New to New York

This week marks a special time in my life, in that I will be traveling to New York City for the first time. It has been called the city that never sleeps, at least so I've been told by every main stream media outlet that references the place. But for me it's going to be a non stop, go go go kind of adventure looking at art, going to a super art conference, and eating everything I can get my hands on. Jessamy (my grad school battle buddy) and I are going up there this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for the annual CAA conference, which is summed up as:

The College Art Association Annual Conference is the largest international gathering of professionals in the visual arts. The program is filled with opportunities to join more than 250 stimulating sessions and meetings on a wide range of topics on art scholarship and practice; to engage in in-depth discussions on new scholarship, innovative art, and issues in the arts today; and to connect with colleagues from across the country and around the world.

We will be staying at an old international student youth hostel in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, two blocks out from Central Park and only a short subway ride to the conference center and all things New York. What I am most looking forward to aside from going to NYC, is the conference itself. CAA is the largest art conference currently, and I feel like I have been climbing the ladder up to this point. Although I am not presenting at this conference, I hope to do so in the future. This year I applied for a number of things at CAA, but it was all revolving around simply attending the event. I applied for the graduate travel grant which allows students from far away access to the conference with a travel stipend, and lodging, as well as complimentary conference admission. Unfortunately however I was not awarded that grant, but I was offered a position to work the conference by Katie Aspey, the Director of Programs at CAA. She was very helpful in attempting to get me involved in working the event, but after some talk with my professors they advised that this first go around I should just attend the conference and explore the city. Ms. Aspey gave me a rain check for next year's conference so theres hope for the future in getting more involved like I have at SLSA and SECAC. As for the conference, Jessamy and I will be using the new and improved CAA-Pay as you Wish day passes for the conference. Which gets us in for the day and lets us not be so locking into the full registration of the conference cost, even at the discounted student rate.

Lately I have been reading up on things to do in the city and places to see as well as artists who might have shows going on that I have to put on my to do list. What has been extremely helpful has been the New Yorkers "Goings On About Town" column online. You can actually click through what sort of things you want to see and the art column is fantastically jam packed with the current things to do and see in the city. Galleries such as the Gagosian Gallery on 24th Street, The Pace Gallery downtown, Matthew Marks Gallery, and the Sean Kelly Gallery are a few on my list of maybe swinging into and seeing what exhibitions in a top tier gallery are like in person. In particular the Gagosian is having a showing of a new Mark Tansey work called "Reverb" which he completed just early this year. I really enjoyed learning about Tansey in class with Julie McGuire, and the theoretical reasoning behind his work has always interested me. His work deals with:

Each of Tansey’s paintings is a visual and metaphorical adventure in the nature and implications of perception, meaning, and interpretation in art. Working with the conventions and structures of figurative painting, he creates visual corollaries for sometimes arcane literary, philosophical, historical, and mathematical concepts. His exhaustive knowledge of art history accumulates in paintings through a time-intensive process. Images are mined from a vast trove of primary and secondary sources assembled over decades—magazine, journal and newspaper clippings, as well as his own photographs—which he submits to an intensive process of manipulation. The strictly duotone paintings have a precise photographic quality reminiscent of scientific illustration, achieved by applying gesso then washing, brushing and scraping paint into it.
— Gagosian

Next up lets talk about museums. New York is the stomping ground for good art and some of the best museums around are located in the big city. On our list of places to see are The Met, the MoMA, the Whitney, and the Guggenheim. If there were any bigger names in the art world this blog couldn't handle them all at once. Old school Velasquez paintings art housed in the Met, but then right down the hall new works by up and coming artists flood the walls. Down the road in The Metropolitan Museum of Art there is an exhibition on Maiolica, Italian Renaissance Ceramics by Timothy Wilson, which I know some of the ceramic students would love to hear about since they just completed their very own maiolica project last semester.

As for a quick update on whats happening in my's the deal...I have no idea, well, yes I do. I put up on my wall about 725printer points worth of color images of all sorts of things. Let me just leave you with some images of what has been happening, and I'll explain more later. For the rest of the day I am going to Savannah to grade assignments, read heavy theory articles for homework, and probably have some kind of fancy dinner.

