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Thursday, February 25, 2016

This I Believe #7

Same as last week, please post your essay here before class on Tuesday. Please also remember to bring a printed copy of your essay to class and be prepared to read it aloud.

38 comments:

  1. When I was ten years old I took out 3 tonsils stone. I was given a small cup of salt water, a q-tip, and an empty cup to put the fragments in. I got it done in 10 minutes. Now I’m quicker.

    Sophomore year I stood in front of Teddy’s door, flashlight setting on my phone in hand, and I tenderly poked at her tonsils with a q-tip, her face cupped in my hand. Her tonsil stones perched on the tip of the cotton.

    This summer there was two weeks where I couldn’t keep my tonsils free. I began using a chopstick. My mouth constantly tasted like death. I vividly remember poking a stone at the front, and another one I hadn’t seen shooting out the back.

    I became convinced my tonsils were full of stones. I would knock one out which would leave a gapping hole that would only be filled again.

    Eventually they stopped coming.

    Today when I woke from a nap I felt a hair at the back of my throat. I gargled water to try to coax it out. I shined a light in my mouth to see if it was gone. I didn’t see a hair. I did, however, see a teensy bright yellow stone poke out right at the front of my right tonsil. The next time I looked for it, it had descended back into the depths of my tonsil. I believe one day it will reappear. And the cycle will begin again.

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    1. I have never known anyone to do this. I am in awe of your tonsil abilities.

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  2. I don’t want to be misunderstood when I say I believe in staring. I believe in looking intensely at something, especially people and bugs, and my friends often misjudge my weird habit. I get it, though… Having eyes upon you is not necessarily the most pleasant feeling and that sensation that someone is looking at you from behind is simply terrifying. And there’s even the chance that you are being judged. However, I believe in discovering invisible pores and distinguishing one eyelash from the next because that kind of staring brings peace to my heart, knowing that now my favorite part of this person is engraved in my memory. Or maybe I’m just creepy.
    Recently, I started drawing this singer from a band that I really like—it’s his birthday soon and a group of fans (including myself) are planning on sending him things. I’m sending him a painting and hopefully it doesn’t suck. I began by looking for some reference photos on pinterest and tumblr, the sources of all great reference photos, and ended up saving around 20 different ones on my phone. I have stared and stared at his facial expressions that I can now draw bits of him without looking at my phone. I come back from class every day to sit and stare at his picture some more, because my hand must replicate the exact sharpness of his eyes, the slight crookedness of his teeth and the curve of his cheek. I’ll keep staring until I can start feeling his emotions pouring from his digital features onto my sheet of paper.
    I do this with every single drawing I make. No matter if it is an animated character or a real human being, the process of not blinking for several minutes at a time has become a ritual I can’t seem to escape. The best part is that it has turned into an everyday habit, even when I’m not drawing; as I sit in the library I can’t help but notice that my friend doesn’t have her ears pierced and one of her eyelashes is about to fall into her eye.

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    1. What a great reflection with a great ending...

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  3. I am a visual and tactile learner. I have a hard time doing anything when instructions are just given to me, whether it's verbal or handwritten. I need things to be pointed out for me, shoved in my face. Sometimes I wish people would just grab my hands for me and start the project or give me a full demonstration before I start doing it myself. When someone just says, “organize the shelf,” I’m so confused. How should I organize it? Alphabetically, by color, by size? First of all, which shelf? The bookshelf? The one with papers, or the one with toys?

    I got my first tonsil stones last year, and I was given no written, verbal or visual instruction on how I needed to get rid of them. I had never even heard of a tonsil stone, and was disturbed and disgusted reading the wikipedia and Web MD pages about tonsilloliths. They are repulsive, and because they were in the back of my throat I was now repulsive too. I can’t remember when or how I told her, but I knew Katie was one of the first people I needed to tell.

    According to Wikipedia, tonsils are filled with crevices where bacteria and other materials, including dead cells and mucus, can become trapped and are calcified. They can form on the roof of your mouth and throat in addition to festering in the webbing of tonsils. You can literally have NESTS of them under your tonsils and in your throat. I’m gagging writing about this now.

