burdock, blue aconite, and thistle and thorn

A new playlist, October magics.

► burdock, blue aconite, and thistle and thorn | ghoulnextdoor | 8tracks

Photo by Jason Blake

Track list:
As Old As The Grave, Eaves | knitbone, Kathrin deBoer | Blood I Bled, The Staves | Harvest Home, Mark Lanegan Band | Bronze, The Woodlands | Turn Away, Laura Moody | Holy Smoke, Vashti Bunyan | Wild Waters, Jane Tyrrell | “Some Winters” Weyes Blood | The Electric Mountain, Jane Weaver | iamamiwhoami, fountain

Weight loss for weirdos: the deblobbening

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Goths at the Gym for VICE magazine. Photo: Matias Uris

Let me get this off my chest right at the beginning.  I have 0% will power.  If I want to have popcorn for dinner, I can’t fob myself off with a more nutritious option and tell myself to wait it out and eat a bowl of popcorn during the weekend.  That won’t work for me.  Chances are I will eat the salad and the small portion of whatever healthful protein du jour AND I will just end up eating the popcorn later that night anyhow.  I have learned it is just easier to give in to my baser cravings and get it out of my system.

Also: I am slow.  I am maybe one of the slowest moving people in the world. Slow to reach a decision, slow to act on that decision, interminably slow to carry out that decision.  I remember as a child, my mother on more than one occasion, shouting at me to hurry up and “get in the car/get to the dinner table/ get out of bed, Sarah GOD SARAH YOU’RE SLOWER THAN MOLASSES”. It’s true.  And I have not gotten any faster 30 years later.

I can also tell you that rewarding myself for goals met is not something that works for me. That bottle of perfume? I want it now.  It won’t wait til I’ve lost 5 or 10 pounds.  Chances are I have already ordered it and it is setting on my shelf and I am wearing even while I am typing this out.  I’ve probably already ordered another bottle of something else.

Excuses and personality defects aside, with regard to my weight loss for weirdos  progress, I will report that I have lost 12 pounds.  Now, you might be thinking “huh…12 pounds in 5 months doesn’t really sound like fantastic progress” and you’d probably be right. But to be perfectly honest, I am not really going at this in a hardcore type of fashion and I’ve got no deadline and I’ve no desire to buy new, smaller clothing every month, so why not take it slow?I am not about to give up my Monday night popcorn-for-dinner and my glasses of wine during the week.   I’m not in it to torture myself, I mean really.

But as to the changes I am making and the aspects of deblobbening that I am getting right:

  • I purchased a fitbit.  Yeah, they are gimmicky. No they are not absolutely necessary.  But I hate to exercise, and ANYTHING that gets me to move around a little bit more is worth it to me. I work a desk job from home, so in addition to all the activity I am not getting from a more physical job, it’s not like I even have to walk to and fro in a building to interact with co-workers or walk to my car to drive to lunch or anything like that.  I am in my chair in front of a computer in more or less the same position for 10+ hours.  The fitbit would have you believe that your daily goal is 10K steps a day and I was rather horrified to find out that with no modifications to my daily schedule, I was lucky if I hit 2K.  Now – armed with the fear of a wee gadget sticking its tongue out at me – I find myself infinitely more motivated to find small, strange ways to exercise during the day.  My work day has basically turned into a 10 hour long extended peepee dance. But I am surpassing the 10K step goal and I figure hey – whatever kind of movement it is, no matter how ridiculous it looks, it’s got to be better than none at all, right?
  • Walking (or any sort of exercise, I suppose)with a friend.  I have made a commitment to meet a friend twice a week for walking and catching up.  On Wednesday evenings we meet at the local library and walk around the pond, about 2 miles or so.  On Saturday mornings we meet for a 6AM beach walk which amounts to about 4.5 miles.  Sometimes we do a healthy meal after, sometimes not, but the food isn’t really the point – it’s that we are getting out of the house, we are getting some exercise, and having a friendly human encounter.  I suspect that last part might be especially important for me, since other than my live-in paramour, this might be the only person I see all week long.
  • Finding some exceptional exercise music.  I’ll admit, so far it’s just one album, but it works perfectly for me.  Daft Punk Alive 2007. In the meantime, you have got to fill me in on what you are listening to now whilst running or walking or crossfitting or milking cows or hoisting cadavers into the crematory or whatever you do.  I need variety.
  • Having some meals planned.  I am lucky enough to live with someone who will, for the most part, eat – and like – any homecooked meal that I put in front of him… so when cooking for myself, I automatically know that the other person I am living with will eat it as well, with no complaint. This makes meal planning for me so much easier than other folks might have it. Some recipes I have found myself preparing quite often and for which I can personally vouch for their tastiness: black bean soup, chana masala, tofu stir fry with peanut sauce and “zoodles” & sauce. For breakfasts it’s been steel cut oats with a dollop of skyr and fruit or toast and peanut butter if I am feeling lazy.  Lunches have been tuna salad or avocado-egg salad or canned soups, and a quick cucumber tomato salad. Simple stuff. It is during the weekends that I encounter trouble, as we are usually visiting friends or family and that usually means dinners out and cocktails and I don’t always make the smartest choices.  Especially after the cocktails.

