Lourdes Mint's Mid-Life Miracle

Real-time memoir of the coming year (5/20/14 – 15) and the achievement of a life-long dream

Archive for the month “September, 2014”

Giving or Receiving Criticism: Decency — the Way to Go; “BruHos” Not Welcome (Day 123, Daily Prompt)

Handle With Care

How are you at receiving criticism? Do you prefer that others treat you with kid gloves, or go for brutal honesty?



How am I at receiving criticism? Not great, but first: I don’t think there’s a good enough reason for “brutal” anything, even brutal honesty.

Just thinking about the people I’ve known who seem to believe in brutal honesty, that telling it how they see it is about the most worthy thing a person can do, I’m bothered. They’ve never seem as interested in whether what they’re saying is truly useful, or in how it might affect others, as they are in presenting a certain image and perhaps answering what they believe to be their special calling: mighty purveyor of tough truths — especially about other people’s shortcomings. My experience has shown me that most of these people turn out to be asses, terrified asses. Once I really listen to them, look at their lives, what I hear/see is: “I’m an ass, a terrified ass,” again and again and again.

Also, recipients of the brute’s “wisdom” may appear grateful in the moment (“Thanks for letting me know, dude. I know that had to be tough.”  The brutally honest person [BruHo*] may reply: “Well, yeah, but you know I’m just trying to help. Sorry if it came off as overly harsh, but I gotta tell it like I see it.”) Maybe the recipient is ultimately truly grateful — in some weird way — if the harsh words happen, likely by virtue of the recipient’s own strengths, to lead to something positive (“That was a tough pill to swallow, but I see now how much better off I am. I have BruHo to thank.”), but they will have been brutalized nonetheless; deep down, they’ll know it. And depending on how well they esteem themselves, they will either: (A) avoid the BruHo from then on, or (B) sign up for more BruHo, feeling that they deserve such treatment. I have no doubt that most of those under a BruHo’s wing (they love offering someone they’ve just pummeled a wing to crawl under) secretly fear or even hate him/her.

You might think I’m making too much of the word “brutal” in this context, but I think we’ve all seen brutally honest criticism given before (or done so ourselves) and felt it to be cruel, destructive, maybe even barbaric — more about dominating than in any way helping the other person.

In the past, when I perceived someone as being a BruHo, toward me or someone else, I often responded in kind, squared (which I know is not a good idea). This doesn’t happen often anymore, but when it does, I understand my reaction is coming firstly from a place of anger and retaliation … and only secondly, if at all, from a sense of justice or some other noble ideal. The adrenaline generated from the exchange of BruHo blows (I’m talking verbal blows here, just to be clear) seems to numb me, at least for while, to the truth or implications of what’s happened. That person has behaved badly. I’ve behaved badly. Probably, nothing good will come of what we’ve done. And quite possibly, things will be even worse as a result.

I am still haunted by the time I was brutally honest to a woman, a stranger, for shaming her very young daughter. The girl was crying at the edge of the pool instead of jumping in and swimming to her mother, who was standing about 10 feet away, in three feet of water, barking out orders and clapping her hands together now and then for emphasis. “I thought you were brave,” she called out, “like [so-and-so]. I thought you trusted mommy! But I guess I was wrong.” The girl crumbles, is now crouching at the edge. “Oh look at you! You’re being a scaredy cat, plain and simple. Don’t give me that pathetic look: I’m just telling it like it is.” The little girl cries even harder at this.

It was horrible! I was horrified, as others nearby seemed to be also. I don’t remember exactly what I said to the woman after the “swim lesson” was over, but it included the statement “You’re the one who ought to be ashamed!” and I’m pretty sure the words “big bully.” And I was loud enough that everyone within 50 feet or so, including her daughter, heard me. The woman just glared at me a moment, averted her eyes, said nothing. (And I’d like to add, “ripped open a bag of Cheetos,” but I’m trying to stay out of fiction mode here.)

Looking at her not looking at me, I felt I’d won. I thought, “Good. You ought to keep that nasty mouth shut for a while, think about what you’ve done.”

As I walked out,  a few people expressed approval for what I’d done. I was shaking. Years later, I ran into a friend of a friend who had been there; she recounted the whole thing in more (glowing) detail than I could possibly recall. “That was f_cking awesome!,” she said, reminding me of a really-into-it sports fan. But I had never felt quite right about it.

