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The Books of Vries: Being, (Un)becoming, and Fallout


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"Parenthood is basically someone detonating a nuclear device in your life, if you survive the initial blast there's just the fallout to deal with and the weird mutations, but you end up rather liking those, I found.”

- Recent words of wisdom from a good friend.
 
Introduction: 
Last month, a nuclear bomb went off in my life—I gave birth to my son. We’ve survived the first four weeks, but I’m struggling with creating new balance in my life especially after my husband has returned to work. So for this challenge, I’ve left my adventuring pack behind, and wandered into the druid’s grove, to focus on being, (un)becoming, and the transition into fallout. 
 
Around the time I gave birth, a blog post appeared that really spoke to me—it’s about Being—being who you are rather than always chasing for Becoming Someone. It sounds unaspiring, but I actually found it quite the opposite. I feel like I have been given permission to be right where I’m at.
 
(And, when I asked myself the Hard Question of “what if this is all that there is”? I mean, I have to admit a pretty amazing life. Stupid hedonic adaption.)
 
I still aspire. I still aim to inspire. But for the moment, I need to focus on being right where I am. I need to learn how to balance this huge, new responsibility in my life without it consuming all of who I am.
 
Background:
I’m an Adventurer at heart. I’m a traveler, a hiker, a storyteller, a diarist, a fiber artist, a gamer. I’m madly in love with my husband (Mr of Vries), and of course my new son (Rowan of Vries). 
 
I hail originally from Seattle, WA, but I followed Mr of Vries and immigrated to the UK (London) about two and a half years ago to marry him and start a new life in a new city, a new land. This has opened up whole new adventures and travel opportunities in my personal universe, and also added myriad new challenges—including having a new baby with a near non-existent support network. This has been… difficult. My son is wonderful and very loved, but the situation comes with a high emotional/physical toll.
 
The Challenge: 
Note: I don’t do hardcore metrics. My way is to have spheres of priorities, and keep focus on fulfilling actions within those priorities. So what you will see are categories and example/target actions in which I aspire to.
 
Balancing the Books of Vries:
I used to have a daily spread/layout in which I kept track of my desired and needful tasks for each day, but baby blew that system apart. I want experiment with and design a new record-keeping system for my day that incorporates mum-care, baby-care, and everything else. 
 
  • Try different spreads/layouts
  • Make sure to add self-care and the space to actually do it (taking care of the baby is a given)
 
Relaxing
I have not done much purposeful relaxing over the last four weeks, and it’s wearing me down. I need to be better at centering myself.
 
  • Recognize when I tense up, relax my muscles
  • Stretch!
  • Breathe
  • Recognize and dispel anxious or other damaging thoughts
  • Reading and journaling
 
Movement
There was the obvious recovery from childbirth, but then learning how to be out and about with a tiny baby. I’m getting better at this.
 
  • Get walking regularly, or whatever else gentle movement I can do (with and without baby)
  • Figure out good pram routes for local and city travel (not all stations--including our local one--have step-free access)
  • Sort out a good baby carrier so I can move around more easily when I don't need the amenities of the pram
 
Creativity/Psychic Space
I am a creative being. I need to find the space in my self again to contemplate, to write, and to Make. One could argue that I’m Making a person, and that’s true, but it can’t be everything I do.
 
  • Writing (journal or novel)
  • Reading
  • Knitting and other fiber crafts
 
Here we go....
 
 
 
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Druid and Adventurer

The Wye/Dean, UK

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Here, for active Being (and amazing lives).

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hröa Periano, sanar Eldaro, fëa Núnatano

(body of a Hobbit, mind of an Elf, soul of a Dúnadan)

Memories of a former Age [ 1 |  2 ]  ~  Return from Mandos [ respawn ]

Recent sojourns in Middle-earth [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 ]

[ Current: Misty Mountains ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]   ~   [ Books ]  

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.  ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

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Congrats!! We just celebrated my little ones first birthday a few weeks ago. Cherish everything. It goes so quick! You don't realize now how you will eventually miss those midnight feedings and diaper changes (sometimes). Haha

 

P.S. - I like the chapter idea in your footer. Gonna steal that :) 

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The BNJMMN Archive: Prologue | Chapter 1

"Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination."