I am not one for before and after pictures and anyhow, I really don’t look any different.  So you’re not going to see that sort of thing here.  I have, however, managed to wriggle my rump into my first ever pair of skinny jeans.  Oh, how I railed against skinny jeans! For years I wouldn’t even acknowledge their existence. They were the devil’s denim, I thought, and would never darken the door of my wardrobe.  I’m afraid I was wrong.  And I am wearing them today. And they are amazing.  You can only see my face in this picture, but I promise you, I am wearing them.

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Also, amongst other things that wouldn’t serve as a proper weight loss reward because instant gratification is not soon enough for me, I am wearing this oversized cross tee shirt from Aakasha (recommendation courtesy Tenebrous Kate!) and it is pretty great.  One of my current favorite pieces.

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I hope to report back in the next four months with similar results, but in the meantime, I would love to hear what’s been working for you, health and fitness-wise? Where do you run into problems? How do you reward yourself? And etcetera.  I am nosy and want to know all of your secrets!

BONUS: The ultimate after death workout experience!
Zombies, keep your bodies fit! Never stop training!

SUPER EXTRA BONUS: A lovely lady friend recommended the 7 minute workout to me, stating that it is quite remarkable, it has incredible effects and it is perfect for weirdos!
Weirdos? That’s US!  Let’s do it!

“In 12 exercises deploying only body weight, a chair and a wall, it fulfills the latest mandates for high-intensity effort, which essentially combines a long run and a visit to the weight room into about seven minutes of steady discomfort — all of it based on science.”

P.S. She also said it is quite unpleasant, but let’s do it anyway!

Angelique

I am finally getting around to reading this stack of books, ostensibly about a healthy looking lass with barely concealed bosoms, named Angelique.  I picked them up at the start of the summer, rescued, on a whim, from a dusty, sagging particle board shelf in the shadowed corner of a cramped used book store.  I thought they would be light, campy summer reading.
They – the covers, at least -also reminded me a bit of how my mother once read the riot act to a nosy, churchy neighbor who had a problem with me, as a 10 year old, reading Clan of the Cave Bear (which I was thoroughly obsessed with at the time). I don’t remember it was a great book, and true, I was only reading it for the sexy bits, but thank you mom, for never censoring my reading.

Looking at the covers, you’d think this was a series of bodice-rippers, wouldn’t you?  Yet, from even a cursory glance on Good Reads I can see that this is a much beloved heroine – witty, charming, beautiful, utterly captivating – and that many readers have been swept away by her adventures, and even more, the writing is supposedly superb and the historical details are amazingly accurate. This is a collection of stories that people return to and re-read time and time again.

It is now October and I’ve barely read a single chapter. I paid the princely sum of $15 for all eight of these paperbacks and I really need to start getting my money’s worth from them.
Or at least read the sexy bits.

This, that, and the other thing (III)

Seems like lately everyone is jumping ship over at facebook; enter ello.  Marketed as “…a simple, beautiful, and ad-free social network created by a small group of artists and designers.”, it’s shaping up to be a lovely solution. The design is simple, clean, uncluttered and though there may be a few bugs to work out (it’s still in beta) and it’s a bit quiet over there while users are figuring it out – I really can’t wait to see how it grows. Do be sure to stop by and say hello!  I am mlleghoul, of course.

