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About Girls WRite Now Distinguished as one of the top 15 after-school arts and culture programs in the nation by The President’s Committee on Arts & Humanities, Girls Write Now is New York’s first and only organization with a writing and mentoring model for girls. Now celebrating our 15th anniversary, Girls Write Now is a community of women writers dedicated to providing guidance, support and opportunities for high school girls to develop their creative, independent voices and write their way to a better future. We do this work through our flagship Mentoring Program, which matches professional women writers with underserved high school girls for a one- to four-year mentorship; the Girls College Bound Program, which helps New York City girls successfully navigate the college essay and application process; and our Digital Media Mentoring Program, in partnership with Parsons The New School for Design, of which this e-zine is a product.
About the digital Writing and mentoring Program In 2012 Girls Write Now launched the Digital Program to provide mentees with the tools necessary to advance their writing with digital media. For three semesters, mentees and mentors participated in hands-on Digital Workshops – or “Dorkshops” – that focused on various types of digital media from remixing with photo, video, and animation, to interactive narrative game design. In Spring 2013, pairs tried their hand at creative publishing, remastering their favorite written works using InDesign. Held at Parsons the New School for Design, and lead by Parsons’ grad students and Girls Write Now staff and Youth Board, the semester of Dorkshops culminated with the creation of this collaborative e-zine.
FOReWoRD Who remembers when a dial-up modem was the only super high tech tool that allowed us to tap into the Internet? You’d sit there in front of your computer monitor that was typically as bulky as a small TV, while the thing would dutifully plod along, bleeping and blooping. Sometimes the modem would refuse to connect, or you’d have to unplug because mom was yelling that she needed to use the phone, but that familiar fuzzy melody coming from the box was always such a joy to hear – because it meant that you could finally open up Internet Explorer and wait two minutes for your single page to load. Now in an e-age of apps, smartphones, and iPads, it’s crazy to think how far we’ve come since those early digital days – which actually weren’t very long ago at all. What’s even crazier is that the talented girls whose stories you’ll browse in the following pages won’t remember those times, having grown up on a planet where things increasingly take place online instead. As they become fluent in a digital language, where exchanges on the Internet are just as meaningful to them as those IRL, Girls Write Now is stepping in with perfect timing. Along with guidance from experienced writer-mentors, the program equips the girls with practical skills that allow them to navigate their way through this new world. This e-zine’s theme of New Worlds speaks beautifully to the digital space that Girls Write Now acknowledges is important for writers to understand. On top of being able to relay brilliant
stories, these mentees know how to complement them with hyperlinks and hashtags, and possess the ability to make their words look visually appealing using programs like InDesign. As youâ€™ll see via this interactive publication, Girls Write Now has given these already exceptional young writers a boost of new skills and experience. When the mentees graduate from high school and enter college as tech-savvy wordsmiths, theyâ€™ll be starting their tertiary lives armed with knowledge of a digital world that, though once new, is now reassuringly familiar. Marisa Aveling FRANK151 Editor-in-Chie Girls Write Now Craft Talk Author, Spring 2013
When we talk about writing, we usually picture someone sitting alone at a desk furiously scribbling into a notebook. But this image is not always accurate. We have learned through Girls Write Now that writing can be a collaborative effort and a digital one, as well. This spring, we had the pleasure of seeing the worlds of digital publishing and traditional storytelling come together inside the walls of the New School’s technology lab. With the help of Parson’s graduate students, a handful of Girls Write Now mentormentee pairs were given the privilege of learning how to use In Design – and so were we! In these Digital Workshops, or “Dorkshops,” we recognized that the plot and dialogue of a story are often as important as the way the story is told and appears on the page. We journeyed from imageresizing to “kern”-ing, from grumpy gardeners to Malala Yousufzai, and from pieces saved on flash drives to this e-zine. Through it all, we’ve seen mentor-mentee pairs’ struggles and elations as they ventured into this new world. Captured here, live in draft form, are the remarkable stories of this amazing group of women. We hope that you will find them just as inspiring as we have. Enjoy! Emely Paulino Shannon Daniels Youth Board Dorkshop Facilitators
Acknowledgements We are grateful to the countless institutions and individuals who have supported our work through their generous contributions. Visit our website to view the full list or download our most recent annual report. This Girls Write Now New Worlds e-zine would not have been possible without invaluable contributions from a dedicated group of consultants, volunteers and staff. Special thanks to those who made this publication possible: Emily Coppel Digital Program Manager
Emely Paulino Youth Board Dorkshop Facilitator
Shannon Daniels Youth Board Dorkshop Facilitator
Lauren Slowik Managing Facilitator
Tiffany DeJaynes Volunteer
Sven Travis Faculty Advisor
Carla Marin Dorkshop Facilitator
Julia Valeria Digital Media Arts Consultant
Meghan McNamara Curriculum Advisor
Sarah Wever Dorkshop Facilitator
Alejandra Olivia Volunteer
Samantha White Youth Board Dorkshop Facilitator
Parsonâ€™s The New School of Design HIVE Digital Media Learning Network Additional design support provided by: Sarah Wever and Jenifer Carter The Girls Write Now Digital Writing & Mentoring Program is supported with leadership funding from the Hive Digital Media Learning Fund in the New York Community Trust, with additional support from the Edmund de Rothschild Foundations and The Pinkerton Foundation.
