Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Low Point of My Life, or, Advice For The Perfect New Year’s Eve!

Jana: Ah, New Year’s Eve. What a great time of year! Forever 21 is selling exclusively sparkly, skanky clothing, people are compiling lists of resolutions, parties are being planned. It’s always hard, though, to know what will REALLY be the right choice for a NYE activity. Because even though probably what you WILL do, in the end, is go to a party with people you vaguely like and drink way too much and then someone will take a picture of you making out with someone else who you only sort of know, and will post the picture on facebook, there’s always part of you that thinks that this year, you might just rent a movie and have a glass of wine and reflect on things quietly, and wake up and go for a run on New Year’s Day. On this day, New Year’s Eve Eve, I imagine a lot of you are struggling with a decision between two such options. To help you, I have compiled a list of ways to avoid later saying about New Year’s Eve 2012, “That was, without a doubt, the low point of my life.” It is possible!

In order to stay away from a night that will drive you to years of therapy, DO NOT DO the following things:

1) If you are young and in college and recently bought a new pair of jeans that were more expensive than your other jeans, and also went crazy and purchased a green tube top from that new store American Apparel that you suspect just MIGHT make you look super hot, DO NOT spend $50 on tickets to a weird band playing at a bar. If you must do that, though, definitely DO NOT put on the aforementioned ill-fitting outfit, skip dinner, and start pregaming at 8 PM. Tequila is a good thing to avoid in this situation, too. Because let me tell you this: If you decide to wear that outfit and slam tequila shots and then pile into your friend’s mom’s car to go to the bar, when you arrive at the bar you will know that you’re too wasted to go in. Your friends will go in, but you will have to gesture to the driver (remember: friend’s very sweet mom) that you need a ride home, and as you pass the charles river you will need to tell that driver to pull over so you can puke onto the sidewalk. You will wake up in your childhood bedroom at 2 AM with makeup all over your face and see that it is, in fact, 2005, but that you have missed it. To make matters worse, your parents will make fun of you the next day when they find out why you were home so surprisingly early.


Here I am having a bad hair day, wearing a weird tube top, and slamming tequila. What could go wrong?

2) If you previously had an experience like the one just described, don’t swing WAY in the other direction the next year. Ie, don’t take a babysitting job instead of partying. Sure, you and your friend will think, this way, you’ll make tons of money and avoid puking! You’ll find a large group of parents who are all attending the same party and tell them you’ll watch all of their kids – group rate, you’ll say, though you won’t specify what that rate is, because you’re probably an idiot. As you put on your jeans and converse and sweatshirt before you leave that night, you’ll feel really proud of yourself for being so smart and awesome.

Unfortunately, probably, when you arrive you’ll learn that a) the kids are assholes, b) they’re all different ages and have different bedtimes and c) a lot of them can’t eat gluten. But you’ll persevere, make all kinds of pizzas and non-pizzas for the kids’ dinners, and even spend midnight watching Scooby Doo with the oldest ones who refuse to go to sleep and don’t think your jokes about the movie are funny, even if they are super funny. Finally, when the parents return home at 2 AM, you’ll know it’s time to receive your reward. But instead, you and your friend will get a few pieces of chocolate and $40 EACH. As you trudge through the snow to your door, you will resist the urge to SWEAR AT THEM RIGHT NOW. But you’ll know – you and your friend now have a better understanding of how shitty things were during the slave trade.

(In the end, if you are not a COMPLETE pushover, you will write a strongly worded letter to those completely immoral parents and, after a really awkward exchange, get more money. But at the time, it will be like, HEY FUCK YOU, 2007!).

3) And here’s my final piece of advice. If you are in seventh grade and you’re a little weird (obviously, I mean more than a little), don’t go see “You’ve Got Mail” with your parents, even if you’ve already seen it the week before and you know you love it (obviously, who doesn’t, it’s brilliant). Because what happened is (and here I break the convention I have set for this post, because it’s just too sad to talk about except with brutal honesty), we went to see the movie and everything was going to be great. But before it started, I saw two girls from my class at the theater, clearly there seeing a movie alone together, whereas I was with only my parents. This threw me into a depression so deep that, after the movie, I refused to do anything but lie, face down, on the living room floor. My parents tried in vain to interest me in card games or conversation, but I was OUT. My face pressed into the carpet, I was certain I would never be popular, pretty, or happy; never, it was never going to happen for me, this was it, I would lie in this carpet forever, THAT’S IT.

