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Not that it's likely to do any good.... - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

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Not that it's likely to do any good.... [Sep. 26th, 2003|03:51 pm]
Zoethe
[Current Mood |pessimisticpessimistic]

Dear Parents of Teenagers:

Your children are having sex. If they aren't, they will be soon, so just assume that they are. It's kind of hard to fathom that someone has to tell you, the first post-60s generation, that this is so, but apparently a lot of you are hoping that your kids won't take the drugs you took, won't pull the same stunts you pulled, and won't be groping each other the way you did. Because they're, you know, kids. Your kids. You birthed them and cradled them and they were babies and so innocent, and how can it be that they have grown into the same cravenly horny creature you were at that age. But it doesn't work like that. They think you are as out of touch as you thought your parents were, they suffer the same teen hubris that you did, and they are biologically driven by the same urges that drove you.

And the message "don't have sex" is having the same impact.

You think you are better than your parents were about this, and some of you are. But a lot of you are just as scared and embarrassed and uncomfortable as your folks were, and that message of shame and disapproval is what your kids hear. So they pretend that they aren't growing up and you pretend that they aren't growing up, and a code of silence mutes communication on these topics.

Oh, but you believe you are talking to your children about sex. You are telling them to wait, or to practice safe sex if they have to do it. You feel embarrassed, they look embarrassed, and everyone gets away from the conversation as quickly as possible. That's not talking to your kids about sex. That's lecturing. You may impart your beliefs, but you won't learn anything about what's really going on in their lives.

For most of you, this will work out fine, and you'll reach the end of the teen years and breathe a sigh of relief. For others, you will walk through the fire of unwanted pregnancy, STDs, and date rape with your daughters and sons, and one way or another you will emerge from the other side, hopefully emotionally intact.

For some, though, the subtle message of disapproval and distaste will mean that if something goes wrong your kids will be horrified, and too frightened of your disappointment to come to you. They will try to solve the problem on their own. Most will get through it, but a few will suffer the fate of the teenage girl in Texas who died after taking RU-486. A tragedy that didn't have to happen. She couldn't tell her parents that she was pregnant, and when things went wrong she didn't want to tell them that she had gotten pregnant and sought an abortion. Her shame ended her life. People will want to blame the drug, but the drug isn't to blame. The fear is.

Talk to your kids about sex - not about the mechanics and the dangers and the morals, now go to your room. Talk to them about how it feels, how it lures, how they are going to want it and how that's normal. Talk to them about what you want for them, what you've learned through your own mistakes. And let them talk to you about what they think and believe and desire. Make it clear that, even though you want them to wait until they are married, or in college, or 18 years old, or whatever moral line you draw, if they do not hold to that line you will still love them, and that they can talk to you about what they are feeling and experiencing and going through without you freaking out.

Start realizing that your children are sexual creatures from an early age, and get yourself prepared for the time when they will embrace the desires you enjoy. Get over your denial, get over your embarrassment, and celebrate the people your children are becoming.
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[User Picture]From: zigurat
2003-09-26 12:59 pm (UTC)
Fabulous. Regardless of the morality of a particular decision, the morality of the message to speak honestly and openly is clear.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-26 03:30 pm (UTC)
And to always, always listen, and be available. You can hold to your moral beliefs, and you can express your disappointment if your children choose not to (frankly, 3 out of 4 fundamentalist Christians parents of young adults that I know personally have grandchildren born out of wedlock), but keeping the lines of communication open is fundamental.
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[User Picture]From: wolflady26
2003-09-26 12:59 pm (UTC)
That was beautiful. I'm going to add it to my memories, so I won't forget it.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-26 03:32 pm (UTC)
Gosh. Thank you!
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[User Picture]From: hookncrook
2003-09-26 01:03 pm (UTC)
The best question my 10 year old son asked me about sex was, "What does it feel like?" I was impressed, I'd NEVER thought to ask that...it was so taboo and basically the "Don't do it and if you dare to use protection" which of course didn't work all that well as I was a mother by 19.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-26 03:37 pm (UTC)
My point exactly. Your parents told you it wasn't approved, yet you did it anyway. Simply saying, "Don't!" is worse than worthless, because kids don't obey, but they also don't have the resources needed to come back to the parent for more advice.

