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Last Summer's Breakdown




As most of you have probably noticed, it’s been quite a while since my last post. That’s because the triumphant weekend of my EP release and the Taylor Swift concert was a high that was short-lived. That coming Monday,  I lost my job again. 


I’ve actually had several different jobs since my last post. From there things took an even darker turn, and I haven’t written till now because of my personal rule of not writing about dark things when I’m in the midst of them. The good news is because I’m sharing a post right now, it means that things have gotten better. I am going to do my best to summarize the past nine months. I will piece together the diary entries I wrote throughout this time in an italicized font and add extra notes from me (today) to fill in the gaps. 


The job I had around this time, while financially sustainable, was wrecking me physically and mentally. It’s no secret that my body clock has been an ongoing obstacle in my life, but during this period I truly believed I could force myself to correct it. So I took a job that oftentimes required me to be somewhere by 6 am, sometimes earlier. While the job itself was right up my alley (putting on events, performing, public speaking, fundraising for worthy causes) the schedule, which was based around school, was not. I did my best to make it work, but ultimately the lack of sleep and stress put me in the hospital multiple times. I ended up with an illness that wouldn’t go away for months, and ultimately that along with some coexisting personal turmoil led to the demise of my job at this place.



05.10.23.


Well, that joy was short-lived because I’m out of another day job.


I am going to lament a bit right now because I think it’s important to discuss. It is so hard to be a creative in the world we live in. I have tried so many day jobs, showed up bright-eyed and motivated with the best intentions, and time after time, it doesn’t work out. Time after time I feel like the fish that is being asked to climb trees. I am mentally exhausted and this particular day job has also left me physically depleted. All of my music is released or already set to release, so that takes a bit of pressure off my plate at least, but I am still so incredibly discouraged and it’s really easy right now to feel hopeless.


I don’t feel like any day job will work out. I am exhausted, and I don’t care. Every time I seek purpose and meaning in these jobs beyond the fear of homelessness and hunger, and every time it blows up in my face. I leave angry. I’m an artist, and I feel like being complicit in the status quo isn’t my job. Someone has to push back or there would be no progress in the world. Maybe I’m just saying that though. Maybe it’s unwise to keep burning bridges, but I’m not very good at grinning and bearing bad news. I guess it’s my fault if I’m a bad fit for a job or can’t measure up to their expectations, but it’s not my fault that I have to keep putting myself in these positions in the first place. At a bare minimum, I need enough to live and eat. I don’t understand why we act like this isn’t in some ways a prison sentence to those of us who don’t thrive in these systems. Of course, there is freelance and entrepreneurship, but those things take time and money to build, and if you don’t inherit those things, where else are you supposed to get them from? 


Here’s my ideal situation. I can do something remote or something that can be 11 am-7 pm hours. No more early mornings, no more back-breaking physical labor that puts me in the hospital. I can’t do it. I can’t even pretend to be able to do it anymore.


I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t fit this mold. And I know I’m not the only one who feels alone and undervalued in this system. So this is why I chose to bring this up. This is why I wrote the song Dandelion. Not meeting expectations in a place the system forces you to be doesn’t speak to your value or work ethic. It just speaks to the unfairness of it all.


I don’t know what’s next for me but this isn’t my first rodeo. I’d like to be selective of where I end up next, but I probably won’t have that luxury.


I’ll be positive now and say that the universe is just realigning around me and pushing me toward something better. I’ve done this enough times to say that things usually work out for the best in divine timing. I’m trying to just go with the flow instead of fighting it so much and getting so down on myself but it’s hard. The good things to come are in the abstract, the anxiety of what’s here and now is in the concrete. 


I’m not giving up. I’ll be okay. But I’m tired of this. Can’t things just work out and keep working out for once?



By the time I lost this job, I was of course upset but relieved. That schedule wasn’t ever going to be sustainable for me. I was kidding myself. Unfortunately, the loss of this job meant the loss of my health insurance, which meant the eventual loss of my therapist (which was moderately helping me stay afloat) so that was another complication. This was hard on me, but there were some magical days sprinkled in with all the stressful ones. These included my first performances at the Listening Room Cafe and my time working as a production assistant for a CMT special, where I got to witness an intimate concert of a bunch of notable country artists.