A friend who I’d told the whole story at some point suggested that the little girl might have had it even worse after I so harshly, publicly criticized her mother, who clearly must have had some pretty serious problems. “What if she took her humiliation out on the child later?” the friend asked. Oh God, I hoped not. I hope not. What I could have done, the friend suggested, is asked the mom if I could talk to her privately. At least, then, she said “I would not have not sunken to her level.” What was this? I didn’t care one bit about sinking to her level. But I did/do care that I might have made a bad situation worse. I’m not sure what I would have said to the woman if I’d pulled her aside, and it was just the two of of us, one-on-one. It would have been more decent of me — even if not constructive, at least much less potentially harmful. She could have ignored everything I said, thought about it later, whatever, with her skin intact. As it was, SHAME — via brutal honesty — triumphed that day.

Now, the question: How am I at receiving criticism?

Not great, but I am so familiar with certain obvious flaws/weaknesses in myself that when people allude to them, criticize them, jokingly or even a bit more judgmentally, I can sometimes roll with it … on a good day. For example: I am invited to dinner and arrive only 10 minutes later than everyone else. I am satisfied (knowing it could be so, so much worse — I am chronically late) until someone lets slip that I was given a “special Lourdes time” for arrival, “so that you would be only 10 minutes late rather than one hour and 10 minutes late.” Everyone laughs, including me, though inside I am bristling a bit. The thing is I’ve already beaten myself up over my pet set of problems for so long that I’m kind of numb to such “garden variety” criticism — not that numb is good. (Numbness is really only a good thing, I think, during particular situations, such as undergoing surgery or having your foot stuck in a bear trap, waiting for help to arrive… .)

On bad days, similar criticisms may: (A) really upset me (we’re talking despondency here — “I’m not fit for X,” “I don’t deserve Y,” “I’m a complete piece of shit,” “What the f_ck is wrong with me?” etc.); (B) lead me to launch into, I’m sure, a truly tiresome dissertation on how/why [the thing being criticized] has come to pass, couldn’t be helped exactly, etc.; or (C) more numbness.

If ever someone’s honesty about me/my behavior has seemed particularly “brutal,” which has happened only rarely, I have on occasion, as I’ve said, lashed out or gone on the attack. I won’t go into too much detail about my methods (illustrated in part above), but they’ve been described as “going for the jugular” or “lopping [one] off at the knees.” I am not proud of this kind of behavior and believe there’s no rightful place for it in the world. Simply, being brutal, whatever you attach it to, is much more likely to hurt than help. AND it makes you a brute.

But the only thing I think I hate more than being dealt “brutal honesty” is being handled with kid gloves. Oh, that breaks my heart and truly freaks me out. Yes, when the kid gloves come out, you KNOW it’s bad. The jig is up. Suddenly you feel as doomed as Blanche Debois. Ugh.

In the end, the most significant factor in how I receive criticism, I’ve noticed, is how aware I am of the supposed issue/potential problem. The less aware I am, the more taken by surprise, the more likely I am to be stunned into just listening, perhaps even ask a few questions and finally retreat to consider the matter more deeply — alone or maybe with a close, trusted friend. Is what the person said valid? If so, is it an actual problem? If so, what should/can I do about it? And so on. And I think this might well be the most decent way, or at least a very decent way, to respond to any kind of criticism, about any kind of problem, on any kind of day: the no-response response: “[message received, will be taken into consideration, but we are done here, at least for now.]” Giving these things times is always a good idea.

Anyway, this realization, that I don’t need to respond in any way to the person criticizing me (especially a BruHo), not at that moment and maybe not ever, has been truly freeing.

* Sorry for the acronym, but I decided I really liked it. 😉 Don’t be a BruHo!!!



Day 119: Another Try at Brevity (100WordStory.org) — “One Tree So Ready for Fall”

[100 Word Story]

Photo Prompt


September prompt

Photo Credit: Hamish Irvine

“I’ll bring my future kids here,” Jil says, passing the joint. “Otherwise, that sick fuck wins. Kids stay inside now, getting fat. Diabetes!”

“I saw that show,” someone says.

Others kick a ball around. I watch a tree lose a leaf.

