I met a rock star!

September 30, 2007 at 1:44 am (Uncategorized)

 lifehouse1.jpgLast night was so much fun! My friends and I went to Lifehouse concert at our school, and it was one of the best nights of my life.  

He looked at me! He looked at us!!

I hate to sound like such a star-struck teenager, but can you forgive me please, for just this once? But – my night was just perfect and lovely.  My friends and I got there really early to wait in line. I am not a huge fan of Lifehouse, but I do like them, I like their light, mellow, and rather depressing music – it is good homework music.

At around 8:00 the opening band performed, and they were okay, I didn’t really like them, they were more of a country rock band, and I am not a huge fan of the fiddle or violin.

I was anxious to see Lifehouse, and the cute, blonde haired guy on my t-shirt. I didn’t know his name, but he was so perfect. Longish hair, sad blue eyes, and just an explicable charm that made me want to run to him.  After the first band scampered off the stage, we waited some more, and then the lights suddenly turned blue and smoky, and I felt like I was entrapped within Hawthorne’s twilight realm. Except I didn’t want to flee or hide. I wanted to be there, right there — forever.   

As the band raced to the stage and took their places, the crowd roared and began to shout and scream things I couldn’t decipher, and I just stood there in awe. I don’t really go to many concerts — this is all new to me. 

But as they began to sing their opening song, I could feel myself floating into another, more distant, cloudy realm. I wasn’t here, anymore — how good it felt! I thought of nothing but the stage. I thought of nothing but the stage and the music. These guys were here, and how wonderful they were!  There was this one guy—his picture is above, who continued to look at me! Or was it me, or my friend, I don’t know, but I like to think it was me.

I just remember that stare of his – it wasn’t seductive, it was just mesmerizing in an inexplicable way. Those blue eyes, that changed with the light, I wanted to savor them forever. Every so often, he would look over and smile and stare at us! I don’t know how to describe it, but his gaze was so strong that I could never hold it for longer than I few seconds, but he made me want to fly away. I saw the sky and then I saw him. Don’t leave me here… Don’t leave me here…I felt like I knew him. He looked so sad. I wanted to help him. He even threw his guitar pic our way. When he smiled, we waved and threw up our hands.  I spent the entire concert, standing there, watching him play his guitar, and jump up and down, and how I love how he flipped his hair this way and that. I never wanted him to leave. I didn’t know him, but there was this unspoken connection between us. I felt it there.  

After the concert, we stayed and waited some more. We used our “connections,” and got to meet the band. We met Bryce! Except the sad part was when we saw him, he didn’t have any spark of recognition in his eyes. Did you see me? Did you see me? Or am I imagining this entire thing?I felt betrayed, but I forced a smile. He was nice, but that spark was gone.  I asked him for his signature and he signed a yellow scrap of paper that I had in my bag. Then my friend snapped her camera (look above!) and then he waved and walked off…

No, no, no, don’t leave…but he left — people always leave —

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today

September 28, 2007 at 9:35 pm (Uncategorized)

 Today was a strange day. My best friend and I having really been talking and I don’t know why. I am not one for confrontation and I so I just allow things to be as they are. Whatever that means, I don’t know. Anyway, we were eating lunch and I tried to speak of things that would interest her, RA stuff, which always gets her going and talking and laughing, even though I rather talk of anything but that.

But, there was something wrong, there was something listless in her expression, and I felt something new in her. I was sad too – yes, but she was sad in a different way. Perhaps, I didn’t know that sadness, and it made me want to take my lunch and hide or flee. I imagined those stars in the sky, and I wondered if their gaze was happy or sad. Happy or sad. Free or not.  

As we walked to my car, I saw her pull out a cigarette and light it. She had one earlier in the summer (she got it from someone else), and I approved of it, since she said that she allows herself to have one a year, strange I know. But, now she had an entire pack, and not only one pack, but two! There was a buy one get one free deal.  

When I saw her holding that thing, I wanted to cry. I wanted to swipe it from her fingers and smash it on the ground. I didn’t like that smell. I didn’t like the way it sat on her fingers, and I didn’t like the grey look in her eyes.  

“I’m trying it, out.”

