Month: January 2015

Dear Prudence – January 20, 2015

I don’t know how many of you follow Dear Prudence at Slate, but the chat on Monday (here and here) had a few things I want to comment on:


Okay, within all the extraneous commentary is buried a little sentence that gets us halfway to the answer: “You don’t even say if your daughter-in-law wants you buzzing around when she gives birth.”

Well, maybe you should ask her.  Your son’s wedding is important, yes, but it will go on and be wonderful with or without you.  Yes, your grandchild will be around a lot longer than the day of his birth (God willing, of course), but labor and delivery is excruciatingly difficult for any woman – is she counting on your support?  If yes, then you are making the right decision to be there for her.

On to the next one –


Any or all of a few different things are accomplished by complaining about a spouse:

1) Validation in feeling irritated

2) Venting so when you do approach your spouse later you aren’t angry

3) Enjoying the intimacy of marriage, including the fact that you see all the wrinkles of another person

I think Prudie’s advice is good – give the other women the validation they seem to be seeking.  And don’t think too much of it beyond that – complaining about a spouse isn’t ALWAYS the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad habit some people think it is.

Last one –

3 4 5

This one is a pretty heavy one.  I don’t know what it’s like to raise a special needs child, so to the original letter-writer I say: you and ONLY you know how much you can handle.  You may be wrong about how much you can handle, so I would emphasize what the second poster said about making sure you have resources lined up to help you.

However, I do know what it’s like to have a special needs sibling.  I have a brother with severe autism who is two years younger than me.  I remember being young, playing with my brother, thinking that it’s fine that he can’t talk to me yet because he’s still a baby.  That’s okay, though – I just have to be patient.  He’ll grow and learn to talk and before I know it he’ll be able to play with me.  I waited a long time.  It never happened.

At 30 years old, he can say any of several memorized phrases to express himself, but he doesn’t string words together on his own.  This progress didn’t come easily – my parents’ entire lives were spent trying everything to encourage his development.  Everything was about what he needed and what would help him.  It really did feel like my needs were a distant afterthought, if they were even a priority.

But here’s the thing – I am a functioning adult.  I am not a slave to a developmental disability like my brother is.  At some point I have to say to myself, “Sure, I do feel like I got shafted out of getting some actual attention from my parents, but so what?  They are only human; they can only do so much.  It’s not ideal, but I do have the ability to make up for lost time; essentially, to raise myself as an adult.”  That’s the approach I’ve taken and the approach I would recommend to fellow adult siblings of special needs children.

I hope this letter-writer and her husband are able to decide what is best for their family.

Agree?  Tell me in the comments.  Disagree?  Go eat a rock.  Kidding!  Tell me that in the comments, too – nicely.

My abortion story

In honor of the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision today, I am going to share my abortion story.

When I was 20 years old, I was finally starting to find my groove and enjoy life.  I had left my sheltered upbringing in semi-rural Iowa, joined the Air Force, and was living in Hawai’i.  I was in the best shape of my life, I had a bikini for every day of the week, and I was having a lot of fun, if-ya-know-whaddamean.

My days were filled with work, hiking, going to the beach, working out, and reading.  My evenings were filled with dates, dinner with friends, and whatever I wanted to do.  I almost never slept alone.  Mainly because I didn’t want to.

After a few months of this I managed to settle down and have an actual boyfriend.  Tall and black, he had grown up in New York City and we had a lot of stories to trade.  It was good!  As much fun as I had been having, I was starting to get a little tired of the chaos.  So it was nice to have some stability.

One morning on one of my gym days I got up like usual to go to the gym.  Fifteen minutes into my workout I started feeling nauseous.  Really nauseous.  It was so bad I couldn’t keep going; so I left.  I called my boyfriend just to chat and tell him what happened.  And out of the blue, he said: “I think you’re pregnant.”  I was like – what?!  No.  No way.  We use a condom EVERY time.  There’s no way I’m pregnant.  “I think you’re pregnant,” he repeats.  No.  Not possible.

But the thought was planted and wouldn’t go away so off I go to the store for a pregnancy test.  On my way in I puke in a garbage can outside.  Gross.  I hate puking.  I get home, pee on the stick, and sit on the phone with him while watching the test.  One pink line – okay, the test is working, so far so good.  Then I start to see it very faintly but slowly getting stronger – “Oh God.  Oh God.  I see it – I see two pink lines.”

