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calm-movingIf you’ve been following my trials and tribulations over the last 3 1/2 years, then you know about the ups and downs of my illness, the battle, the job fiasco, the retirement, and the endless climb back to a fully functional life.  It caused an enormous financial strain I wasn’t mentally equipped to handle last year.  Then there was a severe relapse this past winter (which I will talk about another time) followed by the financial problems coming home to roost.   Suddenly I was land rich but so broke that friends and family stepped in to keep me afloat and offer grave advice.  So I bit the bullet – it was time to sell.  I called the realtor and signed the listing agreement.  Life came to a standstill while I dedicated all my energies to parting with a place and community I loved and don’t want to leave.

Nine days after signing on the dotted line, the condo was on the market.  Fourteen groups, an open house, and 11 days later, I had a contract.  The final dates materialized: closing day – Sept 5; walk-through Sept 4; moving day – Sept 3.  Two days until I leave; four days until financial solvency returns.  The move will be very bittersweet.  So what will I do now?

Because I won’t have a positive cash flow until after the closing, making final arrangements for a new place is on hold.  I’m in communication with one place and will get the ball rolling the moment the money hits my account.  In the meantime, my stuff goes into storage and I will stay with friends until things are sorted.  Patty the pomeranian is at her foster parent’s house during the transition.  Friends are texting, skyping, calling and making sure I stay focused.  (I’ll have to post later about my friends.  I may not have many, but the ones I have are absolutely incredible.  They are truly good, loving people.  Getting choked up just thinking about all they have done.)

Men have just taken away the sofa that’s just too big to fit properly in apartments.  It was 22 years old, so it had a good life.  It still looks good, so it will give another owner happiness.  The place is 95% packed.  In the next 24 hours, I’ll pack this computer.  Then the movers arrive first thing Wednesday and take away my stuff.  Then I’ll sweep, leave the keys for the realtor, and head to the train station with my suitcase.  It will be an austere send-off but that’s best.  Another door in my life will close, while another opens.  My friends say to look at this as a new adventure and I’m trying hard.

I will try to keep up with you all via  iDevices.

Oh, you may want to look for me on Twitter next week because of… things.  Just sayin’.

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REPRISE: Social Media

Hi all.  I’m still alive and in the middle of barely controlled chaos known as relocation.  Unfortunately I’ve not had the time to compose an original story.  So in honor of Richard Armitage joining Twitter (I KNEW it would happen.  Should have bet all of you),  I’m republishing an old story that seems quite fitting for the occasion.  You know the one.

******

The buzz pierced through the fog of his mind like a hatchet.

The Man lie prone on his stomach, face buried in the pillow.  The arm dangling over the side felt dead.  He peeled open an eye, but the light’s glare snapped it shut.  He flopped onto his back, sending a jolt of pain through his brain.  The buzzing continued.

He lifted his head gamely, trying to pinpoint the noise.  Hotel room …. floor… pants … trousers… oh, the phone.  Ignoring the banging headache and few unsuccessful attempts at snagging the trousers and rummaging through the pockets, he managed to silence the thing.  He lie back again and groaned over the hangover.  He’d had a few glasses of wine the previous night while – doing something or the other – something about fans.  Why did dealing with fandom seem to drive him to drink?

The phone dinged.  Running a tongue across parched lips, he lie waiting for the rest of his body to check in.  The phone dinged again.  He was popular this morning.  Another ding.  He fumbled, then raised it to blurry eyes.  The red-haired bloke had texted, “Wow!”  Wow?  He peered at the next texts.  “Hey, you really know how to make an entrance!” and, “I couldn’t have done that!”  His eyes opened wider as he scrolled through tens of messages from friends.  His PR person had left four messages.  His agent left a text, “WTF!!!  Did you really put that on Twitter?!”

The man frowned.  What in the world were they on about? His fingers flew across the screen as he opened the program and searched for his tweet.  He vaguely recollected that a few fans had been dubious about his identity, even on a verified account, when he debuted several days ago.  They had demanded he tweet a picture of himself; he agreed.  What was wrong?  He tapped open the link.

The man sat bolt upright, hangover completely forgotten.  Oh.  Shit.

