as of late

Hi I know. I do miss writing here. Anyway, here’s a life update of some stuff that has been / will be / currently is going on in the game of life.

I’m moving to Doha, Qatar. No lies. But just for a month. I’ll be happily tucked away on the Persian Gulf, in the world’s richest country (per capita). And I’m going for work! Should be good times. Here’s what the city will look like as I fly in..

doha

                                                    photo cred here, but you can skip the article..

Running!! All is great on that front, minus a few hiccups. Because of some random conflicts, I’ve missed out on the last three things I’ve signed up for: The Brooklyn Half, The Montauk Olympic Tri, and the NYC Marathon. Because I’ve kinda-sorta started training and then stopped, I really am itching to run someeething. Living near Prospect Park has literally saved my life and has given me a fresh perspective of NYC. I’ve been nearly addicted to running there—getting up most mornings to do a loop or two, which conveniently has me at ~5 or ~8.5 mile runs on a regular basis. So I want to race but now we’re creeping into registering for things in late fall/early winter, and blah I want it to be early fall forever.

I went to LA. #WestCoastBestCoast. I went to visit my best friend Danielle, who moved there last year, and my uncle and cousin who’ve lived in Southern California for most of my life. It was great. I haven’t seen my family in six years, and it felt like no time had passed. Seeing Danielle doin’ her thing in her new life was also really special. We went on runs (hills!!) and hikes, ate tacos, explored the city, and caught up on life. 

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I think I’m going to Peru. I’m starting to plan my next adventure, and I believe Nicole and I have locked down Machu Picchu +ALPACA farm this winter. I’m seriously so stoked. Dreams really do come true.

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Chinatown massages are scary/ the best. My body has been killing me lately, so I bit the bullet and got a massage at a recommended place in Chinatown. Holy crap. I swear it was the best and most painful thing I’ve experienced in a while. The lady yelled at me for not stretching enough, and spent thirty minutes getting all the knots out of my legs. I wanted to thank her and cry at the same time. She moved her hands into weird pressure points in my ribs and ankles, and cracked my back approximately 167 times. And it was $40 for an hour! I left the place and felt mildly drunk and in a completely new body. 

Chia pudding is weird.  I finally bought chia seeds because they were on sale (still $9 for a bag that’s the size of my palm?) and they are supposedly God’s gift to health so I went with it. I soaked them overnight in some almond milk and added honey, banana, and cinnamon and not gonna lie it was pretty gross. Tasted like slime. But I spent all this money so I keep eating it…I’ve now added sprinkles (hence the pink) and it’s making it a bit better.

PS) This is why I’m not a food blogger…Mine is on the left, not mine is on the right.

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And that’s it! Hoping to spend the next month in New York surrounded by friends, happy running weather, and all-things autumn, before it’s off to Doha, then Thanksgiving aaand gearing into the next winter in the city…

change & a weekend in-the-life

If I could use only one word to describe these last few months, I’d be change.

I left the tech startup world and entered the impact/non-profit one. I moved neighborhoods (byee three years in Williamburg) and got out of a ‘relationship’ that really needed to happen but still really messed with me. My sleep and workout routine changed pretty significantly (I’m in bed by 9pm…), and I started cooking way more and going out a lot less (#adult).

All of these changes are good, but I’m still reminded of this quote: “Change, even good change, is loss.” The fact that so many things in my life are SO DIFFERENT has taken a mental and physical toll. I also have had a non-stop summer o’ fun and have yet to catch up on rest — going to weddings and bridal showers, backpacking on the AT (again!), seeing concerts and Mets games, eating a lot of mexican food, and starting to train for the new york city marathon (but stopped..more on that..).

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(Swear there were more than three of us at the wedding..)

I laugh at myself when I get stressed that I have a lot of fun happening. That said, I realized I needed alone time to work through some things and feel grounded again. And I finally, finally think I’m starting to feel like a real human again.

