history


Random quote of the day:

“Hold those things that tell your history and protect them. During slavery, who was able to read or write or keep anything? The ability to have somebody to tell your story to is so important. It says: ‘I was here. I may be sold tomorrow. But you know I was here.’”

—Maya Angelou, The New York Times, October 26, 2010

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

Years ago I heard that Abraham Lincoln freed the colored people, but it didn’t amount to a hill of beans.”

—Ned Cobb (aka Nate Shaw), Alabama sharecropper, quoted in All God’s Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw by Theodore Rosengarten, 1974

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“You actually can’t understand American history without understanding slavery.”

—Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations, Part 1” Democracy Now! May 30, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“I yield to no one precedence in love for the South. But because I love the South, I rejoice in the failure of the Confederacy.”

—Woodrow Wilson, Essay on John Bight, Virginia University Magazine, March 1880

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 


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I finally got around to reading my thank you and goodbye email from Elizabeth Warren. It made me just as sad as I thought it would.
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Clearly, I need to get out more. I’m watching a show on the search for Queen Boudicca’s treasure and I just yelled at the TV, “Boudicca’s booty!” Somebody help me.
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Mike Bloomberg on Super Tuesday: “Please, sir, can I have Samoa?” #DickensPuns
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No matter how much you do in your life there will always be people who say it isn’t enough. So do what you can and realize that most mortals have to choose their battles.
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Certain songs always make me start doing my very bad Billie Holiday impression. (And I always resent it when other singers try to do these songs because, dammit, they belong to Billie.)
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Yep, the three tones in E10 of Hellier S2 still make me nauseated and anxious even after 5 watchings. And when episode 10 finished Amazon suggested I watch A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
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We had a squirrel living in the yard for many years that we nicknamed Twofer because he would come up and take a peanut out of our hands, shove it into his cheek and reach up so you’d give him another one. And we always did.
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Disabled people aren’t included in most emergency evacuation plans. I found this out when I could no longer easily walk down 3 flights of stairs from my office for evacuation drills. “Stay at your desk & someone will get you after everyone else is out.” Using a cumbersome evacuation chair that the one time we tried it no one knew how to operate.
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What my VRS thinks of this election: “Doesn’t matter who I want to be president, if Bernie is the eventual nominee he’ll get my boat.” It’s a leaky boat but whatever.
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I attempted to read a book by Louis L’Amour in the last couple of days but I have failed in that attempt. The writing was just so clunky I very soon ceased to care about the resolution of the mystery and consigned it to the recycle bag. Go ahead, call me a snob, I don’t care.
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We always walk beside the Veil, but most times we choose to look straight ahead.
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Big brother with a kink? The alarm went off to tell me to take my chicken out of the oven and I said “I’m coming.” (Because doesn’t everyone talk to their alarms?) And the Google speaker on my phone said “That’s good.”
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One of the web crawlers that shows up frequently on my Statcounter account is China Unicom, but I ALWAYS read it as China Unicorn.
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I was watching Vienna Blood on PBS and they had a corpse lady laying out naked on a slab with boobs on full display. Later, they had a live lady with boobs on display but blurred them out. So I guess on PBS dead boobies are okay but live boobies are not okay to show. Go figure.
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I whine, therefore I art.

Some ignoramus has posted a video on YouTube showing Frank Sinatra with Nat King Cole actually singing the song, “L.O.V.E.” This is the wonderful and classy Nat King Cole:


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Two hours without WiFi and I was hyperventilating. Fortunately, it was a simple fix, but I may have an addiction problem.
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Tommy. His eyes were actually a soulful gray, not blue. He was in his forties and had done his soldiering during World War I. He became a special police officer during World War II so the younger men could go and fight.

