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Aimee Desiree Press - Writing and Photography - Part 3

Aimee Desiree Press » A little press for photography, style, everyday life by the beach, and Patch

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Book Club: Gone Girl

This is also a post I wrote last year.  My book club fell apart and I had no one to talk to about my most favorite novel of the year, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  So, I sat down, put on my Nerd Lit Hat, and wrote my own mini-analysis.  I had wine while doing it, so it was almost like a book club.  C’mon, how many of your  book clubs have turned into a girl’s wine night?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.  I should clarify right here and now that this is not a review.  The plot will be spoiled in this series.  I will also be posting reviews, however, those will be entititled Book Review. 

Book Club: Gone Girl

Gone Girl Book Club: Gone Girl

If you haven’t read Gone Girl, stop reading this post and go purchase Flynn’s latest novel.  You may also want to cancel all social engagements, because you won’t want to put it down.  I mean, this brought my “The Walking Dead” marathon to a screeching halt.  Not since Barbara Kingsolver and the Poisonwood Bible have I read a story that provides first-person narratives from different characters that are whole unto themselves.  Moreover, the characters are nuanced and interesting, the storyline is compelling, and there’s a believable (albeit disturbing) ending that tucks all the loose ends in neatly.

Like I explained, this is not a book review; it’s a book club.  Okay, fine, a book club of one.  Me.  But, feel free to join in by leaving a comment.  I promise to not take anything personally.  Wait, that’s a lie.  I probably will take it personally; however, I will be mature and respond as if I were not offended that you don’t think all my insights are anything less than brilliant.

For this first Book Club, I thought I’d do a brief character analysis.  I had written more, but I can barely make it through the entire orinal piece.  Believe it or not, here is the abbreviated version.  Even if no one reads it, I was just so happy to be drinking my wine and typing away like the happy, little nerd that I am!

Character Analysis

Mmme, let’s start with….

Nick 

Oh, poor too-good-looking-for-his-own-good Nicholas.  I vacillate between feeling sorry for Nick and thinking that Go is right, he’s just as sick and twisted as Amy.  I don’t think that it’s the baby that keeps them together.  Rather, it’s the fear that his own kid won’t like him.  He pictures “Mother whispering, whispering lies into that tiny pink ear” and, therefore, confesses, “ I deleted my story.”  Ah, yes, the ultimate revenge on a journalist: Taking away his story.  However, it’s worth it for Nick because signing up to play the role of perfect husband to Amy guarantees that he will be his best self, a perfect husband and father.  Thus, he will never succumb to his worst fear:  Ending up like his father.  Yeah, that’s a tad cliché; but, Flynn’s novel makes it way more interesting than just an “oh, I might end up like dad” syndrome.  Don’t you agree?   

Still, I worry for Larry Nicholas.  I was holding Avery as she slept while I started on the last couple of chapters.  Poor baby girl had been teething and most likely sick with a cold (how do you tell the difference sometimes?)  all week with a cold and holding her ensured that she would sleep better.  You know, so that I could finish my book!  I’m a very selfless mom like that.  So, as I’m reading the incredible and chilling conclusion, I started reflecting on my own marriage.  I mean, calling Amy crazy is oversimplifying this incredible character.  Sure, she sounds loco en la cabeza when she says things like, “Love should require both partners to be their very best at all times.”  However, how often do we expect just that from our partner?  Just yesterday I kidded with Seth that he should know what I want for my order from Puesto, a local take-out Mexican joint, and that I really worried about “us” when he ordered me things like fried cheese and huilacochtle.  It’s a little inside joke.  Sheesh, I never realized how dangerous those were!

Avery was in a pretty deep sleep by the time I finished thumbing through the epilogue.  I held her up and held her close, her warm cheeks resting on my shoulder, as I swayed back and forth while patting her back.  It had been a rough several days for me and baby girl.  Earlier that day, I called Seth to say hello and check on his flight arrival that evening.  He had had a great work trip or, as I like to call it, vacation.

