A Free Blog for a Free America

Resistance is NOT Futile

First blog post

This is my response to our national shame: the election of (s)trump(et). Why a shame?  If you have to ask that then you probably don’t want to read, and will likely not understand, this blog.  Go forth and do good things then.  The rest of you read on…

Featured post

Silence Speaks When Words Can’t

We live in a modern society upon which disposable is predicated. You can’t have one without the other –or so the rationale goes. Fast living demands that we are not hampered by the trivialities of limitations.


However, what is the cost of such freedoms of excess? Everything that can be made can be unmade and made again, right? That is what we do when we recycle and when we compost. Such practice is almost Newtonian in its simplicity.


With exception.


Humanity is something that cannot be so easily recycled or remade once it is lost nor reduced into such a simple equation.


What is the measure of humanity? We are human and shouldn’t that be the basis of humanity. You can’t act human without humanity. So, there is a point that through several iterations of transitive and commutative properties, I could demonstrate that to be human (and by substitution, humanity) is to be a thinking and feeling being. However, somewhat akin to the problems faced by the Apologists of the Catholic Church, I cannot demonstrate goodness in that humanity. That definition is bound by the social mores and folkways of a society. For simplicity’s sake, let us agree that kicking puppies is bad on one end of the spectrum and giving up your seat to an elderly person is good on the other end.


So, given our newly discovered humanity, albeit with a lot of glossing over of some cracks in the theory, we can also arrive to an agreement that we also have a fairly good approximation of good and evil. Nietzsche may be rolling in his grave, but I will go on record as to say that we needn’t concern ourselves with what is beyond good and evil for the moment.


In the Spring of 2003, I found myself among several 100 that had taken up residence somewhere in the southeastern portion of Afghanistan. I was company executive office, which was less a job than an adventure, but the position did afford me the leeway to befriend many people: one of whom was the company medic. Sadly, time has eroded his name from the neural landscape of my mind. I do remember his kindness, his passion to help others, and the soft spot in his heart for children.


Like wars of the past, present, and future, there were and will be victims across the spectrum of ages, nationalities, and gender. The cold hardness of steel cares not for whom it favors with its hot caress: of all the things in the world, it is one of the great equalizers.


No matter where I have been, I have found that children in pain, all sound the same. I am not talking about a scraped knee or bruised flesh. The cries of a child starving, or getting lacerations cleaned or having charred skin debrided can never be unheard.


She was brought to us by her father, who perhaps was under some delusion that we could do magic or perhaps to show the other locals that Americans cannot save them if they could not even save a child. Either way, she came to us after suffering through a horrendous gas explosion. Their cooking stove exploded and she suffered nearly 30% 1st degree burns over her body with her face being a large portion of that percentage.


The medic worked furiously alongside several other medical personnel to first stabilize her and then to begin the long task of treating her injuries. While our medic was top-notch, we were nothing more than a slightly larger than normal combat outpost. The girl and her father being local nationals did not warrant a medi-evac to higher care, so our medic did the best that he could with what he had on-hand.


The cleaning process took an indescribably long time.

After a few days to a week’s time, the doc felt comfortable enough with the belief that given a few more days, she would be well-enough to travel back to her home with her father. Her scarring, as with any severe burn, would be without question a life-long disfigurement.


You know how people get when their team wins something big? The emotions in the camp ran along those lines. We won. We had saved a child’s life. In times of war, when there is nothing but death, you transcend statistics. As Stalin had stated, one life lost is a tragedy, so extrapolating from that, one life saved is also a statistic, but for positive relevancy.


We had won, so we thought.


Several days later, word came back to camp that the little girl’s father –her protector and the only person whom she should have trusted—had had her euthanized. Her had deduced that he could not afford to keep her because the cost of her care over her lifetime would have been extreme. He also figured, so we had heard, that he would never get her married off. She became a burden and not a daughter in his eyes. So, he took her to the local “doctor”, who was a man, who had inherited his doctor’s practice once his brother, the real doctor died. Yes, inherited and not gained through training.


Who knows with what he injected her. Hopefully, it was painless, but I’ve been to Afghanistan and there is nothing about that place that is painless.


We wept. Some of us did more openly than others, but no one wept more profoundly than our medic. He was inconsolable for a few days and then the anger set in. We all wanted to kill that man. To seek vengeance for justice is not a crime when the act perpetrated is so vile, so unimaginable.


