Layer(ed) Cake

I  looked back on the last blog that I wrote about my son and chocolate cake.  Something struck me mid week and today while doing my own work I stumbled upon a couple stark realizations.

I was penning a new blog where I opened with the admission that I was a thief.  It was matter-of-fact and final.  It was wrong and judgmental and I directed  it precisely at me.  I was unapologetic and fully willing to take the blame and I’ve done that for the last 41 years.

There was something in that last blog that did not sit right with me.  It was the image of me as kid,  sitting at a classroom desk waiting for birthday treats that did not come my way because of allergies.  I wrote out of what I knew to be truth at the time.  It was truth until I peeled back some layers of the cake and revealed a crumbly center.

You see, at that time I wrote that my parents had forgotten to send to the school treats that I could eat.  I trumped up every excuse in my mind, or truths that I  told myself over  41 years, so much so that any other reality was inconceivable.  I never thought to question it, it was my reality.  Then I  discovered there was nothing accidental or forgetful in their actions.  Nothing.

I have 2 children, and my job as a parent is to make smooth the road to adult independence.  It is my job to advocate, support, cheerlead, mourn, celebrate, and “be” in it with and for them.  It is my obligation to do all I can to arm them with the tools they need to be successful citizens, husbands, and God willing, fathers.  Forgetfulness happens and can be forgiven.  Intentional neglect does not.

It nearly guts me to type those words, believe me, it broke me to utter them today.  Even though I was in a trusted and safe place, the amount of pain I encountered is something I will have to muck around in for awhile.  Even in the midst of that safe space I fought like hell the tears that ekked out, revealing my vulnerability.

Intentional neglect.  That is quite an accusation and one I do not entertain lightly.  But, if I examine the facts, it is the only conclusion.  In this day and age, peanut and gluten allergies are as commonplace as uttering the phrase Common Core. (not getting into that debate)  There are whole tables dedicated to the “non” peanut eater and special menu considerations exist for those with gluten allergies.  It is a given that if one child is affected, the whole class is made aware; every effort is made to ensure that all children feel like they belong and no one is left out.

I did not have that luxury and now I am beginning to feel the full impact of that alienation.  While we did not have the internet or smart phones when I was young, the invention of the telephone DID exist…even if we had to use a rotary dial to make the call.  Parent-teacher communication was available.  There was still snail mail, teacher conferences still happened, a stop in to the school was always welcome.  The fact remains that those measures were not utilized.  That intentional inaction led to my feeling even more ostracized and alone, lonely and afraid in a time when perceptions of school were just beginning to take shape.  I learned at an early age that I did not fit, that there was something “wrong” with me, that I was not like the others.

Edward Kleban, lyricist for “A Chorus Line” provided some words that resonate with me

“Diff’rent” is nice, but it sure isn’t pretty.
“Pretty” is what it’s about.
I never met anyone who was “diff’rent”
Who couldn’t figure that out.
So beautiful, I’d never live to see.

Without knowing it, I adopted this philosophy and claimed it as truth.  It’s wrong and it kills me to type that.

Why?  Because what the hell do you do when you put A and B together (and I don’t do math) and discover the truth you thought you knew and what you had constructed your whole outlook on is incorrect?  Worse yet,  that truth is destructive and unhealthy?  What do you do when you realize that people who were charged with your care intentionally neglected to follow through?  What do you do when you peel back a layer and find that there is no excuse for their actions?

They could have picked up the phone to check in every once in awhile.  They could have brought items in during teacher conferences.  They had a whole host of options.  They chose not to.

My mother told me once that because I was such a difficult child, that I was reluctant to embrace her as my adopted mother, and show her love, she quit.   She quit trying.  I never forgot those words and they ring a different tune now.  They quit–they intentionally quit.

Even now I am rolling that around my head and beginning to question 41 years of beliefs I have and finding myself at ground zero.  I don’t know what to do, and I usually have an intellectual analysis, or at the very least, a smart ass comment to diffuse the situation.  I have none.  When I wrote the words, “I was a thief”, I was writing out of a truth that I believed wholeheartedly and called myself.  I was a thief because I used to take sweets from locations in the house, hide them, eat them, and try to smuggle out the evidence.  Sometimes I got away with it, often I did not.  Each time I was caught I was punished for stealing and sneaking around and taking things that did not belong to me.