 

Has the season got you longing for some genuine terror in your life?  This kickstarter project might be exactly what you need.  CANAAN CULT REVIVAL is “a magazine sized anthology of horror comics about demonology & exorcism.” with contributions from nine of independent comics’ unique creators who have come together to frighten you with something new. “CANAAN CULT REVIVAL is an attempt to use comic book storytelling to push those boundaries further still. An anthology of tales of exorcism and demonology, it’s larger and longer than a traditional comic, reminiscent of the horror magazines of the 1970s.”

 

THE DIATOMIST is a short documentary about Klaus Kemp, master of the Victorian art of diatom arrangement.

“Diatoms are single cell algae that create jewel-like glass shells around themselves. Microscopists of the Victorian era would arrange them into complex patterns, invisible to the naked eye but spectacular when viewed under magnification.The best of these arrangements are stunning technical feats that reveal the hidden grandeur of some of the smallest organisms on Earth. Klaus Kemp has devoted his entire life to understanding and perfecting diatom arrangement and he is now acknowledged as the last great practitioner of this beautiful combination of art and science. THE DIATOMIST, by Matthew Killip showcases his incredible work. “

 

Can you imagine these glorious horrors stalking and slashing down the runway?  From Alice Auaa 2014-2015 F/W runway during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Japan.

More delightful sartorial oddities from Gareth Pugh’s Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear – Collection

 

Two seasonally appropriate 8tracks mixes: All of them Witches & It is something I have long known (inspired by Robert Aickman’s eerie short story “Into the Woods”.)

beyond the pale motel; not a book review

To be honest, I have not reached a point where I have forgotten that my mother has died.  I will hear some people say that they wanted to share something with their deceased parent – maybe a bit of good news, maybe something not so great – and they were dialing the phone before they realized “oh yeah, mom’s dead, I can’t call her”.

I’ve come to realize that I have been preparing (mentally, anyhow) to be motherless for years. Since high school, at least. My mother always seemed on a path to self destruction, in danger of oblivion at any given moment, and so long ago I’d stopped even being sad about it.  It was an inevitable thing, and probably sooner rather than later. So I’m really not continually surprised at her absence, and when I do find myself wishing to talk with her about something it’s more akin to an itch that I’d like to scratch rather than a wound I’d forgotten was there.

I just finished reading Beyond The Pale Motel, by Francesa Lia Block.  I recall discovering this author on a Barnes and Noble shelf when I was in my early twenties and floundering quite a bit.  I was struggling with dull classes and a dead end job and a dead beat boyfriend and I just didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing with myself.  I didn’t know what I was supposed to want for myself.  My greatest love at that time, I think, was poetry – magic words stitched together to wrap me in a blanket of beauty that I desperately needed as a loser band girlfriend in a shitty go-nowhere beach town. She wrote stories the likes of which I’d never read before and barely dared to dream about; she felt like a fairy god mother with her tales of love and magic and beauty and wishes and soul-mates in the midst of harsh, contemporary landscapes and young adult struggles. Her fairy tales of a girls living in a “jasmine-scented, jacaranda-purple, neon sparked” Shangri-La seemed to be both memoires of lost souls finding themselves and how-to manuals for the small town mouseykins yearning to make those discoveries as well.

I purchased, with my small paycheck at that time, every title on that shelf. And I as I am now somewhat taken aback to remember, I shared them all with my mother.  I drove to her house within the next day to dump them all on her bed and tell her that whatever she was reading, she should put it aside and inhale the books I was giving her as quickly as possible.  I knew, at that time, that the stories and characters and magical writing were elements that my mother would have loved; I know now that I was sharing these stories of beauty and tragedy and redemption with one of the most lost souls I was ever to love.

As I read Beyond The Pale Motel this weekend, I sadly realized I no longer have the passion or the patience for Ms. Block’s writing. The book was dark, certainly darker than those strange and sparkling coming of age tales I remembered from almost twenty years ago, and there was no happy ending to be found. Never the less, I finished it in one sitting. I was both angry and sad about the ending of the book and the lack of magic contained therein; sad and wistful, I think because I had changed over time.  Maybe, I don’t really need those sorts of stories any more.  I have made so many of my own magics and created so many stories for myself since I first discovered her writing; perhaps words I once found so bewitching and transcendent no longer resonated with me.