Our commander spoke to us and he was a good man to do so. His words were not orders. His words were not harsh nor were they laden with excoriating verbiage. He simply said that this was their land and their rules. We reported the incident to the local government, who were confused as to why we would be so concerned with the death of one child since we had to clearly killed thousands without blinking.   They also did not see the child’s death as murder, but a mercy.


Hobbs’ was not wrong when he said that life is: “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.


The situations in Afghanistan at that time were far the worse that what Americans could ever expect or be forced to handle. That man had nothing and expected less than that for his daughter. It wasn’t Islam or Sharia law that drove him to commit that heinous act. It was a calculated necessity. Had his humanity had been driven from him? He made a conscious choice to end his daughter’s life for the best of everyone involved. As I stated earlier, I cannot demonstrate the goodness or evil in an act. In the eyes of his community, what he did was right.


We, we Americans, are better than that.


We are a land of plenty. We are a country replete with men and women, who do not have to ever face the deprivations that people like that father did. We are a nation that prides itself as being a bastion of hope.


We do not need to build walls to protect us. We need compassion. Men, women, and children run from their countries, and undoubtedly there are some criminals in that influx of people. They run to us because they feel that they can trust us. We are the only land left that will open its arms and let them in.


Shall we then turn to symbolically euthanizing them? What do you think happens to refugees when the cameras turn off? These people are not actors, who are paid to starve and look pitiful on our very doorsteps! They are human beings. They have humanity. That very humanity that I argued is a cogent and emotional being.


To some people, that father did a righteous act, but the greater majority of the world views him as a loathsome creature. What then will the world think as we build this aesthetically pleasing and unassailable wall that would make even Mary Shelley blanch at its monstrosity? Shall we listen to the Raphael Hythlodaeus’ of our government in pursuit of a white utopia?


The questions that we, as a collective, must answer are thus:


  1. Do we subsume our humanity to the fears of the unknown?
  2. Shall we become the father of this story?
  3. Where do we draw the line? Humanity is not simply washed away with one act, but the cumulative effects of many acts.


In no way do I hold the answers nor do I expect anyone to. What I do know is that the sounds of that child’s screams were far less painful to my soul in retrospect than her silence became.


I’ll take the screams because I cannot bare the silence.

The Measure

The great thing about having an insane petty dictator is that , and you really need to think about this, nothing you do from now on can every really be embarrassing or off-kilter. Indeed, the vocabulary for us has been almost expanded into infinity when it comes to what we say, how we say it, and the need for rationality/integrity. What a great time to be a student! You never have to quote or show reference again in any document. trumplethinskin has gifted you the ability to lie, lie, lie without repercussion.
What a great time to be alive! Unless you are a woman, ethnic minority, or not heterosexual in which case, you are boned.
Seriously, has there ever been a time when everyone pretty much universally thought our government was an amalgamation of liars, cheats, and thieves?
Has there ever been a time when almost 1/2 of the population didn’t care?
I turn 49 on the morrow and looking back on my life, I remember struggle. We were a poor family, white trash by most standards now. However, even at the worst times, did I ever think that we would be in this position as a nation. In fact, truth be told, my father was a tyrant. He took the typical police officer’s route of being a drunk and abusive man. Honestly, I didn’t mind getting the beatings, I prided myself in being able to withstand the backhands, the belt, and the hair brush. However, the worst action was when he stopped hitting me and made me watch him beat others. He would tell me that this was how a man behaved. Almost instinctively, as I saw family members cry and cower, did I know that THAT was not how a man behaved.
A man does not hit, abuse, or belittle others. A man does not act an embarrassment. A man does not sit idly by while others, weaker in fortitude or capability, are systematically denigrated for person pleasure or gain. No, a man, stands shakily to his feet, numb to the blows, numb to the pain, at all costs, and spits from hell’s heart at his and his people’s enemies.
Certain training has taught me one important fact, that there are somethings worse than death.
You may not feel this way now. You may never feel that way. Nevertheless, I ask you to ask yourself these important question, especially if you have children: is this how I want to be perceived by others? Is this how I want to be remembered?
A man stands up despite the adversity. It is our duty and responsibility to ensure inter-generational justice. To leave a better world.

