The sky burned tonight, just like the hearts of those today who were outraged at the injustice in Ferguson last evening. Yet, it was only a moment before darkness set in again. Only when the sky burns permanently will change be found. Keep your hearts burning for fear of the darkness.
“Fiction here is likely to contain more truth than fact.”
– Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Reading at least 60 classic novels is #12 on my “Before-I-Turn-30” Bucket List. When I made this list in April, I wrote this goal with the intention of reading 60 classics that I hadn’t already read. However, in a recent conversation I discovered that some who read my blog thought that all the classics I had read pre-bucket-list were included in the 60 books. My goal has not changed, I still want to read 60 classic novels that I haven’t already. However, just in case I come a little short of my goal, I’ve devised a list of back-ups, a list of classic books I read before April. They are in no particular order, simply the order in which I remembered them. So here it is, my list of back-up classics including the approximate dates of when I read them:
1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (Summer 2008)
2. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (January 2013)
3. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck (March 2011)
4. The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck (August 2012)
5. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (August 2012)
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (August 2012)
7. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (June 2011)
8. Washington Square by Henry James (August 2011)
9. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (September 2011)
10. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (November 2011)
11. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (June 2012)
12. The Color Purple by Alice Walker (September 2012)
13. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (October 2012)
14. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (November 2012)
15. Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (November 2012)
16. The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac (June 2013)
17. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (July, August, and September 2013)
18. Candide by Voltaire (August 2013)
19. Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (October 2013)
20. Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse (January 2014)
21. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (Summer 2010)
22. The Odyssey by Homer (November 2010)
23. The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne (December 2010)
24. A Midsummer’s Night Dream by Shakespeare (Fall 2007)
25. Macbeth by Shakespeare (April 2010)
26. Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare (Fall 2008)
27. The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare (April 2011)
27. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Summer 2009)
28. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Fall 2008)
29. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (October 2009)
30. The Giver by Lois Lowry (Summer 2006)
31. Animal Farm by George Orwell (December 2006)
32. 1984 by George Orwell (Fall 2013)
33. Black Boy by Richard Wright (January 2008)
There a probably some more, but this is a fairly comprehensive list of classics that I’ve read in my relatively short lifetime.
Also, if you ask someone with somewhat stricter standards than I have, then a few on this list probably don’t count as “classics.” Nonetheless, they make my list because in my experience, they are undoubtedly so. Some that I considered putting on this list but didn’t because I decided they weren’t “classics” are:
- Flatland by Edward Abbott
- Push by Sapphire
- Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska
- Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
- The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
Let me know if you think any should be taken off the list or added to the list! Also, if you have any suggestions of what I should read next; I would love the hear them!
This might possibly be my favorite quotation of all time, even though there are parts with which I don’t agree.
“Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of a man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man. And now the forces marshaled around the the concept of the group have declared a war of extermination on that preciousness, the mind of a man. By disparagement, by starvation, by repressions, forced direction, and the stunning hammerblows of conditioning, the free, roving mind is being pursued, roped, blunted, drugged. It is a sad suicidal course our species seems to have taken.
“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for that is the one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost.”
– John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“Empowerment is often made to sound as if it’s an ideal; it’s a wonderful outcome. When we talk about empowerment we often talk about giving people access to materials, giving them access to tools, but the thing is, empowerment is an emotion; it’s a feeling. The first step to empowerment is to give yourself the authority, the key to independent will.”
– Meera Vijayann
“The intellectual drifted to the Metropolis and our politics were childish from lack of his criticism.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
This quotation was from almost a century ago, but it still rings true to this day. I’m afraid it will always ring true, especially in America. This quotation marks the start of a new series on my blog, “Speak the Truth.” It will be a series of quotations that are both true as well as dear to my heart. I hope you all enjoy!
Is it me, or does everyone feel at home sitting on rooftops? The excitement of crawling out a window or up a garage to escape the noise and din of the earth below is one of the most unparalleled joys in my life. To make it better, I’ll bring with me a book, bottle of wine, or my guitar. Nothing is better suited for meditation after a long day than a lonely rooftop you found hiding somewhere in the world.
Every night on the news you’ll hear a reporter say “Snowden says,” or “Snowden claims,” or any variation of those phrases. Next you’ll hear them go on to discuss memos and documents written by the NSA or other government programs. This is a very subtle, but clearly undermining tactic used by the press. It makes all the lies, secrets, and constitutional violations executed by the US government appear to be the musings and conspiracy theories of a mad man. However, this perception is evidently untrue.
Everything that Snowden leaked was written by our government. None of it was of his own design or opinion. It’s all factual proof of the true ongoings a of the government. So, it’s not what “Snowden says.” It’s what our government says. The public at large does not understand or appreciate this difference, and it’s fundamental to understanding the issue.
In last night’s NBC interview with Snowden, he called himself “a patriot.” This is true to the utmost degree. A patriot is someone who believes fully in the principles of our country, namely that our rights not be violated. A patriot is someone not afraid of raising a voice in dissent to protect the fundamentals of a nation. Snowden witnessed the unravelling of our rights and did something about it. He is a patriot and should be championed as one.