He was ecstatic!  Huh, what?!  That was not what I was expecting.  Um – hold on.  This doesn’t feel real at all.  There is NO WAY I could be pregnant.  But there are those two pink lines.  He was ecstatic!  I shook my head in confusion.

Okay then – I’m pregnant.  Yup.

This brought a whole new set of concerns to our relationship.  We figured out within the next couple weeks that although we both loved to watch football, go hiking, go spend time browsing bookstores, thinking and talking about whatever conversation is inspired by the books …. Despite all this, we were not meant to be married.  Every conversation we had about possibly getting married and raising the baby together ended in tears on my end.  It didn’t take long before we decided to go our separate ways.  I went to my 6-week appointment alone.

I knew that I had no idea how to take care of a baby; hell, I didn’t even like kids.  On top of that, it was made clear to me in no uncertain terms that I should not have this baby.  From coworkers to acquaintances to relatives to the lawyer I called for child support advice, in no particular order:

“How far along are you?  You have options, you know – have you considered an abortion?”

“Why would you have a baby?  You’re not ready.”

“But … you’re not with the father.  I don’t understand why you’re doing this to yourself.”

“You’re bringing a MIXED RACE baby into the world?  There are places where their life would be in DANGER?  How could you do that?”

“You should think about what you’re doing to this family – I don’t want a black baby in the family.”

“If you become a single mother you will ALWAYS be poor.  And you will NEVER get out.”

“You’ll never get married – a good man doesn’t want a woman with a child.  Especially not a black child.  Men just aren’t any good with children that aren’t theirs.”

“I see it all the time – you’ll go from boyfriend to boyfriend, and one of them will end up abusing your child – maybe even killing them.”

“If you become a single mother, your baby will grow up poor and not finish high school and probably get into drugs – it’s a vicious cycle.  Why are you getting upset?  I only said he’ll PROBABLY use drugs, not that he DEFINITELY will.”

According to everyone, who of course only had the best interests of my baby in mind:

  • I wasn’t ready
  • I was irresponsible
  • I was 20, single, and wasn’t staying with the father
  • The father was black, so the child would be mixed race
  • I hadn’t finished college yet.

It was all perfectly clear.  I checked all the boxes of the perfect candidate – I was supposed to have an abortion.

But I didn’t.

My abortion story is that I didn’t have one.

That baby is now a beautiful 11-year-old girl.

And you know what?  We’re not poor.  We’re not homeless.  I finished college and have a great career.  I married a great guy who loves her like his own.  We’re not any of the things I was told we definitely would be if I didn’t have an abortion.  See, there’s this thing called free will, and with my free will I made choices to set me and her up for the future the best way I can.  There is NO such thing as a pre-determined outcome.

So if you are in a situation like I was, and you have condescending people telling you to “just do what’s BEST for your child” and reminding you that you have “options,” just smile to yourself, knowing that they are full of shit.  They really are.  And I’m the proof.

Why I am not Charlie

I have yet to see it articulated better than this.

a paper bird

imagesThere is no “but” about what happened at Charlie Hebdo yesterday. Some people published some cartoons, and some other people killed them for it.  Words and pictures can be beautiful or vile, pleasing or enraging, inspiring or offensive; but they exist on a different plane from physical violence, whether you want to call that plane spirit or imagination or culture, and to meet them with violence is an offense against the spirit and imagination and culture that distinguish humans. Nothing mitigates this monstrosity. There will be time to analyze why the killers did it, time to parse their backgrounds, their ideologies, their beliefs, time for sociologists and psychologists to add to understanding. There will be explanations, and the explanations will be important, but explanations aren’t the same as excuses. Words don’t kill, they must not be met by killing, and they will not make the killers’ culpability go away.

To abhor what was done to the victims, though, is not…

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Holiday roundup 2014: Lives remembered

We’ve had a pretty hectic couple of months, and early January is a good time to reflect on things.  Let’s be honest – January isn’t good for much else!

Anyway, I need to get my candle out again.

Here it is

Here it is

Thanksgiving weekend, the son of a family friend died of an accidental heroin overdose.  We went to his memorial service the following Saturday.

