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I started this post early this morning, before I even went to work. Today was a busy - and constantly busy - day, and I loved having this post to come back to at lunch and this evening. So although this is a post of three things that are making me happy, the post itself is a bonus fourth.

Christian Kane's The House Rules
Okay, I know this came out in December, but I just bought it yesterday. I couldn't listen to it and write at the same time because I just wanted to grin and sing along, so I listened to it on my walk this morning. (Thing I don't think I've mentioned here yet: four of my amazing friends went in together and bought me a tiny, red iPod! So now I start my day thinking of them and listening to music on my morning walk.) I'm pretty delighted by it.

Chris's gender politics are interesting as always: he makes a distinction on "Callin' All Country Women" between "uptown girls" and "country women," which is perhaps not the best presentation of "uptown girls," but very interesting in that I read this post, in which the comments discuss the way women aren't referred to as "women" this week. (He himself is a "country boy" in the lyrics.) "American Made" refers to women as everything from "women" to "girls" to "beauties" to "ladies," depending on the fit with the lyric - although he does refer to "my girl."

He also does a pretty straight up cover of Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" - the only lyric he changed was from "checkout girl" to "checkout boy," which was jarring the first time I heard it but not the second. (His tweet wondering what Tracy thinks of his cover is what prompted me to finally go buy the album.) It's an interesting choice, and I think it works well.

The most interesting thing about my emotional reaction is that I wish I'd bought the CD + digital download version. I didn't because I thought, "Of course I don't need a CD," but it turns out that when it comes to Chris, that does actually matter to me. Strange! I do have an unused Amazon gift card, so maybe I'll use part of it to get the actual CD.

Rosemary Clement-Moore's The Splendor Falls
The last book I read was bad. Really, really bad. (I'm writing an unrec post for [livejournal.com profile] romoerotic. I require a lot of words to describe how bad it was and why.) Anything else would probably look good in comparison, but The Splendor Falls is genuinely excellent. It has a compelling first-person narrator, an interesting plot, and the word "collarbone." (Those of you who don't follow me on Twitter may not realize that the use of the word "clavicle" has reached epidemic proportions. There are, of course, appropriate situations for the word "clavicle," but next time you write it, think about your intent. Are you providing a clinical listing of body parts for an anatomy test or trying to give your reader a sense of the beauty and sensuality of the human body? If it's the first, by all means do use "clavicle." If it's the second, switch to "collarbone." We'll all be a lot happier. [If you really feel the need to use "clavicle," I would be totally down with a Brendon/Spencer college AU where Spencer's studying anatomy by using the technical terms for all of Brendon's body parts as he touches/kisses them.]) Every time I start reading, I don't want to stop.

My Inspirational Desk
Between yoga and Sean Van Vleet's obsession with Steven Pressfield, which he has then passed on to several of my friends, I can't escape the concept of resistance. I finally bought white index cards so I could write "No resistance. Just let it be easy." on the back of one. It's more a paraphrase of something my yoga teacher said than it is a Pressfield reference (I've tried to read The War of Art twice, but haven't managed to finish it), but it's absolutely helpful writing advice. Monday's reading at yoga was the first four lines of this. I almost didn't catch anything else she said because I found "Empty yourself of everything" to be so powerful. I now have that on an index card on the other side of my monitor. (I didn't estimate well, so it's not centered and the letters squish together at the end. I'm trying to figure out if I can empty myself of the need for it to be right or if I just need to rewrite it.)

I was so pleased with my index cards last night (I'm thinking about doing a whole series of handwritten cards of things I find inspirational so I can shuffle them and let the hand of fate choose what I need in the moment when I need inspiration), and then I looked at the few other things on my desk, and realized that they are also keeping me in touch with good things. I have a heart-shaped petrified wood paperweight that I got from my belly dance class when I quit my last job to write, which reminds me both of my commitment to writing and the support of others. The cable for my iPod, which reminds me of the people who gave it to me, lies in a slight curve to my right. And then there's a small, wooden whale, which I bought at the woodworking place in Ghirardelli Square on a work trip. Something about its puppy dog expression called to me, even though I don't like puppies and have left my dolphin and whale obsession in my past. Part of one of its flippers has broken off, so it lists a bit, but the wood is as smooth as ever.
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This is what I had for dinner tonight. It's now one of my favorite recipes, and it's from Dreena Burton's Eat, Drink & Be Vegan (and, yes, it bugs me every time I get the book out that it has only one comma).

