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2003-03-16 | 11:03 p.m.

I've seen normal families, but only fleetingly. If you look closely at almost any family, you'll eventually notice chinks in the armor. Not necessarily on the raging-alcoholic scale, but something. "Quiet desperation," at the very least.

The families that seem the happiest tend to be the ones we don't know very well. My family is not so perfect but as a group we've made measurable strides. No one is currently institutionalized, for example. That's new.

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