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America alienates me.
From touchdown in Atlanta it is obvious I am, so to speak, no longer in Kansas.
I am asked what I am doing here. Repeatedly, and not always in a nice way. I want to answer with the obvious, that I am queuing endlessly for the privilege of being cross examined by an unfriendly customs officer who wants to know all kind of private details my best friend doesn't even know, but I swallow it back and smile meekly, while trying to act like I am not nervous, frustrated and insulted.
Procedures, waiting lines, probing questions, stamps and signatures, and then, finally, the liberating "Enjoy the United States".
I never felt more alien.

Security checks,
passports, fingerprints, eye scans...
I just want my love.

******************************************************************************************

America amuses me.
This first meeting scratches only at the surface. I encounter all the clichés and smile inwardly: the food portions, the convenience stores, the SUVs.
I see the tanned blonde valley girls driving a block to continue shopping in another part of American suburbia, which seems to my European eyes to be one big conglomerate of malls, fast food chains and churches. I lose my balance every time I enter a building and am hit by fierce air conditioning and I forget to tip – all these little weird Americana that just seem funny to me.
I take pictures of people's ordinary lives, as if they were monkeys in the zoo.

Cliché on cliché.
My mind is too overwhelmed
to see deeper yet.

******************************************************************************************

America welcomes me.
I blend in here. I know the words to say, the things I am expected to do. I know how society functions, here. I do not look like I'm out of place, here.
Sometimes I feel like I'm setting foot in a cherished childhood place I haven't been to in years. I feel like finding back memories I believed long lost.
I look around and I feel I have come home.
But that cannot be true. I have never been here.
Yet - the drive ins, the burgers and shakes, the travel coffee cups from Starbucks, the numbered streets - it is all so comfortably familiar.

Recognition time.
Mailbox, marquee and school bus:
saw them on tv.

******************************************************************************************

America worries me.
How can a civilized country be so backwards at times?
This thought I keep to myself. I shut my mouth tight when the conversation has the slightest hint of turning to politics.
Secretly I like my socialist Europe, where instead of being an insult or an accusation, that word means first class public education, a functioning transportation system, affordable health care and solidarity between citizens.
In theory at least - for I am not blind to the malfunctions in my homeland, which has been without a government for fifteen months.
But I do not raise the topic. I count the stars on one of the enormous red-blue-white displays of patriotism I come across.

It is different.
Not better and not worse.
I adapt. Slowly.

******************************************************************************************

America fascinates me.
It always has and never ceases to.
Every time I believe I have figured it out, this vast country, its people, their culture and mindsets and beliefs, I turn a corner and I am taken by surprise again by some new, fresh, unexpected side of America.
This land has to live with the knowledge that the eyes of the world are always on it. It is the yardstick whereby everything else is measured. An example either to follow or to avoid, it leaves nobody indifferent. Love it or hate it, there is no in between.
After three weeks, I have come to new insights. I carry this weird and wonderful country in my heart as I leave.
Nobody wants to see my passport on the way out.

I'm not who I was.
I take home more than I brought
in my bag and mind.
A series of five haibun for the Narrow Roads 2011 contest hosted by :iconthe-haiku-club:.

As most of you know I have been to the US for the first time ever this summer, and I am still coming to terms with all I saw and experienced. This is some of that in haibun form.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2013-09-12
:icondoolhoofd:
doolhoofd Featured By Owner Edited Apr 16, 2015
Dead (RIP) Only a nation of unenlightened halfwits could have taken this beautiful place and turned it into what it is today: a shopping mall. A big fucking shopping mall. That’s all you’ve got here folks. Mile after mile of mall after mall. Many many malls. Major malls and mini malls. They put the mini malls in between the major malls, and in between the mini malls they put the mini marts. And in between the mini marts you got the car lots, gas stations, muffler shops, laundromats, cheap hotels, fast food joints, strip clubs and dirty bookstores. America the beautiful. One big transcontinental commercial cesspool.
- George Carlin, Life Is Worth Losing (brilliant!)