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I found an old keepsake box buried amongst a lot of, well, junk. Some genuine keepsakes inside the box, but also some very old story rejection letters from some of the top magazines, stuff I sent out when I was probably barely out of high school. All form letters, of course. I decided my nostalgia did not stretch to holding on to those any longer. I Kondo’d their a*ses.
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That feeling when something seemingly minor turns dark and deep and symbolic…

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I WILL NOT JOIN FACEBERG, no matter how many paranormal and Outlander live events they host. I WILL NOT become part of the evil empire! I WILL NOT! (Although I did succumb a little bit and joined Instagram. Mostly as a lurker.)
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What to do with all these calendars that people gave me because they didn’t know what else to give me? I only need one and that’s the one with kitties that I bought myself.
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Sometimes I look at my house and pity the person who, when I die, will have to clean out and dispose of ALL THESE BOOKS. But mostly I pity the books.
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Zero results from the Iowa Caucus are just about right if you consider Iowa’s relative importance to reflecting the diversity of the United States. They give such outsized importance to Iowa and New Hampshire. Nothing against either of those states but they’re hardly representative of the rest of the country. Yet because somebody gets defeated in either Iowa or New Hampshire often they’re eliminated from the race.
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I get nonsense phrases stuck in my head sometimes. When I was doing research for the WIP on Nazi occult matters recently, the nonsense phrase in my cranial echo chamber was, “Otto Rahn on the Autobahn.” Research earworms. I have a weird brain. Fortunately, “Otto Rahn on the Autobahn” made me laugh.
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Ray Bradbury famously said about writing, “Jump off a cliff and build your wings on the way down.” I’m at that stage of my current WIP where I’m wondering if I’ve jumped off the wrong goddamned cliff.
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I’ve been reading Last Mountain Dancer by Chuck Kinder on and off for about a month. It’s both an interesting and irritating book so I’m not sure I’d wholeheartedly recommend it. I keep reading because it’s about West Virginia where Kinder was born and raised and when he talks about that place, the book sings. Then he goes off into the woods talking about his extramarital affairs and his bad boy ways and it gets boring. (I am so done with middle-aged male angst.)

But yeah, when he talks about what a remarkable and strange place West Virginia is on so many levels it’s worth the read. He goes into many legends, those arising from the tragedies of Matewan and the coal mine bosses, as well as Mothman and other less well-known oddities. It turns out his mother was born and raised in Point Pleasant, WV, home of Mothman, and that her maiden name was Parsons—which will have some meaning to those who follow Hellier.
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I was watching a show on Hadrian’s Wall and Vindolanda where they’ve discovered lots of messages to and from soldiers. In one of them the soldier refers to the tribes they were trying to keep north of the wall as “Britunculi”: “nasty little Britains.” My people!
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Hellier has made me way too map conscious. Every time I see something weird about a place I always have to find out where it is in relation to Point Pleasant or Somerset or Hellier or whatever. And it’s kind of amazing how much weirdness connects up.

I say this knowing full well how much the human mind longs for linkages and synchronicities.
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Lewis Black: “Trump is good for comedy the way a stroke is good for a nap.”
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Patrick Stewart was on Colbert the other week talking about when he was younger he and Ben Kingsley were here in LA doing Shakespeare, along with some other actors of the RSC. He said he and Ben went to Hollywood because they were excited to see the hand- and footprints at the Chinese theater (Sir Pat recently joined the famous hand- and footprints there). But the whole time he’s talking I was remembering being a young undergraduate at UCLA where Sir Pat and Sir Ben were doing those Shakespeare performances. During the day when they were not rehearsing or going to Hollywood all of the actors from the RSC would come to classrooms where Shakespeare and theater were being taught, talk to the students, and give impromptu performances. I was lucky enough to be in two such classes. One was Shakespeare, the other on Modern Theatre. I snuck into a third class taught in the theater department and held in an auditorium, but the other two were small English department classrooms. I was lucky enough to sit no more than 6-10 feet away from Sir Pat and Sir Ben while they answered questions and did impromptu performances. Utterly thrilling, even though neither of them was famous at that time. They were just masterful actors doing amazing performances up close and personal. Sir Ben still had his hair back then. Sir Pat did not. But his voice was that rich dark chocolate even back then. PRESENCE, both of them, and I never forgot.
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There’s hope, I think, even thought the GOP did not have the guts to do the right thing. During the impeachment trial I called my doctor’s office and the answering service picked up. As she took my message I heard the impeachment trial playing in the background. America is listening. We won’t forget. I hope they still remember next November.

