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Monday, March 23, 2015

This I Believe essay #9

Post before class on Tuesday, March 24. Enjoy!


25 comments:

  1. I believe in jokes.

    And funny voices. And a constant "fake" dialogue containing all of these things.

    There are a lot of serious things to talk about, and they should be talked about a lot. But I feel that integrating "poop" and baby pterodactyl noises into your daily speech helps mood stability and stress levels in magnanimous ways, and should be used when appropriate.

    I believe in jokes, and I also believe in the people who will joke with me.

    I believe in playfully punching, and in the fake-mad threat, "I will (verb) your bee-sting," a statement immortalizing the god-forsaken bee-sting I received in the very first 30 minutes of summer, 2014. I believe in exaggerated facial expressions, and I believe in laughter and smiles, even though I might not seem like it sometimes.

    I believe in the act of pretending to steal someone's nose and throw it out the window. And telling them they dropped their nametag after tossing a packet of restaurant sugar on the floor. And pretending to squish someone's head through my fingers from far away while they try to figure out what I'm doing.

    I believe in casually discussing bodily functions and fluids. And in taping down the sprayer nozzle on the sink. And imagining grandiose adventures and extensive details of a person's life. And touching someone's tongue when they're trying to yawn to make them stop and have to try again.

    I believe in unnecessary and over-the-top hypenations, and in adding "-ie" and "-ster" to the ends of too many words. In "honey-G" and "baby-poo," and ridiculous nicknames ending with "-a-rooni."

    In its current state, I can't believe there's such a thing as an attainable happiness in this world we wake up to every day.

    I believe in jokes instead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kristen, I would love to hear you tell a poop joke! Maybe at the start of class next week?!

      Delete
  2. I believe in family secrets.

    Not the kind that damage a family or that are kept simply to make the family look good in the public view. I believe in the family secrets that you keep out of love.

    When my dad still worked at the Goodyear factory in my town, he would come home smelling like sweat, rubber, and something else. The smell was the kind of smell that doesn’t wash out, no matter what brand of soap or how many showers are taken. The smell was even stronger his car and gave me a headache when I rode in the back seat.

    When I got older, I learned to recognize the third smell as cigarette smoke. My dad said that it was just a weird combination of Goodyear odors that sort of smelled like cigarettes, but it was most definitely not from cigarettes. My mom told me that the smell rubbed off of my dad’s smoking friends.

    The factory shut down and my dad stopped smelling like sweat and rubber, but the third smell got stronger. He became a student and the smell was strongest during finals and midterms. My brother--who was in one of those phases where you are extra critical of your parents just because they aren’t perfect humans--began to make snide comments to my mother about our suspicions. She ignored them until my brother became so tactless that she needed to step in and defend my dad.

    She told us that dad had smoked since his divorce from his first wife and had tried hard to quit, especially when each of my siblings and I had been born. Everytime he quit, he would do well for a while, but something would happen. He would be laid off again, one of us would be hospitalized, and the worst was when he went to Iraq. She told us that he wanted it to be kept a secret from us because he was embarrassed that he couldn’t get over his addiction and he did not want us to ever think that we should smoke.

    After that, I noticed all the things he did to hide his habit from the family. I felt bad that he was going through all the trouble when two of his three children had figured it out, but I also knew that it would make him happier if we pretended not to know and kept this family secret.

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    Replies
    1. What a powerful story about your father's love for you and your siblings, as well as about his vulnerability. You write with so much compassion and understanding.