Deadlines and Self Reflection

This week at school was full of deadlines and a much needed period of reflection on my own work because of the stress I was under.  Nothing will kick you into high gear like realizing you have a test, a paper, a critique, and two meetings with professionals to make you step back for a minute and think what needs to be done to remedy the known as procrastination.

See my medium of choice does not allow for too many short cuts.  It's ceramic.  Which means I have to measure and make the actual clay mixture I use first.  This is about a 3 hour process of measuring, mixing, sifting, and then mixing again to insure an even consistency.  Then I have to make the work which is a few hours to a few days time.  Then its time to dry into greenware, again, another day or two.  Next is bisquing in the kiln, a minimum of 3 days, then glazing, another 3 days minimum, but could be longer if I decide to reglaze a piece over and over again at lower temperatures each time working on the color.

Basically it's a long process.  Therefore I always have work ready for critique because I make the work in advance, on a rolling basis.  I always have a project going, I always have things to do, things to test, things to get done.  This is where the stress comes in.  Couple that constant need with the other tasks I have to complete and it makes for a very stressful person.  To fight the stress I added another task to my day, but it's a necessary evil which is helping me work on myself as well as my art.  The solution- I go to the gym.  And oddly enough I get a lot of mental work done while I am there working out.  It's my time to question my next move in the studio, without being distracted by all the other tasks at hand.  This has by far been my best solution to all my problems as of lately.  I can think clearer when I am just running on the treadmill, because I've got nothing else to do.

I've spent this week so stressed out that I was losing steam in the studio and I hadn't made anything worth looking at, or at least I thought so.  But now that I go to the gym early in the morning, and then come to the studio a whole hour before anyone else arrives, I've had the time to focus and actually think about what needs to happen next.  Ive finally started my journey in Porcelain, and I have 3 different pieces which just need to be clear glazed and maybe colored for them to be finished.  My professors been gone all week long so I've held off on glazing them until we sit down and talk about their current form and how I made them.  They are very different from the past works in my mind.  Not just because of their material, but because of their visual qualities.  I'm excited to see where it goes.  I've attached all kinds of studio photos from over the past weeks in this blog entry as well, because I haven't photographed them professionally yet and I think studio clips help show myself and others the process I work through.

Over the weekend I managed to go to the grand opening day of the Statesboro Open Farmers Market, and I meandered through the Averitt Gallery to see an undergraduates students first solo installation as well as a ceramic innovational exhibition.  Zak Kelly has his paper making show, where he installed floor to ceiling paper that he made on all the surfaces of the gallery space.  Including a table top, chair, a toy gun, a box of cards, and some dice.  It's all covered in paper.  It was refreshing to see such a large scale work installed by a student who will soon be a fellow graduate student in my department.  As for the ceramic work, people like Nia Rementelas, Eric Jones Hall, and Jason Stanley Hall had works on display showcasing a variety of material choices and styles of execution.

I am looking forward to the next few weeks, with the prospects of new visiting artists, fellow student visits, and more hectic deadlines looming.  It's getting closer to the end of the school year and this last month will be a big push to the finish line.  So I know I have a busy life ahead of me.

Finding Purpose and Direction in Your Studio

It might be the fact that I've been listening to the soundtrack of Shawshank Redemption on repeat, or that another month of school is slowly ticking it's life away, but lately I have been having a hard time finding the purpose behind making work.  Countless hours spent in the studio till odd hours in the morning must produce some sort of reasoning right?  When does this moment of "ah ha" happen, because I am not finding it.  (I assume this is a normal conclusion for someone in my predicament, but it is never the less frustrating.)  All I am getting is more and more questions. Questions like what happens when I wrap and tie my ceramics up to the point they look constrained and bound to no end? What does it mean to want to contain this space within, to restrain it from escaping with strings, twine and bindings? What does color do to the pieces, does it make them less chaotic or more so?

Never ending questions that I still can't even begin to answer.

But enough of the whaoo is me, I can't figure out the meaning of life bull crap!  I have made some big leaps since last week.  First off, I am going to my second conference of my grad school career in Savannah this upcoming weekend and will actually be Chairing my very own panel session.  This is a big deal people! Its through the British Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies International Conference and I am one of four conference liaisons that will help host, direct, and chair the conference as a whole.  I am extremely excited about this since it's a major opportunity to learn the insider scoop on how conferences work and how to properly chair panel sessions.  I will be watching a number of sessions on Friday at the Conference, and then actually running a panel by myself Saturday, called Gender Equality in a Postcolonial Context with three foreign presenters discussing their papers.

