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Night Sky

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There's a mountain lion nearby, but it didn't notice you because it's reading Facebook.
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54 days ago
Atlanta, GA, USA
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The Doormakers Will Make No Doors

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I live in a building with hundreds of other families, maybe thousands. We live here, eat here, sleep here. Our kids learn here. The adults work here. And once, maybe a few times a week, people enter into our building and they take our people away from us. They rob them in the dark. They steal them from us forever. Many times they take our children, sometimes they take the adults.

This building has no doors.

We tell the keepers of this building, the Doormakers, “We have no doors. That’s why they can get in and take our people. We don’t have doors at the front of the building. Our homes inside the building have no doors. Our rooms inside our homes have no doors. They can just walk in. They can just take us whenever they want.”

And the Doormakers tell us, “I’m so sorry.” They clasp their hands together, and they wring them together like they’re squeezing water from a sponge. The look shared on their faces is one of pain. “You are in our thoughts,” they say, sympathetically. “You are in our prayers. It’s the Shadow People,” they say. “From out there. From beyond the Building.”

“So you’ll make us doors?” we ask. “You’ll put them on for us?”

“Doors won’t help,” the Doormakers say, regrettably. “The Shadow People will just open them and walk right in anyway.”

“I have a solution to that,” you tell them. “Locks. We lock the doors.”

“But then all doorways will be impassable,” the Doormakers say. “You’re talking about closing off all the doorways, forever. We can’t do that.”

“No, what we can do is give everyone keys. Keys to those who should be able to use the doors. We’ll all have keys to the building. And those who live in their homes will have keys to their homes. And those who live in the rooms of our homes can have keys to those rooms.”

“Keys are very costly,” the Doormakers say.

“So are our lives,” we answer.

“You’re trying to restrict all freedom of movement,” the Doormakers say.

“What? No, no, no, we’re just trying to stay safe.”

Here, the Doormakers pull out The Document. We all signed the Document in order to live here, and the Doormaker points to a part of The Document that has long been underlined, underlined so many times the pen has nearly worn through the paper. (No other of the Document’s precepts have been underlined in such a way, and the Doormakers don’t seem to remember what the rest of The Document even says.) “Look here,” the Doormakers say.

They point to the precept which reads:

The well-regulated hallways will represent the right of the Building’s people to have unrestricted freedom-of-movement.

“See?” the Doormakers say. “We cannot restrict movement.”

“But that’s not precisely what the precept says,” you explain. “It suggests that first, this is about the hallways, not our homes or the front of the building, but it also notes that the hallways are well-regulated. The hallways have no doors, no cameras, no regulation at all. Anyone can walk down them and enter our houses, our bedrooms, our most private places. That’s how they’re taking us.” Whoever they are, we think but do not say.

“That is the cost of freedom,” they say.

“But this isn’t freedom, this is the opposite of freedom.”

Being taken is not freedom, we point out.

“Why do you hate freedom?” the Doormakers say. They tut-tut us, and hurry back to the stairway, to head to their penthouses which we have never seen. We feel uncertain of what to do. We don’t want to restrict all freedom, do we? This seems like common sense, but now we’re left wondering — are the Doormakers right?

At night, more of our children are taken from us.

We announce it over the intercoms, to the whole building. Every day or three, a tally of those who were taken from us. We’ve grown resistant to it. The most we do is listen to hear if the names are names we know; if not, maybe we don’t listen so hard. In part because it’s too sad to think about for too long. In part because it’s just becoming noise. The background sound of the tragedies of the universe, unstoppable and implacable, we tell ourselves. Like old age. Like entropy.

But sometimes we get mad again.

We get mad when we know the names, when we know who were taken.

We try to talk to the Doormakers about it, telling them, “At least do something. Put some boxes in front of the door. Or half-doors. Even an alarm so we can hear when people are coming through. Or cameras, to see who is taking us.”

They say they know who is taking us. The Shadow People. And they mumble at us about how sad they are for us, and how we are in their hearts, and then they hurry back to their penthouses.

