Planes

May 21, 2010

I am in the midst of a spiritual upheaval. A break for the body. A feast for the soul.

Wish me luck.

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The Last Five Years, or Something

November 20, 2009

Here’s my life since July 19th, the abridged version…

I had the best time of my life in Oskarshamn, Sweden!:

I wrote a musical with 30 of my best friends. It’s called “Forget-me-not” and it’s the heartbreaking/heartwarming story of a pair of soulmates, Hugh and Ruby, dealing with Hugh’s declining mental health. It’s a beautiful story, and I am so elated to have been a part of it.:

It was a whirlwind. Sort of woke me up in a way, and got my out of my head for a while. Basically, it was perfect.

I came home mid-August, and had just a few weeks at home in Fort Lauderdale before moving into this house (which was built in 1928-ish, and used to be the Black Hospital of Alachua County — hence it’s endearing nickname, the Ghost House):

… with these two wonderful friends:

We get along great, mostly because we all /really/ like hats with earflaps.

Then school started. My favorite class is the poetry workshop I have with the quietly eccentric, wildly gifted poet/translator Michael Hofmann. Click on his name to read more about him!

Also, this semester I was paired with an lovable huggable full-time-adorable  Italian exchange student, Ricky, from Sardegna through the organization Navigators. He lives with 3 other Italian students from Torino, and they are some of my favorite new people in Gainesville. Here’s a picture of JL, me, and Ricky from the night he and the rest of the boys made dinner for us. (Seriously, full-time adorable.)

This semester has been great so far. I LOVE living in a house. I love living in one of the greatest party houses in Gainesville. Here’s me and my foster cat, Mac. She is the weirdest cat I’ve ever met.

We had a 90’s themed party in honor of JL’s birthday, and this happened:

Fwiends!

Bear costume I bought at Goodwill for $3. Find of the century? Me thinks yes.

Since our house is haunted by the spirits of hospital patients, when Halloween rolled around we decided to have a Zombie Hospital party. We covered the walls in “blood,” littered the yard with old hospital equipment, and got 100% in character. As expected, chaos ensued…

Hunter S. Thompson showed up, shaved head and all. He scared the bejesus out of everyone, but his costume was so good, we let it slide.This is Squirrel, the Midtown Dancin’ Legend. We had a dance-off and tied. He said it was the only time he has ever tied with a girl. Just saying.This kid passed out on the porch. What is the punishment for such a crime? This is:Zombie Nurse to the rescue!

The next night, this happened:

…so rightfully, we took the wheelchair (left over from the hospital party) out for a spin…

THEN, last week I went to New York. I got to see so many of my favorite people, including my DAD. It was fantastic!The real Dark Knight. Seriously though, you can barely see him.No dancing? Is this New York City or Bomont?

Phew! Big ups to A. Bell and J. Lauds for all the pictures I stole. Thanks guise!

I leave you with this:

Sweden, Take One

July 19, 2009

On Thursday I embarked on my little international journey. The first plane from Fort Lauderdale to Cincinnati was a quiet one. There was an extra seat between me and the man next to me, so it was nice to get to stretch my legs out a little extra. I also was sitting by quite possibly the cutest baby in the world. I kept wanting to make faces at her to make her laugh, but refrained from doing so as to not freak out the mother, who was probably the one it would have been more normal for me to strike up a conversation with.

Then I had a four hour layover in the Cincinnati airport. Quite a bit of my time there was spent looking for an outlet (ugh, I could have just asked, I know) to plug my computer into. My battery is totally shot so the computer only works if it’s physically plugged into the wall.

I finally found one and made my little station. I started writing a little and then was approached by a friendly middle-aged man who asked to “steal my power.” It took me a moment to realize what he was talking about. He pluged his phone in and struck up a conversation with me. Turns out he lives in the midwest but has a vacation home in Florida that he visits “every other weekend or so.” Hm. He also told me quite a bit about the Paris airport (my next stop) and recounted some of the times that he had been there. I quickly came to learn that this man was very wealthy. Ot at least he said he was.

