Tag Archives: university

A letter to my 19 year old self


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Hello my darling,

I know you’re tired. Look at you, you’ve had the marrow sucked out of you by a parasitic force, you’ve spent 5 months trying to piece yourself together and you’re exhausted. My God you’re exhausted, but honey, you’re also so beautiful.

You are so much more than those nights you spent clinging on to a relationship that only gave you grief from the beginning. Remember how you’d run after his chaotic emotions, trying to make sense of the dark corner he stuffed you in? Remember the nights you spent in his bed, your knees tucked to your chest, your skinny frame shivering in his t-shirt, waiting for him to start making sense? Remember sneaking out of your house at 2am to race across the road and climb through his window, because you felt guilty for how much you thought you needed his embrace?

Sweetheart. He’s not the one. I know you think he is. I know he’s got you trapped in the toxic little universe he’s structured around your insecurities. I know you think you’re going to stay with him forever, that you’re going to get your degree and he is going to get a job and maybe he’ll stop freaking out if you forget to text him and he’ll let you go out with your friends every once in a while and maybe he’ll stop yelling. Maybe, maybe, maybe, he’ll stop yelling and shooting wine glasses with metal BB bullets and standing over you as the shards slip through your scarred hands. Maybe he’ll stop blaming you for everything that’s out of your control. Maybe you’ll stay with him forever and you’ll be happy because he’s got you convinced that no one else could possibly love someone as strange and as wild as you. Maybe he’ll stop yelling.

He’s not it my love. You know he isn’t. You know that with every icy word, every bite of his temper, every snarl in your direction that you’ll just get smaller and smaller. You know if you carry on you’re going to disappear. Rip out his claws honey, rip them out of your skin and start running, because your flame can only grow brighter from here.

You are going to burn all of the empty letters he ever left on your bed. You are going to start a mini bonfire in a tin can in your garden and you are going to belly laugh wildly and dance around the carcass that was the past 5 months of your life. You are going to kiss your scars and run your feet raw as you tear down boulevards. You are never going to be afraid to raise your voice ever again.

You are going to beat your pillow with a hockey stick until all the rage and regret  that he spoon fed you, explodes in a flurry of feathers and relief. You are going to change all the locks to your heart and then spend the next 2 years simply loving yourself. You are going to snip away at every single toxic relationship that eats into your spirit until the only people who are left are the ones that carry you to bed and bundle you up when you cry. Prepare to have your face stroked and your soul held and your forehead kissed my darling; prepare to feel confused and tentative about all these gentle gestures – I know it feels foreign, but this is what you need and deserve.

Then prepare to have the breath knocked out of you by someone who exudes sunlight and warmth.

I know you think you deserve locked doors and acidic words, it’s going to take a while for you to break that cycle. But when you finally do, when you finally look up and realise your own electric disposition, you are going to free fall into the arms of someone who makes your entire body burn.

He is going to take you to parties and introduce you to fellow wild things. He’s going to take you onto rooftops and sit and listen while you animatedly chat about everything important to you. He’s going to let you bury your face in his chest while he strokes your hair and tells you that he is never going to contain your spirit or lock up your happiness. He is going to look at you like maybe you are magic, and he’s going to pour golden words down your throat.

And you, my love, you are going to realise that the people who try to extinguish your flame are the ones who don’t deserve any of your warmth.

You will detonate into a plethora of water-colours and wild flowers.

I love you with all my heart.



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Romanticising other things.


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I haven’t written anything on here in over 2 months.

I totally get that these moments of total writer’s block happen from time to time. I’m only human, my brain can only spew out so many melodramatic metaphors before it gets tired of itself. There’s only so many cliches I can avoid before I become a walking one.

I’m not sure why it’s been so long. I’ve been writing things down, obviously. Disappointed little scribbles in my journal. At one point I experimented and wrote out an entire paragraph whilst under the influence – there was a lot of wiggles and a lot of pent up angst, wow.

I lost my muse…well, my muse lost me. So I’ve had to kind of learn to romanticise other things – like the suffocating smell of festival toilets and the feeling of new socks on cold feet. But over my brief hiatus from publishing anything on my favourite corner of the internet, I’ve managed to write down a few short little blurbs.