I saw my father for coffee this morning, and he told me that story and said: “Honestly, I really believe that night was the low point of your life.” So, friends, don’t do any of these things tomorrow night! Do something that you will look back on with completely neutral feelings, something about which you’ll say: “Oh yeah, that was an ok night. 2012 might be decent, or not. Whatever.”

Catherine: All of Jana’s advice is sound. It was just last night I was telling Jana that she should form a new tradition by wearing sweatpants, drinking heavily, and hanging out with our good friend Kayla on the couch. I cannot say what the Jana will end up doing, but I sure hope I talked her out of going to that party where she won’t know anybody and I will field the “who are these people,” “i think everyone here hates me,” “do you think i can get a falafel delivered here and nobody will know?,” “this falafel is amazing,” “biubas falafel sjbi8 n in ugly” texts.

Extra advice? Don’t drink too much. Or you will end up looking like this.

That wasn’t even my hat.

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What has turned out to be a post about what an asshole I am

Jana: Once I got to high school, things were different. As you can probably guess, this was almost exclusively to do with my hair. You see, one day at the end of my annual haircut (during which I fielded the friendly chatter of the stylist I’d known for years with one-word answers choked out ridiculously fast and with the sore throat that I got whenever I talked to people not in my immediate family), I managed to give her approval to straighten my hair after blow drying it. As always, I sat in silence while she worked and tried to talk to me, and then slowly lifted my head to look in the mirror when she said she was done.

I remember being honestly shocked out of my fucking mind, because I looked DECENT! It was amazing. Afterwards, I have this picture of going to CVS to pick up something random, and my mind’s eye just wanders over the check-out counter while I think to myself: I’m beautiful. This is it. It’s happened. Maybe there’s a way out of my weird frizzy world! WHAT IS HAPPENING? Yes I will pay for this chapstick. LOOK AT MY HAIR!

Anyway, obviously this only lasted until I washed my hair (luckily THAT didn’t happen very often, so I probably got a good week off that first buzz). But eventually, the straight hair was gone with the water and the Pantene two-in-one shampoo plus conditioner that I thought was so effective. But I’d had a taste of freedom from hair hell, and I knew I had to have it again.

When I graduated from the alternative school where I spent my childhood, I had no choice but to enter the public high school in the town where I actually lived. This didn’t happen without a LOT of crying, self-questioning about why I had to become an adult, etc, but as these things go, September did come and I did have to start high school. Prior to doing so, though, I was able to convince my mother that my life would not continue unless I could get my hair permanently straightened. Not being cruel or blind, she gave in, and that is how I came to start high school looking somewhat like a normal adolescent.

And then the craziest part. The boys at the new school didn’t know about my past. They hadn’t seen this picture:

Here I am on the first day of 8th grade. Really take it in, and then think about how much had to change before boys started to like me.

They thought I was the cute new girl. I was completely shocked. It seemed like a lie. It was way too much to handle! I didn’t even know. I did not. Know. What to do.


He was the nicest boy in the world, or at least, definitely in the freshman class. For the purposes of this entry, I will call him Mark. Everyone loved Mark, because there was not one thing not to love. He was kind and smart and talented. And for some reason, he liked me. I knew this because he told someone who told me, and then I got wind that he was going to ask me to the semi-formal dance. I died. He asked me, I did not pluck my eyebrows or put on makeup, we went to the dance, I hardly talked to him. Afterwards, for some reason, he chose to ask me to be his girlfriend, which I somehow managed to say yes to. Throughout this entire time, I barely looked at him.

The point that I want to get to is that I was in the chorus and Mark was in the band and eventually we were both on a trip to Quebec. I knew this would pose considerable awkward hurdles, and I dealt with them by not thinking about them, from what I can remember, and instead loading up on disposable cameras. But on the last night of the trip, there was a cruise. Sunset, boat, romantic, etc. Everyone told me that he was going to kiss me that night. This is where my head immediately went when I heard this: NOT AN OPTION. I don’t think I even remotely considered the possibility that we might actually kiss and I’d survive it. I just went straight into survival mode, which is to say that I COMPLETELY avoided him. I spent the whole night hiding behind people. I went to the bathroom for huge stretches of time. I hid in corners.

