lighting. Shadows on your face are totally wrong for the shadows on his face. Same with shadows on your clothing.”

“That’s amazing.” she said.

“Basic training.” Dan explained. “Look to the light first. But good job all the same. Nearly seamless. Jack do this?”

“Yes. Are you psychic. Wait! You saw this picture before didn’t you?”

“Never. But I know he specializes is celeb match ups like this.”

“That alone is worth two-fifty an hour.” Mike laughed. 

“Okay. Okay.” Stephanie said. “We’re getting way off track here. Take a look at this last one.”

It was of a young girl in a pretty white dress, veil, hair done up in curls, holding a book in one hand. The face was familiar to Dan. He studied it a few minutes.

“This is one of the children. Paula Morrison. The book is the Catholic missal. Her first Communion? I’m not sure how old you have to be for that. Or is Confirmation? Small cross on a chain around he neck. Her parents were probably quite attached to their parish church.

“Behind her is dark wood panelling. Maybe this was taken in the church itself. Her look is of someone being told to stand still.”

“Spot on.” Stephanie said. “Cyrtys was right about you. You are the real deal. Don’t worry about all this side talk we’ll edit it out.”

“Look I thought you were here to ask about this case not how well I do my work.” Dan got up from the desk. The camera followed him. “It’s not that I mind talking about it but what are you after?”

“Sorry, I guess we got side tracked”  Stephanie shrugged. “You never know when some lead will turn up.”

“Then let’s get this back on course. You know Timmy Dunlop?” John asked.

“We were friends. We met one summer when my Dad stayed in Stellerton for work. We’d see each a few times years. A few times he came to say with us in New Waterford.”

“Do remember when this picture was taken? Take us to that day.”

“We’d been therein Stellerton, since the previous Monday. This was a Monday. We’d been playing cowboys and Indians and robbers. That’s why I had on my cowboy outfit. It was Timmy’s turn to be the sheriff, that’s why he was wearing my badge.”

“What time was this? Was it the last time you saw him?”

“I guess just before supper that day. He went home and we were going to meet the next day to go to the Happy Hippo again.”

“Happy Hippo?” John asked.

“One of those travelling circuses. Small potatoes really. Rides, shooting games, some side shows. Snakes, monkeys.”

“So you went to the circus the next day?”
“No. I didn’t see him. He never called for me like he promised. I was mad and figured he’d gone on his own without me. We left for New Waterford Wednesday. In a bit of a rush.”

“Oh? Why?”

“I never understood. My Dad really didn’t explain much.”

“Was that when you heard about Timmy going missing?”
“I never heard about that till I saw it on your show. I spoke to my mother this week and she says that was part of the reason. All those other children and this being someone so close to home. To be honest I didn’t even know about the other children. We didn’t have amber alerts in those days.”

“So the police never spoke to you about it then?”

“No. Would they have? Maybe they talked to my Dad?” More questions about their move to Toronto came to Dan as they spoke. 

“Your Dad took this picture?”

“Yes. He was always taking pictures of me and my sister. I even found a home movie with Timmy in it and …” He’d become completely unaware of the camera on him and was almost going to mention the saucy pictures.

“And what?” John asked.

“I never got my sheriff’s badge back.”

“Good.” Stephanie said. “I think we got enough. Even though you were a bit difficult downstairs before, you were  really warm on camera.”

“Difficult?” Dan asked.

“That release bullshit.”

“Business is business.” Dan said. He glanced at his cell phone. “That was three hours ten minutes and counting. I’ll invoice you before you leave.”

“You weren’t serious were you?” Stephanie said.

“Will that be cash or credit card.”

“Neither. I can’t expense this like a lunch. About that home movie footage. Of you and Timmy.”

Dan printed out an invoice for her. “When this gets paid we’ll talk.”

She took the invoice, nodded to the crew and they left.

“Think they’ll pay?” Sandy asked.

“Your guess is as good as mine.” He took out his cell to check the time. “Anyone for a coffee?”