Your sweet husband is on the last day of a work trip during which he has enjoyed good food, time with family and friends, as well as several nights of uninterrupted sleep.  Meanwhile, you have been eating whatever was easiest to scarf down while holding a fussy baby, away from friends with little ones, and getting up several times during the night.  When he starts telling you about his trip, you

a)       Are happy for him, “how wonderful that you got to spend time with family and friends before work started Monday.  What a special treat to eat slow-roasted pulled pork that Pete spent all day smoking in his new Green Egg!”

b)      Let him know nicely that you are happy he will be back to help with the baby, “wow, it sounds like you pulled some long days at the office.  We’ve had our hand full here, too, and are excited daddy will be home to help with bath time tonight.  Would you mind going into work late tomorrow so that I can catch up on some sleep?”

c)       Start a passive-aggressive ramble about things that have nothing to do with why you are actually annoyed, “I don’t see how you’re gonna fit all those bikes in the storage closet.  The hallway is a mess.  Blah blah blah” all in a perturbed voice.

 

Answer)  A or B would do, but I did C.  I wasn’t happy.  I was tired, worn out, and more tired.

Sure, I would have preferred if Seth has just said he had had a nice time in general and spent a lot of time working so that I wouldn’t have felt like Avery and I (That’s the correct grammar) had missed out on a fun little vacation.  Yeah, it made perfect sense for him to share the fun details of his trip.  But, tired new mommies don’t make a whole lot of sense when they haven’t had a good night sleep in days/weeks/months.  Truth is, it probably wouldn’t have mattered what Seth said, I still would have picked a fight.  Of course, I had the good sense to call him back and apologize.  I knew I was being unreasonable.  Seth came home to a smiling wife.  But, Nick?  He can’t even say the right thing before baby makes three.  “Just wait until Nick meets post-partum Amy,” is all I could think.  “Poor guy is dead already.”

Amy:

I like Amy.  Admit it, you do, too…at least a little bit.  No matter what you think of her, by the end of the novel, you’ve got to give the woman her due:  Amy is just plain smarter than everyone else and (almost, more on this later*) always one step ahead.  Flynn does an especially excellent job of using Amy to highlight the normative values that society places on women with Diary Amy.  Likable and kind, “She’s easy to like,” Amy explains, noting, “I’ve never understood why that’s considered a compliment.”  She’s the Cool Girl that takes on the likes and dislikes of her boyfriend, feigns interest in his hobbies, and lets her boyfriend get away putting her second anytime he feels like it.  To the men who date the Cool Girl, Amy yearns to explain,

“You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss him.”

The women who pretend to be Cool Girl are all the worse because, “They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be.”

Except, oh wait, when Amy rises above all of the roles women play and reveals “Actual Amy,” she a psycho-bitch murder who has cut her teeth by driving her best childhood friend to suicide and accusing an ex-boyfriend of rape.  And her final trump card?  She got pregnant.  Granted, technically, one could argue that she did it without submitting to a man.  Still.  It’s the ultimate cliché of female manipulations; I’m pregnant, so now you are stuck with me.  Forever.  Also, I might kill you, turn your child against you, or worse.  Yeah, not exactly a feminist role-model.

Go:

Margo, Nick’s explains, is the “one person in the entire world I am totally myself with.”  Twins, they “spent nine months back to back, covering each other.  It became a lifelong habit.  It never mattered to me that she was a girl, strange for a deeply selfishly conscious kid.  What can I say?  She was always just cool.”  Cool!  Margo was actually, genuinely Cool Girl.  Sure, their relationship gave the impression to their high school friends that they were involved in twincest.   I spent most of the novel waiting for Go reveal that she is in-fact gay.  Okay, she was a little boring and a bit of a pushover.  But, like I said, she’s the Cool Girl for real!  She loves her brother no matter what, no If’s about it.

Detective Boney:

Why is it that the one woman who figures out the truth, despite all of the convincing lies and manipulation, is dead ugly?  On one hand we have Amy, who Nick describes as the, “first pretty girl I ever dated, really dated.”  On the other hand, we have Boney who was “surprisingly ugly—brazenly, beyond the scope of everyday ugly.”  Sheesh.  Lucky for Boney, Nick has an “affinity for ugly women,” who include all of the women from his mother’s side of his family, including good ol’ mom, because, “they were all smart and kind and funny and sturdy, good, good women.”  Not cool, but good.  Girls should be good, after all, right?

