I Live in a Place Called Hope.

Light the fireImage via Wikipedia

A metaphysical place that is . . . as I reflect on the past year without cracking the satirical whip.

Right now, in the east, it is bitter cold and snow covers the ground. Folks are losing their jobs and there is a huge gap between rich and poor.

Despite my own dismal employment circumstances, I cannot help but still hold onto hope and the possibility that tomorrow sunlight will burn through the gray bloated sky that hangs over this new world order.

This new world disorder challenges me to use different skills and to improve upon the old ones. It pushes me to think in different ways, to create something out of nothing and to reinvent myself.

I must be a visionary and not let go of hope, or I’ll lose the spark and determination I need to keep putting one foot forward and prevent slipping backward.

I cannot afford to give up or dwell on past mistakes. I need to harness the creativity and passion inside me and around me, to dig my way out of the intellectual, emotional and financial hole that this new world order shoves me into from time to time.

And these times are the most difficult I’ve ever known. But I won’t let it defeat me or steal my dreams or erode the illuminating light of hope and inspiration. It’s everywhere. Just harder to find.

My bloggy buddy Heidi, the brains behind Momma Politico, recently posted an inspirational story about the elementary school where she is principal. They initiated a care package drive to send comfort items to a colleague’s husband and his battalion in Afghanistan. The elementary school kids and families donated supplies and raised enough money to ship 10-12 boxes.

However, after accumulating an abundance of supplies and filling 200 goody bags for the troops, the school realized they had to ship forty priority boxes, not 12, which they didn’t have the money to ship.

The challenge of raising enough money to ship forty priority boxes was insurmountable, as they had exhausted their fundraising capabilities in addition to facing a diminishing window of time. No matter how unrealistic their goal appeared, because of their passion and drive, and an outpouring of support from the community, they were able to ship the forty boxes to the troops in time.

Please read the story The Christmas Wish that Almost Wasn’t: How We Pulled Together to Pull off a Christmas Miracle at Heidi’s site Momma Politico .

Heidi’s story is only one of many of inspiration. Another involves, Tasiasmama, a recovering addict, determined to keep her life on a positive path by staying clean. She blogs about her life as an addict and her recovery at http://anaddictsinnerself.blogspot.com and dailymemoirstofindingmyinnerself. Tasiasmama really puts the word “struggle” into perspective.

Beside these wonderful stories, I also find inspiration everyday in the blogosphere in the talented Bloggers who write stories that amuse, inspire, and infuse my life with hope from their boundless creativity, passion and ingenuity.

Thank you for enriching my life.

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1960 Plane Crash Victims Families Exploited by Local Media.

Pillar of FireImage by writRHET via Flickr

Fallout from a Plane Crash.

On December 16, 1960, United Flight 826 and TWA Flight 266 collided over Staten Island, New York. The United plane, while attempting an emergency landing at LaGuardia Airport, crashed into the Park Slope section of Brooklyn.

From the Green-Wood Historical Fund:

Ten brownstones near the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Sterling Place were set on fire, as were a funeral home, a laundry, a delicatessen, and, strangely enough, the Pillar of Fire Church.

134 people died that day including my husband’s father. My husband was four years old.

But the tragedy didn’t end with the victims suffering or with the families devastating losses. On that day a Channel 4 news reporter, Gabe Pressman, had gotten a hold of the passenger manifest from United Flight 826 and called my husband’s mother, and likely other families, to get an interview.

He called my mother-in-law live on the air to inform her that her husband was on United Flight 826 and said something to the affect of, “Do you have a comment?”

That’s how my mother-in-law found out her husband was dead. Her brother then grabbed the phone from her and said, “Fuck you Gabe Pressman,” then hung up.

When recounting the incident of his father’s death on the 50th anniversary of the air disaster, my husband said of Gabe Pressman, “How callous and cold-hearted.  Just to get a story.”

NY Times television critic Jack Gould had criticized the television coverage of the crash and had published a piece called,

“Exploiting Sorrow,” specifically, “the disgraceful and tasteless attempts to interview grief-stricken people who lost members of their families in the tragedies.”

Fifty years later while reflecting on Jack Gould’s criticism of his handling of the story, Gabe Pressman had this to say:

“. . . he didn’t know beans about covering a story on the scene.”