Moreover, to all those American citizens who don’t care about these issues: You Need To. If you believe that this news doesn’t affect you because you’re not a terrorist and you haven’t done anything wrong, well you’re wrong. It does affect you. The programs unveiled by Snowden affect you directly and indirectly. The government collects all of our phone calls regardless of who you are, which infringes on your right to privacy. Welcome to the 1984 dystopia, we are being watched constantly by Big Brother; we live in a police state. Indirectly, this affects you because the government has lied to and cheated you. If we allow them to get away with things like this, what more are they going to take away from us? It’s a slippery slope, so you can’t just turn a blind eye.
I am now the keeper of my family’s ancestral records. 3/4 of my grandparents have traced their ancestry back to at least the 1600s and as far back as the 1100s. I now hold all of the documents, charts, and graphs that demonstrate this information. I find myself questioning just exactly how to proceed with this information. I know that I want to maintain what has been discovered and learn more about the past, but also to document as much of the lives of my living relatives as I can for future generations. It’s the latter part that I can get creative with and for which I question how to proceed. However, just to begin my journey pouring over the mass of information that I’m now responsible for, I’ve decided to follow each family tree down it’s numerous paths. Whilst doing this, I will use the Internet to discover as much basic information about these people’s lives as possible.
Today, I start with my father’s mother’s family. My preliminary questions are:
1.) When is the earliest documentation of a my family in the United States?
William Brewster and Mary Love immigrated with their son, Love Brewster, from Nottinghamshire, England sometime between 1601-1627. Now, given the time period, it was easy to guess that they came to America on the Mayflower. This was not a surprising discovery, given that I’m an Anglo-Saxon Protestant American from New England. Most people with that heritage had ancestors on the Mayflower. So, they very specifically arrived in America on December 21, 1620.
The passengers on the Mayflower have been well-documented over the years. So, all I had to do was Google these individuals, and Vwa-lah scores of information were available to me about their lives. Although not all of the information always matches up with my family’s records, the wealth of knowledge is inspiring.
2.) When is the earliest documentation of my family in Maine?
James Emery was born in 1658 in Kittery, Maine. This is the first specific date of an ancestor in Maine. However, it is apparent that my ancestors had to have come to Maine before that point as his parents had to have moved there before the birth. James Emery Sr. was born in about 1630 in England. My best guess would be that the family immigrated to the States, specifically Maine, as many Englishmen did during this time period, and then gave birth to their son.
After some Internet surfing, I found some questionable information about James Emery Sr. at this site. My family does not have record of his wife at all, so the Elizabeth Nock character postulated on the site is a good lead. We also have no information about his parents, but, if this information is accurate, James Emery Sr. arrived in the States in 1635, which would suggest that his parents came over with him due to his young age. So, perhaps his parents were truly my first ancestors in Maine.
Ultimately, my family has very little information about this line in our family history. Lots of things are left blank from names to birth dates to birth places, so the question of when my family arrived in Maine leaves much to be desired. I will have to do some more rigorous research on this topic.
3.) Who are the individuals that immigrated?
This is typically a very easy to question to answer, although not always. The more interesting question is who are these people?
- William Brewster, Mary Love, and Love Brewster from England in 1620. This was discussed earlier, but they came to America on the Mayflower. William was removed as Secretary of State by Queen Elizabeth, and then became an instrumental part of forming the Separatist Church in England. He first fled in England in 1608 and went Holland, where he worked on a printing press to illegally convey religious books back to England. When the English government caught on, the Dutch authorities pursued him. He and his family went into hiding for several years before boarding the Mayflower.
- James Emery from England in approx. 1635 with his father, also James Emery. While there is no known reason for his leaving, I suspect that it was due to religious persecution. According to this site, he married at least two times, and settled in Kittery, Maine. He was a selectman for eight terms, a Representative to the General Court 1693-1695, a grand juror, and a Constable in 1670. However, my family records indicate that he only married once to Elizabeth Newcomb. The site I found claims he married twice, both times to a woman named Elizabeth. While this is possible, I believe the site is confusing James Emery Sr. with James Emery Jr. The senior Emery married a woman named Elizabeth, with unknown last name. The junior Emery married a woman named Elizabeth Newcomb according to my records, but she is listed as the senior Emery’s second wife on the site I found. With conflicting information the truth is always uncertain, however I feel that my family’s records in this case hold up to snuff.
- John Woodcock from Weymouth, England sometime between 1615-1649. My records indicate that John was born in Weymouth in 1615 and that he married sometime before 1649 in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. Again, I would suspect that John was fleeing England for religious reasons because of the time period. This website has consistent information with my family records including date of birth, date of death, date of marriage, and the woman he first married. The second marriage listed on the website was unknown to my family. The website also claims he was living as a single man in Springfield, Mass. in 1636, so he must have arrived before that time.