I suppose I too could have talked about my summer home, my yacht, or my villa in the south of France. That’s the fantastic thing about being in an airoirt; there’s automatically a limit to the amount of time you have to spend with any one person, so you can essentilly be whoever you want to be for those few minutes or hours. I could have faked an accent and “viola! I’m a French cheesemaker coming to America to sell my newest butt cheese recipe!” Or tell a stranger that I just, at 20, found out I was adopted and am on a month-long journey to find my real parents in South Africa. Or if I had been approached by a not so nice person, I could have always shook my head frantically, waved my hands and spit out a broken “I no talk English!” The possibilities are truly endless.

Buuut, this man seemed friendly and I would have crapped my pants if he had called me out on one of my lies, so I told the truth. Named Cassie. Going to Sweden. Working with other young people at an international arts program. Ta da! We talked a little longer (about the times he sailed through Sweden with his pegasis named Diamonds and his forty Indian princesses), and he was gone.

Phew, back to my computer. I thought.

I had about 30 seconds of downtime and was then apprioached by another man, brown-haired, probably in his late thirties. Handsome, if it hadn’t been for what appeared to be 17th-century dentures lining his mouth. His teeth, some might call them. In a fairly heavy German accent he said something like “I heard you talking about Scandinavia with that man. It is one of the few places in Europe that I’ve never been. How is it? Like any other cities in Europe that you’ve been?”

Uh oh. I haven’t been to any other cities in Europe. Now would be a perfect time to lie. Come on, come on, come on. But no. From the looks of his teeth and the sound of his voice, he would surely be able to call me out on any of the bullshit I could spew about the “other European cities I’ve been to.” Damn. Honesty one, Cassie zero.

I explained that I’d only been to Sweden. I apologized, though now that I think about it I wasn’t sorry. I was glad it was a short conversation, as I was stopped mid-sentence while writing and would have loved to get back into computerland.

Then this happened in my brain. “Wait. What? What’s wrong with me? There is a real person next to me, willing to talk, and all I want to do is be on my computer? Something I can do from anywhere–most notably from my desk in my house in Fort Lauderdale? Snap out of it, you ass-hat! You have four hours here, so just talk to the man.”

So I did, and I am so glad I did. It made the time pass so much faster, and it snapped me out of my boo-I’m-traveling-alone-so-just-I’ll-stare-longingly-at-every-family-and-or-couple-that-passes-me spell.

He was from Munich, but had been living in Saint Louis for the past seven years for med school. He had just finished his residency and was going home to visit his family and friends. In Munich. And Paris. And Venice.

I did get a little embarassed having to give “no” as an answer to so many questions. It was like being the overly prude girl sitting in on (and thusly, losing) a game of never had I ever. Been to Paris? No. Been skiing? No. Ridden a motorcycle through the Swiss Alps? Nope. Finished med school? Nope. Had a long term goal ever in my life? I’m leaning towards no.

Despite all of my no-ing, he was a very friendly man. Almost too friendly at times. He made the fatal mistake that oh so many Europeans do: winking. Winking incessantly. Winking after saying things like “I have to use the restroom” and “a girl vomited on my last flight.”

Do people wink this often in Europe? Or is it just something that they once heard is cool in America so they try to use when in the company of Americans, like cowboy hats or the word “groovy.” I guess, in all honesty we Americans are to blame for this. Every English text book that is ever published should have a tiny word bubble in the margin of, let’s say, page 37, saying something like this…

“The Truth About Winking! It is creepy. Don’t do it. Unless, of course, you actually are a creep.”

Ta da! That way, along with learning the verb conjugation of “drink, drank, drunk” foreign students can also learn how to avoid this unfortunate mistake.

So, Markus and I chatted the hours away until he had to catch his plane to Frankfurt. He exchanged my dollars for some of his euros so I would have some cash in Paris, gave me his email address, and said “thank  you for being here.” I think he wanted for us to fall in love in those two hours in the airport, and although he was fantastic company and quite the winker, I can safely say that didn’t happen.