And I say to you, Mr. Pressman, you don’t know beans about integrity in journalism or respect for victims families. A line needs to be drawn between “getting the story” and respecting the privacy of those who survived a loved ones untimely death. This was “gotcha journalism” at its worst.

In spite of the soul gouging by journalists that transpired that day, today, Thursday, December 16, 2010, fifty years later, we remember the souls aboard the two doomed aircrafts, as well as the victims killed on the ground.

On the 50th anniversary of the air disaster that set a section of Brooklyn ablaze, theGreen-Wood Historical Fund in Park Slope is dedicating a memorial to those who died on that cold December morning.  Back in August, while responding to an inquiry about a grave in a public lot, cemetery archivist Theresa LaBianca accidentally discovered the story of the 1960 tragedy.

From the Green-Wood Historical website:

On December 16, 1960, United Airlines Flight 826 and Trans World Airlines Flight 266 collided over Staten Island. The United flight then tried to make it to LaGuardia Airport for an emergency landing, but crashed in Park Slope. Ten brownstones near the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Sterling Place were set on fire, as were a funeral home, a laundry, a delicatessen, and, strangely enough, the Pillar of Fire Church. Eighty-four people on that flight died, and six people on the ground also were killed. The TWA flight crashed in Staten Island and forty-four passengers and crew died there. The investigation of this disaster marked the first time that an airplane’s black box data recorder was used to provide details of what had happened.

In an era before DNA identifications were possible, three caskets of “Fragmentary Human Remains” were filled from the Park Slope crash site and were buried in a grave in lot 38325 that was purchased by United Airlines. No marker was placed on the grave.

Pillar of Fire Church after Crash.

An eerie side note: Twenty years ago I worked for a real estate advertising company in Harrison, NY. While having a discussion about family with my boss, I mentioned the 1960 air disaster and my connection to it. My boss then told me that he had been a student at the time at a mid west college and was booked on the same doomed flight out of Chicago O’Hare airport. He missed the flight. My husband’s father caught an earlier flight to get home to his family for the Christmas holiday.

To read more about the air disaster and subsequent cover up, read the book Sterling Place by Ray Garcia.  I haven’t read it yet. My husband did. He had heard about the book before its publication and had contacted the author, concerned with the tenor of the content. My husband was pleased with the author’s response.

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Reanimated after Death in the Unemployment Pit.

On the back shelf of my musty brain, I found emergency reserves of optimism to keep my thoughts afloat, not adrift, mind you. Otherwise, I’d be doing the doggy paddle in a sewer somewhere with the rats that stole my ego.

I eventually got my ego back, not from the rats. I grew a new one.

The not so secret ingredients. Manure, sunlight and fairy dust.


Thankfully, I wasn’t allergic to manure or fairy dust. I just gagged from the stench. Fairies never bath and to make things worse, flap their wings, so the scent of their body odor wafts throughout the house. Damn fairies.

For months, I had to watch where I stepped. When fairies tire, they sleep where they drop. Contrary to popular belief, fairies do not nap while they flap in mid air. So, walking becomes treacherous for humans (and especially for fairies), trying to avoid the splat of a sprite, only later to find sprite splatter at the bottom of your shoe.

That’s when dogs come in handy. They eat anything that lands on the floor. Every time a dog ingests a fairy, a bell rings because they ate their wings.

This time there weren’t any fairy DOAs to report to the CSI unit (Crime Sirens Investigation). When a CSI unit dusts for prints, the fairy remains scatter and the investigation shuts down.

Luckily, the fairies flourished and my ego grew, as thoughts regenerated, allowing happy go lucky synapses to again frolic in my brain. I just couldn’t stand the noise. Synapses are loud when they frolic. They also order kegs of beer and boxes of pepperoni pizza. Always a big mess afterward. Half-eaten slices of pizza and plastic cups litter the frontal lobe.

That’s when I stop working on my resume and pretend that I’m lying on a beach in Jamaica, drinking rum punch and getting a three-degree burn. I snap back to reality and find that I am in fact drinking a rum punch while being splattered with hot grease from a pan of sauteing meat. I didn’t remember buying the meat, or if there was a car involved.

