Matt Johnstone

Tom Eizonas, Nick Rossi, Zach Ryan, and Chuck Beard

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to another wonderful collaboration between East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the 111th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 110, I repeat … 110, previous shows East Side Story has put together, we all decided to take a break from our busy schedules all over town in order to sit back and relax and get everyone cultured up just right in the form of a Nashville writer reading from original prose, followed by an amazing local musician performing and talking about their original music, and then a round-up creative conversation with all featured guests of this event to talk about their individual journeys and personal ties to Nashville. Without further ado, fulfilling the entertainment portion of your day, this is East Side Storytellin’ 111. Let us begin, again.

The first featured artist of the night is not just an amazing writer and human being, he is also a publisher of beautiful weirdos. It’s true, this guy, alongside Eric Benick, started the oober-awesome Ursus Americanus Press. With several hit projects in the bag and more on the horizon, this guy barely has time to do anything else … but alas, he persisted. When this guy isn’t eating too much sugar, spending too much time on his phone, or staying up too late for no reason, he endlessly churns out original stories on the page, over the interwebs, on countless white t-shirts, and more. His diligent work ethic is only matched by his positive attitude and energy for everyone around him. To say that he has a lot of friends and literary peers would be the understatement of the year. He has a busy year ahead with a move and work appearing in MESMER, Souvenir Lit, MAYDAY magazine, Chicago Literati, Vanilla Sex Magazine, and a few bathrooms around Nashville. He also writes and plays in a band called Choovanski. Point being, this guy rocks. It was truly an honor to introduce the man, the legend, Nick Rossi!

Nick took to the microphone like a caged animal who had been drinking caffeine all day while trying to decide if he needed to make brand new prose and poetry ready for a reading or if he should just rely on his old and trusted friends. I believe he ended up drinking a few pony high life’s and doing a little bit of both. All in all, Nick was in his zone. He apologized for his Chicago voice, gave a multitude of personal shout outs throughout the reading and night, and set the mood of the event perfectly with his tales of life on the road and not so light material that felt right at home for this day and age.

photo by Chance Chambers

I though Nick did a beautiful job of tying together the three stages of his Nashville experience. He shared a poem that explained why he decided to first come to Nashville (he apologized for the lack of edits for parts he claimed that sucked but everyone else in the room agreed that his words and reading did everything but suck). He spoke about the places he had come from and where he is going soon. Somewhere in the middle, he shed light and a deep perspective of privilege that he and so many of us other white males live with on the daily in this country, all the while sharing vivid examples and imagery of references with the abuse towards African Americans in this world. Like Nick’s shirts, his words and thoughts are extremely powerful. The sooner you get in the groove of how to digest the manner in which he races through his words, thoughts, and pages, the better you are to understand the pure heart and passion for literature and life and connecting with other people that Nick exudes on the daily. It’s all right there in his work. You can hear it as plain as day right there in the recording below.

Our featured music of the night is someone who has been playing music regularly since the age of 11. He’s chased his dream under a multitude of names and across several genres, but he’s still truckin’ and searching for his truth. After spending years doing the solo artist thing, his current project is The Wanderers (not to be confused the That Thing You Do’s The Oneders). Drawing inspiration from sounds and folks like Tom Waits, David Lynch, Chet Baker, and Dick Dale, The Wanderers just finished a record due to be released in late September. Lucky for us, we didn’t have to wait until September to here this guy play his great music. Via a wonderful connection and introduction with our mutual friend Shane Tutmarc, I was thrilled to finally be able to shed a spotlight on the one and only Zach Ryan!

I recently watched a segment of CBS Sunday Morning that featured John Mellencamp. They were talking about how Mellencamp had originally moved to New York City on a visual art scholarship but then got a record deal as soon as he got there. When he first played an original song for the suits at the label, he didn’t believe they heard any of his words and could just tell from the first five seconds of his playing that he had that special something. Mellencamp later mentioned in the interview that he really believes you can tell when a person has that special something of talent in any creative medium in the first few moments. Fast forward to hearing and seeing Zach Ryan play the guitar at The Post and I was not alone to be completely blown away by his virtuoso skill and sounds and musicianship that struck us all like lightning in the first few chords he played and sang. Again, you can hear what I’m talking about it the recording below.

