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Katsuo

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[16 Sep 2014|11:37pm]
Today while I was at work, there was a rather massive earthquake. 5.6 magnitudes.
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[21 Jul 2014|10:37pm]
I'm going to Tochigi and Fukushima next week for a short stint of training at the factories. I'm looking forward to it a lot. I hope I'll get to eat a lot of yuba. Mm, delicious yuba.
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It was the best of times [17 Jul 2014|12:40am]
Last night, on my evening walk, I had the incredible luck of running into Tsunoda, Kagetani and my beloved section chief as they were leaving work at some ungodly late hour. They were sweet enough to ask whether I'd had dinner yet, and to invite me to eat with them when I said no. We were right at the door to a restaurant, when section chief had a call from the guys from a different section, inviting us to a bar with them instead. Tsunoda was pretty bummed about it. The guys had had really good head start, and were pretty drunk already, but everyone was in good spirits and nobody questioned why I was there. I drank quite a bit of shochu, and section chief made sure that I ate as well. When we left the bar I walked with them to the station, he kept tapping me on the shoulder and telling me I didn't have to take care of a bunch of drunkards and could just go home since I lived in the opposite direction.

Today both Tsunoda and section chief apologized to me for the guys having been so drunk.
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Not the best shout-out to Google Translate [10 Jul 2014|11:06pm]
I've pretty much become the in-house english-japanese-english translator at work along my other duties.
The day before yesterday section chief brought me some documents to look over. Section chief doesn't speak a word of english. The document was a distributorship agreement in english, with passages written in japanese underneath. I checked whether the japanese matched the english, and most of the time it didn't. At times the text was nothing but gibberish. Still, who am I to judge. I sent him the file and wrote "Who translated this, because sometimes it's legible and sometimes it reads like Google Translate?" in the email. The next morning when I went to work, there was a reply that said it actually was Google Translate. I went to his desk and told him, "Next time you have documents you don't understand, instead of using Google Translate, just bring them to me, okay?", and he gave me the most adorable smile. About a half an hour later he brought me a stack of soil survey quotations.
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Burning regrets [06 Jul 2014|10:08pm]
It's been nearly two months and I'm pretty lonely and deprived of human contact. It's not that I miss my friends or my family, but rather I just feel like I'm alone with my thoughts a bit too much. I feel like it's dulling my reactions.

At the last drinking party the section chief told us he lived by himself for seven years and never took out the trash once. He also used to sneak his empty beer cans to the convenience store bin. I suppose the appropriate reaction would've been to think "Jeez, what a life" or something, but my main takeaway from it was Oh my God section chief was single FOR SEVEN YEARS! WHEN WAS THIS AND WHERE WAS I?!

On Friday he came to talk to my supervisor about something, and sat next to me. When he went to get some documents from the printer, I thought why the hell not and said "Wow, section chief sure smells good today". When he was walking past, my supervisor asked him if he was wearing cologne or something and he said "No, why?! It's Mintia!", like he was flustered by the question. Then they started to tease him about his hair again. His three-year-old son apparently inherited his naturally curly hair, and one of them remarked on how cute he is. Section chief smiled wistfully and said, "I used to be that cute too once". I'll forever regret my dulled reaction time and not correcting him...
Section chief really smells nice. It's probably some sort of unholy mixture of Mintia, cigarettes and musk, but it's very good.
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Embarrassing confession time [22 Jun 2014|03:35pm]
I have a complex about handshaking.

Some years ago, I developed a bad habit of clasping the hand I'm offered with both hands, which is basically the handshake that only crooked politicians and I use. I suppose it was some sort of an after effect of the human touch deprivation I went through in Japan. So when I'm offered a hand to shake, I try to concentrate on just shaking it, and most of the time my left hand still shoots out to join in.