- First Ideal of the Knights Radiant

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1 hour ago, BNJMMN said:

Congrats!! We just celebrated my little ones first birthday a few weeks ago. Cherish everything. It goes so quick! You don't realize now how you will eventually miss those midnight feedings and diaper changes (sometimes). Haha

 

Congrats to your little one! (And to you and your partner for surviving XD) I'm trying to enjoy the wonder of a tiny baby without being crushed by the demands of meeting the needs of said tiny baby. I imagine that later on I'll remember the former more than the latter. ^_^ 

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Druid and Adventurer

The Wye/Dean, UK

Current Storyline: Tales of Owlshire | 0 | 1

Previous  Storyline: The Entwife’s Heart | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

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2 hours ago, Ann of Vries said:

Baby carrier acquisition achieved! Freedom!

 

 

We had one of those wearable carrier slings for our little one (she just turned two), but I never could get used to feeling like I was wearing a baby.

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Level 10 Vegetarian Vampire Warrior

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A mental exchange I wanted to record:

 

Me: Gosh, my face looks so fat in that selfie.

Also me: For goodness sake woman, you just had a baby 5 weeks ago. Were you expecting to shrink back immediately?

Me: Okay, fine. My face can be a little fat. ... but could at least my waist shrink enough so I could wear my pre-preg skirts again?

Also me: FIVE WEEKS!

Me: ... right. Sorry.

 

(I am looking forward to getting out and walking more now, though.)

 

 

 

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Druid and Adventurer

The Wye/Dean, UK

Current Storyline: Tales of Owlshire | 0 | 1

Previous  Storyline: The Entwife’s Heart | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

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2 minutes ago, MaD MaLKaV said:

 

We had one of those wearable carrier slings for our little one (she just turned two), but I never could get used to feeling like I was wearing a baby.

 

But... but... you are wearing a baby.

 

I mean, I guess I carried him for 9 months, so maybe it's just less weird to me XD Mr of Vries is going to try out the sling this weekend. I'll be curious to see how he feels in it.

 

My nearest two tube stations aren't step-free accessible (and I can't carry the pram up/down the steps the way Mr of Vries can), so having a carrier is essential to being able to get around without convoluted and often much longer travel routes.

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Druid and Adventurer

The Wye/Dean, UK

Current Storyline: Tales of Owlshire | 0 | 1

Previous  Storyline: The Entwife’s Heart | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

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Things Mr of Vries says: "So, what would you think about a longer term plan of spending a few years in France?"

 

(Context, perhaps, if anything comes of it. But if you're wondering, I said it was "worth looking into." :P)

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Druid and Adventurer

The Wye/Dean, UK

Current Storyline: Tales of Owlshire | 0 | 1

Previous  Storyline: The Entwife’s Heart | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

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Following!  I've been working on a draft of my challenge and I noticed when I read yours that we have some similar thoughts and goals.  :) Even 6 months into new-momhood, I'm still seeking balance, Becoming, and reconnection with my creative self.  Best wishes in your challenge!  :)

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1 hour ago, Thilde said:

Following!  I've been working on a draft of my challenge and I noticed when I read yours that we have some similar thoughts and goals.  :) Even 6 months into new-momhood, I'm still seeking balance, Becoming, and reconnection with my creative self.  Best wishes in your challenge!  :)

 

Good luck with your challenge as well! This seems to be a common new mom problem... I'm glad we're thinking about it now rather than much later.

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Druid and Adventurer

The Wye/Dean, UK

Current Storyline: Tales of Owlshire | 0 | 1

Previous  Storyline: The Entwife’s Heart | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

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20 hours ago, Ann of Vries said:

 

Good luck with your challenge as well! This seems to be a common new mom problem... I'm glad we're thinking about it now rather than much later.

 

It's always going to be a matter of adjusting and re-establishing balance as the kid(s) grown and change.  So, be mindful be flexible (for a few years, I got in my runs by running around the soccer fields where my daughter was playing), and be persistent.  

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Some sort of Jedi .....

We are better than we know, if we can be made to see it, [then] for the rest of our lives, we'll be unwilling to settle for less.  