“I’m fine.” Ushio said.

“I’ll be at the Carafe if you need me.” Dan needed to get outside to clear his head a little. He hadn’t eaten since his bagel in the morning. 

“Jill around?” He asked Peter as he sat at one of the window tables.

“Nope.” Peter put a coffee in front of him. “She took off early today. I sometimes let her have a little time off.”

“Decent of you.”

“Muffin? Bagel?”

“I … you know I want something but I don’t what it is?”

“The human condition.” Peter laughed. “Let me surprise you.”

“I’ve had my share of surprises for one day.”

“Try this anyway.” He put a plate with an oat-crumbled topped square on it. “Strawberries, dates and pecans. Enjoy. I’m on clean up duty so call out if you need anything.”

Dan had finished half the square when he heard the cafe door ding open. He looked up and it was Robert Warszawa.

“Ushio said I might find you here.”

“Some people hang out in cheap bars after work I hang out in designer coffee shops.”

“There’s been some talk about you and that TV show.” Warszawa sat. “It might not be a good idea for you to get too involved in it.”

“It’s not as if I asked them to air that photo of me and Timmy. I didn’t even know about that till I saw it. That’s pretty much the extend of my involvement.”

“Their researcher has been asking around.”

“Stephanie Carter?”

“Yes. She mentioned that you suggested she might find out more from our files.”

“I did not suggest anything like that to her. She interviewed me this afternoon, as a follow up to my call to them. My Dad did take that photo you know. Not that I knew much then about what was happening around me..”

“I’m sure you didn’t but there’s those who wonder what’s going on.”

“Are they afraid Unsolved will find out something they missed and make the Force look bad?”

“Don’t get pissed at me Dan I was just letting you know, that’s all.” 

“Thanks for the heads up. Then I’ll be on my way.” He went to the door. 

Warszawa followed him. “Can I offer you a lift home?”

“Nah. I got my bike here. I’ll be careful. I won’t do anything to sully the good reputation of the RCMP.”

As he peddled home he wondered what the Division had to worry about. It was an old cold case. They usually welcomed fresh light to help get them solved. Unless there was some ‘discrepancy’ in the initial investigation that would throw a bad light on them. Perhaps force those old files to be reopened for public examination.

He’d have to speak with Cyrtys and Stephanie to find out what what actually going on. He certainly never suggested to Stephanie that she talk to the Force or that she use his name if she did. Considering his history there that wouldn’t have been helpful at all.

After his year at Quantico was hired by the RCMP. His photograph analysis abilities were quickly recognized and he was a rising star until a complaint of sexual harassment was lodged against him. To protect the complainant his identity was kept from Dan. But the fact that the complaint had been lodged was known by many. The investigation found that the complaint was groundless but by then the damage had been done, as far as Dan was concerned. He never found out who the complainant was.

He wasn’t willing to make sure there was always a third person in the room when he spoke with a colleague as was suggested to him to make such allegations never arose again. He opted to leave the service. Some felt he left because he was guilty and the accuser was silenced out of favouritism. A cloud of suspicion never disperses even when there was no grounds for it in the first place.

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it.

paypal.me/TOpoet 

Valley of the May Dolls

Over the month my TOpoet.ca following blog shrank to 350! I went through my followers list & cleared some who had never liked a post or who really didn’t have any real connection such as ‘dog training tips.’ Only one has re-followed me.  The May WP map show my hits have come from around the world. Latvia! Indonesia! 

My Tumblr following  is at 272. Twitter at 225. I know these are all low numbers – some people have thousands of followers but on both I delete or block followers who are harvesting rather than actually following. Picture Perfect is up to 32000 words. 

May has been another month of adjusting to the new reality of masks, sanitizer & social distancing. I’ve reluctantly cut back on my morning walks & have replaced some of them with domestic chores: gardening, cleaning, purging but that will come to an end – the house will be clean enough & I can go back to daily walks. I have been doing social distant walks with some recovery friends so the isolation hasn’t been total. Also seeing a couple of my fwb (who are maintain social isolation themselves) for movies & chit-chat. 

