WALKING ON EGGSHELLS: Excerpt #3

One of my coping mechanisms for when I get stressed out due to my Asperger’s tendencies: Looking at nature scenery like this…

 

Just like I did for the first two chapters of the book I’ve been working on, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, Which I still plan on (self) publishing by the end of this year, here’s an excerpt from Chapter Three, called “The Bullied Life: We Were Just Playing”:

 

I will always recall – not at all fondly – the moment when Marlon (not his real name – if you grew up with me in Santa Monica, CA you can probably figure out who he is) first started to torment me. It’s a cliché of course, but it was as if it was yesterday instead of forty years ago…

I was in the fourth grade and had just started Will Rogers Elementary School, being among a most ethically diverse group of kids, rainbow-like in that all colors were represented after having exactly one black classmate (she was in my first grade class) during the previous four years that I went to school in Riverside combined.

It was around mid-morning when it happened:

My class, room 404, was outside on he playground with another fourth grade class, milling about on the blackish-gray asphalt in the cool, gray overcast weather that Santa Monica is famous for, waiting for P.E. class to start.

I was just standing there in line with the other nine-year olds when all of a sudden I felt this hard, sharp punch on my arm. I turned around to see who had hit me and here he was, this cocky kid with a big, toothy, arrogant-looking grin, posing like Joe Frazier with his fists up saying “Come on!”, looking like a wolf who had just spotted his prey and was getting ready for a possible meal.

It’s obvious from the perspective of a middle-aged guy that Marlon, in the grand tradition of inner city African-American youth, was “testing” me to see how tough I was, a requirement for social survival among that crowd.

Unfortunately to a nine-year old aspie, it was not so obvious to me what was going on – at all.

I had absolutely no clue whatsoever about how one needs to have a certain toughness or “hard” factor to be respected in the “hood”; I was a weirdo on the Autism Spectrum Disorder from the country, what the hell did I know about needing to fight (among other things) in order to be seen by the other black kids as “cool” as up until that time, about 99.99% of the youngsters of African descent that I knew were cousins, and even there I felt there was a culture clash as I was a rural kid with cows and feral cats as pets, playing in open spaces and hearing roosters crow in the morning, while pretty much all of my cousins were city kids from L.A.

When you put all of those factors together, I suppose it was inevitable that I would be a target to Marlon.

That little punch that Marlon gave me that morning would greatly pale in comparison to what would happen two years later in the sixth grade, the reason being that great Satan and I would be in the same class, room 502, and his unadulterated evilness would result in grade six being the worst year of  my pre-teen life as to say it was nine and a half months of hell would be an understatement.

To be fair, Marlon wasn’t the only kid in that class putting me through such nastiness that year; I’d estimate that roughly a quarter of the class, maybe a little more than that, including many of the boys, either did something or said something to me that made me feel bad in some way. One boy –  not black (to show that it wasn’t just an African-American thing) – who was harassing me said, when I asked him what I did to make him be so mean, forcefully answered, “You came to this school!”, as well as warning me to not go to John Adams, the junior high school across the street, near the end of the year.

Actually, I should have known that my social life at Will Rogers wouldn’t be great the first month I was there…

It was yet another cool and overcast morning: I was walking to the playground and was just about to step onto the wide open part of the asphalt when about eight boys bum-rushed me and , in my mind, were bugging the hell out of me, tugging at me and pulling on my shirt sleeves as it felt like I was being attacked by an invading army.

It was all a blur; as far as I was concerned I was being attacked by strangers for no reason when I just wanted to be left alone…which was why I threw a mini-temper tantrum, commencing to push one or two of those kids away and taking off running afterwards, those kids yelling “get him!” as they intended to jump me and try to beat me up. I ran to a teacher and ended up hiding in a classroom until recess was over.

I specifically recall one time when the teacher had me, Marlon, and another boy in the hallway outside the classroom door because of some shitty thing that he and that other boy did to me in class. When confronted, I’ll never forget what Marlon told her:

“We were just playing.”

This is a commonly used phrase for bullies when taken to task for their evil deeds, the teacher then telling Marlon and the other boy to leave me alone.

Needless to say, it didn’t work.