Another reason for my complex is that some time I also developed an obsession about secret handshakes. I'm extremely fascinated by those intricate series of clasps, wiggles and fist bumps, and often I have fantasies about them bordering on erotic. So when I'm offered a hand to shake, I'm also always terrified of unwittingly making it weird.
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Everyone at my work is adorbs [21 Jun 2014|04:46pm]
I've taken up answering the phone at work. I only take it if the calls are from our branches or factories though, because I might mess something up, and it would be embarrassing if it was a customer.

Yesterday Tsuneizumi came to introduce a man from our Shimotsuke branch to me. She told me I've taken so many calls from that branch lately that he'd wanted to see me in person as their representative. It was pretty funny when she said that one time she'd picked up, she'd been asked why I hadn't. That evening when I recounted the tale to my friend and gave her an example of my work phone voice. She said "Wow, based on that he must've expected some gorgeous woman, and then been like, 'Uh, it's a guy'". We laughed so hard.
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Positive [06 Jun 2014|06:24pm]
I had manner training at work today. Also my new "improved" uniform arrived. I looked at the vest, and could tell by a glance that it was going to be too big again. Mihara came to check up on me, and while we agreed on the vest, I tried them on anyway. The pants were about 30cm too long, and when I pulled them up they were loose and the waist was too high. I pushed the waistband down to my hips where my pants usually ride, and the crotch ended up almost halfway down my thigh. Mihara told me to simply forget about the whole uniform. "You don't want to wear it anyway, right", she said. Ogawa came to inquire about it, and when told it didn't fit said they'd order a new one again. "Yeah, that's what I want to talk to you about", Mihara said cheerfully. I'll never know what they talked about, I guess. Still remains to be seen whether I'll get to wear my own clothes. It's been so long that everyone's probably used to me already anyway.

We had a drinking party again last night, and I talked to some people I hadn't had a chance to talk to before. Today, during my manner training, I was coached at handing and accepting name cards by one of the senior salesmen. He was really nice, cheerful and encouraging. Basically everyone I've met has been really kind to me, even the old guy who I was warned would be watching me like a hawk. On the other hand, I have a very strong feeling that the guy sitting directly behind me hates me with vehemence. Maybe our personalities are too similar for us to get along. Or maybe he's also gender dysmorphic and detests my freedom. Who knows. Who cares.
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Never be the same again [03 Jun 2014|03:28pm]
My brain's been too full of work and the Isla Vista killings, that I still haven't gotten around to telling very many of my friends that I'm here. Last week I wrote to Yukiko, and we hung out on Sunday. She was quite surprised, though she did admit she'd noticed my sudden disappearance from the photos my Mom posts on Facebook, but had simply assumed that maybe I'd taken them.

Instead I walk around listening to music. I wander around for hours, probably looking pretty weird as I'm reacting to both my surroundings and the music, bouncing, doing wild doubletakes, smelling all the flowers, mewing at all the cats. The evening breeze is lovely and cool, but I'm still slimy with sweat when I come home.

Last night I bumped into Noda, which was an eventuality that I had been both dreading and looking forward to. He came up from behind me, looking quite cheerful, and explained that he'd seen a person walking with headphones on, and it was me. We had a nice chat, and apparently the situation at the company is such that he has about the same amount of idea about how long he's going to be here as I do. People are moving or rather being moved around like crazy. Last week I met a guy who had been told to relocate to India indefinitely. Incidentally he doesn't speak any languages they speak in India. My closest superior was transferred from Tochigi, and he would also like to know how long he's staying in Tokyo. Maybe the CEO is actually using his underlings as pieces in some grand board game. At least I came of my own free will and am at a place where I know the language and feel safe and comfortable.

My place is an awful mess. Noda asked me if I'd bought anything else since my initial assisted shopping trip, and I told him no, but that I'd been thinking of buying a bookcase. "A bookcase? Oh for your manga! But isn't it a bit early, it's not August yet?", he said. So touched was I that he remembered my burning passion for Comiket, that I asked if he'd like to come too. The answer was no way. I rather struggle to understand how someone doesn't find otaku culture fascinating. Yukiko for one greatly enjoyed our impromptu tour of the Maiden Road. Still, I'd like to think some small progress was made on the long way to becoming best pals.
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Life update [31 May 2014|10:12am]
Incidentally, I moved to Japan to work earlier this month.