      Delete
  3. Where do you wanna go tonight?
    We sat around the living room, in various chairs, with various attitudes about the upcoming 4 hours. My brother, next to his girlfriend and roommate said somewhere close to the house. My other brother said somewhere with meat. Then, there I was. With my two friends from high school, saying I wanted to go somewhere really unique and cool. We decided on graze, a place where the food you see on the plate was raised and then butchered only a few miles down the road. When we walked in we were all quiet, counting down the minutes until we could all go back and be lazy on the couch with a movie. We sat in clear plastic chairs and admired the long, grainy wooden table in front of us. I order a glass of wine, or two, while my mom ordered water, no ice. Twenty minutes had passed and we were all engaging each other more through chatting and admiring our appetizer salads. We loved the salad, how the dressing covered the leaves perfectly, no more and no less. Twenty more minutes passed and we were anticipating our main course. My brothers were moving their palms together really fast like they were showing me how friction was created, except they were just overly excited that their food had arrived. The presentation was amazing and the laughs were continuing. We ended the dinner by doing a family tradition: rotation desserts. Everyone orders a dessert and if there is only two, we order multiple. Once you take a bite of your dessert, you pass it clockwise. You are not allowed to just eat the berries off the top, mom, and no, Cole, you aren’t allowed to finish your favorite one if it means going out of order. By the end of the night, we were bellies full, and bellies hurting from laughing, eating, and talking over one another. We had enjoyed a well-produced meal that allowed my family and my friends to come together and enjoy the most precious gift on the earth offers: community. I believe in food.

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  4. I believe that my This I Believe essays are slacking.

    I didn’t even write one last week. That made me really disappointed in myself. I told myself I would write two this week and maybe that would show some initiative and I wouldn’t lose as many points as I will having written nothing. But here I am with just this one.
    It’s a shame because I love writing these essays. I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced the freedom and confidence that these essays allow in an assignment before. In a way they’ve even made me more comfortable in the class itself, just because I know the people around me have learned personal things about me that I normally wouldn’t share with classmates, and the same is true for them.

    I am not an organized person. I finished up the tenth page of my rough l draft for Contemporary Art this morning, the day it is due. It feels so incomplete. The final draft has to be twenty pages, so I guess that feeling is a positive one. I put things off dangerously close to last minute. Sometimes it’s useful and the anxiety to finish gives me the extra push I need to create something slightly above adequate. Sometimes it causes me to create the bare minimum.

    My brother’s birthday is on Saturday. I currently owe him twelve dollars for our shared Netflix account, and I’m not even sure I’m going to buy him a present in time.

    I haven’t showered since Sunday. I’m hoping to squeeze one in before art.

    I hope that this essay isn’t received as a cop-out, though if I’m being honest with myself I know that’s what it sounds like.

    Even so, I am still being honest. I am still revealing things I wouldn’t normally share with people I have a class with.

    Next week will be better. I owe Teddy a really meaningful essay and I owe it to myself to put effort back into the assignments I have been enjoying so far this year.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Driving down Midway road towards Versailles the sun always rises to your left as you go over the hills. The best view happens to be over a field I’ve cut, baled, and sold to local farmers and friends. The frost on the grass listens when it is cold, when there is snow the sun bounces off and if i squint it shimmers through my eyelashes. Everyday in the spring I slowly watch the tress grow around me, in fall I watch the leaves fall.

    Senior year during my second year of yearbook I took it upon myself to try to capture the essence of the drive to school from midway, I was sure all those from midway would understand the profound affect a simple drive every morning to school can have. I grabbed the best camera from yearbook, my favorite lens and for a few mornings when everything was just right id stop before heading to school and take pictures for a while, I was always late on those days but I was late on most anyway. Having janitors as friends can come in handy. I captured a few and I asked for a spread but unfortunately there was no room. I tucked the pictures and mental images away. I slowly realized I didn’t need the images when they were so etched into my brain. Throughout my life images of midway are etched into me, the sun rising as we travel up the hill to elementary school. The railroad tracks where I’ve walked for numerous nights with friends, the creek where I’ve cut my feet on glass, where I’ve slipped on slimy rocks, where numerous crawfish and little fish were caught.

    The one that has been a constant though is the drive down midway road. Drives with my father to soccer practice and back home in the backseat with my best friend competing to eat the big Montana sandwich from arbys. Bus rides where every Nintendo ds is connected for Mario Kart, and some sly trades of Pokémon. Rides to school trying to make it as fast as we can passing each car that gets in our way. Our record is 7 minutes, at 60 mph its always 11. Drives filled with my favorite tunes and my brother riding next to me. Sitting at the stop light burning rubber before hitting the gas as hard as possible. Hitting the little hills as fast as we can for some airtime. Slow drives after midnight taking the night and the fresh air in, there isn’t a single car in sight, switch of the headlights real quick for a thrill. Look out the window in the morning on the way to school sunrises over the farms. I believe in drives down midway road.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I believe in my students.

