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Friday, March 27, 2015

This I Believe essay #10

Have fun.

14 comments:

  1. I believe in old people.
    I believe in the years on this earth and how they are experienced in different ways for everyone. I believe in time and how it seems to reveal the good and the bad, the dirty secrets and the gifts. Time forces you to gain perspective. You must look at the moments, the words, the people and the thoughts in a constructive way to sit at the end and say “yeah, I did good with the cards I was dealt.” Time is something that reveals meanings and covers up mysteries. Time brings people together, after long years of yearning. Time creates cracks in families, and broken relationships between people, because it is just “unforgivable.” I believe in hindsight. I believe in the narrow perspective of age before we get old.

    Old? How old is old? What defines old? Old to me is when I can finally see the puzzle pieces of my life fitting together for some purpose, or no purpose at all. I believe that I will see my life, the people in it, the decisions I made, and understand how they worked together in order to create a mind and body to inspire others still creating their pieces. Pieces are created with ragged edges, smooth edges, hateful words and kind gestures. Old people understand this and find an incredible amount of harmony in it.

    “I remember when I met your grandfather,” my grandmother says, “He worked in a shoe store and was a chain smoker. That was sexy back then, ya know. Not the shoes… the smoke.” Who knew that sixty-some years later ten years of his life would be taken from him because of his once sexy smoking habit? He passed away because of COPD. My grandmother and grandfather understood the difficulties in life and definitely had their sharp edged puzzle pieces, individually and together. They also understood that there are some things they aren’t proud of, some they admire, and some they have forgotten. In all of that, they all fit together and form a beautiful human being, with the ability to see into their own past in order to understand how crazy cool life really is.

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  2. This is an essay about essays. This is an essay about Teddy. I don’t believe in the essays, but I sure as hell believe in Teddy.

    Today I saw an essay about advice to twenty-something year-olds. One thing they included was, “don’t live with your best friend”. There are so many essays detailing advice mixed with warnings mixed with obvious feelings of regret or embarrassment by the author that I can’t keep up with them anymore. Should I listen to them? I think they all mention drinking plenty of water. I can’t remember the last time I reached for a glass of water with any real longing or vigor.

    I remember commenting on the fact that when you cross the street first I don’t look both ways, trusting that you won’t lead me out into traffic. My heart almost couldn’t handle it when you told me you had written a part of a poem about that exact thing. It still happens sometimes. I’ll cross the street first and I’ll be painfully aware of the delicate balance I have created. You’ll cross first and I’ll consciously not look, my eyes glued to your tiny feet flying across the pavement.

    I am going to be a bridesmaid next year, in a wedding that isn’t yours. She once offered to drive me to Cincinnati. We ended up in Louisville, despite my persistence that we were going the wrong way. It wasn’t until we hit downtown that she panicked and had me call the people waiting up North for their help getting us back on the right track. Someone read a map to me over the phone. I’m not sure I’ve forgiven her for not listening to me in the first place. I will wear a flower crown made of daisies when I go to stand in her tiny army of lady-friends. She is going to look lovely.

    I really did have a dream about your child that night.

    “Advice I wish I could give my twenty-year-old self” essays are so abundant on the internet it makes me sick. As if they are actually going to change someone. Are they anything but giant ego trips? Why are their mistakes significant enough to be warned against? Or are they actually well-intended? I can’t believe that every single one of those authors was that fucked up by their twenties. Perhaps they haven’t come to terms that nothing will ever be as they anticipated. Can any of it really be avoided?

    I remembered the first night we spent together as people. You picked a lot of flowers. I warned you against the peonies, and now I think of you every time I see one. I think I told you that over the summer. I want you to know it’s still true.

    A note I discovered in my phone one day, from September 23, 2014 at 2:19 AM. “Add to bucket list. Buy a lemon meringue pie and only eat the meringue.” Will these urges one day leave me? My half-asleep self deemed it an important enough thought to be recorded in my phone where I would be later reminded of it. I wonder if I’ll ever do it, if I’ll ever feel OK about spending money for that purpose.

