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  • I read a lot, and I have a lot of opinions, so I can't believe I haven't made a list like this before. If you are even a little bit like me or you want to get a peek into my psyche (you probs don't), these are the books to read.
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Archive for November, 2009

Packing is the new hell on earth

Posted on November 28th, 2009 by annakjarzab

OH. MY. GOD. YOU. GUYS.

Packing is so awful! I walk into our living room and just marvel at how we were able to get so much stuff to “fit” (I use the word loosely here, because we had stuff shoved in every crevice) in our teeny, tiny apartment. It’s absurd how much stuff we had hidden away in little nooks and crannies. My roommate and I were discovering all kinds of stuff–an adorable set of juice glasses I’d completely forgotten I had, knives we’d never used (which will be displaced by the set of knives my mom sent me a while ago that are currently living at work, which I realize makes me look like a serial killer, but whatevs), a pizza cutter…the list goes on and on.

The problem with our old place (this is the part where I talk about living in New York, which I feel like is only of interest to people who live in New York, so you can skip this if you don’t care) is that it had about zero amounts of storage. That doesn’t really seem to make any sense because I’m telling you we totally forgot about things we had, but it’s because everything was shoved into the few small cabinets we had, and we never had any cooking space (most of this discovery happened in the kitchen), so we had no desire to cook, hence the not using anything we had (I swear to God, I have pots and pans I used to use in Chicago that I absolutely have not  used since I moved to New York, because my roommate and I have just used one frying pan and one sauce pan to cook our food for two years), because there wasn’t any room to do anything with it.

This is all about to change. Our new apartment has an actual kitchen–small, but actual. It has cabinets for our things and some more counter space and is going to be a joy to spend time in. We keep marveling over this. We’re like, “We’re going to have dinner parties!” every five seconds. But I know my roommate and I, and we need to plan that stuff immediately upon moving in, or it won’t happen. We’re quite inert when we’re settled.

But anyway. What is it about packing that makes your belongings start multiplying like the loaves and fishes? Every time I think I’m done packing, I see something else I need to pack. It’s ridiculous. I’m so tired. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a week because my room is a shambles (also, after several weeks of not having heat and freezing at night, it’s a frickin’ sauna in here).

I can’t wait for all of this to be over and to be in our new place. I know I’ll shed some tears over leaving our own place–not because I love it (I do NOT), but because we spent two years there. Eesha and I are, in so many ways, totally different people than we were when we moved in. We’ve both gone through some heartbreak, and my life has completely changed because of AUT, and we’re very good friends now, whereas when we moved in to the apartment we barely knew each other. We’ll never be those girls again. We’ll never move to New York for the first time again. It’s the end of an era.

But because my default is to always believe that my life will be the same forever as it is at the moment (obviously a fallacy, but it’s just my mental default), I’m always looking backwards, not forwards, and I forget that the end of an era is always the beginning of a new era. Last night when I called him for Thanksgiving, I gave my dad this whole speech about how this upcoming year is going to be my year. This is the year things are going to go well for me, I just know it. I’m not usually the type of person to make grandiose pronouncements like that, but I’ve been tired and stressed out for a long time now, I’ve worked very hard for a long time without a break, and I’m ready to create some positive change. I’m looking forward to 2010. Not just because of AUT, although of course because of AUT, but also because I’m excited about the possibilities of the unknown.

I know how lucky I am. I have managed to make a real, honest to God life for myself in New York, which, aside from all the cliches, is actually very hard. I need to sit back and enjoy it. I need to let it wash over me and be grateful. I need to relax. That’s what I’m focused on for 2010. I believe in 2010.

But right now, it’s 2009, and I need to go to bed before I fall over and start snoozing on the floor like a Sim. Because the movers are coming at 9 AM. Oh boy.

Another interview

Posted on November 24th, 2009 by annakjarzab

Just in case you’re interested, Briana from The Book Pixie just posted an interview with me on her site. Just your everyday Jarzab ridiculousness, with plenty of run-on sentences, in case you’re into that sort of thing.