Upon closing the book once finished, my first instinct was to call my mother.  I have still not forgotten that I cannot do this.  What is unexpected though, is the hot rush of tears that filled my eyes  and the painful twist of my heart when think of how I can’t ever share these insights and discoveries with her anymore, ever again. As someone who thought they were prepared for this eventuality, who had numbed herself to this outcome… this sudden heartbreak, this piercing grief -that’s the part I never saw coming.

Svima; dizzy

Gullfoss

From the terrifying, vertiginous heights of a 60 meter waterfall, to the giddy delight of having scaled it afterward, to the dazed distraction of being in the midst of incomprehensible multinational conversations, and the woozy, weak-in-the-knees sensation of toppling into bed once the day is done…if asked to sum my time in Iceland up in one word, my reply would be: “dizzying”.

A week later after arriving home and having settled back in, the dizziness is just now subsiding and yet I am still feeling rather unsteady and out-of-place.  A new friend summed it up rather eloquently, I think: “Repatriation can be a lot more shocking than expatriation, because we expect to feel comfortable, we expect things to be familiar, but everything is different. Not because everything has changed, but because *we* changed. Our frame of reference for the familiar has changed. “

All of this sounds like a complaint, doesn’t it?  I don’t mean it to be.  I’ve never fancied myself much of a traveler and I am finding that it rather takes some getting used to.  I think when one travels one must learn to let go of schedules and learn to embrace the unexpected and these are usually both difficult lessons for me. This journey proved to be no different in that regard and yet I think, at some point I , just…let go.  Gave up.  Due to the fact I did not speak the language (I know maybe four words of Icelandic) I didn’t know what was going on around me 99% of the time anyway, so why not just let someone else make the plans and I’d just end up where ever I ended up.  And it would be fine. “þetta reddast”, I heard repeated several times during the trip.  “It will be ok. It will work itself out.”  Þetta reddast.

Seljalandsfoss

Though I was in Reykjavík primarily for the wedding of my gentleman’s brother – which was a splendid affair at Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland - we did have time, in between visits with family (and there was a lot of family), to explore our own agenda.  Which were chiefly pastries, penis museums, haunted houses, and more waterfalls.

kleina (fried doughnut) and hjónabandssæla (“happy marriage cake”)

2008 Icelandic handball team at the phallological museum

Höfði house. Haunted by a lady ghost, according to local legend.

random waterfall in Þingvellir

Because my guy and his family are originally from Iceland, there were many aunties and cousins still living there who had not seen them in a long time and who wanted to spend time catching up.  There were long coffee hours with trays of hangikjöt (smoked lamb) or salmon sandwiches and delicate pancakes either rolled thin and sprinkled with sugar or stuffed fat and full of cream and jam. There was an evening of at least 40 relatives packed into an apartment for bowls of traditional kjötsúpa – a humble but fragrant and nourishing meat soup, usually made with lamb and earthy winter vegetables.  I’ll scarcely mention the grilled minke whale, for those readers who may face ethical or philosophical dilemmas regarding this…very…delicious issue. And then, there was an afternoon in the town of Akranes where I was invited for a meal of the most delicious fish and chips that I have ever had in my life.

Boat graveyard at Akranes

Akranes is a charming little fishing town, but there is a wee dodgy strip which could be mistaken for Innsmouth on a gloomy, grey afternoon. Though apparently the ninth most populous town in Iceland, Akranes seemed small and rather isolated to me.  We were taken on a little tour of the town, which included the boat and town history museum, as well as, the lighthouse – which was an unexpected and wonderful surprise for me, as Amiina, a lovely, unique group of musicians whose works I stumbled across recently and who sound like the dreamiest, tinkling music box, had recorded at this lighthouse in the past few years.   I was delighted to see that the lighthouse, though small,  also hosted exhibits of the poetic or artistic variety from time to time. Before leaving I was gifted with a knit version of a traditional hat, hand made by a very generous auntie.

