The #MeToo Movement

To all of the women and men coming forward and joining the #MeToo movement, I hear you, and I appreciate you. It takes courage to speak about such deep scars, and more courage still to hold your head up in the face of a society that’s more offended by victims sharing their stories than it is by ‘locker room talk.’

But my message is for all of the women and men who aren’t. To them I want to say this: it’s okay to leave your Facebook status blank. You’re not weak if you don’t want to air your most painful trauma to the world; you don’t owe anyone your story. I’m telling you this because I need it to be true, because the very idea of naming my assailants and tipping the careful house of cards I’ve spent years building makes me feel small and scared.

But for me, it’s become important.

If not for you to read, then for me to tell. I have a daughter now and as she gets older, I can see the woman she will become. I can see that she will be beautiful, and I can see that she will be forceful, and I can see that she will be desired. It’s cowardly that I could not speak out for myself, that it took my daughter transitioning from babyhood to girlhood to realize that what happened to me was wrong. But I realize it now, and I want any girls who have had experiences like mine to know that it’s not your fault. You are not your assaults. You are not your failure for ‘allowing’ yourself to be taken advantage of. You are not a bitch for speaking out.

Both of my most egregious assailants were people I knew, one remotely, one not. Both of them were ‘nice boys,’ both with surnames that carried weight. As a teenager, I had a reputation for craving attention. I would act in ways that garnered attention – from guys, from friends, from adults, from whomever. When I finally got too much of this attention, all I could think was that it was what I had coming to me. I had taunted the serpent and it had bitten me; it was my fault.

The first time I was assaulted I was in high school and I was visiting friends at a nearby college. They were two boys. I had lied to my mom about where I was staying. I went with a girlfriend, and she and I made plans to take care of each other.

I don’t remember drinking. I have always had a supremely low tolerance for alcohol, so it seems very unlikely that I simply wouldn’t have noticed alcohol in my drink. And yet I ended up vomiting at an outdoor music performance, sick enough to necessitate carrying home. The boy who carried me was the boy who had made my drinks; he was annoyed that I got vomit on his shoes, and he made me very aware that I ‘owed him.’ He said it like he was joking, so I laughed. I didn’t want him to think I was a bitch.

Many hours later, I woke up and it was dark. I was lying on a mattress on a floor, and the same boy was on top of me. He was moving against my body even though I was sleeping. It felt wrong, and weird, and it made my stomach feel sick, like I might throw up again. I chalked it up to the ‘drinking’ I had done, even though I didn’t remember ever drinking. I pretended like I was asleep until he stopped. He never stopped, and I didn’t push him off. I didn’t want him to think I was a bitch.

After that, I started a stilted, strange relationship with my assailant. It was weird to me, to think of it as rape; he was clearly into me, clearly cared about me. It felt somehow better to me in my head to carry on the charade that he started when he told people we had ‘hooked up,’ when he told people how much he liked me, how he couldn’t believe I finally returned his affections. That was a much nicer story than ‘I raped her in the dark,’ and so I latched onto it. I became his girlfriend. Every time we fooled around, I felt that same, sick feeling, but I still preferred that to thinking of myself as a victim.

I finally broke up with him before leaving for college, and I apologized profusely. He loathed me and made it known, blasting me to all of our friends and effectively blacking me out of that social circle. But to this day, what upsets me most is I had apologized to him – I didn’t want him to think I was a bitch.

The next time I was assaulted I was in my first month of college. I went with my girlfriends to a fraternity party; we were all drinking and we were all underage. The boy who took me back to his dorm had to help me walk the entire way there since I was too drunk to stand, too drunk to speak properly. I think he had been drinking, too.

I knew my assailant. He was from my hometown. Before I blacked out, I remember him telling me that he had ‘always wanted to get with me.’ I don’t know what I said to that – I think I was uncomfortable, so I laughed. I didn’t want to seem like a bitch by telling him ‘dream on, buddy.’ At seventeen, I really thought the worst thing I could be called was a bitch.

After he half-carried me back to his room, I don’t really remember what happened. I just remember that I was too drunk to use my phone and I think I threw up. I know that we had sex because I could feel it in my body, and to this day I have strange, half-smeared memories of him breathing onto my neck. I know I left, since I remember stumbling to another dorm in the same building – my childhood next-door neighbor, who asked me what had happened. I didn’t want to tell him so I laughed; I was too embarrassed, and I didn’t want him to think I was a bitch. I really thought the worst thing I could be called was a bitch.