    I believe in their inexhaustible energy as they work to love the world we inhabit. Their passion explodes when it looks like injustice might triumph, when news of a young man bullied in a dorm spreads on social media, when a Spanish-speaking boy is attacked by prideful English speakers, when girls in the Middle East are forbidden to play basketball.

    I believe when my students are troubled and need to set things right, they will do whatever is necessary, even when action makes them vulnerable. They will write to college presidents, start Facebook groups, and collect old-fashioned signatures on lined notebook paper. They will write sentences so long that the subject totally misses the verb. They will miss commas, but they won’t miss their target: people who abuse their privilege and perceived difference.

    I believe that my students will not let me slip complacently into old age. They will not tolerate me saying things like, “We were so much more socially active than students these days.” They will laugh when I compare them to other people from years gone by. They will demand that I respond to their questions with gravity, that I check email repeatedly so I don’t miss their words of distress, that I lend my authority to their walk-outs, public protests, and lobbying. My students demand absolute honesty and so I will write to inform them that today we are going to talk about racism and undeserved privilege. I will scrap carefully constructed syllabi because, like them, I believe that justice must prevail, that America’s angels are here with us.

    I believe in my students. Always will.

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  7. He was 16.
    It was cool.
    All guys were doing it.
    And it was addictive.
    My father smoked for over thirty years and could not stop when my brother asked him to in exchange for good grades. One spring day my sister and I painted the chimney like an Old Gold cigarette to resemble those that filled the spaces of our lives. We did it as a surprise for our father.


    He was 18.
    It was sprayed from helicopters.
    It deprived guerillas of the foliage used for food and cover.
    20,000,000 gallons destroyed the agriculture of an entire country.
    My father might as well have waded through Agent Orange just as he waded through a rice paddy the day a single bullet cut a hole through the center of his hand before cutting a larger one in his side. Metal wires still hold his side together.


    He was 20.
    He stirred it with his brother.
    Both of them built careers dipping brushes into cans of oil-based color.
    And he taught me to paint.
    Once my brother and I watched him fall from a ladder in a customer’s basement. He hit the cement hard. We froze and he yelled at us for not helping him up.


    Today, my father’s lungs clog with Kentucky pollen. His past life and my current home combined make him reach for breath.


    I believe my father’s lungs ache. I did not know, until now, that he can hurt.

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  8. I usually get weird looks when I tell people my hero is Kanye West. After all, he and I aren’t exactly relatable. He, a black guy from the streets of southside Chicago, and I, a white kid from the suburbs of Lexington, do not share a whole lot of defining moments that I can draw comparisons too. Plus, he’s probably the biggest bad guy in pop culture. He’s egotistical, maniacal, loud, and downright brilliant. I usually try to defend my choice of role model, but people are rarely interested in hearing why. So I believe in Kanye West, both as a musician and as a man.

    As a musician, Kanye continues to amaze me. This past winter, on a 9 hour drive to Washington DC, I listened through his entire discography, from The College Dropout to Yeezus. I hesitate to say I heard an evolution, for that indicates that the later is inherently better than the earlier. I would describe it more as a transformation. His earlier albums, which focus on gospel samples and more traditional rap transition seamlessly to later albums of dramatic production and all star feature lists. There is complexity to his music that is rarely seen across an entire career like his. His early albums support the samples he uses with smart and catchy beats and basslines. His later albums have so many levels that it takes many many listens to understand everything happening. On top of all of that, his lyrics are incredible. Sure, he has some ridiculous lines that people like to isolate and laugh at as the ramblings of a madman. But Kanye tackles subjects rarely discussed in rap, like personal relationships, alcoholism, institutional racism, and much more. As a musician, Kanye is undeniable. People usually agree here, or at least concede to get me to stop talking. But the next point is almost universally rejected.