Soon, I was off on my nine-hour, up in the air, over the sea adventure. I was seated between an interested (and most likely uninteresting) guy (reading a book about Financial Management, surely a dead end conversation there) and a French woman who know any English. I read, ate, located the nearest exit, listened to music, read, ate, pretended to sleep, read, watched the little white airplane make its way over the endless stretch of blue, and looked around to find which other passenger I would want to hold me when the plane begins its fast and fiery crash in the middle of the ocean. Then I read some more.

394 hours later we landed at the Paris airport, which has a longer French name that I didn’t/still don’t know. Des Gaus? Del Gaudes? Del Gaulles? Dell Guy? Dead Guys? Like I said, I don’t know. These next six hours were filled with adventures: buying Coke Light from a vending machine with Markus’ euros, playing “American or Not?” (your capri pants always give it away, Europeans!), accidentally falling asleep (and drooling) on a bench right next to the security check-point, meeting rude Canadians, trying to look European, and so on.

Blah blah blah. Sat next to an old Swedish couple on the plane to Stockholm. Arrived there. Panicked about my checked bag. Found my checked bag. Descended into the cold cave that the Swedes refer to as the “Arlanda Express.” Took the train from airport un-city to Stockholm city.

There I found Maria and we went back to her beautiful apartment for dinner. I am not kidding, I think this is one of the most beautiful apartments I have ever been in in my whole life. She is in the top apartment, with a view of Stockholm on one side and of the sail-boat sprinkled river on the other side. Not to mention that the apartment is filled to the brim with IKEA wonderfulness.

Maria, her boyfriend David (who is also wonderful), and I had a delicious salmon/cous cous/sadziki dinner on the rooftop. We had wine and great conversation, and I retired to the living room for some long-awaited sleep. I woke up feeling rested, refreshed, and so excited to be here in Sweden.

Maria took me to the central station, where I hopped on a train to Linkoping to meet Helena. The ride was two hours long, most of which I spent trying to figure out the book that the man next to me was reading; the cover was a sunny beach scene in the background, and a half-decomposed bloody hand reaching out of the sand in the foreground. I eventually decided that it was about a girl who was at the beach with her friends, they buried her in the sand as a joke, left her there, where she died and became a beach zombie, and thus won’t rest until she has eaten the brain of every friend that abandoned her there. It seemed very Swedish to me.

Helena and her dad met me at the train station in Linkoping at noon. It had been almost two years since I’d seen her, so it was a awesome, long-awaited reunion.

Helena and I got lunch downtown and went shopping. I spent way too much money, but justified it by saying that there is no good shopping in Oskarshamn, where I’ll be for the next three weeks, so this was my shopping for the whole trip. I bought four pairs of earings, black leggings, black heels, a grey faux-leather jacket, a light blue skirt, a white shirt-dress, a t-shirt, and a pair of white shoes. Whoops.

After shopping, Helena and I walked back to her house, where we had a delicious dinner out on the back patio. Salmon on the grill, potatoes (not for me), sadziki, curry sauce, and a salad. Helena and I then went and picked berries in her yard–wild strawberries, wine berries, cherries–and had them with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Everything about this was so beautiful. It seems that the Swedes haven’t lost their connection to the natural world the way that it seems many Americans have.

After dinner we watched some TV, talked a bit, and headed downtown to hear her friend Daniel’s band play. First we stopped in at this bar called Laureant for some drinks. From there, we walked to the bar called Morners where Daniel’s band was playing.

The band was good. They were like a slightly more Swedish, slightly less obnoxious version of Greenday. Suffice to say, the style wasn’t my favorite, but they were good musicians and great performers. There were quite a few very drunk older Swedes, which was very entertaining. I had never seen this side of the culture here before. The quiet, well-mannered Swedes were now drunk, climbing onstage, and belting “Sweet Home Alabama” into the microphone. It felt like home, sweet home.

After spending the last ten minutes of their set listening to a sweaty Persian man tell me, albeit politely, all of the things he hates about America, Daniel, Helena, and I walked back to Laureant to see what was happening there.