I've been working for about two and a half weeks now, and am slowly getting a handle on how things are done. Everything's written only in japanese and all my instruction is only in japanese. Still people at the company who I meet for the first time ask me if I understand japanese or if I can read japanese as well. I'm always wondering what the hell to say, because while I usually say something like "not really", I wouldn't be able to do shit at work if I didn't, and if they gave it a bit of thought, they'd realize it too.

The guy in charge of getting me into Japan, Noda, wrote he'd come and pick me up at the airport. For a bit I thought about telling him not to come, because I can do that fine on my own. Then I thought about stuff my friend Matsuoka, who works at the embassy has told me about the VIPs he has to go and greet at the airport when they have transfers. And then I thought that it might be good to have someone one on one for a couple of hours before going to the office, so there'd be at least one familiar face. And then I thought that this way I wouldn't have to pay for my fare.

I didn't sleep at all in the plane. The immigration took a lot less time than I expected, and I had told Noda not to come before 10, so I changed clothes and settled down to wait with my PSP and earphones. I waited for an hour and a half, periodically scanning the crowd for men looking like they were waiting for someone. There was one dude who had been pacing around for about 45 minutes, but he wasn't attractive at all. At 10.30 I went to the information desk and told them to make an announcement. Noda practically materialized at the information desk before the lady had even repeated her announcement. He is quite cute. He had also been there since 10. I was offered no explanation as to why he hadn't actually picked me up like he was supposed to, but it was probably because I look too much like a dude in my suit, and he was expecting a lady. He has a BA and two MA's so he's much more accomplished than I am. The math is easy because that's a BA and two MA's more than I have. He's also an all-around nice dude who smokes (which is bad for you) and likes Katy Perry (which is also bad for you, probably). At 30 he's probably the youngest of the men working at the office. I wonder if his job entails much besides looking good sauntering around and leaning on desks, walls and the copy machine.

Less than a week before my scheduled arrival, I got an alarming email from Noda. That said that they were going to have to order me a uniform, and that I should pick out a size. The charts included were for a standard office lady skirt and vest. I spent the day basically holding back tears of anger and despair. I asked a bunch of people for advice, and the best they could do was tell me a uniform's a uniform, and that perhaps if I hated the skirt so much, I could bear it for the three months probation and then tell them I wasn't going to wear it anymore. My sister made me watch a documentary about uniforms. Everything was pretty much shit. I looked over the charts, and none of the sizes would fit me as is. I informed Noda of as much, gave him my measurements, and asked if I could instead wear my own suit. The reply was that everyone wears a uniform. Everything was even more shit. I tried to mentally prepare myself for the eventual emasculation of having to wear a skirt and try not to kill anyone while wearing it.

The office actually has an array of as many as 6 or more different variations of uniform, since the uniform style has changed, but people who haven't been into the new one's keep using the old ones. Noda explained this to me on the way. "If that's how it is, why don't people just get to wear their own clothes?", I asked, and Noda laughed politely but made no comment. I immediately noticed that there were women in pants. I also noticed, as expected, that "everyone" meant all the women. The men have basically no dress code to talk about. Ties aren't mandatory, sports jackets are okay, dark colored shirts are okay, tartan patterned pants are okay. Noda and Ogawa, an older man from administration, showed me to my house. I have a balcony facing a house and on another wall a window facing another house. "Well, that's Tokyo", said Noda. It's about twice the size of my Tokyo Palace. Men from the gas company came to open the gas. I was given a ton of money to buy furniture with, and went off with Ogawa and Mihara, a tiny woman who's my supervisor and mentor. I bought the bare minimum of things, and tried to get the cheapest of everything. We went to look for a fridge, but all were huge. Buying a fridge and getting internet were left for another day. At this point I had been up for nearly 30 hours, and was ready to die, but instead of letting me sleep, I was taken out drinking with Tsunezumi and Adachi, my highest boss in the link of bosses before the CEO. It was extremely nice, with good food, good drink and good company. My sister calculated later that I was up for 33 hours total.