Zach’s music is guitar driven and guitar led, and surrounded with the air of cinema. Some of the people in the crowd mentioned that he looked like the great actor Robert Mitchum, and I said I’d love to hear Zach play his melodies to old Robert Mitchum movies that are filmed out West and have the uncertainty of death and dark subject matter … almost like a not-so-funny but still as brilliant version of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I’m sure there are a million great references that came out of this specific show from the music and story themes, but nobody could deny that Zach was on the top of his game, even without the extra players in his band. Zach, like Nick, came correct to the show with some stories and melodies that took our breath away and blew our minds at the same time.

During the conversation portion of the show, we learned that both Nick and Zach had roommates by the name of Carl (with a C, not a K, because that’s much cooler) … shout out to Carl Carbonell. What was not planned before the show and with the pairing but was acknowledged by Zach very early into his set was that the darker subject matter shared by each unprompted or pre-curated artist reflected like a perfectly symmetric swampy sunset that made you appreciate the glow of the sun descending but at the same time scared you to death about what was hiding in the dark to come. Not to make you jittery while reading this, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom. There was plenty to smile about, during the talking and the reading and singing. In fact, one of Zach’s happy songs was about a man finding joy in moving away and getting away with murder. You really need to take a listen to it below to get where I’m coming from about loving these guys so much.

photo by Chance Chambers

It was my pleasure and an honor to share the stage and shed the spotlight on this unique pair of troubadours. I do want to add a little note here for the sake of big transitions and moves for Nick Rossi. He told me when I booked him for the show that this would be fitting  for him since East Side Storytellin’ was one of the first literary events he attended when he moved to town and it would be one of his final public readings (outside of a fun Life is Boring reading event the Friday before he moved later that week). In between those two shows, Nick has become a beacon for the literary community at large and we were lucky enough to promote and share his books and journals while we ran the retail portion of the first chapter of East Side Story. We are gonna miss him, but we are thankful he will continue being awesome in Chicago and connecting our Nashville family with people and ideas beyond the city limits for years to come. Plus he is going to come back and visit often. Plus plus he is going to hire me when he gets his white t-shirt company off the ground and going. This will happen.

That said, before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for Nick and Zach for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us. These are two of the good ones doing great things and both are just getting started. The best is yet to come.

So here it is, the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 111, a show when we were lucky to feature the likes of Nick Rossi and Zach Ryan at The Post on Tuesday, July 18, 2017. Feel free to listen to this one and share it with everyone you know, over and over again. You’ll thank me afterwards.

You can read more of Nick’s writing here – www.ursusamericanuslit.com

You can listen to more of Zack’s music here – zachryansongs.bandcamp.com

You can listen to this show, edited, soon, alongside the previous shows too, on our website,www.eastsidestorytn.com, at our In Our Own Words Tab – see here – www.eastsidestorytn.com/in-our-own-words

I’ll keep the gratitude going for Tom Eizonas, my lovely wife and most talented artist in Emily Harper Beard (efharper), and everyone that came out live to support the show … and to everyone who has helped continue to spread the word and support the show online afterwards.

Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to give one last shout out to Tonya and Chris for making The Post so welcoming and positively life-changing for the East Nashville community at large.

Our next show will be

East Side Storytellin’ 112

Tuesday, August 1st

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Eric Benick

singing- Kira Hooks

That said, that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 111 and another fabulous event at The Post with East Side Story at the helm. Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word and giving some love to all of these great Nashville artists and our creative ideas. Please remember to be nice to one another out there.