    It is also common for people to warn against getting haircuts at major emotional crises. I’ve been begging you for weeks to chop my hair off. I think I just miss your hands cradling my head as you try not to cut my ear.

    Today we dropped off art and light at our condo. Soon our kitchen will be bright pink.

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  3. I believe in putting photographs on the wall.

    In the house I grew up in, there are three photographs on the wall. They are old school photos of my siblings and me. These are the only photos on display, and they were only put up because of the insistence of my Grandma Lopez. My mother hated looking at photographs. If it was a picture of herself, she would hate herself for her body. If it was a picture from years ago, she would look at the smiles and say either, “Look how happy we used to be. I wish we could be happy again,” or, “We weren’t actually happy. This picture is pretend.” She couldn’t believe us when we said that she was beautiful, the we were happy now, and that we had been happy those years ago.

    Once in a while, she would put photos in frames but never hang them up. If someone asked her why she did this, she would say that hanging pictures on the wall is something you do when you have settled into a house. “We will be moving soon.” She said that for over a decade before she admitted that maybe we weren’t moving. Sometimes I catch her holding the frames up to the wall, maybe even mark the location with a line of graphite. She sighs, erases the line, and puts the picture out of sight.

    It took me almost two years of living in a dorm to put photographs on a wall. I had a box that I kept the pictures in. I criticized my face in some, my body in others. I analyze the smiles to see which were fake and which people don’t smile anymore. I would think about sticking them to the wall or pinning them to a bulletin board. I convinced myself to keep them in the box because in six months, four months, three months, I’d have to take them down and move out. No reason to get settled.

    I don’t know what compelled me to hang fourteen photographs on my wall two months before I’d have to move for the summer. I don’t know why I believe in hanging photographs now. I just know that I do.

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  4. I believe things could always be worse.

    Let me give you a recap of the last 24 hours. First, in an attempt to enjoy the sunshine and relative warmth, I went for a run yesterday afternoon. All was well until one godforsaken sidewalk brick decided to ruin everything. In front of 2 fully loaded city buses, at least 15 cars, and what seemed like the rest of the city of Lexington, I caught my foot on that one uneven block and was sent hurtling towards the ground. My knees hit the pavement first, followed by my hands and elbows. I stood up, looked at my audience and saw the mixture of laughing and cringing faces, and then felt the blood trickling down my leg. I finished my run (painfully) and attempted to clean my wound at my room. More than my fair share of curse words were said throughout.

    Later that evening, I was on my way to the house I’m watching for a family at my church. I was driving down Broadway, feeling the wind come in through the windows and imagining the warm summer nights to come, when a black car jumped out of the gas station parking lot and tried to cut across 2 lanes of traffic to take a quick left turn. My horn and brakes were too late, and at 30 miles per hour I hit them on their driver door, and watched as shattered glass exploded into the air. After we both stopped moving, I took a second to take in what happened and got out of my car. The other car’s door was caved in, and for a moment I feared the worst. I called 911, and looked in to find the driver, a young girl, definitely shaken up but generally uninjured. The mess was cleared in 20 minutes or so, and I was able to continue down the road. The front of my car is scarred, but I am not.

    When I finally got to the house, I was met at the door by two dogs who spent the entire day alone. I played with them and was ready to call it a day. When I opened the back door, both saw their opportunity of freedom and took advantage. I can’t blame them, dogs will be dogs and after spending an entire day inside, the idea of unfenced yards must have been too tempting to pass up. So, at 10:30 last night, I was running around the backyards of families I didn’t know chasing dogs that weren’t mine and just wishing Monday would be over. I whispered a prayer or two and a curse word or seven, and eventually they both came running home. I immediately locked all the doors, turned off the lights, and ended the day before the house caught on fire or an asteroid came crashing into earth. Both of which were liable to happen yesterday.

    But things could always be worse. I still have two working legs, though one is a little bloody. This morning, the driver of the black car woke up in her own bed and not in a hospital, and I said goodbye to two dogs I couldn’t stay mad at for long.