To our surprise (or not really) we found about thirty sweaty, shirtless Europeans dancing on each other to a German techno song. Was it half-naked gay night or just the typical Friday? I’ll never know. Regardless, we joined them for some sweaty dancing for a few songs, and then made our merry way home.

I slept very well here at Helena’s house. This whole household here is like the Swedish parallel to my house back in Fort Lauderdale. Something about it is so comfortable. I woke up and went upstairs about an hour ago, and found Helena’s mother, the only other person awake, sitting in a chair, reading the newspaper, just like my mother does every morning. This house feels like a home. I consider myself so lucky to be here right now, and  to have a friend as wonderful as Helena in my life.

Today I think we are going to meet up with Maja and hopefully meet her new baby. Helena’s mom is making pancakes upstairs right now (just like my mom does, ha!) so I should probably go. Sending my love! Puss! (That means hug in Swedish, not puss as in the yellowy innards of an infected wound. Bye!)

Conclusions

May 26, 2009

http://www.gainesville.com/article/20090526/articles/905269977

There is no “right” way to write about death, which makes it very hard to do.  I have written and rewritten this post about nine times since I started it last night. I gave up altogether at certain points, thinking that maybe it was so hard to write because I shouldn’t be writing about it in the first place. After all, I’m not a fan of the recent fad of publicly advertising the death of a loved one. It always seems to become a contest about who knew the person “the best” or “the most” or “the longest.” I can understand that–every person grasping for memories and pieces of this person who died, wanting to claim them all to have and hold onto forever. I can understand that, but that isn’t what I want this to be.

I didn’t know Barry the best, the most, or the longest. We met several years ago, but when we did it was as if we had never been strangers at all.  He asked questions about me, looked me in the eyes, told me what he thought of me, inquired about the traits of mine that he didn’t understand, all with eagerness and warmth, never once coming across as intrusive or brash. We did all the catching up we needed to do in the first ten minutes of knowing each other. There was something extraordinary about him that I was, and still am, fascinated by.

He would do this thing where anytime we were getting ready to say goodbye after hanging out, he would say his own little monologue summing up the day–the kind of monologue at the end of Scrubs or any of those other narrated TV shows, only this would be said out loud for everyone to hear. He would go one by one and say the best thing that happened to each person while we were all together, like “well… Cassie ran into her teacher and talked to him for a bit,” or “Margie bought a shirt that looks great on her,” or “now at least we know a little more about this or that.” I love when TV shows do that, and it was even more special to tie off every day’s real life activities with a bright, beautiful bow.

That was not something he only did when we were leaving, though. He had this light and carried it with him at all times, and there wasn’t a person on earth that he was not willing to share it with. He was always smiling, wildly adventurous, usually dancing, and always dressed to the nines. He told me he wanted to be my big brother. He drove me to the auto shop and stood with me at the counter so the mechanic wouldn’t rip me off just because I’m a girl. He told me I was too good for most guys. He spent an entire day bike shopping with me and test rode all of the bikes I picked out before I rode them to make sure they were safe. He haggled the price down on the one we finally picked out. He told me which neighborhoods in Gainesville had the least crack-heads and the lowest rent, and tried to help find me roommates. When I picked him up from the hospital earlier this year after his mother died, he told me he didn’t want me to be sad. He made a joke and we laughed. It felt uncomfortable at first, but then it was his way of lifting the weight and the pain. And it worked. He called my hair “golden” and taught me that if you feel good you always look good, and it usually doesn’t work in the other way around. He promised that he would be my helper next year because Margie, Mats, and Andrea would all be leaving. He may have left too, but he left me  better than I was before I knew him. And no one is ever really gone.

So, to the friends who knew him, the friends who didn’t, and most importantly, to myself: take something from this. Hold your loved ones a little closer today. Ride bikes with them. Tell them to be careful. Dance. Please teach your children how to swim. Thank your parents for teaching you. Don’t test the arms of the ocean, because if she wants she’ll pull you in and not let you go. Make someone laugh. Tell someone they look nice. Be a big brother or big sister to someone who doesn’t have one. Tell everyone you know what a rip current is, and that you escape it by swimming sideways. Make a list of the good things at the end of the day. Take your friend to the mechanic and hold her hand. This will be your legacy.