I asked her if she was going to be done with all of this, after the pack, though she couldn’t promise me she would stop. No, no, no, no…I didn’t understand. We always spoke of how useless smoking was, and how it killed and killed your insides. I tried to talk to her from a literary point of view – it’s a symbol of death, I told her, it’s a symbol of death, and though her smile was back, there was something rather eerie in it — something didn’t quite fit right and it made me want to run far, far away. I wanted to run to that place in which I never knew. Was it there? Perhaps, it was never even there.  

Why? I asked her. Why? I wanted to cry out again. Why, why, why, why…It’s a mental thing, it’s a mental thing, it’s a mental thing…she continued to say. What does that mean?  

I begged her to put the cigarette out, but she continued to smoke it until the embers almost touched her fingertips. I resigned and sat there as I watched the smoke blow across my face. When I was a child, I used to love that rustic, deep scent, it was the scent of my uncles, and of my father. But now I hated it. I hated what it meant.  

I told her that she didn’t need it. If she needed it, then I needed it, and I would go under too. Your too many people’s hero to do this…I said, and her eyes grew large and red, and that knowing spark was back. She began to cry. I put my hand on her shoulder and let her cry. ***

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read aloud

September 28, 2007 at 3:27 am (Uncategorized)

          As I walked into the classroom, I was greeted by a sweet young teacher whose name escapes me. She had curly black hair, and a wonderful smile, that age can never touch. Her eyes were black and shiny. But I detected something wrong there, something wrong, she was sad, and I knew it. Why are you sad? Don’t be sad…

There were mountains of papers piled on her desk, and the room was cluttered with everything imaginable. “Why thank you for coming to read to our class!” She said to me and we spoke shortly of other things, what was my name, what was my major, and what was I doing with my life, all in the matter of one minute. As I spoke with the teacher I saw that the class was getting anxious – they had all of these wondering, smiling faces, and it made me happy. It made me really happy.           

Anyway, I read the story and the students were really involved! As I read, I realized that I had taken them away from the classroom — I had taken them away from whatever was wrong in their lives – poverty, abuse, and plain tiredness. I realized that I really wanted to be there. I wanted to sit in that cute blue-lined rocking chair all day. I wanted to sit there all day long and laugh and talk with those children. I wanted to hear their voices. They made me laugh and smile – I felt good.

“Why did the Crickwing do that? Why would he steal those things from the ants?”

I would ask with a skeptical glare, and ten hands would shoot up. My soul would jump and spin and twirl and I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to fly. That empty space was gone. I no longer felt that ache. No, perhaps it was still there – yes it was still there – but for that brief, transitory moment, it fled and ran for cover and I was flying again. I felt like I was near the ocean. It was nice to be there. I never wanted to leave. Do I have to go? Why do I have to go? Not yet – no…. 

I only wish I knew their names! But I just pointed to each student and nodded my head, and smiled and listened to their mostly crazy, far-fetched answers. Wow, I would say, that’s excellent or what a great idea!  Their little voices were like music to my ears and though sometimes I couldn’t really decipher all that was said, I still could hear that wonderful, sweet music that dotted and carried each word. I was no longer me. No one knew me  

I was Miss Angela.

Miss Angela. Miss Angela.  Miss Angela, why do study English? Miss Angela, why do you wear those silly glasses? Miss Angela, why do always say “ohhhhh, how cute!” whenever I say something? Miss Angela why this and oh, Miss Angela, why that – Miss Angela…

I don’t know, class, leave me alone! I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know anything.   

           PS. Hobgoblin also told me today that his American Literature classes weren’t going that well and it made me sad. Don’t let the class get to you, Hobgoblin — teach like you know how. You can do it! You have the power to get them to talk; it may take longer than you want, but you will get there, they will listen and respond. I know it! J

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passing…an excellent, excellent tale

September 26, 2007 at 8:33 pm (Uncategorized)

Today I finished reading Nella Larsen’s Passing. Have you read it? The more I read African American literature, the more I want to study it! If I had to choose one area to focus on in the future, African American literature would probably be it. I love their sweet, enlightening lyrical voices – it sounds like mine, and it makes me happy. How they came from centuries and centuries of enslavement, to create such a beautiful array of literature – poetry, drama, and prose – all mixed together to form a chanting melody of all those hushed, suppressed voices and all those who toiled and struggled for over 400 years. 400 years. 