Well, this Musings post is grossly long, and maybe a bit dated, but I started throwing things into the file, then got caught up in the holidays—and God forbid anyone should be deprived of my Musings. [insert barf emoji] At least it has a lot of pictures.

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One of my most profound mystical experiences, or contact with the numinous, was invoked by a dead cat. It changed me from near-atheist to “oh I get it now.” Thank you, Mocha. The Mocha Hierophany.

Mocha, an old soul from the 80s:

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New Year’s Day sunset: Even enhancing the color on this doesn’t come close to the intensity of the light. Nothing ever beats Nature. Thank you, Nature.

The same sky from my friend who lives a few miles from here. This one captures the immensity of the sky better than mine did, how the clouds seemed to go on forever.

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Here’s a question for you: is poetry a purely mammalian response to the world? Is magic? Would intelligent and highly advanced reptiles, for instance, have that sense of wonder and awe and poetry? I don’t want to be Mammalian-Centric.

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I always think of the four of swords as the “rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated” card. (Yes, dad jokes help me remember the meanings.)

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A few days before the new year (December 30th) I found out that I share blood with one of the accused Salem witches (Mary Leach Ireson). We’re descended from the same ancestor (Richard Leech) through the brother (Lawrence Leech) of my direct ancestor (Thomas Leech). Maybe that’s why I’ve always been obsessed with these trials. I particularly like the “maybe you were a witch but didn’t know it” line of questioning. Apparently, the “maybe I’m a witch but didn’t know it” defense worked because she wasn’t executed and lived until 1711.


As I’ve said before, women rarely appear in the historical record unless they’ve suffered some trauma.

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I have so much work to do and a limited amount of time. But time is not my enemy. If I focus on what needs to be done, not allowing myself to be distracted, I will do what I need to do. The only reason I say it isn’t against me is because I will do what I can do. If time runs out, then it does. It will eventually anyway so why so sweat it?

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You know that weird stuff you have to clear from your parents or grandparents’ homes when they pass? When you reach a certain age you can’t be arsed about good taste. Sometimes you just want stuff that makes you giggle or because you know it will chagrin some of the people who inherit it.

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I finally got my Red Book set up so that people can actually see it instead of being hidden away in a room they can’t go in.

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Last month I pulled my novel Venus In Transit out of the trunk. I started working on it in 1999. It was inspired by Patrick Harpur’s Daimonic Reality and later given shape and spin by George P. Hansen’s The Trickster and the Paranormal. Plus all those thousands and thousands of paranormal shows I’ve watched over the years and many another paranormal book. I had the novel in a fairly polished state and was getting ready to start marketing it when my mother had a stroke and my world went all to hell for several years. Then there was the very long and painful writer’s block afterwards.

Things started to loosen up for me artistically after watching season one of Hellier last year—and that’s when I had my Hellier related synchronicity storm. Which let me know I was on the right track creatively. I finished one novel this summer and started working on another. Then Hellier Season 2 came along. It fed my head yet again, and there was something about the discussion in that series of pushing through frustration that reminded me of the artistic process.

Whenever an artist, or at least any artist I know, reaches a point of frustration it’s often the sign of imminent breakthrough to a new way of doing things. Pushing through that frustration is a vital part of the process. So I got out that old paranormal novel with an idea to see if it really was ready to market and I fell into a hole with it for about a week. That edit is done, but when I got to the part in the story where my investigator discovers strange, small, three-toed footprints with dermal ridges, I thought, “No one will ever believe I didn’t get this from Hellier.” But those are the breaks. Hellier2 did encourage me to pull it back out of the trunk and that’s got to be a good thing.

