Confessions

I’m trying to be a better person.

Each day my mind is bogged down with the many fights we as humans face. The environment. Marriage Equality. Income Inequality. Civil Rights. Racism. This is but a small list of the worries I carry with me, and each day I make a conscious decision to work on one of them. How fucking privileged is that? How fortunate am I that I have the OPTION to decide, as my life is not impacted by racism. I can DECIDE to help.

Look, I get it, the white folks I know aren’t going out of their way to be racist, but the fact remains it doesn’t take a white sheet and a hood to be a racist.

I consider myself an open minded, love everyone kind of gal. I don’t turn my back on a person due to sex, race, religion, etc. HOWEVER, this doesn’t erase the fact that I have unconscious biases.

Recently Dr. Stacey Patton, a reporter for The Chronicle for Higher Education, who holds a PhD in American History, posted on her Facebook page these humbling words:

Man listen, I’m about to go grocery shopping at the local Whole Foods and I am paranoid about shopping while Black around White people. Last night I went to a Latino – owned restaurant in Silver Spring and two young White men walked in and the anxiety was palbable. I felt the same tension and paranoia the other day while riding in an Acela train car packed with mostly White men.

After all these videos of White cops beating and killing unarmed Black people, many times after some White “citizen” called the cops on them for doing ——– while Black, and after the killings in Charleston, I am uncomfortable in public spaces with White people I don’t know. I can be riding the Metro, picking out tomatoes, heading to and from work and some White person can have a reverse hallucination and perceive me as a threat, as out of place, and call the cops and even assert their privilege to participate in my arrest or beating. We have plenty videos of this happening to Black women and teens.

We are all vulnerable. Our bodies are never ours. And none of us, male or female, you or old, rich or poor, have the privilege to take that fact for granted. You or I could be next.”

 

My initial reaction was one of wanting to help. How the hell do I make this better for Stacey and people who live life having to be constantly worried about white people (for god damn good reason)? How can I work to take away the paranoia of being in the space of white people?

I reached out with those questions in mind and Stacey, not one to sugar coat the truth, explained to all White People, this is not a problem to be solved by Black People. And she is 100% right. I felt like an asshole, asking the victim(s) of so many traumas to help me problem solve. I realized what a hypocrite I have been about being an alley, as I’ve had my own battles with those wanting to be allies to the LGBTQ community. How many times have I complained that it is not my responsibility to inform the straight community of the unequal treatment I have faced? Too many times to count.

With my hypocrisy clearly apparent, I had to take my own advise … I needed to really open my eyes to the day to day living of “others.” It is a simple process to be involved in the large campaigns of changing laws and grassroots movements, but when it comes the mundane day-to-day living, how am I being helpful? Sure, I’ve read books, watched documentaries, have had intellectual conversations with friends, strangers, and family, attended rallies, called people out when they make racist comments, etc., but what am I doing DAILY to help eradicate racism?  The answer … not much.

I walked into work yesterday with a different lens. I watched how people interacted with each other. I watched a color division almost invisible to my white eyes. I watched as a white southern woman bumped into a man from India and she waited for him to say excuse me. I watched a white man enter the shop without a care or concern, as if he owned the place, meanwhile the Spanish speaking woman entered the shop with timid apprehension. I saw only one black person enter the store. ONE!

I listened to how I interacted with all of these people, and I was disappointed in myself. I found that when a foreigner or person of color approached the cash register I was trying so hard to convey my acceptance that it must surely look like an act. I wanted so badly for “the other” to feel accepted that I made it fucking awkward. I blame some of this on the area I live in.

Utah is not known for its colorfulness. Utah is so white that I often complain about it. But growing up in this culture is bound to make a person an accidental racist. How can a person say they aren’t racist but continually be surrounded by only white people? Those that know me will rush to my aid and proclaim, “but Marcy, your brother in law is black, you have biracial nieces.” Here’s the thing … that doesn’t matter. That is just a card we flash to enter into a space where we don’t have to examine our own behavior.