In the novel, though some may call it a novella, Irene Redfield finds herself thrust into a world in which she can decipher nothing clearly. She has two young boys, who she tries to shield from the horrors of racism and prejudice. She wants to protect them as much as she can — she wants them to be “happy,” but she doesn’t understand that they will face the harsh reality at some point. She also has a laconic, drowsy, and rather helpless husband who does not help her in anyway — he only worsens her pain and torment and he is largely ignorant to her needs. Read this: 

“Strange, that she couldn’t now be sure that she had ever truly known love. Not even for Brian. He was her husband and the father of her sons. But was he anything more? Had she ever tried for more? In that hour she thought not” (107).   

She has these silent realizations throughout the text, and even though she wants to runaway, she finds her feet glued to the ground. She finds that she must confront these things, that she must see herself, for what she is and it is her friend Clare, who helps her look within herself.  

She reconnects with a childhood friend, Clare, who has “passed” for white, and who has married a racist, wealthy pot-bellied white man who travels most of the time. On a chance meeting, Clare and Irene meet in a coffee shop and so begins their growing friendship, of reconnection, spite, and jealously. Irene is very suspicious that Clare is seeing her husband, and we never really find this information out. All we know is that these thoughts consume Clare’s mind and soul, until they consume her:

“But beating against the walled prison of Irene’s thoughts was the shunned fancy that, though absent, Clare Kendry was still present, that she was close” (97).  

She can’t imagine her life without her husband, she rather “share him” with Clare than give him up forever. She denies herself from feeling – she rather feel nothing, than something but throughout the novel, we see that these feelings and emotions continue to resurface:  

“She was caught between two allegiances, different, yet the same. Herself. Her race. Race! The thing that bound and suffocated her. Whatever steps she took, or if she tool none at all, something would be crushed. A person or the race. Clare, herself, or the race. Or, it might be all three. Nothing, she imagined, was ever more completely sardonic…Sitting alone in the quiet living-room in the pleasant firelight, Irene Redfield wished, for the first time in her life, that she had not been born a Negro…It was she cried silently, enough to suffer as a woman, an individual, on one’s own account, without having to suffer for the race as well…” (Larsen 98).

I can never recapture what these words meant to me as I read them — Irene Redfield wished, for the first time in her life, that she had not been born a Negro — I don’t like to see these words just floating there, with nothing to attach themselves to – I hate it actually. I want you to read this novel, and feel what Irene felt. This novel was more psychological in some respects than Henry James (maybe not the best connection, I know) but I really understood her internal chant and sometimes I wondered if it was my chant, or if it was hers.

Read this! Or if you are a teacher, I would recommend this to your class J  

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a good day

September 25, 2007 at 3:09 pm (Uncategorized)

“What do you think the last scene means?” Dr. W asked us.

The last scene in Washington Square portrayed Catherine as a resigned figure who is knitting – a rather horrible ending when one has the chance to see the transformation that she undergoes in the novel. I jotted the answer down in my notebook as I raised my hand in response to the question. Dr. W looked at me and yet called on someone else. I hate when they do that! I waited and tried to listen, except what the other student was saying wasn’t at all what I thought, what I verily believed to be true.  Dr. W shook her head as the student spoke and then she called on me.

“Angela, were you going to say something?”

“Oh, yes – ummm….I think it has to do with the internal and the external. Catherine can never be free in her external life, but — but she can always be free in her internal one.”

I liked the ring of the words and Dr. W smiled, though she said nothing. I smiled too. Yes, there is nothing better than that. I felt as though I had done something to bring out the sun. I wanted to fly and twirl amid that warm, distant land — not a place in which I ever knew, but a place in which I always sought. *** 

Yesterday, was a good day. Hobgoblin also let me write on the board in his class, and it made really happy. *** 

Also, I gave my presentation and I did very well, I think. Other than the fact that Dr. W interrupted me a few times, it went rather smoothly, and I was thrilled because I saw many students taking notes! They were actually listening finding meaning to what I was saying! As I spoke about this and that, I realized that I had this inner music inside of me — how I liked its wonderful, sweet sound! I found myself wrapped within such a flow of words, and I didn’t know where any of it was coming from, all I knew was that it felt good.  