:-? Hoe functioneren onze zogenaamd rationele en geprogrammeerde samenlevingen? Waardoor komen de bevolkingen in beweging, wat brengt ze in beroering? De vooruitgang van de wetenschap, de 'objectieve' informatie, de toename van het collectief geluk, het inzicht in de feiten en de oorzaken, de bestraffing van de ware schuldige of de kwaliteit van het leven? Absoluut niet: niemand is daarin geïnteresseerd. Wat iedereen fascineert is de losbandigheid van de tekens, dat de realiteit altijd en overal losbandig wordt door de tekens. Dat is een interessant spel - en dat speelt zich af in de media, in de mode, in de reclame - meer in het algemeen in het spektakel van de politiek, van de technologie, van de wetenschap, in welk spektakel dan ook, want de perversie van de realiteit, de spectaculaire verwringing van de feiten en de representaties, de triomf van de simulatie is even fascinerend als een catastrofe - en het is in feite ook een catastrofe, het is een duizelingwekkende afkering van alle effecten van de zin/betekenis [Frans: sens]. Voor zo'n simulatie- of zo men wil verleidingseffect zijn we bereid om elke prijs te betalen, veel meer dan voor de "reële" kwaliteit van ons leven.
B-) Dit is het geheim van de reclame, van de mode, het spel, van alle ontuchtige systemen die de morele energieën breken en de immorele energieën bevrijden, de energieën die zich, om de waarheid van de dingen uit te dagen, onbekommerd vergenoegen met alleen hun teken - zodoende sluiten ze zich aan bij de magische en archaïsche energieën die altijd hebben gewed op de almacht van het denken tegen de macht van de reële wereld -, een immorele energie die de zin afbreekt [qui brise le sens], die de feiten, de representaties, de algemeen aanvaarde waarden doordringt en de in hun platonisch beeld verstarde samenlevingen elektriseert.
Devilish Een mooi voorbeeld van deze 'duivelse' macht tot verandering, van deze immorele transformatie-energie gericht tegen alle waardesystemen, zijn de Verenigde Staten. Ondanks het moralisme, het puritanisme, de fatsoensobsessie, het pragmatisch idealisme, verandert alles daar onweerstaanbaar volgens een impuls die niet afkomstig is van de (per definitie lineaire) vooruitgang - nee, de werkelijk stuwende kracht is de verachtelijkheid van de vrije circulatie. Ook nu nog is dit land asociaal en wild, weerspannig tegen elk coherent maatschappelijk plan: alles wordt er getest, alles is er te koop, alles heeft er zijn prijs, alles loopt er in het honderd. De muziekstijlen aan de westkust, de therapieën, de seksuele "perversies," de gebouwen aan de oostkust, de leaders, de gadgets, de artistieke stromingen - alles loopt onophoudelijk in elkaar over en volgt elkaar op. En ons culturele onbewuste, dat doorvoed is van cultuur en zin/betekenis, kan zich opwinden over dit spektakel, toch schuilt in die immorele promiscuïteit van alle vormen en alle rassen, in het gewelddadige spektakel van de verandering, het succes van een samenleving en het teken van haar vitaliteit.
:p Jean Baudrillard, De Fatale Strategieën, pp. 113-115
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Ik weet weer wat te lezen. :)
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:icondoolhoofd:
doolhoofd Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2015
www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUdeNB… :music: :meditation:

...en nu ook wat te luisteren. :)

Tip: heel de playlist is goed. Psychedelische chill... 
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:icongoldennocturna:
GoldenNocturna Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2014  Student Writer
It's always interesting for me, as an American, to see other people's perspectives on my homeland. I like the blend of prose and haiku. Nice job. :)
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! I have a lifelong fondness for the US, I even studied American Studies at university, and I married an American... Yet our travels there always feel me with wonder.

Thanks for your comment!
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:icongoldennocturna:
GoldenNocturna Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2014  Student Writer
You're welcome! :)
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:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2013   Writer
This is insightful and interesting - I keep coming back to it. Thank you for writing this.
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you and you're welcome!
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:iconwyldhoney:
wyldhoney Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Congratulations on the DD! It's certainly a well-balanced combination of observation and interpretation, and discovering we are countrymates was a nice surprise as well! :D
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks! And not only are we fellow Belgians (where from?) but we seem to share a love for Pratchett, judging by your signature line...
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:iconwyldhoney:
wyldhoney Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I currently live in Beringen, but I originate from the well-unknown village Niel-Bij-As. ;p