Too much manure and fairy BO I dare say. I was overcome by the toxic cloud, but my ego now an expert in unemployment roll survival, wore a gas mask and escaped the crippling effects of the shit storm.

I wish I had stepped in it instead.

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Ideas Stew in a Crockpot not a Crackpot.

lamb stew with leeks, lentils, yellow (heirloo...Image via Wikipedia

Metaphorically Speaking.

I write even when I don’t write. Thoughts simmer in my head like a Crockpot stew, as extraneous distractions, potatoes and carrots, pop to the top of the meaty brew. But where’s the beef? Holding its breath at the bottom.


While thoughts simmer, the aroma wafts into my brain at work or in the car. To evict the thoughts, I must translate the chatter into decipherable words, which is a challenge, since I write like a chicken but don’t walk like a duck.

At the end of the day, I sift through the scent of words that linger in my notes, and the slaughter begins. The bland ideas get beheaded with a slash of the pen. The meaty ideas pass the smell test and move up the food chain to the taste-testing realm. If the flavors burst in cataclysmic waves in my mouth, I allow the ideas to simmer further. If the flavors die on my tongue, I wash them down with beer to clear the palate.

Writing and I have a love-hate thing. I love the sound of bubbling beefy ideas. They stimulate my brain buds and invigorate my day. Yet, I hate the obsession.

I crave ideas as a junkie craves junk. Every day, every minute, I relish the moment to savor another bite of my thought stew and add more stock to enhance the flavor. Whenever I have a moment, I sneak a taste of my salacious snack. I can never get enough.

If the weight of words were reflected in calories, I’d be next in line for “The Biggest Loser.” However, unlike a corpulent contestant on the show, I shed calories by typing. Strike that thought. Just my fingers lose their baby fat.

I’d be a sore sight for a peeping tom’s eyes. Skinny fingers poking out from lards of fat folded into a chair. A worthwhile inconvenience, as I’d be fat from the love of words and writing, glued to the seat of my seat by hours of writerly sweat. Oh, stinky me. I only hope my words smell sweet.


Do you write anything else beside your blog?
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How to Prevent Traumatic-Post Stress Disorder.

 

Hands collaborating in co-writing or co-editin...

Channel your energy to your writing and not to outside distractions.

Fads pass through the blogosphere faster than a toe-tapping politician can talk his way out of a bathroom stall while an unamused cop rattles a pair of handcuffs.

But fads are just distractions, as is stressing over frivolous stuff, like your subscriber count, which always changes, while your reasons for writing remain the same – passion and connecting with readers. The two are inextricably bound. You can’t make a connection with a reader if your heart isn’t in your writing.

And you only have seconds to make that connection. People have short attention spans. If a reader doesn’t fall in love with your content at first sight, he/she will leave your site.
  • How do you keep a reader from leaving your site?
    • By writing compelling posts.
  • What is a compelling post?
    • A well-written post that triggers an emotional response in a reader, which establishes a connection.
The word “connection” is the operative here and the key to maintaining a bustling readership but is like a slippery bar of soap that can easily evade your grasp.

That’s why you must be passionate about what you write while keeping the content in your comfort zone. If you’re squeamish about what you write, it will be apparent to your readers. In other words, don’t write about something if your heart’s not in it because you’re worried about repercussions from friends or loved ones.

Don’t write about stuff that can come back and bite you in the ass, like your husband yelling at you because you bought expensive whipped cream cheese (on sale) instead of the more affordable (less air pockets), slab of cream cheese – a huge difference according to dairy aficionados specializing in cream cheese cuisine.