7 8 9 11 12 14 15 16 23 25
Almost at the Finish Line Carmin Wong
Thoughts Iris Torres
Small Town Lights Katherine Ortiz
Arms Tangled Kaytlin Carlo
Identity in Voice Priscilla Guo
Metallic Trilogy Sophia Chan
26 27 28 30 31 41 42 44 45 50
So I Keep Running Tema Regist
The Glass Garden Heather Kristin
The Long Ride Home, Sigh Mary Pat Kane
Ante Meridiem Cherise Wolas
Falling Upward Annie Reuter
Meeting Mary Kristen Demaline
Ashley Rose Howard
Conversation Piece 4 Dancers Chana Porter
Cascade by Ariana Spatola #Fantasy #Friends #Love
C A S C A D E
Luvena sat on the porch and watched the white sky as it snowed. All was calm; no wind, no chatter of the birds; just heavy silence. The snowflakes gently fell to the ground and some onto Luvena. They frosted the tips of her eyelashes, the top of her head, and shoulders. She hardly cared. All that ran across her mind was regret, self loathing, and anger. This was an immense amount of sadness which she had never experienced before. It was a mere two days ago when the only chance of finding a cure for Naito’s disease was cruelly ripped from her grasp. She was so close. She had imagined the sweet victory of finding that missing hint. The joy of Naito recovering and no longer having to live with rotted flesh but rather new, healthy skin. But fate did not see it so. It was all thanks to that man. The radiating and self proclaimed god known as Caras. Luvena’s love of her life was now on a highroad to her demise simply because this “god” chose to play the part of the grim reaper. It was madness. Why did Caras decide to kill Julius at that exact moment? If only he had waited a tad longer;just until Luvena could drag the information out of Julius. Timing could never have been so agonizing. What truly angered Luvena the most was Caras’s reaction to her pained cries about the damage he had done to her mission and self. He showed no emotion. He did not show pity, he did not show remorse nor even a smirk to confirm he knew the hurt he had caused. No. Caras didn’t care. To him, Luvena was simply a mortal in close proximity to his victim. He claimed to be justice and that he chose who lived and died because he was all knowing. He said nothing else, ignored Luvena’s shouts, then left. The door creaked open. Luvena didn’t turn to acknowledge the noise and kept her gaze toward the falling snow. “Ahem,” a certain tall ginger cleared his throat, “Luvena, you’re still out here?” “Aye, I am.” Luvena sighed,uninterested. Relm sat beside her and rested the tray he was carrying down. He handed Luvena the single mug that was on the tray. “Here, some hot chocolate.” he smiled sincerely, “It’s a perfect day for it eh?” Luvena took hold of the mug, her hands shaking a bit. “Thank you.”
“If Only My Heart Was As Calm
The two sat in an awkward silence. Well, awkward for Relm that is. Luvena was in a world of her own. “I remember you brought me my first cup of hot chocolate when I was small.” Relm broke the silence, “We never had it in the house and mom and dad didn’t buy goodies like that very often.”
The corner of Luvena’s lips curved upward slightly when that memory was mentioned. “You were so excited.” “I was glad.” Her voice was still a bit dull but at least she was speaking. “I sure was.” Relm was trying to pick up the momentum.
“ You always came at the most perfect times, and not to mention brought me the coolest stuff.” he chuckled a bit. “You crazy time traveler.” “Oh, I tried Relm.” Luvena’s smile remained. Relm never failed to calm Luvena down when things got hectic. She loved Relm as he did her. He was practically her little boy and she always saw him that way. Luvena had been with Relm during the entirety of his childhood. It hardly mattered that in the proper timeline he was a few years older than her and certainly much taller.
Nothing had changed.
I Wish... by Ashley Christie #Fantasy #Relationships #Love
I wish I could cry and not have anyone ask why. I wish I could live the life I live in my dreams. I never grow tired of sleeping or laying in the dark In those moments I’m so peaceful. I’m sorry that I disappoint everyone It just gets tiring after a while, Making everyone else happy but yourself. I feel so weak sometimes but then I remember the saying “God wouldn’t give you anything You can’t handle.” Why does he have so much faith in me? I wish I knew, Then I could start having faith in myself. I keep thinking that maybe tomorrow will be better, Maybe. Making up excuses for everyone who has done wrong by me. I forgive, but I can’t forget. Because, It hurts having people walk in and out of your life It’s happened so much; I’ve become afraid to trust. I isolated myself now. Not letting anyone in just because I am afraid. I wish I knew my purpose I wish I had someone to love me, love me unconditionally.
Fill in all the empty holes I have in my heart, hold me, ask me what’s wrong, don’t give up on me, show me, respect me, I wish… Maybe one day, This will be true, I’ll wake up and this will all be a dream, A nightmare. But dreams aren’t real, So I’m back where I began. I wish I could cry and not have anyone ask why
Ashley Christie #Fantasy #Relationships #Love
Almost at the Finish Line by Carmin Wong #Hobbies #Memoir #Growing Up
Almost at the Finish Line Carmin Wong
“Final call for the 400! Third and final call for the 400!” The officials yell over the microphone. My time is now approaching. It will be everything I’ve trained for this week. Everything I’ve ever worked for. Displayed in barely over a minute. I want you on that 4 by 8 relay.You don’t have to tell anyone anything. I’m working you up for it. But the feeling at the end, the feeling when you look at your time, when you realize that you have ran your personal best, whether you came first or not -- that’s the feeling all track stars run for. It’s better than any feeling in world. You’ve been running so well this year. I grab my spikes; tighten my long black ponytail that hangs way over my shoulders, and walk out of the warm-up area. Though trembling on the inside, my appearance was blank. My coach looks at me. She knows that nervousness all too well. “Just go out there and run. Take out! You’ll do fine. Don’t psyche yourself out,” she says. I just look at her, fake a warm smile, and nod, then continue over to the check-in area. It’s just a phase. As the cool spring breeze blows, the hair on my neck and arms rises even more, covering up the goosebumps that once showed clearly. I stand in lane three on the track. I take a huge deep breath and relaxe my “mannish shoulders,” as my sister likes to call them. My eyebrows arch. I relax my face. It’s your head you can’t think like that. Four stride-outs later, the official called for us to get behind our starting lines. “Runners take your mark…” I get into starting position. My left leg comes forward, my right arm rests parallel, with both knees bent. I am practically on my toes. “Set...” I lean forward a little more, giving myself a good push-off. The weight room training I hated would now be worth it. But what if I believe in you? BANG! And just like that, the gun goes off. I take out fast. The wind pushes again me, but I fight it hard. Before I know it, I am already around the first turn onto the first straightaway. You’re just into so many things.You can’t miss days and expect to run well. My “sometimes big” chest was safely tucked into my sports bra with only a little room for comfort and victory. My head and neck stand in a straight line. My puny arms pump faster and faster. Left then right, left then right. I can feel my upper arm muscles expanding. My legs drive nearer to the finish line as I come around the last turn and onto the home straight. People think my strength comes from my hair, like Samson, as they watch
it blow in the wind, walking down the street, like a “model on the runway.” Teachers remind me that my strength comes from my mind. But here on the track, my legs are my strength! Up then down, up then down. One in front of the other, I battle down to the finish line. My fingers straighten, rising up to my cheeks. My coach has taught me well. I can hear her now. Her, my teammates, and what sounds like a thousand other people in the crowd. (Scholarships… College…. Loans… You aren’t thinking.) I figure I am neck and neck with someone in another lane. My mouth opens even wider. My petite lips spread, and I breathe heavily. Two steps away from the finish line. Don’t stop running. Continue practicing hurdles. Go to high school practice. Anything to keep you running. I give it everything I have. The crowd roars. I think I need to talk to your parents. I don’t think they understand. I look up at the time board, bent Photo from Boys and Girls High School over with my now sweaty palms, resting on my knee caps. My dark brown eyes widen as I await the results. Another personal best, I am satisfied. I can hear my coaches screaming in the background, “Carmin! Carmin put on your sweats!” Wearily, I do not look back at them. I walk over to my sweats and grab them. I take a breath of relief. It’s okay to smile, I remind myself. And I do.