You know what?  Oreo cookies rocked then, and they rock now.  I know that because I took them, ate them, and liked them.  Maybe instead of stealing, I was surviving.  Maybe instead of looking at the situation and swallowing that I was a bad kid who stole and lied, I was someone who was resourceful and just sassy enough to buck a system I could not control.  Maybe.

That’s a hefty piece of cake.  But, I think it’s important to pick apart all the layers and see what they’re made of.  I think I owe it to myself.  Because what I’m finding that while the cake is chocolate, and appears to be chocolate throughout, there are pockets and whole layers that are bitter like baker’s chocolate.  I know it’s bitter because in one of my sweets’ forays, I took what I thought to be chocolate from the refrigerator and well, let’s just say, baker’s chocolate should be left for its intended purpose…..for baking.

I’ve thought about this understanding all day today and tried to put it in perspective as I parent my children.  I watched my son inhale a  slice of cake for breakfast and I grabbed a piece too.  I smiled at him as he took his first bite and I smile now remembering how his eyes rolled back into his head.  You know what?  Chocolate cake is flippin awesome—it tastes amazing.  It tastes even more amazing when you know someone made it for you, out of love.  Scratch that. Chocolate cake is FREAKIN awesome (insert the intended expletive if you choose)  You know what else?  I am a flippin good mom……I got to share in this moment with my son and I will never forget it.  My son may, but what I hope he remembers is how he felt when he expressed his needs or desires and they were met.

I thought about my mother in those terms today and for a split second I felt sad; sad for both my parents.  I could try to justify this whole blog by saying I was willful, difficult, unruly, and that I did not get those moments with my parents.  Today, a new layer revealed that THEY did not get those moments with ME.  They chose not to.  They quit, intentionally.

God, I wish I could explain the pain that admitting that brings.  I wish I could walk someone through what it feels like to sit and watch 41 years  begin to tumble as jenga block by block is removed.  I wish I could describe the fear of what happens as each block displacement sets the structure to swaying, wondering if the next removal causes it to topple.  I wish I could articulate the confusion I am encountering as I twist and turn this Rubik’s cube, trying to make sense of a reality and truth that is without explanation.  Worse yet, that that truth is wrong.  I wish I could say that this is easy and there is an instant resolution to the 24 minute “Full House” episode where everyone hugs. wipes away tears, promises, and forgives.

It’s not Lifetime movie night.  It’s not easy, it is the hardest work I’ve done because it requires vulnerable honesty, brutal admissions, and concentrated courage.  And, I’m not sure that I’ve got it.  I’m not sure I’m up for the challenge.

All I know is that today, my fork ran into a layer that I did not expect.  Does it cause me to gag, retch, spit out the piece, throw out the rest of the cake; rendering it worthless?  I don’t know.   Do I look deeper into the piece to find out how much of the cake is affected and do I go back to the recipe to determine what happened?  Do I take the information I discover and apply it to my next recipe?  Do I have the guts to enter into the  original story and create a new reality?  Do I have the balls to allow others to join me in baking a new cake?

Tonight, I iust don’t know.  Ask me tomorrow, I may have a different answer.

shalom,

cahl

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Your Cake, and Eating it Too.

I frosted a cake last night.  Now that may not seem like a big deal…yah, a box cake with frosting…who cares?  Actually, it was a huge deal.

You see, my eldest son stood in the kitchen the other night and said, “I am so craving a chocolate cake right now.  Chocolate….mmmm”  I can relate.  All I can think right now is that I have gone 4 1/2 days without a Diet Coke and I can just imagine cracking open the can, hearing the effervescence, feel the cool of the exterior as I lift its elixir to my lips…..  (pause while I throw cold water on my face)  I had time last night while I was making supper and spotted the cake mix and thought that it would be nice to surprise my son with a cake complete with chocolate frosting.

He was asleep before it had cooled enough to frost, so I told him he could have some in the morning.  We had to leave early this morning and the look on his face when I cut a slice was priceless.  He held out his hand, took the first bite, closed his eyes and sighed.  You know the sigh.  The Diet Coke sigh as you take in the first taste, sound, feel of whatever it is you adore.  Sinking into a perfectly made bubble bath after an incredibly long day, the smell freshly washed and dried sheets…the AAAAhhhhhh effect.  I smiled watching him.  I smiled watching the pleasure, the joy, the enjoyment he derived from that first bite.  He got me thinking.