So here it is; Harriet’s random 2am/ every day thoughts: an anthology.

On places I’d rather avoid:

“I equate places with feelings. And if it were up to me, the train station where I last saw you would be simultaneously the favourite and most despised place in my entire world.”

In an email from my grandmother:

“I went to New York when I was 20 to see if it was any different from Nottinghamshire. If it was the same, I could always come back and settle down. Instead I found your grandfather and no, New York was not the same as Notts.”

I went to the edge and found you.

On weekends that turn into melodramatic moments:

“It’s almost tomorrow and I don’t want to go home.

Ever have one of those weekends? The spell-binding, soul-searching, over-the-moon kind of weekend? I am at the end of one and I’ve got this sinking feeling that I’ll never feel something so definite, so completely euphoric. I feel my youth creeping up on me, I can feel the fire start in my heart and I can feel my toes curl as I yearn for moments that last.

I don’t want to stop being 21. I want nights that beat the sun and glowing embers that don’t know how to die.

I want to carry on living this spontaneously forever.

It’s almost tomorrow and I don’t want to go home.”

“I’ve had a weekend.

A destructive, ridiculous, incredible weekend; filled with sobbing and catchphrases and loving people despite it all.”


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On people who don’t know how to stay:

“I can’t blame you for walking away. How can I possibly? We both know I burn too brightly to be extinguished. There’s a ‘no vacancy’ sign just for you hanging over my vibrant, unbelievable, explosive life.”

“Because our entire existence was me trying to hold on to what you used to be, and you trying to show me how much you’ve changed.”

“I hope when you retell our story, you describe me as ‘the girl who screamed poetry at you when you told her to run, even though she was never yours to walk away from.'”

“I’m glad you’ve found ways to smother your grief for humanity, but don’t you dare do it at my expense.”

On what they never taught me in school:

“In 5th grade English class they told us to write down everything with as much detail as possible. They told us that parts of speech were imperative, adjectives meant something.

They never told us that, in reality, adjectives are just as superficial as their intentions. And some people will say anything just to gain a piece of your soul.”

On how much can change over several months:

“I am not the person I was last November. I am nowhere near the girl who blushed electric at your empty cosmic promises.

I am not who I was last November. I got ripped from that body by circumstance and change. I got pummeled into this shape by disappointment. I am not who I was last November.

I am not last November. I haven’t written poetry in months. I don’t believe in shutting out the world any more, I let the cold seep in to wake me up and chill my bones.

I am not who I was last November. I am not a Mississippi sunset, I am not burning up as I race down a wooden dock towards you. I am not superlunary, I am not yours.

I am not who I was last November. I have run out of time; you wasted it. You, and all those after you. I have run out of time and sand and clock hands.

I am not who I was last November. I have an iron soul that can’t be thawed and eyes that flash sunlight. I will burn you up. I will make you miss me. I will drive you insane, kiss you catatonic and then leave you to combust.

Because I am not who I was last November. I am not who you pretended to love. I am not even myself.”

On how much better everything has turned out to be:

“If I end up living a life that is anything short of vibrant, I won’t survive. Tonight I braided a man’s hair whilst sitting on the floor of a bar. I drove around my neighbourhood yelling promises at strangers, I kissed my friends goodnight and flopped onto my bed. I am blissfully surprised at how wonderful everything has turned out to be.”

The bit about festival toilets:

“There’s nothing more carnal or cathartic than finally having a poo in a festival porter-loo.”

And despite all these ridiculous metaphors, here is my final WTF moment:

“Squeaky swings sound like children screaming.”

(What the fuck, Harriet?)

Think of this as a farewell to all the moody posts about something that is now a nothing.

There you have it. The sneakiest peak into my drafts folder.

Not much else to say, except goodbye.

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You are so much more than this.


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Friendships are complicated webs. Two people decide they like each other slightly more than they like other people and therefore they entangle their lives in joint memories, shared secrets and a blur of complimentary character traits. As soon as the web is spun, glistening and dewy in the morning light, it’s difficult for it to unravel without someone getting trapped in the chaos of cut strings and unpleasant emotions.