Old Man Houlihan at the Akranes boat museum. He would have gotten away with it – if not for those meddling kids.

Little lighthouse at Akranes (viewed from top of big lighthouse)

By Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir. Exhibit at the Akranes lighthouse.

Lovely knit hat based on a traditional costume

In addition to the town of Akranes, another one of my favorite places was Árbæjarsafn, which is the historical museum of the city of Reykjavík as well as an open air museum and a regional museum. Unfortunately, we put this visit off until the last minute, on the weekend – during which time it is not open.  Technically.  We were still able to walk around and look at the houses, but we were not able to go into them or explore them.  Nonetheless, we still spent about two hours walking around and marveling at the simple beauty of the structures.

Old houses at Árbæjarsfni

 

Old houses at Árbæjarsafni

Vestry at Árbæjarsafni

I was very lucky to experience Iceland from a unique perspective – though I did many of the tourist-y things (I ate hotdogs from every stand in the city for pete’s sake; I took a photo of this guy), I also spent a great deal of time with the people who actually live there and got to see things from a native’s perspective, as well.  Which included many home-made meals, I might add, and in a city as expensive as Reykjavík, that’s really a lovely blessing.

A few tips, if you are thinking of traveling to Iceland:

  • Bring layers!  I traveled during the end of August (which is like a relentless hellscape in Florida) but the weather I encountered in Iceland was in the 40s and 50s and drizzly.  Cold and rainy. Tee shirts and light sweaters and light jackets are best for hopping between coffee houses on a chilly day downtown, I think.
  • A sturdy pair of water proof boots is essential if you are going to be visiting the waterfalls or doing a bit of hiking. I purchased a pair from LL Bean and they are marvelous.  I highly recommend them.
  • Try to check out the happy hours for restaurants.  They are all so very expensive, so take advantage of deals where you can find them.
  • Go to Café Babalú, have a cappucino and check out their Star Wars themed bathroom, visit the The Einar Jónsson Sculpture Garden, stop by the Reykjavík Botanical Gardens, people watch at Kringlan, eat Skyr with blueberry jam every morning, marvel at how everywhere, even at the grocery store, you can find yarn.

And be reminded of why we go away.  (says Terry Pratchett) “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” 

I am glad I am no longer the same person who would have never left.  Though now I feel I am not actually the same person who did leave, either. It’s all so confusing! Perhaps I’d better start planning another trip and see what happens.

 

 

 

 

 

a longing to touch something fine

When I was very young I had the opportunity to visit an antique dollhouse exhibit while visiting my grandparents one summer. I was captivated by the minute, gorgeous, meticulously rendered details -intricate lace curtains framing the tiny windows and opulent velvet upholsteries covering the miniature settees and sofas – I longed to sneak my little finger behind the glass casing to touch these beautiful, delicate things, to feel what the little inhabitants of such a place might feel if they were to touch these things as well. The sumptuous fabrics of the gowns gracing the runway at Tadashi Shoji’s show at NYFW remind me somehow of those moments of longing to touch something very fine. Inspired by the Golden Palace of Venice, the various pieces are a glowing palette of roses and periwinkles and golds (not always my favorite thing) but the soft, simple silhouettes present such a dreamy vision that I can forgive the pastels. And capes.  Capes make everything 100 times more elegant and fancy.

See below for a few of my personal favorites. And if nothing else just play the video above for the lovely score/soundtrack (whatever you call music playing in the background during a runway show.)  It’s really very elegant and ethereal, even when it picks up the beat. If anyone can share with me who the musicians are, I would be forever grateful!

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the places you go

I have been away and come back and somehow I don’t quite feel myself anymore. Whether I left a piece of myself on another continent or I returned with an added bit of something or other, I couldn’t tell you. It’s an unsettling feeling and I haven’t sorted it out yet.