In both of these instances, I lied to myself. I entered into a relationship with my first assailant willingly and continued to sleep with him, all in an effort to convince myself that it had never been assault. Someone who loved you couldn’t assault you, I thought. With the second one, I simply let it go. I was embarrassed; to confess it made me sound like a slut, or made me sound like a bitch. This guy was well-liked, after all. I told one friend and she seemed uncomfortable, saying ‘he wouldn’t do that.’ I agreed; I must have been into it. I lied to myself and accepted that it had been consensual.

Months later, that same neighbor of mine mentioned it in passing, teasing me good-naturedly for ‘sleeping’ with that guy. It was a punch to the gut; I suddenly felt like crying, or vomiting, or screaming. I wanted to tell him that I hadn’t wanted to, that it hadn’t been my choice, that he had taken something from me that I could never get back. I didn’t say that, though; god forbid he think me a bitch.

At seventeen, I really thought the worst thing I could be called was a bitch.

I’m telling my stories only because I am older now and secure. I am healed enough to share them without shame, and I am supported enough to close them up in my past. But not everyone has this luxury, and that’s okay. You don’t have to air your dirty laundry in order to join this movement; you can keep your silence until you’re ready, or until forever. We’re telling our stories so you don’t have to.

You don’t need to wear your assault on your shirt like a badge. You can keep it tucked into your heart, a wound healing over, as long as you don’t let it consume you. And know that even if you’re silent, I see you; I believe you. I know your hurt, and I will hold your hand.

I might just need you to hold me, too.

#MeToo

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5 Quick, Affordable Halloween Costumes for the Once-Enterprising Millennial

Halloween is coming up and you’re broke as hell but still wanna boast a unique, clever costume. Don’t worry – I’ve got you. Here are 5 Halloween costume ideas guaranteed to make you the hit of the party you’ll regret attending after too many vodka cranberries cause you to sleep with Kylo Ren.

1. A Quarter-life Crisis

If you’re in your early to mid-twenties, chances are you’ve already wasted lived a quarter of your life. All of your easy, carefree years are behind you, and now you have a lifetime of bill-paying and responsibilities ahead.  In five years you’ll be close to thirty; in ten years, you’ll be edging close to forty. If you die at seventy, that’s half your life gone! You’ve basically got one foot in the grave! Wow,  you really shouldn’t have pissed away all of your youth, but there’s still time to cling to what’s left – you can do this by dyeing your hair a wacky color, or joining a roller derby team, or taking an impulse job across the country!

For this costume you will need one potent panic attack, a bottle of Arctic Fox Violet Dream hair dye, and a pint of Halo Top ice cream for when you inevitably burst into tears and shout “but I had plans!”

2. Early Onset Fear of Mortality

If the Quarter-life Crisis costume isn’t your thing, no big. You can shift gears only slightly and go as Early Onset Fear of Mortality! All that life-expectancy math from above likely had you sweating slightly as you realized that you’re quickly flipping through the chapters of your life, and the final chapter – Death – is looming ever closer on the horizon. This probably makes you question your entire spiritual belief system, and you’re thinking that deep down, in your gut, no matter what you were told on Sunday mornings as a child, there is nothing after death. Simply nothing. It all just ends, and the world continues without you, and eventually everyone forgets your name and the sound of your voice, and your body, once so powerful and full of vigor, becomes a brittle husk of what could have been.

For this costume you will need a sudden wave of nauseating depression, a decade’s worth of pent-up screams, and a set of fishnet tights.

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For the tasteful mental breakdown.

3. Pit of Existential Despair

Maybe the Fear of Mortality is only a passing terror and you’ve made peace with the fact that you will someday die and be forgotten. But with thoughts of death come thoughts of purpose, things such as ‘what is the point of it all?’ and ‘what am I doing that’s worthwhile?’ For some of us, these thoughts are terrifying since it feels like we’re doing nothing with our lives. I mean, some of us aren’t even monetizing our blogs, for Christ’s sake – that’s right! All these posts are meaningless! My life is meaningless! I am meaningless!