 

COMING NEXT MONTH:

Excerpts from chapter four of “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, called “The Black Alienation”, which describes my struggles with being accepted by my fellow African-Americans, particularly in the low to lower-middle income neighborhood I spent much of my childhood in, and my trouble with completely adapting to black social youth culture after spending my early childhood years almost exclusively among whites.

 

This reminds me of what I went through during my preteen years, especially in the sixth grade – only I wasn’t a red-headed kid with glasses. Photo courtesy of aceofgeeks.net

 

 

 

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WALKING ON EGGSHELLS: A Second Excerpt

A good illustration of the process of my writing this book…

 

 

As part of the process of (self) publishing my book detailing my experiences with having Asperger’s, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, I am posting excerpts of the book on this site on a monthly basis, to get it publicity and to hopefully raise interest.

Having started this last month with a few paragraphs from Chapter One, here is an excerpt from Chapter Two, titled “Shut Up, Derek!”, which describes the times I said inappropriate things and not only never realizing they were inappropriate, but feeling oppressed, like I was denied my First Amendment right, because I wasn’t being allowed to express myself the way I wanted.

Along with describing a pretty bad incident I did and a harrowing near-incident that if successful, I wouldn’t be writing this now.

Here it is:

 

“…I would be expressing myself, using what I thought was my first amendment rights in saying things, and someone would look at me with an annoying expression and say in a puzzlingly angry way, ‘Shut up, Derek!’

And my brain would always wonder, sometimes verbally, why that was said since I had done nothing wrong.

Consequently, I saw anyone who told me to shut up as an enemy, or someone who saw me as one; who hated me – or at least disliked me – for no reason, someone who was maliciously trying to deny me my basic American right to free expression, which around 350 million other residents of these United States have.

It was like everyone had the right to express themselves however they damn well pleased except me, as every instance of someone trying to hush me up made feel like I was in a North Korean prison camp being straitjacketed and chained up like a pit bull, being unnecessarily restricted by what I could and could not say.

There were several of these negative events (people telling me to shut up in not a nice way, like they hated me) that I can recall as clearly as I can recall what I had for breakfast this morning, reminders of how my aspie brain had and still has rendered me as an annoying, insensitive dork with too many people as far as my vocal interactions.

…my reaction to…(seemingly) everyone’s assessment of me fluctuated between feelings of bewilderment over people having such negative vibes regarding me when in my mind I didn’t do anything to them, and anger over these people trying to deny my first amendment right to free speech.

This anger manifested itself by me forcefully saying ‘Shut me up!’, trying to fight the oppression that according to my Asperger’s brain those who were telling me to shut it were trying t do, but even that didn’t compare in the slightest to what I did to a girl one night during my days at SMC (short for Santa Monica College, which is how we all referred to the place), which is SO hard to think about today because it was SO unforgivably heinous.

It happened during an SMC football game – the minor leagues of college football – sometime during my second year there.

 

 

Too many folks didn’t understand me back in the day because of this, which I wouldn’t even know about until the mid-90s and which socially cost me SO much…

 

 

I was commenting about the football players on the field – I don’t recall what I said and I definitely didn’t think whatever I did say was bad at all – when this girl, whom I had known since junior high and was never really friends with in the first place, her seemingly finding fault with everything I said and commenting how dumb it was, told me to…

‘Shut up, Derek. Just shut up.’

Feeling like I was being treated like shit for no reason other than being myself by someone who I felt had oppressed me that way more than once before, dating back six years to that point, I snapped and did something that NO guy should EVER do to a female.

I hauled off and punched her on the shoulder.

You are now free to call me a loser and a punk for hitting a girl; I’ll wait…

Just as you would figure, everyone was understandably pissed off at me beyond belief; I still wonder why I wasn’t suspended from school for what I did.

What happened next was a continuation of me snapping, as I proceeded to go up to the top of the bleachers, which was easily a couple of hundred feet high if not more, and started to put one leg over a wall, intending to jump off. One other acquaintance who likewise never liked me sneeringly commented that I was trying to get attention, which I don’t deny – I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t.

I obviously didn’t put my other leg over that back wall and go through what at that moment I had intended to go through, else you wouldn’t be reading this book.