Until such time as I jot down my thoughts, impressions and various ramblings on the experience, please have some music.

the places you go from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

Track list: The Bridge, Halla Norðfjörð | Krómantík, Sóley | The backbone, Rökkurró | Trøllabundin, Eivør Pálsdóttir | Near Light, Ólafur Arnalds | Hail thy Mary, myrra ros | Út, Ylja | Yaoi, Ballet School | Until Mourning, Útidúr | There Are More Things, Mikael Lind | Perth, amiina | Fall, Bloodgroup | Burnt, Kiasmos | Toothwheels, Múm | Stofnar Falla (Subminimal Remix), Samaris

Running for your life

lurking fearnight stalker

Apparently you can customize the embroidery on the back of your shoe on the new balance site - how cool is that?  I kept mine simple as it appears that “Ph’nglui Mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.” just won’t fit in the space allotted. Drat.

Notice too, the all-black-all-the-time design – perfect for midnight cemetery runs and nimbly slipping between dark dimensions undetected!

Wondering how to style these blacker than black and quite frankly otherwise quite boring sneakers? You weren’t? Because black goes with everything? Fair enough. But here’s an idea for you.

workoutgear

 

 

Product details*:

POLITE AS FUCK” tee from buymebrunch  // SHOCK ABSORBER Ultimate Run mesh and stretch-jersey sports bra // TEK Gear Elements Hiking Capris // The 7 Wonders American Horror Story tote // Naked Eye Beauty for Sisters of the Black Moon lip balm

*Socks were via amazon and are out of stock and GO GREEN is, I believe, discontinued. Use your imagination re: goofy socks and fresh smelling post-workout body sprays.  You’ll do fine.

 

A proper “fuck off, world!” weekend

Friday night and the gang’s all here

It’s not exactly as if I am some sort of social butterfly, flitting busily from one charming engagement to the next. I’m really not that at all. I’m the anti-social, hermit….whatever the exact opposite of a butterfly is. Maybe sloth.  I am the anti-social sloth.

At most I will head into the next town once or twice a month to visit with friends and family, and to be honest, I am most of the time actually enjoying myself doing these things, spending time with these people. And yet even this is too much and it feels imperative that I shut myself away from the world every once in a while.  I don’t quite know why this is, but I suspect that sometimes even the thought of spending time around other humans is exhausting for me…especially on the weekend when I should be free to spend it however I like.  So even if I haven’t had a friendly lunch or a bookclub date or a party (eeek! ugh.) on the calendar for a while, it’s almost like I need to proactively mentally prepare for the possibility.

To begin, I set aside a weekend during the month, preferably one when I am going to be all alone.  As I live with a significant other, this is a rare occurrence. During this time I make no plans. No anything that involves me walking out my front door. A Fuck Off, World! weekend is all about the comforts of one’s own home. I make sure that the house is well stocked with grocery items because if I don’t even want to visit with my sister, you can be damned sure I don’t want to talk to a cashier for a market transaction as it relates to a dozen eggs or coffee or whatever. 99% of the time I won’t even answer my phone because what part of No Human Interaction and Fuck Off, World don’t you understand, for god’s sake?
This is serious business.

Your perfect FOW!W may vary from mine, of course, but I think there are some key elements that are pretty much the same across the board.

  • It must involve some form of entertainment.  Probably a few movies.  Perhaps there are some films you’ve been waiting to watch on your own as you know you cannot talk your boyfriend into watching another artsy horror film because when he walked in on you watching Possession he was nearly scarred for life.  Although really, what a grown woman and the writhing, pustulous grotesquerie to whom she gave birth do in an abandoned building on a filthy bed is their own business and who are we to judge, right? Anyway, so films.  For this particular weekend I am thinking Livide, Santa Sangre and Next Door.
  • Puttering. Pick up a book, put it down. Start to fold laundry, get distracted. Make half the bed, remember you put the kettle on, pick up that same book again. Finish knitting a sock. Try to take a nap, but become hypnotized by the shadow of the rosebush against the curtain. If you’ve puttered properly, by the end of the day you will have accomplished absolutely nothing.
  • Meals must be the trashiest things you can think of, something you would be utterly motified to have anywhere near your face hole in polite company. In ghost or alien company. In any company at all. It must be a transcendent combination and disgusting and delicious and you must eat it during this sacred time alone.

Actually, that’s about it. Less is more when it comes to a perfect FOW!W.  And with that, I am signing off. And you, you can fuck off.  Until Monday, and then we’re all friends again.

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