I was counting down the days to August 1st when I would finally move into my new apartment in Crown Heights. And so far, I love it. My best friend Nicole now lives two blocks away. We’re reliving freshman year (we met freshman year of college but then I transferred, and we haven’t lived this close to each other since then) aaand are basically a married couple. We made each other a set of keys, she comes over for dinner, I pick up groceries for her from Manhattan, and we’re getting into a routine of going to each other’s apartments at night during the week to split a beer in bed. It’s the best.

I’m also getting up most mornings and running in Prospect Park, which is also the best. I love running there so much, and as much as I loved my routine of warming up and doing workouts at McCarren Track, I needed a change of scenery. I also love that there are actual HILLS around here (I love hill running) which I hope will make me a stronger runner. I also have used the word “love” five times in four sentences. I <3 Running. 

Anyway … this was the first weekend in centuries when I wasn’t moving/traveling/etc, and it was a wonderful one at that.

On Saturday AM, Nicole and I went to a yoga collective near our houses, and then walked to the farmers market. This peach was $2 #worthit.


peach

I napped, read this book, and continued working on a medium post about the Appalachian Trail.

Jim and Kate came down to see my new apartment, listened to San Fermin in the park, and got ice cream at Ample Hills!! So good. 

ice cream

This morning I went running, and felt…actually pretty awful. Some days I jump out of bed, bang out two loops of Prospect Park, and feel great. And I was excited to go on a 10-12 miler today, but felt like my body was going to keel over. I’m “proud” that I didn’t push it and ended the run early (seven miles early…). and I’m trying to embrace the bad days with the good ones. But it was a pretty epic fail.

And thennn to end the weekend, I celebrated the last bit of change that I am not so happy about: Jim and Kate moving from Brooklyn to a HOUSE on Long Island. A bunch of friends gathered to spent our last Sunday together at the Lobster Joint in Greenpoint. I biked up there which was fun/hot. The day was bittersweet and delicious. (Please don’t move away.) 

friends lobster

if you told me back then…

Woah, so it’s been centuries since I’ve written here. Yikes.

These past few months have been crazy in a wonderful way. I left a job I poured my heart into for three years, got on a plane and went to rural Nepal to start a new career the next day, and jumped right back into a new NYC office the day after landing in JFK with nearly 48 hours of no-sleep travel. (Xanax, you failed me.)

Then I signed a new lease. Started cooking way more of my meals. Aaand I’m trying to get back into some semblance of endurance shape (marathon training starts kinda soon?), though every run I go on I feel like an out of shape mess. (I didn’t run in Nepal. I wanted to but I forgot to pack socks…)

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bayalpata hospital in achham, nepal


Alas, life is good. How can it not be? I’m really loving my new job, and getting to spend my first two weeks in Nepal to see the actual work we are doing was incredible, and I’m so grateful for it. (The trip in and of itself deserves some writings, but I’m lacking the motivation.) Aside from work, I’m spending a ton of time outside, and know the rest of the summer will be filled with hikes, camping trips, and outdoor shows. I feel lucky, as always, to be enjoying this 20-something life where I’m striking a better balance of a professionally intense job with quality time to recharge and enjoy other important parts of my life.

Anyways, what got me thinking to write again wasn’t a ‘heres-an-update-on-how-I’m-feeling-about-summer,’ but rather a simple reflection I had the other day:

When ‘cleaning’ my room I found a book on the history of India I bought back in March. I’ve been obsessed with India for awhile now, and got it so I could learn everything about the country before (what my thinking was at the time…) quitting my job and backpacking there this summer.

Of course that didn’t happen, nor did I believe it really would. But had you told me when I purchased the book that in two months I would be traveling in Nepal, India’s next-door neighbor, as the kick-off to a new and incredible career, I would have been shocked.

Had you told me a year after my first 10-mile run (at a 9min pace?) I would’ve run two marathons and come away with a BQ, I would’ve laughed..a lot.

