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» Hatrack River Forum » Archives » Landmark Threads » The Ugly Duckling (Landmark 1000)

   
Author Topic: The Ugly Duckling (Landmark 1000)
beverly
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*sigh* Here goes.

Ever since I can remember, I have loved the story of the Ugly Duckling. I guess I always felt like a misfit and I hoped that despite my terribly awkward youth, I would grow up to be something great and magnificent someday, finding my "place" where I fit in.

Lots of people who have a low-self esteem or struggle with insecurity can claim their dysfunctional family as part of the blame. I cannot. I came from a very stable, warm, loving family and had a splendidly happy childhood. I was one of six kids and my parents had a loving, stable marriage. My father taught me ambition and optimism, and my mother taught me compassion and sensitivity. She has such a good, pure, heart, and her example has profoundly influenced my life, teaching me to look for the good in others.

My parents tell me I was the perfect baby. Granted, they are biased, but they also had five other children to compare me to. I was a gorgeous baby, the sort that strangers on the street would stop my parents to coo over. With big blue eyes, pouty lips, light skin and dark hair, I looked like a porcelain doll. I rarely cried, and when I did, it was softly. I was easy-going, never being bothered by direct sun in the face or extremes of temperature. I played happily and quietly for hours as a young toddler drawing on page after page of paper, or working puzzles. When I was nearly 3 years old, I toddled along on a three-mile-hike with nary a complaint. My parents say I had a disposition like a ray of sunshine, bouncy and happy most all the time. Then, sometime after turning three, my parents say I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and stayed there for the rest of my youth.

I’m sure the change was not quite that sudden or dramatic, but it probably seems so in retrospect. Nonetheless, I became an amazingly bratty. I would rage over the way my clothes fit. I couldn’t stand to feel the seam in the toe of my sock. The waistband on pants drove me crazy. I hated to be touched and coddled. The tiniest things set off my temper. I became pretty miserable to live with, for my parents, for my siblings, though I generally tried to show a “better face” to others. At the same time, I was terribly sensitive, deeply offended by the slightest word from those around me. I couldn’t stand the anger or disapproval of others. This made most human interaction unpleasant for me and others.

Here is an example of this dichotomy: My parents sent me to preschool when I was four. I was very put out at the idea of being left there. The lady who worked there was very kind and patient and tried to hold and comfort me, and I responded to her by screaming, hitting, and kicking. Now, years later when I was about seven, I couldn’t sleep one night as I remembered how awfully I had treated her that first day. I came to my Mom sobbing insisting that we write her a letter right now apologizing to her. Only after doing so could I go back to sleep, being assured that it would reach her.

I was a misanthrope in my heart of hearts. I thought people were profoundly boring. I thought animals were much more interesting. My younger sister wanted me to play house, and I would on one condition: I got to be the pet. I was always looking for things I could make into ears or a tail. I remember the time I mixed my Mom’s flour with water so I could paste short sticks on the tips of my fingers as “claws”. I was always wearing holes in the knees of my pants because I crawled on all-fours so much. Everyone thought I was strange.

I practically worshiped my two older brothers. They built a “log cabin” in our backyard! How could I help but be awe-inspired? Well, my young memory remembers it as being far more glorious than it probably was. I loved their humor. I spent hours watching them play video games. I became quite a tom-boy. I didn’t care for anything feminine. I looked upon my younger sister with contempt for being such a “girl”. When my Mom wanted to take me out to buy clothes, I would run away and hide.

I was also born with a curious mind. My hunger for information was insatiable. My mother tired of my questions--she had more important things to do. My father, however busy he was, always took time to answer my questions. This meant the world to me. I was one of those children who didn’t especially like playing with other children, but loved one-on-one time with adults. I had little sense of social propriety. Apparently, as a child I would walk into a room of people and just start talking, making long speeches whether or not anyone was paying attention. It’s not that I didn’t have friends in my life, but as a child I never really felt the warmth of human attachment. I remember moving away from Kentucky (age 5) and saying goodbye to my dear, best friend whom I had played with nearly every day. She was in tears. I was numb. I would miss her terribly, but I felt nothing. It was bizarre.

If I were to pinpoint the source of my own lack of self-esteem, it would be that I saw myself as insufferable. I was selfish, unloving, and a brat. As time went on, I realized that people found me annoying, and that hurt. I remember the time that I was talking to a girl at school (we were about 7 yrs old at the time) and she was trying to talk to someone else. She turned to me and bluntly told me to “SHUT UP!” This moment was a powerful epiphany for me. I was somewhat of a loner, so I never really missed the lack of companionship before, but I began to look at the warm human relationships around me and realize what I was missing.