I like that the villain is the beauty and the hero’s a far cry from the Disney-esq dark, skinned villain with an accent.  Still, it’s a bit unfair that the good girl is also the ugly girl, right?

Andie

Many thanks to Flynn for staying far, far away from the Madonna-Whore characters so many authors (mostly male)

Betsy:

*The anti-feminist character.  This woman runs away from an abusive relationship and then punches Amy in the face so that she can steel her money.  So, she’s a doormat for her boyfriends and physically abuses her so called friend.  Plus, Betsy is such a 1950’s name, right?

 

Okay, just one more bit for the literature nerds out there…

Inside Jokes

Inside jokes play a key role throughout the novel.  If Nick had been in on the treasure hunt inside jokes, they would probably still be living in NYC, happy as a clam (Lobsters?).  Well, anyway, I love when authors include details that reveal what can only be (or what I’d like to think) are their little pet peeves and quirks.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: 

It’s the book Amy suffers through on her and Nick’s honeymoon while he devours thrillers.  Have you read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle?  I have and I will fully admit that I set it down about ¾ of the way through and picked it up about 5 months later out of sheer determination to get through the increasingly weird plot and cast of characters.  If you’re reading this, I hope you already finished reading Gone Girl.  A thriller.  That, if you are like me, you completely devoured.  Both are about a wife who mysteriously disappears one day, after which husbands realize they never really knew these women at all.   I mean, both couples even have a cat.  See!  Inside jokes are fun; but, only when you “get it.”  Otherwise, you end up just getting super annoyed at a novel that keeps making allusions to Moby Dick, a whale of a novel  that you have no intention of ever reading.  But, that’s a book club write-up for another day.  So, my point is:  No wonder Amy was so angry with Nick for not being able to get any of her treasure hunt clues based on inside jokes he doesn’t get, and no wonder he just wanted to give up.

 

Well, that concludes my first Book Club.  Hope you had some wine on-hand and enjoyed this little break from journaling ;) 

April 25, 2013

Good Reads: I Love Warwick’s and Me Before You | Aimee Desiree Press - [...] Let me know what you thought about these novel (without giving away the endings!).  I’d also love to hear what you are reading!  To read a Book Club post, please click here. [...]

iPhonography Part 1: Five iPhone Camera Tips and Tricks

Editor’s Note:  Uh, so, apparently, I wrote a whole little series on taking photos with your iPhone and never posted them.  I was going to trash them, but then I looked at the little photos I took of my Button and it seemed a shame to just toss them aside!  I was obviously behind the 8-ball on taking photos with my iPhone.  If you are, too, this post if for you!  If you are a pro like my friend, Ashley (@shackstagrams), then you could probably give me some tips!  I welcome all comments and suggestions!  xoxo

If you follow me on Instagram*, you will have surely noticed the influx of photos on my stream.  I realized Lynda.com (my favorite website for online learning) had released a brief tutorial on photography and editing with your iPhone.  I had always wondered how professional (and not so professional photographers) I follow got such beautiful photographs.  So, I began an all-out geek-out on the iPhone camera and various editing apps.  There are so many ways to get creative and I thought I’d share what I had learned so far with a series on iPhonography.

Let’s start with the iPhone camera:

Five iPhone Camera Tips and Tricks

*All photos are taken with my iPhone 4S with the iOS6 update.*

1.  The Apple earphones work as a shutter release!  Just hold up your iPhone camera and let it find the center focal point.  Then click on the + or – key for the sound control on your earplugs.  This is useful if you want to:

  • set your iPhone up on a tripod and need a remote shutter to avoid camera shake (Wow, aren’t you fancy?!).
  • take a shot that requires you to hold your phone at arms length and out to the side.
  • not be so obvious about taking photos when you are out in public.  You can pretend you are talking on the phone.  I tried this out yesterday…

iphonography remoteshutter 768x1024 iPhonography Part 1: Five iPhone Camera Tips and Tricks
2.  The volume buttons work as a shutter release.  This feature comes in handy when you

  • don’t have your earphones and want take a  photo with your arm stretched out (and/or to the side).  It’s just less awkward :)
  • ask someone who doesn’t have an iPhone to take your photo.  For some reason, telling them to press a button is easier because it’s just like a regular point-and-shoot camera.
  • need to keep a better grip on our phone while taking one-handed photos.  Think holding squeaky toy above your iPhone to get your kid to look at you while you take her photo.