Had you told me Melissa, who I knew for three weeks in DC, would become one of my closest friends and future Brooklyn roommate and would also become amazing friends with my partner-in-crime Nicole (who is moving two blocks away from us!) I wouldn’t have believed it. At all.

nic mel laura

I could go on and on: the days I scoured Idealist.org post graduation, wanting to work for a nonprofit but lacking the on-paper skills. Or visiting my brother in Greenpoint back in college and convincing myself I’d never move to NYC. Or stalking pictures of California/the PNW on The Internet, dreaming of running the trails there.

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stinson beach trail race in muir woods

Basically, what I’ve learned is this: life will take you to awesome places, you’ll accomplish more than you believe you can, and things have a way of working themselves out. I’ve also learned you have to work your ass off to make it happen, and the fruits of your labor may not be visible (picked? eaten? weird idiom..) immediately.

Lastly, don’t rule anything out. Be open to change, to uncertainty, to trust that with hard work and a resilient spirit, good things will happen.

 

a final sunday evening

Sunday evenings have always felt special to me. People often dread them, since Monday morning is right around the corner and that typically means back to the 9-5 grind. So I’ve always felt incredibly lucky that I generally love them, since I have a job I look forward to going to each morning.

I’ve worked at Greatist for over 2.5 years, and tonight is my final “Sunday evening” with them. About a month ago, I made one of the most difficult decisions in my life, which was to enter another life chapter and leave what has been my job, my second home, and my other family, for nearly three years.

I chose the word difficult over hard (if there actually a difference) because I know deep down it is the right move. It certainly doesn’t make it any easier — it has been an insanely challenging last few months (hence the writing silence) wondering if I would change my mind, if I would regret my decision, and/or if I would ever find another job just as demanding and fulfilling. I was also afraid Greatist set my standards too high, and I would never be as satisfied in a different career.

But I realized Greatist taught me I shouldn’t settle for less, and my next step has to be something that thrills and challenges me just the same, if not more. And after weighing a ton of options (opportunities across the country, along with traveling and working abroad) I took another incredibly exciting job in New York. I’ll be the marketing director at Possible, where my first day includes getting on a plane and flying to Nepal (!!) for two weeks, where the organization delivers high-quality, durable healthcare. I feel incredibly humbled, excited, and of course a bit scared — but most importantly confident that this next move is absolutely the right one.

All that said, this last week at Greatist will (obviously) be tough. I just read an email my boss sent to the team scoping out the next six months, and I felt a sad sense of disconnection, even though I know such a huge piece of my heart will stay with the organization and team. The mission is something I still believe in and support 150%, and I feel so lucky to have had a part in growing it for so long.

I’m not sure everyone at Greatist will truly know the impact they’ve made on my life. I’ve learned so much, grown so much, and have been surrounded by amazing people who’ve pushed me further than I thought possible — who’ve allowed and encouraged me to bring my whole self to work and who I can most certainly call true friends. So thank you for an amazing journey, and for reinforcing the powerful notion that you should never settle for less and you should always work insanely hard for the things that matter most to you.

So onwards and upwards to a new career, a new team, and a new sense of gratitude and excitement when Sunday evening rolls around.

on 26

Yesterday I turned 26.  I’m not one that likes putting too much emphasis on age, but for some reason this birthday means a ton to me this year. 

30 doesn’t seem that far away, and yet 20 seems like decades ago. When I turned 20 I was a sophomore in college. I was a baby. And I’ve managed to squeeze in a lot in five years: lots of traveling, a graduation, a couple odd jobs, many apartments, a few relationships, some marathons (!), and a career. I’ve also grown a shit ton emotionally — learning a lot about myself, what I love, what I’m good at, and what kind of energy I want to put into the world.

So now what happens for the second half of my twenties? Part of me always thought I was getting that wanderlust “out of the way” (travel across the country in a van that runs on vegetable oil? check.) because by 26 you’re supposed to have figured things out. Wandering meant uncertainty, and settling meant stability.

I’ve reached a crossroads where I’m really digging deep to reveal what I want to do and where I want to go in life. It’s an insanely hard question, and I feel lucky that I have a pretty great grasp on that answer. And so this next year, the big 2-6, is all about making that leap, entering the next chapter, and following my heart and gut.