Working through The Artist’s Way slowly but surely. It clearly wasn’t written with a pandemic lockdown in mind 🙂 Some of the issues it addresses take on a different sense of importance (or lack of) as the death toll mounts. But it has encouraged me to reexamine my past.

By reexamine I mean that literally literally – I’ve been reading Old Trout Funnies – a book about a comic book, an acquaintance of mine created while I was living in Sydney. We were drinking buddies. I left before Issue 3. The book puts Trout into a context & explains many of the very localized references. Plus I get name checked a couple of times & I know many of the people who show up as characters in the wild stories. Fascinating & highly recommended.

Also literal has been the inputing of my first novel ‘Allan Time’ which I wrote in the late 60’s, early 70’s. Resisting the temptation to edit has been a challenge, though I have made the paragraphs breaks tidier & improved the spelling. It is an interesting process as my memory of writing it is very limited. One thing is clear though is how closeted I was. 

I’m currently re-reading Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls. I have read this book several times over the years. It served as the template for City of Valleys. I love this book. Sure it is soap but it captures real psychology with humour & over-the-top emotionalism. I’ll have to watch the movie again when I’m finished.

a piece I performed at Cryptic Chatter June 2007

Try to Remember

there is a moment when 

what I remember 

what I dream

become fused

is this my childhood moment

falling down gashing my knee

the scar is there

but is the picture of me doing it

how it happened

was it a fall off a swing

was I ever on that swing

on the playground 

or was it some other moment

tipping my bike over the curb

was it an accident on purpose

was I seeking attention

or was I careless

not looking where I was going

did I get pushed or just drop

did I cry

the scar tells me it happened

the mind doesn’t tell me anything

was my mother upset or disappointed

I had come home crying once again

did I cry

was I brave little soldier

was I 10 11 15

did I limp around the house

wanly acting as if 

I was and wasn’t in pain

was the trip stumble and scrape

another of my attempts

to be like other boys

playing ball

acting out tough kid stuff

or was I running away from someone

who wanted to beat me up

was I at the play ground

because there was some boy nearby

who sometimes hung out there

did I like boys then

I seem to think I did

memory doesn’t fill in those gaps

doesn’t give me the connections 

I need to make a net 

that’ll explain today

I see the scar

not a pretty one

not an ugly one either

not like my appendix incision

that looks like 

it was made with a can opener

I sort of recollect that

the pain in school

then the hospital for a week or so

in a ward with four others

they were all men

I was a kid in junior high

I liked boys then

I tried to catch glimpses of cock

as the men walked around in pjs

dressing gowns untied

girl friends dropping in 

 rubbing their backs

I would have done that 

how long was it 

before I went back to school

did have my homework brought to me

all that is gone

all that remains is a dim image

untied bathrobes hairy chests

laughing nurses

the scars aren’t talking

only tells me that it happened

don’t even remember going home from there

like the scar on my knee

doesn’t tell me any more

when will my body forgive

what I’ve forgotten

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it.

paypal.me/TOpoet 

Save The Economy

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.

Economy Accelerator

the children had no clean clothes

they had no clean drinking water

they had no direction

as they walked and walked

and walked

around the economy accelerator

 

the accelerator cost millions

it needed clean water to keep cool

it had directional mobility

it had a film crew

that was trying to make a documentary

about the important work

about the progress of scientific materialism

 

these annoying

children in dirty clothes

were getting in the way

these selfish entitled children 

wanted the water

the economy needed

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The History of Listology

Week 5 of the Artist’s Way is about possibility & being stuck. Me, stuck at home, thinks there is a possibility a vaccine for covid19 will be found, one that will make some billionaire pharmaceutical even richer & chances are only the rich will be able afford it. Judging by the stats so far, the poor & marginalized will die out anyway. No profit = no cure. But I digress 🙂

Much of the Way looks at how codependency can become a major block to productivity. Sacrificing our time to be of help to others so we can be seen as generous, good, caring. One of the more challenging things about nanowrimo is removing all socially distracting circumstances so we can write selfishly. ‘I can’t help you move because I’m working on novel.’ can end a friendship.