05.15.23


I basically was just in and out of bed all weekend. Sometimes the most productive thing you can do for yourself is be consumed by the depression pit. I don’t have the energy for anything.


Today is Monday and I told myself I’d do stuff today. So far I’m not doing much but I’m not napping so there’s that. I’ve got therapy at 3:30. Then I’m going to drop off my spring cleaning clothes I’m donating. Then maybe work on music stuff or go to the park. 


05. 24. 23


I haven’t written an entry in here in a minute and that’s because good things have been happening.


I really wish I had written this one on the day of, so I could capture the emotions, but I am going to do my best to replicate it.


Thursday the 18th, my awesome friend helped me achieve one of my biggest Nashville check marks… playing at the Listening Room Cafe. This is a big deal because if you go back a couple of years into this blog, you’ll know that this venue is really what started it all for me on my first visit to Nashville.


It was a very huge milestone and a full-circle moment for me to perform on that stage. I was elated when my friend asked me to join him. Although I’m not playing in the round, just being invited up as a guest, it still counts. I’m on the stage, I’m singing. I’m ecstatic.


The day of I felt pretty nervous. I hadn’t gotten to really practice, and I always have this fear that somehow I’m going to forget the words to my own songs, even after singing them hundreds of times in and out of the studio. I also worry that my voice will crack. I did my best to tell myself that it was okay and that no matter what, I earned the right to be happy about this moment. I chose to interpret my nervousness as excitement, which is always a good trick. 


When I got to the venue I definitely felt my imposter syndrome kicking in. I did my best to tell myself I belonged there, but I felt awkward and unsure of where to go or what to do while the musicians in the round were prepping. Luckily, they invited me into the artist's lounge behind the stage, which felt great. After that, I began to relax.


As the show started, I got a similar feeling to when I saw that first show there all those years ago. As I listened to the stories and the songs, my nerves melted away, and I was simply enjoying myself.


By the time I got called up, I was just bursting with joy. This moment meant so much to me and having recently been thrown to the day job wolves again, it was just the pick me up I needed to reinvigorate my hope and drive. My hands were definitely shaking a little but my performance came out good. I remembered all the words and had no voice cracks. My pitch was pretty good too. I was proud of myself, and I felt such a sense of growth and progress in that moment, a feeling I don’t experience often.


I think the coolest part of my performance is that one of the other artists on stage had played keys for Tim McGraw. He started adding some keys to my song, so I can officially say I’ve played with a keys player who also played with Tim McGraw.


After the show, my friend was playing another round at Live Oak and asked me to join. I was ready to keep the good vibes going so I agreed. We listened to the next couple of rounds and for the first time in a long time, I felt that "Nashville Spark” and I wanted to get out there and make things happen. I haven’t felt that motivated and hopeful since I first moved here.



06.01.23


I’ve got a lot to catch up on.


The first entry I meant to make but haven’t, was about me having another “Nashville Day.” A Nashville day is the type of day that reenergizes me and reminds me why I’m here trying to do what I’m doing. 


I had been feeling pretty down in the dumps about my financial situation when I got an email for a production assistant opportunity. I’d done this once before for an award show, and it was cool to be there, but there my job was to hold umbrellas for the fancy people as they exited their cars to the building. Definitely not the most glamorous. For this one I had no idea what the job entailed, I just signed up because it paid and I needed the money.


This time it was a far cry from the cold dingy day I experienced last time. Instead, it was a picturesque day in a setting that felt like a picnic in the park painting brought to life. I had the very simple job of bringing audiencegoers up a hill to a concert that was going to be filmed for CMT summer sessions. I got to see Ashley McBryde and Tanya Tucker perform, and they played some songs that really tugged at my heartstrings. First and foremost, "Girl Goin' Nowhere" by Ashley McBryde really always hits home, but for me right now especially. Hearing her sing it live, and seeing it up so close, It felt like a sign for me to keep moving forward despite my situation. I was also really moved by Tanya Tucker's "Ready As I'll Never Be." I hadn't heard it before, but it immediately became a new favorite of mine. She even sang it twice because she wanted it to be perfect. The song was written as a tribute to her heroes and mentors who have passed away. It was one of those moments where everyone listening could feel the emotions radiating from the artist. It reminded me why I want to do that for others. This world needs artists, even though it doesn't always feel like it.