In all that I write, I try to draw from truth and my own experience.  So, he got me thinking about what we do for one another and why.  A good friend of mine often says, “we can’t be what we haven’t seen.”  I agree with this somewhat.

When I was young, I was allergic to a ton of food.  I was allergic to sugar, milk, citrus and virtually anything that had spice in it.  My options were limited for snacks and treats.  Now, this wouldn’t be so bad, except that I could not voice any desires or preferences as to what I wanted or needed.  In school when my classmates had birthdays or brought treats I would get a piece of sugar free hard candy and watch as others enjoyed cupcakes and candy and…and…and…..  My mouth drooled, and I am sure I looked like a complete dork with my jaw dropped open and waiting.

Have you ever had sugar free hard candy?  Well, in the early 80’s it left much to be desired and the incessant fear of peanut allergies had not taken hold of the elementary population so classmates who didn’t have treats was uncommon.  I was different. Not different in a good way either.   I was weird.  My classmates would proudly pass out their treats and skip over my desk and try not to look at me.  Sometimes my teacher would call me up to her desk and issue 1 coveted piece.  Then there were other times that the teacher would not call me up to the desk and I would sit in my chair alone and sad.  Even the teachers had a tough time looking my direction.  They knew that I knew.  And, it hurt.

They ( my parents) had forgotten to send anything.  Instead of checking with the teachers and making sure that there was a steady supply of treats that I could have, there was nothing.  I remember those moments as I stared at the table in front of me and blinked back angry tears, quietly vowing that if I had a family, they would never feel that way–that if I had a circle of friends, they would know something different.   You can’t be what you haven’t seen, right?

Oddly enough, my parent’s  behavior translated into similar actions for my birthdays.  Instead of parties with a cake and ice cream or at least treats that I could have, there was nothing.  No parties, no friends over, no cake, no ice cream, no candles to blow out and make a wish.  But I did.  I did make a wish every year that next year I would get a huge surprise party with lots of ribbon-wrapped presents, a massive cake made with non dairy and sugar free ingredients, and the best…..tons of friends and family snapping pictures and singing horribly off key.

It never happened.

And, I never thought it bothered me much.  You know the saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know” ?  Well, I lived that, so I did not know to miss anything.  While I didn’t know what I was missing, I do know what it felt like to want.   I didn’t know what I was missing until I experienced it and it changed my outlook forever.

I remember distinctly the moment a friend of mine decorated a huge Elmo birthday cake  smothered it in orange/red icing and delivered it to a surprise party at a local park they had reserved to celebrate of all things….Me.

It was weird.  I didn’t know how to act, what to do.  Do I host?  Am I supposed to have presents for them?  You see, since I had not ever had a birthday party people stopped inviting me to theirs.  So, there I was, 23 years old, standing there awkward as the horrible off key tune began.  And then it happened.

I smiled.

“I am so craving a chocolate cake right now.”  I was so craving and someone delivered.  I will never forget that cake.  I will never forget the people who gathered.  I do not remember the presents (were there presents?). I don’t remember the conversations, but I do remember how it felt to look at 23 candles—ok 24.  I remember how it felt to know that someone cared, that I had not been forgotten, that I was important.  It felt amazing.

As I blew out the candles framing Elmo’s face, I vowed that if I ever had children they would know….

They know.

“Mom, I am really craving a chocolate cake right now.”  You got it kiddo.

They know if there is a way that I can make something happen, I will move heaven and earth to make it so.  There will always be a supply stashed with the teacher in case they need it.  Their birthday will forever be a huge deal because they are important, necessary, wonderful, and amazing human beings.  If they show an interest in an activity or a hobby and it’s possible to do, I’ll honor that.

I’ll honor that because I know what it means to crave something and not have it met.  I also know what it means to crave and receive.  I’ll honor them because feeling honored is one of the best feelings in the world.

That’s the funny thing.  I didn’t grow up with it, lusted after it, not knowing what IT was. There were singular moments when IT was shown to me, and despite my best efforts to run and hide from it….(The known is more comfortable), I tucked the knowledge that you can break free from cycles and create new realities into my mind for future reference.