For my entire life, I have hated, hated the stage, and being up there was kind of felt like that. But now I kind of like it – I like it.

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presentation

September 23, 2007 at 11:47 pm (Uncategorized)

Tomorrow I have to do a presentation on Washington Square and I am really excited about it! As I said before, I love to presentations and I love to have the opportunity to impart what I know and have learned with others.  

So, today I met with my group. Sometimes I think I have should have been born 50 years ago or something, because I connect with older people more than the younger generation. Anyway, there is this older woman, maybe in her late forties who I met last semester in Dr. W’s class. I convinced her to take this course on the 19C and we are now working on this project together. Today, we had this wonderful discuss about the novel —how nice it was to have someone to discuss with!! She pointed out many things that I didn’t realize and I also said a few brilliant things myself. Over the summer, I realized – I really missed this. I missed speaking of literature – yes, I was reading more than ever, but I still felt like something was missing. Something was missing, but the strange part was I always new what it was, what it had to be.  

After we finished our discussion questions, which I thought were quite brilliant, she told me about her family and how her son has these reading disabilities and how her daughter wasn’t taking as many honors classes as she should, and oh, about how her husband was traveling all the time and how she was trying to sell a couch that she no longer wanted, and how she was no longer going to church with her children….

But, for a brief moment, I felt like the teacher and it made me happy. She was confiding in me – she was telling me her life story — and it felt good. I was listening and she was talking and though I am about 25 years younger, I could still feel with her. She told me that her son hated reading, that he could never read a book like this, not because he didn’t like it, but because it takes him much longer to absorb the text, and he has to read lines over and over again in order to make sense of anything. I shuddered at the thought. I am not sure what the disorder is called, she explained it to me with lots of hand movements, but I remember very little. I only felt this internal ache, and it hurt.  

But what I realized is that is being a teacher is like being a type of therapist– not in the usual anatomical sense, but – you know what I mean, right? A teacher is someone who is supposed to truly hear and see their students – not for what they are, but for what they can be

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washington square…finished!

September 22, 2007 at 11:39 pm (Uncategorized)

Today I spent a lot of time “working” in the library at my school. How I missed it! The lady who usually orders me around wasn’t there, so I had the chance to just sit idly behind the circulation desk and read. I finished Washington Square, and I liked it much, much better than The American. I found myself a lot like Catherine in the story, and maybe that’s why my teacher wanted me particularly to present on that novel. Anyway, I saw myself within her character – I feel too much like her to the point where I forgot that I was me and she was she.  

At first she is portrayed as a meek, humble, not that brilliant or attractive young woman of 22, who lives a quiet life. However, when she meets a young man named Morris Townsend, we see that she undergoes all these “silent rebellions” (Zora Neale Huston’s phrase) internally. What was a largely introverted creature, is now a woman who has awakened in a new wonderful, indescribable way. Read this: 

“She had an entirely new feeling which may be described as a state of expectant suspense about her own actions. She watched herself as she would have watched another person, and wondered what she would do. It was as if this other person, who was both herself and not herself, had suddenly sprung into being inspiring her with a natural curiosity as to the performance of untested functions” (106).  

Her love for Morris transforms her soul and makes her free – she feels, she has these feelings that she never had before and it makes her happy. She experiences everything for the first time and she is so enthralled by the prospect of love that she is willing to defy her father and that horrible realm of patriarchy and order and convention in order to seek it. I had fun watching Catherine step outside of this incredibly dark domain in order to reach self-transcendence and self-actualization. She suffers a great deal – but as one critic claims, she gains much more than she loses. Yes – she gains more, she gains much more.   

By the end of the novel, she is no longer dependent upon anyone – she is completely self-reliant and though she is still heartbroken, and that wound of detachment still aches her soul, she has found her true self. Through her circular journey, she has found repose and means of satiety. Despite her father’s condemnation and belittlement, she learns to stand strong and preserves, until the point comes in which she longer needs him. She no longer needs him ands he realizes that she must do what she wants, not what he wants. She realizes that she has a moral choice and her father has no right to enforce her decisions. She is done pleasing him, and she is ready to accept herself:  

“I have been as good as I could, but he doesn’t care. Now I don’t care either. I don’t know whether I have grown bad; perhaps I have. But I don’t care for that. I have come home to be married – that’s all I know. That ought to please you, unless you have taken up some new idea; you are strange. You may do as you please, but you must never speak to me again about pleading with father. I shall never plead with him for anything; that is all over. (163).  

