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  • 04/28/13--04:30: Marriage, 13 Years In
  • Friday, April 28, 2000. Angelia and I exchanged vows and became husband and wife. Or, to be honest, partners on a journey with lots of ups and down, twists and turns, and I don't knows. That's really what any serious relationship is. It is journey where the outcome is not always certain, the footing isn't always sure, and what you thought you knew about yourself and your partner turns out to only be a tip of an iceberg.

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    decollins1969Marriage Day picture, National Cathedral, Washington, DC, April 28, 2000.decollins1969Marriage Day picture, National Cathedral, Washington, DC, April 28, 2000.

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    What I didn't know across the past thirty-two years could be another book for me. I assume that would be the case for anyone would could look back across their life and second-guess themselves over that long a period of time. For me, though, the significance of today comes out of my mathematics background. You see, today's my sixteenth PhD graduation anniversary. Not all that significant, I suppose. Except that I'm as far away from the end of my graduate school days at Carnegie Mellon today as I was from the first days of being a Hebrew-Israelite and watching my family fall into welfare poverty when I graduated in '97.

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    decollins1969Noah with me, January 3, 2004 [he was five months old]. (Angelia N. Levy).100th Commencement Ceremony program, Carnegie Mellon University, May 18, 1997. (Donald Earl Collins).O'Jays Back Stabbers (1972) album cover, November 10, 2011. (Dan56 via Wikipedia). Qualifies as fair use as low-resolution illustration of subject matter.My dissertation's signature page, May 18, 2013. (Donald Earl Collins),decollins1969Noah with me, January 3, 2004 [he was five months old]. (Angelia N. Levy).100th Commencement Ceremony program, Carnegie Mellon University, May 18, 1997. (Donald Earl Collins).O'Jays Back Stabbers (1972) album cover, November 10, 2011. (Dan56 via Wikipedia). Qualifies as fair use as low-resolution illustration of subject matter.My dissertation's signature page, May 18, 2013. (Donald Earl Collins),

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    That's what I wrote in Boy @ The Window about my last Yom Kippur as a Hebrew-Israelite. That Saturday, September 17, '83, was the last time I went to temple, the last time I looked at any aspect of our bizarre and goofy mix of Judaism and Afrocentricity with a modicum of seriousness. By the time I left, I wasn't in a forgiving mood at all. I hated my then stepfather Maurice, and hated the people who claimed that people like Maurice were descendants of one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Ancient Israelites. Please understand. When I said, "I hated Maurice," it wasn't a euphemism for me in the fall of '83. If I had access to a gun, I would've blown him away and gladly served time in prison for doing so. I had stomach ulcers in the fall of '83, because I couldn't stand the smell, sound or sight of the obese asshole. I all but prayed to Yahweh that he get hit by a Mack truck going eighty miles an hour down East Lincoln Avenue. I wanted him dead, and I wanted to piss on his ashes to boot.

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    I was mugged for the last time on this date thirty years ago, the first Monday in December '83. I've talked about this before, the experience of being jumped by four teenagers, who in the end, made away with $13 and change, the dumb asses. It was the beginning of a long and emotional month for me, mostly because of how my classmates responded to finding out about it.

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    decollins1969Champagne popping, December 5, 2013. ( ).Behind the emotionless mask based on Itachi Uchiha, a ninja from the Village Hidden In The Leaves (Konohagure) of the anime, Naruto, January 25, 2013. (http://sites.psu.edu).decollins1969Champagne popping, December 5, 2013. ( ).Behind the emotionless mask based on Itachi Uchiha, a ninja from the Village Hidden In The Leaves (Konohagure) of the anime, Naruto, January 25, 2013. (http://sites.psu.edu).