Broccoli Cashew Teriyaki Tofu Stir-Fry )
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Amongst all the other things fandom is, we're a community, and Gretchen is reminding me it's okay to ask for help, so I'm asking you, my community, for help.

As most of you know, I quit my job last year to try out being a writer. It's been a great experience in a lot of ways. I'm now at the point where I don't have financial resources to keep it up, which means it's time for me to get some paying work of some sort.

If you or someone you know has work or ideas for me, you can leave me a comment here or email me at my personal address or my professional address.

What I Really Want
I would love, love, love to do editing work. Of all the work tasks from my previous job, the editing was my favorite thing to do. I'm very good, very fast, and my freelance rates are negotiable.

An overview of my editing experience )

Also Taking Other Ideas
Editing is not my only marketable skill! I'm handy with a spreadsheet, able to facilitate meetings in person and via teleconference, and a well-received trainer. You might take a look at my resume below to see what else I have experience with. If you have other freelance opportunities or ideas for me, please let me know! Leads for other kinds of work in Chico would also be appreciated. Just because I've never been a barista before doesn't mean I couldn't learn how.

Location, Location, Location
I'm not interested in relocating, so I'm looking for things I can do from home or in Chico.

Resume
Below is my loosely formatted for LJ editing and office work centered resume. I do, of course, have a much more nicely formatted version for emailing or snail mailing, which I can send on to anyone you think might be a good source of work for me.

Ruth Alderson's Resume )
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I mentioned before that I was feeling guilty about not reading a book someone else loaned me. The book is The Well-Tempered Sentence by Karen Elizabeth Gordon.

The book is a guide to proper use of punctuation, with some other good grammar advice, but what makes it good is that her examples rock:
The little orchestra, before treating us to an evening of scabrous melodies, stuffed themselves with snails.

Samantha had had her fill of his blustering histrionics; thus, she spun around on her heel and retreated to the coolness of her dimly lit boudoir.

To get the rest of it off your chest, you would have to remove your shirt.
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I don't think my mother reads my LJ, but just in case: Mom, don't read this until after you open your birthday present!

Poll! )
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I just went to Safeway for cake (yes, I am the kind of woman who will drive to the grocery store at 8:00 for a single slice of cake. Bad for my health and the environment, I know. But fudge iced cake: sogood.) The female half of the couple in front of me (Demographics: They were older than high school, under forty. I think they were younger than me, but I'm no good at that sort of thing.) in line leaned over the little slide your card thing and shelf to watch my slice of cake as it went all the way down the conveyor belt, and then said, "That looks hella good."

Apparently "hella" is still current. It's one of only two northern-southern California regionalisms that I know about, and certainly my favorite.

Just a week or so ago I read a comment online from someone who said she'd never heard "hella" until she moved to Southern California and heard it from people from Northern California. I wish I could remember where or why I read that.

(This junk food entry is taking the place of the real entries and emails I'm not writing. And, darn, if I'd waited until tomorrow, it would have been exactly a month between entries.)
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Some time ago, I skimmed [livejournal.com profile] hederahelix's two-part essay on race and fandom. (I have plans, now that I remember I can add ?style=mine to the end of the URL and make things more easily readable for me, to go back and read it more carefully.) As usual with such things, the two things that stood out to me have little to nothing to do with her main point.

First of all (and this has nothing at all to do with the subject of this entry, but if I leave it out, you'll all ask me what the other thing was), she mentions a particular use of "coyote" and makes a point to say, "...it's a Spanish word, and pronounced accordingly a lot of the time...." I had to stop and think for a startlingly long time about how else you would pronounce it. This reminds me of when Joaquin Phoenix was big and there were all these things about how to pronounce his name, and I thought that was so stupidly obvious, until I realized that not everyone lives in a state with the San Joaquin River/Valley.