Current Challenge: Return of the Persistent Priestess

Past Challenges: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35. 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42

"No, I'm from Iowa.  I only work in outer space." -- James T. Kirk

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4 hours ago, Chris-Tien Jinn said:

 

It's always going to be a matter of adjusting and re-establishing balance as the kid(s) grown and change.  So, be mindful be flexible (for a few years, I got in my runs by running around the soccer fields where my daughter was playing), and be persistent.  

 

Thank you for the words of experience!

Druid and Adventurer

The Wye/Dean, UK

Current Storyline: Tales of Owlshire | 0 | 1

Previous  Storyline: The Entwife’s Heart | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

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You will find balance. Life continues to be a wonderful adventure, but allow yourself time to adjust and don't expect to get everything right. My two children are both in their twenties now - kids are more resilient than you think- even when tiny.

Will follow and encourage along the way

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Welcome to the Grove. GREAT challenge, and I like the way you score yourself, too. It gives you lots of room to decide what works and how it's working without boxing you in. (Flexibility is such a must with little ones to tend.)

 

With writing, have you considered recording yourself when you're out and about? When I'm really on the go and have no time even to jot notes, there is always time to do a quick dictation and come back to it at a less hectic time. It's also great for capturing those "right in the moment" times you know you'll forget later.

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Challenges: 123

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Balancing the Books of Vries

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I find the metaphor of new parenthood being like a nuclear detonation both apt and incorrect. On one hand, I can't argue with the effect, but on the other hand, no one invites nuclear annihilation, and the bomb called Rowan was so, very, very wanted in the House of Vries.

 

Yet, we'll play with the metaphor: 

 

There is life before and after the blast. They are, in many ways, unrecognizable. And so, trying to apply the rules of a version of life forever gone to the new one that exists isn't realistic. But sometimes it's hard to remember that.

 

In Life Before Rowan, I woke up and had my ritual of a lazy cup of tea while I planned out my day with my notebook and pens and highlighters, and then I might record my dreams or thoughts in my journal. Then Mr of Vries would head off to his work, and I'd start on whatever tasks I had mapped out for the day. It didn't always go according to plan--often it didn't at all. But there was a sense of continuity, a sense that I was guiding the flow my day. (Also, making sure I didn't forget to do something important.)

 

In Life After Rowan, all the rules have changed. I no longer have that lazy morning cup of tea and time to plan my day and record my thoughts. The day starts with Mr of Vries' alarm clock at 6AM or the cries of a hungry little Enting. From there it's a race--getting in showers, feed the Enting, clean and sterilize bottles from the overnight feeds, shuffling Mr off to work, getting on laundry, maybe feeding myself, and then by the time I can sit down to have that bit of "me time" (if I manage to at all), it may be lunch time. Or later. And half the things I might have needed to do are already checked off, but I don't want to leave them unacknowledged. I've been busy! 

 

The other reason for a daily layout is that my memory is shot to an almost farcical level. I can't remember one thing to the next--be it tiredness, be it distraction... 

 

Sorry, what was I saying?

 

The conclusion I've arrived at in this post-blast world is that I still need organization--more than ever, in fact--I just need that organization to look and function differently. In addition, I need to change my "ritual" around how I do it--at the moment, that ritual is no ritual. I set it up when I can, be that the night before, or the afternoon of.

 

A couple of months ago I read a book called Happiness by Design, which takes software design theory and applies it to how we design our lives for ultimate purpose/pleasure. One of the aspects that stood out to me was our tendency to say--especially of something ideal  we once had--if we can't have it like that again, then it's not worth it. Maybe you once had a wood workshop all dolled out, and now all you have is a corner of the laundry room and a small box of tools. Why bother? many of us would say. (I felt this way about gardening--I used to have an acre and a half. Now I have a tiny balcony. Why bother?) But the thing is, in taking that approach we deny ourselves something we that gives us purpose or pleasure, just because we don't get to have the ideal version we had before (or maybe even just a version we've only dreamed of and cannot realistically have). 

 

Fallout feels a little bit like that; everything is in mutation. My lazy morning tea is made from the leftover boiling water for baby formula and in a vacuum flask because otherwise I'll never manage to drink it before it goes cold.  My daily layout? Now it's a self-care and baby-care tracker, created whenever I can squeeze it in. Those are the things that must be done or recording information about what was done (if I don't record the last time I fed Rowan, I'll forget. Then I'm surprised when he's hungry again.) The rest of it is a list of things that need doing; appointments of the day. While I build out this new form of routine, I remind myself the point isn't to tick all the boxes by the end of the day. It's to practice the layout, to see if it works, if it's sustainable. 