I woke up on on my birthday at 5:30 so I could run over to the East River path in Manhattan for the sunrise over Brooklyn — what’s been my home for over two years. It was surprisingly warm as I sat myself on a bench and watched the sun bloom behind the buildings in Williamsburg. It sounds so incredibly cheesy (…cause it is) but I wanted to begin my birthday by myself in this way, while reminding myself of the strength I’ll always carry with me. 

26 will be full of change (and hopefully no more vague blog posts). It will be scary, thrilling, challenging, and ultimately one of the best years yet. 

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nyc marathon

cause yolo, yeah?

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in the last thirty days…

It’s both a month since I last blogged (eek) but I haven’t really been compelled to do much public writing. I’ve decided to let these blogging “ruts” ride themselves out, rather than get annoyed that I can’t find the time, energy, or creativity to turn any events and musings in my head onto screen. Anyhow, here’s what’s been happening in the last month or so — that’s safe for blog world, at least (:

Florida. I escaped the nyc winter for a hot second to go to my cousin’s wedding in Florida. I was able to hang out with my grandma, go on a run on the beach and legitimately sweat a lot, celebrate a marriage, and then hop back on a plane where I silently panicked yet returned — thankfully, safely — to the tundra.

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Greatist retreat. The team at work has shifted and evolved in the last few months, so it was nice to go on a day retreat out to the Botanical Gardens for some team bonding and brainstorming. We ended the day at Spritzenhaus, a beer garden in Williamsburg. We got there at 5pm and left at …12. That’s seven hours at one bar. It was great.

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A-a-lcohol. Good segue! I’ve been enjoying getting through the tail end of winter with many a night out with friends. For some reason I rarely go out on the weekends, but find myself at bars on Tuesdays. A week or so ago, Flo and I were given free shots of tequila. And then I tried to pay for my food with my metro card…#shots

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Daily gratitude. For the past 25 days, I’ve been writing down three things I’m grateful for each night on my tumblr. After a month, I want to collect all 90 small moments and see if I can find any themes. (I have a feeling alcohol, friends, and sitting on the subway will be high up there.) Some favorites so far include: “walking from 125th to 96th street in the sun,” “ordering that second bloody mary” and “walking behind a little girl and her grandmother while the grandmother taught the little girl how to count to 50 in Spanish.”

Traveling: on my mind. There have been many nights where I browse Kayak.com and get thissss close to just booking a plane ticket. I’m hoping to go out and visit family/my best friend in LA in a month or so, and Nicole and I plan on hiking a longer stint of the AT in June. I’m still dreaming about India and Mt. Kilimanjaro, and there’s a good chance I’m going to Spain in the fall to hang out with Nate, my close friend from Nigeria. (We decided to meet in the middle. Also this picture below is when we were babies/the last day we saw each other! Six years ago!)

me and nate

Swimming and running in SHORTS. I “officially” am sort of training for both the bk half and my first triathlon. I’m less worried about the half, though anxious to finally get some awesome runs in. Last week it was 65 degrees and I went for an awesome six miler. I felt so free and realized how much I miss running outdoors. I have ALSO began swimming though, which is a whole other beast. I can rarely swim two laps without actually dying, so the thought of swimming a mile is both slightly horrifying and very humbling.

NYC bucket list. Nicole decided to buckle down and adventure in our own city, and I decided to join her. Some of these activites one of us has already done, but it’ll be fun to embark on these things together. So far the list includes: dinner & movie at Nitehawk, aventures at the cloisters and staten island tugboat graveyardsleep no more (got tickets!!), go on a shitty booze cruise on the east river, go on the roosevelt island gondalas, run over all the nyc bridges, go to the transit museum, see shakespeare in the park, among many others. She’s also never walked the Brookyn Bridge, so we did that this afternoon. =)   

 bridge   me n nic

inked, again

Friday morning, I woke up with something telling me: “you are getting a tattoo this weekend.”

I knew I’ve wanted another tattoo for a while. My rule is to want something for at least a year before getting it — there is literally no reason to rush a tattoo, since once you have it…you have it forever. 

