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A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma...

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    Digging up Death: The Macabre Story of Count Carl von Cosel (And Us)

    Digging up Death: The Macabre Story of Count Carl von Cosel (And Us)

    The Miami Herald called it the love story that defied death, the dark romance that hit the front page of the paper in 1940. It all started when Carl Tanzler, or Count Carl von Cosel as he preferred to be called, spotted the beautiful but dying tuberculosis patient Elena Hoyos in a Florida hospital in 1931. Though Elena never returned his affections, was married at the time, and died shortly after she caught von Cosel’s attention, he visited her tomb every day for the next year and half. And then, one fateful night, he claims to have heard Elena singing…

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    A Love Letter to Whales: On Feeling Small and Full of Wonder

    A Love Letter to Whales: On Feeling Small and Full of Wonder

    Last month, in the middle of the Salish Sea, I fell in love with humpback whales.

    It was as whimsical and romantic as it sounds, surrounded by miles of water and the hazy perimeters of Washington’s Olympic Mountains and Victoria’s tall pine trees and yellow Scotch broom flowers. The only sound was the gentle lapping of water against the sides of the boat as it slowly rocked back and forth. Our whale-watching group waited, all of us perched on the top deck, scanning the sea for any signs of a blowhole. And then suddenly, before anyone had time to yell “There…

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    Identity Narratives from the Bathroom Floor

    Identity Narratives from the Bathroom Floor

    If you’ve never seen The Bachelor (though chances are you probably have), then you’ve missed some of reality TV’s best attempts to turn real people into caricatures. Whether it’s the intention of the contestant, the careful edits of the producers, or a combination of both, every person who steps out of the limo has a cohesive and clear-cut identity. Usually this is executed in the narrative portion of the show when we “meet” the contestant and get a nice video montage of her life, but it can also be done through behind-the-scenes commentary (“My friends all consider me the party girl…

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    Blind Pilot's Biblical Paradox

    Blind Pilot’s Biblical Paradox

    Panic in the first beat of the morning
    Even what I’ve got isn’t worth offering
    Even faces change—my heart stays the same.

    After five years of waiting for their album release, I was hooked on And Then Like Lions in the first fifteen seconds. Once again, with trumpets, banjos, guitars, ukuleles, and mountain dulcimers, Blind Pilot poetically captured the experience of being a human. But this album was markedly different content-wise because it focused on tragedy from beginning to end. Called a “darker shade of folk” by the Wall Street Journal, lead singer Israel Nebeker said quite the opposite in an interview with…

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    Not Made for These Times: Looking for Answers in 4 O'Clock Moments

    Not Made for These Times: Looking for Answers in 4 O’Clock Moments

    Every winter in the seasonal slump of dismal gray, I find myself turning to the same source of hope—the sunny sound walls of the Beach Boys.

    Growing up in the millennial generation, I was the only one who considered Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson’s voices to be the harmonies of my childhood. Don’t get me wrong, my sister and I did our fair share of self-choreographed dancing to NSYNC’s harmonies (yes, you read that right, self-choreographed dancing), but I always loved the music my dad played for us more than the music of my own generation. Which of course never made me very…

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    On Being an Imposter: "Fake It Till Ya Make It" in a World of Expectations

    On Being an Imposter: “Fake It Till Ya Make It” in a World of Expectations

    The social science concept of imposter syndrome, or imposter phenomenon (IP) as it should properly be called, has been in the spotlight for a few years now. It was the topic of Facebook CEO’s Sheryl Sandberg’s 2011 book Lean In, social psychologist’s Amy Cuddy’s 2012 Ted Talk, and Carl Richards’ piece in the New York Times. We’ve all heard the hackneyed expression, “fake it till you make it,” and IP can best be thought of as the deep seated anxiety that you will always be on the former end versus the latter. American psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes gave…

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    Scrolling Through Career Options: Choice Overload and the Fear of Commitment

    Scrolling Through Career Options: Choice Overload and the Fear of Commitment

    While most people think about commitment anxiety in terms of relationships, it can perhaps be better thought of in terms of Netflix. Imagine logging into your Netflix account (or your friend, mother-in-law’s, or old college roommate’s account) and scrolling through the thousands of options under the dozens of genres. You finally choose to watch Jane the Virgin. After five or six minutes, you begin to discover the reason that most people love Netflix: If they realize they don’t want to know what happens to a young woman who gets accidentally artificially inseminated, they can just continue watching LOST like they have…

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