I remember the first time I met Seth – he had come to one of my mother-in-law’s parties with his mom Joan and his sister Katlyn.  I can make polite conversation well enough, but I was struck by two things – 1) he could keep up with me intellectually.  Not to toot my own horn, but I don’t meet many people who can.  2) he just knew exactly the right thing to say all the time – what an incredible gift!

In casual conversation, I told his mother how wonderfully sweet Katlyn was and how impressed I was by Seth.  When I said that she gave me a friendly half-smile, half-smirk and chuckled, “Yeah …” and stopped.  I half-chuckled along with her, having NO idea what that was about.

At some point over the next year, I heard the rest of the story from my mother-in-law.  Seth and Katlyn’s dad had been a horrible mixture of coddling and abusive to Seth.  Not Katlyn – just Seth.  Seth got the intersection of “Oh my sweet baby boy!” and “Suck it up – don’t be a whiny little girl, be a MAN!”  That type of abuse would fuck anybody up; and fuck Seth up it did.  He started a heroin habit as a teen, got clean a couple times, but relapsed periodically.  He would work really hard at getting his life together, succumb to a desire for a momentary fix, and then start from ground zero again.  It was very frustrating for Joan to know her son was capable of so much but was being dragged down by his addiction.

Ultimately, Seth and Katlyn’s dad left their mom.  Right when Joan was going through treatment for cancer.  Great timing!  Couldn’t have been better.  After the divorce, Seth and Katlyn’s dad didn’t talk to them.  No calls, no visits, no birthday cards.  Nothing.  By the time he was 19, Seth was a work in progress.  He was attending a support group for recovering addicts, Joan and Katlyn were attending a support group for families of recovering addicts, and it was then that Joan and Katlyn began preparing themselves for the possibility that they might lose Seth if he relapsed.  Seth was gainfully employed most of the time, even though he bounced around a lot.  He started attending church, finding strength and purpose there.

It was just last October that Seth, Katlyn, and Joan just happened to drive by my mother-in-law’s house on their way out.  When they saw that the kids and I were there and that we had JUST finished raking all the leaves into a HUGE pile, Joan pulled into the driveway.  No sooner did the car doors open but my girls RAN toward the car – “SETH!!! KATIE!!! Come PLAY with us!!!”

About three nanoseconds later, Katlyn was snuggling my baby boy who was shamelessly flirting with her, and Seth was buried in the leaves.  I yelled, “GIRLS!!! Be CAREFUL!!! Seth is NOT a jungle gym! BE NICE!!! Seth, hand me your sunglasses and phone – I’ll put them somewhere safe – GIRLS!!!”

I think it’s adorable when people are so doting that don’t tell my girls no, and Seth was one of them.  He would have let them jump on him, bury him in the leaves and squish him, and he wouldn’t have complained.  Lord knows why he was so sweet with my girls, but he was.  I did my best to watch out for him, because even if he wasn’t going to say no, it still wouldn’t have been okay for them to actually HURT him.

When my girls had worn themselves out from beating up and jumping on Seth (who STILL hadn’t complained and seemed game for more!), we all exchanged hugs and Joan and her family left.

That was the last time I saw him alive.

Early Friday morning after Thanksgiving, Katlyn woke up and saw a girl in white in her room.  She had never seen anything like that before but she wasn’t scared; she checked the time on her phone – 4:40 – and then turned over and closed her eyes.  She assumed she was just dreaming.

Friday afternoon they found him, shortly before 5:00 p.m.  He had been gone about twelve hours.

A few days before the funeral, I told my girls (ages 11 and 9) that Seth had died.  Because we wanted to be honest with them, we told them how he died, and we told them that it was an accident.  We told them that unfortunately that’s one of the dangers of illegal drugs.

But honestly ALSO means that’s not who he was.  Heroin was something he did, and his accidental death was something that happened to him, but that’s not who he was.  He was the guy who played in the leaves with them that day.  He was the guy who always knew just what to say.  He was the guy who was SO bright with SO much potential.  He was the guy who was going to look back on this time in his life and laugh at how far he had come.

His soul was such a bright light and the world is a little bit darker with him gone.

That same weekend my friend lost his mom.  She was very old and had been declining for some time.  It was definitely time for her to die and he knows this, but there’s still a finality to death that takes some emotional wrangling.  Being a middle-aged man, he’s dealing with it the way he deals with everything else – with a mix of morbid, light-hearted humor.