My first one, yebehyia bio, came about in a similar way. I had come up with the concept while living in Ghana, and waited over two years until I was totally ready. Then, I woke up one morning and knew it was time and drove to a tattoo parlor that afternoon. (Without telling anyone — this time, I called my parents first. Daughter of the year award!) 

I also got it during a pretty liminal state in my life. I had just left a band I was touring with (on less than stellar terms) and was going through not one, but two breakups (long story: but just remember that rebound relationships uh, never work). I was jobless, apartment less, and a little confused about my whole entire life. Then I got the tattoo, and everything slowly, finally started to work its way out.

Now, I’m not going through multiple breakups, nor am I unemployed and homeless. But I do feel like I’m in a transitory place in my life, and I wanted something to keep me grounded. 

So what better than mountains.

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My best friend Nicole sketched them out on my back, and then the tattoo artist literally went over it with the needle. My first tattoo is in my handwriting, and it was super important to me that this one was also total original work, and from someone near and dear to my heart. (I also had to make sure they didn’t look like the Coors Light
 can…) 

So why mountains? Surface level: I love them. I love climbing them, being surrounded by them, and reading and writing about them. I grew up vacationing in the mountains, and will never turn down a hike up one or a ski trip down another (depending on its size…). Mt. Kilimanjaro is also very high up on my bucket list, and the only way I’m getting married is if someone agrees to do it on a summit.

But secondly, and more importantly, I feel like myself in the mountains. I am at total peace. And now I have them forever on my left shoulder-blade: a reminder that I can always feel how I do when I’m in the mountains.

Because now, they’re always with me.

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(nicole’s sketch on the left, final product on the right)

why skiing is awful/the best thing ever

This weekend I went skiing in Killington with an awesome group of people. It was a blast, but also got many of us thinking: why do we like doing this? Skiing is cold, it’s expensive, and it’s rough on your body. So I decided to lay out all the reasons for why skiing sucks, but why it may very well be worth it in the end.

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why skiing sucks

Before leaving for your #epictrip, you think it would be good to upgrade your skiing gear — until you realize gloves are 80 bucks and snow pants easily $300. (Apparently it costs a lot to stay warm and shop in New York City.) You get by with the bare minimum — a teal neck warmer found on the sales rack — while hoping your ski stuff circa 1995 still fits and there will be an epic heat wave.

Once you’ve made it to the mountain, it takes roughly seven hours to park and walk to the lodge. You get there (in your $50 smartwool socks and barely-fitting middle school snow pants) and have a silent panic attack while purchasing an $85 lift ticket. You stick the annoying ski pass onto your zipper and then head to the rental shop.

The only thing worse than waiting on the rental lines is putting on your rental boots. Putting on ski boots is literally on my Top 5 Worst Things To Do In Life list (tucked nicely between flying and paying taxes). It takes full-body strength to angle your foot correctly into the boot, and then you feel like your ankle is going to snap off while you shove your whole foot inside. Once tucked in, you have to deal with the awful buckles that never fail to make the boot too tight or too loose. (Mind you there is still an 80 percent chance you have the wrong size boots and will have to get back on the line.)

After you stash your stuff in the rental locker (that you obviously paid for) and head outside, you begin to actually freeze. First it’s a toe, then a thumb, and then your nose. You get on the chairlift — which can be a traumatic experience — (a moving chair) and then continue to freeze even more while the lift takes its precious time crawling up the mountain. The wind picks up. And juuust when you almost reach the top and you’ve lifted up the safety bar, the chair stops because someone probably lost a pole trying to get on the scary moving chair at the bottom of the mountain.

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And you’re still cold and freezing and your boots are tight and your long underwear cost $70 because it is wicking and you really, really just want a beer. (But the views aren’t half bad.)