NCTE

Posted on November 24th, 2009 by annakjarzab

NCTE is an annual conference for English teachers, proper name National Conference for Teachers of English, and this year it was held in Philadelphia. I didn’t go, but thanks to some friends on the inside I got to see some pictures, including a picture of AUT at the Random House booth! Observe.

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There’s my little darling! (I’ve been feeling very fuzzy and maternal about AUT lately, I don’t know what’s wrong with me.) Doesn’t it look like it’s about to topple off the table? Because it’s EDGY–GEDDIT? You get it.

Actually, it looks like Cyn Balog’s Sleepless is about to knock it off the table. Rude, Cyn. Rude. By the by, have you read Cyn’s first Delacorte book, Fairy Tale? I’m not big on the fairies, but I have to say that I really liked Fairy Tale. I thought it was funny and didn’t take itself at all seriously, which made it a perfect read for me. I found the characters sympathetic and likeable and I was really rooting for main character, Morgan. Anyway, I feel like I don’t talk about books I read that I like enough. YA books, I mean.

Let’s detour on that point for a second. I’ve read a lot of YA this year, probably more than I’ve ever read in one year in my life. Some recent faves have been The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard (if you like All Unquiet Things, you’ll like The Secret Year; Colt and Neily are brothers in spirit), One Lonely Degree by C.K. Kelly Martin (I read that a while back and might’ve mentioned loving it, but if not, I LOVED IT), and my friend Alex’s Brightly Woven (but you knew that).

Nina LaCour’s Hold Still was beautiful (you can watch Nina’s Borders live Point of View event here–that’s actually a link to all of the archived POV events, including ones with John Green, Jay Asher, Gayle Forman, Amy Efaw, and Laurie Halse Anderson), Amy Efaw’s After was haunting and great, Beautiful Creatures was TO DIE FOR (I had withdrawal for days after finishing it, like I missed it–LIKE A PERSON), Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall was very well done, pitch perfect, and I’ve recently gotten completely sucked (ha! geddit! sucked! like a vampire sucks blood…you get it) into the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, Blood Promise easily being my favorite. If you hate Twilight because you think Bella’s boring and agentless, you’re going to love Rose from VA–that girl can kick some ass.

So there are some book recommendations for you. I can also say with the utmost confidence that The Naughty List by Suzanne Young is just lovely, really funny and bright, with such an original voice. Sorry some of these books are not yet released, but buy them as soon as you can, hm?

That’s really all I have for you, unless you care that we can get the keys to our new apartment tomorrow! And move in this weekend! Which is an awful big relief for me. Now we just have to schedule movers and do the damn thing, and then done. Which is good, because AUT comes out in less than two months now, plus Christmas (I’ll be going to Chicago for ten days–thank you, Corporation I Work For, for being so generous with the holiday time off!), plus MB revisions, which should be coming any day now–I’ll just be happy to get moving off my plate. I can’t wait to settle in to my new sweet digs.

Naturally

Posted on November 23rd, 2009 by annakjarzab

Oh yeah, guess what? I’m totally not going to finish CH by the end of November! Like you ever believed I would.

There are many reasons for this. The first is that I, um, decided to add a new character, who I basically ganked from a book I started writing a while ago (it was my fake NaNo book last year! Fake meaning I did not work on it during NaNo but fronted like I might) that I’ve pretty much decided not to bother with. I’m…not so sure this is going to work, but I’m trying it. But now I have to go put him in the first 200 pages, because I really can’t finish the book without at least giving him a through line to the end. I just can’t work that way, it’s weird.

This decision seemed totally brilliant when I made it, but now I don’t know. We’ll see. I don’t experiment a whole lot with my books–I call ’em like I see ’em and don’t get fancy with the risks and such. So this is something new and different for me! I don’t know about CH, you guys. I’m very attached to it and I think parts of it are good, and I think that if I work on it it will get very, very good. BUT there’s a whole lot going on and I don’t know how hospitable the market would be to this kind of book. It’s contemporary, but it’s less high concept than AUT and MB and now the new character’s kind of putting a spin on everything…I just don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see. I like it, though. I’m happy with it, even though it’s a hot mess right now. It’s got all the right elements, I just need to wrangle them into shape. Which is the fun of it, obvs.