But the great circle of life continues – that same weekend, one of my coworkers became a grandmother.  Her daughter gave birth to a perfect, healthy baby girl three weeks ahead of schedule.  Baby, parents, and grandparents are ecstatic, doing well, and adjusting to the new little being in their lives.

I have to remind myself that even as we are sad for lives lost, there continue to be new lives, new opportunities, new experiences.  It is the nature of the world to be this way.

I don’t know what to say to close this post out, but one of the benefits of being Catholic when you don’t know what to say is that there’s a pre-prepared prayer for everything.  And one of the benefits of being Catholic in the internet age is that with a quick Google search I can find any of them that I want.  So I’m just going to scroll back up to my candle and ask all of you reading this – I don’t know what your religion or spirituality is (if any), but please send prayers / thoughts / positive energy up for the people in your world who are mourning lives lost and who are marveling at new life.

It’s a woman’s world, apparently

I read a few related things lately, and some thoughts started rolling around.  Just so you get a sense of the overall sentiment that I’m responding to, the things I read are here, here, here, and here.  I’ll cherry-pick some quotes at the end, but first some general thoughts –

So it seems that for thousands of years, people (male and female) basically trudged about their business because we collectively lacked the spare time to contemplate how we each got a raw deal in the social order.  Then women started to speak up.  Now whether this was because women got the worse end of the deal or because women can communicate better – not a debate I want to have right now.  The fact remains that feminism happened.  “Pardon me, sir, but wouldn’t it be jolly good if I could own property in my own name?  While you’re at it, it would be really awesome if I had access to the same employment opportunities men do so I have an option to get my children and myself out of an abusive marriage without starving to death.  And if you’re feeling REALLY generous, you can start judging me on my capabilities as an individual rather than what’s between my legs.”

So there were some sputters and starts and even today there is STILL some resistance to these basic ideas, but by and large women got what they needed.  And women also got affirmation and encouragement for however they wanted to express their femininity – whether it be with lace and fake nails or short hair and weightlifting. (I’m oversimplifying because I don’t want to write another 300 pages.  And if you’re honest with yourself, you don’t want to read another 300 pages, either. )

And men didn’t get that encouragement – it was presumed that men didn’t need any affirmation.  After all, they were the default.  And the default isn’t ignored, per se – it’s taken for granted.  The default doesn’t get recognition or affirmation for being the default.

Also, they never asked for it.  The age-old stereotype of men being dismissive of their wives’ feelings and neglectful of their wives’ needs … now men are talking about how THEY have dismissed feelings and neglected needs, too.  How does it feel?  Do men take this as a lesson in how to be a better human being?  “Gee, maybe women have a point about needing affirmation and maybe I should not be a jerk because now I know how it feels.  And maybe I should be a grownup and ask for what I need.”  Some men take it that way, but other men react like “Women are eeeevil!  How dare they get their needs met!  What about meeeeee?”

So – are men getting what they need?  Some men don’t think so.  The world has become too “feminized.”  Men need to be MEN!  Masculinity is GREAT!  Men have NEEDS!  And oh by the way feminism is EVIL because it ignores and diminishes the needs of MEN!

Slow down – let’s back up a bit.  The whole point of feminism was that women are not all the same;  women have different interests and abilities and should have the freedom to pursue them and should be paid the same as a man doing the same work.  But the idea behind the emangelists(*) is that in the most important ways, men ARE all the same.  That’s a big reason there’s such a huge disconnect between feminists and emangelists – women fought for the right to be seen as individuals instead of a monolithic bloc and now men are fighting for the right to be seen as a monolithic bloc.  Do you see why this doesn’t make a lot of sense to feminists?

Maybe we should do a better job of affirming EVERYONE in a way that recognizes their contribution as individuals and allows them to own their unique masculine or feminine identity.  Susie being the breadwinner for her family is a valid expression of her femininity just as Johnny being the stay-at-home parent is a valid expression of his masculinity.  Samantha is “woman enough” being a professional bodybuilder and Jack is “man enough” being a nurse.

Sure, men can be valiant conquerors with majestic beards and BIG MUSCLES – if that’s how you want to be a man, so be it.  What you don’t get to do, though, is pretend that YOUR masculinity is the ONLY way to be masculine.  You ALSO don’t get to advocate a return to the “good old days” and dismiss the very real problems of a system where women don’t have the same legal rights and recourse as men do.  You don’t get to pretend that your needs and priorities are hard-wired in and universal to males as a whole.  ASK for what you need and find a spouse / companion / group of friends that provide those things.  And turn around and provide what your spouse / companion / group of friends need, too.