    Katie showed me how to get the stones out. No matter what, I know that Katie will always be one of my best friends. We don’t have to talk all the time, I’m sure we both get frustrated with each other sometimes and as we change in the future we might not even live in the same city for a big portion of our lives. But Katie literally shoved her tiny beautiful hand in the back of my throat with a q-tip to get my tonsil stones out because I had literally no idea how to do it. Fortunately for her, I can get them out myself now. But I know I wouldn’t have been able to learn how if she hadn’t shown me, standing next to the big mirror in my forrer dorm last year. I believe in visual and kinesthetic learning, and Katie.

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    1. And I now know what q-tips are for!

      You and Katie--you know how to make magic happen, even if you say it makes you gag.

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  4. One of my favorite books as a kid was Dr. Seuss’s “The Foot Book.” Even when I am walking to class or down a trail, I sometimes go back to the “left foot, right foot, left foot, right” wording on one of the pages that I remember oh so distinctly. Reminiscing on this joyous publication, I recall in something that I absolutely believe in -- that everything in life requires one foot forward at a time.

    I remember many of my first sports practices: basketball, cheerleading, track, gymnastics, soccer, horseback riding, etc. At each of those, I began from the basics of getting in shape and learning the rules of the trade, whether it be coordination with a ball in hand or foot or holding the reins and sitting properly in a saddle. Today, though, these things are muscle memory. I do not have to think of them anymore, but rather just do them. It actually makes it difficult to take a step back when looking at someone else who is just starting his or her own endeavors.

    I also remember picking up my flute for the first time. I had to learn notes first, and then the horrible, stereotypical “Jingle Bells” tune that my mother still will never let me forget. While my first years of playing were twelve years ago, I can still recollect, but I also am fascinated at how far I have progressed. I am now playing, as Biochemistry major might I add, a senior recital full of challenging music. I am extremely excited for the opportunity to showcase that difference from the beginning tones to the full, vibrant sounds that I am able to make now.

    In the same manner, I can remember beginning my science career, which technically began back in elementary school with trips to the Adventure Science Museum or having the Mad Scientist do demonstrations in the classroom with what seemed like magic at the time. Looking back, the demonstrations were simplistic, but beyond the mind capacity of someone so young. Now, I can completely understand it along with so much more. In fact, my research with the university was just published this past week on ground that has yet to be covered in inorganic transition metal chemistry.

    All of these accomplishments have those first steps in common. In order to advance, the initial step must be taken followed by another and another and etc. Dr. Seuss definitely knew what he was talking about by ensuring that you must put one foot forward at a time. The end result will come, and the dedication and perseverance are what will get you there. This journey of one foot at a time is what I believe and hope many others do as well.

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    1. Let us know when your flute recital is! Yes to one foot at a time.

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    2. :) April 10th at 3pm in Carrick! :)

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  5. Today it is a nice sunny day and nearing 70 degrees outside. Although this winter there have been many warm days, today for some reason I am more excited about this beautiful weather than usual. We spent a good part of December with record high temperatures which was very enjoyable. We all knew the warmness of December was a tease on Mother Nature’s part. This become true when we finally got the foot of snow and a nice day off school that we all wanted in the middle of January. The day it snowed many people I talked with were worried we were entering a slippery slope of bad weather. However somehow we were able to enjoy a few more nice days before we saw snow again. Every there has been a warm day this winter, I enjoy it outside but in the back of my mind I am dreading the idea that the upcoming weather forecast shows the weather plummeting back down into the low 30s.

    Today I have a different feeling. I woke up excited knowing the sun was shining and I did not have to bundle up walking outside. Some friends and I went for a nice walk around our neighborhood and so many people were outside, even more than normal when we received our nice days earlier this month. Today feels different because the upcoming weather forecast is different this time. It does not show any snow and none of the highs are below 40 degrees for the entire week which is the first time I have seen this forecast since Fall. Today I believe we are on our way to spring, which will then lead to Summer- my favorite time of the year.