So not long after this “epiphany”, we moved to Connecticut. (We moved a lot, which didn’t help matters.) We would live there for the next 6 years, the longest I would live anywhere growing up. The people in North Carolina (where we had moved from) were pretty friendly as people go. The people in Connecticut had a bit more of a “bite” to them. I remember approaching people with what I thought were friendly comments and receiving a very rude response. I was not used to sarcasm. My parents never use sarcasm. When my parents said something harsh, it was a big deal. Anger was not an acceptable emotion to show in my family growing up. I was not used to being spoken to like that. I began to be very quiet and withdrawn at this point. The next few years were extremely difficult to endure.

Some memories of these years: There was one girl in particular who delighted in tormenting me. I loved to draw, and I was usually better at it than anyone else around me. I remember working quietly on an art project and her ruining it by ripping it and pouring glue all over it. Most of the things she did I have blocked from memory. I asked my mom what I should do, and my mom assured me that I should make her a valentine (t’was the season) and in it asked her to be my friend. I secretly gave her the valentine then watched as she opened it, read it, laughed, ripped it up, and threw away the candy heart inside.

The popular girls certainly didn’t think much of me. I cared little for the things they cared for. When I was about 10 (early 80’s) I remember them talking about Michael Jackson one day, and I said, “Who’s he?” Our family didn’t participate much in “pop culture”, and I was pretty sheltered growing up.

“The big boys” were a particular problem for me. In my mind, they seemed like Neanderthals. Their torment and comments seemed to communicate that I was the most despicable girl on the planet. Their favorite label for me was “ugly”. Now, I don’t think I was ever “ugly”. Many insisted that my dark hair, light skin, and green eyes were strikingly pretty. But I didn’t take care of my appearance, and I wasn’t into clothes. I wore what was comfortable, not what was fashionable. But if you are told you are ugly often enough, you start to believe it. I walked to and from school, and I remember two of the boys in that same neighborhood would occasionally follow me home making comments along the way that I won’t repeat here. My only tactics for dealing with them were to ignore and avoid. But they sought me out tenaciously. I remember well-meaning family members insisting that these boys actually liked me and just didn’t know how to show it appropriately. How dare they suggest it? The effect these boys had on me was far beyond a feeling of being outwardly ugly. I felt deeply inside that no boy could ever find me attractive or feminine, certainly not boys like these.

Upon moving to Connecticut in 4th grade, I became friends with two other girls who were about as low in pecking-order as I. My parents seemed to think they were a bad influence on me and that if I were separated from them I would “blossom” socially. After that first year, they made sure (secretly) that I was not in their class. I only saw them at recess, the only happy part of my day. My parent’s scheme actually began to work somewhat in 6th grade. There was a group of girls in my class who, while not popular, were nice and smart. I began hanging out with them and gaining some acceptance. Unfortunately, in order to stay in their good graces, I had to renounce my ties with my two best friends, whom I only saw at recess. I didn’t want to, but to my shame, I did. For that whole year I shunned them. I felt horrible for doing so. The next school year, I gave up my privileges with the crowd and begged the forgiveness of my two outcast friends. School life in general was crappy again, but I was much happier inside.

When I entered High School, things changed. With a four-grade school made up of two combined middle schools, the “pool” of students was very large. The popular kids didn’t seem as interested in tormenting, caught up in their own lives. But the most profound thing was the group of misfits there that called themselves “The Mawb”. I hadn’t come across this sort of thing before. The “loners” in my previous schools never got together in a big group. I loved how the group was full of smart, creative, talented people. It didn’t matter what grade you were in. If you didn’t fit in with the average crowd, you fit in with “The Mawb”. Since I have been hanging out at Hatrack, I can’t help but be reminded of this marvelous group.

I don’t really understand all the changes that went on, but I remember the day that I realized that some of the same guys who used to tease me were now conversing with me like a human being and respecting what I had to say. My own little group expanded to include some wonderful, sweet young men, and I began to realize that I did have something to offer to the opposite sex. For the first time in my life, I began to enjoy the art of flirting. I couldn’t remember a time when I felt so happy. I was giddy with life.

Then my world came crashing down. Right at the end of that school year, as soon as my finals were over, we moved across the nation to Washington State. I attended there for a year, then moved to Texas to finish my last two years of High School. Neither of these schools had a subculture anything like “The Mawb”. I don’t really remember much from my last three years of HS, because they weren’t very eventful. Perhaps a depressing note on which to end this post. But it is to be continued.