I ended up eventually getting a new day job taking care of outdoor plant displays at grocery stores. I enjoyed this at first (as I seem to enjoy most of my jobs at first) but the schedule, while much more flexible (as it was an independent role) was still tough on me, as was the physical labor. The commercial aspect of it also slowly began to crush my spirit. I enjoyed taking care of the flowers and building the displays. I spent my days pruning and watering them, excited to see a plant spring back to life after moving it into the sun, and even happier to see one be bought and find a forever home. If I could take anything away from this job, it taught me how much a little love and care can go when it comes to helping someone achieve their full potential.


Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, that wasn’t the business model. The business model was to sell plants. That meant receiving way too many new shipments, not having enough room for all of them to be in the sun, and tossing out the ones that got too ugly to sell. I hit a breaking point when I was told to throw out an entire shipment of sunflowers (that arrived in rough shape but were very much still alive.) 


In many instances, I could see a parallel between myself and these sunflowers. I know I have the potential to thrive if only given the resources and the chance. It was really upsetting, and I couldn’t bring myself to go back there again. 


After this, I went through a breakup and shit truly hit the fan. I felt completely defeated. I didn’t see a point in even trying because I was convinced nothing was ever going to work out for me. This is when the diary entries get bleak. Could you blame me? Since 2019, day job-wise, nothing ever has worked out for me, at least in a way for me to feel any sense of security. Unfortunately, money fuels most of everything else I am trying to do. You know, the music stuff that gives my life a purpose and all of that. It just felt like everything was out of reach and I would spend my entire life withering away at a job I hate, paying off debt, and barely scraping by. I can’t sit here and say I don’t get that feeling still sometimes.



07.01.23


I’ve slacked on this blog because I’ve been busy. After freelancing for a while and selling more of my stuff, I was able to get a new day job. This one has a lot more flexibility and involves flowers. I get to be a lone wolf for the most part, which is what I think I need right now.


I’m still trying to stabilize so I haven’t had a ton of time to focus on my music. I know I need to be making more tiktoks and playing more gigs and practicing guitar. Hopefully I will soon. I still need to put together a release show and I’d like it to be with a full band. I thought I’d be filling my schedule up with cowrites by now but I haven't.


In better news, I have recently attended a song salon and helped a friend with background vocals. These fleeting moments remind me that I haven’t lost my love of music and I have a reason to stay in Nashville. I need to be more intentional about doing these things that give me a sense of purpose and bring me joy. It’s just hard when you have to take care of the essentials first. 


07.24.23


I’ve completely lost track of this blog, and it’s a pretty good metaphor for what’s going on with me right now.


For the longest time, I’ve been taking 360-degree hits. My work, my car, my music, my love life, my money, my mental health. It’s been relentless. And I’ve been trying to do what I normally do, which is stay positive, power through, and believe in a better tomorrow. But I’ve been doing this for way too long without any relief and it’s not working this time.


I ended up quitting the other day job I got because I couldn’t handle it anymore. I couldn’t bring myself to do the work anymore. I lost the motivation, even knowing the consequences.


I tried to bounce back from this by taking it as a sign to go after what I really want, which is something that pays enough for me to be comfortable, feed my music goals, has decent healthcare benefits, and is remote so that I could be able to tour. So I signed up for FlexJobs and applied for several remote positions, I revamped my resume and invested in having it professionally edited. I also started a manifesting course, I did positive affirmations, listened to meditations, wrote a check and a love letter to myself, etc. 


I don’t know if it’s just because I’m getting older, or because I’ve gone through 2020 and seen the world for what it is, or because I’ve gotten fired or quit a job more times than I can count, even when I went in with the biggest work ethic and the best intentions, but my normal strategies aren’t working anymore. I can't just power through these things anymore. I’m not okay. I’m not just anxious, I’m depressed too. 


This is an interesting realization, considering I’m still a fairly positive person. I still have hope. I still believe in myself, and I’m still actively working and trying. But I’m still depressed. I still don’t have the motivation to do the things I need to be able to pay my rent. I still don’t feel a sense of purpose. I still want to just sit in bed. It’s a hard thing to explain unless you’re feeling it. It’s not laziness or even negativity. It’s like a complete zap of energy, even when you have your goals and know what to do, you can’t bring yourself to do it for the life of you. And it’s not that you’re simply choosing not to or giving up, you just physically and mentally can’t handle it. I can’t handle the stress, even when it’s minor. I can’t stop myself from crying. I can’t stop being overwhelmed by things that I know aren’t that big of a deal and probably have a practical solution.