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  6. I believe in random quality family time. I woke up today with no intentions of going home. I texted my mom to see if she would want to have lunch with me and she could not, but she did tell me that my older sister, nieces and nephews were going to be at our house for the afternoon. I grabbed my backpack and went on my way. I wanted to spend time with them since I had not been able to the past couple of weekends. As soon as I got home my nieces and sister wanted to go for a walk to the park. It was such a nice day, how could you not want to!? My sister and I chatted and caught each other up on lives while my nieces ran around playing “friends.” After our walk my little sister decided she wanted to take her dogs to the new Petco in town. So 7 humans and 2 dogs loaded up and went to Petco. Sounds tacky that we all went to Petco as a family adventure, but that is the McIntyre’s for ya. We then got Starbucks and sat outside soaking up the sunshine. Our day continued with a trip to the humane society. We played with pigs, kittens, and dogs. We all fell in love with Luther, a black lab. And guess what? My sister went home with him. He is such a sweet dog, and we all played with him outside at my house. The kids left, and I sat in my house thinking what a wonderful day of running around and laughter. My sister texted me saying how she’s glad I came out and how much fun she had. She is not the type to let her emotions show, so that meant a lot. This is a day I will cherish, and this is why I believe in random quality family time.

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  7. Towards the end of my sophomore year, I found the perfect pen. The Zebra F-301 ballpoint pen has my heart and the thought of writing with any other pen makes me cringe. There’s something about the way that the pen hits the paper that makes my handwriting look so good. It sounds conceited but I really do like my handwriting and I mostly attribute it to the pen so it really isn’t all that conceited. When I get to use the Zebra F-301, I don’t mind writing. I’ve filled up three journals since I started using this pen! That says a lot, considering that I previously had only filled up one…in my entire life.
    I’m also the type of person who really likes to have organized notes and this pen has helped me immensely with my note taking skills and (sorry to my professors) my doodling skills. Right now I really like doodling boats and swing sets but it changes week to week. I’ll never forget the house phase...my notes looked like a real estate advertisement for stick people. Just because my handwriting is good doesn’t mean that my doodling is good. I pick a few easy doodles, learn how to do them, and then draw massive amounts of them. The Zebra F-301 makes my doodles look slightly less ugly and for that, I am so grateful.
    I believe in finding the perfect pen and if you haven’t found that pen that makes you like writing, I suggest you continue your search. Who knows, the Zebra F-301 might be that pen for you. There’s a 12 pack on Amazon for $18.72 and, though that sounds like a lot, it comes out to $1.56 per pen. I’ve included the link to save you trouble: http://www.amazon.com/Zebra-Stainless-Retractable-Pen-27110/dp/B001CRVUPE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1456779056&sr=8-1&keywords=bp+zebra+f-301+pens

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    1. Ha! I totally get the importance of the perfect pen :)

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    2. This is so real, I (for the most part) keep my Fisher Space Pen on me at all times

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  8. When I first met her, she was fearless, smart, and beautiful. I worshipped her, knowing I’d never be like her. Her name was Fatin. Coming from Palestine, she had already spent 3 years at Hope College in Holland, Michigan: a small town founded by Dutch immigrants and serviced by Mexicans.

    20 years ago, I had just arrived from Bulgaria. I believed men should be served before women. I overheard classmates talking about President Clinton’s affair with a woman who worked for him. I spent evenings sipping wine with Fatin on a dry campus: my training in friendship and disobedience.

    At the end of our senior year, Fatin and I took a May-term class that took us West. Before our trip, we went shopping for shorts: we got the same style but different colors. In Colorado, we nearly starved ourselves due to frugality. After we left the Grand Canyon, Fatin gave me a gift: a silver bracelet with an engraving of Kokopelli, a trickster god with a hunched back.

    I last saw Fatin 18 years ago in New York. By then, I had become a feminist. I was in graduate school, studying marginalized voices in literature. Fatin was just as daring as I remembered her. We hugged good bye near a corner bakery.

    Last Friday night I searched Facebook for Fatin. I didn’t remember her last name. I remembered her soft brown hair, her courage, her hometown.

    When her eyes looked at me from a profile photograph, my heart beat faster. She said yes instantly. Before turning in, I wrote to her:

    I've thought of you through the years, wondering where you are... I'm headed to bed on Friday night here in the U.S., wanted to say hi first. Will write more tomorrow. Good night.

    Her message arrived at the same time:

    Hi there my luv how are you? … How I miss you

    20 years after we met, Fatin is back in Ramallah, working for the EU, for world peace, for her daughter’s future. I still worship her. And I miss her, after all these years.

    20 years later, I wear the kokopelli bracelet Fatin gifted me, a trickster god holding my right wrist. I believe in fearless women. I believe we can change the world.

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    1. I genuinely teared up reading this. Friendship is such a beautiful thing.