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Hellier is beautifully shot and edited. I remember when the granddaddy of paranormal shows, Ghost Hunters, premiered. They used that cinema vérité style which gave a feel of credibility (and because it was cheap to produce), but imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery. Most of what’s come since has been crap.

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My life is a lot better since I’ve given up trying to find ultimate answers. I’m more content trying to find ultimate questions.

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Well, I got within 100 pages of finishing Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson but my medieval porn book arrived so…sorry Neal.

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Cats exist simultaneously in this time/space and in hyperspace which is why they always seem to take up a vastly greater amount of space than their physical bodies would imply.

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I’ve been to both Disneyland and the “Disneyland of Cemeteries”—Forest Lawn—and I would choose to spend my eternity in neither of them. (Talk about terrifying!)

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Lt. Col. Vindman during the impeachment hearings reading that paragraph to his dad and talking about it? “Don’t worry. This is America. We do what’s right here.” We have to justify his faith in this country. It’s been what was true in the past and we can’t let it fall away. DO THE RIGHT THING, AMERICA. And Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi talking to Vindman about the pride of being an immigrant and being an American? Yep, that’s the essence of what this country it’s always been.

I do rather sporadic genealogy research, but I’ve been doing it on and off since I was about 13 so I’ve got some lines a long way back. I generally follow one surname back as far as I can, filling in the maternal lines but concentrating on the paternal surname. It’s not that the maternal lines are unimportant. Quite the contrary, but it’s too chaotic to bounce back and forth. Once I’ve reached a dead end on one name, I circle back trace the maternal lines all the way back until they run out. Often, the best you can do is get the bare bones facts of these people’s lives, but every once in a while you come across a more substantial bit of information in the historical records.

Take, for example, a certain captain of militia ancestor of mine, Capt. James Pennock. He was a Vermonter and died at the age of 39 at the Battle of Bemis Heights in Saratoga New York in 1777. He left behind 14 children. I Apparently, he and his wife got started a few years before their marriage, too, if the marriage date I have is correct. That far back, it’s sometimes hard to tell what records are correct.

He’s buried somewhere in the land around Saratoga. That battle didn’t allow for neat rows and marked graves. They just buried them where they could and in something of a panic. And I’m sorry for that, for my ancestor and all those other fallen who deserved more respect.

But I keep thinking about that poor woman trying to raise 14 kids on her own. Maybe she was relieved her husband was gone and not getting her pregnant anymore? I know she waited 27 years to remarry (to a widower), after she was safely past childbearing age. Can’t say as I blame her. She and her new husband were married 7 years until her death in 1811. I hope they were happy, peaceful years for her. I feel an unaccountable tenderness for this strong Vermonter woman. For all those hardy women of the past who bore so much and got so little credit.

As it turns out my “glorious ancestor” who died at Saratoga was a Loyalist fighting with General Burgoyne. At least before going off to die he secreted his family away from their home in Strafford, Vermont (a divided town) to Margaret’s parents in Connecticut so she wouldn’t be harassed by the Committee of Safety and the Sons of Liberty. The family lost everything, their farms that they had painfully eked out of raw wilderness, and some fled to Canada. Heroic Margaret stayed, and made the best life she and her children could have in the new country.

I’ve been musing about history a lot in the last couple of days, of who gets written about and who does not. Often, that’s the men because their deeds are thought of as being more important. Capt. Pennock may have fought on the “wrong” side in the Revolutionary War, part of the brutal retreat of the Colonials from Fort Ticonderoga, pursued and harassed by General Burgoyne’s troops and his allied Indians, written about so memorably in Diana Gabaldon’s An Echo In the Bone.

Burgoyne’s troops fought on until the Colonials turned the tide on them. That’s when James died, on the same day as General Simon Fraser. James and his brother William, it’s said, were killed by the same bullet. He lost another brother that day, but his 18-year-old son survived to go back home to Strafford, VT. And how do I know all this? Because it was written about, of course.