Do you want to leave a better world?  Do you believe that ONE man behaving badly can adversely affect the lives and fates of millions?  If you do then you need to work toward a better life for us all.  Resist. Resist the temptation to be silent. Resist the desire to capitulate.  Resist will all your being to bow down.
It took over 30 years, but I understand UNDERSTAND the ending of Tale of Two Cities: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known.”

Hypermaestitia Paroxysms of the Soul

The answer to the universe, and pardon me for tilting at glibness here, we have been told is 42 or if you enjoy dabbling in Numerology, 6.  6 is the loving and relationship stmbol and that of deep compassion. Do we ever need a 6!

I tend to focus on the negative, which is a bias that I have from a life of struggle and heartbreak. I know cognitively that one cannot always use one’s own grief as a fulcrum in life. 

So, that being said, I will take a moment to reflect on the positives.

1. We know who is naught and who is nice.  There can be no doubt left, who are the likely people to whom you can turn to for comfort and support. Furthermore, like some Dorian Gray gallery of the souls, we know what lie beneath the facades of the trump people.

2. So much outpouring of support from the center-left and left. From coast to coast, people are marching and protesting the absurdities of this regime.

3. A new generation of leaders is being born and created. A progressive political nursery, albeit still nascent, resides in the US. From young to old, men and women, people are fighting. Can this be a resurgence of the WWII mentality that brought people together in common purpose? Are we all the progeny of Rosie the Riveter? 

4. Governments are the afterbirth of democracy and not the viable fetus. It is time to shake off the shackles that are binding us to an archaic construct of the power elite. More and more, I see the call for the dissolution of these chains in order to form that more perfect union. 

We struggle and fight and die for others’ beliefs, but who are these others? Why do I have to hate Islam? Why do I have to love only the opposite sex? Why must I buy a Buick or a 4000sq ft home or keep up with the Jones? We are being marketed hate and the only prescription is to buy more, think less, be good robotoi.  Soylent Green is people, but don’t tell because it is a strategic secret and you are a traitor if you don’t agree.

People don’t naturally hate other people. Children don’t instinctually attack others on sight. Hatred is a learned response and this Russian encrusted filet of hate, named the trump presidency is doling out lessons at an unprecedented rate.

We, the People, need to do what we do best: talk to other people. It is time to ignore our governments and create our own. THEY talk of deep government and of conspiracies, well, let’s make it a colloborative and transparent fact. We MUST talk to the other people of the world and not to the governments or to the umbrella corporations that really pull the levers of power.

I read of such efforts and that makes me glad. It really is time to make politicians an obsolete career field.

Diogenes, you are not alone.

Mea culpa for my absence: I have been a traveling.  From North to South and East to West, I have scoured the lands with an ear to the ground, gauging for myself, the anger in America and listening to very well-informed people from our defense industry.

The verdict.  We are in trouble.  Heaps.  Copious amounts.  Unheard of disaster.  Holy shit the enemy is not at the gates, but in the courtyard kind of trouble.

As hate groups ascend and are protected by the very mechanisms that we, the good people of America had trusted, we are becoming more and more pariah in our own country.  Stop asking “how could this have happened?” and stop trying to rationalize with the trumpster-divers.  You may as well try explaining metaphysics to a cockroach.

We watch daily as our Russian encrusted regime of hate, lead by the Prophet of Hate himself, destroys the checks and balances that protected us from the tyrants that we always said were “over there.”  Now, they are over here and we are STILL just talking.

I am sure that there were a lot of good men and women, who knelt in front of the mass graves that they had dug, who kept talking while their once neighbors and friends racked a round into the chamber of an AK, applied approximately 2 lbs and 14 ounces or so in trigger pull, and fired a copper coated, lead core bullet into the backs of their bowed heads.

You don’t like the possibility of that reality then stop with the victim mentality.

Take action, take charge, defend yourself and if you can, defend others, who can’t.  WE need to march regularly.  We need to shut down traffic, clog DC and republican capitals, we need to put the FEAR of injury or worse into the lives of trump supporters and their puppets.

Every day, another aspect of our freedoms are removed from us while republicans laugh and smile –all the while to the bank with your money in their traitorous pockets.

It’s okay to hate them.  It’s okay.  They hate you and no amount of love from you will every change that.