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    In light of the end of Black History Month, I wouldn't be me without noting how little any of us know about our families, our lineages and our ancestors. But it's not just true of the millions of us descended from West and Central Africans kidnapped, bound, abused, raped and nearly worked to death to provide Europeans (and Arabs) wealth and comfort. Most of us don't even know what we think we know about much more recent history and events than surviving the Middle Passage or overcoming Jim Crow... What I didn't know until after high school, college, even after earning a Ph.D. in knowing (that's what a history degree ultimately is) was so much worse than I imagined. To find out at twenty-three that my Mom was a star basketball player in high school. She played center, and led her team to Arkansas' segregated state quarterfinals in '65. My Uncle Sam played four sports in high school (basketball, football, baseball and track and field) and was offered college scholarships, but didn't have the grades to move forward. I learned a year later that my Uncle Paul followed in their footsteps, and played three years at the University of Houston, left early and played for the Houston Rockets in '82-'83 (not a good year for them, or for me, for that matter) before blowing out a knee and moving into entertainment work.

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    decollins1969George Bernard Shaw and ignorance, June 2013. (http://www.irelandcalling.ie/).A rabbi, a priest and an imam, 2013-2014. (PizzaSpaghetti via http://www.deviantART.com).Unidentified tenant farmer, his home, automobile, and family, Lee Wilson & Company, rural Arkansas, 1940s. (http://libinfo.uark.edu/SpecialCollections/)decollins1969George Bernard Shaw and ignorance, June 2013. (http://www.irelandcalling.ie/).A rabbi, a priest and an imam, 2013-2014. (PizzaSpaghetti via http://www.deviantART.com).Unidentified tenant farmer, his home, automobile, and family, Lee Wilson & Company, rural Arkansas, 1940s. (http://libinfo.uark.edu/SpecialCollections/)

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    This weekend marks twenty years since visiting my extended family on my mother's side for the first time. It was Final Four weekend '94 when I hopped on a Continental Airlines flight from Pittsburgh to Houston. To think that until April 2 '94, I hadn't been farther west than Atlanta or been in any other time zone seems far-fetched now that I've crisscrossed this country enough times to earn hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer miles. To think that for years I never felt I had a family to talk about at all or that what I did have wasn't worth talking about. That all changed that weekend.

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    decollins1969Continental Airlines ticket stubs/itinerary, Pittsburgh to New Orleans (with Houston layover), April 2-10, 1994. (Donald Earl Collins).Historic Third Ward, Houston, Texas, March 2012 (not the part I got to visit). (Nelson Bowman III; http://www.myhbcuinterview.com)My Uncle, Robert Gill, Houston, Texas, received April 3, 1994. (Robert Gill/Donald Earl Collins).decollins1969Continental Airlines ticket stubs/itinerary, Pittsburgh to New Orleans (with Houston layover), April 2-10, 1994. (Donald Earl Collins).Historic Third Ward, Houston, Texas, March 2012 (not the part I got to visit). (Nelson Bowman III; http://www.myhbcuinterview.com)My Uncle, Robert Gill, Houston, Texas, received April 3, 1994. (Robert Gill/Donald Earl Collins).

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    One of the many things I've learned in the past decade and nearly a half is that marriage itself has been loaded with context, deriving from Western ideas that have their roots in European royalty and the 19th century warping of such ideas for us ordinary folk. Including Whiteness and chivalry, of weird evangelical notions of masculinity and femininity, of patriarchy and high-born expectations...Romance, love, the eternal enduring bond between two soul-mates – that was never part of this bargain. But leave it to capitalism to distort a loveless process of procreation into an intense, always-falling-in-love – but without standing in love in the midst of struggle – idea of marriage.

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    decollins1969Me and Angelia at my PhD graduation, Carnegie Mellon University, May 18, 1997. (Edward Lomax).decollins1969Me and Angelia at my PhD graduation, Carnegie Mellon University, May 18, 1997. (Edward Lomax).