Much love,

mE

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Chuck Beard, Drew Kohl, Kiely Schlesinger, Matt Johnstone, and Tom Eizonas

Chuck Beard, Drew Kohl, Kiely Schlesinger, Matt Johnstone, and Tom Eizonas

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU. Hello Again! Welcome to another wonderful collaboration between East Side Story and The Post. Let me be the first to officially, whole-heartedly welcome you to the recap and recording of the 87th epic edition of East Side Storytellin’! Like the 86, I repeat … 86, previous shows East Side Story has put together, we all decided to take a break from our busy schedules all over town in order to sit back and relax and get everyone cultured up just right in the form of a Nashville writer reading from original prose, followed by an amazing local musician performing and talking about their original music, and then a round-up creative conversation with all featured guests of this event to talk about their individual journeys and personal ties to Nashville. Without further ado, fulfilling the entertainment portion of your day, this is the recap and recording of East Side Storytellin’ 87. Let us begin, again.

The first featured artist of the night is a poet and an artistic activist (meaning he helps spark inspiration in others to not only talk but to do things creatively all over town and beyond). Online, he articulates his thoughts on poetry and Nashville and where the two intersect, on a blog titled hemouthsmewrong.blogspot.com. Offline, he coordinates and hosts the monthly poetry readings that are at least one visiting poet and one local poet reading an hour’s worth of poetry called E t A l Poetry Readings. But he doesn’t stop there. He co-edits the sporadic web-journal ‘Pider, and does his own thing too. He is the author of the full-length collection Let’s be close Rope to mast you, Old light’ and chapbooks ‘o n e’ and ‘Note on Tundra’. I’m talking about the word maestro of Nashville himself, the one and only Matt Johnstone (exclamation mark)!

Matt had his cell phone in one hand and a cold beer in the other. He knew exactly what he was doing. He declared that he had some poems that he wanted to read and others that he needed to read, and he told the crowd to figure out which were which. Nothing like an artist who lays down the bravado and a contest for all to get involved with their art before they start the show. I loved it.

One funny thing that happened from reading from his phone instead of from memory or papers on the podium, nobody had a good idea of when to show some love and clap in appreciation for sharing each individual poem because we didn’t know if he was finished with the poem or making dramatic pauses while scrolling on his phone. It wasn’t a flaw in the performance nor did this fact take away from his wonderful words. On the contrary, the major solo applauses that Tom Eizonas dished out during every secondary pause in the reading totally made Matt feel appreciated as he smiled and told the crowd, “Thank you, YOU.” I know Tom and everyone around us loved it.

But yeah, Matt spoke about truths and current events all-life encompassing. He talked about cops, LeBron James needing to revitalize the Akron University Press, the depth of responsibility and connectedness within the current use of the word “I” in modern poetry, and many other things that made me feel smarter in general and more aware of how someone who has a skill of articulating just the right words at the right time can honestly change everything. Matt Johnstone has those skills, and we are all better off for being around him and listening to what he has to share.

In an attempt to follow the magic of Matt’s words, we went big. I’m talking about bringing out the figurative cake and candles and decided to feature someone with a big birthday. Quasi-sponsored by our fine, mutual John friends who own and run The Beer Pale and Wingfield’s Cleaning Service, respectively, this birthday gig was also one of the first major literary/music events for the likes of my son’s dear friend Colin Wesley Craver. As you can see, he thought the show was finger-lickin’ good, taking it all in with his mom and dad. We are grateful for kids of all ages who attend our shows.

Our featured musician and man with a birthday this show day is a folk singer-songwriter from Athens, Georgia who does way more than play a guitar and sing a few songs. Drawing influences from some of my favorites in The Avett Brothers and Old Crow Medicine Show, to name two, he writes and performs an acoustic blend of bluegrass, folk, and country music. Last year, he recorded an EP titled Sweetheart-a bluegrass driven folk record of twangy love songs. Playing alongside a very talented friend and singer by the name of Kiely Schlesinger, it was perfect timing to give attention and love to the likes of my good buddy Drew Kohl.

Drew and Kiely wasted no time getting everyone in the mood to put on dancing shoes with a tune that was literally called Dancing Shoes. Luckily, before most of us could get out of our chairs to dance and try to keep up with their beat, Drew and Kiely slowed down the next few songs to some of the most poignant and introspective ballads I’ve heard in quite some time. Each song had a ton of raw emotions and backstories mixed into lines and melodies that we could all relate with in our own lives and personal backgrounds. Most of them had a knack for leading with general lines that involved sadness, but Drew turned everything around by the end and made those initial, simple lines into something with more depth than first imagined. Plus, it sounded great.

