Tag Archives: Germans in Orange County

A Friendship For A Lifetime

 

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A FRIENDSHIP FOR A LIFETIME

Recently, I have talked about a friendship that unfortunately didn’t survive the long distance between Germany and the US.   Luckily though, I was able to maintain the majority of my relationships, even though it is sometimes really hard to stay in touch.  One friendship I have been very blessed with is the one with my best friend.

Let me tell you, my best friend and I had quite a few bumps on the road that we had to overcome, but nothing was able to destroy our bond (even if it might have seemed that way in those particular moments).  We have been through many, many ups and downs together, including losses of family members, severe illnesses, broken relationships, and pregnancies. But let’s circle back to where it all began.

We were four years old when we met in a German kindergarten in the town we both grew up.  We also were in the same class during elementary school.  Throughout these two stages of our life, we were friends, but not BFFs. We had occasional play dates, but especially during the later stages of elementary school, we had one particular “friend” interfering with us.

What basically happened was that this one girl was pretty jealous whenever my best friend and I were hanging out. Eileen (name changed due to privacy) could not stand it if she wasn’t involved, and she became mad and mean.

I remember one specific time, when I was about to have a sleepover at my best friend’s house, and Eileen called and told me that if I would go over there, she would stop being friends with me. Gosh, we were seven, eight years old at that time, but she acted like a jealous boyfriend.  With her behavior, she drove a wedge between my best friend and me.

When we graduated elementary school, my best friend and I went on to different schools, while Eileen and I continued our path together.  But her behavior didn’t change.  I remember one time when we were changing after P.E. class, and she asked me who my parents had voted for in the recent election.  I told her that that information was discrete and I wasn’t going to disclose it.

Instead of accepting my response, she threatened me that she would not give me back my stuffed animal horse I had borrowed her.  When I think about this now I start laughing, but back in the days, I didn’t think it was funny at all. It is probably not a big surprise when I tell you that we are not friends anymore.

So, to make a long story short, throughout High School, my best friend and I kept in touch but we weren’t that close at the time.  Some friendships will take their time to grow into a strong relationship, which is how it was with us.

After finishing High School, we continued on to different schools to finish our education.  Luckily, I lost touch with Eileen and didn’t have to deal with her mean ways anymore. During that time, my best friend had her first boyfriend.  I was there for her when the two of them broke up, one of the major milestones our friendship has been through.

Unfortunately though, shortly afterward, I messed up with my best friend’s trust big time. No, I didn’t get involved with her ex, but I disclosed a piece of information to him that was very private and brought her into trouble.

I wasn’t sure if our then-damaged friendship would survive this.  She was very mad at me, and she had every right to be.  I don’t remember exactly how we overcame this, but we did.  It took a while for her to forgive me and to rebuild trust, but we were able to move on.

A couple of years later, we were faced with the next challenge. She landed a job in eastern Leipzig, while I was living with my sister in Olsberg, a small town in the Sauerland region, about two hours away from Dusseldorf, where we grew up.  Again, we stayed in touch but didn’t see each other often.

At the age of 25, I made the move to the United States as an au pair.  When I was living in Brooklyn close to the end of my cultural exchange, my best friend had a business trip to New York.  We were so excited to be reunited at the other side of the pond, especially me since I was going through a really tough time.  We had a blast together in Manhattan and spent some great quality time.  Our friendship was still going strong even though we hadn’t seen each other in so long.

A month after our reunion in New York I moved back to Germany.  The following year, both my best friend and I met our “American men” in the same month.  She met hers at a work event in Leipzig, while I met mine at an Irish pub in Dusseldorf. She got engaged and moved to Charlotte, North Caroline the following April while I moved to Huntington Beach to start college the following July.

I swear to God, we didn’t plan any of this together and had no clue that we would both saying goodbye to live in Germany at almost the same time.  I do believe though that everything in life happens for a reason, and that this coincidence was fate.  While my best friend started out in Charlotte and then moved to Dallas for a couple years, I was always rooted on the west coast.

We kept visiting each other, and it was so amazing to have someone you have known forever be “close by” in a different country.  We could relate to the cultural differences and how hard some adjustments to the U.S. were (and still are). Then, in October of 2015, my best friend moved to Redondo Beach because she got a job in LA.  I was over the moon to have her so close to me.