(*) I’m speaking of the best, most genuine, intellectually honest representations of both feminism and men’s rights.  But because men’s rights is inextricably linked with extremism in my mind, I’m going to refer to it as “emangelization” after one of the sites I linked to – New Emangelization.  Also because it’s a catchy-sounding name.

Now to the cherry-picking:

From Cardinal Burke:

The Church becomes very feminized. …The activities in the parish and even the liturgy have been influenced by women and have become so feminine in many places that men do not want to get involved.  Men are often reluctant to become active in the Church. The feminized environment and the lack of the Church’s effort to engage men has led many men to simply opt out.

Last I checked, there was still a dude in fancy liturgical vestments oh, I dunno, acting in persona Christi and saying the Mass.  And that’s not nothing!

But to Cardinal Burke’s actual point, there’s a pretty detailed post and discussion of this on a scale broader than the Catholic Church over here on patheos.  When I think of my own parish, there are a lot of women involved as religious ed teachers (of which I am one). But I think that probably has more to do with how gender roles still work in our society as opposed to a “feminization” of the Church.

Of the women who are teaching, the vast majority of them are retired / stay-at-home parents / work part-time, so they have MUCH more flexibility with their time. Relatively few of us women have full-time work and still volunteer. But of the men who volunteer, ALL of them have full-time work and still volunteer; there are probably an equal number of men and women who have full-time work and still volunteer.

So to me, the irony is that the solution to the “problem” of “feminization” is more feminism – free men and women from the constraints of gender roles and you will likely have a different gender distribution.

Also from Cardinal Burke:

The introduction of girl servers also led many boys to abandon altar service. Young boys don’t want to do things with girls. It’s just natural. The girls were also very good at altar service. So many boys drifted away over time.

A couple of things are going on here – first, I think there’s a lot of assumptions here about what is “natural” and universal and what is encouraged.  Even as a kid in elementary school, I got along better with the boys than the girls.  I played soccer and kickball with the boys at recess, and I read He-Man books with the boys during free time.  My involvement in these activities didn’t seem to bother the boys at all, and they certainly didn’t “drift away” over time.  Second, there’s an idea that because the girls do something better than the boys, the boys become discouraged and give up.  Why?  I thought Men™ liked challenge and competition and liked to conquer things?  Why wouldn’t the boys let the girls’ skill inspire them to get better?  So clearly we’re a little fuzzy on what, exactly, the universal nature of Men™ is, if such a thing exists (which I don’t think it does).

Again from Cardinal Burke:

Men are facing great temptations, particularly, as I mentioned due to pornography and confusion about sexuality and desperately need to be taught how to battle these temptations in Christ.

As a former teenage girl, I can tell you that a teenage girl’s sex drive is all-consuming and makes it VERY difficult to do anything productive some days.  But the message I got from church and the other pro-purity materials that got passed around my circle was that women don’t have sex drives.  Not really – women might THINK they want sex, but they REALLY want love.  But because men have SUCH a sex drive, it’s up to the girls to protect the boys from themselves through modesty and through always having to be on guard and always having to be the ones to say “no” to sex.

It’s all well and good to say that men are “facing great temptations,” but even now the “great temptations” that women face are COMPLETELY ignored and dismissed with a “Oh you just don’t UNDERSTAND.  Men have it SO much worse.”  Purity messaging hasn’t really changed at all in the last 20 years.

So I have to protect the boys from themselves but I get to wrangle my sex drive on my own without even an acknowledgment that it exists?  Color me unimpressed.

More Cardinal Burke:

Everyone understands that women have and can be abused by men. Men who abuse women are not true men, but false men who have violated their own manly character by being abusive to women.

You don’t get to dismiss the possibility of domestic violence with a verbal wave of your hand.  For some of us, domestic violence is a reality we lived through, and the ONLY reason we are alive and successful today is because of the “radical feminism” that pushes for things like equal pay for equal work, daycare assistance programs, and women’s resource centers.

