Friday, April 30, 2010

Finding our way home

It seems I've been tagged in a meme by two of my new bloggy friends, the lovely Lulu over at Unperfect Life (and thank you Lulu, because who the hell wants to read about a perfect life?) and the equally lovely E. at Whining at the World.  The rules are to simply repost your first post ever and then tag 5 other people to do the same.  First, the post.

Now if you go back in my archives you will see that the following post is actually my second.  Why?  Because after I posted it I thought it was a little too honest and hardcore for a first post, so I wrote another, lighter one and post-dated it so it would appear first!  But let's be real here.  This post will tell you more about who I am and why I'm more than a little obsessed with Australia.

On Longing and a Sense of Home
originally posted October 31, 2009

Last month I went to Australia, but if you have even the remotest connection to me you already know this. I happened to mention it to everyone I know at every conceivable opportunity, and posted lots of pictures on Facebook (still there, just in case you missed them). You see, I was a little excited about this trip. I had been there once before twenty years earlier and felt an extraordinary sense of connection with the land, and I wondered if I would still feel the same thing when I went this time.

Australia has always been a special place for me for reasons I can’t quite understand. Sometime in my early twenties I developed a strong desire to go there, even though I had never been and didn’t know a soul over there. For some reason, it just felt like home to me. So I began planning a little trip there. Except that it turned out to be not such a little trip. I ended up dropping out of college, giving away most of my possessions, moving the rest into my mom’s house on the opposite coast and leaving the country for what turned out to be six months. I would have stayed longer if my Visa hadn’t expired.

I was enchanted with the beauty of Sydney, the friendliness of the Aussies and the myriad little cultural differences that are always charming the first few months of immersion in a new country (and taxing thereafter), but all that was just your typical vacation abroad excitement. It wasn’t until I got into the outback that my world began to slide open.

I was driving across the country with some friends. We had driven up the coast from Sydney to Brisbane and turned inland, across the mountains and toward the interior desert. In an effort to make good time, we were driving day and night, in eight-hour shifts, doing our best to avoid cattle and kangaroo and other night-time road hazards. I was driving during the wee hours of the morning as we descended the Great Dividing Range and entered the vast interior desert. I could see nothing other than what was lit up by the headlights -- rocks and weeds and the occasional glint of a small pair of eyes. As dawn broke, however, the sun gradually illuminated the landscape and I could see that it had been transformed. I felt a shiver go up my spine. We had left the scrubby forests of the low ranges and were surrounded now by a brilliant, red desert dotted with low brush and knobby, leafless trees. Something deep within me, acute and visceral, responded to this landscape. Something long dormant was awakening inside me. It’s as if I heard the distant cry of some primordial horn, an ancient reveille, calling me to attention. I thought: I am home. I actually cried then, in the car, looking out at this very ordinary yet beautiful desert. The other passengers in the car were asleep but I was wide awake, gliding quietly and attentively through this otherworld, drinking in this landscape that was foreign and so familiar all at once.

We spent three weeks in the Australian interior driving from small town to small town, Mt. Isa and Daly Waters and Tennant Creek, visiting Uluru and Kata Tjuta, Mataranka Hot Springs and Kakadu. I never once grew tired of looking at the desert. I never lost my sense of amazement at its beauty nor my gratitude for its very existence. And I never lost the sense that this place at the opposite end of the world from my home was my real home. When I left Australia, I left it as one leaves a lover. I felt the loss acutely, like a shock to my system. All the places in me that had come alive began to wilt again and I mourned my separation from a home I hadn’t known I had and began a lifelong exercise of longing for something I couldn’t quite define.

So I wondered, twenty years hence, what would it be like to return? Had I romanticized my previous experience (as twenty-somethings do)? What would I feel when I stood again on Terra Australis, now that I was a more mature forty-something?

As the plane descended into Sydney I felt a sense of anticipation, as if I were returning to a long-lost friend. And exploring Sydney again was indeed exciting. There was so much new (it had a pronounced international flair that it didn’t have when I was there before) and so much exactly the same (glorious Circular Quay and all the familiar landmarks). Yet it wasn’t until I left the city and ventured into the surrounding countryside that I felt, once again, that same strong visceral connection to the land. This time I didn’t even have to go into the outback.