The next day in the morning I introduced myself in front of the whole office, and then Noda explained the rules of the company to me. When we got to the bit about the uniform, I asked him if I could wear a tie with it, since people were free to wear whatever under the vest. He told me he didn't see what the problem would be, but later, after consulting with his superiors, he asked me if the tie was very important to me, because apparently some people might have a thing or two to say about it. I felt even more despondent about the uniform. I followed Noda and Ogawa out for a smoke, and they blithely discussed my affairs, which was actually pretty lucky. As Ogawa was explaining my problem with choosing a fridge, Noda remarked that he had his old one at his place and if I wanted I could have it. I was explained some more things, signed some documents, and went to lunch with Tsunezumi. She told me she'd been listening in to Noda going through the staff handbook with me, and how she'd giggled at how serious he sounded. Afterwards Ogawa told me Noda would be taking me to the city office, and to discuss the internet. I told him Noda was probably up to the gills fed up with me, and he just smiled. We walked to the city office and talked about Katy Perry and how I don't know any of her songs besides that "I kissed a girl" -song, which he actually knows the name of, and how I always confuse her with Lily Allen possibly because they're both Brits. "But Katy Perry's American", he said. "Oh, but she's married to Russell Brandt, isn't she?", I said. Etc. They're actually divorced now. After the city office we took the car to the hotel to pick up my bags and then to Noda's place to get the fridge. He didn't let me in, because his place was "filthy", but when I looked in from the door, truth be told, it was a lot nicer than my Tokyo Palace. But then again, my place was like an episode of Hoarders... In the car I told him that my place was so terrible my friend had to wake up at 5 to clean it up when she was staying over. His impression of me was slowly getting worse, I could tell. Also, because he forgot his keys at the office, we made the drive twice, so I know where he lives. I creep myself out.
We went to take my bags and the fridge to my place, where I met my landlady, a small old lady, for the first time in the hall. She took a look at me, and said "I thought the new tenant was supposed to be a woman". I told her I was, but her attention was already on Noda who was coming in carrying the fridge. We talked about something for a bit, before climbing up the stairs. At my door she repeated her question to Noda, who laughed and told her it was just my short haircut. She was extremely apologetic, and that evening came to bring me two huge grapefruits. I later gave them to people at the office and shamelessly lied about eating them. I don't even have a knife or cutting board.

I work in sales, import and export. A few days after me, a part-timer started at the company. She's some sort of a sales wizard. I felt even more despondent about work. She politely chatted with me, and I told her that I have zero experience in work or any qualifications. She then asked where I had my interview, and when I told her it was in Helsinki, she didn't ask me any more questions or say anything at all. It was Friday, and I felt extremely depressed. I thought that everyone at the office was probably wondering what the hell I was doing there, and I was wondering the exact same thing. Then I realized that it was exactly the sort of paranoid delusion I have when I start falling into depression, and almost cried at the thought of having to go back on depression meds. Then I had a nice weekend of eating and drinking, and on Monday I was feeling pumped. And then the uniforms for me and the other newcomer arrived.
We got up to go and try them on, when Mihara sprung up from beside me. "What is this?", she hissed at the girl from administration, and then to Ogawa, "Why is there a skirt?". The other newcomer, Matsugu, went to try hers on, while Mihara took my uniform and waved me to the meeting room and shut the door. "You can't wear this", she said, "You're transgender, right?". She told me that they couldn't make me wear a skirt against my will, because other women also wore pants, and also it would be discrimination. So we talked about it a bit, both apologizing to each other, me for being a bother and she for being a bad supervisor. She never even gave me the uniform while we talked. It also turned out that Noda can't read a women's size chart, and had ordered the biggest size, so the vest was actually more like a potato sack. Either he took "none of the sizes will fit me" to mean I'm huge, or he just looked at the first size I put down, which was shoulder width, and looked at that row. That might also explain why he apparently couldn't pick me out from a crowd.
As it was, Mihara took care of explaining the issue to the higher-ups. The next day I was taken aside and asked if just the vest with pants would be alright with me.