***

The man glanced down at the bowl of soggy cereal he couldn’t eat.  Naturally the news had spread like wildfire through the cast and crew, but they all treated it as hilarious.  Some passed his table with a few joking words; others waved, winked or flashed an enthusiastic thumbs up sign on their way out to the studio.  He gulped some apple juice as his phone continued lighting up like a Christmas tree.  He switched it to silent.

***

The man stared into space, barely listening to the 3-way conference call with his agent and PR person.  The agent had stopped swearing and started listening raptly to the woman five minutes ago. When the agent began chuckling, the man blinked in confusion.  What, everything was okay?  The woman expounded on “changing social mores,” and “appealing to a younger generation.”  At the part about “getting maximum exposure out of the situation,”  the agent burst into laughter.  Exposure, indeed. Imagine the rags back home.  Classy,  just classy, he thought.  He groaned, head sinking down to his chest.

What would his mum say?

***

The newspaper clippings tumbled out of the large envelop onto the table.  He pawed through them: Guardian, Daily Mail, Sun, Times, they were all there.   The rags had tried to make a mini- scandal of it all, but his PR person had arrange a quiet chat for him with a reporter who relayed an amusing story about “smartphone mishaps” and “depth perception,”  which other papers picked up.  He snorted.  The reporter had left out the part about “doofus” and “pissed.”   For the most part, reaction had been favorable.  He found himself with a half million followers on Twitter in 10 days.  They didn’t care particularly what he tweeted, as long as he acknowledged them.  He picked up the infamous picture and looked with a new eye.  He had no clue how he’d managed to set a wide angle that he didn’t even know the phone had, but the pose looked rather lazy and sexy against the sheets, even if he had only intended to reveal a portrait angle. An inadvertent centerfold.  His agent reported that interest in him had not been adversely affected.   It was all a silly mistake to be put behind him.  He sighed in relief.

Right.  Now time to get a different smartphone.

***

The man sat poised at the laptop, stone cold sober.  He knew his feelings could get seriously hurt, but he itched to know what his fans thought.  He’d heard not a peek out them in a month.  Considering the past problems, it was worrisome.   The red-haired bloke had joked he felt a little jealous because his own fans were still talking about it.  So, what were his fans saying? Hopefully, he’d received boffo reviews.  He found himself giggling.  Oh, this was ridiculous.   I’m too old for this silliness, he thought.  He glanced at the sheets containing line changes for tomorrow, then back at the screen.  Oh, hell.   He surfed to the forum, logged into the members-only section with his secret account, and read.

Oh for fuck’s sake!

He stared glumly at the announcement: “DO NOT OPEN THE JPEG.  Looking at his junk is disrespectful.”

They haven’t seen the picture?  What, am I supposed to tweet, please look at my junk?, he fumed.  He could imagine the red-haired bloke falling down laughing at the news.

Bloody fans suck.

*****

Life imitating art maybe?  It tickles me just thinking about.

Happy birthday Richard Armitage.  Have a ball on Twitter.

 

 

20140721-010904-4144886.jpgThe effort to downsize is turning into an entire series with cliffhanger episodes. After two days decluttering and generating an amazing amount of trash, Condo was ready for part two: the cleaners. Vera the realtor brought in two who only spoke Russian but cleaned Condo within every inch of its footage. A dust mote did not survive. Seriously, it’s not been so clean since construction nine years ago. They put the white glove test to shame. The downside to this pristine-ness is now I must emulate a neat freak and keep it this way until we land a buyer. Gulp. Next, maintenance must plaster and paint cracked hall walls caused by the building settling. This is a like closing the barn door after the horse has gone through but the cleaning availability couldn’t be helped. So now I must hover with a Dust Buster during repairs. Things could get freaky.

Next Pictures Must Be Taken. Simply taking snaps won’t do, oh no. Upscale sales require an upscale photographer. Good grief. So, Condo will sit for its photos this week. Then the listing goes live. Do I get to rest? Of course not; I need a place to land. Enter Friends and Family. Family has me concerned. Friends are having way too good a time scouting.

More later.