This week also brought about my first exhibition of the semester, in Gallery 303 at Georgia Southern called Inspired.  It's a mixture of student work, both graduate and undergraduate level and will be on display for just over a months time.  I also applied to the Vermont Studio Centers residency program in hopes to land a residency over any of the school holidays later this year.  We'll see what happens I suppose.  There's also one other major event that happened but it's still under the radar so I won't be able to disclose it this week but maybe next week I can spill the beans on another great opportunity I received.  Until then I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the best!

I found a number of different artists to highlight in this weeks blog, and narrowing them down to one I really wanted to discuss was tricky.  Right now in my studio I am dealing with figuring out the right size my pieces should be, their color, and their texture.  The artist I found that helped me most answer these questions is Canadian sculptor Susan Collett.  She creates large scale ceramic works that she pushes towards the edge of collapsing by stacking hand built clay slabs one on top of the next.  He pieces are extremely sculptural which is something that I like because my works also have no functional purpose.  This May, her and two other ceramic artists are exhibiting in Montreal at the Galerie Elena Lee in a show called Master Ceramicists.  She's had her ceramics displayed all over the world, in places like Dublin, Taiwan, and New York to name a few.

Two of her body of works from 2015, called Aggregate and Maelstrom are probably the most influential to me at this time simply because of their visual qualities.  Maelstrom is mostly black and white while Aggregate is full of color.  The contrast in surfaces in the two groups has shown me that one artist can swing both ways and doesn't have to commit to one style.  The works are very much alike structurally, but their glaze coloring groups them into different collections-something that I want to try in my future pieces.  I miss working with bright obnoxious colors, but making that happen in ceramics and it not look muddy or like a big accident is a logistical nightmare.

I completed four new pieces this week and tried color out for the first time in them.  I am still not sure if I like the results yet or not.  I am working with stains that do not run or flux much, but that leaves them almost with a milky surface texture.  I only glazed the string and twine a color, leaving the body of the piece a soft white.  So now I am left with collapsed and slumping forms wrapped and tied down with bright yellow, orange, green, and black "string" which isn't actually string at all because it's all just ceramics.  One piece in particular which I have named Box is encased in black thread, even across its gaping opening.  But one yellow piece of string works its way throughout the encroaching blackness on the white body.  It's a pretty powerful looking piece in my eyes, but I think only because I know how much went into making it work.  I'll have to see what the audience thinks about it, and it's fellow colorful companions next critique.

The newer pieces I am working on have scaled up in size, as well as techniques.  I've changed clay formulas, adding more alumina hydrate to stiffen the mix, and sprayed white engobe on the forms to give them a whiter base once bisque.  This should increase their opaqueness once glazed and the underlaying clay body will not be as visible.  I will also be making a porcelain body clay this week to try out, because the type of clay a person uses is just as important as what the final piece looks like.  Not saying that my clay body is bad, but to a ceramicists, a stoneware clay, and earthenware clay, and porcelain clay all come with different difficulties and qualities once fired.  I'm going for a whitest of whites clay body, so porcelain is my next move.  I may not know all the reasons yet as to why I am making the things I make, but I at least have a direction and that's all that matters at the moment.

Sketch Books and What they Do for Artists

No one tells you in graduate school to keep a sketchbook.  In fact your professors won't even do those cheesy notebook checks to grade your content and thought process.  Instead it's kind of an understood given fact of life that you, as an artist, should be keeping an active sketch book even if you don't "draw".

For me however, sketchbooks are probably the hardest thing for me to actually commit to, aside from going to the gym on a regular basis; which I will never master.  This whole past week I have been putting extensive thought into how I will continue making art in Ireland over the summer and all I keep coming back to is a travel sketchbook.  Last year I had the opportunity to jump across the pond to London and I spent just over two weeks traversing the city for a second time in all it's glory.  While there I took very little photographs, instead I wrote often and sketched the places and things I was seeing.  I returned home with a book full of memories instead of just a couple of selfies, and my sketchbook is a work of art in itself.  For centuries artists have been keeping active sketchbooks, so why is it so damn hard for people to keep them nowadays?  I believe the answer comes in that we no longer write things down, instead we text it.  We also don't see the need to draw whats before us because we can now capture it through few quick taps on a cell phone.  We don't use our hands anymore, I am guilty of this just like anyone else.