One of us looks up the history of The Building, and they find documents from The Architects who built it — the Architects didn’t intend for the Building to have no doors, it turns out. They wanted doors. It’s why they created the Doormakers to govern the building. They didn’t want people from inside or outside the building to be able to enter our homes! They wanted the hallways to be clear, yes, but that’s it — just the hallways. Our homes are our homes. We send a missive up to the Doormakers — they’ve stopped meeting with us — to tell them what we found. We receive a message over the intercom as a result thanking us for our due diligence, our time, our thoughtfulness, and that’s all they say.

“Does that mean they’ll do something?” we ask one another.

“Maybe,” we tell one another. “Maybe they’ll make us doors.”

But weeks go by. We lose dozens again. Some point out, “Really, as a percentage, it’s not that we’re losing that many. Do we really need doors?” But they say it with a kind of listlessness, like they’ve given up, given in. Someone else says, “Acceptable losses, really, for our freedom,” but no one seems to believe that. We want our doors.

So we decide to make them ourselves.

Our floor, and the people of other floors, take it into their own hands to put together doors. We’ve never made doors before, and it’s not our purview, but we manage to cobble together crude gates and hatches with rough hinges and uneven knobs. Someone on our floor is even good with metal, so he makes for us locks and keys for our homes. And that night we hear knobs rattling. Our doors shudder against their frames. But none come in. And that night, none go missing.

In the morning, the Doormakers appear.

They have hammers. They strike the knobs off our doors. They pry the hinges off the wall. “No restricting freedom of movement,” they say firmly, hammers in hand. Then they head back upstairs in an incredulous huff.

We look at our handiwork, smashed. We wonder what will come.

That night, more of us are taken again. Nineteen children.

The night after that, a respite, and same with the two nights hence, but then it begins again in earnest, three children, then four women, then some of those who work in the offices of the Building — they are taken, pulled from their desks and hiding places through the open doorways, and then they’re gone from us forever. Maybe to join the shadows, we don’t even know.

The intercom announces the lost and the taken.

Sometimes we’re not even sure if it’s announcing everyone or not.

Then more on our floor have been taken. We know them. We know their names. When they come on over the intercom, we weep.

“We have to do something. We have to make the Doormakers listen.”

So, we decide to go against protocol. Together we march to the stairs and up, up, up we go, to the penthouse. To the Doormakers. But there, we find the most curious thing:

A door.

They have a door.

And it’s locked.

“This must be a mistake,” one of us says. “That’s not possible.”

“Hypocrisy,” another says.

“Maybe they need the door to protect themselves.”

“From who? The Shadow People?”

But we fear the real answer: it’s to protect them from us. (Some of us wonder aloud: who are the Shadow People? Are they even real? Are they even a threat?) So we work very hard to take down the door. We use our bare hands. We use tools from our kitchens. We chip away at the mortar and brick, we pull away hinges with our now-bloodied fingers.

The door falls.

The penthouse is revealed. A beautiful world. Gold and silver. Polished wood. And doors everywhere. Doors to every room. Some locked, some not. We hear voices behind one, and this time we offer no finesse — we simply slam ourselves up against it again and again, the bulk of us forming a battering ram, until the door falls and we tumble into a room.

In this table is a table, big and grand.

One one side of this very long table are the Doormakers. On the other are figures in suits. They look like us. We’ve seen some of them here before — they live here. In the Building, on the upper floors. A briefcase sits between them on the table, a golden glow coming from within it. The Doormakers quickly snap the case shut, but when they do, a piece of paper — a contract — slips off the table, stirred by the breeze of the closing lid. The paper lands at our feet. It contains a list of names. We know some of those names. Names of those who have been taken.

Before we know what’s happening, bodyguards of the Doormakers are wrestling us back out of this room, then out of the penthouse. They quickly put up another door — thicker, made of metal, with hinges thick as our arms. All the while we wail and yell and kick and thrash. They’re the ones taking us, we cry. They’ve made a deal with those who take us. There aren’t any shadowy people. It’s them. They’re taking us. They’re paying the Doormakers to not build us any doors, to keep the hallways open. The guards drag us down, down, down, past the floors on which we live, all the way to the basement.