Friends, I’ve NEVER had a boss who was black. EVER. How fucking sad is that? Work occupies a large chunk of our time, and in my years of work I can count, on two hands, how many co-workers were not white. I’m 40 fucking years old and I’ve never had a boss of color. How is this possible? Racism makes this possible. I participate in racism, without my consent, daily. And so do you. I know … you’re feeling defensive right now. It’s a normal reaction that needs to be eradicated. This defensiveness is killing Black People. This defensiveness is taking away from the trauma of a whole group of people.

Today I ask white people to try this exercise. How many of you have had a supervisor/boss/leader of color? Especially those of you that live in Utah. And if you answer is not at least 50% then concede that you participate in a racist structure, even if it is not of your making.

 

 

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Garth and his dog …

I saw the man, clad in Harley Davidson apparel with wild long hair, walk into Smith’s.  He caught my attention because of the beautiful German Shepherd that accompanied him into the store.  The dog had a vest on and a clear sign stating, “DO NOT PET.”  I continued down the aisle and told Rizzi that when I’m older I want to get a therapy dog for my anxiety.  I began to imagine what it would be like to have a dog assist me in panic attacks … even thinking about it calmed my over-anxious mind.

We rounded the corner of the aisle and the man and his dog were walking up behind us.  I waited for the pair and as they approached me I told the man I loved his dog.  The man was large, standing at least 6’3″ and weighing at least two of me.  He smiled and became soft instantaneously.  The brawn disappeared as this man introduced me to his dog, who sat between me and the big man.  Her name is Ruzzo.  As we talked she began to lick my hand and her tail swished across the tiled floors.  Without thinking I patted her head.  I stopped and apologized to the man.  He smiled broadly and told me I could pet her as much as I liked.  I knelt down and began to give Ruzzo full body rubs and kisses on her narrow head, her tail never stopped wagging.

I asked the man if she was a therapy dog.  The man told me that he is a therapy human for his dog.  Turns out Ruzzo was a dog in the Iraq war and she was so traumatized that the military released her from her duty.  She suffers from anxiety and PTSD.  The man went on to tell me that he and Ruzzo had a lot in common.  I immediately understood that this man also suffers from wounds unseen.  I stood up and hugged him.  He hugged me back, tightly.  He then told me that Ruzzo had the worst of it and I should give her a hug, which I did without hesitation.

When I stood back up the man introduced himself as Garth.  We shook hands, but each of us probably could have used another hug.  I began asking questions about how he got involved with his work with dogs and if he had other dogs he’s helped with anxiety.  He told me about on dog so far gone that many people thought he was putting himself at risk living with her.  He never mentioned the dog’s name but I knew she was special to him and that she was no longer around.  His eyes hurt and loved in ways he couldn’t articulate.

Garth then spoke German commands to Ruzzo and she promptly complied by laying down.  He gave another command and Ruzzo sat back up with an alert look in her eyes.  I told him I was impressed.  Garth then told me that one of the reasons he took her to the store at that moment was because a thunder-storm was on its way and the thunder “freaks her out.”  He said that the music and amount of people make it hard for her to hear the thunder.

Ruzzo was primarily used as a bomb detection dog, which meant she was shot at often.  Though never receiving a bullet wound, Garth said that Ruzzo had so many near misses that any loud noises trigger her into a quivering mess.  The 4th of July is especially difficult for her.  Ruzzo started licking my hand again.  I bent down and kissed her on her head and gave her scritches on her back.  She leaned into me while she took a piece of me.

I thanked Garth for his time and told him I would be on the look out for him again.  He said, “I see you’re married.”  I told him I was.  He looked disappointed.  I told him we could still remain friends.  He said, “I was hoping for someone who could spend time with me and my dog.”  I told him anything is possible.  He smiled and nodded.  I smiled and walked away.  I should have hugged him one more time and kissed Ruzzo again while I had the chance.

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Being Civil is a Two Way Street

In 2004 I publicly acknowledged that I loved another woman. I was a recently divorced mother of two and the choice to live authentically wasn’t a difficult decision to make. I wanted my children to understand that being honest wasn’t just a buzzword, but a distinct way of living requiring direct actions and words.

Of course I wasn’t so naive to believe that my involvement with LGBTQ political actions and social activism wouldn’t have backlash in my personal life. I also understood that having children presented more risks and worries, as many citizens in the great state of Utah feel fit to make commentary on our life style in restaurants, bookstores, and grocery stores. When my son and daughter were 6 and 5 we (as a family) were picking out children’s books in our local Hasting’s. A large man in his 50’s towered over my 5’1” frame and stated, “Fucking dykes.”