Catherine had that power and maybe I have that power too.  

“To see for yourself – that was the great thing; he always tried to see for himself” (James 57).  What do you think?  

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ideas

September 22, 2007 at 12:58 am (Uncategorized)

I just read a very brilliant article for my African American literature class, called “The Tapestry of Living: A Journey of Self-Discovery in Hurston’s Their eyes were watching God” – written by Janice L. Knudsen. But – it really made my day. When I read criticisms, I really find myself intrigued in such a wonderful way — I make connections that I wouldn’t normally make and it is just illuminating for the soul.  

She talks about too many things to discuss here. But, I just love that feeling – I love that feeling of discovering something for the first time…it’s as wonderful as the September sunlight.

Here’s a quote that I particularly liked:

“You done lived wid me for twenty years and you don’t half know me atall. And you could have but was so busy worshippin’ de words of yo’ own hands, and cuffin’ folks around in their minds till you didn’t see uh whole heap uh things yuh could have” (83). 

I also found this quote when I was looking through other books that I checked out:  

“What could I dream of that had the barest possibility of coming true? I could think of nothing. And, slowly, it was upon exactly that nothingness that my mind began to dwell, that constant sense of wanting without having, of being hated without reason. A dim notion of what life meant to a Negro in America was coming to consciousness in me, not in terms of external events…I sensed that Negro life was a sprawling land of unconscious suffering, and that there were few Negroes who knew the meaning of their lives, who could tell their own story.” –Richard Wright in American Hunger 

When I read these words I read them again and then again. I couldn’t get used to their feeling in me – I knew what he meant, and it hurt to feel that way. It hurt to feel that way.  

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thank you again…

September 19, 2007 at 10:07 pm (Uncategorized)

            “Where should I begin?”

I said this to Hobgoblin the other day when he was trying to help me. Even though I continued to assure him that everything was fine, yes – everything was fine, the truth was and still is — that nothing is fine.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me — all I know is that it’s becoming more difficult to focus on reading and school. I just think about too many things, and I sometimes I wonder why I just don’t give up. For a long time, I was able to separate my school life and my home life, but now the lines are blurring and I feel as though I don’t know myself at all. When I talk to my mom, I just want to cry. When I hear my brother’s sad voice, I want to do the same. I think it’s because I miss them. I miss the intricate circle that we had formed over the summer.  I miss pizza on Friday’s. I miss reading while my mom cooked dinner. I miss their infectious laughter. I miss my sister and our stupid jokes that only she and I understood. But mostly, I miss me. ***         

I remember standing outside, under a majestic bright blue sky that I just wanted to fall into and never come back, never put my feet back on the lowly ground. Hobgoblin asked me what I wanted to do, what I saw myself doing ten years from now. I knew the answer before he asked it. I saw myself in front of the classroom, with a piece of chalk in hand.

What do you want to do? He asked and I wouldn’t, I couldn’t – look him in the eyes; I find myself reluctant to look within the eyes of anyone and I’m not sure why. Perhaps, I don’t want them to see what’s there. I am afraid that I will scare them and then they would run far away and never return.

“I want to do something with people — I want to do something…” For some reason I couldn’t say what I wanted to do. I had it there, lying so close to my heart and yet I was unable to say it. I wanted to talk, but I found no words. But — I finally managed to say I wanted to teach. I knew he must have smiled then, though my eyes were plastered to the September sky. I could feel the cool wind against my cheek and I could hear the warm, resonant melody of the trees. As I stood there, I wished time and time again that I could write something in the sky.  

I said some things that I had been holding in for too long and I felt a lot better. My father no longer believed in me, but he did. Someone else believed. ***

Hobgoblin listened, and how nice it was – how nice it was — to have someone listen! Anyway, Thanks, Hobgoblin.    

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the play

September 18, 2007 at 3:40 pm (Uncategorized)

On Saturday, I went to Harlem with sweet little Dr. Eva and a few other students to go see a play. I had a wedding to go to, but I decided not to go the night before. I wanted to go for Dr. Eva. On Saturday morning, when I saw her walk out of the building, her eyes glowed with an unknown spark and I wondered whether it was sunlight or internal light.