Next time, Chapter 2: The Metamorphesis

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Telperion the Silver
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*BIG HUGS*
[Kiss]

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mr_porteiro_head
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What are you doing kissing my wife? [Smile]

Mary Cate -- aren't you glad that we don't have to go through our childhood again? One version of hell that I have heard is having to go through High School over and over again, in the Groudhog Day circle of hell.

[ May 24, 2004, 04:21 PM: Message edited by: mr_porteiro_head ]

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Telperion the Silver
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Hey... it's like kissing my sister! [Wink]

Just a little peck... [Kiss] see! Right on the cheek.

[ May 24, 2004, 04:21 PM: Message edited by: Telperion the Silver ]

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mr_porteiro_head
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Then you have an awesome sister! [Big Grin]

<--- never had a sister to kiss.

<--- misses the sister he never had [Frown]

[ May 24, 2004, 04:23 PM: Message edited by: mr_porteiro_head ]

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Telperion the Silver
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I had a very similar experiance growing up too. We called our group by the informal name "The Group". At our hight we had about 40 people... amazing.
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peter the bookie
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[Kiss]

*waits patiently for next part*

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Telperion the Silver
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I only had a brother. No fun to kiss.
But I have about 50 adopted sisters now. [Wink]

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mr_porteiro_head
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I don't know if she's planning on posting the next chapter soon.

I had four brothers, and I never tried kissing them, except when they were babies.

[ May 24, 2004, 04:27 PM: Message edited by: mr_porteiro_head ]

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peter the bookie
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yeah, but if i wait impatiently, it'll feel like even longer.
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Telperion the Silver
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Potato man (ok ok porteiro), I didn't realize you were married to bev. Too cool! [Smile]
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mr_porteiro_head
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lol You're like my family. When I turned 18, I decided to go by the name Porter instead of Craig. Some of my family absolutely refused to call me Porter, even though they remembered.It took 6 or 7 years before they would call me Porter.

I just talked to Mary Cate, and she said that you'll have to wait until her next landmark to read the next part. Sorry.

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Synesthesia
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Very interesting! You remind me of one of my characters.
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Dan_raven
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Very nice.

I look forward to your next 1000 posts.

You can tell us how you made faces at Mr. Poter..potat..pottery...

at your husband.

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Noemon
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::taps foot::

I'm ready for chp. 2!

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mr_porteiro_head
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Maybe I'll have to share that for my own landmark. I haven't done one.
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Telperion the Silver
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And considering that you don't start off posting with "0" technically your landmark post will be 1001. [Smile] So you might as well do chapter 2 for your true landmark!
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mr_porteiro_head
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[ROFL]
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punwit
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Beverly, It's my belief that often times those that suffer cruelty from adolescent peers are quicker to develop compassion.

Also you described your intransigence concerning socks and underclothes. My daughter went through this same phase between the ages of 3 and 6 or 7. I vividly remember fighting with her over getting ready on time. Once I told here if she didn't pick a pair of panties and get ready I would pick a pair and put them on her whether she liked them or not. Her reply? "You're not the boss of my panties!!"

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Dagonee
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Beverly, very moving landmark. With me it was deciding to hang out more with the drama club that saved me - 7th through 10th grade were one blur of misery.

Can't wait to read the rest!

Dagonee

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pooka
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[The Wave] bev [The Wave]
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Space Opera
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I liked it, and I like you now too. Err..not that I disliked you before, I was just trying....ok, forget it. [Wink]

space opera

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cochick
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I recognise the feelings of loneliness and not fitting. What really struck me was the comment about preferring the company of adults. At socials at church/family I was always sat talking with the adults and not hanging out with the other kids.

Thankyou for sharing [Wink]

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Corwin
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beverly, you're one of my favourites here on Hatrack. Even more so after this landmark.

I'm looking forward to your next thousand posts ! You know, metamorphosis stories are always interesting to read. And I'm sure that between these two landmarks you'll have plenty of beautiful things to bring to this community.

mr_porteiro_head, with your permission (and hers, too [Big Grin] ) :
((((beverly))))

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beverly
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Thanks y'all. [Smile]

Chapter 2 will be post 2000. I was considering Chapter 3 including the saga of Porter and I, but we shall see. Porter, I thought it might be cool if we did a "joint landmark" sometime about our story, kind of a he said/she said deal. We certainly have very different experiences/takes on it.

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mr_porteiro_head
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Not a bad idea. We'll have to do that someday. Maybe in a year. [Big Grin]
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Jenny Gardener
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Beverly, you are a lovely swan. I wish I'd known you when we were young - perhaps we could have been ugly together and found some comfort there.