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  5. Sometimes I get really scared when I realize I am inside this human body, and it just happened that way. No known explanation, only theories and passionate beliefs regarding why People exist. It scares me that my body turns against me sometimes. It's something that I need to maintain, not something that can just exist like my thoughts and personality, or my "soul". I have a long history of battling my body. I have countless hospital visits logged in my memory, saved prescription packages and receipts from pharmacies to prove it. I rarely have to resubmit my insurance information at pharmacies because it is all typically saved and stored already for good in their system. My doctor from home has known me since I was five, and since then has risen to the status of "emergency mom" with the accumulated knowledge she has of my body and all its whereabouts and conditions. I don't believe in my body, but I believe in tattoos. My body is always changing internally without my knowledge, and it is always something I have failed to understand and feel comfortable working in. But tattoos give me a control I had dreamed of for a long time. For once, I can decide what goes on around my muscles. For once, I can pick what the needle dipping in my skin is doing to my body and injecting in me. For once, I am in control of something so uncontrollable. I can put things on my body that remind me, it is just a body. It is going to fade, and that is ok. Because the things I can't see on the inside, like my thoughts and personality and soul, are conscious of it and that counts for something. Last Friday I was listening and feeling the gentle buzz of the tattoo artist delicately carve my skin out, and leave behind ink that I had chosen. "Death is Coming" is now engraved on my forearm in red ink, and though this may sound morbid at first, it is actually really helpful and positive to me. My body has always been telling me it's dying, and I just never wanted to admit it. Because it's scary and it sucks, no one wants to think about not being here when we already have enough to worry about. But recognizing and embracing that I am going to die was a huge step forward for me personally, and because of that I can put in perspective a lot of issues. I can choose what to care about and what to forget or forgive. I believe in tattoos because they serve as a reminder that I am alive, that I have control, and that is ok that it is going to end one day.

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  6. Me and my mother love to dance through the house when we clean, we go from room to room getting good work done to some of our favorite songs. If I had to pick certain songs that captured the essence of the moments with my mother they would all be sung by strong female pop stars or female singer song writers. That was her music and it quickly became part of mine as well. As a little one I had her music and then my fathers that consisted of primarily 70s corporate rock, he easily bought into that stuff and that’s okay, because who doesn’t want to listen to a careening guitar solo in every song? My mom didn’t, to be honest at this point I don’t want to either. Through the both of them though I acquired my taste. One is my taste for female led pop music.

    I’ve had the conversation that female musicians automatically hold more merit than male musicians, this is because the constant underpinnings of sexism run rampant through music culture as much as any other. Becoming a glorified female pop star takes more self control, constant image making and image tweaking, extreme vocal talent paired with a perfect body and sexual flare that isn’t to off putting to consumers but just enough to attract certain audiences. This and countless other aspects are things that male pop stars just don’t have to worry about. It’s absolute bullshit but it’s there. I wasn’t taught this when I was little by my mother, perhaps it should have been taught, but I suppose just listening to the music and occasionally playing it for friends and seeing their immediate reactions was enough to question their taste and my own. Because most young men don’t want to listen to female driven music, it just doesn’t speak to their masculine driven ego.

    However, it spoke to me, I used the music as a functional tool for pure enjoyment sake. And now its use is very much the same, but I see the music carrying through into other genres at this point it manifests itself in sensitive folk music, early 2000 emo, this is truly more masculine music yet what the lyrics normally deal with are relatively the same. I’m convinced that indie rock functions in a similar way to pop music, for example when I go to a concert I see childlike and adolescent emotions flung through the atmosphere to lyrics of loss, love, drugs that just happen to be carried over a supposedly more advanced aesthetic. But these musicians, the indie record labels know what audience they are catering to as much as pop stars and their super producers do. None of it discredits the musician ship or the merit of the music; rather for me I try to leave things on an even playing field waiting for an emotional chord to be struck. Of course it’s not really that simple, however I believe a good chunk of my music identity was formed by my early emotional reactions to female pop music. I believe in emotional chords being struck despite them more likely being C G Am F, but that’s okay because that chord progression works.