Better to be honest, and recognize that sex is likely to happen than to just hope for the best.
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[User Picture]From: kibbles
2003-09-26 01:15 pm (UTC)
Would telling her parents spared her? What if they decided to still have an abortion, and do it that way, with the pill? She may still have died.

I made sure my brother recently talked to our 12-13 year old cousin who's mother is incompetent to take care of him, to make sure he knows how to protect himself.

But I also don't think you should send your kids without knowing your values, your morals, what you believe. I mean, it's ok to teach them not to kill, don't cheat, tell the truth, be a nice person, so why does it seem to some that it is taboo to say something like don't have sex too young/before you are married/without thinking of the consequences?

To just say "oh, they will have sex, if they aren't already" is like saying that they'll cheat, lie, steal, and so on, what can you do but accept it? I would express my thoughts on them having casual sex at a young age just as much as I will express my thoughts about cutting class or whatever. I won't censor my beliefs or be coy or shy because 'everyone does it'.

Maybe a lot do, but a lot don't, too. And there is nothing wrong with that, and in fact I think it SHOULD be encouraged. Not for reasons of morality though -- that's not my problem with casual sex at a young age. My problem is I dont think the emotional ramifications are well thought out and there are too many kids turning to self medication, self harm, and self destructive behavior to deal with some of the emotions that a sexual relationship can bring up.

And THAT is why I will tell my kids to wait. I won't celebrate them having sex at a young age, I will be very concerned, I'll watch them carefully for signs of stress, depression, worry. I remember still what it was like, I see what ADULT friends are going through, and what teens that come to me are going through. (I guess I am one of those moms, the ones people feel safe coming to about these things.)

(Right now the only one that knows the birds and the bees has declared it disgusting and would rather not speak about it ever again. Wonder how long THAT will last?)

Oh, and if my kids can't talk to ME about it, I hope there is some trusted adult they can talk to, like my brother, his wife, whatever.

I wish my parents told me to wait. I wish I waited. I wish I knew what I was getting myself into. I hope I can impress upon my children what benefits there are to waiting, and especially to my daughter that sex does NOT equal love, and if she is trying to exchange one for the other, she will get the short end of the stick.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-26 01:23 pm (UTC)
I didn't say you couldn't tell them that they should wait. It's not a matter of not having morals, or not imparting them, it's a matter of being honest about how BIG sex is, how deep the biological imperative to breed runs in our blood and our brains. I fully believe in telling them that you think they should wait, or even that you expect them to wait, if that is how you feel. And the message that sex does not equal love is a vital one.

I'm just saying that being honest, and listening, and making it clear that you are willing to answer even the toughest questions can make a diffence, no matter where your moral stance lies.

She might have lived, if her parents knew she was using the pill and so when she started running a fever they had taken her to the doctor. Instead, she lay alone in her room, suffering, and died.
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[User Picture]From: law_witch
2003-09-26 01:22 pm (UTC)

if I might add

Also LISTEN. Kids learn a lot these days from TV peers and the internet. Keep your ears open for misinformation. Be kind and honest with your kids. If talking about sex makes you feel weird, tell them, that is a good ice breaker.

Explain to your daughters that you have to be on the pill for AN ENTIRE MONTH before it is effective. And that yes, their boyfriends still have to use condoms (and explain just one used several time in one sessions is just asking for trouble).

And still expect problems. I talked, I listened, and in the heat of passion a condom wasn't used and my daughter had to go through an abortion. She told me the ONLY thing that got her through it was my honesty - for I had had one too and could talk to her from my own experience.