Secondly (and this is the part that does connect with the subject line of this entry), she talks about weddings and wedding showers:
Take the bridal shower. My friend's fiancée dropped by one day to tell me that she very much considered me a good friend and would normally invite me to a bridal shower, but since I was a lesbian, she was giving all her lesbian friends the "I'll invite you if you want me to, but I can totally understand how you might consider this participating in your own oppression, so I will totally not invite you if you don’t want me to" pass.

I practically cried I was so happy.
And here is where we diverge and I'm on the "bad member of the community" side of the line: I don't care that much about the marriage issue. Now, don't get me wrong. Of course same-sex couples should be able to get married just like straight couples. Of course the lack of equal legal rights for same-sex couples is a hideous injustice. It's just not that big a thing for me. Let me tell you why, from both the political and personal perspectives.

Political
Opinion polls show us that younger folk are far, far more likely to support same-sex marriage than older folk. So I truly believe that it's only a matter of time until same-sex marriage becomes fully legal all across the US.

I had a coworker ask me this week if I considered myself apolitical. I said, "I don't think about it much; is that a yes?" The more I think about it, the more I dislike "apolitical." It implies that I don't care, which isn't true. I do care about politics, I just don't think they matter that much. I vote, and I believe that if you put energy into the universe around something, then that matters, but I don't believe that if I participated in politics or political discussions, it would make that much of a practical difference in the world. (The only place I can see for a real possibility of difference is in local politics, for small enough of an area.)

I think this is something of a generational thing: for my grandparents' generation, everything is family and religious communities; for my parents', politics; and for mine, advertising. Advertising campaigns including same-sex couples and other lgbt folks as just ordinary people would, I suspect, go a lot farther toward influencing our culture than anyone giving speeches about equality.

Personal
I'm not partnered, and even if I were, I'm not sure I'd want to get married. What's particularly odd about this is that while my parents have been married for 38 years, and they were very committed to being good parents (which they very much were), neither my brother nor I are interested in getting married, and neither one of us wants kids.

Then there's the subject of attending other people's weddings. I've been to five weddings in the last two years. (Fun fact: four of them were cousin weddings, which tips our generation over into more than half [6/11] of us married. Of the unmarried, there's one unpartnered lesbian [me], one unpartnered straight woman, and three straight people [one man, two women] in long-term relationships.) Some of those weddings were hideously flagrant displays of heterosexuality; others were very nice expressions of love, commitment, and family.

I think I've been remembering [livejournal.com profile] hederahelix's post and thinking more about it recently because [livejournal.com profile] allegram and [livejournal.com profile] dedalvs got engaged a few weeks ago. [livejournal.com profile] allegram called me at work the next morning (she couldn't wait until I got off work) to tell me about it, and to ask me to be her maid of honor. We've been very close friends for 18 years. Our own families are each other's second families. Of course I said yes unhesitatingly, and I'm totally excited to do it. (The worst thing about her call was that everyone else on my team who was in the office that day was on a conference call at the time, so I couldn't immediately babble to someone who knows me fairly well.) For me, this is absolutely and completely about being there for [livejournal.com profile] allegram and about participating in what will be a very special day for her and [livejournal.com profile] dedalvs. I have a hard time thinking about it as anything like "participating in your own oppression."

The one thing about weddings that does make me think about/be disgusted with the oppression inherent in the system is the bouquet toss, and not because I'm a lesbian but because I'm happy being single. When the DJ/bridal party/cousins attempt to pressure and coerce every last single woman into participating (and I never do, because I'm more stubborn/determined than any of them), the message that sends is that of course every single woman's goal is to get married, which is certainly not true.
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I've been catching up on some [livejournal.com profile] deadbrowalking today. Then there was this Our Bodies Our Blog post which includes links to some commentary on Live Free or Die Hard. I followed those links to this article about the book Dude, You're a Fag. The article includes this sentence, which literally made me laugh out loud:
For instance, a member of a Dartmouth College fraternity called a passerby a "fag," inspiring his fraternity brothers to hold a panel on inclusivity entitled, "Don't yell fag from the porch."
(Does it make me a bad person that as I paste that into this entry, what I notice is that their panel title is improperly punctuated? This would probably be funnier if you'd been sitting with me when we went to see Live Free or Die Hard. We saw the trailer for Lions for Lambs, which ends with "WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR". I leaned over to Brad and said, "I stand for proper punctuation.")
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Next week is our statewide meeting at work, and we're continuing the diversity work we started at our meeting in August. One of the things we're going to do is an activity where we draw pictures about ways we've identified ourselves (amongst other things). One of the major ways I identify myself is as a fangirl.

