Fan Mail

I rarely reply to or post email here from people that send me hate mail or very strongly worded You Suck mail or You are a Liar mail. I don’t post it because I don’t like to dwell on the negative and I feel like giving them any time on this blog gives it more life of its own and the negativity grows and there are so many other things to write about.

However, I’m making an exception for this one. I feel like it is born out of misunderstanding of what I’ve written or perhaps I didn’t do as good a job of explaining my process or how I navigated DID as I thought I did.

I’d love any feedback you might have on whether I need to go back and rewrite parts of my bio for a better explanation. Of course, if you’ve read my book, you’d know much more about what I did and how I did it, but if you haven’t read it, than maybe my bio doesn’t make sense.

Here is the email with my reply following.

Hello Leah,

I am a 39 year-old woman with D.I.D, and I am a psychiatric social worker who is very well educated on this topic. (Despite the knowledge base I do not treat those with dissociative disorders) I am responding to your biography which you have posted on your web site. I usually don’t comment about such things, but something your wrote leaves me feeling compelled to respond.

You wrote:

“In May, I’m released to the care of my sister and accept the terms of having to attend therapy. The hospital sets up my first appointment and I mistakenly go to see Dr. Clancy who has stopped seeing people with dissociative disorders. After speaking with me for an hour, he decides to make an exception and take me on as a client. He helps me see that my kids may have a use for me in their lives after all. In July, my divorce is final. I complete the integration process.”

You started therapy in May, and you finished the integration process in two months???????

I’m sorry, and I don’t mean any disrespect, but that is total bullshit and a great disservice to those of us who have been working years to overcome the trauma and torment which cased us to be dissociative. You write earlier that you were not aware of some things that you did (sex with strangers). If one is dissociative to the point of losing time, there is NO WAY that in 2 months integration is achieved. That defies explanation and is controverted by ALL of the clinical literature. If you are familiar with treatment of dissociative disorders then you know that this (lengthy and arduous )treatment is done in stages, the first of which often takes YEARS.

I mean no disrespect (although I appreciate that this might be hard to read and not feel disrespected) and I in no way mean to dismiss or downplay your struggles, but integration in 2 months? Am I missing something? How can someone who has been tormented (in an ongoing, severe and unrelenting way) to the point of a dissociative disorder integrate years of trauma and torture in 2 months? That’s ridiculous. Either you didn’t have a dissociative disorder or you are full of shit.

Wow. Pretty strong. I would have appreciated a more inquiring type of email as opposed to an accusatory one, but I don’t get to choose what kind of people are going to take issue with me, so there you go.

In my bio I write about how during 1990 thru 1995 I went through years of therapy and I worked towards integration during the times I (Leah) was aware of what was happening. Also, in the 2001 year I write about getting serious about getting well and journaling from all the personalities perspectives. That was all work towards integration as well. By the time I met Dr. Clancy, I knew exactly what I wanted and how I wanted to do it. And I did it because all my personalities were on the same page and wanted the same thing. I can give you Dr. Clancy’s info if you’d like to contact him regarding my process, although I can’t guarantee he would talk to you even though you say you are a psychiatric social worker. In the foreward to my book he tells how things happened with him and that is was highly unusual for us to reach integration so quickly.

I suppose I could make it more clear in my bio and make sure and use the phrases ‘towards integration’ and such, but I like it the way it reads now and don’t feel compelled to change it because someone I don’t know and have never corresponded with and have no way of knowing who they are tells me I’m full of bullshit.

One thing I’ve learned writing my new book and doing research for the work I do on Tara is that no two people’s experience of DID is the same. Everyone has their own sets of experiences that made them that way and their own sets of solutions they come up with to cope. Some people go to therapy their whole life, never to work through what happened. Some people become integrated. And some people go through things faster than others. I would not ever tell someone that their experience is bullshit because it is different than mine. I’ve met too many people with their own stories.

Thank you for sharing your perspective.
Have a nice day.

Apron Strings

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“I’ll be back at Thanksgiving and I know it’s Dad’s holiday but I’ll come see you, too!” She spritzes herself with girl smells, maybe something fruity?, and checks her lip gloss in the visor mirror, then snaps it shut, shoves it back in place and turns her 100 watt smile at me. “Don’t worry!” she says, and grabs her iPod.

Traffic is light and the weather has been perfect for a quick road trip to Grandma’s. The premise is that my mom has a Bosch and a Kitchen Aid sitting in the basement and I get to borrow them for an indefinite amount of time. The reality is that I’m soaking up every last second of alone time I can before she leaves in August and becomes someone new again.