And yes, I love Pratchett! :D
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:iconarthisa:
Arthisa Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
This is kind of perfect. Haha... I'm a university student in the US, and this is exactly how it feels to me. America, land of contradictions. So fresh and wonderful and infuriating.
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Indeed! At times I long to go live there, at times it feels like I wouldn't be caught dead there... Enjoy it as much as you can (and enjoy uni too, it's the best time of your life! I speak from experience!) and make it better in every small way you can.
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:iconalecbell:
AlecBell Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013
Congratulations, An :heart:
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you, Alec. At least when we come to your poetry night I'll have one poem that may be good enough to read. ;)
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:iconalecbell:
AlecBell Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2013
I'm looking forward to your visit!!
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:icondeinktvis:
deinktvis Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Student Writer
gratz, dovey! :iconfattestlaplz:
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thankz, meneer inktvis-konijn-aap!
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:icondeinktvis:
deinktvis Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Student Writer
ik zie je graag!
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
En ik jou.
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:iconleyghan:
leyghan Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I have never been to America myself, (my first trip will be in November) but I enjoyed this glimpse through your eyes. This is wonderfully written. Congrats on the DD. :hug:
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! I was offline for a while and couldn't comment sooner. Thanks for the support over the years! :hug:
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:iconleyghan:
leyghan Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
My pleasure. Take care. :huggle:
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:iconruntofthelitter:
RuntOfTheLitter Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013
"Nationalism is the measles of the world" (Albert Einstein)

HELLO!. Very thoughtful and well written piece above!

This old American citizen of 62+ years has seen ALOT in his days here. GOOD and BAD.

I grew up in the VIETNAM WAR era and there was a saying going around to those who 'complained' of said WAR and other things they didn't LIKE about THEIR AMERICA:

 "America, Love It Or Leave It"

From MY 'American' perspective, I like to say, instead:

"AMERICA, LOVE it AND make it even BETTER!"


America, like ANY country, has it's STRONG and BAD points. In my past 'business' world, I quickly learned it was VERY SMART to take the BEST of EVERY person(s) and their idea(s) to make THE BEST company I could.

I've yet to figure out why AMERICA or ANY other country has just a HARD time UNDERSTANDING that 'principle'? SMILES.

The one thing I will finish with is this:

Throughout the brief American 'history', it has OFTEN been the country that took on the EVILS of the WORLD. In conjunction with OTHER countries of course, but OFTEN on it's OWN when no one else either could or would for whatever reasons.

THAT, to this AMERICAN citizen, is WHAT I LOVE about AMERICA/Americans MOST.


My BEST to you and yours. RuntOfTheLitter/ROTL
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I was offline for a while and couldn't comment sooner, but I love your insights on your country (and others!).

You are of course right to a certain point, the US have in the past took on the role of defending right when no one else did. I have made this point even of recent-year's events. Whether this was always with the sole intent of defending right, I leave open. I do not possess of enough facts to be the judge of that.

I love America... and sometimes I hate it too. Then again, I also feel that way about my own country, Belgium!

Thanks again for your thought-provoking viewpoints. They may get incorporated in the follow-up piece I am writing to this one about my second trip overseas.
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:iconmomotsukinezumi:
MomotsukiNezumi Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Amazing.
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much! I was offline for a while and couldn't comment sooner. Thanks for the support!
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:iconluciusappaloosius:
LuciusAppaloosius Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013
Very well done!

In a country as large as this, it is very hard to make generalizations about anything. We might, perhaps, take as a motto Walt Whitman's line:

"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself."
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much! I was offline for a while so couldn't comment sooner.

I very much appreciate the US for the maddening collection of contradictions it is. ;)
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:iconevergreen-symphony:
Evergreen-Symphony Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Congratulations on the DD! This is such a beautiful piece, you really deserve it!
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much! I was offline for a while and I am completely flabbergasted! Thanks for the support!
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:iconshadowedacolyte:
ShadowedAcolyte Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013
Thanks for sharing an outsider's perspective. I thought "Nobody wants to see my passport on the way out" was a particularly nice touch.
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much! I was offline for a while so couldn't comment sooner.

Yes, that bit felt so weird. On the way in, they wanted to make absolutely sure I was gonna leave again... And when I did, it was like nobody cared. Probably because nobody did... :D
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:iconmoonstalkerwerewolf:
MoonstalkerWerewolf Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I love how this expresses seeing America in a diverse light too, and not just stereotyping the entire country based on burgers and the South or something. America is like anywhere else in that you kinda have to dig deep to get a better sense of it rather than just base all of it on one experience, etc.