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  9. We took our bikes and rode from the cabin to the road; we had practice, took the hills with ease. Our bodies were small, and they had no fear. I ran my bike into a tree but I landed on my feet, a few steps back like I’d been bucked off a horse. Karina always said she rode bikes when she couldn’t ride horses, popping wheelies to mock cantering. We rode back: unscathed, together, sharing water.

    On the lake the next day we all whispered to each other about the houses flooded under us, both revolted and thrilled. When we swam, we were terrified by how the wake looked like a giant reptile’s back; we thought it would tip the boat, screaming and scrambling for the ladder. We shivered on the deck and laughed it off later, under the stars.

    We took a wrong turn on our hike and had to drag our bicycles four miles through the mountain trails, not enough water and all too small. I took Karina’s bike and cut my leg, but we found the road. We got back and dramatically guzzled Gatorade, marveling at our own ability to survive. I believe that as long as we’re together, we can survive.

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  10. Chocolate vines billowed above two sections of trellis I mounted in the narrow raised garden alongside the edge of my house. Twelve feet away I passed my cellphone through tight branches and snapped photographs of a bird nest. I captured images of two small eggs one day, three the next. On the third morning, a full-grown bird lay on the ground below, its chest opened like the bud of spring’s first rose.

    Tangled through posts of a picket fence painted white each year to save it, the rosebush grew and I cut dead blooms with my children, both gloved to protect soft skin. Thin petals of sedum spilled green carpet below with floral flashes of yellow and I was stacking stripped bamboo on the blacktop when I heard her say, “Hey, Daddy.”

    Every sentence began the same, with a call for my attention and a pause waiting for me to say “yes?” Some days she helped me to strip and stack bamboo. Some days she helped me water the raised garden or pull pesky weeds from soil in the bed devoted to rosemary, chives, and cilantro. Once I covered her crouched body with the clear bottom of a large Tupperware and she crawled about like a translucent turtle beneath the basketball goal. Sometimes we wrote messages to one another, pressing ball point pen carefully to the underside of bamboo leaves. Those words pulled into tight green tubes with the summer sun.

    “Hey, Daddy.” I heard her calling me again though I knew she was 300 miles away eating Higby’s Chocolate ice cream at Rosati’s Famous Custard stand.

    “Hey, Daddy.” She would carry tall plastic glasses of ice water from the kitchen through the front door because she could not easily open the closer one at the back of the house. We would sit—one of us sweaty from work the other cool from playing with plastic dolls in the shade—and drink together.

    “Hey, Daddy.” Her voice came from a place just a few feet behind me. I turned to see her and saw nothing but blacktop mottled with the moments of sunlight that made it through the foliage above. I believe in the magic of driveways.

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  11. I believe that cursing is a really awesome part of language. Forbidden expletives certainly have an allure to them, and it all goes back to when you were a kid. Everyone hears curse words at some point when they’re young, but then their parents promptly tell them “you better never use those words!” But at this point, they are already in the danger zone. The words have already seeped into their brains, and they’re there for good. I know from experience, because I couldn’t stop cursing as a kid. I never got in trouble for it at school, because I was too careful, but at home was a different story. My Mom probably tried every punishment in the book to get me to stop- Taking away my stuff, putting soap in my mouth, not letting me play outside- but I never really seemed to stop. Eventually “you better never say that” became “You better never say that at school”, which is ironic because that’s where I learned my favorite cuss word of all.
    I remember being in the second grade, riding the bus home from school. I was sitting next to my friend, and he asked me if I wanted to hear the worst curse word there was. I said “ok”. He decided to spell it out, because he was afraid to say it out loud. Slowly, in a hushed tone he spelled out “F – U – C” (No K). “Fuck?” I said. “OOOOOOHHHH” he said, “you can’t say that!”. But I had already said it. “Fuck.” I liked this word. When I got off the bus, I asked my Mom what fuck meant. She probably stifled back laughter and told me it was just a really bad word that I should never say. At this point I already knew the words shit, ass, bitch, damn, bastard and hell, from watching various PG-13 films, and so I figured those were enough bad words and so I didn’t say fuck for quite a while.
    A few years later, my Mom and I were riding in the car. When the person in front of us slammed in their brakes, my Mom did the same and yelled “Fuck!” I said it too, “Fuck!” She turned and laughed and said “I’m allowed to say that because I’m an adult. You can’t say it because you’re a kid.” “That’s dumb” I said. After this point, I began using the word under my breath in various situations. It was relieving to say such a bad word. It helped me calm down when I was upset. It made me feel sort of powerful. I still think foul language has this power. It has the capacity to help you relax. You can’t tell me that sometimes letting out a long stream of cuss words doesn’t feel good when you’re upset.
    I cuss every day. I probably always will. It’s become a part of me that I don’t really consider to be ugly, because I believe in the good power of bad words.