The chapter is full of lists, of us making lists, of lists of things we can do, of things we wish we can do. I made a list of the lists of things & put it on my to do list. I’ll write The History of Listology. One of the task lists was ‘10 ways I am mean to myself.’ Not that I’m self-indulgent but this wasn’t so easy, as I figured it meant now, not how I used to treat myself.

 

My list is 1. snacking too much; 2. no muscle building in my fitness routines; 3. blah TV; 4. staying up too late; 5. not brushing teeth twice a day; 6. not walking as far; 7. hiding in crowds; 8. not speaking up; 9. too much coffee; 10. comparing myself with others. 

 

I am the enemy

in the eyes of strangers

they glance with distrust

sometimes hate fear distain

it’s not as if 

I set out to be the enemy

merely wanted to be myself

merely wanted to play well with others

learn enough at school

to take me through adulthood 

and back to the cradle of earth

didn’t set out 

to harm attack frighten anyone

don’t go out of my way 

to do that today

all I have to do

when sitting on the subway 

look up and there

glaring at me

strangers

sizing me up as the enemy

their plight is my fault

my needs an affront 

to their tender sensibilities

even when I am oblivious to them;

not pushing any agenda forward

being as still & quiet as I can be 

so as not to make waves 

to make them aware 

of my sabotage of their calm

by merely being present

by breathing the same air 

by daring to walk the street

expecting some common courtesy

the same I thoughtlessly extend to them

I don’t see them as my enemy 

only as my judgers

as people caught in a fear

of the unknown

I’m no mystery 

not a blank page 

they can quickly 

with their expectations 

of what I want to do them

to their innocent saintly children

it’s not the children I care about

not the adults either

which is what makes me the enemy

the one with no demands on them 

except to be left alone

to enter into simple human interaction

not laden with anyone’s presumptions

about what power 

old white men secretly hold

about the devious things 

queers are plotting

how we intend to undermine 

their delicate fabric

with 

well I don’t know what

where does the reality 

slip into the fear

the potential of what might happen

sparks the fear

that the enemy is near

the enemy is me

so keep your distance

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

June

(canceled by covid19 😦 )June 25-26-27 – Capturing Fire 2020 – Wooly Mammoth Theatre -Washington D.C.
 capfireslam.org 

July

(Maybe) All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

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Covid #Cleaning

I love the American spirit of independence – no one is going to tell them act to do & some of them say ‘fuck your’ social distancing even if it kills them & everyone around them. They want to die with their work boots on so don’t get in their way, you pussy, cowardly, snowflakes. Is civil war war brewing?

 

I haven’t been following the news that closely though, what I know comes from the headlines that can’t be avoided when checking the weather. I do check to see what new social restrictions I should be aware of but that’s it. As a result I am sleeping as well as I always do. But I haven’t been taking my morning walks as I usually do. 

I’ve been devoting that 90 minutes to housework. Cleaning, purging, raking, uprooting. Mon Wed Fri mornings are my covid cleaning mornings. I was hoping to alternate, one week inside, the other week outside. But this past week as been too chilly (for me) for yard work so it’s been two week of vacuuming & purging. Book shelves have gotten a more in-depth dusting than usual. Tops of window frames too. I have enough house for at least another two weeks of this & by then the curve will have planked. If not there’s always the …. shudder …. basement to be purged of those bits of wood that never did come in handy after ten years.

 

The ‘stress’ of social distancing hasn’t been bad at all. Social isolation has been easy enough as well. I have met with some recovery friends (one at a time, on different days) for social distant walks & talks. Zoom recovery meetings have been good – at least I don’t have to step back to avoid holding hands at the end of the meeting 🙂

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Love Sculpture Blues

 

What! Not another mp3 collection of obscurities covering several genres, decades & styles! 🙂 This one is filed under L for Love Sculpture. I have Blues Helping, Forms & Feelings. A Welsh blues band with unexpected progrock flash. Their take on Sabre Dance came up in my tumblr feed a few years ago. A fast metal version of the classical war horse that was great fun. So I did a quick search & downloaded their two lps. The Brits loved US blues & this is okay stuff – not John Mayall but okay.