In August that had what is called Bat's Day at Disneyland, it's basically the goth kids invade the Magic Kingdom. My daughter asked me to go with her "sure, but wouldn't you'd rather go with a friend?" her reply? "I am, you!"
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-26 03:42 pm (UTC)

Re: if I might add

Despite everything, you are a hero to your daughter. That is what really counts.
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[User Picture]From: minorityrules
2003-09-26 02:20 pm (UTC)
im adding you... ive never seen anyone more attached to lj *smiles encouriginly*... i apluade you... i hope you will read my lj, tho i dont think you will with all the other friends youve had before me... i would love to have as many lj friends as you... maybe ifyou'd mention me.... *coughcoughhinthintcough*
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-26 04:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I look forward to reading your journal.
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[User Picture]From: crwilley
2003-09-26 02:37 pm (UTC)
I need to mail this to myself in such a way that it arrives at my house in about 8 years. Before Daughter was born, Hubby and I discussed it: "What would you do if you found out your hypothetical teenaged daughter was having sex with her boyfriend?" - his cousin had gotten pregnant, and her father forced her to marry the boy (with the overall result that she's now 22, married to someone she can't stand, unemployable since she didn't finish high school and doesn't have time to get her GED, and a mother of three), which brought the issue up. At the time, he was able to look at it objectively: "Well, teenagers have had sex since the dawn of time. Can't stop 'em. I'd make darned sure she was using birth control, and let her know she could always come to me for anything..." - but lately, with a real, beautiful, wonderful daughter involved, I've noticed him pricing baseball bats for use on future boyfriends...
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-26 04:06 pm (UTC)
Daddies are like that. I know about my daughter's sex life, but her father (biological father) was in total denial for a long time and still doesn't actually talk to her about anything.

I promise never to delete my journal. You can put this in your memories marked "Reread in 2010"

[g]
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[User Picture]From: lothie
2003-09-26 03:34 pm (UTC)
Too right. I agree totally, and in fact, have been talking to my kids about sex since they were about five.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-26 04:13 pm (UTC)
Good for you!
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[User Picture]From: brak55
2003-09-26 03:52 pm (UTC)
I totally agree. You have to look at things realisticly whether you are comfortable with it or not.

When we found out our son and his girlfriend were having sex, we asked what they were using and it was condoms. My wife went out, bought foam to use with it and gave it to the girlfriend.

She also gave them condoms in their plastic easter eggs last year.

Better safe than sorry.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-26 04:21 pm (UTC)
Far better than the friend of a friend who found her kid having sex and quit her job to supervise better - and after 6 months of Nazi surveillance the girlfriend was pregnant anyway.

Never considered what was going on and dealt with it, just tried to bully through it. Never gonna work.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-26 04:22 pm (UTC)
You're welcome!
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[User Picture]From: scouseboy
2003-09-26 04:37 pm (UTC)
Cracking stuff.
Top marks.
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[User Picture]From: shermel
2003-09-26 05:23 pm (UTC)
Very well said.

My sister has just started her first foray into a sex life. She has a steady boyfriend who we regularly find her sucking face with on the sofa. My Mum's attitude is to let her get on with it.

She's offered to put a lock on her bedroom door to stop my brother walking in and she often says she knows what they're doing when the doors shut. Funnily enough this has quite discouraged my sister from wanting to shut the door and she's refused the offer to have a lock. Approval is such a turn off I think :O)

The family attitude is; she's old enough (16 in the UK) she's on the pill and she knows what a condom is. If she's gonna do it she'll do it, so there's no point trying to stop her.

We were taught that virginity is nothing special. It will not be the most magical wonderful experience of your life, and the only thing that's important is that when you do it you're comfortable and that you have your self-respect.

It worked for me and we know it works with her because she's already been dumped by two boys for being 'frigid' i,e, she wont put out just because they want her too.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-26 08:22 pm (UTC)
Your Mum is a sensible woman. Teaching self-respect is far more useful than trying to stem the tide of sexual imagery.

My daughter started younger than I would have preferred, but we are able to talk about it, and not just in a "you be careful" way. She can tell me about her feelings the way she can tell me about her swim meet. They are both part of her. I treasure our relationship, ad your mum obviously does yours.
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[User Picture]From: cadetdru
2003-09-26 05:43 pm (UTC)
This is absolutely brilliant. I wish my mother could read this... You know, if I was talking to her. I'm 19. She doesn't want me to have sex because then she'll be a grandmother. Her logic frightens me.