“Once he’s found, send him the medical bills!” cries another. “Then hang … .”

I interrupt: “Maybe they’re inside because it’s colder?”

“What?!” Jil demands.

“And time to eat?”

“I’m not cold,” she says, “but it is around dinner time.”

Then bath time.

Another leaf goes — funny, one tree so ready for fall, others holding fast to green.

Day 117 (Writing Challenge) — Be Brief: “Thank you for the shoes.”

You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.


Lost letter


Randall picked up the letter, thinking at first he had just dropped it. “One of my notes, you know.” This is what he told us.

Everyone knows the deal. He’s surrounded at all times, wherever he goes, by little — often incomplete — “notes” (to self): reminders (e.g., 10 am Tues, next to B’s), interesting bits of conversation (e.g., “she knows exactly what she’s doing”), movies he hopes to see (“Julia,” WA’s “Hotel…”), etc. They’re all over his house, he says, never to be seen again, “or, when they do resurface, I can’t remember what they’re about.” Ha-ha-ha. He leaves a trail of them in his wake, too, languishing under seats in friends’ cars, tangled up with crumpled napkins after dinners out, to be dealt with by housekeeping after work meetings (along with emptied sugar packets, presentation print-outs, etc.), stuck to the bottoms of people’s shoes after happy hours, wherever. “Whatever! Ha-ha.”

Some may even be “loosed into the great yonder,” he used to like saying, dislodged as he rummages through his man purse (I used to like saying), looking for his cell phone, credit card, hand sanitizer, mace, trademark handkerchief, or “a pen and more little bits of paper on which to write more notes!!!” (Loosed? Really?) And then who knows where they end up, “caught by the wind, carried off by a bird? Ha.”

These are the kinds of things he’s said about his notes. And then, also: “That’s fine.” “So what?” or “It’s not like I will ever miss them.” They are merely “the marginalia” of his life, neither precious nor trivial, he’s explained, simply the overflow of an overactive, unusually creative mind that is headed, fast, toward a “terminal sum.” His father, a plumber, used to use that term in association with particularly gruesome jobs. “I like to imagine what the old man would think of my novel! Hmmmm.”

Blah, blah, blah.

So I had to ask, having endured all of this talk over so many years, as we all have — almost as much about his tiresome notes as about his supposed novel: “So why did you pick it up, if you thought it was just another one of your notes?”

I was being mean.

Rachel and Merke stiffened. Lucia waved the waiter over. “Another order of mussels,” she said. “Make it two,” said Merke.

Randall’s eyes started to glisten. He smiled a little, looked down at the empty bowl at the center of the table. “They are good tonight,” he said. “The mussels.”

When we were young and new to each other, newer to life, I once spent the night at Randall’s. It was nothing romantic, just one of those nights when the conversation goes on so long that you feel, as you come to the end of it, that you’ve been traveling by foot for days and days and must sleep. He told me all about his father, and mother, that night and about the novel (same story) and the notes (same story). I remember looking around and thinking, yes, there were plenty of places here where a note could hide or get lost forever. Just before I fell asleep, Randall began talking again.

“But one might be caught by the wind, one day, or carried off by a bird … to be discovered by someone on the other end, who might want to know more. Or simply to connect.”

“One what?” I thought I asked aloud, but maybe I just thought it. I was hardly awake.

“A bird brings you a note and you open it up. Right? Of course you do! Who wouldn’t? No one. And you see … nothing really, just a fragment of a message, nothing that makes any sense at all to you. A bird’s come all this way to bring you nonsense? What a travesty. When I think of this person, I wish I’d been clearer in my note, said something more, something of value, maybe included my email address? When I think of this person, I want to cry. Really.”

“Me too,” I said. And then I was out. We never talked about this again, exactly, not to this extent. And remembering it now (… “simply to connect”), I felt a little sick. What happens to us?

Randall let out a long, deep sigh and placed an envelope on the table. It looked nothing like his notes. He then picked it up again and showed us the front and the back. It had the makings of an address on the front; on the back, someone — maybe an 8- or 9-year-old — had drawn a picture of a smiling girl, all dressed up. The shoes were especially detailed. Fancy.

The mussels arrived.

“Well, was there anything in it? A letter?” I asked, as the others began digging in.