AveryiPhone 12 iPhonography Part 1: Five iPhone Camera Tips and Tricks
3.  There’s an AE/AF lock.  Ha, who knew! (Obviously, not me).  Just touch the focal point on your screen until the blue box pulsates and let go.  You will see the AE/AF Lock on the bottom of your screen.  This way, you can recompose your shot while keeping your subject in focus and correctly exposed.  Tap your screen again to unlock the AE/AF feature.  (This works with the iPhone 3GS and higher).

  • AE/AF stand for Auto-Exposure/Auto-Focus.
  • To understand more about exposure, I’d suggest reading The Pioneer Woman’s posts on What the Heck is Aperture Part 1 and Part 2.  Ree Drummond does a great job of distilling otherwise complex information.

This was a great technique for taking photos of Avery at her new favorite place, the local park!  No editing, just the AE/AF Lock.  I also used my earphones as a remote shutter so I could look at Avery to get a good reaction :)

Avery iPhotography AE AFLock 12 1024x821 iPhonography Part 1: Five iPhone Camera Tips and Tricks

4.  You can get a nice shallow depth of field.  You know, so you get that blurry background effect otherwise known as bokeh.

    • Tap on the object in the forefront of your camera so that the blue focus box light up.  Be sure to hold your camera steady for a few second to allow your camera to focus before snapping the photo.

AveryBokeh 121 1024x1024 iPhonography Part 1: Five iPhone Camera Tips and Tricks

  • Alternatively, you can focus on an object in the background and make the foreground blurry.  This is most effective if the object/s in the foreground are very vlose to your camera lens.  You also need to have several feet between the subjects in the foreground and background.

Avery iPhotographyDOF 12 iPhonography Part 1: Five iPhone Camera Tips and Tricks

 

5.  Siri will access your camera.  Just say, “take a photo/picture/etc .,” and there ya go!  This is useful when

  • Okay, I have no idea when this would be useful.  Still, it’s kinda neat.

 

References:
About.com How to Use the iPhone Camera by Sam Costello
Lynda.com iPhone Photography, from Shooting to Storytelling with Richard Koci Hernandez
The Pioneer Woman What the Heck is Aperture? Part 1.

*You can find me under aimeedesiree.  I set my Instagram settings to private recently.  Avery is getting out of that babiness phase and I’d like to have a little more control over who sees all of the bazillion photos I post of her.  I approve people after I check them out a bit.  I mean, with all my tens of readers, I usually know you or know someone who knows you…or stalk your blog enough to know you are who you say you are :)

April 24, 2013

Alex - Button’s expresion in the “peas” shot is priceless!! Great article…may I have your old iPhone? Or your new one if Siri ever gets on your nerves? ;-)

Family Photography: The January Family

I had the privilege of photographing my first Marine family this past winter.  Jenny and Jan January (Yes, those are their real names – love it!) are part of the Marine family serving and protecting the U.S.A.  I was looking forward to this shoot for several reasons, most of which was that I was excited about getting to include an Osprey aircraft in the photos.  I’ll admit, that part was great; however, I really ended up having the most fun getting to know the January family.  Jenny and Jan are the proud parents of three boys.  Everyone says boys are easier by the time jr. high rolls around.  However, in my opinion, three teenage boys should add another ribbon to Jan’s honors and earn Jenny a special medal for her bravery in mothering!  Luckily, I think Mitchell, Ethan, and Theo really did want to look good in their photographs, because those young men knew how to turn on the January charm.  Plus, the camera loved Jenny and Jan.  It ended up being one of those sessions that you want to download and edit right away!

Jenny – Thanks for putting up with the oddly frigid day in San Diego.  You looked beautiful in the photographs!  Jan was such a good sport and I think the boys’ mischievousness charm shined through!  It was truly an honor to capture these memories for your family.