I've been fretting about this ever since we decided that we would continue with some sort of getting to know you and your cultural identifications activity.

I do want to be honest about who I am. On the other hand, being a fangirl is the thing I'm most ridiculed for by my friends and family, and I don't want to open myself up for that from people who aren't people I love and have close personal relationships with.

The other reason I'm fretting is that I have no idea how to explain what "fangirl" means to people who don't know. The best I can usually come up with is, "I have Firefly and Buffy pictures on my living room walls and Harry Potter action figures on my bookshelves." I could really use a better explanation. Any ideas for how to draw "fangirl" would also help.
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New Coworker A1 (there are two new coworker As) said today that she self-identifies as a gay woman. She also said that "lesbian" is a derogatory term, which I don't think I'd ever heard before. So if you're a woman who likes women, there's a poll under the cut asking what your term of choice is.

[Poll #769893]
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I only care when it's about me.
I've been skimming every con report in Elke's list. I went to any panel I was really interested in, so I fully admit that I really just page down until I find something that's about a panel I led or was in.

The quality of writing.
It occurred to me on my way home from work last week that Jay/Silent Bob fic is remarkably mediocre. I don't think I've read anything Jay/Silent Bob that was too horribly bad, but I also haven't read anything that was fantastically brilliant.

Why I like ritualized violence in a sex scene.
Charlotte brought up humiliation at the end of the panel; earlier someone mentioned betrayal. Both of those things will make a scene really unsexy for me, and I figured out how to articulate that. I'm something of a control freak with some trust issues. The idea of someone trusting another person enough to willingly giving up control of their body to that person is what's really hot in BDSM fic.

Making new friends.
In the beta panel, one of the suggestions for finding a beta was to start by talking to writers whose work you admire. Brenda Antrim said that people always tell her they're afraid to talk to her.

As you probably know from my history of fannish troublemaking, I'm not particularly afraid of people. What I am wary of, however, is the trend I've noticed. Generally speaking, I don't like the authors whose fic I like. Conversely, I have liked people whose fic I don't like.

My point here is that I have trouble finding people I like whose writing I also like. This means making fannish friends is difficult for me.

Slash fandom as gendered space.
In his con report, [livejournal.com profile] elekdragon said, "I just don't pass well, and having people who are VERY gendered staring at you makes things uncomfortable." I've been mulling this about. I don't know that I have a point, but I have been thinking about slash as gendered space. My first instinct is to say that one of the things I like about slash fandom is that it is a community of women. On the other hand, one of the things I don't like about slash fandom is the way we're increasingly exclusionary. (I mean this in a larger sense. I may stay in my own little corner and take a really long time to make new friends, but I'd like to think that I'm not going to immediately dismiss anyone new just because they're not already part of the group. Without knowing anything much about it--I stay away from fandom wank and my friends list is fairly small--the sense I get is that slash fandom at large is rejecting new folks just for being new.)

Terminology issues.
In the sex writing panel, someone brought up the fact that "dick" is rather uncommon in the UK, and someone else said it's very common in some branch of the US armed forces. I realized use "cock" and "cunt" because they're what I like, not necessarily what the character would use. I have some sense of what's appropriate for female anatomy for varying types of characters, but no idea about male anatomy. So here's my question for anyone who (a) is male or (b) knows men who've shared such things with them: What do men say? Dick? Cock? Prick? Man-meat? Something I haven't thought of?
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Slang I now (mostly) understand.