We had taken a train into the Blue Mountains and were setting out on a hike through the heavily treed, rugged tablelands. It was morning and the crowds were thin, the weather was clear and crisp. As we walked deeper into the forest the air was heavy with the scent of eucalyptus and other than the occasional bird call, we were closeted by silence. The smooth trunks of the gum trees seemed to ask to be touched and I slowed so I could run my hand down their length. The air, the trees, the dirt beneath me, everything felt suddenly electric. So very alive. Again, I felt that sense of close familiarity with the land. Something within my body remembered this place. Something inside was standing at full attention, rooted to the ground, not wanting to move, not wanting to leave this exceptional place. That entire hike seemed to happen in slow motion. My senses felt heightened. I remember the smells and sounds and just the feel of that path. When I did leave, I cried. As the train wound its way down the rocky cliffs toward the coast, I stared out the window and watched the trees disappear behind me and tried to hide my tears because I didn’t know how to begin to explain to my friend why I was heartbroken.

I felt this sensation just about everywhere I went in Australia. On the rural footpaths of Kangaroo Island and in the hills of South Australia and, of course, in the outback. Uluru and Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon and all the nameless dirt roads that splinter off and go nowhere. I spent a lot of time driving around and looking out the window and crying (are you tired of me crying? – I am). Oddly, I felt nothing in Cairns and the tropical north. It was pretty there, in a picture-postcard kind of way, but if I never go back to Cairns I won’t miss it.

So I know that Australia still feels like home and I know that I want to go back. Again and again. I don’t know why it feels like home and perhaps I don’t have to. Life needs its mysteries. I know that home is not merely a place but is defined by the people who fill our lives with love and meaning. None of these people, for me, live in Australia. They are here in Kansas, living and breathing and swelling my life with love. And yet.

I’m no closer to defining what home means to me. I know it as a sensation deep within my body, but when I try to lift it up to my mind and give it form through words, I’m at a loss. Maybe someday I’ll succeed. Deep in my soul I still hear that ancient reveille and I can’t ignore it. I don’t know what else to do but to keep returning and experiencing the land and wondering at the mystery of it all. Life is something else.


And now I'm going to pass this meme along:

In Real Life
So Now What
Views of a Star Child

Tag guys, you're it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Indie Ink

The essay I wrote about the recent breakup of my marriage, The Sound of a Heart Breaking, was published today by Indie Ink, an independent literary and art collective. You can read it here if you'd like.

It was posted on my blog earlier this month.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pssst, over there

Today I am posting over at Real Bloggers United, where I’m revealing something new.

No, not that silly.

RBU is a blog put together by some good people I know. They take submissions between the 15th and 25th on a new topic each month. Check out their guidelines and submit something to them in May. I double dog dare you. And while you’re there, give me some comment love. I’ll return the favor when they publish your bloggus opus.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Well, hello there officer

For those of you who remember my minor brush with the law last year I, uh, sort of had another encounter this past weekend. Way to go me.

I was happily cruising through downtown Olathe, in the exact spot where I got my last ticket (right in front of the courthouse), when I noticed flashing lights directly behind me.

As you might recall from my last post, I have good cop karma. I never rarely get tickets. Except for last year when Jim was in the car with me and his bad cop karma overrode my good cop karma. But that incident turned into such a fiasco, which then morphed into a clusterf*ck, that it led me to question my whole karma theory.

So on Saturday when Mr. Cop sauntered up and informed me that I had been doing 38 in a 25, I suffered my doubts about my ability to slip out of this one. And, he added, the reason he noticed me in the first place was that my tags were expired. Ooh, crap, really? I had been thinking that they should have been renewed by now but hadn't gotten a notice in the mail. So I explained this to the nice officer in a very friendly manner, apologized for speeding, and he went back to his car and stayed there busily doing something for a very long time. Crappity crap crap crap.