Somehow, the cruise ended without us ever being alone. WIN! We got back on the buses, where we had to sit with the seatmates we’d picked at the beginning of the trip (I’d forced a friend of mine to tell Mark that she REALLY WANTED to sit with me, so it looked like it wasn’t my fault – in retrospect, this was really similar to those calls I used to force my mother to make so that I could leave social situations and blame it on her. This, I realize, is fucked). Anyway, I was all like “Sorry!” and sat with my poor friend, who looked like a jackass. I’m a dick.

In our hotels, we were allowed to roam freely until 9 PM, which was “curfew” – everyone back in their own rooms. We arrived back at the hotels at 7 PM, and I spent the two free hours in my room with my poor friends, crying. IT WAS TOO MUCH FOR ME! I could not be near him. What would I say? What was I supposed to do with my hands while I talked? Or while I didn’t talk? Was I supposed to look at his face or at his t-shirt? WHAT ARE SOCIAL QUES, I asked them. WHY CAN I NOT MASTER THEM.

Somehow, they talked me down. And then, at 9:05, I did what I had to do. Mark was residing in the hotel room DIRECTLY next door to mine. But I waited until after curfew, and then I called him on the hotel phone (I just had to dial one number, since it was just a room-to-room call). And I broke up with him. OVER THE PHONE, WHILE IN THE SAME BUILDING. I don’t even remember what I said, but I know it was terrible. Just the worst. The most awkward thing one could really do. Especially since the next day we had to take a bus back from Quebec together (thank god for that seating rule, right!).

That is how my first relationship ended. In case you’re wondering, my first kiss did not occur for two more years, and it also had to do with a chorus trip and an awkward situation in a hotel room.

Catherine: Jana, you are wearing Tevas in that picture. You’re really ok sharing that with the world? I mean, if you are, then wow. Brave, but I just wanted to call it to your attention. Because Tevas don’t look good, not on anyone. And if you (dear reader) are wearing them now, perhaps this is a good time to take them off? Unless you’re wearing those weird toe shoes underneath or something. In which case, get off the internet and head back to the store and join the rest of civilization by buying some proper footwear.

This post also reminds me of a post I will have to write someday, about how I spent the entire Freshman Boat Cruise on the back of the boat, alone, because I thought it meant I was “really deep” since I wanted to “take in the skyline.” (Surely it had nothing to do with me having approximately zero friends.)

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Advice To Everyone


Hey, guy. Advice, unsolicited, from me to you. Think about it like an early Christmas gift.

If you have a broken nail, or a hang nail, or anything like that, don’t try to fix it after having drank an entire bottle of wine. With scissors. At one in the morning.

It won’t turn out how you hoped!

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Wiping Out

Catherine: Jana and I met, rather fatefully, in the UVM production of “Hair.” (SIDE NOTE: Jana had actually first seen me in a summer production of “Ragtime.” Upon seeing that I was going to UVM in my bio, Jana’s mother, Mary,  very smartly suggested that perhaps we might be friends? Jana’s response, in retelling the tale is something like, “Yea, SURE!” (sarcastically.) Mary, as it turns out, was 100% right and Jana was once again reminded of the fact that mothers do, often, have a tendency to know what’s what.)

SO ANYWAYS. There was one particular performance of “Hair” that sticks out but for the terribly humiliating moments it had in store for me. Before I get into it, I should state, briefly, my addiction to Chapstick. I always have it on me, as does Jana, so we are both addicts. It’s real, it’s an addiction, now let’s move on. Since I had a costume with  no good pockets to use, I was keeping the chapstick in my bra strap, where it would be warm, and safe (what could possibly go wrong?) In  the most dance heavy and choreographed number of the entire show, where the entire cast of 20 or so was in very rigid lines moving completely in sync, I spy out of the corner of my eye, a red cherry chapstick on the ground a few rows of people ahead of me. Not. Period. I had to pick it up because a) I needed it and b) If I didn’t, it might be onstage for the whole show where it would surely be seen. And so I ruined the entire dance as I rather scrambled to get it off the ground and back into its formerly safe haven. And I never wore chapstick onstage again, but rather hid one of both sides of backstage.