It was also clear that what I was suffering from along with Asperger’s was something which I honestly feel had stemmed from all those people seemingly oppressing, abusing, and bullying me throughout my life:

DEPRESSION.

After I put my leg back on the safe side of the stands, I issued my apologies to the girl who I punched and everyone else, then sat in my seat…but not really giving my full attention to the game the way I normally would due to me feeling lower tan a slug buried sixteen feet under, which I wouldn’t have minded being that night.

 

Pretty traumatic stuff, eh?

While I never hit any girls or women or attempted suicide again, there were more incidents of me feeling like I was in a prison in North Korea due to people telling to shut up for what in my mind was no reason in this chapter.

For details, read the book when it comes out.

BY THE WAY: Next month I’ll post an except from Chapter Five, “The Bullied Life”, which is self-explanatory…

 

An illustration of how I wrote my first draft of WALKING ON EGGSHELLS…

 

 

 

 

 

THREE YEARS OF HARTLAND CHRONICLES: The Anniversary Post

What I’ve been doing for the past nine years. Photo courtesy of writersonline.workshops.com

 

COMMEMORATING 1,095 DAYS OF THIS BLOG/SITE

 

I know it’s a tired cliché that I reckon folks are tired of hearing, but…

Three years goes by quite fast, doesn’t it?

I recall like it was yesterday (another cliché) the day I began this blog;

I simply wanted to assert my independence in writing online, as I had spent the previous six years posting articles for HubPages.com and Triond.com (which is no longer in existence), sites that paid royalties – yes, I made a little money from them – that to be honest I was getting a bit tired of.

Particularly in the case of HubPages as while I enjoyed posting on that site, after spending so many years with them I wanted the freedom to write without someone saying that I needed to change this or that, or not accepting my pieces because they didn’t like the way I made a point.

It was similar for the sports sites I wrote for, Bleacher Report and Fansided, as I was on them for seven years before starting Hartland Chronicles; I wrote sports stories on this blog for the first few months before starting SoCal Sports Annals in January of 2015.

Here’s the link to that site, which for all intents and purposes is my being-my-own-boss job; check it out, I think you’ll like it: http://www.socalsportsannals.wordpress.com

Looking back, I understand that sites like Hubpages need to maintain a certain standard of quality.

However, the fact that I wanted to determine what was quality and what was not ultimately led to my starting this blog of my own.

In other words, it was the freedom that having my own blog offered that led to starting one.

Which is much like someone starting their own business; they do so because they don’t want to be at the mercy of some employer, much preferring to work for oneself than working for someone else.

That’s always been my ultimate mindset and – I realize now – my ultimate goal for my work life: not answering to someone else.

 

 

I have so felt like this guy over the years, and sometimes even now; left out of things because (in my case) misunderstanding and intolerance of my having Asperger’s. Photo courtesy of anxiety.org

 

 

ANOTHER MOTIVATION FOR STARTING THIS BLOG OF MINE:

Like I did on Triond and Hubpages, I wanted to have a site where my experiences with having Asperger’s Syndrome can be expressed.

I’ve transposed a few of my Asperger’s articles onto this site as well as give regular updates in the progress of my book describing my experiences of being on the Autism Spectrum, WALKING ON EGGSHELLS,

And not only will I continue to do so, I have started posting excerpts of WALKING ON EGGSHELLS on this site, the first one appearing a few weeks ago (hope everyone read it!); I’m going to post the next one later this month – hope it’s checked out!

I reckon some are asking why I’m writing about having Asperger’s, both in book form and on this blog…

In a nutshell, it’s both a sort of therapy of me as being on the spectrum has not been fun,

And a way for people to understand Aspies better as misunderstanding is a root of mistreatment, bullying and all those other bad things that folks with Asperger’s and others on the autistic spectrum go through.

Not that writing about my struggles with being an Aspie has been the only topic I’ve written about, as things ranging from God/religion to movies to politics to health issues to music (yes, I still think boy bands suck!) to racial issues have appeared on here.

And will continue to do so as issues come up.

 

 

Always a good source of therapy and a way I can relax; looking at nice nature scenery like this…

 

 

THE INEVITABLE QUESTION: HOW HAVE I LIKED WRITING ON THIS BLOG?

The short answer: It’s been good.