I had a therapist for a bit before I lost my previous job (he one that came with benefits) and I feel like that was starting to help, but then that was taken (ironically at the time I probably could have benefited from it the most.) The next job I got didn’t come with healthcare benefits, so I got an Obamacare plan that I could afford. It’s not the best, but it’s better than nothing. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a therapist through this plan. 


I am someone who even in my peril, has a significant amount of resources and safety nets. I have a college degree, I have a family who loves me enough to intervene and help me significantly when things go south. I’ll never be homeless. And yet, I’m still having such a difficult time. I can’t imagine how it must be for some people if it’s this hard for me, someone who has a lot of support. 


It’s a catch-22. If my mental health is bad, it’s hard to keep a decent job. When you lose the job, you lose the benefits that cover the costs of the help you need. If you don’t get the help you need, you can’t fix the problems to be able to get and keep the job, and now you don’t have enough money to buy healthy food or have somewhere to live, so you’re more stressed than ever, but you don’t have the help and you can’t keep the next job because you’re too stressed and it’s all just a downward spiral. And all you wanted to do was sing and create and make a positive impact on people and the world, and you did good in school and you were smart and you had so much potential as a kid, but now you’re here. And you’re 27, and you have no idea how you’re ever going to feel fulfilled or even comfortable at a minimum ever again. 


Normally I’d wait to post something like this until I was past it, but I'm not sure when that will be, and I feel like this is a message that needs to be heard. Maybe someone or many people out there can relate, and maybe it can help someone feel less alone than I do right now, and that counts for something. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.


I’ve been in bleak places before, and the one good thing that comes with age is wisdom. I know there is a light somewhere, even if I can’t see it yet. I’ve found it before. I know I’m loved and people are willing to help me, which I’m eternally grateful for, and I ache for those out there who don’t have that. I couldn’t imagine. 


The big picture is way too daunting. So I’m going to break it into bits. My roommate and I moved into a new apartment today. We moved most of our big stuff. I’m going to unpack a little at a time. Slowly but surely, this mess will become a cozy home again. Such is life. Ever-changing, pain and joy ebb and flow. New chapters are scary, but they also mean that your story isn’t over yet.


I’m not equipt to handle a whole chapter right now, so I’ll start with one page. And if that’s too hard I'll start with one sentence, or one word, or one letter. 


There’s a reason why you’re here. And if you don’t believe that, you have the freedom to decide for yourself. But I believe that. In the vast universe and billions of stars and all of these things we can’t explain, we’re here. And we have meaning, and we have purpose. And we deserve happiness. And we can find it again. We’ve done it before. 



I am happy to report that although I can't say I don't ever get these bleak feelings anymore, what I have gotten is better at managing them. I finally got on antidepressants which helped a lot. It didn’t solve all of my problems, but it made life bearable. The truth is I had gotten to a point where I couldn’t make myself stop crying, I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed and go to a job, even if it meant I was going to end up kicked out of Nashville. What the antidepressants did was stabilize me enough to carry on. They made me feel okay enough to function in society. For a long time, I had resisted getting on a medication because it was my life circumstances that were causing my distress, not my brain chemicals, but eventually learned that I wasn't going to be able to change the way the world worked any time soon, so I needed to use the tools available to me to adapt and survive. I want to be so open about this aspect of my journey because I really want anyone out there who is hesitant and feeling like this to give the medication a shot. I know it can be scary and stigmas can exist, but it was truly a lifeline that got me through this period. I also worked with a nonprofit to finally find a therapist who I could afford to see. I am still currently seeing her. This has helped a lot too.



08.06.23


It’s about two weeks post-breakdown, and here’s where I’m at.


I’m stable. I’m neutral. I’m on antidepressants.


Am I happy? Not really. But I also don’t feel like I’m careening off a cliff. I have enough control over my emotions to do the capitalism. I’m Doordashing the late night hours and I’ve been pretty consistent.