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  7. Everyone has suffered. It is a part of life. I do not know why it happens or how to stop it, but I do know that suffering can be one of the most effective teachers of compassion. Through out my life I have encountered people who have been through terrible things and they have been some of the kindest, most altruistic friends I have had. I think suffering can have this effect because it can allow us to recognize the pain of others and provides us with the very real empathy to help them. Just a few weeks ago I had made a mistake that effected a lot of people and I was so very scared, ashamed and angry with myself for making it. I did not know what to do, so I asked an upperclassmen friend of mine to help. She, being a really amazing human, invited me into her room, talked to me through my embarrassing tears and guided me gracefully throughout that day as I picked up the pieces of my mistake. She told me as we talked that she had been through this same situation before. Not only did I feel less alone, but I also felt extremely safe and hopeful because she had obviously come out of her own situation wiser and ok. In that moment, a lesson I had learned over and over again was reaffirmed to me, that the suffering you experience does not just have to be wasted pain that eats you up and makes you bitter. If you suffer and are able to see it through, that suffering can be used by you to ease the suffering of others. In my life I have mentored young women who have struggled with self-harm and body image issues. I would not have been able to touch the lives of so many younger people if it wasn't for the suffering and the pain that I walked through. I do wish I could have lived without those years of such struggle, but I am also grateful for who I am now, how my pain has allowed me to see the truth of others and offer them empathy and care.
    Please know that your suffering does not have to be wasted, use it, as you would use anything else you are given, for the best.

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  8. I knew more than the odds were stacked against me when I was given the word “onomatopoeia” in our fifth grade spelling contest. A word so elusive to my spelling prowess that it took me five different times at attempting to spell it before the computer gave me suggestions on what word I was trying to spell and another three times before it suggested onomatopoeia. My failure now is indicative as to how the spelling contest went for those curious. Oddly enough onomatopoeia is the type of word that isn’t said everyday, but what it defines is something we hear or read all the time. I use onomatopoeic sounds in my poetry, stories, or just at random times when I’m with my friends acting goofy. I believe in empowering your speech with a word you can’t even spell right the first 8 times.

    Examles:

    When I was young it was part of a game to run around with your friends with fingers pointed at them yelling “Pow pow” or “Pew pew.” Depending on the genre of your hand gun.

    When you run up and tap your significant other on the nose and say “bloop” and then run away “giggling.” That’s just me? “Sigh.”

    When you “click” your seatbelt.

    When you “neigh” like horse or “Baa” like a sheep or “bark” like a dog or “meow” like a cat and so forth.

    When you shout “cock-a-doodle-doo” for no good reason.

    When you make a “splash” in the pool followed by a loud “belch” letting everyone know that you have arrived.

    When you drop a book and it makes a “thud” or a “fweph” depending on how heavy it is.

    When you “whisper” to your friend if “fweph” is a real word or not?

    Or when your I believe essay comes to a “screeching” halt.

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  9. Why do you have to lie about everything?
    You make me SO ANGRY!!

    “I don’t know what you are talking about,” he says while laughing at me.

    HISSSSS!
    I clench my jaw and squint my eyes to keep the blood out as I push claws from my fingertips and imagine pulling his voice out through his dirty neck.

    But most of the time I read quietly and think about who I will hire to teach Potions and Dark Arts at my camp for witches and wizards and somehow I just know when I see a double-decker bus turned into a coffee shop that my camp will have to be in England, that my father—if ever I am to see him again—will have to be my groundskeeper. He will have a cat.

    Speaking of cats, I still have to read chapters 2, 3, and 4 of Catwings to everyone and have already memorized the first chapter:
    …...Mrs Jane Tabby could not explain why all four of her children had wings. “Maybe it was because their father was a fly by night” said a neighbor, and laughed unpleasantly, sneaking around the dumpster. PERHAPS it was because before she had them she dreamt of flying away from this neighborhood.…..

    But most of the time, if I am not reading, I speak in Meep language which is named for Johnny Meep who died before he turned 1 but was brought back to life and discovered that everyone in Meepville (also named for him) stops aging at 30, or 29, or in very rare cases 31. No one dies.

    “Who wants ice cream?”

    “I do,” I shout just as my brother does, just before he meanly calls a double jinx on me so I cannot speak until someone says my name 3 times.