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    Really, I've written about this before, five years ago, right after Eri turned twenty-five. Everything I wrote about Eri in "The Meaning of Eri's 25th" is still applicable today. I only have a few things to add to that earlier post. First, Happy Birthday, Bro!!! Welcome to the second tier of youth, the one for folks over thirty, but not yet middle-aged! For the first time ever, we're in the same general age category, until I turn forty-six, a year and seven months from now - yay!

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    came to Hartsfield all tired and stuffed up from hay-fever-heavy DC that Saturday afternoon in mid-May, a couple of days before my UGA presentation. There, I met my Uncle Paul right at the gate, along with his seventeen-year-old son. Like my Uncles Sam and Robert, Uncle Paul was taller than me, a still wiry six-five at thirty-eight, still fit enough to stop, pop and hit a J despite his swollen knees. His son was built just like him, and a star basketball player at his high school in Gwinnett County... But good, bad or otherwise, it felt good to get to know my people, my family. I'd grown up with a family that was one in name only. Poverty, religion, abuse had all rendered the meaning of family useless for me growing up, and seeing more examples of the same thing in my time in Mount Vernon didn't help. I knew that my Uncle Paul wasn't perfect. Nor were my uncles in Houston. But I knew they loved each other, had dreams and plans for their lives, and had acted on many of these things in living their lives. I knew that I needed to keep doing the same.

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    decollins1969Stone Mountain Park, lake side view/photo (was within visual range on the road side view of Confederate-ana back in '94), Stone Mtn, GA, May 31, 2014. (http://new.gwinnetteconomicdevelopment.com/).Panoramic pic of the Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA (where was on the left of the field back in '94), August 30, 2008. (Latics via Wikipedia). Released to  public domain via CC-SA-3.0.Waffle House, off UGA's main campus (and across street from seedy motel I stay in night before conference), Athens, GA, June 1, 2011. (http://www.123rf.com).decollins1969Stone Mountain Park, lake side view/photo (was within visual range on the road side view of Confederate-ana back in '94), Stone Mtn, GA, May 31, 2014. (http://new.gwinnetteconomicdevelopment.com/).Panoramic pic of the Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA (where was on the left of the field back in '94), August 30, 2008. (Latics via Wikipedia). Released to public domain via CC-SA-3.0.Waffle House, off UGA's main campus (and across street from seedy motel I stay in night before conference), Athens, GA, June 1, 2011. (http://www.123rf.com).

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    I started reading New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow’s memoir Fire Shut Up In My Bones two weeks ago. …

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    decollins1969Front cover, Fire Shut Up in My Bones, Charles M. Blow, September 23, 2014. (http://goodreads.com).256 shades of gray (cropped), October 20, 2014. (http://cs.dartmouth.edu).Dirty laundry in a basket, October 20, 2014. (http://plus.google.com).decollins1969Front cover, Fire Shut Up in My Bones, Charles M. Blow, September 23, 2014. (http://goodreads.com).256 shades of gray (cropped), October 20, 2014. (http://cs.dartmouth.edu).Dirty laundry in a basket, October 20, 2014. (http://plus.google.com).

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  • 08/26/15--05:41: Leaving Mount Vernon
  • I was terrified. It was my first trip on my own, to a city I'd never been to before, to a university I never visited prior to saying yes. I'd meet people who might catch on that I was someone who had spent the previous six years with few acquaintances, much less friends. I was hopeful, but had zero idea what to expect. But I really was happy to leave. Between my decade living at 616, the abuse, the poverty, the Hebrew-Israelite years, the constant ridicule, the years in Humanities, the constant work of watching after Mom, my dad, my siblings, I was through. Throw in a summer of obsession with and emasculation by Phyllis, and two years of realizing that I needed to get out, and going to Pittsburgh was a no-brainer. Heck, if I'd been a bit smarter about my application process, I could've just as easily applied to University of Washington, Stanford, Northwestern, Georgetown, Michigan and UPenn and almost certainly gotten in. It didn't matter where I was going, really. I just needed to go and find my myself, and my education with that.