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I had a “The Man” story percolating on the back burner but Real Life ate my homework. Honest!   Long story short,  my new retiree budget requires me to make a few cuts, including selling my condo.  Right now I’m in a flurry of decluttering that must be completed in a matter of days in time for the listing going live.  All my physical and mental energies are dedicated to making this happen.  So The Man will have to wait for his next foray through the absurd mind of yours truly.

In the meantime, have some suave, clean shaven Armitage.  Do we really need a reason why (other than the NON-BEARDY goodness?)

Richard Armitage picture by Robert Ashcroft

Richard Armitage picture by Robert Ashcroft

 

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crush3I started this series in October 2011. It had numerous parts but unfortunately I never completed it or answered the ultimate question. Friends have encouraged me to repost and get on with it already. Since it’s been almost three years with a new influx of fans, I think it merits a new conversation. There are some similarities between and now. Does journeying to see the crush in a play sound familiar? Some things never change.

*****
So my last fandom lay in tatters, a ghost of its former self.  But it continued to limp along while I continued a growing disinterest.  I had a few brushes with potential crushes but no fandom in which I could actively participate.  Writing those words make me wonder: what is the purpose of any of these crushes?

Could it be as a boyfriend substitute? I don’t think of them as fantasy boyfriends and many fans have partners in their lives.  Could it be freedom from boredom?  A crush certainly creates a heightened level of interest in discovering the person and his work and a thrill in the newness of it all, but I can still become bored.  (Yes, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  Blasphemy, I know).  I don’t know about you, Dear Reader, but I can’t enthuse endlessly, any more than I can read or draw or write constantly.  It takes away some of the novelty.

Could it be to fill something missing in ourselves?  This could very well be in some fans, especially those who take their zeal to the disturbing stage.  I suspect if everything possible filled my life, I would still have room for fandoms, mainly because I enjoy the surrounding community so much.  With each group I’ve made friends (or learned how not to make friends) who have lasted over the years.  I’ve also gotten invaluable insight into human nature and diverse experiences I otherwise wouldn’t have encountered.  By the way, it’s ironic that if an object is the interest, it’s approved as a hobby; but if a person is the interest, it’s called a crush and treated warily.   It’s okay to love the Chicago Bears but it’s odd to adore Mr. or Ms. Crush.   When you think about it, everybody has some sort of interest or hobby, whether a sport, or craft, or show. This demarcation is a bit unfair.

Is it a culmination of experiences, perceptions, brain chemistry that is sparked by the crush’s appearance, voice, mannerisms and personality?  I suspect this is more the case.  There are actors who I like that just don’t do it for me.  Then there are those I’m at a loss to explain, especially in hindsight.  “There was just something about him at the time!” I look back on my former crushes and scratch my head.  Obviously there was something about them that worked for me at that point in time.  Sometimes I wonder if my crushes aren’t an evolving ideal of what I would like in a real life man, something like a safe virtual Ken doll who I can dress in different combinations of qualities.  Hopefully, my taste is getting better, not worse.

But I digress.  Flash forward a few years.  I’m watching a television show with two buddies.  The New Guy appears onscreen. (You all know who he is, but I’ll keep him incognito for continuity sake).   “Isn’t he cute?’ gushes one friend.  “He’s repulsive,” shudders the other.  “Meh,” I say.  I didn’t like him.  I continued to dislike him for several episodes right up to the minute he got a cute shot, and another, and another, and “oh, could he possible be cute?,” and then “oh, this guy can act!,” and then – I was a fledgling fan of Mr Crush #3.

 

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Real Life socializing (read: attending festivals) has me derelict in my writing duties.  I have a nice “The Man” story in the works but it probably won’t get done this week.  So I’ve dusted off my Bag of Goodies and rummaged around.  But what to my wondering eyes should appear but a fresh pic from a not so new Esquire video.  Can’t have too much class, I say.

Enjoy and have a great weekend.

RA thinks his trousers have finally reached tight enough.

RA thinks his trousers have finally reached “tight enough.”

 

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crush2So, how to best articulate what happened next with Mr. Crush?  The last post described how the fan club enjoyed a boom and a sort of creative nirvana.  Things moved along swimmingly (always wanted to say that). Mr. Crush (and his wife) took a sporadic interest in the club.  We seemed to go from strength to strength as we traveled to London several more times to see him two more plays and lunch with him.  However, underneath it all, things were unraveling.

