Category Archives: Social/Political Observations

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Standing Out

Ever feel like a fish out of water? A stranger in a strange land? Ever feel like it’s obvious the emperor has no clothes and wonder why the heck NOBODY is SAYING anything about it?

Welcome to my world.

The good news is, you are not alone.

The bad news is, I bet you are afraid to say what you see/to be yourself/to stand out. I know how you feel and I am not telling you that it’s wrong to be afraid. There are a lot of bullies, fear mongers, “trolls,” and well-meaning critics who can be pretty darn scary both on the internet and in life. People who like to make fun of those whom they see as “different.” Why? Because controlling others through shame makes them feel good. Their hurtful words are often said with the best of intentions, but deep down they really want you to do one thing: SIT DOWN and SHUT UP.

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For example: the phrase “hipster” is meant to mock an entire generation of young people who are seeking to express themselves in their own unique way. “Hipsters,” is a phrase MEANT to be dismissive. I know, I know… it doesn’t seem that hurtful but if you’ve ever heard this phrase while wearing a fedora or showing off your sleeve tattoo, it’s possible that you knew they were in part talking about you, and you felt a little SHAMED.

What to do, what to do.

Trust me, I have tried in my life to accommodate those who wanted me to be less than myself simply so that they could be more comfortable around me (relatives/so-called friends/teachers/neighbors/bosses/colleagues…) I’ve tried to adjust to what “they” said I “should” do about my hair/weight/face/clothes/career/art/dreams/goals/desires/taste/FEELINGS… but it just made me one thing:  MISERABLE.

I’ve even tried various ways of being self-destructive in order to numb the pain/the voice/the desire in me to meet life with all the creative gusto I have in me, but it didn’t work. The ONLY thing that has helped me move forward/feel comfortable/be HAPPY in my life, is to simply BE DIFFERENT ANYWAY.

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 10.43.30 AMIt boils down to choice. Do I want to be happy and follow my own path, no matter if it’s flawed/choppy/awkward/obscene to others? Or do I want to accommodate those who would critique me?

Do I have the courage to STAND OUT or would I rather be INVISIBLE?

It seems like a choice…right? But here’s the thing. Trying to be invisible HURTS. It physically/emotionally/spiritually HURTS. Wearing the clothes that no one will comment on (or that are guaranteed “approved by society,”) doing the job that “everyone” thinks is acceptable, saying the same things your friends do just to fit in… all causes PAIN… deep down in your soul.

So what do you do with that pain?

You numb it, right? Food/shopping/prescription meds/money/sex/drugs/gossip/over-exercizing/TV/work …are all ways we use to numb the pain… and the list goes on and on. And these distractions from pain can become so all-consuming that you don’t even realize that you are still in pain.Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 10.56.22 AM

I don’t want to live that way.

So there is no choice. I’m just a weirdo, and that’s that. I have to accept that people will say mean things to me on the internet, not understand or support why I want to do something… mud will continue to be flung. I simple have to continue to just do my work: the job of being true to myself.

This blog is not meant to be an exercise in emotional self-masterbation. It’s also about YOU. I hope today you will be BRAVE and do a little something today that feels AUTHENTIC and TRUTHFUL for YOU. Because I deeply believe that what YOU have to say, who YOU are is a gift to the world.

Buy Barbie head shoes. Get a ticket to a magic show. Take that little project out of the bottom desk drawer and put a gold star and glitter all over it.  And if you want, tell me about it. I like to hear about other people fighting for their unique way of living in this world.

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Paste Magazine Interview

Television Academy Hosts Daytime Emmy Nominee ReceptionCady McClain’s memoir arrives at a hugely significant time for women. Just a few weeks ago the social media movement #YesAllWomen launched as a response to the massacre in Isla Vista, California. While it’s difficult to say for sure what drives a person commit mass murder, it was clear to many people that Elliot Rodger was partly motivated by a set of misogynistic principles. Murdering My Youth is, on the one hand, about McClain’s complicated and often traumatic life as a child actress and soap star. But what makes it a more powerful text, is that—whether intentionally or not—it also reads as a critique of a dangerous society where men (including male relatives) feel entitled to a young woman’s body. Hollywood functions as an escape for McClain, but also as a predatory environment for the young actress. In sharing her story the author, no doubt, speaks for many others, but it has to be said that her journey is simultaneously, entirely unique. Pastecaught up with the Emmy Award winner to talk about this amazing story of survival and—in spite of it all—unconditional love.