For this costume you will need an unexpectedly violent crying jag, a well-meaning friend telling you that ‘you are doing something, you’re raising two kids!’, and really heavy black liner on the top and bottom lids.

4. Inevitable Nihilistic Apathy

Another #relatable costume guaranteed to get lots of Instagram likes is Inevitable Nihilistic Apathy. This is when you embrace the fact that there is no reason for doing anything, and acknowledge that death is the only constant. All things of importance are only constructs and you are tired of pretending to live for any grander purpose. Instead, you are going to be governed purely by your own base drives because there is literally no reason not to.

For this costume you will need a shattered spirit, a handle of Russian vodka, and a Costco-sized box of condoms.

5. Any character from the Suicide Squad but, like, ironically

Remember this trainwreck of a movie? Yeah you do! God, it was so bad, right? So bad. Jared Leto’s Joker was the worst, wow, what a joke. So why not go as any of the lead characters? Don’t worry – people will totally get that you’re making fun of it, and you’ll definitely be the only Harley Quinn at the party.

For this costume you will need absolutely no self-respect, a cropped baseball bearing a trite slogan, and the guarantee of at least four overzealous, overweight nerds telling you why Jack Nicholson was better.

deluxe-suicide-squad-harley-quinn-costumeAll women are deserving of respect but some are more deserving than others.

Why Every Girl Needs A Kim

It’s not a secret that I’m going through a slump right now. You can tell because of my whiny, self-indulgent previous post, plus the fact that I keep missing weeks of blogging which (I like to think) is unusual for me. I nearly missed this week, too; I watched as the afternoon came and went, hours smearing by in a haze of fussing kids, an overexcited puppy, a gnarly chest cold, and financial stress – so, basically, the same woes as every middle-class mom in America. I felt pitiful, and even more pitiful because of how hilariously unspecial my stressors were. It’s hard to feel motivated to do something fresh and special when you yourself feel so distinctly un-special.

 

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Getty Images is full of well-groomed white women pulling at their hair. It’s kind of our thing.

But that’s why you have a Kim.

My Kim is the original Kim. She’s a girl who, in this age of online dating and Tumblr friendships, I’ve never actually met in person. That fact might once have made our friendship feel ‘lesser’ to me, but that word seems so out of place in relation to anything about Kim. She is in no ways lesser, except maybe in height, but we’ll forgive her that.

She’s amazing: she’s a lawyer-in-training, a whetted writer, an open spirit, an earnest soul. She’s also a bleeding heart, but the rare sort whose heart bleeds and then she does something about it – she’s never scared to back her words up with action. She’s the single greatest embodiment of #girlshelpinggirls I’ve ever met, since she likes to brag about her friends’ talents to anyone and everyone without an ounce of sheepishness or irony. She’s amazing because everything she is, she is openly, and honestly, and fiercely, and passionately.

My Kim is my constant cheerleader when she has no reason to be. We’re long-distance friends; my sour moods and blue days don’t affect her. We don’t have to share a living space, or work hours, or gym time. She could just as easily offer me platitudes and catch me when I felt better, but that’s not how she works. Instead, she’s there, sending me unsolicited Snapchats of her friends in stitches as they read my blog posts, never afraid or embarrassed to say ‘I think you’re great. You should think so, too.’ It’s always stark, and honest, and genuine, and whenever my Kim tells me that I’m worth it – whatever ‘it’ may be – I believe her.

My Kim makes me want to be a Kim. She makes me want to be better, but not the usual ‘better’ that I think of when I think of self-improvement, the kind of self-improvement that only focuses on the ‘self.’ Instead, I want to be like her. I want to go out into the world and cheerlead every girl I meet, interlace my fingers and offer a boost or open my arms and offer a squeeze. I want to read their writing, hear their music, study their art, inhale their intelligence and say ‘holy shit! You did this, and that’s amazing, and you‘re amazing!’ and mean it.

In this day in age – no, scratch that. In every day and age, every girl needs a Kim. And where there’s a void, it’s up to us to fill it. So be like Kim. Be supportive, be strong, be smart, be brave. Be unashamed to say how you feel to your friends who inspire you, and take the time out whenever you think of it to tell someone that she is loved. Don’t burn yourself up to keep others warm – Kim would never do that – but instead, draw people into your light. Bring them closer to your warm. Be like Kim.