Can’t beat them then go up the chain.

If all the world is a stage, America has become a tragic three-ringed circus. Our president, and it pains me to even write that, is an over-privileged and uneducated –at least in terms of governing– whelp, surrounded by sycophantic scum, who will scurry away from him faster than cockroaches from the light.

Yet, I fear that even with all the scandal, all the lies, and all the cow-towing to the alt-right (A.K.A. racist pigs), our Republican representatives will not impeach him because they have their greedy, little hands upon all the levers of power.  Why would they risk that for something as anachronistic as the rule of law?

As for our democratic representatives, well, the Democratic Party is dead.  In fact, with progressives gerrymandered and blocked by laws and rules imposed by Republicans, any chance of leverage in the government at the federal level is all but out of reach.  The same goes for most of the state governments.  No, in this representative government, we have no voice.

What are out options?  Well, for starters, it may be time to start registering as Republicans and getting someone on the platform, who may represent our ideals.  However, with money being so prevalent and pernicious, we may not be able to take that route either.  It would be necessary to out-bid the corporate and wealthy donors, but can we?  I don’t think that there are enough of us poor, who could scrap together the requisite bribes to buy favor in the government. So, maybe we are lost all together?

Should we march en mass and tear down the very bricks (or whatever building material makes up the blackened heart of the government)?  Should we form up by ranks and conduct our own storming of the Bastille? Sadly, as progressives, the greater majority of you don’t have the requisite skill sets, mind-set, or balls to do that.  Sorry.  That is harsh, but violence will happen down that path and there will be plenty of trump supporters, who are armed, vicious, and truly set on hurting progressives.

I believe that one of our few remaining options left, and likely the one that will work best, is to appeal directly to the corporations, super-elites, and power holders, who own our representatives.  The facade has become completely off during this election cycle and I for one am tired of the third party theatrics.  Our politicians are nothing but figureheads, puppets, whose strings are pulled by others.  They only care about us during the year-long wind up to their election/re-election and then they promise the world, but deliver nothing.

If we want something done, we need to find the top donors to our politicians and then go to them AND NOT the politician in question.

It’s either that or march.  Personally, as a former soldier, war is in my nature, but one person can’t go anything.

What do you think?  How broken are we?

Excuse me, but what America is it?

The year was 2002 and the place was Afghanistan.  Back then, we had bombed any of the major military targets back into rubble. Although, I am pretty sure in hindsight that the Taliban had not really done much in the way of rebuilding since the fall of the puppet government left behind when the Soviets had left.

My initial descent into the “country” was a rather corkscrew affair.  No, really.  The C17 that we were flying in corkscrewed down rather rapidly.  Now, I was seated next to a lot of heavy machinery that was attacked to the aircraft aluminum by chains and specialized hooks.  All this was rattling and shaking and straining in the red glow of the aircraft’s tactical lighting.  It was a sphincter tightening affair to say the least.

We landed and disgorged the plane at the ungodly time of 0100 after flying for approximately 10 or so hours from Kyrgyzstan.   Needless to say, I was glad to be on terra firma even if terra was Afghanistan.  It was early in the war and I was young, so it was a grand adventure and I was sure that the Afghanis were happy to be liberated from the vile Taliban.

After un-assing the plane with all bag and baggage, we were shown our bunk down spot for the night: it was a blown up and partially rubbled warehouse somewhere in or around Kabul.  I still remember seeing the stars through the hole in the roof.  I also remember rather distinctly the sound and flash of the rockets and mortars that someone began to fire at us.  Interestingly enough, we were in the safest place that we could be, given that bunkers or the like were not available.  So, after about 40 minutes of contemplating my ignominious death in a dusty bunker by 122mm rockets or some other ancient commie weapon system, I feel asleep.  Yup.  I can fall asleep anywhere.  I mean think about it?  What the hell else are you going to do while waiting for death?

To this day, I am pretty sure that Afghanistan is pretty much all beige.  It also smelled bad.  I’m pretty sure that nothing has changed since then.  However, every once in a while, you get a treat.  I remember waking up and seeing the sun come up and it splashed a nice pink sheen onto the snow-kissed mountain tops around us.