Having to go through all these stages of our life, our friendship has never been closer.  At his point, we consider each other family.  And I strongly believe that nothing will be able to destroy the bond we have.  We will be those grannies you see in videos and memes that are rocking the dance floor with huge Sombreros on their heads and wine glasses in hand.

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Images: pixabay.com

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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes about her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany, she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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Back At the Happiest Place on Earth

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BACK AT THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH

Since June of 2017, I have been counting down the months, weeks, and days to one particular event happening on February 1st: a trip to Disneyland.  Yes, you read that right, I bought my ticket back in June to go to an event the following year.  But it was for a very good reason.

The tickets were half off, and it was a special event sponsored by California State University Fullerton.  In very humble fashion, the school decided to celebrate its 60th anniversary at the theme park, and invited all its students along. Way to celebrate a birthday!

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Of course my college friends and I didn’t want to miss this, and so we set our alarms to midnight on June 1st, when tickets went on sale.  Luckily, all four of us were able to score a ticket before the event sold out.

Fast forward to February 1st, 2018, ten years after my last trip to Disneyland.  The last time I have been to this magical place was Thanksgiving 2008 with my back-then host family and one of my best friends.

I know it sounds very cliché, but when my friends and I stepped foot into the theme park it felt like entering a different world.  Perfectly arranged flowers in the shape of Mickey Mouse greeted us and I instantly felt like a little kid full of excitement and happiness.

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We made our way towards the famous Main Street, and walked along the many cute little shops located around the area until we reached the Disneyland castle.  Of course we couldn’t pass up on not taking any pictures in front of it.  This turned out to be quite difficult though, with hundreds of park visitors trying to accomplish the same.

After a few tries we gave up and decided to have some fun by going on one of the many rides.  We headed straight to the Matterhorn attraction, which I remember being the favorite of my host kids back in the days.  It was quite a fun ride, even though I didn’t dare to look anywhere else than at my friend sitting in front of me due to my fear of heights.

After conquering the Matterhorn, we took a slower pace and headed towards a different area of the park.  I am sure many of you have probably visited Disneyland before and know that the park is divided in several different areas, such as Adventureland, Tomorrowland, and Frontierland.

The park has attractions for every age group, from the very little guests to us adults.  Even if you are not the rollercoaster type like me, there are still plenty of other fun things to do and explore, plus the park offers many great food options.  I could have just eaten my way through and would have been busy all night long.

The only fact that kept me from doing so was that most of the restaurants closed after nine p.m., when the day pass visitors had to leave the park.  That turned out to be a challenge for me since I am a vegetarian, and so my other vegetarian friend and I went on a quest to find something good to eat.

I eventually ended up with a vegetarian Gumbo in a bread bowl (yum).   Besides this tasty dinner dish, we also indulged in Mickey Mouse shaped macaroons and beignets (so so good!).

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After we finished eating, we intended to walk over to Tomorrowland. On our way over, we suddenly heard loud music coming from the Sleeping Beauty Castle, accompanied by a laser show in the colors of the rainbow.

As we walked closer, we saw a group of people dancing in front of the castle while a DJ was playing popular club music tracks.  Yup, my school sure knows how to throw a birthday bash.

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We danced a little (well, actually it was mostly me) before we continued our way to Tomorrowland, where we visited the Star Tours attraction, a 3D ride through space. For the rest of the night, we went from ride to ride until closing time at 1 a.m.  Luckily, we never had to wait long in line.

I am not sure how long it will take me this time till I am going to visit Disneyland again.  I am hoping not another 10 years, but since I just saw today in the news that the park raised its admission prices again, I think I will pass until my school decides to celebrate its birthday there again.

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Images: Anne-Kathrin Schulte

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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes about her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany, she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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Friendships across the pond

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FRIENDSHIPS ACROSS THE POND

I am sure many of you who have moved to California from overseas can relate to what I am going to express in this post.  We all had to leave all or some family and friends thousands of miles behind, living on different continents.  I personally have lived in the United States for six-and-a-half years and luckily, I was able to keep the majority of friendships existent.