Uh, omit that last passage (or not). In all fairness to my husband of twenty-five years, sometimes while in the throes of the after-work crankies, we spew insensitive nonsensical crap before we’re able to satisfy our irascible appetites with a cream cheese smeared saltine snack. It’s all good. He apologized. 
But I digressed. Back to the point on connecting with your readers. 
I just revealed a marital melee, thus providing a peak into my personal life, or minutiae me, not blogger me, or avatar me. 
Because the Internet is an intangible void, readers have an insatiable desire for intimacy and need to bond with the blog writer. The content must intrigue, surprise, engage, hold the reader’s attention long enough to form a connection with the brains behind the blog responsible for entertainment.
For colorless writing, readers visit websites with processed posts that feature news or “how to” and informational articles, or sites that provide solutions to problems. No emotional investment there. Just a quick information fix.
People are innate seekers of information even of the absurd. . .
Newman: I hear you’ve got some lip reader working for you. You gotta let me use her for one day. Just one day. 
Jerry: Can’t do it Newman.
Newman: But Jerry, we’ve got this new supervisor down at the post office. He’s working behind this glass. I know they’re talking about me. They’re going to transfer me, I know it. Two hours, give me two hours.
Jerry: Not going to happen.
Newman: (Sinister) All right, all right. All right you go ahead. You go ahead and keep it secret. But you remember this. When you control the mail, you control… information.
Larry David is truly the master of his domain. Because of great writing and quirky memorable characters, we still quote Seinfeld episodes twelve years after the show went off the air.
We relate to Seinfeld characters because they are flawed human beings like us.
Since the Internet is devoid of humanity (and only reflects images of human souls), it is even more critical for a blogger to establish a relationship with his/her readers.
But not every blogger wants to reveal sensitive personal situations that can leave teeth marks on the ass. 
So, what if you don’t want to write about your personal life? How can you still connect with your readers? 
By injecting your personality into your writing or as it is called among literary types, voice. 
What is voice? 
Write101.com
In writing, voice is the way your writing ‘sounds’ on the page. It has to do with the way you write, the tone you take–friendly, formal, chatty, distant–the words you choose–everyday words or high-brow language–the pattern of your sentences, and the way these things fit in–or not–with the personality of the narrator character and the style of your story.
There you have it, the ingredients for creating your voice, the vehicle for your passion, and reader magnet.
If you’re still confused about voice, visit one of your favorite sites. Study the blogger’s style and tone inherent in each of the posts, and then analyze what attracted you to the site.
Experiment with different writing styles to see what best suits your personality and then practice, practice, practice.

If I miss one day of practice, I notice it. If I miss two days, the critics notice it. If I miss three days, the audience notices it.
Ignacy (Jan) Paderewski
 

Writing isn’t rocket science but it entails dedication and passion. To write compelling posts, you must enjoy the writing process, or otherwise it is torture. How can your audience possibly enjoy reading your posts if it pains you to write them? 

When writing becomes torture, it’s time to take a bloggy break and refuel the creative brain cells. No self-flogging allowed. Just some chill time on the observation platform, a perfect spot to seek information for inspiration even if it’s absurd.

Embrace your voice, write your passion, and have fun doing it!
 
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When Reality Bites You in the Ass and You Can’t Bite Back.

-Back to Work Back Post-
 

I went back to work on Monday and haven’t had time to write. As soon as I strike a balance between reality and the virtual world, I’ll start sloughing the mind flakes.Until then …

 

How blogging saved my mind but not my 401K.



REPLACING THE DECK CHAIRS. 

After being jobless for almost a year, tomorrow I will once again be jobfull. A culture shock waiting to happen due to my previous limited conversational choices, which included the characters in my head and virtual blogging friends. I know you’re all real!


Spare us the sentimental crap and continue detoxing your brain.

When I lost my job, I also lost my self-esteem in addition to a steady paycheck, excluding the unemployment checks that paid for Macaroni and Cheese and ketchup, the affordable vegetable alternative.

Blogging saved my brain from frying like an egg sputtering in bacon grease. Remember, a mind is a terrible thing to waste unless you’re Hannibal Lecter. Then you eat every last bite.


I eventually found my self-esteem on an obscure shelf in the family room in my house where I also found my car keys. Now I can drive again with confidence. Parking is another story, as mentioned in an earlier post called Women better at parallel parking baking dishes in ovens than cars on streets. I know. Shameless self-promotion, but it is relevant. Sort of.

For months, I searched the hallowed halls of my head and house for my shiny ego that had ejected from my brain. It took five months to notice it radiating from the shelf, slightly tilted right against the Titanic DVD. No wonder I kept rearranging the deck chairs, while the birds evacuating the feeder left good luck droppings on my head. Thank you, birds. Not! Lice ridden rats with wings. Oh, that’s right. Those are pigeons. These birds are just lice ridden and shit a lot.