“Dr. Eva!” I shouted. I walked over to her and I gave her a hug. Dr. Eva reminds me of Mema and I can’t say why other than she has the same dark skin and gentle, beckoning eyes.

“Angela, you’re here,” she said and her voice sounded like music.

As we gathered by Public Safety, we decided who was going to drive. “Who has the biggest car?” I raised my hand and volunteered (I still feel compelled to raise my hand outside of the classroom – I know I need to get out more). I have my mother’s Honda mini-van and I hate it! All my life I told myself that I would never, ever drive a mini van. I feel like I should have a few kids in the back or something.

So – I drove. “How are doing up there, Angela” one of the others teachers who came along said, and I felt like a pilot who was exploring unknown territory with my crew in the back. I missed driving. I missed driving, anywhere, I felt as though all I needed was a highway. I could spend all day just riding along, just listening to music. There is something about it that helps the soul and I am not quite sure how or why.

Due to lateness and other circumstances that I will not go into, we missed the train and had to wait. I took us to a Starbucks nearby and I instantly smiled. I remembered how our writing group was held there and how I missed it.

Dr. Eva asked if she could have a shot whisky in her coffee and we all laughed. It was a rough morning. We missed the train and we would be two hours behind schedule. But, it was okay we kept saying to ourselves and especially to Dr. Eva. We made the best of it. We ordered coffee and we went to get bagels from a nearby shop and talked and laughed and talked some more.

My friend told the other teacher that came along that I written a book, and I frowned. I don’t want anyone to know!  She was making fun of me, as usual. And then the lady wouldn’t leave me alone. What’s your book about? Are you considering having it published? What inspired you to write it?  And so on and so forth. I wanted to run away. I felt like I was hit with a block of ice. I hadn’t touched that thing so long. In too long. I wondered if it hadn’t disappeared. I tried to change the subject as I sipped my warm apple cider. We spoke of other things, but the thought of my story still lingered there– it clouded all of my thoughts and it made me frustrated and sad. I had given up on it. I left my piece to wither and die.

For the rest of the day, I couldn’t shake these thoughts from my mind. They hurt and I felt as though my heart had been cracked in an infinite array of pieces, none of which matched up or could ever be connected. What was I doing?

We made the next train and arrived in Harlem at around 4 o’clock. We still had just enough to visit the Shromburg – a African American literary research center, and I was able to buy postcards – the same that Mrs. Eva have in her office – of Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes (I saw the YMCA in Harlem were he stayed), Maya Angelou, Macolm X, though I was disappointed because they were ‘sold out’ of Toni Morrison. I was very proud of my purchases and I couldn’t wait to frame the pictures, where would I hang them?

Afterwards, we went to see a one-woman play based on the life of Zola Neale Hurston. There were scenes when she was smiling and happy and there were others in which she cried and cried. I remember thinking, I know what she is saying, I know what you are saying and I can relate to what you are saying all too well…I remember when the actress spoke of her troubles in the publishing world — how she fought and struggled against writers of her own race, like Richard Wright, who degraded her for using the black vernacular in her prose. She also spoke of the whites who didn’t like “how she portrayed her people” — her people, but what in the world did the whites know about her people?

All I could think about was Carrie in Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, and how the stage was the only place in which she could find meaning in her otherwise dismal existence. I thought this woman had what it took. She had the audience hanging on her every word. She had this inexplicable charm about her that made us stop to listen and to think.  Even through all the horrible things that happened to her, I discovered that there was still a pear tree in the center of the small stage. I remembered how Hurston used the pear tree as a metaphor for love in her book – Their Eyes are Watching God and I tapped Dr. Eva on the shoulder – I couldn’t hold in my excitement

“Look — it’s the pear tree,” I whispered  and pointed and she nodded as though she knew too – she knew too. After the play, we ate dinner in the lower level of the theater and it was delicious and warm and fresh. We had chicken, collared green, honeyed yams, and something that tasted like a biscuit – soul food at its best.

“Is it okay to drink with the students?” Dr. Eva asked us with a questionable glance, as though she would anyway. We reassured it was alright and we laughed. ***

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