There, too, we find doors.

We’re thrown into rooms. The doors slam shut behind us. We’re left in the dark. The guards hiss at us, tell us we’re the Shadow People, now, and we can have doors if we want to. These doors. Doors we can’t open. Doors that are locked tight, sealing us shut behind them. We realize too late that the freedom they talk about isn’t our freedom, but theirs.

We pound on the doors, screaming to be let out.

These are the doors the Doormakers made.

And we will help to make them.

* * *

THE RAPTOR & THE WREN: Miriam Black, Book Five

Miriam Black, in lockstep with death, continues on her quest to control her own fate!

Having been desperate to rid herself of her psychic powers, Miriam now finds herself armed with the solution — a seemingly impossible one. But Miriam’s past is catching up to her, just as she’s trying to leave it behind. A copy-cat killer has caught the public’s attention. An old nemesis is back from the dead. And Louis, the ex she still loves, will commit an unforgivable act if she doesn’t change the future. 

Miriam knows that only a great sacrifice is enough to counter fate. Can she save Louis, stop the killer, and survive? 

Hunted and haunted, Miriam is coming to a crossroads, and nothing is going to stand in her way, not even the Trespasser.

Indiebound | Amazon | B&N

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55 days ago
Atlanta, GA, USA
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Trump is a Racist. Stop Pretending Otherwise.

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A picture of Trump at a lectern. Text on the picture says "Not just racist. A racist."

Here in January of 2018, this is the deal: I’m gonna judge you if you can’t admit openly and without reservation that Donald Trump is a racist. Not just racist, which is to say, he has some defense in the idea that we live in a racist society so we all participate in its racism whether we like it or not, but a racist, as in, he’s actively prejudiced against non-white people and groups, as evidenced by his words and actions, both before he was president but especially since then. If you can’t admit this here in January of 2018, when the evidence of his racism is piled up grossly upon the floor in full view of everyone down to the cats, then I’m going to go ahead and judge you for it. It’s long past time, folks.

(He’s also sexist and religiously bigoted and transphobic and classist, among many other bigotries, but let’s go ahead and save those for another time.)

Mind you, people are still going out of their way to pretend that the president’s comments yesterday about “shithole” countries isn’t really racist (“Well, they are shithole countries, not that I know anything about them, which conveniently means I can elide the centuries of racist colonialism and exploitation countries including the United States have engaged in to help make them so”) or how immediately contrasting those “shithole” countries with Norway isn’t racist (“There are brown people in Norway too, just ask Anders Breivik”) or when all else fails trying to change the conversation to be about whether the word “shithole” was actually used (it was), rather than acknowledging Trump’s entire position in the conversation was racist and “shithole” was just the juicy soundbite.

But we don’t have to be those people. Trump said a racist thing and he wants to keep people from these “shithole” countries from immigrating to the United States (as opposed to people from Norway) because he’s a racist. There are other reasons he doesn’t want them here, to be sure (Trump also hates poor people, as an example, and many of the immigrants are liable to be poor when they arrive), but none of those mitigates or obviates the racism. That it’s there too doesn’t subtract or divide its vileness. It adds and multiplies it.

At this point, there’s nothing to be gained by pretending that Trump isn’t a racist. Rather, the opposite: The willingness to deny Trump’s active, obvious and unsubtle racism suggests not just passive complicity in his racism, but an active participation in it. Trump’s folks in the White House yesterday suggested that his “shithole” comment would resonate with his base, which to be clear, is an explicit acknowledgement by the White House that it considers his base to be just as racist as Trump himself. If you consider yourself part of Trump’s base, you now get the chance to indicate whether or not you are as much of a racist as Trump.

And maybe you are! We do know that while not all Trump voters consider themselves racist, nearly everyone who considers themselves a racist voted for Trump. Maybe you’re one of the people who celebrates Trump’s clear and unambiguous racism. But if you don’t in fact consider yourself a confirmed and unapologetic racist, now is a fine time to make that clear. Even if you supported Trump before, it’s not too late to get off that rapidly-derailing train and to tuck-and-roll yourself clear of the continuing association with the man and his active racism.