As I lifted my ego from the shelf, it looked up at me and smiled. Maybe the Lysol fumes fogged my head. We embraced, my ego and me, and then I promptly slipped it back into my brain. It was easy, like replacing a lithium battery. I could breathe again, as soon as I passed through the Lysol cloud that hung above the kitchen compactor. Compactors transform trash into manageable messes. Don’t you know?

The darkness finally went away. Oh, that was night. I could get on with my life, take showers, and send out resumes in confidence, knowing that Job seekers now outnumber openings six to one.

Hearing those numbers was equivalent to having a lobotomy.

Six months after finding my footing – it was icy outside and the wood floors slippery inside – I found a job, which brings us back to Doe, not Doh!

Stop it!

It brings us back to the beginning of this abomination. I’ve got to wrap this up before y’all go away. They say that people nowadays have a really short attention . . .   Sorry.  I got distracted by my own bullshit.
Tomorrow, I begin a new day with the blare of my alarm clock set to heart attack mode and then segue into lunch that will now last an hour instead of an afternoon. And Oh? Did I mention that I will be paid with real money and not Entrecard credits?

Time will now be a valuable commodity. When you have too much time, its worth becomes devalued. However, the blog does not stop here. I intend to keep writing the wrongs and posting regularly, as long as I keep eating my blogger bran and don’t fall asleep in my Macaroni and Cheese still left over from the case that sits shuddering on the shelf in the dark in the bowels of my evil kitchen. I wrote about scary food, too. You probably remember Cook’s Crypt. How could you not? I keep dredging that one up from the cellar.

From the bottom of the likely clogged arteries of my heart, I thank you all for reading my maniacal ramblings. This is not good-bye. This is good God. How am I going to get up at 6 a.m.?

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The Backside of the Unemployment Front.

We're ScrewedImage by kk+ via Flickr

What Employer’s Want!

The war is not on terror or on global warming or on 3-foot tall green aliens. The war is on unemployment and we, the jobless, dodge bankruptcy bullets and enemy credit combatants every day while trying to capture a job on the front line of the employment field —

The battle line has been drawn between the edge of a cliff and a green fertile pasture, in the middle lays dying bank accounts and wounded self-esteem.

In New York City alone, the worker-to-job statistics are staggering. According to the New York Post, there are 20 people for every job, which actually may be the norm around the country, but it’s hard to find data confirming that. The government puts the figure at 5 people for every job – Can’t believe I’m linking to a Cato article – Recent college graduates in Britain are told 70 applicants for every job, which might also be the reality on this side of the pond

When I go on an interview, the first thing an employer usually says is “I’ve had to review hundreds of resumes,” which makes me feel both good and bad. Good, because I was one of the chosen and bad, because there’s an amazing crop of job candidates out there, but only a few will be harvested for a full time job, or even a part time job if they’re lucky, the rest end up dying on the vine.

Since it has become an employer’s market, the requirements for an Administrative Assistant job, or any job for that matter, gets sillier and sillier.

Case in point:

  • Superstar Administrative Assistant needed 
    • Superior ability to multi-task 
  •  Smart Administrative Assistant 
    • Highly intelligent college grad, strong GPA. Really want someone with an open and engaging personality 
  • Engaging Conversationalists with a Strong Sense of Humor, Energy 
    • Must be willing to work hard, have a great sense of humor and the stamina to be on the phones all day…developing relationships and having FUN!

  • Enlightened Assistant/Social Networking Whiz 
    • Please be completely ethical, punctual, and generous of spirit

Take a look at this employer’s list of questions I received in an automated email response after sending my resume.

Let’s play 21 Questions! Really! There were 21 questions.

There are no right or wrong answers – just a matter of how you interpret the questions.

        
          1. Please give me a description of ‘the perfect job’.

    • Include a description of how this job accentuates your strengths and minimizes your weaknesses (feel free to share what you believe your strengths and weaknesses to be).
      • Are these things that you enjoy doing or have to do?