This is only one illustration of the numerous times my family has been confronted by ignorance and hate. Before you say, “well, its not everyone who feels this way” I must stop you. Unless you’ve been marginalized or are part of a minority group, how do you know? How can I (or you) possibly know who does and does not hate me, or my family, because I love another woman? Each time we make a decision to leave our home and enter a public space we run the risk of being diminished by words of hate or actions that instill fear.

In all of this I’m told, time and time again, to remain civil. Even large groups like HRC and Equality Utah, who claim to be champions or defenders of LGBTQ people, have told these communities to remain civil and start conversations. The problem, as I see it, is that these groups that spout out hate disguised as religion are not interested in talking or coming to understand our lives.

Proof of this lies in last weeks “Stand For the Family Conference”, held at the Utah State Capitol. Family Watch International hosted the event and Eric Ethington wrote a great expose on the complications of these groups, to include their ties to other hate groups.      http://nuancestillmatters.com/?p=14406

Equality Utah also released a statement, after the organizers of the event utilized gay fathers and lesbian mothers pictures with their children, telling the room full of people the inherent risks these children face by being raised by gay parents. The statement by Equality Utah reads, in part,

“We are deeply concerned after learning that photos of our community members with their bright and beautiful children were used as anti-marriage equality propaganda at a rally at the Utah State Capitol yesterday.

It is a disgrace to use our families for a misguided and debunked view of what is best for children. It is one thing to disagree with the freedom to marry, it’s quite another to go after loving parents and their children at a political rally. That is not an example of the family values in which Utahns take deep pride.”

The problem with this statement is …. THIS IS NOTHING NEW! Why now? Why are we now angry that our children are being used as propaganda? Did Prop 8 not prove that religious organizations and hate groups would be willing to use our children as scapegoats? Our children have been the center of an argument that extends past my “coming out.”

Did Equality Utah, or any other LGBTQ organization, not see the writing on the wall when we have been pushed out of political debate? Hell these organizations were placated by discussions with church leaders and asked that all supporters be patient as a dialogue was being created with the hopes that the next legislative session would see non-discrimination laws passed state wide. How did that work out for you? Because for me, it didn’t do jack shit!  It did not help ease the burden of my increasing medical costs, though my partner had benefits she could not extend to me. This cow towing did nothing for my sense of security for the future.

Be civil? Why? Who does that benefit? The oppressor or the oppressed? Being civil is a two-way street, however LGBTQ people have been asked to remain on a one-way street of civility and patience. We have been asked repeatedly, by allies and foes, to be patient and to be kind. Fuck you. Fuck you for asking my kids to remain silent in the face of hate. Fuck you for your brand of love and fuck you for not standing up for ALL OF US throughout the last decade I’ve been involved. The general public and my “own” people have shunned me. It is about damn time you take a stand that matters, not one that will garner more donations and political clout.

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Fiction story I forgot about …

Wrote this for my fiction course at the U of U (I sure did get a D out of that course, so I won’t claim I’m great at writing fiction).

**Trigger Warning**  This story is dark and may be a trigger for any person who has had cancer or any person who lost someone to cancer.

 

The cancer came swiftly, and it took to eating every molecule of my existence with a passion.  “Terminal illness” was eating away at my mind, making me feel like a discarded, turned inside out shirt lying on the floor.

The day of diagnosis was like any other, the car still needed an oil change, people cut me off in traffic and milk and eggs were still on the grocery list.  But I felt it.  I felt deaths presence in the passenger seat, of my gas sipping car, and nobody else seemed alarmed by this visitor.

“How long do I have?” I asked the doctor.

“There really is no way to pinpoint a date, but I’d say no more than six months.”

I nodded my head, as though I just agreed to a Maytag extended Warranty.  I didn’t know any other way to react.

How do I tell her?  Babe, I got cancer, but you’ll be able to pay off the house.  There really is no way to properly bomb the innocent.