Between Drew’s lead vocals and the way Kiely lifted up the material and added a beautiful fierceness and grit to the stories, the pairing of them both together just fit so nicely. Whether it was a funky cover of The Ramones with a country twang, or a love song that hit you straight to your heart, these two know how to make a song come to life.

So after the music ended, Kiely took a seat and let the three amigos take to the two mics on sight and talk about some things. It was a fun, flexible interview where I enjoyed listening to each of their takes on their journeys so far and also mixing things up while asking each other questions when they were looking for tangent lines to connect between their two highly creative worlds. And as much as I enjoy and admire both of these artists as artists, I also love to hear more about how each of these people spend so much time and energy to help others in the short time they call spare time in their everyday lives. There are many reasons why people like Matt Johnstone and Drew Kohl have such dedicated fans and friends who go to great lengths to support their art. We were lucky to recognize several of those reasons by experiencing their craft and insightful conversations firsthand at The Post.

Here it is, the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 87, featuring Matt Johnstone and Drew Kohl (with Kiely Schlesinger) at The Post on Tuesday, July 19th, 2016. Enjoy and share over and over again, as you wish:

So before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks, once again, for Matt Johnstone and Drew Kohl and Kiely Schlesinger for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.

You can read more of Matt’s writing here – hemouthsmewrong.blogspot.com

You can listen to more of Drew’s music here – drewkohl.com

You can listen to this show, edited, soon, alongside the previous shows too, on our website, www.eastsidestorytn.com, at our In Our Own WordsTab – see here – www.eastsidestorytn.com/in-our-own-words



I’ll keep the gratitude going for Tom Eizonas, my lovely wife and most talented artist in Emily Harper Beard (efharper), and everyone that came out live to support the show … and to everyone who has helped continue to spread the word and support the show online afterwards.

I’d also like to show much love to Clay Brunton for the beautiful artwork online to promote the show.

Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to give one last shout out to Tonya and Chris for making The Post so welcoming and positively life-changing for the East Nashville community at large.

Our next show will be

East Side Storytellin’ 88

Tuesday, August 2nd

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Barry Jones (www.barryjonesstories.com)

singing- Woodferd – aka Peter McKeown (woodferdmusic.com)

That said- that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 87 and another fabulous event at The Post with East Side Story at the helm. Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word and giving some love to all of these great Nashville artists and our creative ideas. Please remember to be nice to one another out there.

much love,

mE

 

 

 

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Tom Eizonas, Chuck Beard, Lagnajita, Matt Walberg, and Thomas Grant

Tom Eizonas, Chuck Beard, Lagnajita, Matt Walberg, and Thomas Grant

Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU, and hello again! Welcome to another wonderful artistic Nashville collaboration from East Side Story. Let me be the first to officially and whole-heartedly welcome you to the recap and recording of the 86th edition of East Side Storytellin’. Like the 85, I repeat … 85, previous shows East Side Story has put together, we all decided to take a break from our busy schedules and the current storms in order to sit back and relax and get everyone cultured up just right in the form of a Nashville writer reading from original prose, followed by an amazing local musician performing and talking about their original music, and then a round-up creative conversation with all featured guests of this event to talk about their individual journeys and personal ties to Nashville. This is East Side Storytellin’ 86. Let us begin, again.

Our first featured artist of the evening is not your ordinary teenager. In fact, she epitomizes the definition of what an extraordinary young adult should be. She is a recent graduate at Nashville’s historic Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School. She became Nashville’s First Youth Poet Laureate, and she has read her poetry at Nashville’s City Council, Mayor Karl Dean’s State of Metro address, Nashville Public Library Studio NPL’s opening, MyCity Academy Graduation, TEDxNashville and Mayor Barry’s inauguration, and a honorary night of original poetry dedicated to the legend Bill Brown here at The Post a few months ago at another East Side Story event … to name a few. In addition to publishing her book, this is our war, of which you can purchase at East Side Story, this young lady has also published in Nashville Arts Magazine, The Tennessean, and on the Poetry Society of America website. It was a huge honor to once again introduce this literary star in the same venue as I did before. Her parents and everyone else in the crowd joined me in a big round of applause to introduce the one and only Lagnajita Mukhopadhyay.