An outlet for expression if nothing else, which is important.

Of course it would be great if the number of reads were more than what they are as while it improved this past month thanks to an article I did about the best summer songs – here’s the link to find out what they are: http://www.hartlandchronicles.wordpress.com/2017/06/29/eight-essential-summer-songs-my-personal-favorites/

There have been quite a few days where I would get no reads at all, leading me to wonder if I was wasting my time.

I quickly came to my senses on that one – else this site wouldn’t exist – as being able to write what I know/want and getting it out there is what’s important to me.

And I do appreciate the nearly forty followers I have.

Bottom Line: It’s been a good three years having my own personal blog where I can write and express myself without anyone looking over my shoulder and acting like my “boss”, telling me my stuff is no good or not good enough.

I don’t know where it will all lead at the end of the day, but I certainly hope that Hartland Chronicles is still going strong in another three years.

And that people will be interested enough to visit it and read what I have to say.

 

BY THE WAY:  Watch for the next excerpt of WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, which will pertain to being an African-American on the Autism Spectrum and will appear on this site next week.

 

An essential tool of my trade for nearly a decade now…

 

 

AN EXCERPT FROM “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”

An illustration of what I’ve been doing for work in general for the past nine years…

 

THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF PASSAGES FROM MY SOON TO BE (SELF) PUBLISHED BOOK DETAILING MY LIFE EXPERIENCES WITH ASPERGER’S SYNDROME

 

A while ago I stated that I would be posting excerpts from the book I’ve been working on for the past few years, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, in advance of its self publication.

The process of publishing this book, in which I will be using the site Lulu.com, will be my upcoming summer project; it’s my plan to have it ready for reading by September.

In the meantime, here’s the first excerpt, taken from chapter one.

I certainly hope it’s enjoyed…

 

Being that I was about a year or so out of diapers and had joined the masses of the newly potty-trained, I obviously don’t remember the exact details as my mom told me the story of how I essentially taught myself how to read:

Walking up to my grandfather’s large tan suede Laz-I-Boy recliner chair one morning sometime during March of 1970 (according to my calculations) while he was reading the Riverside (CA) Press-Enterprise, our town’s local paper, I peeked over Grandpa’s shoulder at what he was looking at, which was apparently the supermarket ads – probably Stater Brothers as that was a prominent place to get groceries in that area at that time – because according to Mom, I proceeded to read the various names of various items like steak, milk and hamburgers, reading off that newspaper page like I would read Judy Blume’s books a few years later, or The Hunger Games series, Sports Illustrated, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and the Los Angeles Times now.

Everyone was stunned and flabbergasted, of course, especially since I had just been exposed to the alphabet a few months earlier as I remember Mom buying me one of those magnetic black boards with the brightly colored letters and numbers that previous Christmas and teaching me the A-B-Cs and 1-2-3s off of that. According to her, I was not only able to recite the twenty-six letters fairly quickly, I was also doing things like saying them backwards, dividing them in half and reciting them from A to M and from N to Z, both forwards and backwards, and other peculiar things like that.

I’m sure that my family first thought then that there was something interesting about me as far as my intelligence was concerned; here I was, reading at two and a half years old when other toddlers my age were probably just barely learning how to use the toilet and watching Big Bird, Ernie and Bert and Oscar the Grouch and the then-brand new Sesame Street show…to be able to read so quickly was (in my family’s eyes), to coin the most overused phrase in the English language which I am frankly sick of, amazing.

Like lots of other little “aspies”, however, there were plenty of things that I did and said and behaviors that I displayed that were not so amazing, which ranged from antisocial to bizarre to obsessive to just plain bad, things that I’m most ashamed and embarrassed to think of today…

It was a perfectly pleasant morning at my grandparents’ house in Woodcrest…I think it was the summer, since I remember it being so warm.

There we were, my two cousins and I, three little kids sitting on two bicycles and a Big Wheel, a plastic low rider contraption that was all the rage in the 1970s. Grandpa was putting us in various poses, taking shots and having a pretty good time, when my ASD impulses reared their ugly head.