*****************************

I decided on chemotherapy, but it didn’t take long for the rebel forces of blood cells to launch a more precise attack.  Today is the six-month mark and I proved the doctors wrong. HA!  Even in this milestone I can feel the ache in my bones, the absence, and the void of cancer boring holes in my soul.  It won’t be long.

*******************************

I chose to die at home, I didn’t want to be surrounded by sterile white walls with whitewashed human beings dancing around my death.  I needed her to be there.  Funny thing about death, there is no rehearsal, you just never know if your last act is going to be Grammy Award worthy or a Rotten Tomato hall of famer.

*****************************

I could feel it, my organs dying.  I felt them sputter and put, needing more oil that would never be provided.  I was in and out of conscience, yet I kept seeing her face.  Sometimes she would be crying, other times she would be smiling.  I couldn’t tell if I was better or if I was worse and her face wasn’t giving me any clues.  Was it Mr. Mustard in the Library with a wrench or I in a hospital bed with cancer?

********************************

I had moments of clarity, but those visiting me in my room must have misunderstood.  They spoke as if I were already dead.  Can’t blame them really, I had all the looks of death.  What beautiful cheekbones you have.  Wow, your waist must be a size 23, and your hipbones are bigger than your breasts.

A lot of these strangers (or were they friends?) would use my room to talk about how sad it was she, the love of my life,  was dying of cancer as well and would die alone.  The misty fine fingers of cancer had caressed her body.  We tend to have common interest.

“Who will take care of her?”  the soon-to-be funeral guests asked.

“She’ll probably end up at the hospital,” the soon-to-be pallbearers said.

It was this night I screamed out to her.

“Please, come with me … not alone.  You can’t alone.  Looking after, to feed, hold.  Not alone!”  She just smiled and kissed me saying, “We’ll always be together.”  She never did believe in suicide.

***********************

Agitated.  Up was down, sin was good and pain was becoming pleasure.  Sweating, not wanting to go.  I felt a hand slip into mine.  I heard, “are you ready?”  The cold steel touched my temple and her warm lips locked with mine.

She whispered “Forever!”

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Day 12: Short Essay for Ecocriticsim

I am midway through this course and I feel as though I am lost.  The strange stranger surrounds me.  The concepts are slippery, just out of reach, yet my fingers brush by them, feeling that there is something to grab onto, something to help hoist myself up over the ledge of misunderstanding.  Just as I start to believe that I will be seated upon the plateau of knowledge, basking in the glow of understanding, the strange stranger passes my peripheral vision; shattering the illusory idea that ecocriticism can be nailed down and dissected.

Ellen Meloy, in her essay “The Deeds and Suffering of Light” divulges that she suffers from a neurological disorder which causes “’a reduction in mental acuity’” (5).  Though I am unaware of having any neurological conditions that could be clouding my understanding, I can relate to this statement:

“because there is the possibility of an abrupt slide into chronic befuddlement, I thought it might be useful to acquire some basic motor and tactile      skills, like pushing around cool, gooey paint in mindless, repetitive motions, as preparation for that freshly vacated space, that airy void between the   ears” (5).

This course is a blank canvas, stark white and waiting for an image.  As the weeks pass by, I apply “cool, gooey paint” yearning for a familiar pattern to emerge.  With each new paint that I am provided, my frantic fingers rush across the canvas.  I stand back and I am not satisfied with the blobs I have produced.  Perhaps it is the angle.  Perhaps it is the lighting.  I must come at this canvas sideways; casting aside my expectations of the image I thought I would produce.  It is time for me to abandon the rules of painting and create my own guide on how to see the world surrounding me.  Shattering categories is hard work.

How can one create a “visual aphrodisiac”? (226). For Meloy, the color red is ecstasy, passion and a signal of reproduction.  Squeezing the cold metal tube of red paint, I dab a small circle in the center of my canvas.  I create a focal point.  I create a place to fall into when the outer edges blur out understanding.  And perhaps that is the point, to abandon the notion that the “Name ha[s] to match reality, and reality [has] to be made uniform in samples, chips, and swatches” (229).  The image I create does not need to be codified to that which is recognizable.  The red circle is the truth I have created on the canvas.  It has become the place that I dwell in to seek understanding of the slippery concept of reality.