But I am going to change that, or at least try to.  I think writing this blog, although it is electronic, is making me actually think about what it is I have to say; and most importantly is it even worth writing down.  I was searching for exhibitions of artists sketchbooks and had a harder time finding them than I thought I would, seeing as how most artists keep them in some form or fashion.  I found that a number of museums have a sketchbook or two of the artist on display, you know the famous ones like Picasso, or Monet.  But I couldn't find any dedicated to todays artists, those making art right now.  The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University is currently exhibiting 29 sketchbooks of late abstract expressionist painter Richard Diebenkorn.  For years his sketchbooks sat in a cardboard box in his home after he passed, and his wife pretty much was against letting the public see "such an intimate view" of her husbands works.  I am completely with her on this, because my sketchbooks contain more than just drawings, they also contain vast amounts of writing.  It would be giving my audience an in-depth view into how my mind works, and I'm not sure if I am up to that just yet.

I also found The Sketchbook Project which was founded in Atlanta, but is now based out of Brooklyn, NY.  It's an actual place where artists can donate their sketchbooks to be cataloged and digitized, then housed for the public viewing.  It's a library dedicated to your thoughts, in New York, at the Brooklyn Art Library in else could you sketchbook live on for an eternity?  I plan on donating some of my old sketchbooks to them as soon as I get the muster up to part ways with them.  It's like letting go of a piece of yourself, and again, I'm not sure if I am ready for that just yet.

The last type of sketchbook I found came from a group of people that hold a special place in my heart, and thats the trail hikers journal.  I know this sounds a bit off topic, but if you have never seen a trail hikers journal or sketchbook, you are missing out on some of the most honest and real types of writing there is these days.  See I plan on hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, all 2186 approximate miles when I graduate school.  I was going to start hiking it this year in January 2016, but I was accepting into a graduate program, so now the plans have been delayed for a few years, but it's still going to happen.  Artist and hiker Kolby Kirk made this journal on his hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, another trail I hope to tackle one day.  And artist and illustrator Chandler O’Leary, the watercolor sketchbooks featured at the top, has traveled extensively around the United States documenting her travels in a way that basically replaces the need for photography all together. Just the idea of being completely unplugged from the social side of things makes these sketchbooks so real, so powerful to read.  They have seen the miles, seen the pain, seen the days.  I think If I keep a log similar to these on my Ireland trip, I will return with a real understanding of what it means to try and make art abroad, out of my comfort zone, without any of my usual materials.


Trip to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta GA

The weekend before my second semester of MFA classes kicked back in session, I ran away to Atlanta for one last visit to the outside world.  After traveling four long hours in my car while listening to a podcast by Tales of a Red Clay Rambler, I made it from Statesboro, GA to the ATL.  All I wanted to do was get out of my car and have a hot cup of coffee at Cafe Intermezzo on Peachtree NE along with some cheesecake and possibly some real food, but mostly just cheesecake.

Molly Hatch Physic Garden, 2013-2014
Earthenware and Glaze
456 plates, each 9.5 inches in diameter

Aside from that, the biggest to-do on my checklist of adventures was to make a visit to the High Museum of Art.  I particularly wanted to re-examine a piece called Physic Garden that I had written a research paper on the previous semester by the ceramic artist and self made sales woman, Molly Hatch.  See my original plan was to go inside, take a seat on the log bench just opposite the plates and with my new found knowledge and rehash all of the original questions I had before I started to do research on her.  Needless to say, that did not happen.  Instead I became a walking encyclopedia for the plates on the wall and began explaining in detail about how they were made, where they came from, and what inspired their creation.  My friend who I was visiting the High with was unenthused by my excitement and walked off while I continued to spout interesting facts about Hatch's process.  As I continued to ramble not realizing the my friend had since left me, some museum visitors who clearly were interesting began to crowd me.  An elderly lady in the small group of six or seven people actually asked me some questions regarding how the glazes on the plates were made, as well as "where is the restroom ma'am?"  Clearly I had been mistaken for an employee of the museum due to my eagerness to spill the knowledge born from an intense eight page research paper.