Yours makes me feel better.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-26 08:25 pm (UTC)
Feel free to share it with her if you think it will help. Seriously. It could form the basis for a conversation.
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[User Picture]From: salix_03
2003-09-26 06:23 pm (UTC)
*friends you*

if i was bleeding heavily and in extreem pain and i told my parents it was 'just a bad period' i would hope they WOULD take me to the emergancy room!! has no one ever heard of toxic shock?? i know this poor girl did her best to not let her parents know what was going on, but how can a child, under your roof, DIE without you knowing something was wrong??

also the abortion pill is a FAR FAR better alternative than a hot bath and a bottle of gin isnt it!! or a rusty coathanger in someones backyard. grr!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-26 08:29 pm (UTC)
Hi. Much friending today! It's late, so will try to get back to people on that soon.

Yeah, it's hard to fathom, but people get so busy and life is so crazy, and this does happen really fast. Regretably, I can see how it could happen. Retained placenta has been known to kill women who've given birth while they were still in the hospital, where you would think that care is immediately available.

It's a better alternative, but we can do better still if we communicate. You can't eliminate abortion, but you could reduce them - our per capita abortion rate is HUGE compared to countries with a more liberal, less screwed up attitude toward sex.
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From: poeticangelx
2003-09-26 06:28 pm (UTC)
I was afraid of my mother's disappointment in me so I never told her when I started having sex. I realized that it was fairly obvious that I was, but my mom kept in strict denial of it for the rest of the time I was living with her. And in the last 6 months of living there before I was going to move cross the country for college she started freaking out when any guy even thought I was sexy! And she actually called off my move to college saying I was going to get married to my boyfriend(who lives 6 hours) and that I had been talking about babies(?!?!?!). [Obviously she let me move anyways because here I am in college 2500 miles away]

Anyways, parental craziness aside...I'm now realizing fully my sexual preferences, and I'm still afraid to tell my mother because of that disappointment and because it's just a taboo subject.

It's really very sad that we can't communicate better. You seem like a very practical parent and I really liked this journal entry.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-26 08:35 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it. Keep it in mind when you have kids of your own - we tend to repeat the mistakes of our parents.

You are still at the exploring age, and your preferences are probably still working them out. I think you're wise to wait until you are more comfortable and settled in them before telling your mother - your self-confidence will be higher and you will feel more assured. She will be less likely to get under your skin and the chances of a huge fight will be diminished - she will fight if she thinks she sees hesitation, because you might still be open to changing your mind.

(Interestingly, I give the same advice to teens who are exploring wiccanism.)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-26 08:37 pm (UTC)

Re: two ears and one mouth

Best single line of advice I've ever heard given to parents whose kids are upset about something:

"Don't just do something; stand there!"

Shut up and listen. On everything. When kids feel like you hear them, your responses don't sound so "preplanned and canned." Much more impact.
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[User Picture]From: scouseboy
2003-09-26 07:19 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure this is relevant to the topic, but what the heck...

My mum put me off sex. She used to send me valentines cards as a kid, one every year from the age of 3 until the age of about 21 (what can I say, she loves me!)
The one she sent me at age 14 was disturbing....
It was a comedy card, as was her style. On the front, it presented a picture of a chicken, and it read "there are 3 reasons why it sucks to be an egg...."

Inside, the reasons:

You only get laid once.
Once you've been laid, you get stuck in hot water.
...and number three...
The only person who sits on your face is your mother.

I still have nightmares.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-27 10:10 am (UTC)
Poor thing! LOL!
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[User Picture]From: juggernt
2003-09-26 07:51 pm (UTC)
Imagine a lesbian mother and her friends trying to explain to a teenaged son about his burgeoning sexuality (and oh, how did it burgeon!). It was interesting, to say the least. But at least we talked. She knew she couldn't hold back the tide, so she realized education was the way to go.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-26 08:39 pm (UTC)
Talk about your mixed feelings! Your mom did great, though. Tell her, brava, from me.
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From: ex_nyxluna594
2003-09-26 08:49 pm (UTC)
I cannot remember enjoying an LJ post as much as I have enjoyed this one. Thank you. I added you to my list, btw, as we have several common interests....I am always looking to add articulate and intelligent women to my list.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-27 10:05 am (UTC)
Wow, thank you. I also write on absolute crap sometimes, so bear with me [g].

