I had a history teacher in tenth grade who hated me for, honestly, no legitimate reason. Everyone adored him because he was kind of a goofball and always had interesting stories to tell about the time he spent living in Oman and other obscure eastern European countries that, as self-absorbed fifteen year olds more concerned about who was dating who than international politics, we had never heard of before. I had a bad taste in my mouth about this teacher for most of my time as his pupil, but there is one thing that I am forever grateful to him for, and that is assigning us Slaughter House Five for summer reading.

November 11th is not only my favorite date on the calendar (11/11), but also Kurt Vonnegut’s birthday.

Vonnegut passed away in 2007 and I somehow ended up on an airplane somewhere shortly thereafter whose in-flight magazine happened to have published Vonnegut's last interview. I should have taken it with me, but luckily the Internet exists so I found it online. As a writer and artist, Vonnegut's legacy is one that I admire immensely, so I wanted to share a quote from  this last interview that has stuck with me ever since:

"I asked my son Mark what he thought life was all about, and he said, “We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.” I think that says it best. You can do that as a comedian, a writer, a painter, a musician. He’s a pediatrician. There are all kinds of ways we can help each other get through today. There are some things that help. Musicians really do it for me. I wish I were one, because they help a lot. They help us get through a couple hours."

I write and paint with the goal of relating to others, to make it as evident as possible that I am just as human as the next person. I listen to music for the same reason, to be reminded that I'm not the only person who feels like the world is ending every time winter rolls around, or to remind myself that sometimes all you need to do is just blast some Beyonce and dance around your bedroom. I write to tell stories because I believe that every person's story has something to teach you. And I read to try to understand and parse out those lessons, whether they come disguised is the form of Tralfamadorians or as simple as this quote about living life with a lack of seriousness.

"Yes. The world is too serious. To get mad at a work of art — because maybe somebody, somewhere is blowing his stack over what I’ve done — is like getting mad at a hot fudge sundae."

Happy Birthday Kurt, you are the greatest.

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