Yes – women’s resource centers.  If you have more obligations put on you, you need more help.  Statistically, if a woman is abusive, the man leaves with little to no ill effects; he goes and gets another place to live with the uninterrupted income from the job that he had all along and generally moves on with his life.  When a man is abusive, the woman is left destitute.  Oh – and she has to take care of the kids, too.  So she needs to feed them, and she needs to secure childcare, and she needs a place to live -and all that requires money that doesn’t have.  Child support (when you can collect it) generally doesn’t even begin to close the gap.

When we say things like “structuralized sexism,” we’re not trying to be mean.  All we’re saying is the Way Things Are™ set up by men back when it was ONLY men’s priorities that mattered and there was ONLY ONE WAY to be a man works very well for men (duh).  That’s why there’s no men’s resource centers – the whole world is your men’s resource center.

And one more from Cardinal Burke:

We have to be very clear with men about purity, chastity, modesty and even the way men dress and present themselves. Men’s behaviors and dress matter, for it affects how they relate to the world and it affects the culture. Men need to dress and act like men in a way that is respectful to themselves, to women and to children.

YES!!! Did you see that?!!! Cardinal Burke just said that MEN need to be modest, too!!!  I’m so glad to see someone FINALLY say that men need to be modest and it’s not just women!!!!  I’m sorry, am I using too many exclamation points?!!!!

From the comments on the Breitbart articles (here and here):

Women are horrible!  I’ve had so many awful experiences with women who expected the world from me and didn’t give anything in return!  Today’s women are worthless.  I’m done with women!  And some bitter, angry feminist will probably come along and call me a ‘whining man-baby’ for speaking the truth!

(A mixture of paraphrasing and combining sentences from several different comments, but the general idea from multiple people is captured fairly.)

“Whining man-baby” – you know how you get that label?  By whining like a baby when you’re a grown-ass man.  So you had a bad experience with a woman or two – good for you!  Welcome to life, where sometimes people are assholes.  Now grow up and get a grip on yourself.  If I were to take a page from your book, I would be ranting and raving about how ALL men are horrible just because I was married to ONE man that was horrible.  What if I came on here and whined about how ALL men are sociopathic assholes that would let their wives and children freeze to death?  ALL men create secret bank accounts and yank money away from their stay-at-home spouses so that they have no money for food?  ALL men throw dishes and glasses around the house when the food you make isn’t exactly what they like – and then the nicks in the drywall are YOUR fault?  ALL men unhook the phone before they start shoving you around so you can’t call for help?  What if I came here and started whining because ALL men are just like my experience with ONE man?  Hmmm?

Fortunately, I’m smarter than that.  You know that spiel about judging people as individuals and not what’s between their legs?  Yeah – I actually practice what I preach there – imagine that!

In closing, 

– There are multiple, varied, valid ways to be manly.

– There are multiple, varied, valid ways to be womanly.

– Assuming “feminization” is a problem, the way to fix it is more feminism.

– Ask for what YOU need.  You have no basis for assuming that what YOU need is what ALL men / women need.  If you do that, you would be wrong.

– Men, women are assholes sometimes.  I’m sorry you’ve been through that, but get over it.  If you don’t want to be lumped in with all the asshole men out there, don’t lump all women in with all the asshole women out there.  Goose, meet gander.  I trust you’ll get along.

Agree?  Tell me in the comments.  Disagree?  Keep it to yourself.  Just kidding!  Tell me that, too – nicely, please.


“I saw a woman married to a man who didn’t deserve her. A smart, able, powerful woman who had sworn to protect her husband. She wondered how different it would’ve been if she was the ruler. A trained warrior, she had mastered every move in the book. She could move in any direction, for any length with unmatched skill.”

I have never seen chess described with such imagination – a must-read!

Epiphany in the Cacophony


I remember the time my father taught me chess. On a Sunday afternoon, I sat cross legged at the center table in the drawing room, silently watching him put the pieces in place. “This is the queen, and this is the king”, he said, holding up the pieces. My eyes widened. I reached for them, running my fingers gently along the piece, examining it closely as he set up the board.

He went on to explain the rules to me. “The aim is to protect the king at all costs” he said, showing me how the different pieces moved across the chessboard. It was the most beautiful game I’d seen. I stopped listening. All I saw was a story. A story of two kingdoms, equal in strength, competing for supremacy.

I saw a battle begin before my eyes. The pieces charged towards each other, falling by the dozen as…

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