Later in that same show, I had to ride my bicycle across the U-shaped stage (we call that a THRUST, now you’ve learned something!). It was a dramatic moment, don’t let me dissuade you from thinking otherwise. Well, as I completed my second turn, I realized that I had not left myself enough room to clear the audience (the front row of which was at the same level as the stage). So I crashed. I crashed into a big pile of boxes and, subsequently, some audience members. Was it loud? OF COURSE IT WAS. IT WAS LOUDER THAN A SONIC BOOM, I AM PRETTY SURE. The bike landed on me and I played it off like, “what? oh yeah, oh yeah that was supposed to happen!” while inside I was all like, “My body hurts and I hope I am not bleeding on my costume and maybe nobody noticed?” Cautiously, I spied into the crowd where, not shockingly, all eyes were on me. I walked my bike offstage, where those in the wings had heard a SONIC BOOM and wanted to know what had happened? I told them and was met with pity, shock, shame, and bemusement. I wish to conclude by saying that I continued to have to ride my bike in 7 or so more shows. WHY I didn’t get taken off bike duty, I cannot say.

This was taken backstage. I can only assume it was before the bicycle incident, as I seem in generally good spirits.

Jana: I have a lot to say about this post. I choose the following: It is true that I first laid eyes on Cathy in a production of Ragtime, the summer before we were to attend the same university. It is also true that I was very disdainful of the idea that this random girl might one day be a friend of mine, because I was sure that I would not make ANY friends and that I would fail at college and probably have to drop out and live in my parent’s basement (these fears are really well-documented in the plot of a short story I wrote for my 12th grade creative writing final – I named the main character “Jane”).

Secondly, the chapstick addiction is real, it’s true. Unfortunately, since our “Hair” days Catherine has become much less diligent about keeping it nearby, whereas I have become more so. The result is that she relies on me to provide her with chapstick when we are together, which breeds resentment. Catherine – how do you even survive in LA without me?

And finally, IT’S TRUE THAT SHE FELL OFF HER BIKE DURING THE PERFORMANCE, and that it was really, really embarrassing. I was really embarrassed for her, even as I danced around in the tight pink pants I had been assigned as a costume. It did ruin the scene and it was insane. Testify.

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When I was about 10 or so, “Hair Independence Day” loomed large. For a number of months, I feared it, and as it grew closer I became less and less sure of myself. But just like 8th grade and eventual adulthood, I knew it was something I would have to face eventually.

Let me explain: I have always had frizzy hair. When I was a kid, this wasn’t something that I was at all equipped to deal with – nor did I have any interest in dealing with it, really. I regarded it much like I regarded dirty tissues and tapered jeans: really just a part of me, and not nearly as problematic as all of the other major things I had to worry about, like how soon I would die and why all the grown-ups were dirty liars who acted like normal people and in fact had sex behind our backs.

Instead of dealing directly with my hair, every morning I forced my mother to stand behind me in front of a mirror and desperately pull at it until it was gathered into a ponytail. If I didn’t like the ponytail (read: if it wasn’t tight enough to be the sure cause of an eventual receding hairline), I made her do it again. I simply did not do it myself, because that wasn’t one of the options.

But one day, tired of listening to me scream at her, my mother imposed a deadline, and coined the Independence Day term. She gave me about a three month preparation period, and every day she reminded me that the day was getting closer, and that when it came I would have to make my own ponytail. I think she may even have taped a numbered countdown to the mirror. I was terrified.

Before I knew it, the day came. I don’t really remember it, so I guess it wasn’t that eventful. I mean honestly, most likely I just cried for a while and then pulled my hair into a ponytail and then realized that it was insane I hadn’t previously been doing that. For a short while, my hair life was normal.

But the thing is this: I was also pretty OCD. This disorder manifested itself in various random ways, such as my inability to sit at a table without first pushing every chair all the way in, and my occasional inability to go to sleep without spending about an hour getting up and moving small objects a little bit to the left or the right. Listen, it was manageable. Yes, I did have to give my mother exactly 19 goodnight kisses in a row that followed a particular beat and pattern before I let her leave the room, but who didn’t? I was dealing.