It’s one of those moments when the feeling in my chest becomes almost too big to hold and I’m bursting with emotion, a mix of happiness at who she is becoming and pride at her learning to love and accept her body as it is and worry that the world will take her emerging confidence and slap her down and love at everything she is and everything she was and everything she will be.

We talk about relationships and what the guys might be like at college. She tells me how she’s grown to love and appreciate her step-dad and that she can’t believe she was once so cold to him. She talks about her brothers and how she didn’t know she could love them so much and how she’s going to miss them. About how she’s been trying to spend time with everyone at home before she goes because when she comes back, everything will be different and it might never feel like home again. I know she’s right and that coming back home as a person with time experienced elsewhere with new friends and new places and new learning experiences that no one at home knows about changes you and you never feel like you quite fit in again until you make your own home. And it makes me sad and a few tears slip down my cheeks but I don’t stop smiling or singing along with her to Beyonce’s If I Were a Boy because really I’m so happy for her. And I cry.

“Mom!” she says. “Did I tell you what happened with T.? No? Oh my gosh, you have to hear this.” And she begins a tale of this boy and that girl and the beach and Los Angeles and New York and while she talks she uses her hands to text three friends back and forth and never pauses in the story, a few smiles on her lips when someone texts her something cute or flirty. And when she’s done with that story she seamlessly launches into a new one and although I don’t always understand everything that is happening or her reactions to some parts of what happened, I listen and listen and shake my head in agreement because it’s so fun to watch her animated gestures and listen to her dramatic voice. She’s on a stage and I’m her audience. But then she asks for my advice and suddenly, I find I do have something to say. And she accepts it, just like that. Mostly, I think, because it’s exactly what she already knew.

I watched her sing a few weeks ago at her graduation ceremony in front of the entire town.

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Thousands of people. And she did it with confidence and sounded great. People whispered behind me that she sounded wonderful and I smiled a tiny smile, knowing she was my daughter. I imagine she could do that on a stage professionally someday. I wouldn’t be surprised. But I would probably be on pins and needles until she finished each performance, just like I was that day.

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Suddenly, the mood changes in her and she searches her iPod for something upbeat and loud. She finds Avril’s Runaway and sings at the top of her lungs and her infectious energy fills the cabin and creates a glowing halo around the car that surely, everyone must be seeing. She’s practically hovering over her seat. She grabs the camera and begins to shoot random shots.

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Then she decides to turn the camera in a circle and see what comes out, all the while singing and laughing.

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Then she declares that shots taken of a rounding corner of the road are the prettiest.

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Her mood elevates even more into a slap-happy stage where she makes silly jokes and funny faces at me until I’m laughing. And crying. But mostly laughing.

At Grandma’s she doesn’t go off to a corner and read a book or spend time sighing in obvious boredom as a teen is sometimes wont to do. Instead she sits by Grandma, who is showing me some new stitches, and asks if she could learn how to embroider, too. My mom whips out a dishcloth and sets her up with some thread and a needle, molding her amateur fingers into the most advantageous position. And my daughter sits at the table for a long time, learning how to keep the needle on top and how to make a pretty leaf and flower petal, only taking out her phone for texts a few times, smiling that small private smile. And I know she’ll remember this moment as one of the last before she grew into a full-fledged adult. She mentions to my mom that she wants to learn how to sew and had there been time, I’m sure she would have come home with a skirt made with her own hands and much coaching from Grandma.

I talk to my brother and his wife and for a moment, look up and find she’s gone. I look in the backyard and there she is, swinging on the small swings where many years ago she used to pose for me and ask me to take her picture, her blond streaked hair in ringlets being blown in the wind and her small mouth and tiny teeth and one leg posed this way and one arm posed that way. “Take one this way.” she’d say with a little lisp. She’s going higher and higher and looks up to the sky and her eyes tell the story of someone trying to capture a moment long ago and put it in a bottle for later, when she needs a pick-me-up. And I remember her at sixteen and fourteen and wonder what twenty will look like.

Back in the car on the way home and she’s somewhat serious. She’s contemplating how a good relationship works and where and what she wants to be in the future. She asks me if I know what she’s talking about and yes, I do. She wants me to share back with her some things that are hard for me. So, I do. And I tell her things I wouldn’t normally mention but it feels right right now, at this moment. And she comforts me and gives me advice and I’m amazed by her depth and wisdom at such a young age. And I realize most of it is the same advice I gave her yesterday and I’m glad she’s said it because now I know she knows it. And that’s a comfort.