Every girl needs a Kim.

I’d offer you mine, but frankly, I need her too much.

 

September Shortcomings

You guys, I’m sorry. I’m not great at keeping up with this lately. But it turns out it’s actually incredibly difficult and time-consuming attempting to be a well-rounded human being. I am barely keeping my head above water these days; I’m just treading in place, fighting against the burning in my thighs and trying not to drown.

In the last 72 hours alone, I have managed to:

  1. Extricate myself from an unhealthy, vampiric relationship with a client who underpaid, overpromised, and refused to let me do my job effectively
  2. Get into a fight with my mother over something ridiculous and trivial, which is incredibly rare these days and always leaves me feeling unmoored and spent
  3. Avoid getting into a fight with my father which was a small miracle seeing as he regards everything I do with a sort of muted, pervasive disappointment if not flat out disinterest
  4. Get a new dog, who is super amazing
  5. Cry a lot
  6. Pretend like I haven’t been crying when Orie walks in to check on me
  7. Fail and cry some more
  8. Secure Fastpasses for the November Disney trip that we’re taking with my mom, who I’m currently fighting with
  9. Finish a book
  10. Regret buying Franzia after one glass because of course I regret it, it’s fucking Franzia
  11. Jog a lot
  12. Glare at the stubborn flab on my belly that seems content to stay post-baby #2
  13. Glare at the stubborn flab that is baby #2 as he insists upon waking me up twice a night
  14. Decide after 2 more glasses that Franzia isn’t so bad and hey, things seem a lot softer and rosier now
  15. Watch Lucy play outside with the dog and remember being 4 when everything was lovely and sunny and fight back the urge to cry again.
about-house-blushFranzia is my family.

So basically, I’m in a weird place right now. And I can’t even whine at Jessica to pick up my slack and post instead of me, since she’s still dealing with the fallout from Hurricane Irma.

What are yalls suggestions for being less of a suck? I could definitely use them.

 

5 Types of Workplace Jerks Identified

It’s a fact of life that even assholes and idiots are employable, which means that unfortunately some may worm their way into your workplace. Here are some broad and likely offensive generalizations to help you recognize and avoid this breed of human, ensuring you keep interoffice politics to a minimum and avoid a manslaughter charge.

1. Subtle Misogynist

This breed of office jerk is difficult to recognize at first, since you’ll likely think he’s your friend. He seems nice initially, with a ready smile and a willingness to give you advice on projects as you figure out your place in the company. Maybe he even offers tips on how to better yourself professionally, and it all seems chill.

This advice very quickly becomes unsolicited, however, and in your first presentation where you get passionate about your subject matter, he’ll tell you with a placating chuckle to ‘calm down.’ The placating chuckles turn into patronizing chuckles, and you’ll find it increasingly difficult to finish a sentence in his presence since he is constantly cutting you off. The final straw will be when he incorrectly corrects your work one day and then makes no apology or acknowledgment of it later. You notice that it never happens with his male colleagues, and it all clicks into place.

Avoid the Subtle Misogynist. Absolutely no good can come of tussling with him, since ‘being a dickwad’ is hard to quantify. Instead, focus on your work and steadily outrank him, until he is forced to stand behind and stare furiously as you click down the hall to your new corner office in your lady-skirt and girl-shoes.

2. Stealth Tooter

This person might actually be a pretty cool guy or girl, but he or she can clear a room with their flatulence and that is a pretty jerk move. Maybe they eat egg salad in the break room every day, or maybe they haven’t discovered Lactaid yet. Either way, they strike without sound, rhyme, or reason, and it makes them impossible to pinpoint or avoid.

When you do sort out who’s behind the gas attacks, make sure your desk is positioned at least one room’s length away from theirs lest you too be drenched in stench.

3. Adult Brat

This one is often easy to identify since she is constantly spouting garbage adages like ‘I am super honest/blunt, so beware’ and ‘if you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.’ What she really means in saying this is ‘I am a heinous bitch who will not apologize for my unfailing rudeness, since I genuinely don’t realize I’m in the wrong. Also, would you like to buy some Scentsy?’