Whenever I travel back to Germany or have friends visiting me in California, it feels like we have never been apart.  We catch up like we just hung out yesterday, and it doesn’t feel weird or unnatural at all.  Unfortunately, there are also those friendships that didn’t survive the long-distance relationship.

One particular case is my used to be good friend Vivienne (the name has been changed due to privacy.) I met Vivienne in Senior High School, and while we didn’t become friends right from the get-go, we grew really close once we got to know each other better.  In the long run, I did become her maid of honor and godmother to her firstborn son.

Today, Vivienne and I are no longer in touch.  Our relationship started to become rocky a couple years ago.  To be honest, I have never been the biggest fan of her husband, and I understand why she and I drifted apart.  But let’s circle back even further: Vivienne and her husband met while we were in our last year of Senior High School, and they hit it off instantly.  All three of us used to hang out a lot and had a great time together.

It wasn’t until after a while, I felt that I never got to see Vivienne without him around. I didn’t mind hanging out with him around every once in a while, but I was also missing girl time with one of my closest friends back then.  In the long run of their relationship, she confessed to me that her then-boyfriend became jealous whenever he wasn’t around her, which resulted into tension between the three of us.

At some point, they were at the verge of a breakup but managed to work it out. He promised to let her have her girlfriend time, and everything went back to the good times we used to have.  Ten years ago, Vivienne and her man became husband and wife on a very tumultuous wedding day.

Let’s just sum it up this way: A maid of honor that could only open one eye because she popped a balloon right in front of her eyes the night before; A father of the bride who answers a phone call in the middle of the wedding ceremony; And a father-in-law who is suffering a seizure and has to be hospitalized during the reception.  But as they say: the worse the wedding, the better the marriage.

Two days after, I moved all the way across the pond to work as an au pair for an American family.  As I had predicted it beforehand, a couple months later Vivienne called me with the news that she was expecting.  I was beyond happy for her and her husband and couldn’t wait for the day the baby was born.  I was even more on cloud nine when she proposed to me that she wanted me to be her son’s godmother.

When I moved back to Germany after my year in the States, I spent a lot of time with her and her family.  I helped them during their move to the countryside, which was located two hours away from our hometown.  I still was able to visit them at least once a month, and we had a blast together. I moved back to California in 2011, but whenever I traveled back to Europe, I made it a priority to spend at least one weekend of my time with them.

Over the years, my friend grew more and more unhappy, and one day she opened up to me that she was contemplating getting a divorce.  I supported her in her decision and had an open ear for her whenever she felt the need to reach out.  She eventually decided to give her marriage another shot, but it wasn’t until a year later she was contemplating her decision again.  By that time, I was totally displeased with her husband, and I can understand how that put her in the middle.

While I never asked her to choose between him and me, I can understand that me not being his biggest fan had a negative impact on her in her efforts to save the marriage.  They kept being married and now have a second child, but our friendship was the relationship that didn’t last.  Vivienne and I never had a fight; our connection just slowly diminished until we completely stopped any form of communication.

We are still connected on Social Media and can witness major life events through those platforms, but our friendship is done.  The long distance, unfortunately, didn’t work out for us.

Images: pixabay.com

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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes about her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany, she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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My Wagging Year in Review

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MY WAGGING YEAR IN REVIEW

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had wonderful Holidays, no matter how you celebrated. In this past week of the new year, I have seen a lot of posts about people reviewing the past year on social media.  This inspired me to do a specific “year in review” post.

I have been working as a dog walker for over a year now, and let me tell you, there have been some situations that caused me to consider quitting. Luckily though, the positive experiences outweigh the negative ones, and my tremendous love for dogs keeps me going every day.

So today, I’d like to share with you my top five most memorable moments working as a dog walker in Orange County and Los Angeles.  Let’s dive right into it, shall we?

1)  I once accepted an on-demand walk in the Playa Del Rey area, and when I arrived at the house to get the dogs, an older man opened the door. I know this doesn’t sound very exciting yet, but did I mention that he was topless? I am by far no prude, and he could definitely afford to walk around without a shirt- he was in great shape.  I just didn’t expect it and was a little taken aback.

