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Author Topic: What's your BAL?
Reagansgame
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My dad -- is one of my best friends, that's how cool I am -- was over and my mom has the prohibition laws in A(or possibly E)-ffect over at their house. He got to talking about how when he drink a six pack of The Beast and gets to working on his 10-year novel, he comes up with some great stuff.

I know Stephen King wrote while under the influence. And my dad listed a lot of other names. My husband piped in with a few. Dr. Suess was thrown in there, something like Acid - which is believable for me - and said he used to write graphic porn.

Anyways. When I have two glasses of wine and turn my computer on, I get up the next morning and find my plot has a hang-over. It has to throw everything up. I can't be creative like that. But my husband and my father both swear ALLL of the greats wrote with some sort of substance muse. I'm just curious, this won't of course, help my writing, because even if a nice strawberry margurita didn't leave me trying to get the cat to fess up and admit she understand English or calling my best friend from the army and saying how we need to get together (at 2 in the morning)... I can't drink because I'm the only one with a driver's licence out here in the woods four nights a week.

I'm just asking out of curiosity.


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Palaytiasdreams
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I don't drink...but I do know that sugar and caffiene does play an influence somewhat when I write.

If I have a pop in the afternoon, I'm hyped up by writing time...usually 2200 and my thoughts go so fast I can't keep up.

Next thing I know I'm correcting silly mistakes.

Does that count?

Pal...pondering what would happen if she did consume alcohol and dreading the thought...


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Reagansgame
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Pop and 2200... man, Pal, I've been a civilian TOOOOO long. I haven't heard those term since my husband got out of the Navy. How many people on here have served their country, anyway? I think there is a trend.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
How many people on here have served their country, anyway? I think there is a trend.

But that's a different topic. Go start it.

As for this topic, I don't drink, and I don't think that any substance helps me write. I've heard that while some authors may have felt that drinking (or whatever) helped them, studies have found that the "help" doesn't last very long and ends up suppressing instead, or requiring more and more to do what a small amount did at first.

I love chocolate, but I don't think it makes me a better writer or thinker. And I suspect that sugar highs just make people silly.


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KayTi
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Well I've recently gone off afternoon caffeine, which used to be my primary source of energy/drive for my afternoon writing sprints. I got to feeling like without the caffeine I had no energy or drive for writing (or any pursuit, really.) Didn't like the idea that the caffeine drove my writing. I'm growing rather fond of the idea that I drive my writing.

It's not the same as an addiction to a controlled substance or alcohol, but hey - it's what I've got. I certainly enjoy leaded beverages, but I rarely write afterwards. Too much sleeping that needs to be done.


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Grant John
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I will use Tim Tams to help me write, but I think it is just a sensory memory thing. The taste of the Tim Tams (used to be black forrest, now raspberry centres) reminds me of the other times I have written with the taste of Tim Tams in my mouth. Same probably goes for alcahol, if you were tipsy when you first wrote a story, it will probably help to be tipsy when you continue. Of course I think it would be better to now have been tipsy the first time.
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Rhaythe
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I have zero alcohol tolerance. I could sniff Nyquil and get drunk.

Coffee, on the other hand, is like water to me.


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ChrisOwens
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I don't drink--I quit when I was 8 or 9--and before that if was a few sips here and there. Sometimes, I do use a spoonful of cooking wine.

Wouldn't being under the influence hinder thought? No thanks--my thoughts are hindered enough as it is. I remember seeing a special where people had one too many. They all insisted THEY could drive and then they put those people in a driving simulator. I'm sure the same thing would apply here to writing.


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skadder
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Smokimg cigarettes stops me writing. I quit for three years and had no problems writing, but then I stupidly restarted in February and have struggled ever since. Nicotine addcition breaks your concentration very regularly which seems to stop me creating complex stories. Elevated carbon monoxide levels in my blood stream result in a reduction of available oxygen for my brain, which seems to have removed the poet within me that made my prose sweeter (or so I thought). It dulls me and removes a good 10 IQ points--so now I only have 60 IQ points.

I am sure there are folks who say they smoke and write and it's no problem. Well, perhaps you would be writing better if you didn't smoke.

Desperately tryin' to quit,

Adam

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited August 28, 2008).]


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Crank
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I rarely drink alcoholic beverages, and never while I'm writing.

That's what caffeine-infested cola is for.

When I abstain from sodas, my writing is more coherent. When I go on my Coke Classic benders, the action tends to be a bit more wired and the imagery a bit more surreal. Combine the two influences together in the same scene, and even I have no clue what I'll end up with.