Seeing my son enjoy a clandestine (sshhhhh)  breakfast of chocolate cake was a gift I cannot explain.  He closed his eyes, took a bite, and the look of absolute joy brought tears to my eyes.  For now, today, as I type this blog, the cycle is broken.  More than that, he knows….he knows what it means to have his needs met and he knows what it means to have someone listen and respond.  He is becoming what he is seeing……

 

agape,

cindythea.

 

23 years, wow.

23 years ago I was walking into the last semester of high school—I was a senior with a whole set of goals, the last 18 weeks of my scholastic career spread before me, but I could never anticipate what those weeks held.

23 years ago my parents received a phone call on Wednesday January 13, 1993 that my grandfather had passed away at the local nursing home.  We had seen him that afternoon and by the time my parents had walked into the house after visiting him, he was gone.  It was quiet and peaceful and I had a sense of finality because he had spent a number of years living with us as we grew up in the country.  Time that my extended family did not necessarily have due to distance and schedules was a gift that my siblings and I shared.  I had had moments fishing and boating with my grandpa, and he was the only grandparent I grew up ever knowing.  He taught me to listen to the tone and sound of the turn signal on a car.  Every one of them has a certain tone that says something, my grandpa’s old rust-colored car said, “Tooth paste, Tooth paste.”  I’ll never forget that and each time that I’m in a new car, I pause and listen to the turn signal, and I smile, remembering my grandpa.  I smile remembering him.

There were other things that took place during that week that have shaped some of my outlooks and relationships since that time, situations that to this day impact my life.

I was involved in competitive speech activities and had been all 3 1/2 half years leading up to this point.  I traveled every weekend to all parts of the state and met incredible people,–teachers and colleagues with whom I have established solid relationships today.  I had some great friends, and maybe some friends who tolerated me more than they should have had to–but I had amazing connections to people and I remain forever grateful for them.  Many have no clue that it was my connection to them and the activity itself that saved my life and I do not say that lightly.  These were people who I could see every weekend, people who whether they liked me or not, at least respected what it was that I did.  I even had a connection to a family member that was tight, it was a relationship  that I trusted and took great pride in having.  Someone thought I was important enough to invest time and energy in me and I was thrilled to have the attention–thrilled that someone like them was willing to spend time with me and thought I had talent and potential.

23 years ago, I lost that connection.

Having the natural dramatic bent that I did (and sometimes still do), I tended to make bigger deals of situations than I necessarily had to–sometimes that can be a win, sometimes it can cost everything.  As the news was revealed that my grandfather had passed, I reached out to a friend who also knew members of my family and speech team.  I revealed the information and requested that if they came across family members that they be kind and aware of the loss.  That one conversation affirmed a loss that proved devastating.

As the week wore on and the weekend of the funeral took place, I opted to travel to the speech competition out-of-town rather than attend the services.  I felt ok about the decision because I knew I had spent time with my grandpa and had seen him often during his years in the nursing home.  I also knew that I would have a family member that I would see.  I saw them, I approached them, I tried to speak to them….I received a brush off.  More than that, I was ignored.  Throughout the whole weekend I attempted to connect and was ignored.  The situation came to a head when I finally confronted them and demanded to know what was going on….I was decimated.  Their words, their obvious contempt and hatred for my existence was spewed forth as they, in full viewing and hearing of passers-by heard them renounce my relation with them.  In anger and rage they ended their connection, respect, relationship, and family link.  To them, I no longer existed.  The reason?  I had vocalized to a mutual friend my grandpa’s death and funeral.  They felt I crossed a line by revealing that information to a person who would have no relation to us.  To them, I was no longer fit to be called a relative.
From that moment on there was no conversation, there was no acknowledging that I existed, there was no admission that I was alive or related to them.  That behavior lasts today.  23 years later, to the random onlooker, if they happened upon us in the same area, there would be no indication that we were related at all.  Those who know us have simply accepted the situation and do not comment.

That moment sent forth a spiral of crap that continued the whole rest of the year.  I had applied to state university and the night of a major speech competition where I narrowly missed a trip to nationals (i had qualified as a junior and was expected to do so again.), I received a letter from that college telling me that I was not accepted.

What?  But, I had a theatre scholarship waiting for me…What do I do now?  I had not gotten into college?  How is that possible?  It was true.  You see, even though my ACT  science and language scores were in the 27-28 range, my math score was a 12.  The disparity in scores was too great for the college to admit me.  I had failed.  I was a failure.