I’m also progressing on the CH-related short story I started a few weeks back, working title TGITW. Or TGIF, if you grew up in the nineties. Or Thank God It’s Thursday if you’re Shannel.

So anyway, yeah, it’s going pretty well. I think it’s good. As good as a not-yet-finished short story in first draft by someone who rarely writes short stories can possibly be, which is not very. But I like it, and it’s helping me work through some things, both character-related and also personal, maybe. Whatever. The point is, work is being done Chez Jarzab, even though I have packed most of my stuff in boxes and am very nervous that we don’t have keys to the apartment we plan to move into THIS WEEKEND. Which is not that big of a deal, but we don’t know when or how we are going to get these keys, which isn’t great.

OMG guys I haven’t told you about the apartment. Suffice it to say that it is great, and we signed the lease so technically it is ours from Dec 1 onward, but that doesn’t mean all will go smoothly! This is Manhattan, baby. If you’re not flying by the seat of your pants, you’re not living.

I’ll give you the full tour of the new apartment (with photos! taken on my iPhone! so not of great quality! deal with it) when I can actually, um, go in it because I have keys. We can all discover if the apartment has a dishwasher together! (I can’t remember.) But it does have a WASHER/DRYER IN THE APARTMENT (everyone who lives in New York who reads this blog just cursed me out and then swooned), of that I am SURE.

Let’s cross our fingers and hope that I get to move in on Saturday like I planned. I said cross your fingers! Thank you.

New Moon

Posted on November 22nd, 2009 by annakjarzab

Okay, so on Friday night I saw New Moon, and, you guys? It was awesome.

It’s been getting a lot of horrible reviews, but it’s really hard to tell (j/k! it’s not really hard to tell! it’s totally obvious) if the movie is actually bad or if movie reviewers are by nature inclined to pan and hate the Twilight franchise and all it stands for because its target audience is young females and LORD KNOWS they can’t stand to see us making choices that reflect buying power. Keep the ladies in their places! Only men should be able to determine if a movie makes millions and millions of dollars at the box office simply by blowing up everything in a seven mile radius (ahem Transformers)! Because honestly, the over-the-top melodramatic romance of Twilight is the lady version of blowing stuff up.

My only concern about the film was that there was going to be too much Jacob. LOL this movie is all about Jacob, I know that, but I’m staunchly anti-Jacob, or at least I used to be. Okay, I’m still anti-book-Jacob–Jacob in the book is a total whiny brat of a tool who manipulates Bella and attacks her with his mouth. I’m also anti the way that Bella tolerates all of that shizz from him, but let’s not put Baby in a corner just yet or whatever. I have a point!

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But here’s where it gets tricky: Taylor Lautner(‘s chest) made me like Jacob a lot. I finally understood why maybe she might pick him, except of course I knew she wouldn’t (SPOILER!) pick him, because if there’s anything Stephenie Meyer does right in that book, it’s make a contract with the reader (I, the undersigned, Stephenie Meyer, do solemnly swear to make sure that Edward and Bella end up together as vampires at the end of this series) and stick with it! I believe in making a contract with the reader and not veering off in crazy directions when it makes no sense and presenting an unbelievable choice as a legitimate “twist”/solution.

So yeah, Team Edward 4 Lyfe or whatever, but also I get the Jacob thing now, although I still hate him in the books and always will. They were right to stick with Lautner, even though I know he went through many months of unhealthy body building to get them to hire him back, and I cringed for the first half of the movie every time he came on screen because of that awful wig they had him in. He was very likeable and believable as Jacob, and I actually believed the words that were coming out of his mouth. He might be the best actor of the three of them? Although you know I heart my RPATTZ so I don’t even know what I’m saying, crazy talk, obviously. By the way, they played the trailer for RPATTZ’s new movie (March 2010 baby!), Remember Me, before New Moon (of course they did) and it looks super great.

My favorite part of the trailer (aside from RPATTZ) is that his character reminds me somewhat of Neily, who I love. Which is funny, because I always thought RPATTZ would be a more appropriate portrayal of another character in the book, but whatever. Since Remember Me is as close to an All Unquiet Things movie as I think we’ll ever get, I’ll take it!