I'm still quite taken with R. Kelly's "Ignition Remix." The bit that's now amusing the hell out of me is, "We got food everywhere / As if the party was catered." But, really, I'm embarrassed to admit how much I love this song.

What the fuck?

Have you ever actually listened to the lyrics to Jason Mraz's "The Remedy"? They're really very bizarre. They're even weirder than his last name. And speaking of which, I can't decide what to make of his last name. On the one hand, it's so weird it can't be real. On the other hand, it's so weird it can't be made up.

What the fuck? Redux.

Heard Thursday in Barnes & Noble: A piano version of the Beach Boys' "California Girls."

Naked celebrities.

I rented Lawn Dogs in preparation for next week's premiere of The O.C.. (Connection: Mischa Barton.) I'd forgotten how unbelievably good the movie is. Sam Rockwell and Mischa Barton are both fantastic and I love the way the fairy tale elements are woven into the story. Oh, and Sam Rockwell's naked in it (full frontal, no less).

Naked celebrities 2.

Continuing my preparation for The O.C. (I know it's going to be horrible, and I also know I'm going to love it), I rented Lost and Delirious, which wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It has some slow moments, but it's beautifully filmed. There was so much skin I had to check to see what it was rated, but then again, it is Canadian.

Summer Reading: Swindon.

"I'm Phodder," said the driver. "My associate here is Kannon. SpecOps-5 has been reassigned."

"Reassigned? Does that mean Acheron Hades is officially dead?"

"No SO-5 case is ever completely closed. Acheron was only the third most evil criminal mind on the planet, Miss Next."

"Then who--or what--are you after this time?"

It seemed that they preferred asking questions to answering them.

"Your name came up in preliminary inquiries. Tell me, has anything odd happened to you recently?"

"What do you mean, odd?"

"Unusual. Departing from the customary. Something outside the usual parameters of normalcy. An occurrence of unprecedented weird."

I thought for a moment.

"No."
--Jasper Fforde, Lost in a Good Book
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Slang I don't understand.

I'm strangely taken with R. Kelly's "Ignition Remix." "It's the freakin' weekend" cracks me up every time. However, "Runnin' her hands through my 'fro / Bouncin' on 24's." 24's? This I just don't get. If you're cool, or know someone who is, please explain it to me.

A true story. (Dialogue and page number approximated by my memory.)

(RUTH and FENNEC browse the sci fi/fantasy shelves at the Barnes & Noble in Redwood City. PROTO-SLASHER 1 wears a cloak over pants and a white tee shirt. PROTO-SLASHER 2 wears a white shirt, plaid schoolgirl skirt, knee socks, Catholic school shoes, and a cloak. PROTO-SLASHER 3 wears shorts, a "hookd on fonics wurked four me" shirt, Catholic school shoes, and plastic Harry Potter glasses frames taken from the cauldron-full at the front of the store.)

(PROTO-SLASHER 3 makes a high pitched noise of joy. RUTH moves out of the way of whatever it is she's squeeing at.)

PROTO-SLASHER 3: Look. (Pulls a copy of the Orlando cover edition of The Two Towers off the shelf.) They're always complaining that his hair's always perfect. But he's all dirty.

RUTH: Can I take your picture?

PROTO-SLASHER 3: Me?

RUTH: All three of you.

PROTO-SLASHER 2 (Suspiciously.): Why?

RUTH: Because you're in costume, and I think that's really cool.

(PROTO-SLASHER 1 holds up the copy of The Two Towers she's clutching.)

PROTO-SLASHER 1: Can we have it taken with our idol?

RUTH: Sure.

PROTO-SLASHER 3: With the magazine too!

(RUTH stands amused as PROTO-SLASHER 2 rushes off to grab the magazine. PROTO-SLASHER 2 returns quickly with a copy of Teen. PROTO-SLASHER 3 takes it from her.)

PROTO-SLASHER 3: Page 71. (Turns to the page and turns the magazine around to show RUTH.) He's with Maude.

(PROTO-SLASHERS line up and pose. RUTH snaps a picture of them. PROTO-SLASHERS wander off.)