Paste Magazine: I love that part of what you’re doing in your memoir is advocating for therapy. In your writing you mention that two of your therapists—Ron and Colette—talked you into writing more in general, and also writing about the trauma.
Cady McClain: I think it was really more Colette who encouraged me to write, but not as a form of therapy. She really believed that therapy is about the connection between two people, about talking and working through your relationship issues by being in a relationship with a therapist. She felt like the writing was very helpful for me just as a project. I’ve since done some research, and my new therapist has done a lot of work with veterans at UCLA. She actually pointed out to me as I was finishing the book that one of the techniques used with trauma victims is getting them to tell their story. The idea is to get them so comfortable with telling it—whether it’s recording it and listening to it over and over and over again, or if it’s writing it down and reading it—basically the idea is to help them own it. Owning your story is a way to release the trauma. I think it’s called immersion therapy.

Even more so. She told me a story about a woman who’d been raped in the military in a very violent fashion and she was asked to come and speak to other survivors. And the way she would calm herself down to prepare to go and speak would be to listen to herself tellthe story on tape in her car. In a funny way, it’s like when she’s reminding herself of what she was able to survive and to go through it reminded her of how strong she was. So she could move forward and help other people. Instead of feeling victimizedshe owns it in a creative fashion, and it ends up empowering you….

To read the rest of the article, CLICK HERE.

or copy and paste this link: http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2014/06/catching-up-with-cady-mcclain-author-of-murdering.html

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“Write What You Know” by Matt Rozsa

This literary aphorism may have been penned by Mark Twain, but it could have very easily been said by Cady McClain, the daytime television star (All My Children, As The World Turns, The Young and the Restless) whose memoirs, Murdering My Youth, were released on Amazon in April. Unlike many similar books published by public figures, Cady does not use this as an opportunity to indulge in celebrity gossip or promote future projects in her career. Instead she confronts a number of themes that forever simmer beneath the surface of her story – child abuse, the entertainment industry’s exploitation of young stars, female objectification – that, when they do bubble up, scald everything they touch.

While Cady isn’t the first writer to touch upon many of these subjects, her book is unique because of the degree to which it illuminates the whole by coming to an understanding of a small part. She doesn’t set out to preach or globalize her individual experiences, but simply to tell her story. It just so happens that, in the process of taking us on her own journey through memories that have “allowed me to negotiate this collective awfulness that we must sometimes call existence,” she winds up offering insights that will help her readers do the same thing.

​Take, for instance, this passage from the close of her book, where she summarizes the long-term effects of child abuse on its victims. Although lengthy, it deserves to be quoted in full:

“Adults from abusive homes do not easily trust others. We are very sensitive to criticism and have little confidence in ourselves. Our internal world generally vacillates between despair and rage. Joy peeks out sometimes with the help of alcohol or drugs, but it’s not a real joy—it’s a simulated one. It is a joy that can only exist because something is blocking the pain. Even in that state of manufactured aliveness, we are easily influenced by the ideas of others. We feel like freaks. We fear our own needs. We look to others: lovers, husbands, children, to help us change our lives or ourselves, and when they cannot we despair.”

There are many incidents of abuse to which Cady is referring here. The most heinous among them, of course, was the sexual abuse perpetrated by her father, who molested her when she was eight years old. This was naturally a formative event in Cady’s life, and she traces her evolving attempts to cope with the trauma – from confusion and defensiveness as a little girl and betrayal by her therapist to her struggles with her sexuality as a teenager and adult – with admirable candor. These sections are often uncomfortable to read (as they should be), but they are among the most courageous of her book.