Secret shame: I now have two RPATTZ posters in my office. It’s okay, I work in children’s publishing–it’s allowed if you have it up ironically. Whenever people comment on it (because they do) I always tell them that he’s watching over me while I work because he loves me and he just wants me to be safe. TWILOLZ!! Gets a laff every time (I don’t think it’s ever gotten a laugh, actually).

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So anyway, I thought the stuff between Bella and Jacob in New Moon was sexy and funny. The movie was a lot of fun, actually. A lot of people are using the word “joyless” to describe the relationships the series presents, and while that’s in a lot of ways true, I thought there was plenty of fun here. Lots of smiles between Bella and Jacob, he jokes around with her, even Bella says a minorly funny thing at the end of the movie when Edward’s trying to convince his family not to let Bella become a vampire and she gives him a breathy “Shut…UP” which is way more amusing in the delivery than it is on the page.

I did miss Edward. I do heart him–his hang ups about being soulless and damned are very sad to me, and one of the most interesting things about him. I can’t imagine how depressed he is or must have been for those 90 or so years he’s lived as a vampire. To believe, to truly and steadfastly believe, that there is nothing beautiful or special or good about you, must be such a hard burden to bear, a crushing weight. And if Bella lifts that weight for Edward, then good for him. And also, I get why he left her. People laugh at the whole, “I’m dangerous and I can’t protect you” thing, but he’s right–he IS dangerous and he CAN’T protect her, OBVIOUSLY. Jacob, too. They’re both dangerous creatures who could kill her as soon as look at her, and they’re often getting tangled up in a bunch of nasty supernatural business that she has no defense against. They should both leave her the hell alone, if they really want her to be safe. But they can’t because love or whatever, so fine. But at least he had to try, and that’s commendable.

Also, one final thing, because I’ve been thinking about this a lot. People say that Edward is a perv because he’s an old man lusting after a teenaged girl, even though he looks like a teenaged boy. And while that is not an incorrect theory, per se, I don’t find it all that problematic. While I would agree if it was, say, Carlisle who was dating Bella, because he’s an actual mature man, and was when he was turned into a vampire, I think Edward is probably pretty stunted as a result of all his spiritual and emotional hangups and his general antisocial behavior. He leads this lonely, passionless life, experiences nothing, feels nothing, like a depressed Peter Pan.

Strangely, I’ve never heard the “ew pervert” argument about Jesse, the immortal boy from Tuck Everlasting who falls in love with Winnie, even though he’s a hundred years old by that point and she’s like fifteen or something. Because Jesse’s a boy, not a man. He’s just been a boy a lot longer than most boys are. In that book, Mr. Tuck explains to Winnie how, when time ceases to matter, it ceases to exist. Immortal beings (such as they are) are outside of time and not subject to its rules or the things it brings a normal human–maturity, wisdom, knowledge, age. So Jesse and Edward are not, inside, the equivalents of 100 year old men. They are boys who have stepped outside of time. I think that’s different. And also amazingly interesting.

And now for the coda: how great were those Volturi, AMIRITE? Creepy and pitch-perfectly insane, just like in the book. Except Jane, who was just creepy and awesome. Dakota Fanning FTW! She stole the movie.

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Light me up!

Posted on November 5th, 2009 by annakjarzab

Why do I feel as though every blog post has to have some punny or referency title, insofar as that’s possible? “Light me up!”?? Why, Jarzab, why?

Anyway, look what I got in an email yesterday from my editor!

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That’s a photo of the cover of All Unquiet Things made into a light box for the Random House booth at the Frankfurt Book Fair last month. Cool, right? (They were setting up when this photo was taken, which is why there are no books on the shelves.) It was so cool of RH to do this, and thanks must go out to sub rights for taking the picture–and my editor for sending it to me.

How’s the book going, you ask? Fine. I’m over 200 pages now, which is what we call progress. I’m also doing something which feels stupid to me now because it’s distracting me from the actual writing of this novel, but will feel smart to me six months from now when I’m revising–I’m writing a short story from the perspective of another character that takes elements of the novel-in-progress and explores them in greater depth than would be natural for the novel-in-progress (this is CH, by the way) given the narrative structure and point of view from which it’s told.