Without a word, he opened the envelope, which had clearly been sealed at one time, and very gently removed a folded piece of lined, three-ring paper, holding it away from the steaming plates.

“It’s nothing really,” he said, “just so sweet is all. Silly-sweet.” He paused to wipe his eyes beneath his glasses with his handkerchief. “Oh my God, why am I crying?” he said,  now starting to laugh.

“Dear Mommy,” he began. And then there were more more tears. Rachel wiped her hand on the tablecloth, still holding her tiny mussel fork in the other, and placed it softly on his shoulder, which I was happy for.

“Dear Mommy,” he repeated. “Thank you for the shoes. I love them and they are just the right size for my little sister, Bea. I drew a picture of her on the back. She wears them every day. I love you and now Bea does too. Thank you for the shoes. Love, Rose.”

I’m pretty sure Merke stopped chewing a mussel half-way through then. Rachel set down her tiny fork. Lucia looked down at her hands, folding and unfolding and refolding her napkin. Everyone was quiet for a few moments.

“That is sweet,” said Merke. The others nodded. “You found it where…?”

Randall mumbled something incoherent as he began rummaging through his bag.

“May I, Randall?” I asked, reaching for the envelope, which was still on the table. Randall gave a quick nod, never taking his eyes off my hands, the envelope. I moved slowly, carefully.

I held it toward the light. “Oh, I know this place. My old office-mate, Alec, works there now. I’ll talk to him first thing and I bet we can get this to … the mommy.”

“Yes,” said Randall, carefully folding the letter now and reaching for the envelope. “Let’s try.”


Note: This little story, which I tried to make brief, was inspired by my friend’s little story about receiving a text that was obviously meant for someone else: “Thank you for the shoes.” We laughed about it but were both touched by it too. Not sure why. I’ll have to double-check, but I’m pretty sure she texted the person back to let them know their message had not reached the intended recipient. This friend is nothing like Randall.


Day 114 (Daily Prompt): Absolute Beauty — “pure bliss, like biting into a chocolate eclair and being bitten back”

page-0 3Absolute Beauty

We’ve all heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Do you agree? is all beauty contingent on a subjective point of view?


[Please excuse weird formatting issues and come on in!]

Setting aside the whole issue of inner vs. outer beauty, and replacing “beauty” and “all beauty” with “absolute beauty” in the prompt to which I’m responding please (I was thrown off by the title), my SHORT ANSWER: No.

YOU were an absolute beauty. Our relationship required no explanation … on my part, anyway. I said, “I’m going out with AB.” And people said, “Oh!!! [Really? How’d you manage that?]” I have no idea what it was like for you. You know, I was/am not an absolute beauty — but I had those big boobs and a “great personality.” You liked my eyes (or lips?), but there were/are definitely some (as)symmetry issues here and I understand that the symmetry of facial features is a defining criterion in beauty. One eye IS bigger, higher set (?), than the other — as a MUCH later boyfriend, an architect and not an AB, noted … nearing the end of THAT relationship. It’s true, and I definitely didn’t/don’t have the cute, button nose that seemed to be favored then (still?). But you didn’t seem to mind, AB. And we found out, together, what it felt like to be adored: you by a cute kid, me by a Greek god.

My father liked to say my sister and I were “good looking enough.” Not knowing exactly what he meant, I found (still find) the statement to ring true. Absolutely beautiful people have unique hardships, I’ve gathered, just as especially unattractive people must. I try not to make too much of my children’s good looks, although people often comment on them.

AB and I met in our early teens in a dark movie theater during a scary movie. We had each been dropped off by parents, with a group of friends. I turned my head during the super scary parts (pretending to be frightened) and discovered AB there (must have already noticed him), behind me. He laughed at me. At some point, we started holding hands. Our summer-time romance escalated quickly. After several hour(+)-long phone calls, we began meeting half-way between our houses, about three miles (and at least one world) apart, on our bikes. We spent as many days as we could — when I was supposedly at the pool — “playing house” at his house (which always ended up with our lying in his bed, making out) … while his mother, a nurse, was at work. I don’t think I ever met her.