​Beyond that is the abuse experienced by a little girl who was denied her own childhood. It is here that the dark side of a life spent in show business is drawn into starkest relief. We see Cady experience a grueling work schedule (and never get to keep the money earned from it), labor every day to support her emotionally unstable mother (both as a child and then, after she receives a breast cancer diagnosis, during her adulthood), and miss out on the fundamental developmental experiences that make childhood so wonderful. Even as she describes the upsides of this lifestyle – her ability to escape into the worlds of the fictional characters she got to play, to reach out to others who are as lonely as herself – one can’t shake the sense that, as such puts it so well, “Once youth is sacrificed to the movie gods, it cannot be returned.”

​Yet even many of the people most responsible for Cady’s childhood suffering aren’t robbed of all sympathy. Particularly poignant is Cady’s account of her mother’s heartbreaking ordeal after being abandoned by her father for a younger, more attractive woman. At one point, after her mother had assaulted her father’s mistress with keys in a blind rage, Cady recalls that “as my mother stood defeated and un-chosen, I had a deep pang of compassion for her. It was awful to see her so humiliated… fat and shaking and covered with blood and tears.”

​It is impossible to read this without juxtaposing it with the conditions Cady describes in show business, where women find their value inextricably tied to their beauty and are so often reduced to “shark chum.” The social standards that objectify women, which had left Cady’s mother broken and alone, had also helped Cady carve out a substantial career for herself – and yet also left her, if not broken and alone, then certainly wounded and struggling to come to grips with the meaning behind her scars.

​As the themes of child abuse and female objectification writhe and coil throughout Cady’s narrative, the importance of Twain’s earlier quote becomes clear: The story in Murdering My Youth may be specific to Cady, but its relevance is universal. Anyone who has been abused by their parents or other loved ones, regardless of the exact nature of that abuse, can understand what Cady means when she says “We feel like freaks. We fear our own needs.” No woman alive today can be insensitive to Cady’s determination, as well as that of her mother, to be viewed as a human being instead of the sum of her physical parts.

​When Twain urged authors to write what they knew, it was because he understood that the most meaningful stories are the ones that come directly from our own hearts. Murdering My Youth, ripped from the soul of its author, is exactly what he had in mind.

To learn more about Matt Rozsa and read more of his articles, click HERE Continue reading

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Lets Talk About Terrorism

Prayers for Martin Richard and his family

It’s here.  We can’t deny it.  9-11 wasn’t just a single, tragic and horrible event.  It was one in a series of events that has been visiting and continues to visit our country.

When I watch the images of the bleeding bodies on the streets of Boston, the photos of women praying on their knees at the blockades, the face of the eight year old child, Martin Richard, that was suddenly and savagely ripped from his parents lives, I feel like I am looking at a war zone.  A war zone in another country, but it’s not another country.  It’s the United States.  Only two hours from where I am shooting All My Children.

I first heard about the bombing from a news app I have on my phone, via the Huffington Post. Then I got a text from my fiancé, Jon, who asked me if I had heard.  Perhaps because I went through 9/11, living only 20 blocks from the towers, I tend not to follow war news too closely because the images are still upsetting, but I had to find out more.  I went to see Darnell and we quietly watched the news videos about it on my iPhone.  I texted my sister to make sure she was okay because she had just been in Boston visiting a friend.  In 2005 she just missed getting on the subway in London that was bombed.  Thank god she and everyone she knew was okay.

Everyone began to gather in the hallways when they had a break to listen to the news on a production assistant’s computer.  We heard they shut down cell service (bombs can now be set off with a cellular device) and knew would cause a lot of distress for the families trying to reach their loved ones.  We felt helpless.

This can happen now anywhere, to anyone.

Who did this?  Why did they do this?  There must be a message that the person who set those bombs is trying to convey or why would they do such a thing?  Bottom line, I imagine they want us to feel pain and fear.  I think they wanted people to suffer.

If it is an American, we need to talk about mental health like never before, as well as access to bomb making material.  If it is someone from another country who is trying to get back at America for perceived aggressions, then we need to talk about homeland security like never before.

I have the strangest feeling that no one is going to take credit for this bomb which could make this even more terrifying, because we will have an invisible enemy.  It’s hard to fight someone you can’t see, and it puts people in a state of fear and panic.  However, we must not allow that person or persons to take our strength from us.