Reasons why this is stupid:

  • I’m busy.
  • I can only write one thing at a time, so every minute spent writing TGITW (which is the abbreviated title of the short story) is a minute not spent writing CH.
  • I’ve imposed a deadline of November 30 on myself w/r/t CH because I will probably get my MB editorial letter this month and because MB was rougher when it went to my editor than AUT was, and it took many months to get AUT to the place where it is now, it will probably take many more months to get MB to the finish line, and I don’t want to leave CH almost-done until February or whatever. No wounded soldiers!
  • November 30th is not very far away and there are other things that will probably suck up my time, including but not limited to AUT promotion (such as it is/will be), apartment hunting and moving, Thanksgiving, and my job. I guess that’s a longer way of saying the first thing.

Reasons why this is smart:

  • The whole point of writing TGITW is to allow me to have a conversation with a character in CH that I’m still, for some reason, not entirely capable of understanding at this point in the process of writing the novel. I’m hoping that this will change when I’m done with TGITW. I know that TGITW is basically a more sophisticated (in intent, perhaps not in execution) version of the character manifestos which made AUT’s characters so real (in my opinion). So I know from experience that this type of writing is going to help me get into the mind of my character, and I will be grateful to myself later when I am on more solid footing with her.
  • Extra content for the website! Except, not for, like, ever. This book isn’t even contracted yet, and TGITW would be total spoiler territory, so it’ll be a while. But still! The me of three years from now will thank the me of today.

In a semi-related note, I think it’s about time I started rolling out some more hidden content. It’s been a while since the last time we added a doll to the site. I’ve got a couple of things up my sleeve, so be sure to check back over the next few months. I’ve also got this ridiculous plan where I will post the character manifesto for the killer in AUT, but it will be password protected, so I’ve got to talk to Eric about how we’re going to do that. It probably won’t go up until the book’s been out for a while, though. Still, I think it’s a pretty cool idea.

Rediscovering new favorites

Posted on November 3rd, 2009 by annakjarzab

So I’m watching Ugly Betty again (and thus commences another television-themed blog post). I know, I know, that show went downhill once they made Henry get Charlie pregnant and move back to Tuscon and then move back to New York and then mess with Betty’s feelings for a season and a half and THEN, rudeness of all rudeness, try to pass off that Gio person as a reasonable rival for Betty’s affections. As if.

Anyway, I stopped watching. Except I caught maybe one episode last season, when Betty had just started to date Matt, the rich guy. And I don’t remember caring much about the episode but I do remember thinking “I miss Henry but that dude is CUTE”. I don’t know what made me watch the season premier on Hulu a few weekends ago, but I did, and I am TO-TA-LLY HOOKED, you guys! Mark and Amanda! How did I forget how much I loved them?!

But Matt, oh, my dear, sweet Matt. Apparently, he and Betty broke up at the end of last season because Betty kissed Henry (who was in town visiting from Tuscon with his new girlfriend, also known as Hazel from Gossip Girl with blonde hair and a spray tan) and Matt saw and Matt’s heart went kersplat! all over the sidewalk but because he’s totally not over it, not even a little bit, he got a job as Betty’s new boss at Mode and is now being a complete jerk all over the place and barely doing his job because he’s too busy trying to get Betty to feel at least some of the pain he’s feeling. Mission accomplished!

I feel him, I really do. He’s so in love with Betty and all he wants is to be back together with her, but he’s so angry at her and she’s playing it so cool that he can’t get there. He’s just hurting himself, you know, because the meaner he is to her, the longer he keeps taking it out on her professionally, the less chance there is for them to get back together. But I also get Betty’s position–he’s being such a dick to her! She regrets kissing Henry and even though the show isn’t so great about telling us what Betty feels for Matt (way to make her less sympathetic, show), I SUSPECT she’s still in love with him.

In the middle of watching one of the latest episodes on Hulu, I went into the kitchen to get some iced tea and asked my roommate, “Have you ever watched Ugly Betty?” And she’s like, “I’m watching it right now!” Which is why we live together, by the way. So I launched into my opinionz about Matt, and said, “Betty needs to stick up for herself and he needs to shape up or I’m going to get off the Matt train.”