Then out comes the sunshine on her face and she’s ready for some Kelly Clarkson. We sing together at the top of our lungs, complete with hand gestures and mannerisms in a choreography we created five or six years ago, often looking at each other and trying not to laugh when I sing a bad note. And I know that this is the moment I’ll tuck away in my heart in a tiny pocket that is reserved for when I miss her. This memory will get me through some days when I long to hold her and whiff her hair and smell that girl smell, fruity, and watch her telling me about this guy or that girl and what happened next. And I’ll take it out and remember her on that day and cry a little. And be happy.

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Where in the World is Leah Peadiego?

I’ve been busy. Doing……stuff. Like making lists of things I want to do. I’ve been just a little manic for the past weeks and I’m just doing and doing and doing. I took some photos to show you, but the light is really bad today, so pretend you like them that way, k? And so, in list form –

STUFF I DID

LIVING ROOM

Recovered throw pillows for couch and hung photos over the couch
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Sewed an ottoman cover
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Made paper birds for a grape vine flower drier
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Procured and organized matching baskets holding electronic equipment under TV, hung rug from my father that he hung for 35 years in his medical office
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MASTER BEDROOM

Sewed bed skirt

Sewed TV table cover
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Decorated walls with photos and nicknacks
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Recovered throw pillows for bed and hung painting
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Went through clothes and organized closet
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Found a solution to organize my purses and bags

Sewed throw blanket

Still in progress – quilt for bed, paint end tables

BEDROOMS

Framed and hung photos and paintings

Rescued and cleaned up dresser

KITCHEN

Organized pantry
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Organized shelves
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Created desk area for myself
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OTHER

Painted Welcome sign for front door
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Created calender to keep track of my neurosis
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Went through and organized linens

Planted rose bush cuttings from my Mom’s rose garden in Utah
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Planted flower seeds for a cutting garden
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Made baby quilt for friend and actually quilted it

Went through all photos and organized by kid
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Recovered cheap and ugly photo albums with awesome paper
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Did maintenance on the van

Went through papers and created files (should help with taxes next year)

Organized art room supplies
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Worked on a painting

FUN FACTS

I had 6 doctor appointments and spent $2154 on office visits and medications in six weeks

While decorating, I spent about 120$ on everything including fabrics for the house and saved money by using a table cloth, a sheet a few tapestry panels and 2 window panels I already owned.

Haven’t had any alcohol since April 26th

Related -We own a buttload of cocktail/beer glasses
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Switched to decaff

I own 26 pairs of scissors

Started new medication, Lamictal

Started making my bed for the first time since 1997

I’m having fun doing embroidery

Now Shhhh

“Now shhhhhhhh,” she says, “you’ve said it all once and now you’re repeating yourself. It’s time to listen to someone with some age on her bones.”

I tried to stop the pointless murmuring coming from my lips and tune into her voice. The phone was slippery against my wet cheek and I pushed it closer to block out the sound of my brain.

“Now, you listen to me. Life is hard. It’s hard for everyone and if it wasn’t this it would be something else. The trick is to be thankful for your own set of troubles because believe you me, you don’t want someone else’. Yes, you’ve got it hard and I know it. Your mother knows it. And I get so mad when I think of all the things we need answers for that we don’t have here on this earth.”

“But, Gramma, how come you can call me on the phone? You aren’t alive.” I held my breath and waited for her answer.

“Don’t worry about that. The important thing is that you can hear me. So, listen up. Now, I know God has a plan and He loves you very much. You are a strong and beautiful person and a treasure to me, Grandpa, your parents, your family – even those that have gone on before.”

“But, Gramma, I don’t believe in all that church stuff. I don’t believe there is some plan. I have no idea what happens when we die but I don’t think it’s that churchy stuff.”

“You can go on thinking whatever you want. And I’ll keep telling you what the truth is. Now, here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to look in the mirror and tell yourself that your Grandma loves you more than you’ll ever know. Next you’ll tell yourself that your Grandma knows you can do whatever it is you have to do. And that you’re strong. And special. I know! You don’t believe it about yourself but you DO believe that your Grandma does. So, you just keep repeating that. Your Grandma knows and she loves you. And I can’t touch you right now but you better believe that if I could I’d be squeezing the stuffing out of you. And that will have to do.”

And then I woke up.

Ask Leahpeah, United States of Tara Edition

Did you meet Steven Spielberg?

Sadly, no. That is definitely something I would have mentioned on my blog and elsewhere had it happened.

What was it like to work with Toni Collette?

I’m sure it’s great. I didn’t actually meet her, either. I really always went through Diablo Cody.

Were your transitions between alters as dramatic as those depicted in the show? Are they always a complete personality change, or can it be more subtle, like a mood swing?

I’m not sure what you mean by dramatic. I haven’t noticed any head twisting or body convulsions during the switch, which is how I think most people assume it is like. Tara just closes her eyes and switches, maybe with a tilt of her head.