Their home was very small (a perfect one-story rectangle), was “too close to the road” (I could imagine my father, and now my husband, saying), and mainly contained things that would be useful on a daily basis. Although the place was usually quite neat and clean, it felt empty: they didn’t have a checker/chess table, or an art station/area, or bookcases full of books, or a ping-pong table in the garage. I never saw where they kept their “recordings” or photo albums. I also noted — no mudroom or foyer; no guest rooms; no office. The only two bedrooms had a Jack-and-Jill bathroom between them. (This “Jill” kept her things very clearly to one side of the sink, in a “Florida!”-themed bin.) Overall, the decorations seemed nice enough to me at the time (I recall a painting of sandals in the sand), but were of the type I would later learn to recognize as tacky. The fact that AB lived here, in such a small and simple place, made him all the more miraculous to me.

AB’s older brother, who was quite B but a bit chubby and so, also (like me), not an absolute beauty, seemed merely tolerant of his perfect sibling, though he was always sweet to me. He already knew. Get it while you can, girl… . I did. I will never forget kissing AB — pure bliss, like biting into a chocolate eclair and being bitten back, again and again, on summer afternoons that seemed to last clear through to the next. YES! I want you. I want you, too. Now and now, again. And now? Yes, now too. Again? Yes. Can we keep going like this? We can. Always? Always. Always. And always. Kiss me.

After a couple months of that came the creeping realization — for probably the first time in my life, in the romance dept. — that things are not always as they appear at first. As kind and polite as we were to each other (I followed your lead), strong as that initial attraction was, as well as the immense validation I felt at being chosen by an AB (beauty meant so much then), we were not that great of a match … on any level. I was stifling feelings of boredom with our conversations, disdain for his taste in music, and true bafflement that anyone’s favorite color could be maroon. He wasn’t funny. At all.

Then school started again. AB was off to the high school that was still a year away for me. He was a “super jock” (as it turned out) and I guess I was more of a fun-loving slacker. As the school year progressed, I continued to hang out with my usual crowd, which I had instinctively kept at a distance from AB, and our communications became shorter, less frequent. I called a few times. He called a few times. But it was soon obvious: everything was changed.

What was there to do? I was “devastated,” especially when I listened to certain Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks songs, which I played over and over again, transcribing the lyrics and then customizing them for AB and me. “Beautiful Child” and “Storm” were my favorites. (Had to look these up just now.) I never shared these horrendous “poems” with him — they were really for me anyway, I guess, enhancing the slowly-being-dumped (by an AB) process.

“Beautiful [AB’S NAME HERE]
Beautiful [AB’s NAME HERE]
You are a beautiful child
And I am a fool once more.

We fell in love when I was [fourteen]
[The summer days flew by]
[If you know what I mean]
I bite my lip, can you send me away?”


Then one day, maybe in late October, AB called and apologized for having been out of touch, talked about how great high school was, how busy he’d been. He said he missed me and wanted to see me. “I have a friend now with his license — he can drive us wherever we want to go.” It sounded fun, so we arranged a place to meet. Nothing terrible happened, but whatever we had was clearly gone. Looking back, I see he was practicing then for bigger, better prospects. I remember, on the radio: “I’m hot-blooded, can’t you see? I’ve got a fever of one hundred and three. Come on baby, can you do more than dance?… “” while he dry-humped me as his friend watched in the rear-view mirror. I couldn’t wait to get home to my poems. “Thanks,” he said when they dropped me off. (“Thanks?”) And he promised to call me later.

After that, after several weeks of not hearing from AB and learning that he had been bumped up from Junior Varsity to Varsity football — just because he was SO GOOD, it was settled: I had been left behind. I pushed on in my own social scene (not wanting to seem hurt, nor to miss out on any fun), but I was irked that he had never actually SAID goodbye. How fucking maroon of him! I was irked also that I didn’t know what he was up to. The rest of the story, please? I began asking around.

A neighbor, a younger girl whose older sister had recently had a party, said he had attended with a date — “his new girlfriend.”

“Who is she?” I asked.

“Do you really want to know?”


She said: “It’s bad. Really bad.”


“[AB-squared],” she told me, averting her eyes.


This was like hearing that he was dating Cleopatra or G_d’s own daughter.

AB-squared was probably the most beautiful girl anyone in a 15- to 25-mile radius had ever seen in real life. Her beauty was legendary. And she lived right across the street, diagonally, from me. My friends and I used to watch her and her friends, secretly from the house directly across the street, as they practiced their cheer leading routines in her front yard, marveling at her perfection.