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    1. Your essay reminds me of a similar situation I had with my mom & curse words. I remember being in about kindergarten and overhearing my mother telling her friend that she didn't know any cuss words in English at the time, but that her brother only knew cuss words. Later that day when we were alone I sat my mom down and told her I would teach her all the cuss words I knew. I basically cussed out my mom and she just laughed in a very confused and endearing way.

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  12. I believe that cursing is a really awesome part of language. Forbidden expletives certainly have an allure to them, and it all goes back to when you were a kid. Everyone hears curse words at some point when they’re young, but then their parents promptly tell them “you better never use those words!” But at this point, they are already in the danger zone. The words have already seeped into their brains, and they’re there for good. I know from experience, because I couldn’t stop cursing as a kid. I never got in trouble for it at school, because I was too careful, but at home was a different story. My Mom probably tried every punishment in the book to get me to stop- Taking away my stuff, putting soap in my mouth, not letting me play outside- but I never really seemed to stop. Eventually “you better never say that” became “You better never say that at school”, which is ironic because that’s where I learned my favorite cuss word of all.
    I remember being in the second grade, riding the bus home from school. I was sitting next to my friend, and he asked me if I wanted to hear the worst curse word there was. I said “ok”. He decided to spell it out, because he was afraid to say it out loud. Slowly, in a hushed tone he spelled out “F – U – C” (No K). “Fuck?” I said. “OOOOOOHHHH” he said, “you can’t say that!”. But I had already said it. “Fuck.” I liked this word. When I got off the bus, I asked my Mom what fuck meant. She probably stifled back laughter and told me it was just a really bad word that I should never say. At this point I already knew the words shit, ass, bitch, damn, bastard and hell, from watching various PG-13 films, and so I figured those were enough bad words and so I didn’t say fuck for quite a while.
    A few years later, my Mom and I were riding in the car. When the person in front of us slammed in their brakes, my Mom did the same and yelled “Fuck!” I said it too, “Fuck!” She turned and laughed and said “I’m allowed to say that because I’m an adult. You can’t say it because you’re a kid.” “That’s dumb” I said. After this point, I began using the word under my breath in various situations. It was relieving to say such a bad word. It helped me calm down when I was upset. It made me feel sort of powerful. I still think foul language has this power. It has the capacity to help you relax. You can’t tell me that sometimes letting out a long stream of cuss words doesn’t feel good when you’re upset.
    I cuss every day. I probably always will. It’s become a part of me that I don’t really consider to be ugly, because I believe in the good power of bad words.

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    1. I remember saying "God Dammit" as a young kid on my back porch not realizing the window was open so my mother could hear. I got in pretty big trouble, I don't use it anymore and it's not because it actually set in not to use it, but because it's not really a very good curse word.

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  13. When my brothers and I were growing up our dad was always a little camera crazy. He took pictures of us playing in the yard, eating our breakfasts, and making pillow forts. In my parents house there are photo albums chocked full of snapshots from my childhood. There are very few pictures of dance recitals or soccer teams but these books are brimming with memories of what our house was like when it was full of little ones. My oldest brother is a decade older than me so as you flip through the albums, the photo quality changes drastically from one photo to the next. One of my favorite photos is a picture of a seven year old me lying in the kitchen floor in a huge t shirt with messy hair, playing with the family dog. It’s such an everyday image. There is nothing posed about it. It wasn’t anybody’s birthday, no one was cheering, and nobody was getting any medals. I love that picture because it’s so real. My dad took pictures of what was really important, everyday happiness. Of course, there are photos from awards ceremonies and parades and competitions but these sit in drawers and are rarely even glanced over. The places of honor in the family albums are reserved for pictures of my brother sledding down the hill in front of our house so bundled up that he looks like a marshmallow and a snapshot of me sitting at my grandmother’s kitchen table having a tea party where all my stuffed animals were drinking out of shot glasses because regular cups were just too big. My father has an ability to capture joy with a lens, a skill that doesn’t quite match his callused hands and dirty work boots. I am so thankful that he captured these moments for us to hold on to long after they are over. I believe in family photos.