It's interesting to see America in the sight of other people. My mom is an immigrant, and although she's been here for 27 years it's still in ways odd to her. She never really told me how though, so....this is really good.
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much! I was offline for a while so couldn't comment sooner.

The more I see of America and its people, the more confusing it gets. I really cannot begin to give a complete description of even the small parts of it I encountered first-hand!
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:iconmoonstalkerwerewolf:
MoonstalkerWerewolf Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hahahaha, travelling to some parts of America is a real experience, even for Americans if you're not that well-travelled. Going to some areas of California are pretty confusing and new for me in aspects, and so America is one of those places where you always have something to find, even if you're born here. It's a lot more interesting for someone from another country though, I could imagine.
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Either way, I can't wait until we get to go again!
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:iconfayzbub:
Fayzbub Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013
One other verse I would have added (again through the eyes of an Australian!) would be about the sheer number of people.  It always appears so very crowded; but then, so do most other countries in the world, compared to my part of the world.  How can anybody cope with such sheer, teeming numbers?  It resembles an insane rookery of birds, all shoving each other to get a little more room.  It's hard for me to imagine that there are no places where you can go to be really, truly alone.  I love that I can walk outside and from horizon to horizon see nothing but more horizon.  
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I loved that in the Aussie outback, but being from Belgium, it's actually way more crowded here than it was in most of the places I visited in the US (I took care to avoid all great cities, I've been to some large towns like Seattle and Portland but mostly I saw the wide openness and small towns of Oklahoma and the Mid-West).
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:iconfayzbub:
Fayzbub Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013
I really enjoyed this, it's beautifully written and expresses what a lot of us who are from countries other than the United States feel.  Personally, I'm Australian, and this really resonates with me.  Only I'd add that the United States frightens me, the strident Nationalism that precludes any other view of way of life can seem quite offensive at times.  I'd like to visit other countries in the twinned continents that make up the Americas, for comparison's sake.  

Thank you for sharing this thoughtful, insightful piece.  

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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I was offline for a while and couldn't answer sooner, but I appreciate your thoughtful comments. I have visited Australia (only a very small corner of it) and I appreciate the differences between the two! 

The nationalism you refer to exists, but in the maddening bundle of contradictions that make up America, even avid preachers of this nationalism sometimes can find no good words for their way of living. But you are right of course, many were the times I had to shut up because anything I could have said would have caused an international incident. :)
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:iconmaple-girl:
Maple-Girl Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Reading this I learned two things. One - People do think about my country like I have suspected. ^_^ Not bad, not great, kinda there.  (I have lived outside of the US before, but it is always nice to hear real thoughts about my home.)

Two - I learned what a haibun is. Fascinating prose-and-poetry combo. Brilliant!

Your writing is impressive.  Congrats on the DD.
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much! I was offline for a while and I am completely flabbergasted! Thanks for the support!

I am currently working on another piece about the US, now that I have been a second time this summer and crossed ten states. The first lines of that piece will go like this:

"I love to hate the US. I also hate to love the US." 

This just to say that I personally don't feel indifferent about the US - I just feel simultaneously it really is the "City upon a hill" and a "power of evil". It is a maddening bundle of contradictions and at the same times sometimes so awkwardly see-through clear. It is not a country - it's a mix-and-match quilt of small little entities making up the country we all want to live in - or not be found dead in.
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:iconmaple-girl:
Maple-Girl Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Haha you'll get yourself in trouble if you tell Americans that they're not a country. We're pretty stubborn about that - and proud of it too.
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
As you should. Everybody should feel proud of their country!
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:iconmaple-girl:
Maple-Girl Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Agreed! ^_^
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:iconlostgryphin:
LostGryphin Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Congrats on the DD
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much! I was offline for a while and I am completely flabbergasted! Thanks for the support!
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:iconfelistipsy:
FelisTipsy Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Having been born in the U.S., I don't know how it feels to look at it with fresh eyes, so it's always interesting to read the experiences of her visitors. :meow:
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:iconprettycrazy:
PrettyCrazy Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much! I was offline for a while so couldn't answer sooner. Thanks for the support!
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