    I believe in Kanye West as a man. He is the most interesting celebrity personality in pop culture right now. He’s an asshole, but if there was anyone deserving of being an asshole, it’s him. He’s a monster, but he’s kind of the monster we created by mocking and ridiculing his most outlandish moments. But above all else, the reason I believe in Kanye West is his confidence. As a kid who grew up with generally pretty low self confidence, listening to Kanye helped me love myself despite my faults. That sounds ridiculous, but I believe it. It’s hard to rap along to Stronger and not walk a little taller. That’s why I believe in Kanye West.

    Is this a deeply profound This I Believe essay? Probably not. But my belief in Kanye is about as strong as any of my other beliefs.

    ReplyDelete
  9. On March 20, 2015, my mother uploaded a photo of two eggs to the Internet – they were both balanced perfectly on their ends.

    On March 20, 1976, New York artist and urban shaman Donna Henes organized the first public egg-balancing ceremony in the city – thousands attend with the intention of setting an egg upright in the name of world peace and international harmony. On May 13, 2012, the same artist appeared on VH1 to perform a home blessing ceremony for the cast of Mob Wives.

    On March 20, 1945, my grandmother sat in her bedroom in Wilmette, IL and read an article in Time Magazine about the peculiar influence of celestial bodies on the composition of egg matter. The article ran between features on the bombing of Berchtesgaden and Tokyo by US fighters on one side and the first birthday of Betty Grable’s daughter Vicky on the other. The author said that the mysterious phenomenon had eased wartime tensions in Chinese capital – the war was ending, she was 14.

    I regret that I did not have eggs on hand to balance last Friday on the Vernal Equinox. When I have done it in the past, I was amazed by my mother’s intimate knowledge of shell texture, by the speed with which she could stand a whole carton at attention. Each year on the first day of spring, the Earth’s axis stands in such a way that it is neither inclined towards or away from the sun, daylight and night time hours are approximately equal, eggs balance with ease on my mother and grandmother’s kitchen tables.

    I do not care that in 1947, Japanese physicists proved that this feat could be accomplished in any part of the world on any day of the year. I believe in the magic of spring and the annual suspension of disbelief, in the generations of patient minds and steady hands that taught me balance around a kitchen table and a carton of free-range eggs each year.

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    Replies
    1. I so appreciate both your beliefs and the structure of your essay. They made me smile.

      You should ask Kurt to share with you some of the narratives he crafted for his Cabinet installation many years ago. You will see many similarities.I imagine they'll make you smile.

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  10. Nurse Tammy had just finish checking my vitals for the nth time tonight. I reach for my phone to check what time it was, but I’m still adjusting to this left handed business and I knock over my water instead. Fuck. At least I didn’t get wet, just the floor. I hurriedly pat down the table next to my bed searching for a phone on a table just slightly higher than my bed so I couldn’t see. Success, and soon I was being blinded by the light, the backlight that is. Through small slits that allow in as little light as possible I see that is 2:07. AM. I wonder out loud, “How am I suppose to get rest if they wake me up every hour?” As I awaited for nothing in particular to answer me I hit the call button for my nurse. In the time between when I called for the nurse and she got there I received an answer for a question I didn’t ask by something I didn’t expect.

    Hospitals have always been a part of my life. My oldest brother, Nicholas, who I have discussed in other essays was autistic. However, he wasn’t the only reason I found myself often in the hospital. My great grandfather lived long enough for me to be old enough to attend his funeral as did my maternal grandfather. I remember visiting them, mainly my grandfather as I was older when he passed. My mother had sat next to him and offered to get him some water, but he couldn’t swallow so all she could do was dab a sponge on his lips and hope that eased his pain a little. Being the youngest at six I had no idea what was going on, but hearing the beeping of the cold rhythmic machines would become a comforting sound to me thirteen years later.

    In elementary school we fundraised so we could buy people in nursing home a gifts for christmas and then go caroling at the hospital. I can’t recall if the singing was appreciated, but I can hardly say that I would complain if a group of 10 year olds had caroled for me. As for the gifting I don’t remember what the main thing we got them was, but I do remember getting her a bag of chips. My rationale then is the same as it is now. Who doesn’t like chips?