Within 2 months of each other I had lost a grandfather, a brother, my national qualifying award, my college acceptance, and a scholarship.  I was done.  It was one of the hardest few months of my life.  No one knew the full brunt of the blows I had received.  No one knew on my graduation day that I had to go to the college  and talk to the theatre department who then had to talk to the admissions department to admit me.  I squeaked in on a scholarship.  No one knew that as I walked across that stage to accept my diploma that members of my immediate family were not attending my graduation or my reception.

I felt alone and I felt like a failure.  I felt worthless, unpopular, wretched, and undesirable. I felt like giving up more than once and often wished I had had the strength to end my life.

I did not end it.  I tried.  I did not end it.

Instead, I worked my butt off to be more than I thought I could be.  Instead, 23 years later I stand, knowing that I’m here and still fighting.

I never did qualify for nationals a second time.  I did not attend my grandfather’s funeral, and to this day, my relationship with my family member is no better than that fated tournament in January 1993–they still do not acknowledge that I exist as anyone related to them.  Other family members are content to allow that to take place and I can honestly say that as immediate family, we have not been in the same room with one another in over a decade.  More than 10 years have passed since we have been together, and even then it was stilted, awkward, and filled with emotions no one is willing to admit.

23 years later, I am still here.  23 years later, I have graduated from that college and even attained my Master’s Degree.  I have amazing children and a career path that fills me with challenging moments and people who inspire me.  I struggle too, though.

I struggle with relationships that I’ve lost, I wrestle with how much is my fault, what I could have done differently–what I did wrong.  I rack my brain to figure out how to fix it, how to undo what can’t be undone, and ultimately how to let go of decades of hurt.  I don’t have it figured out–not even close.

Here’s the thing though.  I can’t stop fighting and the idea of giving up is never an option.  I got into the college and department that I needed to by making an appearance and letting them see who I was and what I was capable of.  I maintained my degree by working hard and concentrating on those areas in which I excelled.

Above all, I invest.  I invest in people, conversations, and ideas that mean something.  I invest in loving people and letting them know that I do.  I believe that is half the battle.

I had someone tell me the other day that my words were a shining example of being able to lift people up.  I am a firm believer that words–spoken and unspoken are the most powerful tool we have.  I truly believe that words that people hear can destroy or elevate them.  Likewise, I believe that most of the problems we see happening are a direct result of reactions to words that have never been said.  Imagine the hurt of a child who has worked their whole life to win affection from a parent only to never hear that adult tell them, “I love you.  You are an amazing person and I am glad you are my son/daughter.”

Invest.  Invest everything that you are to everyone you know and those things that fill you.  Invest in not giving in….invest in breathing–because sometimes that is all you can do, just breathe.  Invest in making it at least one more day.  Invest in the fact that you are more than crawling into a ball, rocking back and forth in the corner in the fetal position.

Invest in the fact that it can be done.  I know it can.  So far, at 41 I’ve done it.

 

Shalom,

cahl

 

Hit me One more Time

No, this is not a reference to the beloved Britney Spears breakout hit..It is something I hear often where I am employed part time.

An event occurred not so long ago that won’t leave my thoughts.  It has caused me to stop and wonder often, it has mandated that I look inward to examine my own prejudice and incorrect assumptions.  I have to look at myself these days and ask, “How dare I?”

A couple weeks back I was working at a convenience store.  I was working the evening shift when a “regular” came in to spend the evening back in lottery land.  That is a whole world unto itself, where darkness looms and the blinking bulbs beckon.  As is customary with most lottery areas, the snacks, coffee, and other beverages are free flowing.  The idea that providing food and drink will lull one into spending more time and money hoping to hit it big.  Thus, part 1 of my title.  “C’mon, hit me one more time…Let’s win this one.  If I can, man would that be nice.”  I smile, inwardly I hope and inwardly I groan.

I groan because this is not my world, I know nothing of the lure, the lights, the lullaby of beeps.  I do not know what motivates a person to spend hours hitting a button, swearing at a screen, consuming large amounts of caffeine and booze.  I groan because I do not understand the hold, the hunger, or the havoc this world inspires in people.  “Hit me, Hit me. HIT ME!”