I was wearing a farmer’s straw hat that I absolutely loved and was most attached to; that head covering was my obsession of the moment, much like Linus and that security blanket of his. As the picture-taking continued…all of a sudden Grandpa stopped shooting, walked over to me, took this beloved hat off of my head and put it on the head of one of my cousins, without any warning or letting me know in advance that he was going to do that.

Now to a normal, neurotypical eight-year old, that would have not been a big deal in the slightest…

Unfortunately for my beloved grandfather and young cousins that day, I was not a normal, neurological eight-year old.

“That’s my hat!” I cried several times, as I commenced with throwing an intercontinental ballistic missile-level tantrum; yelling, screaming, sobbing, throwing lawn chairs around like I was the Incredible Hulk’s son, it’s extremely mortifying to think about, and it’s been over forty years since those hysterics. There’s a snapshot of me sitting down on the patio in the sun, after getting spanked no doubt, me looking royally passed off as I had ruined a perfectly good day because my aspieness prevented me from reacting appropriately to a sudden, unexpected change, which my extreme outburst stemmed from.

All because of a hat that was a pathetically tattered and torn up thing with holes in it, which belonged in the trash!

Looking back, I realized much later that Grandpa…only wanted to try something a little different in our photo shoot, which is a reasonable thing to accept if you’re a neurotypical, but not if you’re an eight-year old on the Autism Spectrum as my aspie brain was telling me that I was being attacked and treated unfairly, with something that I really was attached to being taken away for no reason.

An outsider with no knowledge or understanding of ASD would read this and think, “That was the nastiest brat I’ve ever read about! God, what an obnoxious little shit he was!”

And I honestly can’t say that I blame them for thinking that…

 

This was a part of chapter one, which describes my Asperger’s struggles as a little kid.

Another excerpt from another chapter will be posted on this blog real soon.

 

I remember feeling like and being treated similar to the girl on the right seemingly a lot as a young kid…

The Latest Update On The Progress of My Book, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”

 

Things are moving along.

Being that I am finished with what I believe is my 4th draft/re-editing of my Asperger’s experience book, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, I am almost done with printing out the manuscript; just a few pages of chapter ten – the last chapter – to go.

I have made a decision, however…

Because I’ll most likely have to once again rewrite the book for the website Lulu.com in order to have it be (self) published, as I’m planning on using that site to publish my tome,

And because I’m busy with other important things,

I’m pushing the release of “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS” to the fall, possibly November but no later than December 1st.

As a silver lining, it will be ready just in time for the holidays!

I’m planning to make rewriting the manuscript on Lulu.com my main summer project, put a little less emphasis on my sports site/blog, SoCalSportsAnnals.com (Here’s the link to check it out: http://www.socalsportsannals.wordpress.com ) ,

In order to get this tome out there and ready.

Another big decision I have made is that from time to time, once every month or six weeks – I’m not 100% sure yet – I plan to post some excerpts from “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS” on this blog to hopefully perk interest in my story of being on the Autism Spectrum in a neurotypical (non-autistic) world.

I think that by doing so, more folks will want to buy the book.

I’ll write the first excerpt either this month or next month.

Until then, I remain most optimistic about this book of mine.

 

 

BEGINNING THE HOME STRETCH: The Latest Update on “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”

I’ve often felt like this little girl not only as a kid, but also in my adult life and sometimes even today due to having Asperger’s. Photo courtesy of myaspergerschild.com

 

HOW THINGS ARE GOING AS I BEGIN MY FINAL PREPARATIONS FOR SELF-PUBLICATION OF MY BOOK DESCRIBING MY LIFE ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM IN THE NON-AUTISTIC WORLD

 

To put it precisely, it’s coming along fairly well.

Since the new year began I’ve been making final edits, corrections and rewrites of my book, WALKING ON EGGSHELLS, making sure that everything is as good as I can possibly make it before I go to the self-publication sites.

Out of the ten chapters I have written, I have printed five, meaning that half of the book is, in my eyes, as ready for (self) publishing as I can make it as this is the fourth edit of this tome.

I’ve been trying to cut things, looking at different paragraphs, passages and sentences that are too wordy; things that are not needed to get my point across along with the inevitable typos and misspellings that are common with every writer.

Basically my mind-set in this process is,  “How can I make this better?”