                2. If you had one day to do anything you wanted, what would it be?

                3. Please organize the following statement so that it is in an easy to understand format:

        • The two bedroom condo offers 1500 square feet with 2 bathrooms and is listed for $350,000 while the three bedroom condo offers 2200 square feet and is listed for $412,000 but has 2 1/2 bathrooms and the two bedroom condo with just 400 square feet more than the other 2 bedroom condo also has 1 extra full bathroom and is only 10% more in price.

                  4. Please put the following words into a logical sequence:  discussion, greeting, questions, presentation, introduction, follow-up

                  5. Imagine that you are working in the office while I am out with a client and one of our Seller-clients calls to say that they want to speak with me.  What would you do?

                  6. Please select (and indicate which) one of the two word pairings that best describes you:

        • gregarious/reserved
        • conservative/free-spirited
        • funny/serious
        • rational/spontaneous
        • casual/systematic
        • detailed/cursory

                  7. For each of the following questions, please indicate which response best represents how it relates to you: (be honest!)

                         a) This statement about me is completely true
                         b) This statement about me is mostly true
                         c) This statement can be true or false but it depends on things
                         d) This statement about me is mostly false
                         e) This statement about me is completely false

                  8. I like things to be organized a certain way, and I like for them to continue being organized in that fashion

                  9. I always plan my day ahead. I even make room for contingencies in my daily plan.

                10. I have a clear idea of where I should be (and when) and seldom get late for appointments.

                11. I work in an organized fashion and do not like to create a mess or to work in a mess.

                12. I am always ready with a plan “B” so that in case things do go wrong, at least I don’t have to waste my time thinking as to what to do.

                13. I adhere to deadlines and people would seldom find me rushing at the last minute to get the job done.

                14. I keep all my belongings (books, CDs etc.) alphabetically or according to any another rule.

                15. There is very little going on in my life which is not a part of my plans.

                16. I am always on the lookout for things or ideas that can get me organized in a better way.

                17. At work, I have plans to rise to a position of more responsibility within a year from now.

                18. People who know me would vouch for the fact that I am punctual.

                19. I am always prepared for even the “worst case scenario”.

                20. My employer relies heavily on me as he is aware of my immense organization skills.

                21. Please list 3 questions that you would like answered before you would consider meeting for an interview.

        I look forward to hearing back from you!  If for some reason you decide that you do not wish to pursue this position I would ask that you kindly let me know that.

         My response:

                  I would not like to pursue this position because

                       a. This is the most ridiculous, insulting, list of questions I have ever received.
                       b. You sound like too much of a control freak.
                       c. You should be spending your time speaking to people face-to-face rather than compiling a list of such idiotic questions.

        Any one want to play?

        Perry at Momma Politico and Glenn at Man-Over-Board have written posts on the unemployment situation. Please swing by their blogs when you have a chance and give them some of your love. Perry suggested I post the employer’s email response as a magazine quiz. It was sort of like one.

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        Guest Post on 2012 DVD at Blazing Minds – The Actors Look Smaller on TV!

        Buy Mor Cow Poop at the NC State FairImage by joanna8555 via Flickr

        While watching the movie 2012 on DVD, I had time to compile a marketing list, as well as to ponder the weak plot points – the movie goes on a bit (2 hrs, 38 min).

        So, I decided to write a review. It’s not an ordinary review because my mind doesn’t like to follow rules and instead spews random nonsense words onto my laptop screen.

        As a matter of fact, I have no say in the creative process until the final edit. If my mind objects to any of my editorial decisions, I threaten it with eviction, and that always shuts it up.

        So, please check out my guest post at Karen’s incredibly entertaining and informative site Blazing Mindsshameless pimping and self-promotion – and let me know what you think. No percussive cussing at the site please, as it is rated “G” for ggggggreat! – Just ask Tony the Tiger.

        Actually, the “G” that I refer to means General Audiences, which would probably eliminate most of you, as there is nothing generic about any of you. You’re all perfectly nuanced human beings.

        And if you can’t restrain yourselves at Karen’s site, please comment and pimp – nothing illegal – before you get the boot. Thanks!!!!

        Note: Blazing Minds is a British site, so the word “boot” means an automobile trunk and not … a kick or a covering of leather, rubber, or the like, for the foot and all or part of the leg or – the American meaning.

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