I still remember my best friend trying to comfort me about AB & AB-squared and finally, after less than a minute, there was just this awful silence. There was nothing to say. Not “Well, he’s not THAT great.” or “She’s probably not so pretty without make-up.” — because WE all recognized their absolute beauty. And beauty was just about the most important thing in our lives at that point in time.

I can’t imagine what it’s like between two ABs; those two didn’t last very long, for whatever reason. I don’t know what happened to him — he is not even remotely connected, via a friend of a friend of a friend (that I can see), on Facebook. She, according to the same source, is doing great, like everyone else on FB. But really, she’s made a profession out of “fitness” and appears to be living a good life with a nice, regular-looking guy and their children, including a few ABs. She is still AB-squared, just an older version; she looks happy.

Till tonight, I have not thought of either of them (much) for more than two decades. (I am often surprised by whom/what I do recall frequently over such stretches of time.) Certainly, my idea of what is beautiful — just like of what is right or true — has shifted and expanded, become more nuanced and less clear-cut, since then. I think I’m beautiful, in a way, but to explain why would take way too much (more) of your time.

But what you might call “absolute beauty” is in a completely different category. I do think reasonable, well-constituted people know it, feel it —  just like they do what is right or true — when they come across it. It’s just: BAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No explanation required. No debate. There it is. And that makes it special in my book, like anything that points toward even the possibility of certainty about anything at all.

RIGHT ON! (And write on.): Maria Popova’s essay on the [increasing] importance of storytelling in the Information Age

Excellent! And I couldn’t agree more…
From Maria Popova’s “Brain Pickings” blog:
“Wisdom in the age of information and how to navigate the open sea of knowledge – a short essay of mine, animated by the wonderful Drew Christie for the 2014 Future of Storytelling summit”

Day 104: So far, so-so

day104Over a quarter of my way into the year during which my “miracle” is supposed to happen, I find myself not so confident that it will, on most days; on other days, I am careful not to think about it at all (or have no time to). Every now and then, I look back into the part of me that started the blog, and I know — just like I did then — that SOMEHOW I have to make it happen. The thing is of course (of course!!!) that it will not happen, I will not reach my goal, as the result of a miracle at all, but as the result of consistent, regular effort: hours and hours of work. And I don’t have hours and hours now. I have “hour” if I am very, very lucky. And with all the practical details and logistical requirements of each day, with two small children and a husband who will be away for most of this month, that hour if it comes at all, is usually at the end of the day … when my mind is a pulpy mess. So I am forced to reconsider the possibility of a miracle. More on that later.

For now, my biggest question is whether I can justify spending any time at all blogging. I see that for many of you, whose blogs are primarily concerned with living a creative life and perhaps specifically with writing, your blog is a way of honing your craft, testing out ideas, and exchanging practical information with like-minded others — about things you are working on outside of your blog. For others, your blog is the thing itself, its own reason for being — it seems to be your main creative outlet. I have admired and enjoyed both of these “types” (among others) and also the gorgeous layouts and high functionality of some of them. My blog falls into neither category. It’s free. I will likely never go premium, add any bells and whistles, or be able to spend much more time on it than I do now.

And I have understood from the beginning that my rationale for the blog is questionable. It’s hard for me to explain to the few friends who know about it, and I haven’t tried too hard to hammer it out for myself even. How exactly is working on this blog supposed to help me finish any of my works, especially when my time is so limited? From where I am right now, especially given the wonderful but major life change that has taken place since I started the blog, I really can’t answer that.

I suspect myself of looking for instant gratification and validation … maybe a little of fun. Company. I’ve gotten a small taste of all. I’ve also bumped up against a few cold shoulders and been told in so many words: YOU DON’T MAKE SENSE. Poison. But that brings me back to this blog, whether it makes sense. I don’t know. I know I’m not doing any of things you’re supposed to do to ensure any real progress in the blog world. Outside of here, I am trying harder. I just found out my main freelancing gig is drying up for six months. So … I plan to join CHADD and to get a babysitter for 7 hours a week to work on my fiction, on it only — no laundry, exercise, etc. And I am not giving up on my goal.

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