Thoughts by Iris Torres #Poetry #Daydreams #Fiction
Thoughts Iris Torres
What if there was no such thing as “fortune” and “money”. Pieces of cotton and special green paper with presidents faces on it have defined us. Money that we don’t have. Money that he burns. It’s money that controls us. It’s the fortune that we don’t have that gives us that drive—the competitive instinct to be better, bolder, prettier, sexier than the others. Communism could’ve worked. Karl Marx was right equality can exist, we can all be equal. You get paid with bread, I get paid with bread. Disconnecting ourselves from good fortune—would that disconnect us from the world? Would we have the determination and motivation to be competitive? To strive for the best? To struggle just as the rest? Questions again. Answers, they’re a no show. Can we disconnect and ignore the hands on the clock? Take them apart and break them in two; one for me one for you. Can we take the hands off the clock and show them what we’ve got? Do the impossible and remove time. No more rushing. No more stress. A clock free world where time doesn’t exist. It’s irrelevant. Time is like good fortune and glamour—it molds us into what we are. Take them away what good are they out on their own? No voice to show because like answers they too are a no show. Focus. Concentrate.
Small Town Lights by Katherine Ortiz #Home #Away-From-Home
Small Town Lights
Estebania. Estebania is a town composed of the warmth and the inviting feel of 6,000 people. Though you might not know everyone and faces still remain foreign, their smiles prove their hospitality; a single space within a map, surrounded by towns and much larger and vibrant than it’s own environment. The sun would pour from the highest heavens and make the pavement feel like burning coal. Early afternoons I remained indoors due to the immense heat, sure to cause the thin layering of your skin to melt like wax off a wick. Nightfall marked the time for the thriving social life. Music played from the town’s center, people began to gather and form conversations in a volume that competed with the music that would cause your ears to thump in spite of themselves. Although a native, I’m also foreign. Emerging into the American lifestyle provided me with the insight to know the difference. Girls whose ages varied from 13 to their early twenties would dress in tight-fitting clothes and skirts whose length would seem degrading in the United States. Seeing the major difference between my clothing and theirs, their noses would soar into the air as their dominating thoughts overclouded their minds. My clothing signified my difference, and their attitudes signified their acceptance. Men would crowd around Colmados, or small shops with their contents varying from sodas to gum. Beers would be held promptly in their hands as their eyes would lustfully travel the length of your image, causing you to feel rather uncomfortable beneath their weighted stares. Undoubtedly they would also notice your difference. The pigment of your skin varying a lighter shade and the fairness of your skin signifying the lack of manual work performed in fields. They would notice the difference of your clothing as the women would and could conclude you to be a gringa: an American who was considered naïve and misunderstanding of their lifestyle. They would call after you, demonstrating their “dominance” and title you with what your appearance held you to be in their eyes. I was marked, “Rubia”. They would hound you and attempt to gain the simplest glance in their direction. Do not supply them with this satisfaction. I suppose they believe that any women who held their attention would immediately throw themselves at them and offer the impossible. La Cafeteria Luna is by far the simplest most delicious dining. My aunt Rosita owned the place and I suppose I held a particular preference over other costumers, but her chicken sandwiches where the sole reason why I actually bothered to leave my home in the depth of the night. La Rigolla also became a place to bask in simplistic beauty. In Estebania, one found the lack of urbanized areas to be quite lavishing. The rustic feeling of the town gave you a foreign view on the life you possessed within the city. Whereas in the city you would wake up in the morning to a bellowing of horns and emerge yourself in the dense walkways surrounded by others who held a similar routine, in Esetbania all of that is missing.
Your alarm clock wouldn’t be the blaring sound of Morning Radio but the sunlight peeking through the draw wooden shades in your bedroom. The grandmother’s shouts being delivered down the length of the street despite the fact that she owns a phone. You would awaken to the simple sound of hushed conversation in the respect of your sleeping state. The energy is as unstable as a tightrope. The energy would constantly leave while watching the most compelling television show or while concluding your college application. The nights are humid and since there is no energy whatsoever, you decide to sleep beneath the mosquito nets without covers in order to maintain your sanity. We’d sit on the verandah, awaiting the arrival of the lights. There was one street lamp in a three-block radius and coincidentally enough that street lamp was located just across the street from my house. It became a sign. We’d watch it intently in order to see the arrival of the energy, spreading a glowing layer across the pavement. There are absolutely no cars whatsoever and everyone will walk in the middle of the street, but as soon as you hear the faint sound of a roaring motor you would step aside, knowing a motorcycle would be speeding that roadway.
From The Library of Virginia
Arms Tangled by Kaytlin Carlo #Poetry #Love #Relationships
Courtesy of Flickr: Bearseye
Hearts fluttering and hormones raging Setting fierce motion in that deep blue sky
While the arms of trees tangled in the sun Kept us safe from being burned on our shoulders We held hands and were googly-eyed in the grass Citrus kisses and being your Mrs. consumed my thoughts While your fingers pranced up my creamy thighs Gliding effortlessly like Gilette or Vaseline I pulled out clumps of grass from the dirt And watched the earth fall slowly from my fingers I closed my eyes and thought “Maybe this is as good as it gets” Then he touches my hips, slow as a snail And kisses my lips, forbidden hidden little wonders of life That makes me think, “Damn, it can’t get any better than this.”
Sorry by Kristie Plasencia #Poetry #Family #Growing Up
SORRY I’m sorry for the yearly phone calls where you ask me the same two questions how are you, how’s school and I give you the same two answers, good and good. That’s good, you say, and I say, Yeah.