I tried to stay cool and to not glance at his chest, but I definitely got distracted. I couldn’t wait to leave with the dogs, and when we returned from our walk, he was fully clothed. I have only had one other walk booked with these two dogs, and the second time, his wife was home. The inside of me just thought “Thank God” when a completely dressed woman opened the door for me.

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2) I had this one regular client who was usually never home when I picked up his dogs. At one point back last year, he requested a walk for Sunday morning. As usual, I expected for him not to be home.  Once I had opened the front door to his house, I noticed a weird, unusual smell- it can be best described as a mixture of pot and alcohol, all throughout the house.

When I stepped further inside and looked into the living room to see if the dogs were there, I witnessed what looked like the aftermath of a pretty wild party. Pillows were scattered all over the floor; open and empty bottles of all sorts of alcohol were lying around and standing on tables; but no sign of either one of the dogs. I started to call out their names until I heard noises coming from upstairs.

I looked up but couldn’t see anything, until a male voice started speaking. He sounded very apologetic as well as a bit hung over. I figured that it was the owner, who was recovering from the previous night. I didn’t get to see him (Again, Thank God!), I just heard him gushing the dogs down the stairs, which then came walking towards me with wagging tails. I could swear they seemed relieved to get out of the marijuana infused house just as much as me.

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3)  The most serious incident that occurred during my dog walking days happened in November.  I was watching one of my private clients’ two dogs while she was on vacation.  As usual, I took the pups out on an afternoon stroll around the pretty quiet neighborhood.  Nothing out of the regular happened until we passed one particular house.

While the dogs were sniffing around, I suddenly heard a female voice from behind, calling “Excuse me.” I turned around and saw this older lady, holding a phone in her hand.  She looked at me desperately and asked if I could call 911 for her. I never had to dial these three digits before in my life, and I got very nervous and anxious when she asked me. Of course, I didn’t hesitate a second to call while the lady sat down in a chair on her porch.

The dispatcher on the other end of the line picked up in an instant. She asked me about the emergency, and since I didn’t know the situation, I turned to the lady and prayed that she would be able to answer. She told me that she had trouble breathing and that she was over 80 years old. My heart sank. While I was reporting this information through the phone to the dispatcher, a police car was already arriving.  I was astonished how quickly help came by.

The police officer looked after the lady while I was still on the phone.  The next moment, I could hear sirens from far. Again, I couldn’t believe how fast the first responders arrived. Once the dispatcher told me that everything was taken care of and I could hang up the phone, I quickly walked over to the police officer and the lady and asked him if he’d like me to stay.  He said that it was o.k. for me to leave.

I still kept looking back towards the house when I proceeded with the dogs just to see if the ambulance had arrived.  I felt really sad for this lady since she was living by herself and had to ask a complete stranger to help her out during such a scary situation. The following days, I kept being on the lookout for her whenever I passed this particular house. Luckily, one of these days she was standing on her porch together with another woman. I felt relieved to know that she seemed to be better.

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4) I had a “walk” once with a very energetic (this is an understatement) dog.  All I knew was that the dog was still a puppy, and so I was super excited before my arrival at the client’s house. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into until I got the dog.  It was a nice summer day, and the puppy was waiting for me in the backyard.  The owner, like so many of my clients, wasn’t home, but he had left notes of where to find the dog’s leash.

There were two pretty major problems that made it a little tricky to get the walk started. One, the dog was behaving totally out of control and kept jumping while playfully nipping me at the same time. Two, I couldn’t find the leash for God’s sake. I looked around and around but no sign of it anywhere.  I started texting the owner to ask him and he directed me to a couple spots where I should search.  Still no success.

After being at the house for about 30 minutes already and still not able to start the walk or find the leash, the owner suggested I should just take one of his belts from his closet and strap it around the dog’s harness.  I couldn’t believe what I read. The suggestion made me very uncomfortable, especially since the dog was so hyper and would probably break loose.

I told the owner my concerns and he was understanding. He then suggested I would just play with his dog and count it as walk time. Luckily shortly after, the owner’s roommate arrived and was able to find the leash for me in the garage.  The puppy and I quickly proceeded on our outing so that he could release some energy.