But then, something terrible happened. The OCD part of me saw that I now had complete control over my own hair. It sensed an opportunity. And then it discovered bobby pins.

BOBBY PINS, MY FRIENDS. They seem so innocent. Just little brown stick-like things, really; just supposed to be used recreationally, to catch a stray hair here or there, nothing crazy. But see here’s the deal. I had (OK I STILL HAVE) tufts of baby hair at the edge of my forehead that did not grow. Instead, they frizzed out. This created a frizzy glow around my head on a day-to-day basis, or two little horns if I was playing soccer (the sweat would clump the frizz together to form the horns). Either way, like I’ve said, it had never really bothered me before. But, with the new control and the OCD and the BOBBY PINS, I realized that THIS WAS MY CHANCE.

So, I just started putting bobby pins into the clumps of frizz and I couldn’t stop. Every morning I stood alone in front of the mirror and inserted one more, and oh actually just one more, and wait I think if I put one more here it will just make all the difference! Until my head was actually covered in bobby pins. Just covered. THEY stuck out. You couldn’t even tell I HAD hair underneath. I was essentially wearing a metal helmet, but I felt really safe knowing that I’d done all I could to look my best.

My sister starting calling me Bobby. She got all of her FRIENDS to call me Bobby. I have one particularly distinct memory of hearing the word ring through the school hallway (weirdly, again, this didn’t really cause me much embarrassment – it was more like, I know, right, SO WEIRD about the bobby pins – wish there was something I could do!). That was just that! Bobby pins. And me.

Here I am on the day of my sister’s 8th grade graduation (that’s why I’m dressed up in the green t-shirt). Although you can’t see my hair that well in this picture, I think it conveys a lot about where I was at in life. (And who let me hold my poor cousin, honestly).
Catherine: SERIOUSLY WHO LET YOU HOLD THAT BABY? And why is your shirt strangely wet in this photograph? Also, I am sorry to report to all of our dear readers that Jana’s hair really is as bad as she has made it sound. I have, in the past, tried to style it or fix it or even just appease it, but there are those hairs that will not be tamed. Specifically, the ones in the front that stand at attention no matter what the occassion, always ready to raise hell and ruin pictures.
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Things That Just Happened, Literally Just Now


I got up and noticed my reflection in the mirror and saw the most massive zit probably ever, which had appeared, seemingly, in about the time it took me to eat my breakfast (yogurt, which I hate, is allegedly good for me? Gross.)


It wasn’t a zit, but a good chunk of brownie that was caked onto my face. Because I had put brownies into my yogurt, because I hate it so much. And now I just hate myself.

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An Idea You Wish You’d Had, or, The Story of My Business Card Collection


When I was a kid, I was really into collecting things. Here is an abridged list of items that I collected:

Beanie Babies and Beanie Babies collectors handbooks (Obv)
Miniature glass animals
Business cards

I realize that, as we go down this list, it gets less and less conventional, until we come to the ultimate fucking weird thing to collect. But these are the facts. The story goes that one Saturday in December, while attending my elementary school’s annual Holiday Fair (which I LOVED and looked forward to ALL YEAR and could never sleep in anticipation of), I was struck by a genius idea. See, the fair was the kind of deal where they’d clear out all the classrooms and craft vendors from what seemed like all over the world would flock to set up stands and sell magical, useful things, like novelty soaps and handmade potholders and christmas ornaments. To give you a little picture of the fair, know that there was also a raffle, and every year the BIG raffle prize was a homemade quilt, which I wanted DESPERATELY for no reason that I can understand at all (I never won, but I did spend all of my money on raffle tickets). And, the sixth grade class always performed the “Mummer’s play” twice during the course of the day, which I looked forward to for five long years before finally reaching puberty and being deemed hot enough to play the Prince himself (the first in a series of male roles that I happily took on). Anyway. I’m getting away from my point.