When he came back he handed me a ticket.

Ruggedly handsome cop: I wrote you up for $16.

Me: $16?

RHC: That was the lowest fine I could give you for an expired tag. Just make sure you renew it as soon as possible.

Me: Um, of course.

RHC: And keep this ticket in your car. I'm sure you'll want to use your car to run errands over the weekend and that way, if anyone else stops you, you can just show them the ticket and they'll leave you alone.

Me: Okay. $16. So then, you're not going to write me up for speeding?

RHC: Nope (insert large cop grin). Enjoy the rest of your day!


Who has good cop karma?

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Sunday, April 25, 2010


I know a lot of you are not on Facebook, consider it actually a waste of time, and I myself have days when I wonder why I even bother. But then, if not for Facebook, I would have missed out on quite a bit. For instance, I would have never known that Monday, April 26th is Boobquake.

What is Boobquake you ask? Great question. Apparently some Iranian religious leader (is that a redundancy?) was quoted as saying that women who dress immodestly are responsible for leading men astray and spreading adultery, and consequently for causing earthquakes.

While I can see how one might logically jump to this conclusion, anyone grounded in the sciences knows that even the most obvious hypotheses need to be backed up with thorough testing. Hence, one scientifically-minded feminist, blogger Jen McCreight, had the idea that on April 26th all women should dress immodestly, however they define that, and see if it really causes an earthquake. Women will be sporting cleavage, thigh or ankle, depending on their preference.

So women, if you support enlightened inquiry, I urge you to do your part to support science. And men, I expect you to stand behind your women. Or perhaps you'll want to stand in front of them, depending on how they define immodesty. And for those of you who are superstitious, you might want to find a sturdy doorframe to idle under.

Finally, in news completely unrelated to earthquakes, I'm posting some pictures below strictly for my children, who have been known to complain loudly and often that I spend too much time on my computer. Look well, children. Not one, but TWO craft projects in one day. Color yourselves lucky.  (And no, my kids don't always wear pajamas all day...only sometimes.)

This is the planet Saturn

Sewing ric rac on felt pockets with large, dull needles that, while safe for children, are completely unsuited for sewing ric rac on felt pockets

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Wow, just wow.

The other night I was tucking my kids into bed and I noticed there was a small notepad under Anna's pillow. When I asked her about this, she grabbed it self-consciously.

She told me that she wrote songs down in the notepad. She said that sometimes songs would come into her head and then later, when she would get home, she would write them down. I told her that words often came into my head, too, and I would write them down as poems or stories. I asked her if she would read one of them to me.

She looked shy. She said she would, but that I might think it was inappropriate. I told her I doubted I would, and that I'd like to hear it anyway. She said she was in the bathroom at school the other day and the song just came to her.

Anna is seven years old.

She called the song “The deadness on the hill.”

The deadness that killed my people
Who are all I know
How I wish they would come back to me
Oh how I would never dare go over that hill.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