All in all, what I got from this experience is simple.

I now have a greater appreciation for the modest looking plates on display at the High first and foremost.  Had I not been forced to stand in line at the coat check due to rain on my previous visit, I would have never taken an interest in them.  At first glance they just look like a large number of colorful plates on the wall as you enter the High through the revolving doors.  But now I know that there is actually an entire row of plates in storage and not on the wall due to a measuring mistake on behalf of the museum.  (The High Museum of Art actually mis-measured their own gallery wall...really guys, come on!)  I also now know that the physical plates are not even the original ones that Molly Hatch tried to order from overseas and that the original order was canceled a few days before delivery due to international shipping port authority issues.

It's tiny quirky facts like these that made me want to come back for another visit.  I wanted to see the piece with new eyes.

I also am slowly learning that I should always do a little research on the pieces of art that I see or read about.  In the past I would visit a museum as "something to do to pass the time" instead of visiting as a "way to gain new knowledge".  This has always been a big problem for me, and I believe it is a problem with most people these days.  Like any random stranger, I too enjoy mindlessly walking around the galleries, reading small captions, and occasionally getting yelled at by the guards for getting too close to a priceless piece of art.  It makes me feel good when I can come up to an artwork and I know something about it.  I feel like a genius for a brief moment...please tell me who doesn't love that feeling?  I'll go ahead and apologize in advance for butchering this recount of Art critic and Nun, Sister Wendy and her description of "what art is to people" through her description of Piss Christ by Andres Serrano. She basically says that "people are ok with art most often because it gives them something to relate to.  When it's not approachable or they don't have an moment of comfort because of its familiarity, it isn't held as good art and it gets forgotten."...just like most of the art I have viewed over my life time while aimlessly wondering through the museum.  Now I make it a point to do even a small google search on an artist name, a title of a work, or a gallery I walk past or hear of.  Like writing something by hand, I remember it better after taking the time and putting in the effort to actually look it up and read a few quick lines.

Inspiration Plates from Chelsea Factory ca.1775 in Permanent Collection at the High Museum of Art

Moral of this adventure:  Everyone should do this more often.  We have the world in our hands and who doesn't appreciate some instant gratification via the web.  But what we need to do differently, and I am retraining myself in this aspect daily... I am making it a point to do my "homework" and retain what I read rather than letting that insta-knowledge escape me.  No more drive by captions in the museum galleries of life, I want to learn about what I am seeing/hearing/reading/watching/doing/experiencing.

I pose a question to my readers who I have made it this far in my blog---when is the last time you actually took the time to look something up with the intent of learning about it, rather than just instant gratification?

First Grad Conference at Columbus State University

So here I am, back in my hometown of Columbus 4 hours away from Georgia Southern in Statesboro, at my very first Graduate Research Conference! Yeah me! First of all, I am very excited to say that I am the first of my fellow students to go to a conference in my department, which I count as a super win on my part. Brag Brag Brag, but seriously, why is no one else doing anything around here and why am I the only one doing things, Lots of things!

Any-who, I think that coming back to my undergrad school for my first MFA graduate level conference has made the whole process a little easier, and I say a little because for the most part it was super hard. The conference was hosted by Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia on the 4th and 5th of November and was called the Dr. Gregory P. Domin "Conference for Change" for Graduates in All Disciplines of Research.

Unfortunately/maybe fortunately for me, my research was the only art-related research presented...which made this process way more difficult than I believe it should have been.

I did not know that so much went into presenting at a conference first of all. I have to admit, I went in totally blind. (There is not much on the internet regarding poster presentations for artist at conferences.) I was the only student to use a ".com" email for one thing; everyone, and i do mean everyone, used their ".edu" emails. Now I know better. Also, I was the only one presenting no actual tangible quantified research, which for a research conference, even though all disciplines were allowed to enter and my abstract was accepted, seemed confusing for the judges and people attending. I had a pretty hard time explaining my art to people who are very engrained deeply in departments like physics, neuroscience, and biochemical engineering. I didn't know how to get them to appreciate it for one thing, nor how to get them to stick around long enough for me to explain it.