I've been working and walking around mostly. Most of my friends probably still don't know I'm even here. I've been taken out drinking three times in total. Yesterday I got to put my signature on the invoices I write. I got my own magnetic card too, so I don't have to use the tacky visitor card anymore. Perhaps soon I'll get my official work stamp and operator code. Everyone at work is really nice.
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Space [20 Apr 2014|01:15am]
I wish someone would explain interstellar travel to me. I'm quite excited about the new planet they found.

Today I've been on a quest to find The Art of Censorship in Postwar Japan by Kirsten Cather. I read it when I was in Denmark, but there aren't any copies anywhere near me. I really only want chapter 8. It pisses me off that it's taunting me on Project Muse, but the uni only subscribes to their e-journals.
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What am I going to do [19 Apr 2014|01:42am]
We watched The Nines today. The only other movie I'd seen Melissa McCarthy before was Bridesmaids, a movie I absolutely hated. I wanted to like it (out of solidarity I suppose), but I hated it almost as much as I hated The Hangover. I even hate the sequels, and I haven't even seen them. Watching The Nines, it turns out that Melissa McCarthy is really stunning. So why was she made up so unattractive in Bridesmaids? It doesn't seem fair. Now I kind of want to see The Heat, even though I know she's made up like she was in Bridesmaids. Like, she and Sandra Bullock are good looking women, so why can't they be smoking hot detectives?

Later in the evening my sister and I happened to see The Fall, and quite liked it. I hadn't seen Lee Pace in anything besides Pushing Daisies either before, and it was interesting to see him in something where his face wasn't glowing like a jack o' lantern. I really disliked Pushing Daisies as well. It almost turned me off pie.

ETA: I recommend both The Nines and The Fall. Both have gotten rather mixed reviews; The Nines for the somewhat disappointing reveal and The Fall for lacking substance, but The Nines is the type of movie where the reveal is bound to be disappointing so it's better to just enjoy the buildup, and The Fall is also the type of movie where a rather small and private story is dressed epically so if you mistake it for an actual epic it's bound to seem hollow. I really liked both.
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Reading for a book exam -nostalgia [06 Apr 2014|12:47am]
After ten years I'm revisiting English Philology, my minor, and beginner's course materials. I'm loving A Student's Introduction to English Grammar (Huddleston, Pullum). It's lovely and accessible and corrects a lot of inaccuracies in traditional grammar. I was rather disheartened to see how bad the user reviews on GoodReads and Amazon are. People are too stupid to understand that A Student's Introduction to English Grammar is not a prescriptive grammar manual, and somehow that ends up as being Huddleston and Pullum's fault.

This book is for linguistics students, people! Not for ESL students! Change your attitude and this will be the best linguistics intro you'll ever read!
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Update [03 Apr 2014|01:08am]
I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier today, and Chris Evans was so beautiful in it.

Life is very exciting now.
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Ah fuck it [29 Mar 2014|06:37pm]
There's this stupid quote from Stephen Fry that people are sharing left and right and using as a reaction that always gives me a nice bile-taste in my mouth:
"It's now very common to hear people say, 'I'm rather offended by that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more... than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so fucking what."