It was an odd time and there is a lot of comedy in war.  I remember standing and watching as locals were bringing in truck loads, wheel barrows, and buckets of rocks for the Americans to lay down, so that we wouldn’t get too muddy of feet when the rains came.  I am sure that the locals must have thought us insane for buying rocks from them.  To this day, even I think it amazingly crazy to have to buy dirt or rocks for yard work.

To me, it seemed that war was so far away there.

Even though things were crazy busy, attacks happened often, sleep was where you could get it, and food was mostly MREs, I miss those times.  I miss those people.  We had purpose, we had unity, and we had each other.  It is said that history is an odd place because they do things differently there.

I miss THAT America.  It seemed like there was less hate in that odd place.  What is more crazy is that for the most part, we haven’t actually loss that many of us to history since then.  So, what happened?

To me, it seems more like war here in this place, I call home.


Alas, poor Democracy! I knew him, America, a fellow of infinite tolerance, of most excellent equality!

Doth passes a fine fellow, named democracy.  Not with a bang, but with a whimper.  Where were you when democracy died?

Attacks upon dissent, attacks upon the media, attacks on protest, and still we watch and do nothing.  Even though Bin Laden lauded his”bleed-until-bankruptcy plan” in October 2004, which has cost the US trillions of dollars to date, I wonder if he also knew that his thousand cuts would also lead to the eventual destruction of our democracy?

To date, our grand leader has proposed the increase in military spending, a wall, hiring more security forces, and the literal ban of Islamic people into our country –at least from nations, where he doesn’t have business interests.  Republicans are pushing for criminal penalties for protesting, media is not allowed to report facts, and now we see that private prisons are back on the menu.  This movie has been seen before and it doesn’t end well for us.

Unless, of course, you are a nice Christian white male then you have it made.

What should you be doing at this junction?  Well, if you are protesting, writing emails to your representatives, and boycotting Republican businesses, keep it up!  If you aren’t doing those things, well start!  What the hell are you waiting for?

Besides all those wonderful suggestions, you should be thinking of the way ahead for us.  An interesting article that I read today focused on the premise that enough Republican governors are almost in play to call for a Constitutional Convention to propose new amendments to the Constitution, which could be devastating for our Republic.  Imagine if there were an amendment banning the 1st Amendment or at the least amending the Amendment?  How does a Christian Nation sound?  The Christian United States of America make your blood run cold?

We have been focusing so long on federal concerns that our states have turned into small fascist nations.  The Republicans have put up child molesters and won representation.  We progressives have put up ivory tower elites and lost.  It is time that we fight fire with fire.  We need to recapture positions from the lowest rungs of politics before we can start cheering ever again.  We need to be a force across the political spectrum.  We need to register as Republicans and vote in their primaries in order to get at least decent people into the process again and not crack pots or political puppets of the super elites.

No one person has the answer.  We need to be more involved in the progressive political process before we nominate another damaged candidate.  We need to fight tooth and nail to be a voice in this and not just a check writer.  Start writing the DNC, start writing to independent organizations, and let’s get candidates into the fray, who are true leaders and representatives of our ideals.

It is better to die with honor than live like slaves, so let’s think beyond the old paradigms.  trump cannot become the last freely elected leader of this country.  It is a disgrace to all, whom have perished in defense of America, and a disservice to our children.

Money-makers are tiresome company, as they have no standard but cash value. –Plato, The Republic

Where to go from here as a nation, populated by majority with generations removed, but owing thanks to, ancestry bound to immigrants?  Unless you are Native American, you are an American, born from immigrants, who sought a better life for themselves and their families.  We are a tapestry, woven from the pains, injustices, and discontent of our forbearers.  This is both a painful reality and admission that many of our fellow Americans seem too ready to push from the light of reason and discourse.

We are a people, wholly human, from many ethnicities, sexual orientation, and economic mean.  A nation, whose creators declared that the necessity to break from an established political system, resulting from a king and government that refused “…Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good (Declaration of Independence,”

Our government, perceptually, seems at odds with the will of the majority OF PEOPLE.  From the injustices outlined in the Declaration, our government in its current iteration; fails to acknowledge our petitions for redress; entreats with foreign powers to usurp the right of the people to fairly elect our leaders; proffers no definitive direction forward to assuage the concerns of its citizenry; and whose leadership skirt the rule of law with the seeming intent of obfuscating the investigations into high crimes and misdemeanors of its highest officers.