As I watch the news I also see the incredible human spirit.  I see dignity, strength, grace, and resolve.  People who were running and innocent bystanders alike, people who came to Boston from all over the world, Americans and local Bostonians, all drawing on their faith and deepest resources to come to the aid of those in distress.

Terrible things may happen, have happened, will happen.  I think it’s important to remember there are things we can do.  We can comfort those in need, support those who are left without resources  with food and shelter, and not let ourselves be put into a state of fear.  We are strong.  We are resilient.  We will not be cowed by this weak and pathetic act of cowardice.

If you are suffering today, I pray for giant angels come down to wrap their wings around you to give you love and strength.  I pray that Martin Richard and his family and all those who have been hurt or affected by the Boston bombing also be deeply and tenderly comforted, whether by angels, or strangers, or by neighbors.  Because right now, we can all be angels to one another.

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An Important Video About the Sex Trade

Warning: graphic images.

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How a Group of Strippers in Southern California May Save Workers Rights

“Fighting for rights at work is never an easy matter. The very act of complaining about how one is being treated on the job, however unfairly, can elicit choruses of “you ungrateful whiner,” or “you are threatening us all,” from those who tend towards the unsympathetic. Unions, once the safe haven for heroes of the middle class, are currently mocked and shamed in the media, as if all unions are made up of characters from Boardwalk Empire. You know, mafia types with baseball bats and crooked noses. I mean, corporations, (the giant, uncontrollable, financial octopuses of our time) would never stoop so low as to take advantage of an employee.  How could I even suggest such a thing?”

You can read this entire article (and 139 comments on it) at Policymic.com, or just click the title of the article.

Or simply copy and paste this link: http://www.policymic.com/articles/19800/labor-laws-how-a-group-of-strippers-in-california-may-save-workers-rights

(Apologies, my theme is acting up and not allowing me to post links in the body of the post.)

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New Article: The New Orleans Times-Picayune Faces Storms on Many Fronts

I am very proud of this article.  Matthew Rozsa and I co-authored it.  Our efforts on both articles was completely equal.  I am really enjoying writing with him.  He has an incredibly organized mind and a terrific writing style.  I hope you find the article thought-provoking.  Please feel free to comment here or on policymic.com

http://www.policymic.com/articles/13577/katrina-7-year-anniversary-in-new-orleans-the-times-picayune-faces-a-digital-revolution-that-most-residents-do-not-want-to-subscribe-to

Read more articles by Matthew here:  http://matthewrozsa.policymic.com/

At Policymic, we can only upload on one of our pages, even though we authored both articles equally.  We made a choice to post the Catwoman article on my Policymic page and the New Orleans on his, although it would have worked equally well the other way around.

Thanks for reading and for your comments!

 

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50 Years of Catwoman: In Her Satin Tights, Fighting for Women’s Rights

Click the link below to be taken to a fun new article I wrote with Matthew Rozsa.  You can check out more of his writing here: http://matthewrozsa.policymic.com/

50 Years of Catwoman: In Her Satin Tights, Fighting for Women’s Rights.

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The Joys of Aging

There are a lot of people who are not happy with the fact that we age.  Entire industries and advertising campaigns are built around this feeling of worthlessness, focusing primarily on both functions and appearances that have decreased in, shall we say, lift.  Although I appreciate a good container of French face cream, and the happy results from a pill that makes a man last longer in the sack, I can’t say that the focus that our media puts on these two qualities as life changing is quite fair to our happiness quotient as human beings.  In fact, quite the opposite.

Women as they age can often become more desperate to retain a lost youth, using any means necessary to “fight” the natural process gravity exacts.  We as a gender can, generally, become depressed, anxious, bitter and intensely judgmental of both ourselves and other women.  Men aren’t that different.  They can become more aggressive, more power-hungry, date younger and younger women to prove their virility often looking more and more ridiculous in the process.  What to do?

In my humble opinion, there simply isn’t enough support out there for us to value age for the other qualities it brings.  Wisdom, insight, increased patience, humility and kindness are some internal effects that aging CAN have.  If you have taken the time to learn a craft, you might achieve a level of mastery at that craft and the attendant pleasure that practicing that mastery gives.  Some musicians are a point in fact.  How amazing were Annie Lennox and Brian May at the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics, rocking it out with wrinkles and gray hair flying wildly in the wind?