I’m not demanding too much of myself right now. I’m celebrating small wins. I’m catching up on Shark Week. I’m noting my wins while giving myself a lot of grace. I’ve gone to the pool. I randomly got a sync placement for one of my songs. I’m watching a video series on manifesting. I’m journaling. I’m taking lots of naps. I’m watching a lot of TikToks. 


On Monday I’m going to be a little more disciplined. I’m going to make myself get out of my room. I’m going to get off my phone and into the world, into nature, and socialize. I’ve been here before so I know these are the things that help, even though knowing and doing are two very different things.


I’m in the process of finding some meaning or purpose in all of this. I’m in the process of changing my mindset and convincing myself that I’m not being punished by higher powers, And that at the end of the day I’m good because I want to do good, even though I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way.


A conclusion I’ve come to tonight (one I’ve thought about as I drive around at night into the early morning and see a lot of homeless people just wandering aimlessly) is that it’s a lot easier to see that this world has a lot of lost souls. Souls that may have begun a downward spiral like myself, but didn’t have the support system or safety nets to catch them when they fell, so they just kept falling.


I always wanted to be an artist. Not just a performer. I wanted my art to mean something and do something for people. What I and other artists have to offer is very needed. Especially now.


As my condition continued to improve, I eventually got a job delivering pizzas, which at that time was enough. The atmosphere was very laid back ( they didn’t care if I showed up late) and I got to spend most of the time in a company car listening to music, which was nice. There wasn’t a lot expected of me and I was extremely overqualified. My bare minimum was still pretty great compared to what these managers were used to. The pay wasn’t great, especially the hourly rate, and far too many people didn’t tip, but it was enough to get me through that moment in time. As I was getting back on my feet I did a video shoot (one I'd paid for a long while back) and briefly documented the day. I was still trying to keep up with the blog and talk about music.


8.24.23


Yesterday was a day that I feel like illustrates the Nashville hustle perfectly. This morning I was Brina Kay, filming social media content to promote my songs. It was amazing. I felt like the real deal with the professional camera crew, and most importantly I felt like I was doing what I was truly meant to do in this life, it felt natural to be filmed and perform.


I went straight from that to a work shift delivering pizzas. I changed out of my sparkle boots and little black dress into my work uniform and began folding cardboard boxes, sweating in the summer heat (because the AC was out of course.) This was Brina Miller, the working class person just trying to make ends meet.


These are my two realities.


After the initial relief of finding a job and stabilizing my emotional free fall, I felt it was time to try and earn more money. I ended up getting a well-paying position at a company that stood outside of stores and collected charitable donations. I was fairly good at this, as I had no shame and felt comfortable approaching anyone, and it was enjoyable for a time.



10.4.23

A lot has happened since my last post, and I feel like things are finally looking up enough to go ahead and wrap this post up.


I got another new day job helping fundraise for nonprofits. I’m still delivering pizzas three nights a week as well. I swear I feel like I either have multiple jobs or none. But I’m finally making enough to at least pay for everything I need to be paying for. Once I pay down some of this debt I’ll begin to feel more free. It’s definitely something I plan to put next year's tax return towards.I can't afford to bet on myself anymore, at least not this year.


On the nights I’m not working I’ve been busy with music. I’ve had weekly cowrites and have caught up with co-writers I haven’t worked with in a year, which has been nice. I’m also establishing relationships with new writers, which is also nice. I’ve missed writing so much. I feel like I had a creative block while I had my business hat on trying to release my EP, which has since been lifted. I’ve also been playing more writer's rounds. I still want to plan an official release show, but that will have to wait till I have enough money to pay a band and put on the kind of show I want to. Some good news is that I got a sync placement for two of my songs for film and TV. These are huge milestones that shouldn't just be swept under the rug. I deserve to feel proud of myself.


I feel like things are looking up. I feel much more in control of my life now. I feel like I have a plan. I do feel exhausted some days, and I worry about burnout, so I am trying to have better boundaries with my time and take breaks when I need them. (I’ve also got a new therapist if you couldn’t tell.)


Living the life I’ve chosen to live is a rollercoaster. At the end of the day, a rollercoaster is supposed to be fun, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t also scary. It definitely isn’t for the faint of heart. But getting back to the root of it all, writing and performing and connecting with people, has reminded me why I’m here and what I sacrificed so much for. I'm happy to be creating again without the pressure of releasing. This is an important thing for artists to remember.