100 Things

In honor of my 100th post, I offer you 100 bullet points.
  • 100 posts
  • 5 months
  • 58 sexy flags
  • A web of connections across the continents
  • new friends, more than I dreamed
  • a world opened up before me
  • one marriage, lost
  • one voice, found
  • one future, unknown
  • Tonight I sorted through boxes in the basement looking for things to give away
  • digging deep into the past and pulling up armloads of clothes and jetsam from days gone by
  • I found an old purse and realized it had never been divulged of its contents
  • One by one I pulled out pens, lipstick, chewing gum
  • Then I froze
  • This was my mother's purse
  • The purse she had been using when she died
  • Here was an address book from 1990
  • and she had carefully written in and scratched out my various addresses, tracking me across the country, across continents
  • and her last paystub, dated January 3, 1993
  • The chewing gum was still soft
  • I stood there for a long time
  • When the purse was empty I handed it to Jim to put with the rest of the stuff we were giving away
  • He handed it back to me, gently, told me to smell it
  • I did
  • but it didn't smell like her
  • Too many years gone by
  • Here is what I want
  • To hold a mirror up to my children so that they may never doubt
  • the incredible light of their own souls
  • To never stop writing
  • To travel the world, all of it
  • To speak my truth, all of it
  • And come late June, when the days stretch long and coreopsis and phlox and coneflowers blanket the prairie floor and the sky is a thousand miles wide
  • I’m getting in my car and driving to western Kansas
  • to Amy Leigh’s farm
  • where I’m going to run naked through a field of wheat
  • with or without you President Obama
  • And that’s not all
  • You know that new URL I have (wanderlustlust)?
  • I didn’t buy just one
  • Uh huh
  • And what the hell
  • That’s right
  • I’m an org
  • Care to donate?
  • But on this, my 100th post, I'm thinking mostly about you
  • Without you
  • all of this wouldn't exist
  • and to me you are more than just someone who reads my blog
  • because when I fell
  • you were there to catch me
  • and I’ll never forget that
  • People can say what they will about virtual friendships
  • and people have
  • but I know better
  • I know that you are not just a name on a screen
  • that you live and breathe and love and hurt and write a piece of yourself into every post
  • that you are gloriously imperfect
  • as am I
  • as are we all
  • We are nevertheless blog gods and goddesses
  • are we not?
  • Expression spilling from our fingertips
  • onto pages
  • so that we may rest another day
  • tame the wild beast
  • Well, quiet her at least
  • And something in the telling helps us know that we are not alone
  • in what we feel
  • in who we are
  • because we are not alone
  • ever
  • ever
  • ever
  • And through each other’s eyes
  • we see ourselves
  • reflected back
  • in all our wonder
  • and in that reflection
  • we hold a vision of each other at our best
  • Mothers, fathers, sons and daughters
  • we become our consummate selves
  • courageous in the face of pain
  • gracious in the face of slight
  • We are artists in the medium of life
  • dreaming dreams of who we really are
  • fearless explorers
  • genius creators
  • lovers of venusian proportion
  • hot bloggy sex on a popsicle stick
  • That’s us
  • you
  • me
  • we
  • shine

Stumble me you sexy beast

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Wanderlust lust lust lust

Ta da! Did you notice? No?

Look up. Higher. At my web address. I have my own URL now.

That’s right. Same site, twice the lust.

I’ve been wanting to switch to my own domain name for some time and finally bit the bullet. I wanted a more professional URL than the one provided by blogspot. If you can call my new URL professional, that is. Wanderlust dot com was taken, of course. As was MyWanderlust. I wanted something that people could remember (i.e. didn’t want to throw my initials in there or something silly like that). So I gave it a hard think and that's what I came up with. Hey, at least you'll remember it.

And do you know what else? This is post number 99. That means next comes my 100th post. I think I’m supposed to celebrate. Or maybe I just did by buying my own URL.

In other good news, Spring has come to our backyard.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bracing for impact

Two things

Thing One: A veganesque diet. Oh. Yay. F*ck me and all that.

As most of you know I get a lot of migraines. Bad migraines. They started quite suddenly a little over two years ago when I would get them occasionally and end up in the hospital getting shots of narcotics and anti-nausea medication. They have since progressed in both quantity and severity, to the point where I now get them almost weekly. I've been to a neurologist and we've run through the gamut of medications and still continue on that treadmill.

I've had a few people recommend alternative treatments to me that have worked well for them and honestly, at this point, I'm willing to try anything. Badger says that deep tissue massage worked for him. A work colleague says her son's headaches which, like mine, did not respond to traditional medications, completely went away when he saw a chiropractor/nutritionist who put him on a whole foods diet. I was intrigued. I made an appointment.

As fate would have it, my appointment was on a Wednesday, my marriage having come to an abrupt end in the wee hours of the morning the night before. I arrived in her office dumbstruck, red-eyed, somewhat disheveled. She asked me a series of questions. I answered them robotically. I couldn't help it, tears ran down my face. She handed me a tissue, but otherwise ignored my distress. She explained the diet to me. It was basically all organic vegan for the first 3 weeks, a cleanse. No breads, no meats, no eggs, no milk, no processed foods, no sugar, no artificial sweeteners, no sodas... I interrupted her: I won't give up coffee, I said. Okay, she shrugged. She seemed to accept this. Said she couldn't give it up either. She opened up a booklet and told me I would have 2-3 protein shakes a day and take certain supplements.