I have heard so many times in the past months that our chosen president needs time, he is not a politician, and/or the problems stem from fake news or alternative facts.  You can only fool me once with the same trick, my readers.  Furthermore, I have never been a firm or true believer in mass delusion.  If I see that something is not right, I am certain that others see it as well.  Some lies are self-evident, that they are endowed by their creator with unalienable intent, that among these are purposeful deception, manipulation, and the pursuit of personal fortune.

So, where do we go from here?  Our founding documents and the system of government in America, is one in which I believe firmly.  What I don’t believe in is the manipulation of the system by men and women, who lack integrity, moral courage, and do not have the best interests of this country in their hearts.  In the Course of humans events…

To be or not to be…silent.

There can be no mistake that our country has pivoted so hard that it has left many apoplectic with rage, shock, and horror.  I say unto you, the silent, that you have a very important choice ahead of you.  More on that later though.   However, for a large cross-section of demographics, this pivot has shown us the darkest nature of friends, family, and fellow Americans.  What can we expect from them?

Let me tell you a story that the history of our 21st Century will gloss over with statistics or soothing rhetoric. It was 2006 in Iraq, when I landed to support the 5th Special Forces Group (A) as its Tactical Psychological Operations detachment commander and junior staff planner.  I was about ready to pin on major and was still awash in the glory that young men seek in war.  We were fighting the righteous war, spreading democracy, and bringing enlightenment to the savages, so to speak.  I was a Soldier, as the book goes, once and young.

Since so many of us did not speak Arabic or any of the local languages, we contracted for interpreters in order for us to create psychological operations products that could be used to help our supported units prosecute the conflict and hopefully end the insurgency/terrorist activities in the country.  We had two women working with us to interpret enemy propaganda and translate our approved products into Arabic.  One of the ladies was a ex-pat from Chicago, who was Druze, and pretty extroverted –I believe her name was Fatima or the equivalent.  The other was named Almurahna (best spelling) and was almost exactly the opposite of her fellow: rather tallish, willow thin, raven-haired, angular features, and the most beautiful, but sad eyes that I have ever seen.

Almuhrana was Sunni Muslim, but moderate.  She wore stylish European clothes, make-up, and didn’t invoke Allah or Muhammad at every chance.  I would often see her walking alone at dusk along the camp roads.  Head down and slowly.  It was as if she bore the weight of the world upon her shoulders.  I silently nick-named her the saddest woman in the world.  I was in hindsight, a real jerk.  Thankfully, I never said that to her.

During the period of time that I was there, like any young man, I became rather infatuated with the pretty woman, who spoke English with a slight English accent, but perfectly none-the-less.  We got to know each other a little better, but she was always reserved and I was always aware of my place.  She mentioned that she was actually born in America, but now, I forgot where she said, so my apologies for the ensuing vagaries.  However, her father had destroyed all their documentation as the insurgency grew because he did not want to chance her getting caught and killed as an American.  She desperately wanted to go to America, so I took to calling hospitals in the locality, where she said that she had grown up, but the internet wasn’t that great back then and I was in Iraq.  Also, she said that she couldn’t be certain that she was born in or around where she said that she had memories or from where her father had spoken.

It was right around then, where I got a quick education on the realities of life.

I asked her as to why she didn’t just ask her father.  I should have known from the look Fatima gave me that I had asked the wrong question.  Almurahna just replied that she couldn’t and excused herself from the table where we had all been eating lunch.

Once she was gone, Fatima told me that Almuhrana’s father was dead.  A couple of years prior to me arriving in country, Fatima and her family, who lived near the primarily Shia dominated An Najaf, were pulled from the home one night, by their long-time neighbors, dumped onto street, and shot.  Almuhrana was the sole survivor, albeit one, who was shot seven times by an AK-47.

Her neighbors, who knew the family, worked alongside the family, who chatted with and probably shared meals with them, dragged them out of their homes, shot them, and left them for dead in the gutters.  While it was never mentioned, I could only surmise that rape had preceded the shootings –maybe preceded.

A million people’s deaths are a statistic and hard to fathom, one person, especially one, whom you know, is a tragedy.  A tragedy of the highest order.

I don’t know if she made it to the US.  There was a lot of war left after I rotated back state-side.  I would like to think that she did.

Neighbors, friends, companions…

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