I’m sorry for our silence then And I’m sorry that I hesitate to say I love you because I do, love you, I think, but I’m angry too and every year I wish I had the guts to tell you how I feel.
It’s not loud, but I hear that sigh of yours And I wish you could hear the words I do not say, but you don’t You breathe, I breathe, and I think, I’m sorry I don’t try that hard to stay in contact, and sorry that you don’t make sure you do And always, when I say, Bye dad, I see my baby picture, you holding me, Now nothing more than a stranger’s embrace. Kirstie Plasencia
Identity in Voice by Priscilla Guo #Memoir #Poetry #Unknown
Like the epidermis, papillary, reticular layers, and the subcutaneous tissue, that make up my skin And most people can’t get past that the layers they can see. But the other parts they’re still part of me. You want to take one part, two parts, But take me as a whole. You’ve got to listen, listen real close to hear for my soul. When you see me, you pidgeonhole. You put me in one role. Ethnicity: Asian. Slick black hair and a name that rhymes with Ping Really good at math, can make some Peking wing? When you hear me, don’t hear Asian. I am layered And that means I’m intricate. Don’t read that like I’m delicate Gender: Yes, female. And I’ve heard it all. But I’m your equal so, don’t call me doll. When you hear me, don’t hear Woman. I’m layered And that means I am an enigma. Take me as I am Not how you perceive me. Age: 16 And that don’t mean a thing. I can be wise, immature, But my voice that’s what endures. When you hear me, don’t hear teenager. I’m layered And that means I am immeasurable even by years.
Don’t dissect me like one of your experiments in high school. Here’s the right ventricle. There’s the hypothalamus. Here’s where you listen and here’s where you stop. That’s not how my voice works. And when you hear me, I want you to hear my voice. Better yet, listen to my voice. Drink up my voice. Live my voice. That can flow like sweet honey or sting with bitter rinds. I am layered. Peel back the layers and peel back. you’ll find my voice just like it was hiding in the back of your closet or underneath your chair. It dances along forever between these parts, because I am layered.
Malala, Malala Click,
the sound of the indifferent gun cocking back. That’s the last thing she heard before they shot her. But that’s not the last thing the world heard from her. We forget and travel in a herd So the lines that separate get blurred We let them just take the last word And it’s a little absurd, and a little backward,
That we should be censored, Shot. But excuse me, sir: Malala Yousufzai was fifteen. Before, she said: We scream through and through and through. Not enough desert sand can be stuffed down our throats to keep the words from flowing. We band together to fight in sisterhood. We have no money but we are richer than most. We have the words that affect the mind that thunder through the hills, that shakes the roots of institutions the words that change the world. “I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.” The Taliban hissed: “Yousafzai is the symbol of infidels and obscenity.” Treacherous words. Serpentis. Encasing her, encircling her. They hunted her down, like she was an animal, subhuman. They had her surrounded and they stopped her yellow schoolbus. And the masked gunman shouted “Which one of you is Malala?”
Where identity means death, instead of that first day of school where you shyly say I am Malala. Where you
tremble to say your name for fear they were listening for it. Where things are better protected behind closed doors. Malala was silent. He hissed again: â€œSpeak up, otherwise I will shoot you all.â€? And he would just so he could stop the one girl. The fifteen year old girl who had power against Goliath. When they shot her, they forgot that words stick, to the paper they were written on; to the ears that were listening; words stick and voices are
heard for centuries. I am Malala.
The girls chant from all around the world
I am Malala
because her voice lived on
I am Malala and she
I am Malala. 23
Listen Listen. To the song here in my heart The melody I start but can’t complete.
ego habeo vocem. I have a voice, in the five languages I know, I have my voice, out of seven billion people. And a voice. It ’s this beautiful dialogue between yourself and the world. Where you know you’re being understood in some way or another, Where you know you’re understanding yourself. No matter what language I use. I speak. You listen. And you understand with your heart: She has a voice. Because identity transcends vanity, it transcends names and places, it transcends that effervescent humanity, it rises higher and higher and climbs faster than we know. Because it is not something we know. It just is. It ’s just what we have.
We have always strained for our voice to be heard in the crowd As though hearing it aloud would make it endowed with an audience.
You put it out there. Hoping it will catch and attach itself onto someoneâ€™s tympanic membranes. Someone must share your truths. Hurl it to the stars to the depths to the heights, to the shades and the lights. I speak to defy limitations and change expectations. I speak with enunciation, punctuation, and preparation to change. to echo. to last.
Ode to the voice that has left me with choices I rejoice. I rejoice. For I have a voice. 25
Metallic Trilogy by Sophia Chan #Poetry #Love
METALLIC TRILOGY by Sophia Chan “Corrosion” My knight in shining armor Maybe too bright without flaw Blinded, at first sight; retrospect revealed truth Time passed and then things changed His shine grew dull at Spring’s end Blooming beaut Wilted, crumbled away “Strung Sequence” Clouds drift through subway grates, touching lightly the sides. The grates scrape leaving silver stains. Tired of games not played. We found a white bear sleeping in his hollow cave. We pushed the giant rock blocking the entrance. We left him a few snowflakes to eat.
“Bundled Up in Silver” A star dances daintily above me Drifting slowly towards my brightening eyes For a time I’d wandered over there Slowly sold - slowly sold without fear Diamonds slipped through slivers between my fingers Gold shines over second-rate silver But happiness stems not from the greed Love, family, and friends are the honest seeds
(all images taken by Sophia Chan)
Reminder by Siobhan Burke #Poetry #Away-From-Home
REMINDER By Siobhan Burke (Image: “Totem” by Pia Howell)
Being inside where I am feels like being outdoors. I tried to explain that once. Not sure you got it. From where I’m sitting, I can see a treetop, a brick wall and another brick wall rising up behind it. Not sure yet about words moving on the page. Just that when I woke up too early the other day, I tried to decipher how I felt and then thought: thicket. From thicket, I got to the brambles that I used to swim through stamp through, rubber boots squashing nettles in the dark in the den on the side of the coiling country road. There were so many ways to disappear, to be alone. To be waited for, not known kept under wraps. Imagining who I’d bring here years from now. And from there I got to opening the box. Something would come of the rifling.