Here are my favorites:

JanuaryProofs Family Photography: The January FamilyJanuaryProofs 3 Family Photography: The January FamilyJanuaryProofs 15 Family Photography: The January FamilyJanuaryProofs 16 Family Photography: The January FamilyJanuaryProofs 17 Family Photography: The January FamilyJanuaryProofs 18 Family Photography: The January FamilyJanuaryProofs 2 Family Photography: The January FamilyJanuaryProofs 4 Family Photography: The January FamilyJanuaryProofs 5 Family Photography: The January FamilyJanuaryProofs 8 Family Photography: The January FamilyJanuaryProofs 9 Family Photography: The January FamilyJanuaryProofs 10 Family Photography: The January FamilyJanuaryProofs 11 Family Photography: The January FamilyJanuaryProofs 12 Family Photography: The January FamilyJanuaryProofs 13 Family Photography: The January FamilyJanuaryProofs 14 Family Photography: The January Family

Thanks, Kallie, for putting my name forward.  I don’t know how I’d find such kind babysitters, fun photography gigs, or great expert baby advice without you!

Jamila – You were the best assistant ever!  Thanks for all of your help!

I’m Back With “Two Future Bruins on a Bench”

Where I’ve been

Well, hello there.  Yes, I know, it’s been a while.  The timing of my hiatus might coincide with when my twice-a-week babysitter LEFT US. She up and graduated from college EARLY.  It gets worse!  She didn’t even leave us for a corporate job.  No!  She left us to travel to the other side of the world!  Oh, OH! And, not just any other side of the world; she went to MY favorite part of the other side of the world, New Zealand. We tried to be graceful; however, it’s hard when you suddenly realize what 8 hours of babyless time does for your running errands and writing blog posts time.  NADA.  Yeah, I know some bloggers blog after bedtime or at 5a.m. before the kids get up.  Sorry, I’m just not that committed.  My brain turns to mush after 9 without some serious caffeine.  That’s really not the greatest idea when you are pregnant again, but that’s another blog post.  Anyway, my point is that I was too tired and the piles of dirty laundry were going to land me on Hoarders with me breaking down in tears as experts intervened to save me from myself.  I need over 7 hours of consecutive sleep to be happy.  Luckily, we found another wonderful sitter, thanks to my friend, Kallie.  Actually, that’s how we found our first sitter.  Kallie – I love you!  So, after getting caught up on my house and personal life, I think I can safely resume a regular blogging schedule.  I’m not committing to everyday, just most days when my house is clean (because I paid someone else to clean it) and my refrigerator is full (because my mom was here to help with Avery).

Facebook is Boring

I also decided to take a break from social media.  Staying at home with your baby is wonderful.  It’s a choice my husband and I made easily.  However, it’s been anything but easy.  Even though the demands are way more than I could have anticipated, I think that the change in my role was the most difficult part of the transition.  Looking back, I realized I went through a little grieving process of the Aimee-Before-Motherhood.  I had really just figured out who she was and was having a lot of fun being self-centered.  I mean, you have to be “selfless” in marriage; but, you have to be “SELFLESS” as a mom.  It’s whole new level no one understands until they are in a position where they are caring for someone else who is 110% dependent on them.  I’m sure people who have had to take care of loved ones who aren’t little children are at the “SELFLESS” level and are all, “Aimee, you have no idea.”  True, I take my hat off to you!  So, getting back on-track, I found myself looking at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to connect with the outside world.  One day, it was just too much.  It wasn’t that I couldn’t take the I-love-my-life, self-promotions, humble-brags, we-don’t-really-look-this-good-in-real-life-photos, or whoa-is-me posts.  I mean, we all participate in those roles to some extent.  It just got….well, boring.  It’s not that my Facebook friends are boring people.  It’s more like, how much minutia do you really need or even want to know about someone else’s life on a daily basis?  More importantly, I was sharing too much minutia.  My sister and mom were probably the only ones enjoying the constant stream of Avery posts and photos.  So, I deleted the Facebook app off of my phone and did my best to give it up for a few months all-together.  I then tucked my Twitter app away in a folder marked Social Media on  my phone.  It was hard the first few days not to pass the minutes away in line at the check-out counter or when Avery was walking up and down the hallway for the 274th time to check-in with FB.  However, then I kind of forgot about it entirely.  I did, however, keep Instagram.  I love photo and I follow and un-follow people without a second thought as to if I will hurt their feelings.  It’s not like you can really tell and I just like to mix it up a bit.  Are you checking to see if I unfollowed you right now?  If we are friends in the sense that we spend time together at least once a month, no.  If we aren’t “real-life” friends and you post photos of the lettuce you had for your “yummy” gluten-free lunch, yes.