    “meep”

    “meep” (Jinxes do not stop me from talking in Meep.)

    “meep” (Thankfully the old people around me seem to understand Meep enough to know that when I speak and pull my paws to my stomach like a rabbit I am pleading with them for something.)

    “meep”

    “Lily, Lily, Lily”

    At last, I can talk again!

    Why do you have to be so mean?
    You make me SO ANGRY!!

    “I don’t know what you are talking about,” he says while laughing at me.

    “I wish I could put your voice in a jar and throw it out the window!”

    That will show him….

    --
    I believe in the intensity of life lived by an 8 year old and wish the tedium of adult reality could never dull it.

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  10. I believe in making connections. Last week when I was not here for class, I was interviewing for a summer job with ArtWorks in Cincinnati. If I were to get the job I’d be helping with a mural in the downtown area, hopefully. How did I hear about it? My cousin is on the board (connection). They asked me why do I want to work there. I want to work there because it combines three of favorite things; art, Cincinnati, and summer (connecting all three). They also asked me about a public art exhibit I would want to be featured in Cincinnati which lead to talking about the Lexington Tattoo project and how it’s starting in Cincinnati (a connection between the two cities I live in). Then, my interviewer mentions Kurt and Kremena and I got all warm inside because I felt that much more at home (a personal connection) and kind of awesome because I’m on texting terms with them.

    I believe that we can all better ourselves by drawing connections between things we love but even more between our weakness and strengths. So, for example when I am struggling to be creative in art I think about running, something I would consider myself good at. I’m good at running because in my mind it is natural and you just have to do it; if I apply that to art it takes some weight off of my shoulders because art is natural and sometimes you just have to do it with no fear.

    I believe in making connections because it is comforting and provides a new perspective when evaluating your strengths and weaknesses.

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  11. I believe in making a lot of decisions and speculations, then changing my mind.
    Recently I was reading an old facebook conversation with my freshman year roommate, the conversation where we introduced ourselves to each other and were talking about our hopes and dreams for the next four years. She wanted to be either a Math or Chemistry major, and I wanted to be an International Affairs and Physics double major. Both of us ended up with majors that were declared after we got to campus, me choosing PPE, and her with Neuroscience. If either of us had stayed with our original majors, we both would be miserable.
    I was planning on working up as Cedar Point this past summer. I was going to push a food cart around day after day, in the hot sun, for minimum wage. I didn’t end up going. At some point I freaked out about not being prepared to go live on my own, so far away from both Fairfield and Lexington, the only two places I had ever lived, so I called them and told them I would not be coming up to work. Whoops. But I had the time of my life this summer, staying in Lexington with some friends. It was a new experience, that I felt more comfortable with. I got my job at Johnny Carinos, and I have made so many friends there, and I love the atmosphere. I can’t imagine having been gone last summer.
    Those are two bigger decisions, but daily I change my mind about the small decisions. I may change my clothes three times in the mornings, or wish I had gotten something different for lunch, whatever the decision, it is okay to change your mind. As long as one remains aware of any potential consequences, I believe in making decisions, then revoking them, because everyone is allowed to change their mind.

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  12. I believe in emergence

    With the class wrapping up and our army of birdhouses nearing deployment on the Limestone front, a quote from our first meeting has kind of stuck to me. I believe Kremena said it in response of making a large amount of objects but that the reason CETA makes a lot of something is that a huge number makes an impact. Either it being birdhouses, cookie crumble murals, or even dolls; the emergence of many is more important than the singular object. As I have been making my journey in the natural sciences, these ideas resonate to me a lot. For example, we have elements that make chemical compounds that make cells and eventually you have the colossal lump of cells known as the human. Now look at ant colonies, two ants and you have a perpetual twig tug-of-war; a colony, and you have an entire insect army that can carry whatever it damn pleases.