Or do you mean a dramatic difference between who she was and who she became? In that case, sure. That’s the way it works. That’s why you have alters, because they are so different. But, if you are in public, chances are you aren’t going to switch in an obvious way unless it’s pretty dire and unexpected. And mostly, everyone inside would want to try and act like everything was normal, and try and imitate whoever was out last, especially if you are with other people. People staring and asking questions can be really uncomfortable.

That being said, if you switch to an alter who doesn’t have co-consciousness with the other alters, and they were triggered to come out by something traumatic, they might not have the knowledge or ability to act like who was just out. And that could look pretty strange to others and be confusing for the alter.

Is it possible to transition to another alter and not have the other person (husband, kids) know?

Sure. If you have a few alters that have been really working to communicate and agree for awhile and aren’t holding resentments against each other and pretty much know the secrets of the other ones, they can act like each other pretty well. If you having DID is something your family doesn’t know about, they might just think you are having pms or something. Or that you are maybe on drugs. You never know.

When one alter is dominant, are the others aware of what’s going on at all?

Sometimes. Maybe. Yes. No. It all depends. : ) Everyone’s internal system is different. They might have some alters that are aware of some, but not all. Or all. Or none. It can be very complex. Or not. It all depends on the person.

When you become integrated, do you remember everything that happened to all the alters?

Pretty much. The reason you can become integrated is because there are no more secrets from any one inside. If you all have the same information and you are all the same age and you all want to become one, you can. I don’t know if I know EVERYTHING that has happened in my life previous to integration, but I don’t know if it matters.

Since your mind split again, do you think all the personalities you had growing up will come back or how about new ones?

I have no idea. I was surprised as hell that Claire was back again. I assume that she is back for a reason. And I guess if there was a reason for the rest of them to be back, they would be. But I can’t think of a reason. And as far as new ones showing up, it could happen. My mind automatically creates these alters for me in times of great stress or when I have overwhelming feelings that I don’t know how to process. I don’t ever know when that will happen, so I can’t prepare for it. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Do your kids know you are a multiple again?

Yes. They all know. Joe and I thought it was the right thing to tell them. They have been through so much with me and if there was a chance that I would be switching in front of them, and they weren’t prepared, I believe that would be a worst case scenario for the trust we’ve built up between us.

What does your husband think about it? Is he mad?

Joe has always been a very understanding and supportive husband. He married me knowing that the future could be uncertain. He suspected long before I did that my splitting again would be possible. I’m sure he is worried and sometimes anxious about what this might mean for our relationship, but mad? No. Not as far as I know. But it might be best to ask him.

Why are you being public about it?

Since 2002 I’ve been online and public about my mental health issues. I don’t hold things back because I know there are many other people out there who suffer from some of the same things. Because mental illness carries such a stigma with it and it’s been a taboo subject to mention, I wanted to go where few were daring to go and be a place where people could discuss it. Ultimately, that was the reason for starting RealMental.org. I wanted more of a community feeling centered on mental illness and the real people that live with it every day.

When I split again awhile back, I was unsure what it meant and unsure if I would stay that way. I didn’t talk about it for a long time in case there was nothing to talk about. But, when it became obvious that Claire was back for good, it was something that had to be included in the conversation. Keeping secrets is always detrimental to my mental health and I really try to not have them.

Is your life going to be worse now?

Worse? Different. More complicated, maybe. But, every alter I have is a part of me. I’m just being myself. And I hope that doesn’t mean it’s worse.

I went to buy Not Otherwise Specified and it’s not there anymore. Why?

UPDATE: Get it here.
I’m working on reworking all my journals, adding in missing years, and making it into what I hope will be a really great book. I don’t know when it will be available, but you all will be the first to know.

Thanks for all your support over the years, Leahpeah family.
xoxo

UPDATE: More on USOT

Vibrations

My leg is touching the door and I can feel the vibrations of the music through my knee cap. I’m not thinking. I’m just feeling the bass line and mouthing the words. My mouth opens and closes with the words but no sound comes out. I don’t think I know this song. If I was the passenger in the car to the left, I would think I was singing. But if I was the passenger in the car to the left, I wouldn’t be me. I would be him. I think about this for awhile, forgetting to mouth along to the song, my jaw slightly slack.