Relationships are slightly trickier. They are more fragile, require more maintenance. Relationships, at least the ones I’ve been in, are made of a more brittle kind of silk than friendship, they’re tenuous and devastating.

Both kinds of interaction are as disastrously beautiful as they are lovingly crushing. They represent the pleasure and pain of what it means to be truly human, I’ve been hurt by both.

The worst thing to deal with, besides for the fall out, is when friendship and relationship blend in a delicate and confusing emotional masterpiece. Especially when circumstances allow for only friendship to grow, where does the lust stop and the platonic begin?

Yesterday I had a leisurely post-lecture, pre-devastation chat with my friend Su. We discussed the positive traits we see in each other and how important they are to our lives, a bit of an uplifting tête-à-tête before exams crush our souls. She told me the one thing I willingly and selflessly give to people, is my time.

I’ve always understood that time for another person is the best thing to give them. I’ve never been the type of person to buy affection – I don’t demand attention with sad stories or gifts. I’m not exactly rolling in cash money. I could be eating 2-minute-noods out of a rusty tin can, or trying to diabolically take over the world with lab rats and soggy cheese rolls and I’d still take 10 minutes out of my day to remind the people I truly love that I am still a happy presence in their lives.

That’s the thing. That’s the snare in the web of friendship/ relationship/ weird hybrid of emotions, I give and I give and I give my time sometimes to people who don’t have a minute to reciprocate it.

That’s the hamartia of this whole thing. The fatal flaw in an otherwise devastating fuck up of fate. My love language is time and the people I waste it on don’t understand that they’re taking the most precious thing I can give them, for granted.


I tried to type out the story of why I’m writing this blog post, why I was angry crying at 7 o clock this morning, why it feels like a scalding ball of rage and disappointment has settled in my chest – but I still deeply care for the person this is about, regardless of the imbalance of energy we invest in each other, so I won’t.

I’ll leave it at this. I’ve waited months for a phone call, and the one I got wasn’t nearly as wonderful as I thought it would be. I did a happy dance in the middle of a crowded bar when I found out it was going to happen. I clutched my phone to my chest and beamed around the room whilst assuring the people I was with that I wasn’t getting in too deep, that we’re just friends, that my emotions were not dangling on the promise of a ringtone.

Then everyone around me got to see the heartbreaking plummet of my emotions from ecstatic to disappointed. There was no more happy jigs, my heart stopped clawing its way out of my chest, I stopped beaming and got angry. I’ve never been so angry at someone I care about so much. I never expected to be hurt by someone I put so much faith in.

Su sent me a message about it. She has a wonderful way with words and what she wrote to get me to stop crying made me weep like a small child. I’m talking big fat ugly tears, foetal position, howling.

Forgive her if it does the same to you.

You are so much.

Not too much, but so much.

You are light and rambunctiousness and serendipity with dashes of serenity. You are more than a horny slur at night when someone is too lazy to be decent any other time.

You are a muse. Worth more than dirty words in dark hours and worth more than just a thought.

You deserve the love of legions. And one man who has behaved so cruelly (it is cruel) does not deserve that honour. He doesn’t get to make you feel this way and then let you down so hard.

Darling, you’re more than this and even if he forgets, everyone else remembers. You need to remember that also.

I am so much. I give my time to the people I love. I would spare 10 minutes in the busiest of days if it meant I could add value to my favourite humans on this planet.

I have recieved an apology, it’s going to take time for me to sift through the carnage of the web I got caught in. I’m going to have to figure out how I expect people to treat me and the minutes I give them.

I am complex and caring and a light-stained street of emotions. I can’t afford to settle for less than I deserve.

Neither do any of you.

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The Pretoria Chronicles: The craziest freaking tale you will ever read. Ever.


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I haven’t posted in about 2 weeks, basically because adversity is the best fuel for writing and I’ve been floating in my own solace for a while (thanks Angelo for the solid observation). It’s been 2 weeks of lectures and reading and driving lessons and maybe the occasional glint of personified hope sending me voice notes, but other than that nothing particularly inspiring or noteworthy wormed its way into my otherwise predictable routine. I wrote a rather mundane post about how nice it is to walk in the rain, and then I forgot my umbrella during a deluge which changed my mind about the matter entirely. I’d basically been drifting through life at a rather sleepy pace until Friday night happened.