And here’s the first test of it: Do you believe Trump is a racist? At this point it’s really a “yes” or “no” question, with no waffling qualifications needed. If you answer anything other than “Yes,” to that, well. You should really ask yourself why. And in the meantime, expect to be judged. By me, as noted. But, I strongly suspect, by others as well.

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67 days ago
Atlanta, GA, USA
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65 days ago
San Rafael, CA



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88 days ago
Atlanta, GA, USA
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Seven Years

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98 days ago
Atlanta, GA, USA
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98 days ago
it's been kind of A Day so I'm not afraid to admit I cried
97 days ago
Had the same with the previous comic, that this one references. I felt so much relief when I reached the end of this one...
97 days ago
Links for the new readers: https://xkcd.com/881/, https://xkcd.com/1141/
97 days ago
These are also related but more humorous in nature: https://xkcd.com/933/, https://xkcd.com/996/
97 days ago
And this one explains how the experience of dealing with cancer "works": https://xkcd.com/931/
97 days ago
As someone who is now officially a cancer survivor, this one hits home.

Dear Mens: Your Greasy Demon Hands Are In Time Out

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It is I, your male-identifying cohort, Chnurk Mandog, and it’s time we had a little talk.

Before we begin this talk, though, I’m gonna tell a story.

Recently, I was in Florida, aka, America’s Moist Dangly Bits, and while there, I was on Sanibel Island, which is known in part as possessing the best shelling beaches in the world, and also offering up tiny invisible bugs called no-see-ums that appear in a shimmering cloud and buzzsaw you down to your bones. While on a shelling beach, I witnessed many things, including pretty shells, a dead rat, several dead stingrays, and a vicious red tide. I also witnessed this:

A family was walking up along the top margins of the beach. Meaning, away from the water, up by the trees. It was a father and a mother, both I’d guess in their late-30s early 40s, and a pack of four boys. Presumably, their children, or maybe clones, I dunno. The boys were chasing lizards, and one of the boys came up to his father and said, “DAD CAN I GRAB A LIZARD’S TAIL?”

And the father said, “Yeah, just don’t let him bite you.”

The boy ran off to join his lizard-hunting brothers.

Thankfully, the lizards were faster than these shitty kids, and the boys became so irritated and bored with not-catching lizards that they fucked off down to the water’s edge, instead.

My own son was with me, and I asked him, “Do you think you should grab lizards by the tail?” And he asked me, “Won’t that hurt the lizard?” And I said, “I dunno, probably.”

“Will they bite you?” he asked.

“Does that matter?” I asked. And when he looked up at me confused, I explained:

“The effect of the action on you is not as an important as the effect of the action on the lizard. Doesn’t matter if the lizard bites, because it’s not okay to go grabbing living things, because they’re not yours, and because you might hurt them.”

Our son, a little burgeoning rules lawyer, seemed pleased with this answer, and I felt, yay, a teachable moment. Huzzah and hooray.

The day went on, as days tend to.

But I was bugged by the event because I felt like I should’ve said something. Not to my own son, but to that dickhead dad and his dickhead boys — normally, I have a very strong DON’T PARENT OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN creed in place, because you can do what you want with your kids and I will handle my own, thank you. I’m not the Worldfather, I’m not your Parent Cop, and we all make mistakes. Just the same, I felt like those little fuckers are probably out ripping tails off lizards because their father couldn’t be bothered to tell them that wasn’t nice to do.

Later that afternoon, we were at a grocery store in the island called Jerry’s — and outside of Jerry’s is an array of other shops, a little courtyard, and maybe six cages that play host to various parrots or parrot-like entities. My son and I were toodling around outside while my wife was in one of the stores, and together we walked up to one of the cages, which contained, if I recall, a squawking blue-and-yellow macaw.

An older dude, maybe early 60s, was standing there next to us.

On the cage hung a sign, clearly written, in big, bold letters:



The older dude was noshing a pastry of some kind. A danish, I think.