Mayall wrote a couple of tributes to J.B. Lenoir, Here I have Lenoir’s Top 50 Classics. This is 50’s blues by a performer who died young but left a real legacy of music that influenced many. A deft guitar player his song cover all the bases: broken heart, political protest & voodoo boogie.

One Christmas I was given Legends of the Blues: A Robert Crumb illustrated book that included a great sampler cd of some of the artists (i.e. Bukka White, Big Joe Williams) discussed. The book is an excellent guide to the legends. A couple of which I sought out & so on this cd I have Blind Joe Reynolds: Outside Woman Blues – period recordings nicely preserved. & Henry Thomas: Texas Worried Blues. There is a fun frank sexual content to many of these tracks. Lines like ‘always going through somebody’s drawers.’ Coy smutty & direct at the same time.

Even more coy but not bluesy is Ivor Novello. I have the The Ultimate Collection. Nice period recordings of British music hall songs – some sentimental, some suggestive & all charming. Novello was the Elton John of his day (one of the most popular British entertainers of the first half of the 20th century) – smartly dressed, campy & talented.  To complete the circle started with Love Sculpture he was also Welsh.

It as another day to drag my ass to school. Drag Drag Drag would echo in my head as I forced myself out of bed. I had done my homework. I always did but didn’t remember a word of it. I could recite the lyrics to every Dylan song mind you but couldn’t recall the periodic table or even what it was I was supposed to be memorizing. Maybe it trig formulas  or the dates of historic moments. When was the Treaty of Utrecht signed. That has always plagued me. Lost so many jobs and ruined so many relationships when I didn’t have the answer to that one simple question. when was the Treaty of Utrecht signed. A question that I knew was bound to come up sooner or later and ruin everything as I drag drag drag my ass though life.

 


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Salt

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.

Salt

don’t hover

please don’t hover

in fact

please go to another room

the need for appreciation

that is so apparent on your face

drains the moment of all pleasure

I can’t enjoy

what you want me to enjoy

while you are glaring at me

daring me not to enjoy it

 

just go away

let me eat in peace

let me find my satisfaction

on my own

because as long as you are so eager

I’ll keep my pleasure

to myself

I won’t let on if I like it or not

I know the power of the poker face

in the face of your anticipation 

 

before you leave the room

please pass the salt

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Colby Days 2


Our Cottage Road house, between Park St & Whitney Ave by a laneway, was a compact two-story home belonging to Miss Kelly who lived in the house next door. Her house was huge. She had boarders on the second & third floors & she lived alone on the first floor. Her house was the model for the boarding house in my novel Coal Dusters. She deserves a post of her own, so this is all I’ll say about her now 🙂

This was a more upperclass neighbourhood. Larger houses, doctors & lawyers & sport celebrities abounded. Larger houses too – many 3 story, single family dwellings. Colby remained within walking distance & I would trudge Cottage Rd. in the morning, home for lunch, back for the afternoon. I’d walk home along central with the guys.

I was at Colby for grades IV & V. I have a class photos of me in Grade VI at Ashby school. I don’t recall if that was another summer move though. I do remember some of my Colby teachers though. The principle Miss Greenwood, Mrs. Butterworth & Mrs. McLeod. There were others but even seeing the list of teachers on the Colby School page didn’t ring any lunch bells. https://www.facebook.com/groups/colbyschool/

I do remember the hand bell that rang to get us into the school. I was a middling student even then. I had attention issues 🙂 I was also aware that I didn’t have the same feelings about girls as the boys claimed to have. I was, in fact, a sissy who preferred hopscotch to baseball. I don’t recall having any real pals or playmates of either sex.