Before I carry on with this post I would like for my Mom to either shut down her computer now and continue as if nothing has happened, or to treat the following story as a work of fiction. The same goes for any future employers or husbands.


Friday night.

Friday night I went on a pub crawl with my ultimate homie, let’s call her D. D is pretty much ride or die- one of my housemates actually pointed out that every story I tell starts with “So D and I…”. I guess this one is no different.

So D and I went to this pub crawl with a bunch of other girls, some of which are so lovely and poised they look airbrushed. These girls probably don’t trip over things or graze their knees climbing down trees, they’re actually pretty mythical, and they’re really really nice. The plan for the night was as follows: meet up at a local bar, move on to 3 of the university’s clubhouses, try not to graze your knees on the way, Harriet.

I think I’ll have to put a time stamp on the various locations and events to keep the story comprehensive. It’s kind of a mush.

18:00: D got to my commune. We had 1 and a half drinks each to get us going. All was good, we looked hot, I had a long debate with myself over whether to take an umbrella in case it rained.

Pros: my hair won’t poof, remember how much I complained the last time I forgot it

Cons: I am almost sure to lose it somewhere

The prospect of smudgy mascara and dreadfully spiraled baby hairs was too scary to risk.

18:45: A brief walk, sheltered from the rain (HA!) to said local bar, we’ll call this “Bar A”.

18:50: Arrived at Bar A, got complimented on my hair (thanks, I grew it myself), had one shot of Strawberry Lips (Nesquik for adults), took a few selfies (millenials, amiright?) before running for cover and cars and Bar B.

19:10: Bar B. Hello, Bar B. What a delight you were! There were glasses of wine for R10 and quite an alarming number of animal heads on the walls, hopefully haunting the taxidermist who put them in that position.

Not much came from Bar B, except the Solo Cup of dry red that warmed my heart and probably caused my quick deterioration over the sobriety line into “tipsy”.

19:45: Bar C. Bar C introduced itself in the form of R3 shots, Beer pong and a tipsy me trying my hardest to worm my way onto a beer pong team.

The conversation went like this:

Me: “Hello,hi. Can we be on your team?”

Rude male: “Um, sorry, no, we’re kind of winning and we’re about to play another game.”

Me: “Oh my gosh, do you mean you don’t want to play beer pong with 3 super attractive females?”

RM: “No”

Me: ” What the hell dude? I mean collectively we are a solid 8.” (D says it was at this point she didn’t want to know me, to be fair- I didn’t want to know myself after such a display of word vomit.)

21:00: Away from the accursed Bar C and onto the magical land that was Bar D.

Bar D was packed, shots were just as cheap as Bars B and C and I locked eyes across the counter with a certain tall mystery man from my lectures.

A brief note on mystery man: I call him Dark Chocolate, not to his face. Simply because one day he arrived in a tight grey t-shirt and I was bored and almost died. It’s also really fun to make puns about his cacao beans (MOM, THIS IS TOTALLY FICTIONAL).

Dark Chocolate poured his way into my immediate vicinity, flexed his muscles and asked me why he’s never seen me out before. Then Dark Chocolate bought me drinks. A lot of drinks. I was close to getting some of that velvety Aztec goodness when 22:00 closing time hit and he told me to meet him at Bar E.

22:00: D and I had lost our lift in the process of fooling around at Bar D. So we walked from D to E, somehow I still had my umbrella. I don’t remember much of this bit, except that it was a really short walk for such a far destination, maybe it felt short because I’ve forgotten most of it, I’ll have to consort with D.

22:30: Made it to Bar E. At which point I started feeling like I was on a train I couldn’t get off of. Ran for the balcony to get fresh air, D in pursuit, I became vaguely aware of some attractive male trying to talk to one of us. I had a moment when I considered using my charm on this man, but then figured it was better for D to handle it- I was not on my A-game, in fact we’re looking at more of the later letters of the alphabet. I was on my P-Game.