So I Keep On Running by Tema Regist #Poetry #Home #Family
So I keep on running. Don’t let the blood I bleed fill you with sorrow; Rather, motivation and determination. So you keep on running!
So I keep running Shackles on my feet, Whip pressed against my backside, Whelps and bruises. Images of my master stains my memory. Painful nostalgia. Rough soles that bare calluses that mark the path to freedom. So I keep on running .
I dream many dreams. Freedom is my biggest dream. So I’ll keep on running till I see freedom. Freedom is filled with elegant roses, Soft winds combing through my hair. Night won’t be scary anymore, Filled with glistening and luminous stars.
Cries of agony. Voices of my children shout from beyond the outskirts of slavery. All a mother wants to do is caress her child within her indefatigable arms. Forced to relinquish my children to monstrosity, So I keep on running.
Freedom is just a dream. I’m just dreaming . I want freedom!
So I’ll keep on running!
Compromising my morality, I keep on running. Slavery is potent! Begins to enslave our minds, Don’t let it enslave your mind, Won’t let it enslave my mind!
So I Keep On Running
Image by william blake
By: Tema Regist Poetry, Home, Family
The Glass Garden by Heather Kristin #NYC #Relationships #Family
The Glass Garden
Heather Kristin NYC, relationships, family
I didn’t want to see the bunnies.
entered the Glass Garden with my mother and saw the Grumpy Gardener talking to a man in a gray suit. The Grumpy Gardeners eyes flared with anger as she wrung her hands together. My mother took my scoooter, told me to walk past them, go to the back of the greenhouse, and feed the bunnies. I didn’t want to see the bunnies. I wanted to know why the Grumpy Gardener was even more Grumpy today. I walked slowly passed them, careful to listen to what the Grumpy Gardener was saying to the man in the suit. “This garden is my life.” “You’ll find a new job.” “What will happen to the flowers and trees that I’ve cared for all these years?” “They’ll have to go, along with the greenhouse.” “What about the birds and fish?” “I’ll do you a favor. You can take a few home with you. We’ll just take it out of your last paycheck.” “But I need the money.” My mother reached into her bag and pulled out some lettuce and said, “Come love, let’s go feed the bunnies.” “Mom, why do they look so angry?” “I don’t know, but we shouldn’t eavesdrop.” I couldn’t help it. The man in the gray suit and the Grumpy Gardener silently stared at each other. I was afraid something bad was going to happen. My favorite parrot shouted out to me, “Hi, Dada! I smiled. The parrot couldn’t say my name Daisy very well and instead said, “Dada” over and over. Mother said the parrot liked me. I asked her if the parrot could love me and she said yes. Then the parrot shouted, “I want a cracker.” I turned to look back at the man in the gray suit and the gardener. They were still starring at each other. The man in the gray suit walked away from her, then turned around and shouted, “You don’t get it do you? It’s expensive to tear this place down.” “Then why are you doing it? Things are fine the way they are.” “We need to make room for future developments.” “Who gave you the right to close it? Some progress: tearing it down to build a highrise.” Suddenly, I knew why she was always so Grumpy. Builders were going to come and destroy her home. My home. The place where I took my first steps, fed exotic fish, and watched the flowers bloom.
The Long Ride Home Sigh by Mary Pat Kane #NYC #Memoir #Rebellion
the long ride home,
by Mary Pat Kane photo courtesy of Creative Commons
I was teaching in the Bronx this spring and absolutely adored the group I was working with --nurses in a hospital. I teach in the MOTH storytelling outreach program. But, the commute was hard --- two hours each way and, on really good days, one hour and fifty minutes. But, it was worth it to work with these women. (There are no express trains after a while going up to the Bronx.) One Friday after class my teaching mate and I were on the subway going back down towards Manhattan and Brooklyn. She had a performance gig; I had a ton of Friday afternoon errands that needed doing. But, we were happily talking, another perk of this job --- talking to Dawn after class --- when, suddenly, at 130th or some such street, the subway stopped, we were told to get off and no one directed us where to go. The station was packed with people, packed, some swearing audibly and I just headed for the nearest exit which turned out to be far away. (Usually there are several exits. I only found one this day). But, outside, it turned out that I was on the north end of Central Park, and it was nearly spring so that made me happy; and there was a bus stop and I’m a true bus rider so I felt good about that. But, at the bus stop, stood Ms. Know-It-All telling us all how she knew exactly when the bus would arrive as that was her job, tracking busses or something. So, she announced that a bus would come in exactly four minutes when I looked up and said --- “Oh, here it is now.” --- Maybe, that’s what ticked her off. I couldn’t help it. There was a bus arriving in front of me and I was glad to see it, I didn’t need to wait four more minutes because her iPod, cell phone, app or whatever said it. On the bus, Ms. Important Scheduler sat as close to the driver as possible, talking very loudly at him the whole way. I just wanted to get to a subway stop and get deep into Brooklyn and get chores done that on the weekend would be that much harder --- you know the one. But the bus, albeit on a very pretty route, was stuck in traffic --- like really stuck on this Friday afternoon, like no-movement stuck. So somewhere along this route on the Upper East Side, I decided I had to get off and start walking to a subway, any subway going south, or I’d never get anything done. As I waited by the door to get off, we were so not moving. I mentioned to the bus driver how truly crowded it was today and