If you think about it, the number of people in the world that you’ve met is minuscule in comparison to the number of people you have not met. Every meeting is a miracle in itself. Meeting Barry was a miracle. Knowing and loving Barry was an even bigger miracle. I am so thankful.

A world of love, light, and gratitude to my buddy, my black bear, my big brother.

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Sand

May 11, 2009

Sometimes you realize you aren’t made of stone. You’re just sand: slinking under waves, riding the wind, sliding through cracks. You are nothing without somewhere to land.

America, meet Giusy…

April 20, 2009

She is a less deranged, more Italian version of Amy Winehouse. She is pretty, sassy, and boy can she sing. Eccola!

LOLTATZ

April 19, 2009

This always happens. I go on the internet with every intention of studying, but then happen upon a website that is so eye-twitchingly outrageous  that I can’t look away. Case in point: loltatz.

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These are real. There are people who went into tattoo parlors, described these pictures to a tattoo “artist” (or a three-year-old, as appears in the “crabs” tattoo… what is that thing?!), sat for hours in pain while having these images (permanently) drawn on their bodies, and then PAID for the work that was done. I am absolutely nonplussed.

This is not to say I don’t like tattoos. I have seen some really nice ones: tasteful, well-drawn, well-thought-out. But Toucan Sam? TURD BURG’LR? You couldn’t go the extra mile and spell “burglar” correctly? I guess it doesn’t matter, though, if the word preceding it is “turd.”

Seriously though. What is wrong with people? I remember my freshman year I was hanging out with a friend of mine in her dorm, and her roommate was there with a friend also. We were just making friendly conversation, when the topic of tattoos came up; my friend’s roommate’s friend (phew) had just gotten a tattoo the day before on her foot. This dialogue followed:

Me: Oh, cool!

FRF: Yea, wanna see it?

Me:…..

FRF: (takes a bandage off her foot) It’s a Libra sign.

Me: Oh, neat! So you’re really into astrology?

FRF: What?

Me: Astrology.

FRF: I don’t know what that is.

Me: Like… the Zodiac signs… like Libra…

FRF: Ooooh, no. I just didn’t know what to get.

GAHHHHHHH.

Maybe if you don’t know what to get, now’s not the right time to be getting a tattoo.

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Which of these came first? Did The Whitest Kids U Know see this picture (or possibly know this man…) and write a skit based off of it? Or… was some guy THAT big of an asshat to see this skit and think it would be funny to get a permanent reminder of what a drunken tool he is? The chicken or the egg? Most likely we’ll never know…

Puuuuurge

April 14, 2009

I love donating blood. I’m not exactly sure why I love it, but here are some possibilities: free snacks, the delightful awkwardness of being asked by a stranger if I have ever taken money or drugs in exchange for sexual favors, knowing that if I ever lost a pint of blood for whatever reason (samurai duel, archery-gone-wrong, Paula Dean, etc.) I could totally survive. Oh, and that whole bit about saving lives is pretty neat too.

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Today is rainy. I love rain.

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Last Thursday was one of the best nanny days ever. Emilie and I played with sidewalk-chalk, bubbles, AND paper mâché.  It blows my mind that I get paid to act like a five-year-old for four days a week. It also kind of breaks my heart that Emilie doesn’t have siblings or parents with enough free time  to do these kinds of things with her. But either way, I’m pretty lucky to have landed this gig.

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It seems as if I have been binging on life and purging it all out into this blog in infrequent, disconnected, too-long-to-be-interesting posts. Whoops.