The reason why brings me to my first axiom of fandom:

Do not learn too much about your crush.

Crushing intrinsically carries a certain idealization of subject.  You know the person is human with foibles just like yourself, there is still a sense that this person may be more special than the next.  When the veil between subject and fan is pierced,  the allure, the specialness dissipates in the face of the person’s frailties. It can be illuminating, interesting, even titillating to learn whether your crush is worth the admiration, but there is such a thing as too much information.  Granted, it isn’t always easy to tell how much is too much;  by the time you learn that one fact that may be a deal breaker – it’s too late.

In our case, we got to know Mr. Crush all too well. He was not nasty or sarcastic or caustic like my previous crush.  Mr. Crush was an affable, likable man but  two aspects of his personality wore down the inner circle of which I was a part.  First, he was a flake extraordinaire.  He wasn’t deliberately rude; he simply marched to the beat of different drummer.  When we flew to London for an arranged meeting with him, he stood us up, seemingly having forgotten about us. A few days later, he called  the organizer wondering where we were.  He arranged a Q &A on his own initiative and then failed to follow through.  He was so unreliable, he became a joke and an annoyance in the inner circle.  We didn’t tell the rest of the fans although they were aware that events seemed to evaporate. Personally, I was anNOYed.  I abhor a flake and would never have one for a friend.  But I enjoyed the camaraderie of the group.  The club continued, almost in spite of him and then two big things happened.

This brings me to my second axiom of fandom:

Know what qualities you can and cannot respect in a crush.

If certain qualities would leave you appalled,  it’s time to walk away.  Here is where the telling gets tricky.  Let’s just say that Mr. Crush, who touted himself a family man, made an unwise choice at a convention which led a few of us to surmise that he was being indiscreet.  A short time later, his wife venting her spleen on Facebook indirectly confirmed our suspicions.  Our club blew  up.  Those who had not twigged were either deeply shocked and left, or sad but resigned.  Personally, I had lost interest over the flakiness but the cheating was beyond the pale for me.  Ordinarily I consider a person’s private life private.  But once I learn things, I cannot un-know them.  I cannot condone partner beaters, serial cheaters, bigots, and child molesters to name a few, and cannot admire a person I cannot respect.  I could no longer respect Mr. Crush although what he did privately was his own business.

The inner circle was done too.  The club limped along for a long time before the listmom jokingly changed its name.  The list still exists today but only as token to the past I suspect.  Somebody might post once in a blue moon. Upon reflection, it is likely things might not have disintegrated had we kept ourselves blissfully ignorant, more detached and not known Mr. Crush as well as we did.  But then again, who knows.  Today, I dig just enough to discover whether a person is worthy of admiration (i.e. not a creep as listed above) and stop.  As for the rest, I don’t need to know or want to know.  I prefer the fan innocence.  After all, my purpose in fandom is to have fun.

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Crush_fotm_xlargeA few days ago, I saw a post on Tumblr, both brave and heartbreaking.  The poster is a big fan of Richard Armitage and spends a big part of her life watching, reading, and talking about him.  She also has a history of depression and uses her crush/fantasies to stave it off.  Initially, she thought she would be happy to know that RA was happy with somebody. But she became “incredibly sad,” as she described, over the RA/Lee Pace rumors, crying for hours.  Then she realized that the rumors regarding Lee Pace himself didn’t distress her.  What bothered her was the idea of RA being with anybody, male or female.  So she could not believe the rumors or any rumors because doing so would threaten her happiness – her survival.  She knew her view was selfish, but she deemed it a necessary buffer against depression.

I found the post to be remarkably honest and brave.   It was a hard admission to make because every fan thinks they want what their crush needs to be happy.  Not many open minded fans will admit to secretly harboring such feelings. As a person with depression, I can totally sympathize with needing to protect what makes one happy.  At times, the need to focus on something and get away from one’s misery can be overpowering and certainly, immersing oneself in the crush, in fandom activities can be productive and rewarding.   Look at the all the creative projects and friendships begun because of this fandom.  Fantasies, up to a point, are an integral part of crushing; it idealizes the person. We think the crush is somehow better looking, talented – special. There’s nothing wrong with this viewpoint.  That’s the nature of crushing.  The poster inserts herself into her fantasies which makes her feel good.  It’s what she enjoys.  However, she wants to protect that lest she falls back into depression.  I can understand her reasoning up to a point but I am unsettled because the poster fails to understand that being so deeply protective and inured in that fantasy comes at a cost.