Nevermind, Facebook is Fun (when you use it to be friends…like real friends)

It was on Instagram that I noticed someone with a pseudonym commenting on a mutual friend’s photos who I was pretty sure I knew from UCLA.  I could only see photos of her daughter on her feed, so I texted my friend to ask who it was.  Oh, yeah, Michelle, one of the nicest girls in my sorority!  We’d lost touch after I dropped out when I returned from study-abroad.  Turns out that she has a little one just a bit older than Avery and lives in San Diego.  So, I broke my Facebook rule to friend her and we made plans for a mom date.  Turns out we are both still normal, nice people (Uh, that was what I was verifying Michelle! :) and our girls are both pretty mellow.  It makes for a great combo for play-dates!  Michelle also loves photography, so we have shamelessly taken our girls around Encinitas photographing them at these great locations Michelle found.  The result from our first expedition is what I have entitled:

Two Future Bruins on a Bench:

Avery Encinitas Im Back With Two Future Bruins on a BenchAvery Encinitas 2 Im Back With Two Future Bruins on a BenchAvery Encinitas 3 Im Back With Two Future Bruins on a BenchAvery Encinitas 15 Im Back With Two Future Bruins on a BenchAvery Encinitas 16 Im Back With Two Future Bruins on a BenchAvery Encinitas 4 Im Back With Two Future Bruins on a BenchAvery Encinitas 5 Im Back With Two Future Bruins on a BenchAvery Encinitas 6 Im Back With Two Future Bruins on a BenchAvery Encinitas 7 Im Back With Two Future Bruins on a BenchAvery Encinitas 8 Im Back With Two Future Bruins on a BenchAvery Encinitas 9 Im Back With Two Future Bruins on a BenchAvery Encinitas 10 Im Back With Two Future Bruins on a BenchAvery Encinitas 11 Im Back With Two Future Bruins on a BenchAvery Encinitas 12 Im Back With Two Future Bruins on a BenchAvery Encinitas 13 Im Back With Two Future Bruins on a BenchAvery Encinitas 14 Im Back With Two Future Bruins on a BenchAvery Encinitas 17 Im Back With Two Future Bruins on a BenchAvery Encinitas 18 Im Back With Two Future Bruins on a Bench

I was going to put in captions to tell a story; however, they just seemed redundant.  Yes, Harper taught Avery how to wear “sunnies.”  Although, Avery got a bit confused!  She also taught Avery how to sign “more” for Puffs.  Or, as Harper calls them, “Pups.”  I think Harper was also a bit concerned over Avery’s lack of ringlets. Uh, this was me as a child, so I don’t know why my baby girl only has a handful of curls on the back of her head:

ringlets Im Back With Two Future Bruins on a Bench

Seth thought I was wearing a wig when I showed him this photo.

Oh, yeah, she’s her father’s mini-me. That kid was probably bald until he was two!

I have a lot more to say about Facebook and Social Media that I will save for another post.  However, I will end this post by saying that I am happy to be back blogging, reconnecting with friends on Facebook, and will forever shamelessly post a bazillion photos of my kids on Instagram.

April 17, 2013

kallie - 1. I died laughing the entire post
2. Avery is adorable. I love all the photos. More please
3. I was JUST about to start writing a post in what feels like forever
4. I feel like a celebrity when someone puts my name on the internets!

Can’t wait to catch up in real life again soon!

April 17, 2013

Rebekah - ummm… for the record, i crave pics of avery! it makes me feel more connected to you! :) love you!! xoxo you’re a great mom and a great woman!!

April 19, 2013

michelle - Such a fun post – I loved it! And for the record, yes, our dates rock! So happy to be back in touch, friend. xo ps- great photography!

April 22, 2013

Aimee - It’s been so much fun :)

April 22, 2013

Aimee - You’d feel even more connected if you MOVED BACK TO CALI! ;) Miss you and miss knowing your kiddos! Love your photos, too!

April 22, 2013

Aimee - You’re famous amond hundreds, so it’s an honor to someone famous among tens ;) Let’s get together soon!

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