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    616 Living Room Windowdecollins1969Amtrak's Pennsylvanian train pulling out of Altoona, PA station, heading east for Philly, NYC, uploaded February 2013. (Dustin F.; http://www.northeastrailfans.com/).Viewing and wake service for Heavy D, Grace Baptist Church, Mount Vernon, NY, November 17, 2011. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images; https://cbsnewyork.files.wordpress.com/).616 Living Room Windowdecollins1969Amtrak's Pennsylvanian train pulling out of Altoona, PA station, heading east for Philly, NYC, uploaded February 2013. (Dustin F.; http://www.northeastrailfans.com/).Viewing and wake service for Heavy D, Grace Baptist Church, Mount Vernon, NY, November 17, 2011. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images; https://cbsnewyork.files.wordpress.com/).

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    The truth is, the only holiday traditions I have come either from my wife or her family or were born out of my circumstances...The truth is also more complicated than simple poverty. Up until my eighth birthday in '77, my Mom and me and Darren (with either my father or my idiot stepfather) celebrated Darren's birthday, Christmas and my birthday as separate or nearly separate events.

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    globaldecollins1969Christmas Holiday and Traditions Around The World ornament bulb, December 12, 2015. (http://johnseville.benchmark.us).A contemporary Candelabrum in the style of a traditional Menorah. United Kingdom, Chanukah service, December 2014. (Gil Dekel; http://www.poeticmind.co.uk; via 39james via Wikipedia). Released to public domain via CC-SA-4.0.globaldecollins1969Christmas Holiday and Traditions Around The World ornament bulb, December 12, 2015. (http://johnseville.benchmark.us).A contemporary Candelabrum in the style of a traditional Menorah. United Kingdom, Chanukah service, December 2014. (Gil Dekel; http://www.poeticmind.co.uk; via 39james via Wikipedia). Released to public domain via CC-SA-4.0.

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  • 12/27/15--05:37: The Fountain of Middle Age
  • By most measures, today marks my full transition from relative youth to middle age. Although, when I really think about …

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    CalderFountainPhilly.08182012decollins1969Alexander Stirling Calder's CalderFountainPhilly.08182012decollins1969Alexander Stirling Calder's "Swann Memorial Fountain," Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA, August 18, 2012. (Donald Earl Collins).Me via Photo Booth, December 17, 2015. (Donald Earl Collins).

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  • 04/28/16--05:22: Sixteenth Anniversary
  • Today’s our sixteenth year together in marriage, my wife Angelia and I. Except that we’re not together on this special …

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    Wedding Day Pic (cropped).04282000decollins1969Guinness Chocolate Cake with Bailey’s Cream Cheese Glaze (may make this for us after wifey gets back) March 17, 2010. (https://culinspiration.files.wordpress.com/).Wedding Day Pic (cropped).04282000decollins1969Guinness Chocolate Cake with Bailey’s Cream Cheese Glaze (may make this for us after wifey gets back) March 17, 2010. (https://culinspiration.files.wordpress.com/).

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  • 12/25/16--05:46: Christmas is Carnage!
  •   One of the funniest lines in Babe (1995) comes from Ferdinand the duck (who kind of looks like a goose) …

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    fgr_10decollins1969A white duck? goose?, December 25, 2016. (http://pinterest.com).The Queen's Christmas tree, Windsor Castle (steel engraving), published in The Illustrated London News, 1848, in fgr_10decollins1969A white duck? goose?, December 25, 2016. (http://pinterest.com).The Queen's Christmas tree, Windsor Castle (steel engraving), published in The Illustrated London News, 1848, in "Godey's Lady's Book," December 1850 . (Wetman via Wikipedia). In public domain.The bridge scene in It's A Wonderful Life, where James Stewart's character's was contemplating suicide, 1946. (http://salon.com).

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  • 12/10/17--08:04: Darren and Donald
  • My older brother Darren turned 50 years old yesterday. The start of my courtship with my wife of more than …

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