And as we’re standing there, he took a piece of the danish, and thrust it through the cage bars to the parrot. Literally moving his hand three inches above the sign that clearly tells him DO NOT FEED THE BIRDS YOU FUCKING DING-DONG in an act of willful ignorance.

As the bird moved to the food, I snapped at him:

“You’re not supposed to feed the birds.”

He shot me a look, confused. Maybe angry. Said nothing.

I continue:

“It says right there on that sign you’re ignoring. They’re on a special diet. Don’t feed the goddamn birds.” He stared at me, mute, and I said, “Are you listening?” Slowly, his hand retracted before the bird was able to claim its inappropriate pastry snack. The man continued to look at me, not saying anything, and he then hurried away toward his wife. As he scurried off, I explained to my son loudly, because I’m a jerk, “YOU CAN’T FEED BREAD TO BIRDS BECAUSE BIRDS DON’T EAT BREAD. YOU DON’T SEE BIRDS BAKING BREAD, DO YOU? NO, YOU DON’T. BREAD CAUSES MALNUTRITION IN BIRDS.” My voice got louder and louder as I said this, to ensure that the old man heard me. My son, who is now reading actual words, said, “It says right there on the sign, don’t feed the birds.”

“Yeah,” I said.

“Yeah,” my son said.

Yeah,” I said again, righteous.

I’m sure as soon as we walked away, Ol’ Danish McGee probably wandered back up and shoved a gobbet of cheese danish into the macaw’s beak. But at least I said something and I felt a little better about that, even if it didn’t answer for the jerkwad boys who were ripping tails off lizards.

You might say, Chnurk, what is the point of this story?

To which, I point to this as a partial answer:


Now, of course, obviously what I’m doing here is I’m leading up to something, and that something is not that women are lizards or birds, nor do they have tails or special diets, but rather, hey men?

You need to keep your damn hands to yourself.

Your touch is not a gift.

Your gropey, searching hands are not charity, they’re not a favor, they’re not God’s Benevolence, they’re just your dumb hands, and you need to keep them — and all your other parts, especially your stupid probably very ugly dick — to yourself. This shouldn’t be difficult. It’s literally a lesson we taught to our own son at a very early age: “Don’t touch people who don’t want to be touched.” And that want to be touched part is not only essential, but rather, it’s essential to realize that only vigorous consent can alert you to the desire to be touched. It’s not implicit. It’s not in her eyes, it’s not whispered on the wind, as if by magic. It’s spoken by the mouth, or written on a piece of paper — if someone asks for a hug or some other kind of physical contact? They want the hug. If they don’t, you can ask them proactively: “HI, MAY I HUG YOU?” and if they say yes? Hug them appropriately, in the Normal Hugging Way. If they say no? Then do not touch them. No-handsy, no-touchy. This shouldn’t be difficult. These are preschool rules, man.

It’s not even an insult if she says no. It’s just a choice. A choice born maybe of trauma you can’t see. Or a choice based on preference or predilection. Or maybe it is an insult, maybe she doesn’t like you, maybe you’re an asshole, maybe this, maybe that. It doesn’t matter. A no is a no. You are owed nothing. She is not yours. The world is not yours. More to the point:

Life is not your buffet line of sexual opportunity, jerks. Women are not in a stable for your mate or mistress selection. I once watched a dude at a grocery store hit on a blind woman (I am ashamed I didn’t say anything to him, honestly), and what I said then remains true now: women are not just sockets for your plugs. This is true everywhere. It’s true at the grocery store. It’s true in your own home. It’s true at work! I know! At work. But isn’t the workplace just a meat market where you, the Hunter-Gatherer, will select your Ladymeat from the Ladymeat on Display?

No! No you fucking ape, it’s not. The women there in the workplace are there to work. That’s literally it. They are autonomous, independent individuals, just as you yourself are an autonomous, independent individual, dude. That’s true no matter their gender, their color, their able-bodiedness — they are not yours to touch or ogle. Your own autonomy extends to the margins of your own body and no further. And, by the way, since I have a number of writer and other creative folk following along, please note too that our workplaces are a little more fluid and flexible — conventions and conferences, for instance, are our workplaces. They, too, are not your sexual buffet line. The women there, be they fans, volunteers, readers, writers, artists, whoever, are still not a box of lusty chocolates from which to choose.