    Not only there is emergence on a cellular and organismal level, but even human intelligence. In 1906, Francis Galton, one of the founders of eugenics, attended a farmer’s fair in Plymouth. At this fair was an ox weighing contest where people could guess the weight of this mysterious ox. There were winners and there were losers but when it was all said and done, Galton took all of the guess tickets and took them home for a statistical analysis. When he found the mean, it was 1,197lbs; the actual weight of the Ox was 1,198lbs. The person who thoughts that selective breeding and sterilization was the way to go found evidence himself that hey, the population of many is not too bad. And this was not a onetime deal, people have recreated this experiment (usually using gumballs in a jar) and got similar results to Galton and the Ox.

    I am not for sure where my birdhouse will be going and if anybody will get some of the references I have placed on but I know that through emergence, our tiny birdhouses will cast one giant birdhouse of love and the envisionment of what home means to the Lexington community.

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  13. (for some reason, my essay didn't post yesterday. here it is, again)

    In the fall of 1996, I became white.

    Until then, I considered myself East European. I grew up in a country of 9 million people who loved jokes about their incompetence. No wonder foreigners made fun of us. But while we laughed at our ineptitude, the rest of Europe looked at us with suspicion. Men were suspected of laziness, thieving, and brigandy. Girls and women were believed to be prostitutes. I remember being questioned by customs officers on my way home from my first trip abroad. I was in 9th grade. I had won a big scholarship, which covered 3 weeks of summer peace camp in Cyprus. On my way back to Bulgaria, the Cypriot border-patrol man laughed in my face: “Is that what you call it now—peace camp?!” I knew he was not convinced by my story. Bulgarians’ ill repute followed me around Europe.

    In 1996 I crossed the Atlantic to spend my last year of college at a liberal arts school in Michigan. My suitcase was half empty, even though I had packed all the clothes and shoes I owned, in addition to parting gifts from my relatives. No wonder I felt shabby next to my American peers. Even my fellow international students seemed rich by comparison. A year later, I worried about my graduate-school teaching: would anyone listen to me, a woman who wore her only pair of jeans every day?

    It took me a year to realize that unlike Europe, America liked me—someone exotic, a person who had survived Communism, a woman fluent in a language spoken only in Europe. In short, in America I became white. My whiteness ensures me unearned privileges aplenty. For example, I am not made anxious at the sight of police officers. I am encouraged to speak up and to challenge authority. In fact, I feel entitled to sharing my opinion and I am comfortable determining who needs to hear my views.

    But my whiteness also reminds me of its shadowy twin: blackness. I look for it on the faces of passers-by, wondering how I can lend them my voice, how to bring them out from under the shadows. I believe in sharing the white privileges America granted me. I believe in speaking up against oppression and violence, especially when no one else does.

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  14. I was thinking the other day about light, and how drastically it affects our world.

    Saying something like that is kinda silly, though; of course it does. And so do lots of other weird science-y things like atmosphere and gravity and the acceleration of the speeding metal boxes of death we like to call cars (see previous TIB). But...it's not just light itself I had been considering.

    As we pulled into his parents driveway, the light from the sun had faded. I looked at the grass and thought, "that pale, dark green is really unwelcoming," but then remembered how normally, that pale darkness would be quite brilliant instead. Things are colorful during the daytime, and muted at night. It's not just that the sun makes colors "brighter," though...its light is what allows color to exist at all. When the sun goes down, colors disappear. They don't exist. It's not just that the shadows cover them up - the colors are not there at all. Of course you can replicate this light with artificial means, but the idea that colors cease to exist really fascinates me for some reason. Probably because I am often reminding myself that nothing is guaranteed for any length of time in any degree.

    In that sort of vein, the disappearing and reappearing of things, I was thinking about the concept of teleportation. A lot of people think it's a really interesting idea - and of course, it is! - but what isn't often discussed (at least, aside from the sci-fi community) is that the process of teleportation is the complete replication of a being into another place, and the destruction of the original being in the starting place. So it's not "teleportation" as in moving the same person from place to place...it's not "transportation" in the way we think of the word. It's creating a completely new thing and destroying the old thing. Which sounds pretty questionable.

    I wonder if the sun is doing that with the colors we see. And how many other cruel-sounding things happen all the time, every second of the day, in the natural world, to make the world continue to turn.

    I believe I am suspicious of the sun.

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