On numerous occasions people would walk up and read the title, get all interested after seeing "Discovering the Psychological Identity Within Us All: Sculptural Representations of Emotional States of Mind", start reading some of my elevator pitch smack dab in the middle of the poster that said "I create sculptures that blah blah blah...", then verbally say as if I weren't standing right in front of them "ohh this is just art"....what the actual hell does that mean sir/ma'am? Can't give me a second to get you interested, can't ask me a question about my work, can even finish reading my poster before you walk off? I was pretty disappointed in the whole "presentation" thing because of that aspect. I guess I thought that people would be more open to the idea than they were. I had one gentleman walk up and tell me "I hate art. I don't get it. Enlighten me as to why I should even care." Needless to say that was the hardest 20 minute conversation of my life.

But I did learn some pretty cool things while at this conference, mostly positive things at that.

I learned that just because your'e the only art kid that doesn't mean that you'll be alone at the conference. I made friends with a girl named Ashley (who drank heavily) who was presenting on Female Soccer Players and guy named Aaron (who was pretty normal) who was presenting on computer graphics; specifically not design. I got all excited when he told me what he was doing, only for him to correct me afterwards by saying "it's nothing like design." I say whatever, he makes things on a computer and makes choices regarding his decisions aesthetically, so it's design, end of story.

I sat in on a lecture about Fuzzy Logic and what it means to use Fuzzy Math in data sets. I never knew that there was more to the plus or minus, give or take a few side to math and data interpretation. Basically, the example they gave that made the most sense to me was that lets say a person is tall, and that tall is considered to be 5'10". Well, what constitutes tall, why is 5'10" the magic "tall" number? And is a person not tall if the are under 5'10? But then is a person who is 5'9.9" short? That's the gist of Fuzzy Logic, it calculates for the Others in the room, or what I think Craig Owen would have come up with had he been a mathematician instead of a philosopher. It makes sure that everyone is included regardless of the math because the math will always only allow for greater than/less than or equal to...nothing in between.

Also, I ate food. A lot of food. More than I should have probably. But I paid $45 for the conference, which I have yet to get back from GSU, who said they would pay for it...but had me pay for it up front (See what they did there, those sneaky peoples.) Regardless of the cost of attendance, I had snacks, drinks, wine, and food stuffs at every opportunity. CSU did not skimp on that and I never felt like the conference was draining me because of the coffee IV they promptly had every 45 minutes at break time.

On another positive note, I'm officially in a publication. Alright, it's just the conference program, which isn't technically a publication. But they published my full abstract on it's own page. My poster panel and its title as well as my name, where I was from and what field I was presenting in was also printed on its own page in a separate location. I got a nice name tag, a name pop-up for my poster, and a badge that let me in and out of the building. Not to mention free parking.

Overall it was a good two days. I ran into two of my old Professors, Prof. Hannah Israel and Prof. Libby McFalls. I saw some old students that graduated after me, or were just about to graduate this December. I loitered around Fountain City Coffee in the morning, and later after the conference Iron Bank Coffee, where I am now writing two typical locations when I still lived in Columbus. I do miss this place, and I am really happy to have come back for a visit on the professional level and not just to see friends and family (which is always a blast, don't get me wrong). My old professors were very excited to see me and Hannah told me all about what her, Prof. McCrillis, my current Prof, Jeff Schmuki talked about at SECAC the week before when they were on a panel together. It amazes me everyday at how small the art world is, but at the same time, how big it is! In between conference lectures on my lunch break I applied for a juried exhibition in Baton Rogue, LA and the judge is Elizabeth McGrath. I sent an email to my Prof. Kelly Boehmer after looking up the judge and her art (to let her know I'd applied and that she should look at this artist because her work is very similar to my current professors.) Turns out that the two of them did a show together...I could hear "It's a small world after all" playing in my head. Just makes me realize we are all only a few degrees away from each other in this big 'ole art world.

Well it's getting late here and I've pretty much summed up my whole experience of the conference and what it was like to attend as the solo artist. I had a good time, and met some good people. The judges were rough, the participants interesting and diverse, and the food was great. I got to showcase my two sculptures that are installed in the Cunningham Center ceiling, where the conference was held and that blew a lot of people away after I explained them to them. They were all "I've seen these here and never knew what they meant, and now I not only know, but I've met the artist personally."

I feel cool now. I feel like I'm doing something with my life on some small level.

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