Keep your shitty demon hands to yourself. They are in time-out. Stick them in your pockets if you must. Duct-tape them together. Burn them with cigarettes if they seem motivated to stray. Keep them hidden or someone is going to rightfully chop them off.

Listen, I get it. You’ve been told, or at least shown, that the WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER. All you gotta do is grab it, pop open its shell, and suck down the meat that you have claimed for yourself. Grab all the lizards you want, dominionist man! Personal liberty says you can feed that parrot whatever the fuck you want, mighty parrot-conquerer! You can feed that parrot danish, or dishsoap, or your own dick, why not? Why can’t you fuck the parrot? You are God-chosen caveman! Club what you choose and take what is yours! Women are there for your pleasure and your breeding, ha ha ha right? Christ, my own father would drive his big-ass pickup truck close to other cars so he could stare down women’s shirts. We’d go to a couple local bars, and — in full view of my mother! — would flirt with waitresses, slap their asses, that kind of thing. He never said to me, “Son, women are yours to do with as you please,” but he certainly demonstrated that. And that kind of demonstration continues today, all around us. “Rape culture doesn’t exist,” someone surely believes even as we elected an admitted sexual predator to the highest office in the land, a guy whose only spoken moral is, “You can do anything,” and that includes grabbing women in whatever way he chooses. That sexual predator is now endorsing a secondary monster, Roy Moore, who is credibly-accused of child molestation in a way where he was banned from the local mall. (But not banned from the Senate, I guess!)

And here you might be saying, whoa whoa whoa, how’d we get here? Clearly that is different. Clearly there are stratum at play here — nuance is essential, right? A guy who forces a hug is nowhere near the same as a guy who picks up 14-year-old girls and tries to force sexual acts upon them? And you’re right. Points for you. They’re not the same. The matter of degree in difference is considerable, in much the same way that slapping someone in the face is way different from blasting out their middle with a shotgun blast of buckshot.

And yet, slapping people is still wrong.

And it’s still an act of violence.

The difference between what our president has admitted doing — or what Weinstein did — and inappropriate sexual misconduct in the workplace is obvious, but both actions come from the same place: the belief that you can do what you want, that you can touch who you want, that you do not require consent to do so.

That is incorrect.

JFC, men. Stow it. Stick your hands in the nearest glove compartment, then have someone — preferably a woman — slam the compartment shut in a way so violent that it dismembers your monster hands and contains them in the prison of that glove compartment.

I have no greater point than that. The world is not your plaything. That extends to women, to each other, to all humans, to the creatures of this world, to objects you do not own, to really every damn thing under the sun that is not a part of your body or purchased by you with cash-slash-credit. Yes, you can hug women, if they consent to being hugged. With vigorous consent, you and all other consenting parties can slap all your parts together in whatever configuration you find most delightful. Affection is not dead. It’s just meant for people who actually want it. Why the fuck would you want to give affection to someone who doesn’t want it? What the fuck is wrong with you? Put your hands away. PUT YOUR STUPID HANDS AWAY. AND YOUR MOUTH AND YOUR TONGUE AND ALL YOUR BITS.

And seriously, also, your dick.



Put your dick away.

Nobody wants to see that thing.

Even people who want to see that thing really don’t want to see that thing.

No, no, I’m not saying to be ashamed of your dick, I’m just saying, unless you get an email where the font is in 144-point size Comic Sans and it says PLEASE SHOW ME YOUR DICK AT THE NEXT OPPORTUNITY, I WILL GAZE UPON THIS DICK DIGITALLY OR IN FULL 4K REALITY, and it has a signature of authenticity underneath that is notarized by three licensed sources, stop showing people your stupid dingle.

Teach this to your children.

Tell this to the men in your life.

If you see something, say something.

The end.

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104 days ago
Atlanta, GA, USA
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