    Senior year of highschool my then girlfriend went under for facial reconstruction because one jaw line was too long and it would eventually lead to arthritis later in life if not treated now. I remember how she commanded no one else to eat until she could eat as the drugs slowly took hold her speech. The surgery was over 10 hours long and me being the ever truthful boyfriend didn’t eat until dinner when her parents finally made me. They had eaten as soon as she went under. Not me. I was emphatic with her demands, even more so now. When you go under for surgery, especially around head and neck area, anything could go wrong and you are just lying there as the drugs kick in wishing things could go back to normal.

    In the time between when I hit the button and when the nurse actual came I was already crying. That was my answer. I wasn’t going get better just be training and practice. I wasn’t going to get better until my soul was better, and the only way I could do that was by remembering my past. I believe in rest and reflection.

    So after Nurse Tammy had cleaned up the spilt water she asked why I was crying. I said,

    “I have a lot of thinking to do before I can sleep. I need alone time.

    -and more water.”

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    Replies
    1. Christopher, I can't wait to tell stories and hear you tell stories at our storytelling event next spring. (See how I already claim this event as "ours"?!)

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  11. I believe in soft fuzzy blankets.
    In stores, when I see any sort of blanket, my natural instinct is to reach out, and discover how soft it is. Some blankets are so soft, that they almost make me want to be cold, just so I can fully appreciate their warmth. The blanket can be any color, or size. Some are too small, designed as a throw, while some are made for a king size bed, but it does not matter. They are something that is always there, the blankets will be there to cuddle with even when my roommate’s cat abandons me. They are there for me in the summer, when I lay on top of the, in the winter as the first layer of blankets. Sometimes the blankets travel to the sofa, or they sit in my bed with me and watch hours of netflix, wherever we are, they are warm and comforting.
    The worst thing about the blankets, are that right when I settle down with one, when it moves to the top of the blanket hierarchy, it probably needs to be washed. Food or drink have spilled, or I accidently lay down on top of them as soon as I get home from work so they develop a funny smell, whatever reason, they need to be washed. Washing my soft fuzzy blankets is what kills them. They are not bad… but by no means are they the same fuzzy blanket that I walked out of the store with. Many blankets have gone to the laundry room to die, and whenever they do, I start my search for the next fuzzy blanket, and I can always find one. The consistency of their warmth is why I will always believe in fuzzy blankets.

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  12. I believe in church laughs.

    This may not be a universal term but to me it basically means laughing when you are not supposed to be. To me, it is church laughs that make the hard times worth the stress. The two also kind of coincide because in times of extreme stress (a five page paper due the tomorrow and you have not even started) is when you start to realize either how screwed you are or it is really not that big of a deal and you just begin to uncontrollably laugh.

    Last night in the library, a place where fun is pretty much forbidden, I had a stalk of celery and two different kinds a peanut butter and a term paper to be completed. The celery was so loud, which only began my laughter. Then a couple of my friends came in and I was duly distracted, maybe wrote a couple sentences. Next, we went out to get food, we came back and I found a fish bowl room to freely eat my celery, wrote a couple more sentences. Finally, the library closed at 2:00 and we were forced out.

    In the end, I had to wake up early this morning to finish that paper but the laughs and giggles last night were all worth it.

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  13. My first guitar was pink. Yes, a hideous pastel pink acoustic that still somehow managed to make me look very small when I lugged it from my dads car to the music shop. I was so sure it was exactly what I needed when is started taking lessons. In fourth grade tragedy struck, I jumped off the monkey bars and broke my wrist, I didn’t return to lessons for years. I couldn’t stay away for too long though, in high school I decided to pick guitar back up, my father helped me pick out a real guitar and I was able to start anew. My first real guitar teacher was kind and very soft spoken. He never got angry when I messed up or didn't practice, never asked my about my scars or teased me about my wild curls like most people who I got close to at that age did. Instead he came to me with patience and affection, soon I opened up, got past my hideous shyness and stopped crying when I messed up in lessons. That was when I really began to grow.