I am only in the earliest part of my journey towards middle age.  At 42, I am closer to my thirty-something counterparts in emotional charting, or you should think so, but the very mention of being my over 40 can sometimes have an interesting reaction in people.  Almost as if I should start planning my own funeral.  It would be funny if they weren’t so serious.

Apparently, I should be married.  I should have children.  I should be planning my husbands birthday rather than sitting here and writing about my opinion.  I should feel bad about how my eyes are going to shit, and how my neck certainly ain’t what it used to be.  I should be taking my children to summer camp.  I should be angry at younger women.  I should be mourning my youth.

But I’m not.

My youth (how can I say this gently) SUCKED.  I was treated like an object more than I was ever treated like a person, especially in show business but unfortunately even by some friends.  I was objectified, commodified, categorized and minimized – all because I was “young.” I ought to have been treated like a new egg with bright potential, hoping to make a difference in the world, but that rarely happened.  I was an object from which money could be made or sex could be culled.  Men of all ages (mostly older) hit on me, perhaps sensing my fragile daddy complex, and even lesbians took advantage of my complete naiveté.  I know some people saw me as strong and ambitious, but I can tell you now, I was scared shitless in total survival mode. Coming from this experience, why would I ever want to be YOUNG?

I love young people.  I thrill at being able to give them some insight.  I love being able to tell them, “I know how tough it can be, hold onto your dream, you can do it.”  I don’t feel threatened by them, whether they’re men or women.  I like children, and perhaps I will have one someday, but I have also listened carefully to my friends who say, “THINK ABOUT IT” and have paused.  I’m still thinking about it.  I have never gotten married because of one reason: I don’t want to go through a divorce.  My parents marriage and divorce was a total nightmare.  I’ve been through horrible, catastrophic, emotionally debilitating break ups, one that even sent me spiraling into a years long depression.  If getting a divorce is WORSE that THAT, I take marriage very, very seriously.

When I was a teenager my mother would tell me, “Katie, make sure to always have your own money and to make it before you are 40, because no man will want you after that, and no one will hire you.”  WHAT A MESSAGE!  What a load of bullshit.  Sadly, this message is still being put out there, causing thousands of women to feel total despair about their lives.  I’ve often thought about the 1970’s movie “Logan’s Run,” where a society creates a game out of a death machine, created to kill everyone (men and women) on their 30th birthday.  The characters would float up in the sky and literally explode.  Only Logan saw it for what it was and said, “I’m getting the f*ck out of here.”  Is it a surprise to hear me say, “I’m with Logan”?

The bottom line is this: our negative reinforcements of the stereotypes of the unhappy aging person are really uncool and yes, I believe it’s worse for women than it is for men, although it isn’t easy for either gender.

So this blog is my official shout out to all the men and women over 40,50, 60, 70 and on up.  You know, THE REST OF US.  You are NEEDED.  Society needs you to be vocal, to be present about your opinion.  We need you to NOT shrink away, shamed by your neck or balls or whatever, and for you to claim your value as people PUBLICLY.   I, personally, want to see more older women talking about what they THINK, not about what skin cream they use or what designer clothes they are wearing.  I want more older men to stop fighting each other for a power position and talk about what really MATTERS in life, and for both genders to get busy talking about how to help young people THAT AREN’T THEIR CHILDREN.

That is what older people are FOR in a society.  They are not to be locked up in some home so they can sit around watching TV and tasting 50 f*cking flavors of ice cream.  They need to be IN SOCIETY to we can HEAR what they have learned about life!

I know they are tired.  I’m tired, too, but not that tired.  I’ve been kicked in the ass more times than I would like, but I am not defeated.

COURAGE, my friends.  TAKE HEART.  Society needs you to help guide it.  To help keep it on the right track.  Don’t give up.  Vote.  Write a blog.  Start a business.  Council a kid.  It matters.  YOU matter.