Finally, you actually start to ski. You’re on your way, while trying to avoid the asshole snowboarder who comes too close and loudly sprays ice in your face and the seven-year-old girl in pink snow pants who is most definitely a better skier than you. And then you accidentally make a wrong turn and end up at an intersection where you can either take Double Black Diamond Option I (moguls), Double Black Diamond Option II (trees), or Double Black Diamond Option III (straight drop) to get down the mountain.

You somehow make it down but have lost your pals. All of your friends look like everyone else (black snow pants, big goggles, green rental skis) and your phone has already died from being exposed to the cold. You see the lodge, but it isn’t time for lunch (an $8 burger and $4 bottle of water) so you go up the mountain again, this time overly obsessing about patches of ice since falling in skiing is the worst thing ever. (How do you get up without looking insanely awkward? Why does only one ski come off, and both poles go flying, always, into the woods?)

While wondering why you didn’t take up snowboarding as a kid, you realize you have to pee. And then you realize that’s literally impossible without stashing your skis and poles and trudging in your moon boots back inside for a tease of warmth and an undressing-episode of seven layers before you can relieve yourself of all that coffee you drank since you woke up at 6am to do all…this.

So after the accidental black diamonds and the ice-patch anxiety along with the snow-makers blowing in your face and the over-priced curly fries (health!) you finally get what you’ve been waiting for on your epic ski trip: to leave. You drive to your rental house, take off your gear, crack open a beer, and jump in the hot tub while soothing your sore muscles and bruised shins.

And then you wake up and do it all over again.

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But something always happens on that second day. The temperature rises, your feet feel a little better in the boots, and the crowds lessen. While skiing can literally suck, if you get the right conditions, it all becomes worth it. On our second day at Killington, we literally had the mountain to ourselves with fresh powder and tolerable temperatures. I was flying down a trail all alone. I turned without worrying about ice or knocking out a fellow skier. I stopped and found myself on the middle of a mountain and all was quiet. Silent. I was warm, I was moving, I was at peace.

Sure, the beauty of skiing is often that sense of accomplishment: of battling the cold, working your body, and surviving seven hours outdoors to reach that amazing moment of taking off your boots and heading back inside. But other times the magic really is in the mountain: in the perfect run, the perfect conditions, and the effortless motion that pulls you down the slopes and back up them once more.

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songs that have changed my life

I’m pretty sure I spend 80 percent of my day listening to music. I almost always have headphones in when commuting or walking to a friend’s apartment, and once I get home I turn on my speakers and play a few albums while I’m winding down before bed.

If I’m in a certain mood, I’ll pick songs that feel nostalgic; I love the fact that certain songs can represent or remind you of certain times in your life. So I figured I’d share some of my favorite tracks that in a way have ‘changed my life’ — happy listening!

(ps: I didn’t alternate from soundcloud & spotify for fun – only half the songs were on soundcloud!) 

Come On! Feel the Illinois – Sufjan Stevens

This is probably my favorite song of all time. It’s been my constant throughout my whole life and the arrangement is incredibly awesome. 

Tell Me Why – Neil Young

My first (and only…) car had a cassette player, and the only tape I had was Neil Young. “Tell Me Why” was the first track. I love the guitar. 

Let Down – Radiohead  

OK Computer is probably my favorite Radiohead album, and the transition from track five into “Let Down” is SO beautiful. There’s a buildup that starts at 3:42 and it’s aaamazing.

Methuselah – San Fermin

I only started listening to this band recently, and it reminds me of the early winter and walking around the city. It soothes. 

Emily – Joanna Newsom 

Joanna’s voice can take some time getting used to, but her melodies and lyrics are pretty brilliant. Her storytelling ability in song is what really gets me.

On The Sea – Beach House

This song is on their album Bloomwhich has literally been carrying me through the last few weeks. It’s healing. It’s magical.

Cubism Dream – Local Natives

I saw Local Natives play live recently, and this was the only song they didn’t play. #Heartbreak. Still, it’s one of my favorites, and reminds me of my first winter in Brooklyn. 

Two-Headed Boy – Neutral Milk Hotel

Sufjan may have taken my favorite song, but In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is definitely my favorite album…ever. I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of it. This, here, is my favorite track.

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