Supplements? Of course. She was selling supplements. All organic and whole foods except for the protein powders and supplements she was selling which had sat on a shelf somewhere for six months. Right-ee-o.

But I bought them. Because there was something oddly comforting about being told exactly what I could and could not consume when everything else in my life was imploding. A to-do list. A how-to manual for one aspect of my life. I wanted this.

I've been doing the diet now for two weeks. I've lost five pounds. It's tolerable, but I really, really want a bowl of cereal. I had one bad headache the second day of the diet but none since. The protein shakes taste like crap. I'm wondering if I should have started with the deep tissue massage.

Thing Two: I'm in pain.

For the first week or so I was in a pretty bad place and then I started to feel better. I wrote a few posts, got back on Facebook, made some snarky jokes with my friends, felt some lightness and laughter and then BAM, I was slammed to the floor again. What happened? No idea. I'm just along for the ride.

Quite suddenly I am angry. I walk around surly and defensive. I want to bark at cashiers that are too slow or drivers that are too aggressive or anyone that's too anything and I'm constantly biting my tongue. I'm sure this is because I am frightened—the foundation on which I've stood has disintegrated, a new one not yet materialized.

I feel as if I'm in a car crash, like I've driven off the side of the road and I'm rolling down an incline, being tossed about the cab and waiting for final impact. There's that excruciating slowing down of time where you can taste the past and your powerlessness all at once. The future contracted; present moment interminable.

Right now it feels like everything is slipping away from my fingertips and I'm scared. I'm scared that on my own I won't be able to provide a comfortable home for myself and my children so that when I face an unexpectedly large tax bill, despite the fact that I support the theory of taxes in general, I feel like telling the IRS mangez-moi.

And when Badger tells me fine, if you don't want to pay your taxes go join the Tea Party, I tell him mangez-moi.

Surly, humorless, bracing for impact.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

An open letter to the IRS

Today is April 15th. That’s a special day here in the U.S. Last night we had the opportunity to write out a large check. A very, very, very large check.

How large, you ask?

Large enough that had it not been written to the IRS, it could have funded a trip here

and here

and here

and here

and what the hell, on the way back, why not stop here…

As such, I’d like to compose the following Open Letter to the IRS.

An Open Letter to the IRS

Dear Uncle Sam,


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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hear Ye Aussie bloggers

If you haven’t already heard the news, Brenda and Veronica have started a new website called Aussie Mummy Bloggers, a community for blogging parents to network and share ideas and stories. Since I have a fair number of Australian readers (lucky me) I wanted to give them a plug. Even if you’re only kind of Australianish or mummyish, you might still want to check it out, because from what I hear their entry requirements are a little lax (aside to John: unlike your government’s).

After all, they invited me to join.

I wonder why.

When I signed up I noticed that the site created this nifty little badge for me, which I’m going place on my sidebar, if only to confuse the everloving f*ck out of everyone who reads my blog. Because right now, my life is all about confusion.

And look. I’m at 99 followers. 99. That’s so close to 100. So close I can taste it.


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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Shanghai surprise

Yesterday I heard some exciting news. Coca Cola has chosen five Australian women bloggers and awarded them each an all-expenses paid trip to the World Expo in Shanghai next month as part of their Live Positive campaign, and one of those chosen was the lovely Brenda at MummyTime. Brenda is a wonderful person and embodies the campaign’s message of making a positive difference in the lives of others. I’m honored to call her a friend and thrilled to bits for her. So pop over to her blog and wish her congratulations.

As for myself I don’t have a lot to share right now. Still putting one foot in front of the other. A number of you have reached out with personal emails and I really appreciate the support. You have no idea. I’m sure in time I’ll find my words again. Until then, forgive me my silence.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Waving, I think

I thought I'd better check in to tell you I'm still here, that no I haven't drowned in a pool of my own sorrow, and to say thank you for all your beautiful words and support.  I'm amazed at the kindness of friends and strangers alike and thank you seems insufficient; your words have brought me comfort.