wondered ‘what’s going on’? By the way, I mentioned it to the driver, not Ms. Loud Mouth who from behind me hollered into my ear --- “It’s Manhattan, it’s alllways like this, alllways!” She may have actually scoffed as she said it. Or, maybe she harrumphed. She would be a great harrumpher; she is probably right now harrumphing at people somewhere. Now, I had ridden this particular bus line a lot, a real lot, it goes along 5th Avenue and I love it. I am in my twentieth year of living here and knew the city well before then. But, I had never seen it this congested or I never would have asked and certainly not given Ms. Wonderful a chance to verbally prance about. I mumbled --- “Oh, yeah, sorry, yeah, like I never rode this bus before.” But, what I really wanted to say was: “you bossy, pushy, obnoxious, constant-talking bragging loud person --- Do I look like I just got off the boat from the old country? Is my babushka on crooked or something? Oh, mea culpa, how could I have said anything so stupid in the presence of such a brilliant and kind human being. In fact, how could you have even deigned to talk to ‘little me’, oh, wow? Why don’t you just go home now so you can study your schedules all night so you can torture even more people tomorrow!” About this Dorkshop writing piece: In this exercise, we were asked to write a conversation we overheard or one we participated in. In the next exercise, we were asked to have a protagonist and an antagonist. These are my notes: The protagonist is a well-educated, high functioning but not well-off person who spends way too much time on public transportation and overhears too many inane talks. She is a ‘mature’ woman, as they say, with gray hair. The protagonist had had a busy afternoon planned after a wonderful teaching job and now is stuck in what will be a four hour trip from her volunteer work to a neighborhood near where she lives as all the grocery stores in her area have become “Discount” Drug store!? She is frustrated though the day is truly beautiful and she wishes she could just fall easily into it. She is also a pleasant person (she thinks) and most open to human interaction, especially positive interactions, and has many a great bus story to tell. The antagonist is a ‘type’ --- pushy, overly loud, needy, perhaps. She definitely needs everybody to know she checks bus schedules and that she is a very important person in our city and without her we would be nothing. She thinks she is an authority and has to flaunt it, pal up to the poor bus driver who might like a moment’s quiet as he waits in dense traffic. It is imperative to the antagonist that she not only asserts herself all over the place but that she put the protagonist down, loudly and in public --- showing her ‘who’s who.’ Mary Pat Kane 2nd Year Mentor From 2nd Dorkshop of the series, April 27, 2013
Ante Meridiem by Cherise Wolas #Poetry #Daydreams #Unknown
Still dipped in night where stars hang high He cannot brush away the bad dream in her early morning dark
Back in tim
He has yet to experience the dawn
Saudade by Hadia Sheerazi #Memoir #Love #Relationship
change into my favorite lululemon tank top and Nike yoga pants. “I noticed you because you always wear dresses…” I look into the mirror. The girl in the mirror stares back. Her long straight black hair is pulled into a high ponytail, revealing a heart-shaped face with bright dark brown eyes, very black eyelashes, and full eyebrows.“ Your hair looked nice today…” The eyes aren’t as bright today. Something is wrong. I see an eyelash on my cheek, and as always, I make a wish before I blow it off my finger. “You smell amazing… like fruit roll ups…” I walk into the studio and settle down on my hot pink mat. Sukhasana. I feel the end of my ponytail gently tickling the base of my neck and feel the tiny little bumps of my mat on my legs. I close my eyes, and listen to my teacher’s voice.
“We are so hard on ourselves. Always criticizing this or that, and wanting to change something about ourselves.
Why do you like me anyway? “Because you’re beautiful. I’ve always thought so…” I take a deep breath in and let it out. In and ... out.
The thousand little thoughts zipping through my mind come to a halt and dissipate. I deepen my breath and feel the prana starting to move up my spine, through my shoulders and legs, all the way to my fingers and toes. Inhale … and exhale. I slowly open my eyes. I hear the rhythmic breathing of my fellow peaceful warriors. Together we slowly rise and begin.
urya Namaskar. I bring both palms to a prayer at my heart as I set my intention. I lift my prayer up as I raise my arms skyward. I never thought he’d be there for me. I feel so grateful. I slowly transition to Virabhadrasana. It all changed when he held my hand, that’s when I knew...
Tadasana. I look down at my feet, grateful for having roots to ground me in this life. Grateful for not being afraid of venturing into unknown territories. Inhale… and his face pops into my mind. It’s surreal how easy and natural this feels. Like I’ve known him forever. But I don’t want to add to everything going on in his life... “No, you’re my respite from all the other things…” I bring my attention to my shoulders. Tense. Tired. I carry the weight of the world. I must learn to let go. I focus on my breath … Inhale and exhale … 37
bring both hands down on the mat. I gaze at my “tiny hands.” I probably have the smallest hands in the world. I think this is
moving too fast. I’m scared that he’s going to hurt me … “It’s going to be okay…” He holds my hand, it fits perfectly inside his. “I’m here with you now... and I’ve thought a lot about what you said.” I stretch both legs out, pulling my core into a straight plank. It feels like forever. “I think this could go on and
on, and never end. Or it could crash and burn…”
I lower myself to the ground, grateful for the relief, and then arch back up. Bhujangasana. I see his face so clearly. And then … exhale.
Then the struggle begins. Adho Mukah Svanasana.
rd a w
wn o d
y rm we e lo
m let n’t wo ngs stri
y m l il
or v fa
tch e st
heels to the ground. I try to breathe into the tightness. My teacher tells me that:
We hold our “relationship stress” in our hip area, and over time it builds up... and blocks energy
“There are going to be times when I’m going to freak out and run away from you…” I feel a muscle clench. It’s my heart. I try to breathe, in…in…inhale… I am shaky. And it’s not because of the exertion. 39
am trying to balance on one leg. Natarajasana. My teacher’s wisdom is trying to get through to me. I wobble precariously. He says he
has family stress, isn’t motivated by his job, works weekends, and the five-year relationship just ended. I don’t know what to do? “Don’t talk to him anymore.” “He’s just making excuses.” “You deserve so much better.” I am teetering. My teacher gently reminds me that there must be a balance between GRACE
& EFFORT “Sometimes we’re trying too hard, going argghhh and flailing all over the place. Stop! Stop and think of this as something you CAN do. Imagine yourself doing it, and you WILL.”
to infin ve, ite o l to
it bil ssi po
am on my back now. Staring at the ceiling. My belly rising and falling. I place my hands by my ears and push myself up.
n to Ope
I feel my heart literally “open” as I stay steady in the wheel. I miss him… But he’s not the same person...
He hurts me with his thoughtlessness. I see what we could be… but he doesn’t know what he wants. I lower myself to a bridge, and then come back to the earth. This should be fun. There’s too much struggle here. Let’s stop for a minute...
There is nothing for you to do. It should come naturally. Whenever you are ready...
incha Mayurasana. I am struggling to keep my legs up in the air.“I feel like I should put it out there that I’ve started seeing someone.” My legs buckle. I come tumbling down. “He’s just a jerk.” “This is about
him, not you.” “He’s been consistently inconsistent.” Why did I trust him? I don’t even recognize him anymore. How could he? I… am suddenly so cold.