I don’t minimize James’s sacrifice—he fought for what he believed would be best for his family. James deserves to have his story told. But so do those who are left behind, like his wife, Margaret Seeley Pennock. Unless those left behind manage to get themselves scalped or otherwise made victims of war crimes, they are seldom written about. The super heroic feat of picking up the pieces after chaos and destruction and somehow going on with ordinary life are rarely the stuff of history. I know only the bare bones of Margaret’s life, those details of marriage, of (prodigious) births, of death. I want to know how that woman did it, how she wrested a life for her and her 14 children after being left behind in the midst of shambles and privation. That’s most equally a story history should write. And yet it rarely does. Except maybe in the pages of fiction. Because at this point, conjecture and bare bones are all I have for her.

Thank you, Margaret, for prevailing.

Random quote of the day:

“History is present. That’s why every generation writes it anew. But what most people think of as history is its end product, myth.”

—E. L. Doctorow, The Paris Review, Issue 101, Winter 1986

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

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I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not young enough to be absolutely certain I know the truth. The shades of grey multiply with each year. But that’s okay. The things that important are beyond those kinds of thought processes. We can feel around their edges, if we try real hard and remember they’re always changing shape anyway.

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I’ve been sick for the last few months, all sorts of unusual gastrointestinal and stomach issues, about every two weeks, interspersed with bouts of feeling absolutely fine. I finally went to the doctor last Friday. He thought it might be pancreatitis brought on by a medication he prescribed just about two months ago, because that’s one of the rare possible side effects. I’m not sure about that because people are usually hospitalized for pancreatitis and he didn’t suggest that. True, I resisted going to the doctor all that time–because that’s just what I do. I finally took myself off that medicine in late June. I’ve been gradually improving, sort of, although I’ve been sick again for the last 4 days. Each bout of this is milder than the last, but I am definitely sick of being sick. I think doc was mostly baffled by my symptoms but agreed with my decision to take myself off the medicine. He is having blood and other tests done, but no results yet.

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Today’s Google doodle is quite wonderful–and quite emotional for me. Maybe it’s because the moon landing was one of the seminal events of my young life; maybe it’s because we had hope then that the world might come together now that we could see how tiny and fragile our Earth was. I’ve never had that kind of hope again–well, maybe for a short time when the Berlin wall came down. Hope is as fragile as our Earth suspended in the immense blackness of space.

I should also add that I had that kind of crazy hope again when President Obama was elected. But.

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I bet the phone answering system in Heaven is Hell.

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Great article by Maria Popova at Brainpickings: The Banality of Evil: Hannah Arendt on the Normalization of Human Wickedness and Our Only Effective Antidote to It

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Best fortune cookie fortune I ever got? After a long dinner conversation with my artist friend about whether we should continue to pursue our art or give up: “Art is your fate, don’t debate.” My friend got the same fortune. We told a mutual artist friend about it and went back to the same restaurant, partially because of the food but partially because of the fortune. We got the usual run-of-the-mill fortunes but our other friend, who had also been questioning whether to give up the art, got “Art is your fate, don’t debate.” #Synchronicity

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That feeling when you listen to a piece of music you loved in your youth that you haven’t listened to for a long time…but it no longer works. #NotOdeToJoy

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The Universe is infinite, yet small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

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SOCIAL EXPERIMENT: Someone on Twitter posted, “If you come across this tweet, reply with the grade you were in when you had your first nonwhite teacher.” Oh God. I can’t remember even one, even in college. THIS IS SO BAD.

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People are surprised that a large segment of the public are credulous and strenuously resist logic. Even a casual reading of history shows this has always been so. The difference now is that we have entire news outlets and social media sites promoting the lack of critical thinking.

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Everyone is a conflicted human being. We have to admit that to ourselves or risk getting ourselves into a lot of trouble.

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It’s interesting: Because I just write and push through without editing to get words on the page, my first drafts always have a lot more of my working class origins in them. I leave some of that language in if it suits the character, refine it if not.

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