*Disclaimer: I am a smart girl. I look both ways before crossing the street, I eat vegetables sometimes and I never, ever pull stunts like this- until I do.*

22:45: I hugged the toilet briefly to no avail, D ordered an Uber somehow and got me water (my request- she was smart enough to know water = disaster).

22:55: Made the Uber pull over so I could properly chunder onto the side of the road. D made some comment about how much was coming out.

23:00: McDonalds. D got out to order for me, I wretched out of the car and had a quick nap. Apparently at this point one of the nice mythical girls saw me in such a position and asked if I was alright- damn it.

23:15: Home, a few chunder scares in the car. D found out her phone was missing once we got out of the Uber. Shit.

23:30: Chaos. Freaking chaos.

D ran through commune screaming for someone to help her phone her phone (I had no airtime). I lay down in the flower bed/ also the place my house mate extinguishes his cigarettes and was perfectly happy to stay there until morning. People thought someone was dying due to D’s hysterics, they weren’t entirely wrong. I saw the white light people, I knew my time had come and I was going to meet my demise in a glorified ashtray. Time to repent.

23:45: McDonalds had D’s phone. I don’t know how, I didn’t really care (sorry D).

I got placed on the couch for the night by my house mate in first year, who I also subsequently used to go to aftercare with. I have now officially lost the respect I used to conduct at my living establishment- I am no longer a wise mature student, but a train-wreck.

03:00: The inebriated animal woke from her slumber in search of food, found D in her bed and a double cheese burger on the floor, score.

The next day: Tried not to die.

So there you have it. The most intense night of my life, and the night I realised that the allure of R5 shots and a certain slab of 90% pure attractiveness isn’t worth the fuss.

I’m still alive by the way.


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Confessions of an apparently ancient extrovert.


I’ve always enjoyed going out. I think simply because I like finding new stories to tell and I am in love with the feeling of crawling into bed: smokey-haired and smeary-faced. I like feeling overjoyed that I made it back to my continental pillows and soap-scented sheets alive.

Last night was one of those nights. I went out with my fresh-faced and over-zealous first year housemates- whose wonder at everything I now deem to be novelties allow me to perceive my dingy university city a little brighter.

I love my first years dearly. I love how they wanted me to go out with them and how eagerly they expressed their delight at whatever outfit I’d thrown on for the occasion. I love how excited they get about karaoke nights and grubby bars. I don’t however, love some of their friends.

Queue the arrival of one particular irked freshman with angrily drawn on eyebrows and heavily contoured cheeks. She took one hooded look at my beloved, dilapidated watering hole, considered the fact that most of the people there were around my age (ages 20-22) and declared “well, maybe I’d come here if I were 30, but I want to go somewhere else.”

Her ageist comment made me giggle, especially when she needed the help of someone as geriatric as me to point her in the direction of “somewhere else”.

“Somewhere else” ended up being just as disappointing to Eyebrows as the previous place, so she graced us with her departure and I was able to fully enjoy my existence once again.

I ended up at my favourite grime-pit of a bar- the kind that condones table dancing and head-banging- and was accosted with yet another round of fresh and eager 18 year olds. One of them asked if I wanted to sokkie with him (in a seedy bar that plays only alternative music…okay, little boy) and then leaned in for the grand finale of whispering in my ear the smooth line of “so, do you want to make out?”. I laughed too hard and sputtered out a “no!” (poor chap, I’m sorry) before rescuing my friend from the clutches of a very hormonal, enamoured youth who was lying about his age spectacularly.

“I’m actually in my first year of my second degree”
“Oh really, what year were you born?”
“Forgive me, my maths- how old are you then?”
Flashing his braces, looking very pleased with himself. I’m sure his second degree doesn’t have anything to do with numbers.

I got home around 1. Flopped down onto my fluffy, wonderful, clean bed and felt immediately homesick for the people who weren’t around for any of this, the people I’d much rather have stayed in my pyjamas with.

I like going out because people are silly and their antics and their eyebrows and their terrible pick up lines are the best material. Going out also helps me remember what I have, and how desperately happy I am to have it.

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I Contain Multitudes.