So who cares about your neck?  Please.  In the larger scheme of things, it’s so unimportant.  This is why I chose a photo of Hillary Clinton for this blog.  No woman in the public eye has been more picked on for her appearance, when what really matters about her is her FABULOUS MIND.  She’s a brilliant, strong, decisive, amazing woman who is out there fighting the good fight.  I am proud to be an American with her working in public office.  So she’s aging?  WHO CARES?  That conversation is soooo boring.

 

 

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We Are All Animals

I’ve been working on a theory. It is SURE to piss a lot of people off, but I am learning YOU CAN’T PLEASE EVERYBODY, and MOST PEOPLE LIKE TO USE THE INTERNET TO ATTACK, NOT TO CONNECT. This second fact makes me very sad, but also plays into my theory: WE ARE ALL ANIMALS FIRST, PEOPLE SECOND.

I’ve heard it called a variety of things: human nature, primitive instinct, the “natural self.” We are taught it is a good thing to be in touch with these feelings as sometimes they warn us when there is danger, and other times they drive us to compete, feed ourselves and survive if not thrive. I want to make it clear I AM NOT SAYING THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THESE INTERNAL DRIVES. Oy! What I am saying is that I recently became aware how much they drive every single person every single day, and it was an unsettling feeling.

As some of you know, I live in New York City. Here it is easy to be a witness to human nature – you just have to step out the door and keep your eyes open: people pushing and shoving one another to get down the sidewalk, annoyed by those moving too slow, is a common enough site. Aggressive competition is the name of the game here and that is the ONE instinct in particular I want to talk about. The aggression. The hatred of “the other who is different.” The fear of the one that stands out. The desire to claim and keep ones piece of hard won territory.

I feel like this aggression has become endemic. I see it everywhere these days: from neighbors to strangers, in TV, films and theater productions, and ALL OVER politics, the news and media outlets. Everywhere the story under the story seems to be the same: this person is angry; that one is afraid; this group wants something and that group feels they will crush another person before letting them have it.

We live in a civilized country, but you wouldn’t know it from the way so many people talk to one another, and if you suggest anything different, anything like “hey lets talk it out, lets try to understand one another” the tendency, even in the most civilized of company, is to mock, ridicule, slander or humiliate – some form of aggressive competition designed for one person to win and the other to lose.

So why TRY to be civil? Why not just accept that we are ALL ANIMALS, operating from our basest nature and go from there? I have been seriously thinking of switching my worldview radically. “We are all the same at heart and need understanding” isn’t really doing a hell of a lot for me, so I’ve been thinking about coming from the viewpoint that everyone is like my dog: scared and snappy when he doesn’t feel protected; defensive around those larger or different from him; unable to survive without love and companionship; territorial of his space and with a strong instinct to pee where other’s have peed before.

I think I am going to go with this because it makes more sense. All the neurosis and emotional drives pale in comparison to animal instinct, and as a society I think we are being driven to extremes for some reason. It’s as if nothing less than high adrenaline, high risk, base entertainment and social interaction will do to satisfy.

What’s the matter with us? Are we missing passion or some kind of satisfaction in our lives? Is that why we attack one another?

Sometimes, if I didn’t believe in the possibility of good that entertainment, social discourse and the Internet can do, I would unplug from it all, because these days it’s beginning to feel like a relationship with an abusive lover. Crazy, dramatic, and soul sapping. But I do believe. I believe that writing this right now is bridging some kind of gap with somebody, somewhere who feels as confused and sad about the world they are looking at today as I do.

So what is the solution other than going back to what is usually labeled the “idiotic liberal socialist dogma” of loving acceptance and care for all? CAN we as a society find a middle ground where we accept our aggressive nature without indulging it? Does it have to be all one way or another?

What I find myself falling back into is politeness. Learned social behavior that allows me to walk certain territory with some grace. Saying “please,” “thank you” and “excuse me” allows me to feel good about the way I navigate my life.

Wouldn’t it be nice if more people practiced some of these old fashioned basics? Maybe it’s like putting a coat on a dog (for SOME people) but at least the dog still has to take the trouble to unzip before he can pee on you.

I would like to invite you to share your feelings about my theory, but please, try not to prove me right.

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