I am pleased and humbled by all the people who have added me, and I'm hoping that tomorrow I will be caught up enough to look at journals and add people back. Today, I'm just trying to keep up on the dialogue!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-27 10:11 am (UTC)
My first response is from a friend who is as Christian as they come, and he agreed with me.

Them that siezes up deserves it [g].

We gotta get together soon, dammit!
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From: bluntfish
2003-09-26 11:57 pm (UTC)
this is so true. my mother had absolutely nothing to tell me on the subject except a frenzied "don't DO it!" - and i was so lost (as my journal will show). my daughter is 18 months old, hardly time to be thinking about it but i am. i want to tell her how to be in control of her relationships with boys (if she is straight) and that will mean learning about sex and how to enjoy her body. and how to ask for what she wants and needs, and of course how to say no when she wants to say no.

it will be so much different for her than it was for me... i promise!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-27 10:14 am (UTC)
It is time to be thinking about it. The more you think about it, the more ready you will be when the time comes to actually speak.

When Erin was only 8, she came to her father and me and showed us how she could swallow an entire Froot-by-the-Foot and pull it back up. Without gagging. As she bounced out of the room we turned to each other and I said, "Someday the boys are gonna love her."

Dad fuh-REAKED at the thought, but it's better to realize and accept than to deny.
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[User Picture]From: casu_consulto
2003-09-27 02:35 am (UTC)
Wow, what a great post! It makes me realise how lucky I was to have a mother who was so straightforward about sex. I was always embarassed when she tried to talk about sex, but at least I ended up with all the information and none of the judgement.

This isn't everybody's cup of tea, but the Uniting Church in Australia's report, "Uniting Sexuality and Faith" talks about considering the impact of sexual relationships when making decisions about sex, asking questions such as:
  • Is this sexual activity reflecting a faithful, committed relationship?
  • Will this sexual activity enrich or enhance our relationships?
  • Will the vulnerabilities likely to be opened up be respected by all parties?
  • Is the decision to engage in sexual activity a truly mutual one? Does each
    partner respect the other’s ‘no’?
  • What impact will this sexual activity have on the wider community of faith?
  • Will this action create hurt or cause long-term distrust in the community?
I know that asking all these questions is a lot to expect of a horny teenager, but for me these questions make it clear that deciding when, how and with whom to express your sexuality is not about an abstract question of right and wrong, but a much more concrete imperative of making sure nobody gets hurt. And that doesn't just apply to young people, or to sex, but to just about every interaction we have with others. :-) Like I said, I know we all have different opinions on this.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-27 09:57 am (UTC)
They are good questions, and the kind of questions I have impressed on my daughter. Your mom rocks. [g]
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[User Picture]From: koibito007
2003-09-27 10:49 am (UTC)
How true... and yet as a parent I fear for my daughter already, and try to remain ever vigilante, altho to what avail.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-27 11:24 am (UTC)
You are starting at the right age. Decide what you want to convey, and how realistic it is, and then revise to reflect how Life Is.

Whatever your message, convey it honestly. If your message is, sex is phenomenally tempting, but you should avoid temptation because men are all rat bastards, then think about how you find men who aren't, or what the message will mean.

You have some years to work on the message - realize that it is one of the most important you will ever convey, and work work work on it.

And best of luck. You life has been a series of disappointments, in many ways. I hope for you that you will find real adult men to serve as role models for your daughter.
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From: ladytabitha
2003-09-27 02:53 pm (UTC)
This is really good.  May I post this to readers_list?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-27 07:20 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it. I would be honored if you posted it to readers_list. Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: tsuki_yama
2003-09-27 08:33 pm (UTC)
I stumbled across this whilst I was wandering through lj, and I am amazed. This is absolutely stunning. Thank you for posting such a well-thought-out piece.

: )
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-09-28 06:05 am (UTC)
Thank you. Maybe it will make some difference....
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