    I truly believe that taking those lessons and giving myself the ability to play guitar kept me on this earth. When I was hospitalized in 2011 for depression and self harm, I spent a week in an inpatient hospital before being sent to a residential treatment center. That week was one of the worst I have ever lived through, I cannot express the loneliness and fear I found in that hospital. My only solace was the hour of art we got every other day. One day, someone off handedly mentioned to me that they kept a guitar in the closet. I begged the BHW supervising us to let me play it and they gave in. I sat on the grey tile floor, played guitar and sang, everything stopped for a moment, everything was ok. I got to bring my own guitar to residential treatment, it carried me through the most difficult days of healing. No matter how much I cried or felt that day, I could find peace in that hour before bed in which I could play guitar and sing. When I got home from treatment, my guitar was still there for me, offering me a way to experience release from from mind in a way that was pure and creative, not destructive. It was what kept my head above water in those days when I was drowning. It kept me afloat and I’m so grateful.
    I am older now, I am much happier now. As I sit on my bed, feeling the sun shine through my window, I play my guitar and I sing. Every worry or problem takes a step back and I get to be free for the length of this song. What a gift that is.

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    Replies
    1. Feeling thankful for guitars. And for you.

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  14. My first guitar was pink. Yes, a hideous pastel pink acoustic that still somehow managed to make me look very small when I lugged it from my dads car to the music shop. I was so sure it was exactly what I needed when is started taking lessons. In fourth grade tragedy struck, I jumped off the monkey bars and broke my wrist, I didn’t return to lessons for years. I couldn’t stay away for too long though, in high school I decided to pick guitar back up, my father helped me pick out a real guitar and I was able to start anew. My first real guitar teacher was kind and very soft spoken. He never got angry when I messed up or didn't practice, never asked my about my scars or teased me about my wild curls like most people who I got close to at that age did. Instead he came to me with patience and affection, soon I opened up, got past my hideous shyness and stopped crying when I messed up in lessons. That was when I really began to grow.

    I truly believe that taking those lessons and giving myself the ability to play guitar kept me on this earth. When I was hospitalized in 2011 for depression and self harm, I spent a week in an inpatient hospital before being sent to a residential treatment center. That week was one of the worst I have ever lived through, I cannot express the loneliness and fear I found in that hospital. My only solace was the hour of art we got every other day. One day, someone off handedly mentioned to me that they kept a guitar in the closet. I begged the BHW supervising us to let me play it and they gave in. I sat on the grey tile floor, played guitar and sang, everything stopped for a moment, everything was ok. I got to bring my own guitar to residential treatment, it carried me through the most difficult days of healing. No matter how much I cried or felt that day, I could find peace in that hour before bed in which I could play guitar and sing. When I got home from treatment, my guitar was still there for me, offering me a way to experience release from from mind in a way that was pure and creative, not destructive. It was what kept my head above water in those days when I was drowning. It kept me afloat and I’m so grateful.
    I am older now, I am much happier now. As I sit on my bed, feeling the sun shine through my window, I play my guitar and I sing. Every worry or problem takes a step back and I get to be free for the length of this song. What a gift that is.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wait for me friends!

    I believe in the bastardization of names (or, I do not even know why I think weird things)

    I do not know how it emerged for my first half of Transylvania but I feel like I hardly call anybody by their proper names anymore. Nowadays, my friend’s names are the likes of: Garden Hose, Sofa, Gypsy, Meyer Man, Hamburger Pants, et al..... Out of context, I might be able to form some abstract poetry for what I call my peers! I do not remember doing this in high school however I never was truly familiar with my peers to give them ridiculous nick names. Sometimes I get concerned that people might think that I have forgotten their names from my unorthodox terminology!

    The big question I have been asking myself is why? I honestly do not know the logic that my brain has caught on this past while. A hypothesis I have is that maybe purposely distorting a name might be an implicit sign of endearment since I know an individual's name well enough that I deviate from it. I am not for sure how I could put this to an experimental test but I know that making odd names on the fly is fun which is why I believe in the bastardization of names.

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    1. I love my nickname!! I guess not the name itself but the fact that you've given me one. It makes me feel good and makes me appreciative of our friendship.

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    2. to clarify i do like the name itself... up there i said i didn't but i do i promise!!!

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