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5) One of my favorite memories from last year happened during the summer.  I was doing a house sitting up in LA and had a new walk client scheduled for one of the mornings I was up in the area.  All the information I received beforehand included the address and the breeds of the two dogs.

On the particular morning, I made sure to arrive at the client’s house a couple minutes before the scheduled time in case he would have any questions and so that the dogs could get used to me. I was standing in front of the owner’s apartment door and knocked.  I heard dogs barking and footsteps coming towards me.

I did not expect that I was about to be greeted by a particular person.  Once the front door was fully opened. I had to raise my head up to be able to see the guy’s face, he was that tall.  I don’t think I have ever seen such a tall person in my life before.  He measured at least 7 feet.

Right away I figured that he must be a Basketball player.  There was just no other way.  He was not the most talkative person, but he helped me get the dogs ready and gave me a key to the house since he was not going to be home upon our return.  I know it sounds silly, but I got a little star struck and became extra nervous to make a good impression.

The walk went fine, and throughout the entire hour I couldn’t stop thinking about my first “celebrity-walk-experience”.  As soon as I dropped the dogs back of at the house, I went to a coffee shop right across the street for Internet access.  I looked up the dog owner’s name and sure enough, he was an NBA player. Of course, I couldn’t hold back and had to share that experience with my friends, and it kept me smirking for days.

To many more wagging experiences to come in 2018 and to all of you a year full of happiness and health!

Images: Anne-Kathrin Schulte

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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes about her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany, she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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Silent Night…

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SILENT NIGHT…

… was definitely not the motto on Christmas at our house growing up (and still isn’t).  The celebrations of Jesus’ birthday usually consisted of singing, playing games, blasting Christmas music, and indulging in good food.  The family traditions continue to this day, but the family has expanded quite a bit since my childhood days.

In Germany, the gift exchange traditionally happens on December 24, Christmas Eve.  I can still remember when I was a younger kid how excited I was on this day.  My anticipation rose to the max when the glass door leading to our living room was covered with linen so that I was unable to see when Santa would arrive to drop off the presents.  Nowadays, I couldn’t care less about material gifts, but I am sure we all remember how that was the highlight when we were little.

The “usual” Christmas Eve for my family looked like this: During the day, we would listen to Christmas music, decorate the tree, play games, prepare part of the food for dinner, and just relax.  In the younger stages of my life, my grandmas were present with us during the Holidays as well.

At three p.m., we attended the mass at our local church.  I grew up in a pretty small suburban town of Dusseldorf, which means that when you went to mass on Christmas Eve, you basically knew everybody attending. So once the service was over, my parents were chatting with neighbors, friends, and acquaintances before we headed back home. At that time, my excitement was almost unbearable, and it seemed like hours until we would finally be back at the house.

But before it was time for the gift exchange, we would all gather around the tree and sing Christmas songs.  I know this sounds cheesy, but my father took a lot of pride in establishing this tradition. Later on, when I was a teenager, I was playing the piano while everybody else was singing (probably for the best since I have a terrible singing voice).

Once we finished the last tune, it was present time. After every gift had been unwrapped and inspected, it was time for what is now, being an adult, my favorite part: food. The traditional family dinner consisted of meat fondue with plenty of side dishes.  Dinner on Christmas Eve usually lasted for hours and included lots of booze (not for the kids, of course) and laughter.

Once the table was cleaned up, it was time for game night. Card games, board games, activity games…You name it, we did it. Game night was accompanied by more booze and candy.  Believe it or not, there was always, always room for candy in my family, even after a multiple-hour dinner. Our Christmas Eve agenda (minus the gift exchange and church visit) usually continued throughout December 25 and 26, which are both Holidays in Germany.

When I moved out to Huntington Beach, I traveled back to Europe for Christmas during the first couple years.  I haven’t been to Germany now for two years, but we are keeping the Christmas tradition alive over here in California, including the good food, drinks, games, and laughter.  Except for this year, we are having one sweet addition: a two-month-old baby girl.  And with that, our Christmas night will definitely be anything but silent.

I wish all of you a very merry Christmas, no matter how you celebrate! Happy Holidays!

Image: pixabay.com

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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes about her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany, she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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