Lagnajita (pronounced Log-na-jeeta), stepped up to the microphone and was the consummate professional. Obviously, from her bio with her extensive event experience, she had done this sort of thing before. That said, she was an old soul beyond her 18 years. To me, she was dynamite. And when I say she is like dynamite, she is compact and still in stature, but she is an explosion of everything awesome life has to offer when she opens up and shares her original poetry. Her voice is calm and smooth, but her content and depth of perception will rip your soul and forever change it for the better. I’m serious. She is this amazing.

photo by Chance Chambers

photo by Chance Chambers

Lagnajita has a tremendous gift of articulating her life experiences and journey into fantastical worlds where anyone who is listening to her share her stories can instantly relate and dive head and heart first into what she’s giving you. It is quite the experience that, once again, is beyond my words so I’ll let you listen to the recording below to get all the feels.

Like Lagnajita, our musical guest of the night is one of the most positive people I know in Nashville. Our featured musician for this show is a man who not only wishes people Happy Birthday in writing on your Facebook homepage, he also takes the time to write and record extra special shout-outs despite being an amazing father and hard-working American. The two biggest super-country stars in Nashville history, Dutch Whisky and Atticus Jackson, both say that this man is the only musician in the entire world who they’d actually pay to hear live. If you know either one of those guys then you’d know just how serious that comment is because neither one of those guys pay for anything … ever! That said, since the admission of this show was free, I made a special note for everyone to pay extra close attention to the words, positivity, and talents of our musical guest and his mission. He is always ready to share his music in ways for everyone to enjoy incredible entertainment experiences at the drop of a hat and this night was no different. He, in fact, dropped his hat once or twice. Nothing was gonna stop him from being awesome and nothing was going to happen that stopped me from being excited to finally introduce this guy. So, alongside two very talented friends, Thomas Grant on the bass and Hilary Romaine on backing vocals, I was super-country proud to introduce the leader of Matt Walberg and The Living Situation in that of the one and only Matt Walberg!

Never one to be shy on a mic or in front of an endearing crowd, Matt grabbed his guitar and spoke of how excited he was to try his music at the storytellin’ aspect of shows. He started with a song about a man on the run from the woman he loves. Then, he told us about the background of his most recent hair cut and his everyday mantra of accepting life as it comes your way with his title track It is what it is (take a moment to check out his cool video here- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHOOVaCfdjk).

Matt did his fair share of talking to the crowd about how he approaches life, his art form, fatherhood, and basically everything that was on his mind that related to his songs and the crowd on hand. It was yet again one of those performances where I felt like I was at church on a Tuesday but also at a church that was more about delivering about how can we learn from each other and our failures to do and be better versions of ourselves and find the truth behind why each of us our here … you know, instead of a church where you simply hear quotes from centuries past or get preached at. My point being, you can listen to the songs and the discussions we all heard at this show from Matt and interpret your own impressions and go forth however you feel is best afterwards.

And speaking of discussions, this was one of the nights and shows where I could have stayed and listened to and spoken with these two artists for at least another hour without trying to get more time out of them. They both have gifts of looking at the world around them and solving the quintessential problem of what is our individual purposes for being alive here and now. So, in a city that is filled with brilliant poets and some of the finest musicians in the world, these two souls stand out for everything good they represent … AND with their work ethics, they only aim to get better by the day. In the end, I’d say that’s all we all can ask of ourselves. So, for that alone, I am forever thankful that these two people agreed to share their talents for me and the rest of the crowd and East Side Storytellin’ family, especially on the day with my explanations below the recording.

Here is the edited recording of East Side Storytellin’ 86, that featured Lagnajita and Matt Walberg (with Hilary Romaine and Thomas Grant) on Tuesday, July 5th, 2016 at The Post:

photo by Chance Chambers

photo by Chance Chambers

Before I leave you with this recap and recording to share with others, I would like to share the post I wrote on Facebook the day after this show took place. I will just quote it in its entirety below this paragraph before we get started with this show. And let me also add that the day following the day that followed this show, I felt the need to post something else do to another unjust crime in broad daylight that is tearing our society and world apart. Point being, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile could have been any one of our family members or friends when push came to shove and shoot. It’s time we come together and start loving one another and trying to understand what’s really going on and has been going on. #blacklivesmatter!