As evidenced by the fact that I’ve done five chapters so far and am currently final editing Chapter Six, things are moving along.

My target date for WALKING ON EGGSHELLS being finished and published remains between June 1st and my 50th birthday in mid-June.

 

This, I’ve felt, describes me too, especially during my high school days; check out those other two girls (no doubt) talking crap about her. Photo courtesy of activebeat.com

 

In order to accomplish that, however, I need to keep going on the editing and printing, which will take a while as the manuscript is well over 300 pages – though it will be considerably fewer in book form; this is not WAR AND PEACE I’m writing here, nor do I want my book to be.

After all the editing and rewriting, though I know it won’t be perfect by any means, and I’m not expecting it to be any kind of big seller in the slightest, I have to say that I’m as satisfied as a first-time writer can be.

My current goal for this particular week is to have Chapter Six – which is the second part of my mostly bad times as a high school student with Asperger’s and my struggles with that in a traditional school as I had so many traumatic memories of those days, I had to split them into two large chapters – finished and printed.

And perhaps Chapter Seven, which describes my pathetic history concerning matters of the heart, focusing on one member of the opposite sex in particular, as well.

The Bottom Line: Things are coming together.

I hope they continue to.

And I really hope that people will want to read this book of mine when it’s done.

Goodness knows I’ve worked quite hard on it.

 

No pair of statements can be truer, particularly the first one in my case. Image courtesy of pinterest.com

 

JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS: The Latest On The Writing of My Book, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”

writingparaphernalia

A good illustration of my book writing process as I wrote my 1st draft in longhand and used a PC for my subsequent drafts. Photo courtesy of kimberleeconwayireton.net

 

 

HOW THINGS ARE PROGRESSING WITH MY BOOK DETAILING MY EXPERIENCES HAVING ASPERGER’S AS CHRISTMAS AND THE END OF 2016 APPROACHES

 

To get right to the point…

Since I started setting aside an average of a couple of hours a week to edit and rewrite a fourth (and final) draft of the book detailing my experiences being on the Autism Spectrum in a non-autistic world, WALKING ON EGGSHELLS,

Things have been progressing fairly well as I am currently in the middle of chapter seven, with the book being planned for nine chapters and a brief epilogue.

I finished chapters five and six last month; they were important chapters because they described my (mostly bad) experiences in high school.

There were so many events and incidents during those high school years which led to negative results and feelings in some form, I had to divide them into two chapters as one chapter would have been WAY too long.

As a play on the iconic movie “Fast Times At Ridgemont High”, the quintessential teenage film released during the start of my high school days, I’m calling the chapters “Rough Times At Samohi, Part One” and “Rough Times At Samohi, Part Two”

While not divulging any excerpts – sorry, you’ll just have to wait for the book to be published,

I can say that part one details my first year or so at Santa Monica High School (the term “Samohi”, coming from taking the first two letters of Santa Monica, and High), where I spent those formative years, focusing on my struggles fitting in with the main extracurricular activity I was involved with, the marching band, while part two mostly recalls my academic and social struggles outside of the music program, including my experiences at the prom and trying to get my driver’s license my senior year.

 

Aspergers

Photo courtesy of lumacare.co.uk

 

Which were two bad memories that helped to illustrate my Charlie Brown-like failures there.

As for chapter seven, except for it being about my struggles with matters of the heart I prefer not to go into any details about it as it’s rather personal; sorry, you’ll just have to read the book when it’s finished and published!

My immediate plans are to try to finish the chapter before New Year’s, but if not it will definitely be done by the end of the first week of January.

Which will leave me free to tackle what will probably be the most important part of my book:

My (more often than I would have liked) traumatic times as an adult with an emphasis on my social struggles in the workforce, which like my high school experiences are so many I have to divide them into part one and part two.

Those two chapters are so essential to WALKING ON EGGSHELLS, I have to be sure that I dedicate time to working on them each week if my goal of the book being (self) published and out by my birthday in June is to be reached.

The way things are going, I am pretty confident about that goal being reached.

Because all I’m really trying to do is tell one person’s story about his being in a world which because of his special need is not geared toward him, and his challenges succeeding in such a world.

Keep holding good thoughts…

 

 

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An excellent quote. Image courtesy of quoteaddicts.com