I did get into a couple of fist fights though & lost. It was hard to keep punching when everyone around you was encouraging the other guy to teach me a lesson. I became a coward because proving my masculinity with violence was beyond me. Shame & fear were the biggest lessons I learned at Colby School.

It was here that I had to spend a summer writing out  words from a speller. I did page after page of writing each word out twenty times. Then had to retake the spelling exam at the start of the new term before I could go on. I did pass but again, the real lesson learned was shame, not how to spell.

The other thing I remember from then was the birth of my brother. Now that my Dad was settled in Sydney, his job was going well, may parents felt secure enough to raise a family. I felt I was a disappointment & now they wanted to get it right this time. My brother was about a year old when my mother was pregnant again, & we moved again, this time to the Ashby area.

Fully Human

I’m not enjoying this

so it must be good for me

the less I like it

the better what I am getting

the more I suffer

the more fully human I am

what I enjoy is to be avoid

it is merely a diversion 

from suffering

because life is suffering

 

any attempt to diminish suffering

diminishes all life

we a cannot afford pleasure

to admit to liking something 

someone

is to admit to weakness

is to admit to being 

a shallow fun-loving 

corrupter of basic human dignity

dignity requires suffering 

and sacrifice

 

those who aren’t willing to suffer

aren’t worth the breath 

they take to live

they should be face 

the error of their ways 

or be shunned

 

if you are having a good time

do it in another room

quietly

we don’t want reality 

sullied by gasps 

of sexual indulgences

we don’t want to hear laugher 

behind our backs

take to another room

another city if possible

 

here we are on the righteous trail

suffering to fulfill our real 

authenticity as humans

as a parade of weeping assholes

(poem prompted by one of Montaigne’s essays)


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Out In The Open

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.

Out In The Open

I was hiding

my feelings from him

not hiding exactly

but not declaring them

not putting them into words

what was communicated in my touch

 

was that enough

did he

could he

read between the kisses

between my legs

 

was there enough

emotional import

in my smile

my eagerness

to convey 

what I was afraid 

to put into words

 

as I waited

for him to put into words

what I felt in his touch

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Sacred

Nothing Is Sacred

it’s not that I don’t know

but what I know isn’t relevant

to you

 

I’m not an explainer

what you want to understand about me

isn’t going to make any difference

 

what I don’t tell you

isn’t even a secret

it’s merely a boundary 

of how willing I am to trust you

 

I won’t even confirm

what you think you know

I have nothing more to tell you

not even why

 

each thing I say

makes it appear I’m open

for negotiation

that if you keep me talking

I‘ll tell you what you want to know

tell you some amazing realization 

that let’s you feel ah ah

now I have him

he’s in my control 

or he’s not so special after all

 

you were expecting something deeper

more profound

instead you are getting nothing

 

don’t forget

nothing is sacred
What is the difference been data & information, between truth & facts? Even data can be ignored if it doesn’t fit one’s deeply held religious beliefs. Accepting this has made it easier for me to keep my big mouth shut in many situations. When people ask for my option I know they ultimately want me to confirm what they already believe.

The theme of identity appears frequently in my poetry – what we think we know about each other, about the political scene, about greenhouse gas – issues we become invested in that give us a sense of definition in our own minds & in the eyes of each other. We are judged a much by our opinions as by our appearance, or our actions. Guilty even when proved innocent.

As I grow older life gets simpler the less I have to say. I have my opinions on religion – how easy it is to justify homophobia by using cherry-picked Bible quotes by people who brag about known g their Bible history – usually when they don’t know the history of the bible itself. But I choose not to wade into that morass – people who don’t want to listen are a waste of my time. I have more important things   to worry about – like what tee-shirt am I going to wear.

 

This piece is also about people who want to make sure you know just how more they know than you do. I do have a rather extensive file of trivia trapped in my brain than I can access quickly – ask me what I watched on TV yesterday & I may not know though 🙂 But I do know what tee-shirt I’m probably going to wear tomorrow. I’d rather be defined by what I wear anyway.


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