My point is, on the day of this particular holiday fair, as I walked by each vendor on my sixth or seventh loop, still alone and blissful from the excitement of it all, I noticed that at the edge of each table was a colorful pile of business cards. Absentmindedly, I began to pick them up as I went. At the end of the day, I was DELIGHTED with my pile. And that’s when I developed my unique business model: BUSINESS CARD COLLECTING. A new niche! As the only kid in the world collecting business cards, I hypothesized that if I got enough of them, one day I could set up an office where people would call me and ask me if there was anywhere in Lexington to buy handcrafted scarves, and I’d just scroll through my rolodex of cards and point them straight towards a scarf vendor, or whatever in the world they were looking for. THE INTERNET. Is what I didn’t know would be invented and fuck up my entire plan.

Blissfully unaware of the developing ‘net, I got down to BUSINESS. I collected business cards right up through high school YES YOU HEARD ME. High school. During this long career, I collected over one thousand business cards. I kept a running tally, adding the number I was contributing to a long list to come up with a new total each time. Unfortunately, I’ve lost that list; however, since I didn’t know how to add and didn’t think to use a calculator, I’m also SURE that it was incorrect, so don’t feel we’ve lost too much. I did keep the cards themselves, however, in the special boxes that I purchased for this purpose alone. Please peruse:
Here are six full boxes of business cards. I don’t think one could argue that this wasn’t time well spent. 
Although I generally spoke too quickly and quietly to be heard or understood, somehow word did get out to my family members that this was a passion of mine. Soon I began receiving business card-related gifts, like this lovely business card holder:

As you can see from my homemade, taped on label, I saw this gift as an opportunity to start displaying a “card of the week” to the many visitors to my bedroom. Photo Cards by Erika didn’t even know how lucky she was to be chosen.

So there you have it: my greatest achievement to date. In the holiday spirit, I leave you with this picture of me, taken at the dawn of the new millenium and the height of my collecting success. I think you can see the innovative entrepreneurial spirit in my beady eyes (if you can get past the glare of my white, white face).

Catherine: I feel obligated to comment on the ‘miniature glass figurines’ that you used to collect. It is 100% not unlike the classic Tennessee Williams masterpiece, “The Glass Menagerie.” And, when I think about it, you and that protagonist have quite a bit in common. Pale, frail, beady eyes, terrifying smile… creepy Santa hat? Regardless of if that play is/is not based on your life, I am glad you spent your childhood collecting things whose value can only have grown. Wait, that’s not right. I take it back. You wasted your youth, Jana. And you were too pale.
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That Time I Died in a Minivan


When I was living in Italy for a few months, I took a mini vacation to London to meet up with my boyfriend and our other friend, as they had won a trip to London fo’ free from a game show. The trip was excellent, as London is a very cool city, but the last day was upon us. Faced with not seeing my boyfriend again for another month or two, he convinced me that staying up all night till my 5AM bus to the airport was the way to go. I protested. Ultimately, I lost the fight. Drinking, exploring, exhaustion ensued. By 5AM, I felt like I was going to die most likely. But. Off to the bus I walked!

I get on the bus – which turned out to be a very packed minivan – and proceeded to feel like I was going to die. Then, suddenly, I realized I was probably going to throw up everywhere, on the Asian couple in front of me, on my backpack, on myself. So, I walked up to the front of the minivan, hoping to find a trash bag. No such luck, not for ole Cath. I informed the driver that at a moment’s notice I was liable to throw up on him and his van, and would you please be ready to pull over? He hated me, and I sat on the cold metal floor bus, head in my hands, for the next HOUR AND A HALF.

Arriving at the airport was such a treat. I immediately threw up in the bathroom. I got in line for security. I left the line, to go throw up again. I got back in line. I was next, and the nausea hit. I held it together, sweat pouring down my face, having hot flashes, and finally made it through, sprinting to go throw up. Again. THEN it was time to find my flight! What fun, I found the terminal and there was a massive line to board. I retired to the privacy of the bathroom and threw up some more. When the flight was at last call, I was the very last to board. I should add that I almost didn’t make it. So, there I was, on the plane. And I kindly explain to the stewardess, in Italian, that I will likely need to throw up everywhere, and please don’t make me feel bad about it? She did not. And as we trolleyed off, I got out of my seat to die another little death.

I would like to add that the whole flight was a nightmare, and upon landing in Rome, still not having slept, I did not feel very well. Below you will find me on the streets of London, most likely predicting what was to come.

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