What if I was him? That guy to the left? I wouldn’t be me. Or I would be both. I would have his feelings. Or they would be the same as the ones I have now, just his. Or they would be different. And I would look over and see me and wonder about the lady driving in the big black van and hope she had at least one other person in the car to make that beast worth while. And I would know that she wasn’t really singing because I didn’t really sing, either. Orange would be slightly different, but how, I couldn’t say. I would like the air slightly warmer in the cab of the car while driving, but my wife would want it cooler and I’d wear gloves to keep my hands warm, even in the summer. I’d hate the birds that shit on the car under the palm tree. I’d love orange suckers and I’d do ceramics on the weekend as a hobby to calm my nerves. Or are they my nerves. Or mine. I don’t know.

My shoe is near the speaker and I can feel the vibrations of the music climbing up my leg. I turn the bass up and look up to notice the sign that says the name of street I know, but isn’t on my route home. I’m confused for a moment and then I realize I passed my exit about twenty minutes back.

I wonder where I’m going.

I’m driving as if I don’t care that I’m not headed in the right direction. I just passed an exit where I could have turned around. And another one. And another. I’m not changing lanes to get to the right. I’m just going forward at a steady 73 miles per hour. Maybe I don’t care. But I don’t know where I’m going.

I’m out of water. My mouth is dry. I have a headache. I get off the freeway and get back on, heading west.

My hands are on the steering wheel and the vibrations are coursing through my fingers and into my wrists. The music is too loud and I turn it down. Then off. The car on my right is driving right in my blind spot. When I speed up, he speeds up. When I slow down, He slows down. I punch the gas and hit over 80, moving away from the irritation. The road is bumpy on this stretch and the van bobs up and down violently for a few seconds. The Santa Annas are blowing hard against the windshield and I can hear the whistle it makes as it leaks through the seams around the doors. It’s high pitched and screaming. All it would take is my not handling the wind very well. Just a tiny mistake going around the right bend of the hills. The tire would hit a pothole and explode. The van would flip over and over, jumping over the guardrail and into the middle of oncoming traffic. I could even take off my seat belt first. I look at myself in the rear view mirror. And then I look away. My foot comes off the gas pedal a little and I slow down to 68 and hit cruise control.

The wind whistling through the doors grows deeper and less insistent. It sounds more like a hum and less like a shriek. I take a few slow breaths and turn the music back on, but softly. I click forward through the songs until I find something mellow.

I’m close to home now. And I think I’m glad. The thoughts and feelings I’ve been avoiding come rushing at me. I’m a horrible person. I’m so unworthy of love. The world would be a better place without me. My kids deserve a better mom. Joe would have a better life without me. I imagine saying that out loud to Joe and I can hear his voice in my head. I would say, ‘I’m too broken. It’s never going to get better. How many times can I say I’m sorry before I get on your nerves? Once a day? Twice? I should just leave.’ and he would say, ‘Only say sorry if you commit a sin of commission or omission against me. You haven’t. You don’t need to be sorry. Your existence is not a sin. I love you. I hope you don’t leave. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.’ And then I’m crying but I don’t know if it’s happening now or yesterday when he said it for real.

The car is stopped and parked in front of the house. I’m home. Home. The thrumming I feel isn’t music. It’s my thoughts and I’m trying to get them under control before I walk in the house. I’m numbing out my mind, creating a buffer around my body and settling in the center where it’s calm and one tiny bit of what I hope is reality comforts me as I gather my things and head up the walkway.

Your existence is not a sin. I love you.

RealMental.org

I’ve made some changes at RealMental.org that I’m quite pleased with. The community continues to grow and get stronger. The things that people share are so helpful to others. I get emails reflecting their appreciation all the time. I’m so proud to be a part of it.

Jess and I started it almost 2 years ago, and while I can’t speak for her, I know that for me it’s always felt like a safe place where I can work out mental issues. Everything is moderated, so there is no anxiety that some troll is going to get on and trash the place.

We have a few new forms to make submitting easier. The Your Story page is where you can submit your story or blog entry. I try to get them out within a few days of receiving them. It can be done totally anonymous or include a link to your blog or website.

As our community grows, it’s nice to know who is in that community, hence the Who You Are page. When you submit your profile (also anonymous or with a link) and share where you’re at at the moment, it really strikes a chord with others. I try to get those up as soon as I receive them.

There is also a short form on the main page right sidebar where you can quickly submit a link to a story or a photo that you think would be great to include on RM. We love all the submission! Keep ’em coming!

The changes on RealMental are mostly due to a wonderful session by Sarah Dopp I went to at WoolfCamp the other weekend at Grace‘s home. I met some wonderful people and came away with new ideas on how to make things better. In the session, Sarah talked about Genderfork and what she’s done to increase the community. I knew I wanted to make some changes to RM, I just wasn’t sure what to do. Thanks for sharing all that great info, Sarah. It gave us a great start.

If you have time, check it out and submit your own stuff.
xo

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