- Dorothy Simmons from Duxbury, Plymouth, England to Nobleboro, Maine. The only records my family has of Dorothy is that she was born in Duxbury in 1752 and died in Nobleboro on Sept. 23, 1814. I could find no further information online about her life.
- Robert Spear sometime between his birth in September 1714 in Londonderry, Ireland and his death on March 13, 1776 in Woburn, Massachusetts. That was all the information my family had collected about Robert, but I found a wealth of information about his family here. The Spear family holed up inside the walls of Londonderry to avoid religious persecution, refusing to adopt Catholic beliefs. It claims that he moved with a group of Scotch Presbyterians to the St. Georges River in Maine after coming to Massachusetts with his parents. The wife listed on this site is consistent with my own records, as is his eldest son John, who is also on my family tree. His son, John’s, wife and son, Robert, are again consistent with my records.
- Jacob Heinrich Winchenbach came to Maine sometime between his birth on July 23, 1743 in Nenderoth, Hessen-Nassau, Prussia and his death on September 10, 1825 in Waldoboro, Maine. This character is particularly interesting to me for several reasons. The first of which is that I have been obsessed with my German heritage since I was a small child; I love all things German because of it. The second reason being that Jacob lived through and witnessed the reign of Frederick the Great in Prussia; Frederick the Great is one of my favorite historical figures. So, Jacob caught my attention quickly. According to this website, Jacob married Polly Nash in 1798. This not quite consistent with my records, as Jacob’s son, Henry, was born in 1762. However, the site does agree with my records the Henry Winchenbach then went onto marry Mary Woltz, although the date is again inconsistent. The only additional information I could find was that Jacob was the Waldoboro Town Clerk in 1800, which I discovered here. That new information only narrows the window of time in which Jacob could have immigrated to Maine. It is unknown why Jacob immigrated, and I cannot speculate why because Frederick the Great’s Prussia was a fabulous place and time to have lived in.
- Simeon Heiler between his birth on June 20, 1739 in Hohenwettersbach, Baden, Germany and his death on April 28, 1812 in Cushing, Maine. This family is the only known family line on my grandmother’s family tree that had an incestuous streak. Simeon Heiler’s father, Hans Conrad Heyler, was born on February 11, 1682 in Switzerland. I can only surmise that Simeon’s parents fled Switzerland because of the peasant revolts or the formation of the Helvetic Republic. Then, in Germany, Simeon was born. Simeon’s older sister (by 3 years), Maria Prisca Heiler, is also important to this story. She was born in unknown whereabouts, but died in Cushing, Maine as well. Simeon had two children, Jacob Hyler and Priscilla Hyler. Priscilla was born in Germany around 1776. Jacob was born in Cushing, Maine around 1782. So, the family must have come to America during that time period. Priscilla has a son, Mason Robinson, with her husband, Moses Robinson, in August 1808 in Cushing. Moses Robinson, however, was the son of Maria Prisca Heiler, otherwise known as Priscilla’s Aunt. So, Priscilla and Moses were cousins. Jacob also had a child, a daughter called Rachel V. Hyler. Rachel then went on to marry Mason, and they had a daughter named Amanda Robinson. However, Rachel and Mason were simulataneously cousins and cousins, once removed. Here ends the incestous streak of the Heiler family. If it’s a bit confusing, I suggest drawing a little map to help clear things up. This is all based upon my family’s records, no further research has been done into this family.
- Last but not least, is Mary Fitzgerald who was born in 1703 in Ireland. I know that she came to Maine sometime before her son’s birth in 1735 because her husband, Moses Robinson (the grandfather of the Moses in the Heiler story) was born “1703 in Warren, Maine by the old Presbyterian meeting house” according to my records. So, she must have met her husband somewhere in Maine. The fact that Moses was born in Warren, Maine hints that the Spear family earlier discussed and the Robinson family are probably related some generations before Moses’ birth. I also speculate that this family may have had a brief incident of incest as well because Moses’ grandfather was a Daniel Fitzgerald, and his mother was a Catherine Mary Fitzgerald. Mary’s father was also Daniel Fitzgerald, and she shares an almost identical name to her mother-in-law. Given that Moses and Mary were born on the same year in different countries, this easily could just be a bizarre coincidence, but further research will hopefully bear the truth.
Why does it all matter? I guess it doesn’t really have much bearing on one’s life, but it is quite fascinating to learn little stories about your forefathers. Some people put far too much stock in what their ancestors accomplished, which can lead to an inadequately inflated ego. However, I do think the sense of place and belonging that comes with knowing her family’s heritage is comforting. It’s the same sort of comfort one finds in an old folklore because you don’t know how much of it is true, and you don’t care. It’s just a story that entertains, that romanticizes, and that gives meaning to a place or person. So, discovering your ancestry can give you some personal folklore about days gone by. The only warning I have is not to get so entrenched in your past that you equate an ancestor’s deeds with your own. You did not do the heroic thing; you did not do the shameful or evil thing. You are you, they are dead.