My time is spent staring at a canvas, taking shape in unrecognizable ways.  The canvas demands to be worked upon quickly, though I find myself begging for time to slow down so that I can lean into the red splashes.  I beg for the strange stranger to reveal itself, but Buell thwarts any time devoted to the uncanny.  Oppermann insists that I examine paints I have not yet touched.  Yet I find myself comforted by Meloy’s words,  “Our sense of wonder grows exponentially; the greater the knowledge, the deeper the mystery and the more we seek knowledge to create new mystery” (243).  When ideas sweep past my fingers, when the red dot comforts an unsure mind and as each theory is placed before my befuddled mind, I am comforted that it is creating a mystery. I now paint on a canvas that must be viewed sideways.

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Day 11 – Essay on Patriarchy and Capitalism

Remember that commitment I made to write for 100 days … yeah well it will be 100 writings in one year, it seems to be the only time I have as recent.  Remember when I said I wouldn’t count my school writings, yeah turns out I lied🙂

Marcy Taylor

Heidi Hartmann Presentation

Text:  The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism: Towards a more Progressive Union

 

It was a well designed plan for Capitalism and Patriarchy to meet.  Years of starvation, monarchy, and patriarchal rule had the people ready – thirsty – for change and when Capitalism walked in, well the people saw the benefits to their relationship.

According to Hartmann, this relationship wasn’t mutually exclusive.  The people gasped in horror when they realized that Capitalism and Patriarchy were, in all actuality, fuck buddies.  They were not exclusive to one another, but the couple assured its people that this “arrangement” is not destructive to the masses.  And Hartmann was there to write the story so that the people would understand this quasi marriage.

Hartmann lets us know that the fuck buddy system isn’t always wine, fooling around, having a cigarette and heading out the door.  Quite the contrary.  Like the time when Capitalism was being stalked by Socialism … yeah, Patriarchy enlisted McCarthy to kill Socialism.  It was an ugly time for both of them; they barely had time to copulate!

But copulate they did … on a massive scale.  All the democracy babies where running around, being cute and shit, but then another argument cropped up for Patriarchy and Capitalism.  The kids … I mean Capitalism saw the benefits of the kids and women working in factories, pumping out profits faster than women could birth them!  Patriarchy got all uptight; talking about a woman’s place is in the home, taking care of the kids (because, well, they were sick, broken and hungry.)  And more importantly, Patriarchy was harping on women making money, which means his harem of women at home would be diminished.  Hartmann quoted this proclamation as “The material base upon which patriarchy rests lies most fundamentally in men’s control over women’s labor power.”  Whatever this means!  Patriarchy just wanted women in their rightful place.  Capitalism ignored his pleas to keep his women at home.

This got Patriarchy pissed!  He sat at home, sad that his women were gone to work, thinking of ways to get back at Capitalism. He was in awe that Capitalism didn’t see the problems with this money making scheme.  I mean, who would be in charge of sex if women got it their heads they were worth more than being a glory hole?    As the women came home, tired, depressed, dirty and unwilling to cook a “decent” meal he left to go hang out with the guys at the pub.  An idea popped into his head as he sipped on his suds and his stroke of brilliance would dazzle the men and create heartache for his lover Capitalism.  He suggested “unions.”   In unison the men sang out, “Unions?”  He explained that if they all got together and DEMANDED that men get paid a family wage then the woman could come back so they could cook, clean and breed.  Of course these unions made shit happen for Patriarchy.

Capitalism basked in the glory of being fought over!  Overcome with joy, she made compromises and allowed a family wage, but also kept women and children at work.  The workers would be segregated but she promised Patriarchy men would be in charge of when, how and how much the woman workers would be paid.  This pleased Patriarchy.

Hartmann made a prediction at this point.  Hartmann claims that as the need for a second income becomes prevalent, the divide of income will increase.  Turns out she’ll be right …

But back to Patriarchy and Capitalism …   During all this time, they are shacking up, usually lying in bed after a good romp, disagreeing and agreeing on how to go about getting their minions to squabble.  If they could get the people to disagree they wouldn’t notice that they were puppets in a well orchestrated Capitalist/Patriarchy show.