Sometimes I need to remind myself of who I am, or at least, of whom I want to be. Sometimes I need to remind myself to actually be myself.

It’s weird. I’ve always felt so solid in my identity, a rock in the ebb and flow of euphoria and misery, order and chaos- the hysteria that is human existence. I have always been Harriet. I like ironic t-shirts and unintended puns, I like people and the world and the way the sky smells in the summer time. I fall asleep in the foetal position every night and I wake up with my legs tangled together in a mess of duvet and bliss every morning. I like going out and dancing on tables and telling too many people that I love them too often. I used to sing in class.

On my own, my identity has never been a problem.

But then I meet someone and I forget to ask myself if I like them, instead of “do they like me?”

I’ll find out their values and their morals and how they like their eggs in the morning, I’ll add their favourite songs to my iTunes playlist and listen to them more than I should, regardless of whether they’re good or not. I’ll read books they might be impressed with, or go on diet regimes they might appreciate, or make sure I stop doing anything that might particularly annoy them.

I spend days, weeks, months in a state of attempted perfection; don’t eat too fast, pretend to be cynical, read Edgar Allen Poe, don’t drink too much, don’t swear too much, don’t breathe too much.

I’ll meet someone and I’ll forget to smell the sky and to write and to take my human encounters with a shot of enthusiasm instead of scathing criticism, because they hate people and therefore I must too, right?

And every night I’ll come home and I’ll feel empty and cheated and confused- because I can’t separate myself from the person I am and the person I think they want me to be.

There are a handful of people in my life who I never change for. They’ve seen me shove a hamburger in my mouth without breathing, they’ve taught me how to play pool and how to be selfless and how to love unconditionally. And every night when I come home from emptiness and failed perfection they’ll squeeze themselves into the same chair as me, wrap me up and say

“Stop making yourself so small- you are so wonderful and smart and beautiful, and if you ever try to be somebody you can’t be I will remind you of the girl who wishes on clocks and kisses everybody on the forehead. You were raised by wolves- you will spit out anybody who destroys the people you love, yet you won’t get rid of the voice inside you saying you’ll never be good enough.”

So I’ll start breathing again, I’ll sit on library floors and read anthologies, I’ll take my coffee with extra cream and two sugars, I’ll start to love people again because that’s the person I want to be. I’ll remind myself that I’d rather be alone than a diminutive of myself.

Because like Whitman, “I am large, I contain multitudes”. I was born into a world of sunlight and summer skies, I refuse to be anything less than what I am.

I am not a shadow of someone else’s ideals, I am my own.

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Maybe People Will Actually Start Believing It.

I have this incredible talent for choosing appropriate times to screw up, often right before I go on holiday. I leave Pretoria the day after I make the mistake and come back 3 weeks later hoping that I won’t be reminded of my previous miscalculation. It never works. As I trudge down the boulevards, hands clenched in pockets, dorky backpack slung over my back, I am forced to recall every single dumb thing I’ve done leading up to this moment. I’ll take my keys out, unlock the front gate, step over the line between oblivion and recognition and then stew in my own stupidity for a good several moments. I’ll pause a bit in front of a certain patch of wall, feeling the blank space mock me for thinking I could disappear for a while and come back a completely different person. My room will smell like disappointment and look exactly how I left it: in a slight state of disarray, mirroring my tumultuous mind.

This time there is a collection of lost objects shivering on my doorstep. Tokens of an unfortunately unforgettable party that have found their way back to me. Carried by the ebb and flow of people dropping things at my door; lonely socks and house keys, items I forgot in my haste to run away.

I close my door against the cold and slide down it, back pressed against reality. Maybe if I draw my curtains, lock myself away and pretend I don’t exist for a bit then people will actually start believing it. No, that’s stupid. If life was that easy to ignore we’d all be doing it.

I think I’ll simply have to get off the bedroom floor, my companion through lonely nights and deep conversations. I’ll have to stand up, stretch, promise myself autonomy from my mistakes and then pretend I’m not a substitute person until people actually start believing it.

After all, I’m just a lost kid, in a slouchy beanie, trying to figure out how the fuck I’m supposed to behave.

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