I close my eyes. And picture it. Inhale. I slowly raise one leg. I can do this. Then the other. I push through and up. After four months of trying, I do it perfectly. The world is upside down. I am still in the silence.
he tears take me by surprise. Emotions surge and trickle down my face. The prana flows through my veins like light double-helixed with peace: restoring, reviving and reinvigorating. It’s raw. I hurt. It heals.
I feel my body lighten as if I’m floating over myself. It’s like reaching out to the reflection in the mirror, and feeling my fingers touch something more than just the glass. The girl on the other side. She is waiting. Happy and bright-eyed. Her light shining brightly. Reminding me. Of all that I have. All that I am. All that I will be. And to keep breathing. I am whole. Namaste…
Falling Upward by Annie Reuter #NYC #Music #Memoir
Falling Upward Running through the crowded New York City streets the only thought on my mind
was, “I have to make that bus!” It was ten after 11 p.m. and I had exactly five minutes to make my last bus back to New Jersey. As luck would have it, I was running through Times Square, not the easiest location to maneuver when you’re short on time. Phone in hand, I kept checking the time. The light was about to turn red but if I didn’t run through it to 44th Street I would never make it. So I sprinted. In heels. Big mistake! One heel gave in and I found myself sprawled on the ground, smack in the middle of an intersection with oncoming traffic seconds away. It all happened so quickly. My life didn’t flash in front of me like it does in the movies, though. And before I had a second to think I felt myself being pulled up from the street by two men. As one helped me up the curb, the other rescued my shoe and cell phone from oncoming traffic.
“Are you okay, miss?” one man asked me as I regained my footing. “Yes! I have to go.Thank you!” I replied hurriedly. Three minutes to make my bus. Incredibly grateful my life didn’t end, but at the same time in a rush to catch that bus, I didn’t grasp the gravity of the situation until I reached Port Authority. The bus was long gone by the time I hustled to Gate 306, but I was still alive and in one piece. Just one of the risks I take covering live music in New York. Regardless, it was well worth it.
Jay-Z Photos courtesy Annie Reuter & Wendy Hu, YouSingIWrite.com
Plain White T’s
Meeting Mary by Kristen Demaline #Love #Unknown #Home
by Kristen Demaline
Photo by Chris Gent (http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisgent/6929263596/)
im inhaled the onion and smoke-filled hallway, walking dreamlike towards the battered front wooden door. He pushed it open and ducked as the street exploded in riotous sound, but passersby trudged onward, a couple yawning. The morning light was dampened by the oily brown haze hanging over the river. Smudge-faced men shoved by him as Jim left for work, some grunting in vague familiarity. He’d been lucky; when he arrived from the farm after the hard winter of 1929, he’d been one of them, feeding the hungry furnaces with ore that hadn’t had time to be unloaded, a ferocious steel machine. The slowly rising spires of the new railroad tower in Public Square bore the fruits of his labor. One day his cousin handed him a smeared scrap of paper with an address, and a few weeks after that, he was running his own streetcar. Superior Avenue. The quiet girl with sweet blue eyes always got on here. He’d worked up to a shy smile when she boarded, and as he drove up east he’d sneak glances. Maybe today he’d actually say hello. Before he could do so, a clean-shaven man – so clean – leapt up behind her.
Photo by Erik Dunham
“Mary, Mary, you can’t break my heart and leave me,” he joked. Mary sighed slightly, her nostrils flared with irritation, but she smiled firmly over her shoulder, and her musical brogue trilled, “But I did, down the street. Don’t you have an office to get to?” “My father says my job is to settle down. Now is it forward to ask if I can meet you for a walk this Saturday?”
quickly, embarrassed at his intrusion. Mary looked up at him, amused. “Quiet. My sister and I went to the beach.” Jim pulled up to the next stop. Naturally, Patrick stepped up. “Mary, where were you? I waited on the corner just like you asked!” “I wasn’t feeling well, Patrick,” she said. “Now go bother someone else already, I’m talking to my friend here.” Jim turned to look out the window, grinning, but by the time he turned back around, Mary had found a seat in the back, where she looked pensively out her window. No matter, Jim thought. For now, at least, they were going somewhere together - he felt warm, happy, even. It was nice to have some company.
Image from Roger Wollstadt
Jim gulped as she said, warily, “I suppose…and what is your name?” “AHA! Patrick!” he crowed triumphantly, bounding off the car at the next stop along Euclid Avenue. Jim left the car idling for a moment. Oh well, he thought. Of course, she’ll want the charming Irishman in a suit who had an office and a clean collar. Not a working fellow without a penny to spare. Besides, he’d never even said hello. *** The next Monday, Jim pulled around the corner to Superior. A few of Mary’s fellow housemaids boarded and he was just about to release the brake when she stepped on, breathless.
Photo by MTSOfan (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ mtsofan/8221708017/sizes/c/in/photostream/)
“Thanks,” Mary said. “Well, hang on a second and collect yourself, we’ve a few blocks till the next stop,” Jim said. “How was your weekend?” He turned away
Baby On-Board by Ashley Rose Howard #NYC #Music #Memoir
Baby On-Board By: Ashley Howard The couple sat on the crowded 6-train holding hands and looking at each other as if there was no one else on the subway. The young girl placed her other hand on her belly, showing a small bump through her tight tee. Her expression seemed excited, yet nervous. She looked down at her bump and back into her boyfriend’s compassionate brown eyes. “If it’s a boy I’d like to name him after you,” she said. The boy smiled and grasped her hand tighter.
A Couple on Subway. Stanley Kubrick, 1946.
“If it’s a girl I’d like to name her Isabel,” he responded. “Isabel, I like that.” “I’m scared,” the boy finally whispered after a few shared moments of silence. “Me too, baby,” the girl whispered back as she pushed one of her boyfrie nd’s curls behind his ear, “But we’re going to be great parents.”
Conversation Piece for 4 Dancers by Chana Porter #Overheard #Daydreams #Nightmares
(She makes an incredibly expressive hand gesture of true completion)
G I R L S
How many episodes have you seen?