It is best to avoid the Adult Brat since literally nothing you can say will ever have any impact on her. She is almost enviably non-self-aware and is particularly skilled at twisting herself into a position of victimhood in any given situation. If forced to interact with the Adult Brat, trash your self-respect and befriend her against your better judgment. She may be insane but she has likely spent countless hours ass-kissing your boss and you might as well ride that wave.

… But don’t buy any Scentsy.

4. The Chronic Spoiler

If you’re anything like my friend Els, you’re likely reduced to a furious puddle at even the tracest suggestion of anything resembling a spoiler. This is bad news if you work with a Chronic Spoiler. Luckily this type of jerk is super identifiable since he starts every lunchtime conversation off with a loud,  ringing, ‘DID YOU GUYS SEE LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE OF-?’

Your only recourse with a Chronic Spoiler is distance. Either that, or you learn to live in a world where you know before you’re ready that Jon Snow has become an ice dragon or whatever.

4. The Oversharer

The Oversharer likely means well, but that doesn’t save you from having to hear all of her family drama, semi-racist musings, and cringeworthy weekend activities. You didn’t ask the oversharer about her complete medical history, but you’re going to get it anyway because you foolishly took the seat next to her. You don’t want to know the score to her teenager’s weekend soccer tournament, but you’re going to hear all about it and the ensuing tiff she had with the coach afterward because fuck you, that’s why.

A good way of handling the Oversharer is smiling blandly and nodding as she speaks while mentally escaping to your happy place – maybe an oasis of sorts, or  maybe just the first job you had waiting tables where all of your coworkers were always a little bit stoned and everyone got along swimmingly. It’s not recommended to point out to the Oversharer that she is oversharing, since she’s likely friends with the Adult Brat and if they team up against you you’ll never have another moment’s peace at the office. On the bright side, you’ll never have to hear about Scentsy again.

5. Your Kids

Likely my biggest workplace nemeses, my kids are the real, perpetual thorn in my side when it comes to workplace jerks. Granted, I work at home, and my kids likely won’t be too much of an aggravation at your workplace, so you should count your lucky stars.

Never before have I had an officemate with the gall to come into my office, shit his pants, and then scream directly in my face until I clean it up for him. No other coworker would shamelessly sidle up into my lap and then paw at my boobs until I agreed to play a game of hop-scotch, or demand that I eschew my deadline in favor of making ants on a log.

No, my kids are the real workplace jerks of my job, and they will not be avoided. I would take a Stealth Tooter over them any day.

12 Best Game of Thrones Ships, Real and Imagined

When I was a teenager, I funneled most of my waking energy into being accepted by my peers and considered 'cool.' Now that I'm 25, two kids in, and spending my weekends playing Dungeons and Dragons with my brothers and my husband, I've accepted that I was never cool. This self-aware liberation is what allows me to bring you this particular piece on the best real and imagined ships of Game of Thrones as of Season 7, Episode 6.

1. Brienne of Tarth and Tormund

I think, at this point, that this is the most supported ship of the entire damn show. Tormund's shameless flirtations towards her back in Winterfell were glorious and seemed to confuse more than offend which seems almost like positive feedback. Tormund is also about as far from Jaime Lannister as you can get, and he seems to appreciate Brienne for absolutely everything she is. On top of that, he's already making plans for the future: "I want to make babies with her. Think of them: great big monsters. They'd conquer the world." I mean, come on. What girl doesn't love a guy who thinks ahead?

2. Sansa and Missandei

This one doesn't have to necessarily be a romance, but you have to admit that it would be amazing to see these two women team up. They're both so egregiously underestimated, clearly sharp as hell and more than capable – I don't care what anyone says, I'm still standing firm that Sansa is fully aware of Littlefinger's general Littlefinger-ness and is playing him rather than the reverse. And Missandei is one of Daenerys' chief advisors and you just know she could advise the hell out of Sansa.

Plus, they're both crazy hot. I wanna see 'em touch butts.

3. Tyrion and Daenerys

Okay so I doubt this one would garner as much support as the likes of Tormund and Brienne, but I kind of love how they serve as foils for one another. Granted, I was all up in arms whenever Jorah was putting moves on Daenerys since what would Khal Drogo think, but Tyrion is one of the few people who can talk her down from her moments of hot-headed vengeance and bring her back into herself. Plus, he deserves a pure love, dammit. We all know that when Daenerys loves, she loves hard, and Tyrion needs that after Shae.