Also...lack of sleep tends to influence my writing in surreal ways. Those are usually the passages that undergo the most severe overhauls; when I read them back the next day, they don't even make sense to me.

S!
S!...C!


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Zero
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I don't use drugs of any kind, except for perscribed clinical drugs. So I really can't say one way or the other, but if someone told me that their drug use inspired their creativity--or helped their art in some way--I would believe them. Heroine, for instance, hasn't hurt my album collection.

As for me, I've found that in the day I am more objective, and a better writer--in a technical sense. But at night, particularly late at night, I am more creative and that is where a lot of the art comes from. But it's consequently harder for me to distinguish between good art and bad art at night.


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Zero
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Incidentally, what is BAL?
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Heresy
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Green tea for me, always. I just make a big pot of it and keep drinking, mostly while I think in between flurries of typing. It's not even an energy thing, I think, just something I find soothes my mind into some semblance of order.
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Reagansgame
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BAL = Blood Alcohol Level

Example: A BAL of .08 = too drunk to drive

(Stay in school! -end public service announcement)


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darklight
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quote:
I am sure there are folks who say they smoke and write and it's no problem. Well, perhaps you would be writing better if you didn't smoke.

I gave up smoking a couple of months back. Since then, I can't get into writing anything. Coincidence or factor? I don't know. I can't sit at my desk for more than a few minutes at a time. When I'd have a long writing session, couple of hours or so, and I needed to stand up, I couldn't. I have a back problem which is exacerbated by the possition I sit in to write, and the pain is disgusting. When I smoked, I would have half every hour or so, and git ave me reason to get up. I never smoked in the house so went outside. This also gave me a couple of minutes to think about the story, and I often couldn't wait to get back to the PC after I thought of the next great scene.

Nowadays. Nada. Go figure.

As to the question. So long as I'm stocked up with food, any food, I could usually write for ages. Also gave me another reason to get up, when I ran out. The moral of that story being I suppose, don't take too much food to the desk with me at one time.

[This message has been edited by darklight (edited August 28, 2008).]


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darklight
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Just to add. When I did drink and write, I always thought it was best thing I had ever written. Trouble is, it's usually flowery, poetic prose that does nothing for the story.
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extrinsic
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BAL = Blood Alcohol Level

I've kept journals from back in the days of my youthful indiscretions that continued into later adulthood. I can tell which substance influenced which entry. Some are illegibile, incoherent, too crisp yet numb, rambling, purply and flowery, jagged and jittery, or plain. Jack Keroac's On the Road was written in three weeks of nonstop binging on benzedrine and bourbon and nicotine. He died of thrombosis caused by his addictions and inactivity. Philip K. Dick, the drug anecdotes surrounding his writing are legion. I don't think it's substance abuse that necessarily improved anyone's writing; rather, it's what puts them in their comfort zone for writing. Perhaps some geniuses need toning down to access the muse and reach the audience.

I in no way encourage any substance abuse for any purpose. My own life is littered with friends, associates, and family who have been horribly impacted by substance abuse. Deaths, murders, suicides, commitments, imprisonments, broken families, broken promises, wayward driftings. I thank Providence that the worst that ever happened to me was one DUI. Although I've a host of life experience from skirting the periphery of society.

[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited August 28, 2008).]


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Zero
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So can you get charged for a WUI?

Writing Under the Influence

or as they might say in the UK, a DW - Drink Writing


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Robert Nowall
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I don't drink or do drugs---my limit is whatever over-the-counter stuff I'm trying for my stomach upset.

I can't say that anything I know for an absolute fact to have been written under the influence was any better than it would've been if it hadn't. I've seen good things inspired by under-the-influence perceptions and visions, but written in cold reality after the experience. (Or at least while coming down.)


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Zero
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You mean you don't notice an improvement in your work when you're trippin' out of your head on Tums?
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kings_falcon
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With a BAL of 0.8, you aren't concious (even if you are walking and talking still).

My hubby had a case where the defendant was alleged to have a BAL of 1.0 when the defendant was stopped for DUI. No that was not a typo - it was a 1.


No, I don't drink and write. The few times I've tried I either: (1) start at the computer and don't type; or (2) type furiously only to delete it all later.