Here are my two Facebook posts:

1-So thankful I was able to experience the insightful and overwhelmingly positive creative messages of Lagnajita and Matt Walberg last night at East Side Storytellin’ 86 because up until 7pm I was in quite a daze, a funk, and speechless. The dreary, cloudy weather didn’t help my afternoon but it perfectly reflected my mood and attitude for the current state of affairs in our country. I have always been well aware that I live a life of privilege being a white male in the USA. Luckily, I was always taught by my parents that I am no better than anyone else, regardless of race, money in the bank, title on paper, or any other factor. Yesterday, I was reminded again that real change needs to happen in our society NOW. I am not a politician or a police man or someone who has much pull at all outside posting here and talking about it with friends and people in my bookstore, but I’m willing to hear opinions and thoughts of different ways I and you and WE can help make things better and fair. I’m sick to my soul seeing non-whites abused daily for not being white and/or “christian.” I’m also deeply sick of seeing the rich and powerful not being judged by the same rules as regular citizens (I’m not a lawyer either, and can’t say if someone should or shouldn’t be indicted, but all I know is if I was in that position with the FBI that I would be in jail already).

I’ll stop ranting, but, like I said above, I’m open to and really yearning to listen to my friends here to see if y’all have any good ideas of what I and you and WE can do going forward. We must move forward and we gotta do it together.

Much love to ‪#‎altonsterling and his family and friends today and for everyone else being abused unfairly and unjustly today and tomorrow.

PS- I vote in every election, but still not sure if it ever counts

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14yff0qC8vs

2-I read this tweet this morning and couldn’t agree more =

Dear @NRA (National Rifle Association) ,

Since ‘All Lives Matter,’ I await your statement supporting legal gun owner and police shooting victim ‪#‎PhilandoCastile.

Today.

-@MsPackyetti

PS- With so much chaos and hatred keeping us up right now, I am thankful for the platform that GoFundMe has provided by supplying an outlet for friends and strangers to give money and support and hope to families who are left in the cold and too often times confused and alone to deal with these horrendous and criminal repercussions = in less than 9 hours, the ‪#‎altonsterling page received over $200,000 … now it’s closing in on $300,000 and counting. In the darkness of today, I consider this a light from a candle that won’t burn out anytime soon.

PSS- I love you.

Before I say goodbye for this round of fun, I’d like to give a big round of thanks for Lagnajita and Matt for sharing their stories, talents, and time with us.

You can read more about Lagnajita’s writing here- www.facebook.com/lagnajitam

You can listen to more of Matt’s music here – thelivingsituation.com

You can listen to this show, edited, soon, alongside the previous shows too, on our website, www.eastsidestorytn.com, at our In Our Own WordsTab – see here – www.eastsidestorytn.com/in-our-own-words



I’ll keep the gratitude going for Tom Eizonas, my lovely wife and most talented artist in Emily Harper Beard (efharper), and everyone that came out live to support the show … and to everyone who has helped continue to spread the word and support the show online afterwards.

I’d also like to show much love to Clay Brunton for the beautiful artwork online to promote the show.

art by Clay Brunton

Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to give one last shout out to Tonya and Chris for making The Post so welcoming and positively life-changing for the East Nashville community at large.

Our next show will be

East Side Storytellin’ 87

Tuesday, July 19th

at The Post (1701 Fatherland Street) at 7pm

reading- Matt Johnstone  (hemouthsmewrong.blogspot.com)

singing- Drew Kohl  (drewkohl.com)

That said- that’s all for East Side Storytellin’ 86 and another fabulous event at The Post with East Side Story at the helm. Thanks for coming out and sharing the good word and giving some love to all of these great Nashville artists and our creative ideas. Please remember to be nice to one another out there.

much love,

mE

 

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