(RUTH and FENNEC make quiet, high-pitched noises of joy and discuss how cute the PROTO-SLASHERS were. FENNEC suggests the need for a slash mentoring program. RUTH comments that she can't wait to meet the PROTO-SLASHERS on a list in five years. RUTH and FENNEC rush off to find MOLLY, SKY, LESA, and LOVELY POET to tell them about it.)

Best "Who cares?" moment of the day.

Kevin Costner is engaged. Please, please explain to me why this should be the top entertainment headline on Yahoo! News.

People sorts the celebs.

I bought People because it has a Wills-Ashton Kutcher head-to-head (Ashton is hotter the more I know about how smart he is, but Wills still wins), and they also have some Harry Potter stuff. They sorted Eminem, Christina Aguilera, Martha Stewart, and Simon Cowell into Slytherin. Matt Damon and Jodie Foster are in Ravenclaw. For some reason, they put the Olsen twins (who, yes, are hot if underage) in Hufflepuff. Or, as the CoS DVD subtitles it in French, Poufsouffle!

I love that man.

From Anthony Lane's review of 28 Days Later in The New Yorker: "From the start, Boyle and his editor, Chris Gill, chop and chivy the images along, and they don't even realize that, when Jim calls for help in a desolate London, he is actually crying out for a slow tracking shot."
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I wrote eighteen pages in three days. Eighteen. I know some of you are sitting there thinking to yourselves, "So fucking what?" I never write that much in that kind of timeframe. I'm tempted to think it's because I had a three-day weekend and got a lot of sleep, but I'm not the only one having a particularly productive period. Nette wrote seventeen pages this weekend, and Molly's working on a Dogma story and the sick and wrong threesome smut (yes, that was a compliment).

I also wrote a very short snippet-like thing that's Daniel/Elvis from Kate Brasher. I don't really like it because it feels very "any two guys" to me. The show itself is terrible, so I don't really want to watch it closely enough to get a handle on the characters. On the other hand, I like the idea of Daniel/Elvis.

I'm completely appalled at the egregious abuse of grammar in some slash fic. "Too" is an adverb meaning "in addition" or "excessively." "To" is a preposition. Generally speaking, commas go before the word "but," not after. I think I would feel better about it if I could snipe, "That's what beta readers are for," but these same mistakes appear in stories that have been beta read. I'd be ashamed of myself if I were the beta reader who let such elementary things slip by.
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In Douglas R. Hofstadter's satire "A Person Paper on Purity in Language", he uses the analogy of race to show how the idea of male supremacy is built into our language, and to illustrate the fact that male does not equal generic:

There is great beauty to a phrase such as "All whites are created equal." Our forebosses who framed the Declaration of Independence well understood the poetry of our language. Think how ugly it would be to say "All persons are created equal.", or "All whites and blacks are created equal." Besides, as any schoolwhitey can tell you, such phrases are redundant. In most contexts, it is self-evident when "white" is being used in an inclusive sense, in which case it subsumes members of the darker race just as much as fairskins.


This is directly analogous to the use of "guys" as in the phrase "you guys." I don't want to be greeted with a friendly "Hey, you guys," because I'm not a guy, and most of the time people say that to me, neither is anyone else in the room. Sherryl Kleinman, one of the best professors I've ever had a class with, and one or two of her former students put together what have become known as "you guys cards." On the cards, we are urged to use "you all," "y'all," or even a simple "you" in place of "you guys." While "y'all" sounds unnatural coming out of my mouth--I'm a Californian at heart, not a Southerner--I've taken to using it in writing and "you" or "you all" in speech.

A related issue is that women often refuse to take ownership of the term "women." Not only do other people call us "girls," which implies that we're children unable to live our own lives and make our own choices, but many of us refuse to identify ourselves as "women," choosing instead to identify as "girls." Those of us who spend a lot of time in chat have been dubbed "the chatgirls." While I appreciate it that we can be referred to as a collective, I'm not a girl. Nat is the only one who could reasonably be called a girl, and even she's too grown-up to truly be a girl anymore.

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Ruth Sadelle Alderson

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