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Reagansgame
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.08... the zero before the eight is kinda key. The difference between the hospital with a stomach pump and getting picked up by the po-po for a night in the drunk tank
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Corin224
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Yeah, I don't drink at all . . . 'less you count coffee. I took Ritalin for a while for my A.D.D. and what *I* found was that when I was ON the Ritalin, all the ideas I came up with during my off-time came spewing out quite freely, but I had a REALLY hard time being creative at all in any way, shape or form when I was on it.

That was actually one of the big reasons why I weaned myself off in the end, and just worked on developing a bit more mental discipline. At this point, I find that caffeine has much the same effect (being the same class of drug and all) though it's a bit harsher and less reliable. As with the Ritalin, I'm not especially creative on caffeine, but I'm a fair bit more focused. (though not to the extent of when I was on the Ritalin) And, honestly I think most of my interesting stuff comes when my brain's free to wander and make a lot of free-associations. But I find that once I've got the ideas, I have a really hard time getting them down on paper unless I'm a bit more focused.

And actually, if I can get into a writing mood OFF of the caffeine, I write much better . . . sort of the hyper-attention side of the A.D.D. kicking in. I'll just start cranking and can't stop myself until I'm quite literally too weary to see the screen anymore. For me, the substance is more about focus and the discipline of actually writing, rather than inspiration or a muse. And incidentally, revising is SUPER easy for me, even when it involves throwing out huge swathes of story. Not sure why, but it's never been a problem, on or off the substances.

I kinda suspect that MOST writers who say a drink or two helps are simply feeling the effects of the lowered inhibition. That inner editor stops talking and they just start writing, which is almost always a good thing. I would guess that any substances writers rely on are mostly about getting into a comfort zone where your brain just runs without having to put a lot of energy into it. The moment you take that step further into the realm of needing a 'buzz' or a 'high', I think it's probably detrimental.

$.02 worth . . . take it or leave it.

-Falken (posing as Corin)


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BBPaul
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Stephen King, in his book "On Writing" debunked the drinking author theory. He wrote the Tommy Knockers at the peak of his cocaine habit. He said it was the best he could do. It is true many of the greats were heavy drinkers, but is that why they are great writers? King disputes that and so do I.

A great drunk writer is still a drunk. Whether he thinks more deeply when drunk than an mechanic who is a drunk, is unlikely. Bu they both look the same puking in the gutter.

I would have quoted King, but I loaned the book out.


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annepin
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I had to give up my after-work beer just so I could write. I tried it for many months but drinking even just one had too strong a toll on my I.Q.

I drink coffee in the morning before I work, but I wonder if that adversely affects my writing. I think it makes my mind skip around too much so my writing is disjointed and illogical. Same with sugary drinks.

Alas, nothing but an ascetic life will do.


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kings_falcon
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Reagansgame - without the 0 in the front at 8.0 you are just dead. 0.8 is still a significant risk of death even if you don't crash a car.

And where the heck are you that a DUI just ends up with a night in the drunk tank? 'Round here - VA - you're looking at a conviction and time even for a first offense.

Any before anyone over 30 asks - Po-Po is police. I only know because one of my friend's kids told me. Sigh.

[This message has been edited by kings_falcon (edited August 28, 2008).]


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Reagansgame
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no..... .08 as in still <10%

quote:
Example: A BAL of .08 = too drunk to drive

not 8, not .8, I think if you had a 80% alcohol content, you'd better be a robot. And an 800% alcohol level... well, unless you're a hive queen and are able to do anything more than 100%, that seems somewhat impossible.

I did some work at a treatment center, hours and hours of schooling. Plus, we get all sorts of public service things through the kids school.

And hey --- I'm almost thirty! We used po-po back when I first got my driver's license. At least I don't speak text. (BOTOH, W/E WFU!)

[This message has been edited by Reagansgame (edited August 28, 2008).]


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J
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All areas of activity can be placed in one of four categories:
1) Drinking Prohibited;
2) Drinking Permitted;
3) Drinking Required
4) Fishing & football tailgating

Writing goes into category "2" for me. A little scotch won't necessarily help me write better--but it won't hurt, either.


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ozwonderdog
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I Find my brain works fine unassisted.

Plug some sugar in there, and it zips along faster, but makes many mistakes, and the story I am writing can get a little nutty and lost.

Add just one drink of alcohol, and the brain slows down, and doesn't work as much.


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Lullaby Lady
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Falkan said:

" I took Ritalin for a while for my A.D.D. and what *I* found was that when I was ON the Ritalin, all the ideas I came up with during my off-time came spewing out quite freely, but I had a REALLY hard time being creative at all in any way, shape or form when I was on it. "

This reminds me of a "Mother Goose and Grim" comic strip I keep in my planner. (I'm a mother and it helps me keep things in perspective.)