This post isn’t about whether any truth to the Rich/Lee rumors will ruin fans’ fantasies. It’s about when crushes and attendant fantasies flip from rewarding to detrimental.  In my opinion, the poster’s objective of throwing herself into the fandom to stave off depression is only a temporary bandage.  What I find unsettling and heartbreaking is her desire to not temper fantasy with reality or face her issues.  What will she do if RA publicly states he’s with somebody?  Should she simply wait for her fantasy to implode to the detriment of her mental health?  Is this the route crushes and fantasies should take?  How far is too far?

I believe crushing should always be tempered with the here and now.  It’s important to enjoy oneself but stay grounded in the process. It’s one thing to say that crushing makes one happy, but another to totally rely on that person as the primary source and call it survival.  Disappointment is bound to happen because a crush is only human, fallible. Remember when I said fantasies are good up to a point?  Yes, they are as long as they don’t seek to harm anybody including oneself.   If a fan sees that his or her fantasy is bound to cause self-grief, then it’s time to step away, reassess what is happening, and take steps to deal with the real issues.  Crushing is supposed to be a joyful enriching experience, not lead to depression and tears.  The poster has already reached the point where crushing had turned detrimental; her willful denial is just delaying the inevitable.

What if the fan can’t let it go?  What if things have progressed to total devastation at the thought of a fantasy being ruined?  After 20 years in fandom, I believe the answer is simple but hard to do – walk away and get help.  Yes, leave the fandom until some equilibrium can be regained.  Time and again I’ve seen it as the only viable solution.  It’s possible to become so enmeshed in a crush, like the poster, that a fan can lose touch with the initial objective.   The poster will survive even though she thinks she won’t;  she’s too locked in the jaws of depression to see it now.  But hopefully with the guidance of trained mental health professionals, she will have achieved better perspective and control of the depression.

Looking at the bigger picture, I’ve seen many occasions where it seemed fans either needed to take a break or leave the fandom to determine what they really want.  Flame wars and heartlessly vicious arguments on forums are the biggest red lights.  Both signal that fans have become so deeply invested in the crush that the coin has turned from beneficial to detrimental.  So, be it Rich/Lee rumors, rumors in general or any other vicious bone of contention, if raging, crying, and depression enter the picture, it’s time to assess how far is too far and change course.

 

Happiness

The man stood smiling, nodding, murmuring thanks.

Thank you.

More hands reached out to deliver congratulatory slaps on the back.

Thank you so much.

He felt like a bobble-head as faces -both friendly and unrecognizable – swam in and out of his vision.  The after party’s din rose, signaling the arrival of another cast member.  A hand thrust a glass of water into his.  He took a grateful sip, cooling his parched throat.

Oh thank you.

A voice called into his ear – the red haired bloke holding up his smartphone – “So you want to hear what the critics said?”

The man blinked.  What, press reviews already? His stomach clinched at their mention.  He wasn’t ready.  No, he was but – no he wasn’t.  From all the kudos around him, things had clearly gone well, but still.  He opened his mouth to answer when another face swam into view. Who was he?

Thank you.

The bloke chuckled, launching into the many preliminary tweets. Ah yes, Twitter – no more waiting for morning after print reviews.  Above the noise, the man head “astounding,” “masterful presence,” “great performance.” His eyes grew round.  They liked him, they really liked him!  He didn’t think his face muscles could smile or his head nod any harder.  It was all good.  He’d done it!  He’d worked years to reach this night.  He’d really arrived.  He allowed himself a moment to savor it all.

But now that the verdict was in, he felt – past tired.  He must have hobnobbed with everybody in the ball room and back stage at the theatre.  Oh damn. Frowning, he rubbed his forehead.  Well, everybody but his fans who’d been waiting at the stage door.  He’d tried to get to them but the autograph hounds had pushed forward, blocking most of them.  He’d had so little time. Damn it.  He hoped they understood and forgave him.