Im not sure where I go from here. I can’t afford to record any time soon, so I’m doing my best to promote what I have out, write new stuff, and pay off what I can so I will have the money eventually. I'm hoping I can release a few singles ahead of fall next year.  


As the weather got colder the schedule once again started to wear on me. I thought that I could handle a 9 am start because the 6 am start from my previous job made 9 am feel like noon, but that wasn’t the case. This job was also six days a week and required long hours on my feet rain or shine. I also noticed that constantly conversing with people was straining my voice. It all began to wear on me, I got depressed again, started losing sleep and showing up late, and eventually parted ways there as well.


After that failure, I came to terms with the fact that I simply can not do mornings. I have been trying and failing at typical work hours for five years now, setting myself up to feel horrible about myself each time. So this time, I decided to only look for afternoon or night jobs. What I ended up with was a job at a cookie shop as a delivery driver, and I have been happy at this job ever since. The best part is, that they’ve been extremely flexible with the schedule which has allowed me to coordinate more writes and performances around work. A lot of the other people who work there are also in music. I have been more successful here than at any previous job. I have been recognized as employee of the month and I am currently training to be a manager, which comes with a pay raise. I finally feel like a fish being asked to swim, and I am swimming just fine. Most importantly, I don't feel drained by this job. This is the first day job in a long time that can actually improve my mood if I am having a bad day before I get there. I can't remember a time a job has made me feel like that since I was in college.


It isn’t quite making as much money as I need, especially to pay off all of my loans and bills, and as I type this this is stressing me out a ton. I was doing okay until a snowstorm hit Nashville and iced over the roads for a week. I’ve been behind on rent and bills ever since. In weeks past, my phone got shut off because I couldn’t pay my phone bill. I have had to ask strangers to spare $5 at the gas station because I didn't have enough gas or money to get myself to work. I've resorted to eating only rice or pasta for a week straight. As time has gone on, I've been better with my budget so this is happening less, but I am definitely still stretched very thin. The thing is though, this is stress I can handle. For the first time in a very long time, I don't feel overwhelmed and incapable.


I’ve been working with a nonprofit to manage my debt and get my interest rates and monthly payments down, this has helped, and I have a plan in motion, but at this point, I still have a lot of catching up to do. At times I feel like I’ll never escape, but I’m doing my best to work through those emotions and remember that everything is temporary. Some days are easier than others. Something I've been working on in therapy is radical acceptance. I can't change the past. Worrying about the future won't help. If I go bankrupt it won't be ideal but it also won't be the end of the world.


I do surprisingly have some music projects in the works for this year. One with a duo I am a part of, that is very exciting becuase I am exploring new genres and you guys will see an artistic side of me you haven't before. I am also still keeping hope for a new single alive. My goal for this off-year was to have only one new song to record and focus on. I haven't figured out how I'm going to pay for it yet, just that I will never EVER take out more loans to record music (will elaborate on this in my next post) I will simply have to be creative and find another way. And if it doesn't work, also not the end of the world. I have time, I have talent, and I have hope that there will always be a song in my heart and a way to follow it, no matter how small or grand the scale. No matter what happens, what I have inside of me, this creativity, this drive, this purpose, can't be taken or lost. That is how I've made it this far, even through the worst.


My next post is going to be an advice post based on the lessons I've learned over the past five years, and hopefully, some young (nieve but bold) artist out there will read it, take it to heart, and maybe have an easier time. In the end, though, I have no regrets. It's all a part of my bigger story, and what's a good story without twists and turns? What's a hero's journey without tests, allies, and enemies, the approach to the inmost cave, and the ordeal? I always joke that all of this will be great for the plot of my biopic one day. Tell yourself whatever you need to to keep going.


I am going to try to keep up with this blog again after this post, because I really do have an interesting story to tell, and it's far from over. I want to thank everyone who has followed my story and supported me thus far. You make everything possible, and I am forever grateful.


As I close the chapter of last year's hardships, I enter this new one with no expectations. I'm working really hard to let my story take me where it wants to these days, instead of trying to force the latter. It's a method that's been working so far. Only time will tell where the story goes next.



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