A mother in Elizabethan dress holds her quill-equipped tot on her lap, as she talks to the doctor, saying "I'm worried, doctor, all he does is WRITE!"

The doctor responds, "No problem, Mrs. Shakespeare. I'll just give him RITALIN and he'll be like every other normal, average kid."

*hee*

~LL


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aspirit
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Two of the books I borrowed from the local library address this issue. OSC said in How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, "There are those who claim they can't write without their coffee or booze or some pharmaceutical crutch. I believe that the truth is much more painful: They can't live without those things, so they certainly can't write without them, as long as the dependency remains."

Alice W. Flaherty, a neurologist and teacher, addressed drug use and addiction several times in The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain. On her chapter on Literary Creativity and Drive, she wrote, "Drugs give the feeling of creativity more easily than they yield products judged creative by others--at least by others not on drugs.... In fact, the equivocal ability of drugs to produce revelations for writers lends support to the theory that writers do not take drugs to help their writing, they take drugs because of their tendency to mood disorders, and mood disorders often trigger drug addiction."

My experience with alcohol: a couple shots of the liqueur my husband made for our wedding, a few sips of the drinks he thought I would somehow like, and two or three Olive Garden dessert drinks. On none of those occasions did I write afterwards. I do, however, rely on coffee from time to time to help focus my mind. Like Falken, I am easily distracted without help. (For example, I was trying to finish writing a scene when I decided I needed to draw a map of the location of the scene, though I then wanted to compare my possible map with maps of similar existing places, which took me online. Yet, instead of researching, I am posting on Hatrack. In addition, this single post took me half an hour, because my mind kept jumping to other topics. This is me not on drugs.)


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Reagansgame
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the obvious truths are the harder ones to see. cant live without those things makes sence.

I rarely drink and can't stand to be drunk, so I heavily defended the fact that you don't need some sort of substance key to turn to unlock your creativity.

But now, I realize that there are things I can't live without -- diet coke for one, phenalyanine and caffiene, oh, I'm so addicted. I drink about a 6 pack a day. I couldn't see myself giving those up, not without a big fat hissy and headache. And that would definately effect my writing.


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Robert Nowall
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On Stephen King and Stephen King on drugs...there's a school of thought on his writing that he passed his peak in the late seventies and since then he rides his reputation with weighty and wordy works that a good editor should have taken the scissors to before publishing, provided you could find one to stand up against him.

If drugs contributed to this, I wouldn't be the least surprised.


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Reagansgame
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Any Family Guy fans?
I think Seth McFarlane captured it perfectly when he showed S. King at his agents desk and the agent saying, 'So, Steve, what's the next book going to be about?" and S. King looks around the office, grabs up the desk lamp, and says "A lamp!" Looks at the lamp, then says "But a scary lamp" then kinda shakes the lamp at the agent who has a raised eyebrow and says, "you really just aren't trying any more, are you?"

(I don't know why I brought this up. It made me laugh, though. The Gunslinger is one of my all time favs.)


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marchpane
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Hmm. Never tried it. But then that's not that surprising, since I don't really like alcohol anyway.

As for stimulants, I get by with a little help from my friends, particularly one Earl Grey...


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TaleSpinner
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I write with tea. Lots of it.

I enjoy beer, not to mention whisky. I don't trust my judgment after imbibing an inebriant, so while I don't write under the influence I might do some research and write backstory.

Rock and jazz musicians are notorious for using various stimulants in search of renewed or heightened creativity. Their milage varies enormously, and sometimes it's tragically curtailed.

Cheers (hic)
Pat


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Rommel Fenrir Wolf II
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I myself use to write under the influence of vitamin THC, and DEX back in high school. I have been writing the same series of books now for 7 years or so and no were near being done. The point being, yea you come up with some grate stuff, donít remember most of it, and forget how to fill in the blanks when you do find your hand written stoned notes, they just donít make since. It is enough to drive one crazy.

RFW2nd


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goatboy
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As a personal choice I don't drink alcoholic beverages. I find that when I do, my jaw gets locked in the open position and all the stupid normally stored in my head comes flowing out.
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Robert Nowall
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Charlie Parker once said he could be great if only he was free. Despite the context usually provided when the story is mentioned, I always thought he was talking about his drug addiction.
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Reagansgame
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GOATBOY--

I have the same condition. I have scars from when it was at its worst.


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