Here is where I begin ego checking.  Our “regular” in question was in this night, and obtaining their first and second complimentary suds.  A third, fourth, and fifth quickly followed as I watched a trip to the cash machine slow them for just a moment.  A small win…not much, but enough to keep at it for a bit longer.  A sixth and seventh, now–eight and nine together.  I grow frustrated in my spirit and begin a litany of slurs against this person.  None are over vocalized…none leave my mouth, but they are there–ready for spewing.  A tenth and eleventh one are handed over, and I roll my eyes, wondering…..Silently cursing anyone who has spent their evening in front of a machine with pretty lights and endless beeps…Wait a minute!!!!  Do we do that?  Does that happen in another form?  Maybe I should ask my little ones how many hours they spent in front of a blinking and beeping box this weekend?  I don’t think I want to know the answer.  I probably don’t want to count the hours I spend in front of a lap lighted box which allows me to say that I am “working” at all times.  SHAW!!! We all know that is untrue.

So, eleven seems to be the lucky number tonight…a bit later than before, not early enough to call it a night, they hit….I have seen them “hit me” more than one more time…11 times to be exact.  I grimace thinking of that sitting in a near empty stomach, the car keys that dangle, the later hour, the dark that has settled.  It is not my call, nor my business.  Then, they hit..they hit big–well bigger than before.

They come my way to cash in their earnings….A conversation ensues.  I comment on their attire….they smile and tell me they work in the nearest town.  I smile and ask what they do…The answer shocked me and cut my earlier inward diatribe short.  They work with women on a daily basis.  Women who come seeking answers in procedures they would probably wish to avoid….procedures which will change the course of lives forever.  My spirit stops….my heart breaks.  Of course it breaks for anyone in the moments of that decision…the grief, the turmoil—the THE’S I cannot possibly speak to or imagine–and I won’t.

Then my soul ached for another…the one standing in front of me….the one with a cash slip and a ready smile for me.  We speak and I mention that must be an “awesome” place to work for so many reasons.  They agree.  They shake their head in obvious thought and maybe remembrance.  I pause, knowing there is more to the story…there is always more.

They smile a smaller smile and comment that if anyone in their close circle of living ever knew what they did, they would alienate immediately.  I nodded, believing that to be true.  They then comment on what would happen if the congregation knew what they did daily, they would never be allowed in the doors of the church.  I sniff, knowing that to be more than true, and I am ashamed.  I mention that I am in the process of being an ordained Deacon…I have a ways to go, but have the solid MDIV in my hand.  WHO CARES?????  That slip of paper means nothing as a soul in conflict stands before me, only a counter separating us…..never realizing that far less actually separates us.

I am angry in that moment.  Their comment that they agree to volunteer with groups in the church, but are afraid to set foot in the doors….afraid of the judgment, the ridicule…the hatred.  OUCH.  I know this would hold true, I also know that there would be others who would embrace them with the unconditional love that is deserved….although that would be fleeting.

I am angry at myself in that moment…more than the supposed receipt that they would encounter.  I am angry about my thoughts, the hate that I wanted to sling at one who has spent their night…angry how many times I “hit them”….angry and disappointed in myself.

I know how they spent their evening…they spent it here, with me.  I have no idea how they spent their day…I have no idea what they saw, whose hands they held, whose tears they wiped.  I do not know the stories they heard, nor the inner workings of their story.  We chat a while more, they ask what I do….I tell them….they smile and thank me.  THANK ME????I look and cock my head to the side, like my pug does when she is “listening”.  They thank me for the kindness and the compassion I showed when they talked to me….for the willing ear and the assurance that they are a good person.  They are…a good person.

They leave…the machine has hit big for them, a tip comes my way.  I smile, now I can buy some gas to go to work later tomorrow.  More than the cash tip, they left me with an invaluable lesson.

I have my own vices, my own ways of coping or not coping with the world around me.  I have my moments of avoidance and fear-running.  We all do, don’t we?.  I do not know the road this person travels, the stories they carry, or their joy or struggle.  I do not know them….how dare I?

How dare I sit and judge the number of beverages downed?  How dare I silently curse them for their inappropriate lifestyles.  Who am I to judge that?  Who am I to think because I have a couple more letters behind my name that I am any better than those who spend all night before the money machine?  I gulp down my own pride and admit….I’m not.

So, as they venture my way again, they say with a broad smile, “Hit me Baby, one more time!”

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