Love from Jenny [Kiss]

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rivka
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beverly, I always enjoy your posts, and have missed having you around lately. Now that you've hit 1000, will we be seeing more of you again?

Beautiful landmark. [Smile] I look forward to part 2 -- and the 998 posts in between. [Big Grin]

Congrats!

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peter the bookie
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i can't believe you're using your wife's thread to get attention for yourself.

[Razz]

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Derrell
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Thank you for sharing that with us.
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beverly
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Jenny: Thank you. [Smile] I appreciate the comment from a lovely swan like yourself.

Rivka: My dear, thanks for noticing my absense. I love Hatrack so much, maybe too much. I just can't realistically spend as much time here as I have in the past. But I think my life is better for having Hatrack in it. I must find a way to keep it in my life without letting it take over.

Telp: You are a jewel on Hatrack! I was won over by your charms the moment you made your entrance. I missed you when you were away. [Smile] Cool to know that you had a similar "Group" phenomenon in school. I sure wish I had been able to enjoy "The Mawb" longer than one year.

Corwin and Peter: Thank you both for telling me that you enjoy my presence on Hatrack. It means a lot to me.

Punwit: "You're not the boss of my panties!" [ROFL] What a great line!

Dagonee, Cochick: I imagine that many of us here experienced the whole "not fitting in" thing. It makes it mean all the more when we find the places that we do fit.

Space Opera: [Wink] Cool to have you here! As one newbie to another newbie, you shine very brightly on Hatrack.

Dan: Actually, I'm not sure that Porter will feature at all in the next chapter of the story. Too much to tell in between. But I sure look forward to he and I together telling our story. That will be fun!

Derrell: You are welcome. [Smile]

Synth: I would love to hear more about that character. [Wink] Thank you for bring your graceful, unique touch to Hatrack. There is so much about you that I do not know, and what I do know of you makes me want to know the rest better.

Pooka: Thanks for the congrats. Really, we need to get together soon and exchange babysitting!

Noemon: Sorry to leave things on a cliffhanger! Not very satisfying. But it would have been just too long otherwise.

And dearest Porter: Thank you so much for being here. Hatrack is twice as much fun because I get to share it with you. [Kiss]

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Raia
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beverly, that was a beautiful landmark... you amaze me. You truly are an incredible woman. [Smile]

Happy landmark! *clink*

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Nick
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quote:
Beverly, It's my belief that often times those that suffer cruelty from adolescent peers are quicker to develop compassion.
Belief? pff.
That's not belief, that's fact, and I'll argue to the teeth with anybody who disagrees.

Beverly, I was you in high school. I had people who hated me since kindergarten. I know exactly how that feels. [Frown]

At least you were stronger than I was, and you didn't get in with the wrong crowd. Where you found "The Mawb" (which is cool by the way), I found the stoners. (to my shame) [Blushing] I have come a long way since then. [Smile]

I'm glad you're here, and even though we might disagree on what are more important in the attractiveness of men and women (from the getting big thread [Smile] ), I think you're a cool person that I can definitely relate to. [Smile]

*raises glass to 1000 more*
[Cool]

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
That's not belief, that's fact, and I'll argue to the teeth with anybody who disagrees.
Is that the sort of compassion it develops? [Wink]
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Nick
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MPH [Razz]
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Zotto!
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Awesome post, Bev, thanks for being here. [Smile]
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tt&t
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(((((Beverly))))) [Smile]

Thank you for sharing! Great landmark! I can't wait for parts II and III. [Big Grin]

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Erick the Great
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I want Chapter II!
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Corwin
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Patience is a virtue...
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rivka
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quote:
I love Hatrack so much, maybe too much. I just can't realistically spend as much time here as I have in the past. But I think my life is better for having Hatrack in it. I must find a way to keep it in my life without letting it take over.
When you figure that out, let me in on the secret, ok?
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Icarus
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This thread came along during my end of the year hiatus . . . I remember first noticing Porter on The Other Side, and when he first came into the AIM chat room, and your first posts here. At at each juncture, I recall thinking you guys are the epitome of a great Hatrack couple: well-spoken, generous, interesting, and fun to have around. Thank you for sharing this bit of your past; it's one a lot of us can identify with. I'm glad you're here. [Smile]
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mr_porteiro_head
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[Blushing]
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ClaudiaTherese
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beverly, I can't tell you how delighted I am that you found Hatrack, and I'm even more delighted that you stayed.

The ugliest ducklings always grow into the most beautiful swans. It's the wisdom of Madelaine L'Engle, don't you remember? [Smile]

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Alucard...
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well said bev and thank you!

But this cliffhanger ending... [Grumble]

I will anxiously await the next installment!

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