4. Jon Snow and Ygritte

The OG romance that dragged me into the beautiful misery that is this show, Jon and Ygritte can't be left off the list. Remember Jon Snow's sheepish-yet-smitten smiles as Ygritte teased him for being pretty and preferring proper ladies who screamed at the sight of spiders -? You know what, let's just watch the gifset again, since this is the internet and we can.

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It was the ultimate forbidden love story and the single reason I initially put up with the horrifying grossness of the rest of the show. When she was murdered by a kid in the middle of some intense eye contact with Jon, I both died inside and felt reborn again, since maximum tragedy is the best sort of romance. And as we know, they're engaged in real life, so freaking kill me already.

5. Jon Snow and Missandei

This one is mainly because they're both super hot and I want to watch them kiss and also touch butts.

6. Jon Snow and literally anyone in Westeros except for Daenerys

Look, I know that they're basically guaranteed to get together at this point. The writers have done nothing but guide us in this direction since midway through this season, and the fact that Daenerys repeated like forty times how she was barren last episode essentially tells us that Jon Snow is going to knock her up on the first try.

I get it; they understand each other, they would be a great alliance, Targaryen blood, blah blah blah. But I just can't get on board. It's not even the incest that's turning me off (although it probably should be). I just want Jon and Daenerys to have each other as family, non-romantically, since that seems to be one of the deep-down things that each of them most wants. If Jon and Daenerys could join forces as kin instead of lovers, they'd be unstoppable.

7. Daenerys and Yara

You know you want it. We all want it. Just imagine this pair and the serious damage they could inflict, plus the general aura of Girl Power that would emanate from their every action. They would crush the Bechdel Test under their matching heeled boots.

8. The Sea Bitch of House Greyjoy

I'm pretty sure there's going to be at least one confused reader who clicks over here searching for a ranking of literal GoT ships, and so I tucked this one in here for you. This ship is not the coolest-looking or even close to the largest in the show, but I love it since Yara savagely made Theon captain of it to humiliate him. Later, Theon uses the ship to capture Winterfell, and ultimately this is what leads to…

9. Reek and Ramsay

Don't act like you didn't read clear sexual tension in every single interaction they had. Remember when Ramsay directed Reek onto his knees and we all thought we knew where that scene was going? Don't pretend, either, like you weren't fascinated despite yourself and secretly looked forward to any and all screen-time between Ramsay Snow and his Stockholm Syndrome boytoy Reek. … Unless that was just me, in which case, just kidding! This one was a joke, ha ha!

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10. Bran and a literal three-eyed raven

At this point I think that's the best Bran can hope for, since he seems determined to creep everyone else out. Chaos is a ladder, Bran, and you are an unnerving little weirdo.

11. The Night King and Wight Hodor

It gets cold out there past the Wall, and no one likes to be lonely. The Night King can tenderly embrace Hodor to keep the metaphorical chill at bay, and Hodor can engage the Night King in gripping conversation. It's not like the Night King is particularly chatty, so Hodor's small talk will be right up his alley.

12. Gendry and Arya

SERIOUSLY THOUGH. This is the SINGLE ship that I am actually invested in, because just think about it. Arya has basically lost herself; if the recent episodes are to be believed and she's not just playing some weird long con, she's completely been consumed by the need for revenge. It's understandable that she's suspicious of Sansa's motives (and everyone's motives) but she no longer seems to feel anything but hatred and the need to kill. Her list has become her identity; she became a Faceless Man to exact revenge, and that seems to be all she's become.

Enter Gendry.

Gendry knew her in the wake of her trauma (her father's beheading) and was the last solid, comforting presence she had. She trusted him and was broken up when they were separated; I really think that if they can reconnect somehow, he can remind her of who she was back before she become a human weapon and reanimate the tender parts of her that have been dormant for so long. Dare I say he can make her happy again…?

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It's true that girls don't need a man to be happy or whole, but while I'm a feminist I'm also a romantic and this isn't real life or a real person so please let me have this.

Until then, I'll just watch this over and over.

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