 

I never made fancy layouts like you see on the #bujo communities of Instagram and Pinterest, but I used to have my day broken into half an hour windows. That's, well, out the window now. It's, in many ways, not just about recording what I need to do on a day and planning it, but recording what actually happened in my wild and woolly, unpredictable new world.

 

Oh, and my journal? I record in it about once a week now, instead of each morning. Sometimes I type in notes on my computer instead of handwriting them while doing other needful online tasks, because it's just easier that way. It's less romantic, sure, but who said life with a newborn is romantic?

 

The Story of Vries is an ever-changing work in progress--and so is the way I record, track, and organize it. I know this particular frenetic phase will pass soon; I know I'll never have that old rituals back (at least not in the next 18 years), but I may discover a different way, a compromise to my ideal. And it'll keep mutating as our story grows and changes.

 

But wouldn't life be utterly boring if it never changed?

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Druid and Adventurer

The Wye/Dean, UK

Current Storyline: Tales of Owlshire | 0 | 1

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On 5/29/2018 at 10:14 PM, Chant said:

Welcome to the Grove. GREAT challenge, and I like the way you score yourself, too. It gives you lots of room to decide what works and how it's working without boxing you in. (Flexibility is such a must with little ones to tend.)

Thank you!

 

On 5/29/2018 at 10:14 PM, Chant said:

 

With writing, have you considered recording yourself when you're out and about? When I'm really on the go and have no time even to jot notes, there is always time to do a quick dictation and come back to it at a less hectic time. It's also great for capturing those "right in the moment" times you know you'll forget later.

 

Thank you for the suggestion. I've worked with recording/dictation in the past for writing (which I stopped doing because it was too much extra work on the back end to try to get the Dragon transcription to sound something like English again), but not for just note-taking. That may be worth looking back into. 

Druid and Adventurer

The Wye/Dean, UK

Current Storyline: Tales of Owlshire | 0 | 1

Previous  Storyline: The Entwife’s Heart | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

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Still an Adventurer:

Yesterday, my neighbor took Rowan and me to get cultured at the Tate Modern's Picasso 1932 exhibition. (She has membership, so we got in for "free.")

 

Rowan thought it was a snooze, but I enjoyed it!

 

One of my cross-overs of being a writer who studied visual art is the process of creating visual art and how it can overlap with writing. So, for example, I'm keen on the idea that a visual artist will start with loose sketches and then constantly refine them until they get what starts to look like the final painting we admire. That's also how I write--loose sketches of the story, until I finally get the composition together, and then I work on refining and polishing.

 

I think what I got from yesterday's exhibit is this idea of taking one subject and then creating it in many iterations. Different styles of the same subject within the artist's signature.

 

I'm going to ponder (and practice) this idea more.

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Druid and Adventurer

The Wye/Dean, UK

Current Storyline: Tales of Owlshire | 0 | 1

Previous  Storyline: The Entwife’s Heart | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

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On 5/25/2018 at 10:51 AM, Ann of Vries said:

A mental exchange I wanted to record:

 

Me: Gosh, my face looks so fat in that selfie.

Also me: For goodness sake woman, you just had a baby 5 weeks ago. Were you expecting to shrink back immediately?

Me: Okay, fine. My face can be a little fat. ... but could at least my waist shrink enough so I could wear my pre-preg skirts again?

Also me: FIVE WEEKS!

Me: ... right. Sorry.

 

(I am looking forward to getting out and walking more now, though.)

 

 

 

 

So first of all - following!

 

Secondly, not sure if you've seen anything on Emily Skye; she's got a decent social media fitness following and recently (okay, close to six months ago) had her first child. She's been super transparent about her progress with losing baby weight and posting realistic pictures of how her body changed both during and after pregnancy. She does a good bit of advertising for her program (forewarned), but I thought this was cool for people maybe feeling a bit down on baby weight.

 

 

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6 minutes ago, Sylvaa said:

 

So first of all - following!