Another hand at his shoulder.

Thank you so much.

He took a deep breath as exhaustion from the four hour play washed over him. He ached.  The faces seemed to press closer, the din grow louder.  He felt light headed and oddly unreal.  Air.   He needed some air.

***

He leaned against the hotel’s facade, breathing in the cool night air, the claustrophobic feeling receding.  Despite the throng of press and people inside, the Strand was peaceful and almost empty.  One or two cabs whizzed by.  Nobody stood around except for him and the doorman who’d glanced his way a few times.   The man nodded at him and looked away.  He would stay out here for a few minutes then head back in before they came looking for him.  Right now, he would just enjoy the solitude.

“Excuse me, sir.”  The doorman appeared at his side.  “Don’t mean to bother but I think those are for you.”

Long stemmed red roses lay carefully placed to the side of the steps.  The man walked over and picked one up.  What was this?  Tied around the stem was a piece of paper stating “JustGiving: £10, much love.”  He retrieved another. “JustGiving: £15, with love.”  And another – “JustGiving: £5, all our love.”  His confusion cleared.  Of course, these were from the fans!  Each rose must represent a donation to his charities.  Stooping, he quickly retrieved every one.  As his arms filled with flowers, the exhaustion fell away.  He stood, a giant smile on his face.

A perfect bouquet.

Thank you,  he whispered.

*****

Congratulations to Richard Armitage and the cast and crew of The Crucible.

 

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I started this series in October 2011.  It had numerous parts but unfortunately I never completed it or answered the ultimate question.  Friends have encouraged me to repost and get on with it already.   Since it’s been almost three years with a new influx of fans, I think it merits a new conversation.  There are some similarities between and now.  Does journeying to see the crush in a play sound familiar?  Some things never change.

*****

[I'm telling this story because it represents my background in fandom spanning a period of almost 20 years.  All observations and opinions stated are mine alone. This post has been months in the making because it's been so difficult to articulate and pen.   It's important to know this background so Dear Reader can understand upon what basis I attempt to answer the question of various bloggers in Armitage World: Why Richard Armitage?  This series will be posted sporadically as my thoughts gel.  Here are Part 1 and Part 2.]

In early 1998, we learned that Mr. Crush would be appearing in play staged in a small experimental theater.  British members formed an advance team and attended an early performance.  They approached him and told him about our club.  He was friendly and shared a drink with them.  After much brouhaha, 13 of us from the US, Canada and UK journeyed to London to see the play on 8 days notice.  If you can imagine the logistics of the situation, it was an exciting but crazy thing to do.  The play was indeed in a small venue.  I sat in the first row; I could have tripped him had I stuck out my foot.  The intimacy of the theater coupled with it being over a bar helped in arranging a meeting between Mr. Crush and us.  By that time, he knew we were an older mature bunch who would be respectful and polite.  He was flummoxed we would fly across the pond to see him and was quite gracious in spending the rest of the evening with us.  It was a lovely experience plus we got to meet each other, many for the first time.

The high continued upon our return.  Mr. Crush’s wife acted as intermediary with designated members and were eventually recognized as an official fan club. List mom set up a website.  The group continued to grow.  More fanfic and art poured forth on our mailing list.  (The contained aspect of the list made it quite nurturing, something I’ll discuss in another post.)  Over the next several years, a few of us journeyed to see him again in a bigger production, and a film premiere in Toronto.  We also organized a mini two day convention for ourselves also  in Toronto.  A small contingent began a yearly tradition of attending the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario.  A few formed close friendships had get-togethers in different cities.  In 1999, I averaged a trip every other month.

That’s not to say things were perfect in the club.  Periodically we had interesting types join who did not fit in with the club’s laid back approach and they eventually had to be eased out.  We had flame wars break about about twice a year usually during the heat of summer or the dead of winter precipitated by personal issues which List Mom decisively doused.  We had personal crises with appeals and fundraisers for very serious situations.  Overall, it was a pretty cohesive group within.  Then problems started without.

NEXT: All good things must come to an end

 

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