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    1. Your reflection is making me want to write about family photos... And I hope you share this reflection with your dad.

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  14. Essentially, this is a ThisIBelieve essay about something I no longer believe, but rather something I used to think. In my tadpole days before my pubescent tale had been absorbed into my now mid-phased mature DaeDae, I often dreamt up cray-cray useless “inventions,” with the sole intention of getting rich off of one of these things. I had several mockup pocket notebooks that I would spend hours doodling in, trying to cleverly alter some modern appliance or aspect of life. These contraptions were usually horrible. Some designs, certainly, were more memorable than others. But ultimately, they were clearly confined to just being the musings of a bored child of average wit with no real experience in inventing things. Nevertheless, these ideas were worth gold to me, and I was very precarious as to whom I shared my priceless ideas with—this natural suspicion came from people generally stealing my overall steez in the form of my style, clever catch-phrases, and hobbies.
    On one of these occasions, I was sitting in a car outside of Barnes & Noble around 1am. I was just chatting the night away with two of my closest high school friends. We had gone to eat at Steak & Shake, but didn’t want to go home just yet, so we decided to chill in a parking lot. I was giving my friend David financial advice on some idea he was wishfully hoping to invest in. Then he turned to me asked what I wanted to invest in. At the time, I was pretty into my idea of making a cigarette umbrella™, so I explained the concept behind it: “Well man, I always hear people complainin’ at work about how they can’t smoke on their break when it’s raining, so i figured I’d make a cigarette umbrella™.” As soon as I had explained my invention, the car erupted in laughter, between probing questions about my ingenious invention. I was nervous, so I did the only thing I could imagine at the time to rescue my ego—I showed them the prototype sketches. That only intensified the laughter in two ways: one, because I actually carried around a notepad full of crappy AsSeenOnTv ideas in my back pocket; and two, because most of the drawings in the notebook were really bad.
    As the laughter started to settle down, David asked if I was serious. I replied by showing him a couple of the alternative designs. “Here’s a model that’s based off of those tiny umbrellas you get with drinks, it’s basically a ring with one of those on it. Here’s a more elegant design that is more like a miniature slant roof to shield the cigarette, and the smoker. This other design actually clips on to the butt of the cigarette so that ring sizes aren’t an issue”
    Ever since that day I now no longer believe inventing things is my calling, nor do I believe that I will be rich. I now believe I have much more important things that I can work on in my life.

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    1. My unrealized invention will arrive next week, it has less to do with vices and more to do with lost love. It may not be nearly as useful as the cigarette umbrella. By the way, I agree with your tadpole-days belief--a cigarette umbrella is brilliant

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    2. Love the idea of a cigarette umbrella that's a cousin to the cocktail umbrella. Also love the tone of this reflection...no idea how to describe it, but it sure does work.

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  15. I believe that I need to stop keeping things bottled up. I remember the most conducive parts of my life were when I was unapologetic to want I wanted or what I felt. Luckily I’m an ill-tempered person, I’m relatively socially aware so I was never putting myself into situations that some people may view as problematic or just mean. I mean that overall; I said what I wanted or how I felt to the people around me that also were generally those closest to me. For example, I said “hey stop that, let me do this now please, this is what I have to do” etc. Things centered on this or that, is where I would generally find myself trying to exert personal control, or to move people away from me to get something done. It created better relationships with the ones around me and also ended some as well. But it was good I got what I wanted and probably what I needed. I have to say I haven’t gotten anything done in the past two months in any type of timely manner. I’m always working on it the night before, or sporadically throughout the week. I need to fix this I need to exert more self-control over that type situation. Generally control over life has nothing to do with other people in my instance, so really I just believe that I need to once again create more structure in my life, once more to be vocal to myself about what I want and maybe get more on track. I have a lot of reading to do; I’ll start that now… I think.