But the people took advantage of Patriarchy and Capitalisms fuck sessions.  At some point a group of “progressives” took pity on the children and demanded they be left at home, not working in deplorable conditions.  This got Patriarchy and Capitalism juices flowing.  Patriarchy decided that children would be the woman’s concern, as they were no longer productive and well, he didn’t have time for that shit.  Plus he was glad to have his women back in the kitchen.  Capitalism, not as pleased, did see another source of income … The housewife.  Oh she’d love a new stove, dishwasher, or other shiny object.  There was peace amongst them again.  Lying back, sweaty and tired, they congratulated each other while smoking pot …. “Hey, this could be worth some money Capitalism.”  Don’t be stupid Patriarchy; I need workers who want to work …” Anyways ….

But Hartmann turned out to be a traitor to both Capitalism and Patriarchy, as she was telling the people “women should not trust men to liberate them after the revolution, in part, because there is no reason to think they would know how; in part, because there is no necessity for them to do so.”  BITCH Patriarchy yelled.  Capitalism was laughing until she read, “we think the sexual division of labor within capitalism has given women a practice which we have learned to understand what human interdependence and needs are.”  Asshole Capitalism yelled!!  Patriarchy and Capitalism where not happy!

Hartman wanted to organize people into practicing techniques to struggle against Patriarchy and Capitalism.  WTF?!  After screwing away their angst, Capitalism and Patriarchy calmed down, as they realized most people won’t read the story Hartmann pushed into the public, because most of them were suckling on the glass teat of TV (an invention that Capitalism still threw in the face of Patriarchy … though he did enjoy Leave it to Beaver.)

The people have questions!!  They beg for answers.

Why is this marriage so unhappy?  Besides the satire I provide above, do you think it possible to examine Feminist Thought from economic factors alone?  Why or why not?

Hartmann calls for a new analysis of feminism, one that would include examination of Capitalism and Patriarchy, however, in this new analysis, who sets the parameters and definitions?  Who will be the authors of these theories?  Are men and women included?  Should there be restrictions?  We could do this all day!

Hartmann suggests that men should relinquish their privilege.  How do men give up their privilege?

 

 

 

 

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Day 10 – Rally Speech

Friends, I want to thank you all for providing me a space to give voice to my angst. Let us remember that this OUR state capitol as well, and it is should not be blinded by a persons sexual orientation.

I want you to know that I come to you impassioned and angered.  I come to you battered and bruised.  But I also come to you …. Battle ready!!

Far too long we have asked … BEGGED, on one bended knee after another, to have full equality.  Far too long we have been told to be civil.  Far too long we have been degraded, harassed, violated and shamed.  I say Enough!  Enough!

All of us: gay, straight, religious, non-religious have waited long enough for equality for all human beings.  Now is not the time to squabble about definitions.  Traditional vs. Gay.   All of this doesn’t mean shit.  What matters are compassion, decency and empathy.  This war … is one waged by ignorance, fear and tyranny.

We are past the point of needing or wanting you to understand.  It is clear that the tears, heart ache, and devastation do not speak to your hearts.  We are past the point of civility, as calling us unnatural, asking us to stifle our love and promoting only one type of family as traditional is beyond being civil.  Instead, we TELL you …. We will not be diminished.  We will not be ignored and with all heartfelt sincerity, we will marry!

We will triumph.  We will walk hand in hand, with our heads held high, loving our families as we always have, only this time we will be cacooned in the warmth of legality.  We will continue to raise our daughters and our sons, only now we will be safe in the web of legal jargon.  Soon, my partners insurance card will no longer claim her to be single.  Soon, ALL OF US will be on equal playing field.

And with time …. these times of angst will be nothing but a blip in a history book.  And with time those that have fought hard against us will come to understand that they were the threat to our families.  With time, all of us will co-exsist and our grandchildren will be amazed that this rally even had to happen.

Harvey Milk said it best, “It takes no compromise to give people their rights…it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom.”

Before I conclude my speech I would like to remind everyone here that there are many groups of people that need legal help.  The trans* community needs the support of everyone that stands before this capitol.  The trans* community can not be forgotten or fought for any less than the passion you brought with you tonight.

 

Because …. Together we stand in solidarity.  Because … Together, we will be victorious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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