By Chana Porter
for 4 dancers
mean I think it’s an interesting perspective; it’s an interesting idea I just don’t think it goes deep enough. I mean, they interview these really interesting people but then it’s like they’re not asking the right questions or something like maybe they don’t want to offend them but it’s like they take you to these places and then what? I mean it doesn’t tie together it doesn’t go deep enough there isn’t enough, you know, context and, I mean, specificity. But I’m going to keep watching, because, you know, it’s pretty interesting. Woman 2
How many episodes have you seen? Woman 1 I think all of them but there’s only been three it’s still really early so I think I’ll keep watching I mean it’s really interesting it just doesn’t quite-
She makes an incredibly expressive hand gesture of true completion Woman 3
How do you watch it? Woman 1
I have my mother’s HBO GO account password. That’s how we watch Game of Thrones and Girls. Woman 3
Girls! Oh do you like Girls? Woman 2
Girls, Girls! Woman 1
I don’t know. I watch it. Do I like it? I don’t know. I don’t know, I watch it. I mean, it’s brave.
A FIFTY YEAR OLD MAN FROM DEEP BROOKLYN WALKS ON STAGE. HE SAYS:
I don’t know, she’s like, I don’t know. I don’t know, she’s like, I don’t know. I don’t know, she’s like I don’t know. I don’t know, she’s like, I don’t know. Nice. Nice I guess, nice. Seems really nice. Nice I guess, nice. Nice. Brunch. We’re getting brunch. Has two kids and a husband. I think she’s a nurse. Nice. And I think, maybe she was the lucky one. I don’t got any kids. Maybe she was the lucky one. Maybe she was the lucky one. What if your parents weren’t y o u r p a r e n t s ?
Woman 2 I used to like it and then I didn’t and then I started following Lena Dunham’s Instagram and I don’t know what I think anymore. I think the phenomena is more interesting than the show.
The three women start doing elaborate dance movements. Woman 1 It’s brave, I mean, she’s brave I appreciate it. The bravery. The realness that doesn’t actually feel real.
An alien ship approaches from the sky above. Somewhere, someone is baking croissants. While dancing, woman 2 continues speaking. Woman 2 I mean, it’s just so confusing. A different perspective suddenly becomes THE perspective. There need to be 100 more TV shows written by women, produced by women, acted in by women who look like women you sit next to on the train. Then we can begin to have a conversation. You are not the voice of my generation. My generation, my generation, my generation is like the geese they use to make foie gras. You keep shoving everything down my throat. What do I think about Lena Dunham? What do I think about Lena Dunham? What do I think about Lena Dunham? What do I think about Lena Dunham? What would the comments say if my body was shown on television? Ugh, I hate seeing this woman’s body. Ugh it’s so nice to see real thighs on tv. What, skinny thighs aren’t real thighs? Ugh, put your clothes back on. Take your clothes off ! That scene felt like rape, was that rape? We need to have a conversation about consent. I think it’s brave, it’s brave. I think she’s really brave, it’s brave. I’m brave too. We’re brave. Getting up everyday is brave. We’re brave. I’m brave. Bravery is real. I watch it on my boyfriend’s mother HBO Go account. Lena Dunham Lena Dunham Lena Dunham. Man Seriously, our family? How could our family ever be quiet about anything? My freakin mother runs her mouth about everything. She tells the same stories over and over. You mean to tell me I get to be a 53 year old man without ever knowing I have a sister? Is this what you’re telling me? That our loud mouth family kept a secret for over 50 freakin years? I don’t believe I don’t freakin believe it. Did you know? Did she ever mention--? Yeah, I mean it was a different time. There wasn’t even a question she was just taken somewhere for a couple of months and when she came back she didn’t speak of it. Did she speak of it to you? She didn’t freakin speak of it to me. My mother, my freakin mother kept a secret for over 50 years. Unbelievable.
He listens. The women continue dancing. He makes a movement of extreme empathy.
Woman 2 You sent me an article about Justin Bieber saying Anne Frank was a cool girl and if she was alive today sheâ€™d be a fan of his music.
She makes a complicated motion starting from the very center of her body and extending out from all of her limbs. What am I supposed to do with that? Should I be happy Justin Bieber is thinking about Anne Frank? Also, can you show me how to delete everything in my inbox? Or wait, just mark as read. I know, I need to unsubscribe. Can you just show me howThanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks.
Untitled by Luciana Lopez #Home #Memoir #Away-From-Home
Photo by Luciana Lopez
I admit that I did not connect with Phnom Penh. Almost as soon as I arrived, I wanted to leave. The heat, the dust, the traffic - all these I could have handled. But what struck me most was what felt like the sterility of the city. Everything felt gray or dull red, boxy and pitted, like old concrete poured haphazardly into molds. I walked around Cambodia and wondered why I had come. Thus it was more out of obligation than anything that I went to the Killing Fields. I went because I had traveled halfway around the world to come here, and so I had to make the most of it whether I wanted to or not. I had no real expectations, other than to get another vacation milestone out of the way so that I could proceed further along the path of being done with this trip. The fields are some way out of the city; you go by tuk tuk or by moto or by some other contrivance, if you can. The fields themselves donâ€™t look terribly special. They are verdant, the grass stretching out to a pond and trees toward the back. But there are some features that draw the eye nonetheless: the tower in the middle of the field, filled with bones. The small stops along an audio tour, with markers for, say, where trucks dropped off prisoners and the like. That audio tour. The fields look quiet, tourists walking slowly in a loop. But on tape, coming through the headphones, are calmly retold facts about the black places in the human heart. Bullets were too expensive, so prisoners were beaten to death. There was a certain tree against which babies were dashed. Many of the remains of female prisoners were found missing clothing. Whole families were taken, because once the Khmer Rouge took one person, they wanted to cut off any possibility of family revenge. Occasionally on the audio tape there are stories from survivors of prison camps themselves. Their voices come on the tape briefly, before an English-speaking translator steps in to recount stories of human lives taken down merciless paths. But this is all on tape. Around us, everything is quiet.
I remember how hot I was that day, how I kept drinking water. I had come halfway around the world for this; in a few weeks, I would return along the same route. I was 37 and free; I would go home soon and pay my bills and hang out with my cat and my boyfriend and see plays and procrastinate on doing the laundry. Phnom Penh would be far behind me. The dust of this place would be off my sandals. Like the people killed here, I would pass on elsewhere; they were consigned to memory, and now I was part of that remembering. There is a pond at the back of the field, surrounded by a dirt path. Beyond the chain link fence are more fields, stretching out undisturbed. I walked the dirt path and listened to these stories and shuddered. And then I looked through the fence. There was a Cambodian man out there, planting. Photo by Luciana Lopez
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