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Disney, New York, Choo-Choo

March 31, 2009

In February I went to Disney with a swarm of UF international students from a club I’m in called NaviGators. I hadn’t been there since I was 12. Or 11… or 13? (All I know is in all of the pictures from my last trip to Disney I had a terrible case of the pre-bra mosquito-bite boobs.) Needless to say, it had been a while. I figured it would be interesting to see the reactions of all of the international students and spend some extra time with them, so I swallowed my anti-Disney/anti-raging-commercialism/anti-extreme-crowds pride, and went. It. Was. Awesome.

Upon arriving, my friend Nate and I quickly learned that the international students were at Disney to go chicken-crazy, and not to fumble their way around the English language with a couple weirdos like us. They broke off into their groups (the Germans, the French, blah blah blah) and we Amurcans did the same.

Here’s the only picture I have of whole group (I’m way to the right):

navigators2Nate and I in a picture I did NOT want to take.

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We found Mary Poppins across from some stinky fish market in “England.”

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Getting spanked by a troll? But(t) of course!

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Disney was great. Even so, it will probably be another handful of years before I go back. I’m (definitely) okay with that.

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This month I also went to New York for a week. It was wonderful. I got to see so many beautiful places and people that I hadn’t seen in a very long time. I love that city, mostly because it is filled with so many of my dearest friends.

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I think the most important thing that has happened to me since I last wrote here is this: I got choo-chooed.

Let me explain. Last weekend I was with a group of friends in a  bar downtown, when in walked a (homeless-looking) man, who announced his entrance with the most realistic, booming train noise I had ever heard. I’m not sure what he was trying to do, but whatever it was, it worked, because he had my attention. We asked a friend who works at the bar who this mysterious homeless choo-chooing man was, and he responded, “Oh. That’s Choo-Choo. He’s a body master.”

I didn’t understand a word of this. Choo-Choo? Was that a name? What is a body master? The only way to get the answers we saught was directly from the source–Choo-Choo himself.

He was more than willing to have a conversation with us… more than willing to (try to) teach us how to make his signature ungodly noise… more than willing to show us his 17 bullet holes from ‘nam… more than willing to explain what on earth a “body master” is… more than willing to share with us that he has a sensai in Japan and has killed upwards of 26 men in his life with his bare hands… and for the right price he would realign our spines for us.

Sure, no big deal. Pay a homeless, toothless, choo-chooing, bullet-filled murderer to realign my spine.

One friend was brave enough (or drunk enough) to go first. I watched in awe as our man Choo-Choo cracked her back and neck, praying PRAYING that she didn’t flop to the floor, lifeless, like a soggy caught fish.

Luckily, she survived. She shook his hand, rejoined the group, and told us she had never felt better.

Reluctantly (VERY reluctantly) I agreed. I don’t think I had ever been so scared in my life. I believed this man when he told me he had killed 26 men with his bare hands. Before I had a chance to call my parents and tell them goodbye, I heard the craaaaack. Then another craaaaaack. First the neck, both ways, then the back, both ways, and then it was over. I shook my head and felt… nothing. No tightness, no muscle cramps, no pinched nerves. Was I dead?

Or was he just that good? He was that good. A body master, indeed. So, here’s to you Choo-Choo, you beardy, toothless, body master. Thanks for not killing me and my friends. To all of our collective surprise, you left us feeling a little better than we did before.

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Dribble

January 15, 2009

I was just looking through my wordpress stats, and saw that someone stumbled across this page after typing in “video tube tits hot big” into a search engine. Hope you found what you were lookin’ for, pal!

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Crosswords crosswords crosswords I love me some crossword action.

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I may or may not be watching American Idol right now.

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I need to write more poems! Yipes!

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I played the game Mousetrap for the first time today and I hate everything about it. It takes forever to get around the board,requires no intelligence or skill, and for your turn (if you’re lucky) you get to add one piece to the mousetrap. ONE PIECE. You know YOU KNOW all you want to do rip that thing out of the box, slap it all together, and watch it go. But no. You have to go one… by… one. Every single turn. It was absolute torture. It was like playing with K’nex but only being able to put together five pieces each day. Yuck.

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The low for tonight is 30 degrees. Maybe it will snow?! A GIRL CAN DREAM.

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Laaaa la laaa la LAAAA la.