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  16. I believe that 'Asphalt Cowboys' would be a wicked band name. The name came to as I was riding in my mother's Prius when I was home last weekend. My mom was grilling me for something that I can no longer recall at the present moment and I was half-listening, half-watching the world around me. As we turned onto Dorsey Lane, I noticed an old, beatup white truck that read: Asphalt Cowboys across the top. The middle-aged couple in the front seat looked about as disgruntled as the truck itself but there was still a sense of edge that would be needed for one to drive a car like that.
    Asphalt Cowboys would be a versatile name too because it could be used for nearly any genre of music. Presumably, the members would be from the South or the Southwest, hence the 'cowboys' and preferably, it would be an alternative rock band. They would play festivals like Forecastle and Hangout and possibly even, Austin City Limits. Their sound would be reminiscent of Johnny Cash's guitar riffs but all of the band members would sing. And instead of starting out playing exclusively in bars, they would start playing in the downtown parts of cities where larger crowds could gather.
    All of this from a dumpy old truck; watch out for the world because it just might inspire you.

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  17. My roommate always carries a Epipen with him everywhere, because he is allergic to nuts. The Epipen would give him 10 extra minutes to live if he ate nuts by accident. However, I did not know anything about the Epipen until recently. I was always wondering what is this little box he carries around.
    One day, my roommate told me that his Epipen was expired, he would go get a new one soon. So he left the Epipen on the window. The next day, after I woke up, I saw the Epipen sitting next to the window. My roommate went to class, I was curious about the little box he was carrying everyday. So I grab the Epipen, and open the lid of it. The Epipen was saying “please push the top down”. I did not think of anything, I just push the top down. A needle popped out and injected me. My finger started bleeding really bad. I was scared for a little bit. My heart began beating really fast. I felt as if all my blood was flowing super fast too. I was really nervous at that time, I decided to not call my roommate, because I thought he would get pissed about that. My body started shaking badly. I looked up the Epipen online to check if I would die from it. But I did not find any information on it. I grabbed my jacket and ran to the nurse. However, I ran to the wrong office, the mental care office. The teacher who works at the office took me to the school nurse. The nurse told me that I was fine, it was not a big deal. So I told my roommate the story after he got back, he was crying from laughing.
    I believe, to not touch the things one does not know about.

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    1. This is such a fun and funny reflection, Brian! Really enjoyed reading it.

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  18. So it goes like this, last semester I was trying to see if invasive species such as wintercreeper and amur honeysuckle leachates(plant juice essentially) had any negative consequences on germination in native seeds. In other words, my lab partners and I created invasive plant smoothies and poured them on native seeds on plastic petri plates to see if they would sprout or not. Collecting invasive plants were no problem however acquiring native seeds seemed to create some trouble; I had a plan though. See, I know a person who knows a person in my home area that hosts a whole seed barn of Kentucky’s finest flora. And hey, it doesn’t hurt that they happen to be grandparents-in-law as well. So, I make the trip on the Bluegrass, come home, acquire some native seeds, and get off scot free in experimenting, right? Turns out, things were not as simple as I thought they would be. The seeds, no matter what, seemed to attract funky fungi and essentially ruined the experiment for the semester. To add insult to injury, my group learned of some seed sterilization techniques immediately after.

    Now, fast forward to this semester or more specifically, the time frame of Sunday to today. A new science class, a new experiment, and a new reason to head back to cave country. Instead of native seeds, I was looking for cave crickets this time. Here I am, on the slippery steep staircases descending 40 feet into the Diamond Cavern system, failingly flailing an oversized bug net in the hope these hopping bastards will fall in. It doesn’t help my green corduroys were giving up as the pants were ripping straight from the middle. Did I mention this was also all happening during public tours? Tactically holding a butterfly net, I show unimpressed visitors the bounty of five crickets I caught in humid tupperware while also hiding embarrassment in the form of plaid boxers.

    After my triumphant victory, I traveled back to Lex to host the crickets into their new home, a fish tank full of sand and some food/water. Now, as much as I take pride in my cultural roots, I should know more than better that a cave environment stays pretty consistent in everything and placing a cave organism into an area that is inconsistent, like a regular dehumidified room, is not a good idea. Turns out what I perceived as crickets taking a nap in their new home was completely different than I expected . So yes, what we have right here is local cave cricket killer Devin Rowe. Now I honestly know all of these experimental errors are factors of my own ignorance but it also feels as if something more is there. It is not something I truly know, but I believe that whenever I try to bring home to somewhere else, it always leads to trouble. This, I believe.