 

Secondly, not sure if you've seen anything on Emily Skye; she's got a decent social media fitness following and recently (okay, close to six months ago) had her first child. She's been super transparent about her progress with losing baby weight and posting realistic pictures of how her body changed both during and after pregnancy. She does a good bit of advertising for her program (forewarned), but I thought this was cool for people maybe feeling a bit down on baby weight.

 

 

 

Thanks, I'll check her out! (I love her video of her working out with her daughter.)

 

Honestly? By the scale, I''m only about 5 pounds heavier than my pre-preg weight. It's about the same weight I was when I moved to the UK. But most of my "bottoms" don't fit. And I mean, the buttons don't button. The zips get stuck. I wore this clothing when I moved overseas.

 

And after months of feeling huge, I look in the mirror and I think I'm practically svelte. 

 

But my old clothes don't fit.

 

So... I don't know. Apparently the numbers on the scale don't reflect changed measurements. It's all a bit of a mind boggle XD

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Druid and Adventurer

The Wye/Dean, UK

Current Storyline: Tales of Owlshire | 0 | 1

Previous  Storyline: The Entwife’s Heart | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

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Trapped Underground (A Movement Update)

 

Transport for London likes to boast about how they have 70-something step-free, accessible Underground stations.

 

What they don't mention is that there are over 300 tube stations. This isn't because they don't care (usually)--many of the stations are historical sites. Putting a lift in would require drastically changing and destroying these historical locations. I respect history. But if you are a wheelchair user, or in my case, now a pram user, it's a huge pain.

 

In my area, the nearest station is not step-free. Again--history--it's part of the Thames Tunnel*. (They had, at one point, talked about closing the station because it could not be made step-free. As annoying as it is, I'd prefer that the station is still running.) My next nearest station... same problem. Less sympathetically, the third nearest station, which is a new station and thus doesn't have historical character to preserve... has a lift to the train platform. It's just broken most of the time. The alternative are busses--slow, trundling, limited--and also if there are more than two prams or wheel chair user, you need to get off (or can't get on).

 

Being an Adventurer, a woman of 38 who has always been fiercely independent, who loves to get around the city (and country and world) and explore--and even just as a regular person who needs to run mundane errands--the lack of accessible tube stations near me quickly became isolating. I couldn't leave the neighborhood without hassle. I'd bought a ring sling carrier just before Rowan was born specifically because of these issues. I hadn't even wanted a pram. But the carrier wasn't working for us, and we were gifted a pram by a well-meaning friend. So I used the pram. I walked more than half an hour to get to stations that had functional step-free access. I took long and convoluted hour+ bus routes to places that used to take 20 minutes. (Some people will lift the pram up the stairs. Mr of Vries can do this--I cannot. It's not so much the weight as that it is large and ungainly, and I am petite and short of limb.)

 

And then, because I am me, after a good moan, I decided to do something about it.

 

I booked an appointment with a sling consultant. With the pram, Rowan and I went on one of those long, convoluted bus journeys to reach the weekly meeting. (About four hours round-trip total--my appointment was less than half an hour, it was about 5 miles away as the crow flies.) The consultants were immensely helpful. They found a sling that works for my tall baby (clearly from Mr of Vries) and his petite mother (who, to add to the complication, has a permanent RSI shoulder injury that must be factored in).

 

Freedom! I am no longer trapped. I no longer have to look for accessible transportation, no longer have to navigate the clunkiness of the pram around the small and crowded London pavements. The Adventurers of Vries are no longer trapped and free to explore once again.

 

 

*One of Rowan's middle names is Isambard. We take this Thames Tunnel business seriously.

 

33575960_1953898991588953_8115418294376202240_o.jpg

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Druid and Adventurer

The Wye/Dean, UK

Current Storyline: Tales of Owlshire | 0 | 1

Previous  Storyline: The Entwife’s Heart | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

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On 5/31/2018 at 11:00 AM, Ann of Vries said:

A couple of months ago I read a book called Happiness by Design, which takes software design theory and applies it to how we design our lives for ultimate purpose/pleasure.

 

That sounds like an interesting idea for a book.  Looks like they have it on iBooks.  I think I'll read that soon (have to decide before or after "The Dharma of The Princess Bride" now).  Thanks for mentioning!

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Level 10 Vegetarian Vampire Warrior

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