(Which is what we say about boys each other likes when they’re in our good graces: “I’m totally on the so-and-so-train.” Not even clever! But still true.)

Anyway, is it wrong that I love everyone on that show except Betty? She’s all, wah wah, my boss/ex is being mean to me, and no one likes me at work, which, NO ONE EVER LIKED YOU AT MODE, BETTY. Also, you’re not very good at your job. I mean, come on. After many, many seasons and many, many opportunities to “discover” that Mode and fashion “aren’t superficial”, she’s still hungering after the meatier stories. WELL OKAY THEN. Quit. Ugh.

28112pcn-ferrera46-thumbI have no sympathy for Betty. She is a grand idiot. First of all, when Matt asked her at the end of last season if she still loved Henry, she was all, “Well, there’s a part of me that always will.” NO! That is not the answer! The answer is, “No, Matt, I love you.” I’m single and I know this! It’s not rocket surgery. I resent having to live vicariously through her in order to enjoy the rest of the show, but I’ll do it, for Matt. And Marc and Amanda and Hilda and Justin and sometimes Daniel.

Matt’s totally my new fake boyfriend.

The second half

Posted on November 1st, 2009 by annakjarzab

You remember how I was telling you all that I’m writing a book about two estrange sisters, that I’m calling CH, not because that has anything to do with the title, which is constantly changing although I think I might’ve settled on something, but because those are the initials of the sisters? Well, that’s going pretty well, actually. I’m 190 pages into the zero draft–you know, the version of the book that’s so crappy you can’t show it to anyone because you’ll die of embarrassment if anyone finds out just how bad a writer you actually are?

Sunshine and roses today on the Jarzab blog, you guys!

Anyway, it’s going really well. I know! You thought I was going to complain. Writing this book has been an interesting experience for me–continues to be, really, since I’m not done with it, or even close. It’s been interesting because it’s been difficult to immerse myself to the level that I’ve found myself immersed in other books in the past–even GR, which I’ve been writing on and off this year as well, is much more alive in my head than CH has been. The characters in CH–C and H, mostly–have been hard to get to know.

I’m writing this book without an outline. That’s a little different for me. I’m writing GR with an outline, because it needs one, but I can only get so far on the outline without doing some serious research/puzzle creating, and I don’t have time right now, which is why all my writing energy is devoted to CH. But writing CH without an outline was purposeful, because I knew that I wasn’t going to really acquaint myself with my characters any other way. I had to let them lead the way because I didn’t know them well enough to guide them. I’m still trying to get to know especially H, because she’s difficult to penetrate, but I think more will come in the first draft.

Which leads to the point of this post–I’m over halfway done with CH! Which is cause for celebration. I always assume my books are going to be around 300 pages, because that’s been the truth so far with AUT and MB. They’re usually a little bit shorter than 300 and then expand in the revisions process, because I tend to focus on advancing action and character through dialogue, and then Joanna and my editor are like, “How about some introspection here? And here? And here?” So stuff gets added, which is funny because I feel like most writers have to cut in revisions, and I always have to beef things up a bit.

Of course, this is where all the hard work comes in. I’ve been setting my characters up for a major emotional rollercoaster, and now I’m about to plunge them straight down into it. There’s a lot going on in this section, so it’s important to keep it taught and well-paced. I very much adhere to the Kurt Vonnegut quote: “Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action.” Although, while true about sentences, it’s absolutely true about scenes. I try to never have a scene in my books that doesn’t do one of those two things, because I just think readers have more important things to do than listen to a character wax poetical for five pages.

(That’s not to say I always succeed; there’s two pages in MB that will almost certainly get cut in the revisions process with my editor, because my narrator makes this long, drawn-out, fairly specious comparison between falling in love and living in New York that makes sense to, like, only people who live in New York, which is not many of my readers. I love it, and I’ll fight tooth and nail to keep it in because I think it’s an interesting way to talk about how people relate to each other, but, you know, we’ll see.)

This is entirely unrelated to all the stuff I’ve just written, but I found this cute fake Polaroid picture on my friend Shannel’s blog and I wanted to post it (this is Shannel and I with our friend Carmen at her wedding). Look, it’s the ubiquitous blue dress!

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