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  19. “Do you identify as ‘survivor’ or ‘victim’?” I recall asking my friend last year about her sexual assault. “Hmm...I haven’t thought about it, really. I guess I do have a choice, don’t I?” Since then, after I came out as an ally to victims and survivors and a survivor myself, many other people have told me about their experiences, and I have asked them all the same question: which are they?
    Some people are reluctant to call themselves a victim because they have all heard some variation of victim shaming. Victims are told “you can’t keep dwelling on it. You have to forgive and forget,” sometimes by others affected by similar situations. The truth is, it’s comforting to be a victim for a while, because you know you can eventually identify as a survivor who is in a much better place than you are right now.
    Other people don’t want to identify as a survivor because they think it means they have to be over it. They can no longer be affected by it. This idea is very obviously daunting because healing has ups and downs so no matter how hard you try, the assault will affect you negatively. They are also told that if they are so “fine” with it, they should stop talking about it. This is very idiotic because we are allowed to discuss events from our past, regardless of how we view the situation in retrospect.
    I also know some people who don’t identify with either. They claim “it’s something that happened but it doesn’t make me who I am today.” So I don’t call these people a victim or a survivor. We just discuss what happened without labels. Unfortunately, society takes these people and says “this is the way a *real* survivor should be. They aren’t still talking about it.”
    Regardless of how people who have experienced sexual violence refer to themselves, no title or lack of should be judged as the wrong or right way to do it. I believe all people who have experienced sexual trauma are owed respect.

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    1. Yes, they are. Thank you for allowing yourself to be vulnerable in this reflection.

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  20. I believe in rain.

    It seems rather apropos to talk about rain today with the forecast calling for it. But I would talk about rain even if it weren’t on its way.
    I adore rain. It really offers so much to the world. To me, it’s synonymous with cleansing and renewing. Rain feeds the plants. Rain can mean floods or rainbows. Yet in the absence of rain nations can be brought to their knees.
    I always sleep better with the sound of rain on my window sill. When I’m feeling childish, I put on my rain boots and coat to stump through puddles. It never hurts to dance in the rain too. Just being outside while it’s raining, you can feel the thick moisture in the air as it hydrates your outer layer of skin.
    My sister and I go through spells of closeness and distance in our relationship but one thing we have always agreed on is rain. We both love it. We don’t fear storms because often they bring rain with them. As a child I remember when we both discovered this in our shared bedroom on the second floor. She was sitting next to the window, her forehead pressed against the glass. Letting out a quiet sigh, my sister spoke to the window, “Rain is great. I just wanna listen to it all day”. From the top bunk I squeaked a response she wasn’t expecting, “Me too”. Looking up at me, she gave me a weak smile. So that’s what she and I did all the rest of that day, we listened to the deluge of rain outside our window.
    I don’t recall anything that happened earlier that day or even what year it was. That was simply a moment for my sister and I to acknowledge we weren’t so different, in fact, sometimes we have a lot in common. Since then we’ve had plenty more sisterly moments during the rain but none quite as memorable or simple as the first. I think that’s why I believe in the rain.

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  21. (I posted this on time.........but it's not here. Sorry I didn't re-check it.)

    I believe in wearing the things that you like.

    It’s great to wear something you feel comfortable in. But that’s not what I mean.

    In particular, I believe in wearing images of the things that you like. The shows. The games. The people. The ideas.

    Wearing what you like is a silent but clear communication. “I like this Thing. Do you?” It’s a small invitation to engage that even an introverted, self-and-others-hating, socially awkward person can perform. When you already have a Thing you love as a starting point, it’s much easier to be open and excited with others.

    It also shows your own willingness to commit to Things. If you’re willing to wear any particular Thing on yourself, you probably are very sure that you like it. You’ve probably thought about the ways in which people will see you if you show yourself as someone who approves of that Thing. You’ve probably considered the ways in which you do in fact disapprove of the Thing, so it’s okay for you to be seen as a supporter of it. Because you can explain what you like about it and what you don’t. It’s not a frivolous choice to plaster an image onto yourself. So you’ve probably thought about it. A lot.

    I believe in human signposts because it’s one of the only ways I can make friends.

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