I fucking hate it, and whenever people post it, I fucking hate them too.
I like Fry well enough; I enjoy his comedy and I've got nothing against him apart from this stupid comment. Now, it's entirely possible that the comment has been taken out of its context, or perhaps it even had some awesome subversive context, but whenever I see it I get so angry that I just don't give a shit. Instead I just think that it must be fucking awful for affluent middle-aged white man Stephen Fry, with his Cambridge education, critical acclaim, several published books, honorary fellowships, and being pals with royalty, that the disenfranchised are speaking up instead of quietly accepting their lot. When even voicing one's displeasure at being offended is often made hard by societal expectations, Fry's all-present disdain for people making their offense known is all the more reason for them to just bite their tongues and suck it up, and isn't that lovely. Sure, I guess compared to storming the Bastille, massacring the nobility and displaying their heads stuck on pikes, simply saying that you're offended by the things that offend you seems pretty nutless. I suppose Fry would prefer that.

I often wonder myself how generally well-off people seem to insist on framing the most trivial things as problematic to the point of censure. But I at least do it from the couchy and entitled position of actually being part of the disenfranchised. And at least my thoughts on the subject won't be used to shup up people who might be rightfully offended.
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Count to one hundred [27 Mar 2014|12:18am]
Dear person on Facebook,

The fact that some of your straight male friends sometimes sincerely compliment your attire without any ulterior motives, or that sometimes queer women in queer bars compliment your looks with the wholly transparent aim of getting into your pants doesn't actually mean that we don't live in a heteronormative world.

My father, a heterosexual man, often tells me I'm well dressed. I'm fairly sure his compliments are not motivated by sexual tension between us. But I don't even need to adjust for that, because an overwhelming fucking all of it of the unsolicited remarks I've ever gotten from strangers about my looks have come from men.

I hate it that I seem to use this blog so much as an outlet to vent about stuff that aggravates me on other social media platforms. Damn, well done me for not getting on Twitter or Tumblr or even Pinterest...
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Reverse Poe's law [24 Mar 2014|11:43pm]
I always thought Westboro Baptist Church was really elaborate satire. I've even corrected people about it.

Whoops?
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Babies [18 Mar 2014|10:41pm]
Lately I've been googling a lot on embryonic development. Like I don't see enough babies on my FB feed.
(Actually you don't see very many babies googling embryonic development) (Actually you don't see that many babies on my FB feed either) I googled whether fetuses masturbate, and according to Jeanne Conry, the president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists there simply isn't enough data. However, a lot of page hits were people asking how they could get their toddlers to stop masturbating.
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Farcical [05 Mar 2014|06:23pm]
I mentioned before that my sister fell at work and fractured her wrist. This week, she was supposed to have surgery on Tuesday, but it was canceled because the insurance company hadn't processed the claim yet. She was told to expect a call about whether a new appointment could be made for Thursday. There's been no call. Don't know if she has surgery tomorrow or not.
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"A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life." [03 Mar 2014|01:57am]
I recently had a lovely discussion about Yamane Ayano and men's wear. It has since occurred to me that perhaps I shouldn't always be ragging on her when it's been years since I've read anything of hers. So when the newest chapter of VF came out, I thought I'd look at it and see if I've been unfair.

And this happened.
Groaning in pain

I got up and walked out of the room, and didn't come back for hours, that's how upset I was. I was very upset.

It's not the day cravat I have a beef with, because it's a look I've always found quite fetching as well as one I've recently started rocking myself. It's the pin. Pins and tacks aren't something that I'd recommend to anyone to begin with, because they ultimately decimate the fabric, but if nothing else, they do make a statement (that statement being "I'm fucking rolling in money, so at the end of the day I can just throw this tie in the trash"). I wouldn't recommend using them even with rougher weaves, but using a pin on satin, why don't you just run it through a shredder while you're at it.
But that's totally not even the point, because the point is that wearing a pin with a day cravat inside the shirt looks fucking awful. It looks so shitty that it's giving me nausea. It looks so damn bad that I feel like I should rage-flip a table over here. Also, since the point of pins and tacks is to secure the tie in place, if you wear one of those with your cravat inside the shirt, what are you pinning it onto exactly, your bare fucking skin?
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