Words are not something I have a lot of today so I will keep it short.  Since it's Friday here, which means Brenda's Flog Yo Blog Friday, I'm pasting her link below.  Feel free to participate.  I know, technically, it's no longer Friday in some parts of the world.

But you can still play along.  Know that I generally have more to say and if you're dubious read the archives.  For now this will have to do.  xoxo

MckLinky Blog Hop

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Monday, April 5, 2010

The sound of a heart breaking

When you started your blog it was a place to come where you could show yourself to the world as you were and not as anyone wanted you to be or paid you to be or asked you to be. This is why you came back again and again, because you want to be seen for who you are. And people found you who wanted to know you and you wrote and they read and all was well.

But what if one day something happened that was too monumental to fit on a page, you had not the words? Something like a sea change, like sand in the lungs, like the end of a marriage negotiated in heated whispers in the small hours of a morning, alarmingly sudden, yet a long time coming?

What then? What words?

Life can turn on a dime. One minute you have it neatly wrapped up and the next it has all come undone.

In the beginning you want to set blame, place it or take it. But you know that's a game that nobody wins, a con man's shell game with a vanishing prize, and the voices of fault are just shills in the crowd. Yet you can't quite believe this thing that has passed. You are by turns frightened, guilt-ridden, destroyed, liberated, utterly lost.

When others look at you, they don't see a change. On the outside you look quite the same.

The days go by, a week goes by, you write nothing. You read other blogs, leave a few comments for normalcy's sake. See snippets of worlds in full saturation, smiles on faces, chocolate on faces, windows into other lives intact.

You go about the business of your life, you eat, you sleep, well not really eat or sleep, but you go through the motions of a day. At work you walk down the hallway and wish for something to support you but your parents they are gone and your friends are scattered to the corners of the globe and the one man who was your ally in the world you have discarded and the weight of this descends on you and you suddenly wish you could collapse and that others would rush in and say, “rest and we will take it from here, carry on with what needs to be done.” But these are the thoughts of a child and you are not a child, so instead you keep on walking down the hall and out the door and to the ladies, on your knees you quietly vomit in the toilet then return to your office for there's still work to do, so much yet to do, so much left undone.

At night you are grateful for a few hours sleep until you are awakened by the silence of the house, by the sound of four hearts breaking in the quiet of the night. For only in your dreams do you hear the pitch and keen of the wails left unvoiced and in their dark confusion you don't know if they are yours or they are his or the echoes of your children's yet to come, for they don't even know yet, or do they sense it falling down around them?

You watch them watching you and is that fear in their eyes or did you make that up? And then the other day the girl was playing with a toy, a little nothing toy and it broke and for a moment she stood frozen, then collapsed in a wilderness of tears. You crouched down next to her to clean up the mess of this thing, this silly party favor toy, meant to amuse for a moment and be discarded, and you said there, there, it is just a little thing, and she buried her head in your back and said I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. And you set down the broken pieces of this throwaway thing that had meant the world to her and took her in your arms and held her and if you could, you would have pulled her all the way into your heart.

Ah, the children, the unwitting casualties of your compounded mistakes.

So you sit at your keyboard and search for the words to release the images caught up in your heart. For even the unbeautiful truths need expression, and expression is trust and trust is a cliffdive into the unknown.

You stood at this precipice once before, you and he, and looked over the edge and backed away from the fear of it all, vowed to do better, love harder, and yet here you are once again and this time you stepped off, are falling, freefalling. You feel the wind in your face, the ground rushing towards you through eyes that are shut, you pray that the memory of flight that is cached in your soul reawakens and grips you and buoys you up, carries you off to somewhere that is not ground zero, a place that you've felt in your heart, perhaps somewhere you should have been all along.

And don't you see that you are me, that you are fine, that I am broken.  I am lost.  I am falling.  I am praying for a net.

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