May/June Favorites

Everybodddayyyy

(Yeahhhh)

Rock your bodayyyy

(Yeahhh)

Everyboddayyy

Rock your bodayy right

Favorites are back ALRIGHT

So yeah, I saw the Backstreet Boys in Vegas this month, and yeah, it’s still on my mind, because yeah, it was INCREDIBLE. If there was a slot in the favorites for “favorite concert I saw that made me feel 13 again,” the BSB would definitely have nabbed that spot. Actually, let’s go ahead and make that a slot just this once. Consider yourselves “favorited” boys!

Now, on to the rest of the favorites:

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Modern Love Podcast

modern love podcastSince the quest to run 1000 miles rages on, I’m always looking for new listening material, and these past two months I’ve been loving the podcast-ed version of The New York Times column “Modern Love.” Each episode contains a previously published story, read aloud by a wide variety of personalities (one of my favorites was Titus Burgess from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and accented with sound effects and music, to really bring the words to life. I consistently find myself captivated by the stories, and look forward to the new episode each week.

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Think Thin Protein Bars

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Another side effect of running is being hungry ALL. THE. TIME. Honestly, I feel like an adolescent boy, minus the growth spurts and incredible metabolism. That being said, I’ve been on the lookout for healthy(ish) snacks that can tide me over between meals so I don’t eat my way through my entire budget. Enter these protein bars, which seem to do the trick in satisfying my hunger, without providing the lasting guilt or tasting like total garbage. So far, I’ve tried the Brownie Crunch, Cinnamon Bun White Chocolate, and Cupcake Batter flavors and I’ve liked them all!

 

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Stitch Fix

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Call me a sucker if you want, but Stitch Fix has been FLOODING my Facebook feed for months now with ads for their cute clothes, and after putting up a steady resistance, I finally caved. I clicked the link that had been shouting at me to “try now!” and I went through the comprehensive “style quiz” and I gave them all my info, then I waited pretty (im)patiently for my first box to arrive. I’m not going to lie to you, it was pretty exciting when it did. Unlike the sporadic string of Amazon packages that usually grace my porch, this was a mystery box of goodness! You see, the way it works is once you go through the “style quiz”, a stylist reviews your answers and then sends you 5 handpicked items they think you’ll like. You then try them on/do a quick fashion show, etc, and decide what you want to keep and what you want to return. For the things you want to return, they send you a prepaid envelope, so all you have to do is slide the clothes/accessories in, seal it and send it back. From my first box, I kept two shirts, one of which I never would have tried on in a store and one that looks like it could have been made especially for me.

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Harry Styles by Harry Styles & Evolve by Imagine Dragons

Both of these albums have had me feeling all the feels and frequently texting my sister “YES, ALL THE YES” at various times of the day. They are very different in sound but both more than worth the listen.

Let’s turn it over to iTune for bimonthly dose of adjectives:

Harry Styles by Harry Styles: “magisterial Bowie-meets-Elton calling card,” “swampy bass and carnal choruses”

Evolve by Imagine Dragons: “the band trades is signature angst for light rhythmic textures and fluid vocals about rebuilding.”

Yup, EXACTLY what I was thinking.

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Brain on Fire by Susannah Calahan & This is Really Happening by Erin Chack

download (3)Again, these two choices have vastly different vibes about them, but they are both phenomenal. I borrowed Brain on Fire from a friend and was addicted by about page 4. It’s a memoir written by a 20 something year old woman who, while living a perfectly normal, healthy life, finds herself slipping into complete psychosis for no understandable reason. I read the entire thing in one day and have recommended it to almost every human I’ve spoken to since.

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This is Really Happening is a collection of essays written by Buzzfeed writer, Erin Chack, who I hadn’t heard of until I saw her book announcement on Twitter. Needless to say, I fell in love with her instantly after that and put the book in my Amazon cart that afternoon. This is Really Happening is a super easy read that made me laugh and cry and want to get a book of my own on the market. So, fingers crossed you’ll find me emulated a book birth in the future.

 

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Kendall Jenner Ab Workout

Who even am I, right? I know. But I can’t help it! Ever since I saw the workout in this Cosmo article online, I’ve made it a part of my gym routine. Full disclosure: It’s hard as hell. BUT doing it has made me feel much stronger, and I’m pretty sure I have, like, 1 1/2 abs now, so, watch out world!

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This Terrible Morning

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Oh, yes. This is a self plug and I’m not sorry about it. I recently announced a fun side project called “This Terrible Morning” which hopes to be a collaborative blog all about how terribly ridiculous mornings have a tendency to be. Fun fact: it officially launched TODAY! So make sure you go check out the first post. It’s a piece by me, written about the morning that gave me the idea for This Terrible Morning in the first place. Also, if you have a terrible morning you’d like to share in story/picture/poem/song/any form, please do! I’d love for you to join in on all the terrible fun.

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Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know! My Amazon cart is always open…

See my previous favorites post here.

Thoughts I Had While Watching Star Wars for the First Time: Episode VI

In the final installment of Part 1 (because if all goes according to plan I’ll be watching the rest of the films very soon, which should provoke a Part 2) of this series, I have A LOT of feelings. More than I was ready for. In fact, I hold everyone reading this who has seen this film and did not warn me of the emotional impact completely responsible for the mini-breakdown I had mid-movie. I also blame you for the ice cream I ate afterwards.

Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi

  • Here we are. The last film of the first three-film series
  • Did they have any idea back then that there would be a ranty brunette girl watching them 30 years later, making commentary, trying to catch up before the eighth episode came out?
  • Did they have any idea they’d still be this epic?
  • Here we go.
  • Okay, I said it once and I’ll say it again, Jabba the Hutt is disgusting.
  • Can’t say I’m a fan of his comrades either.
  • I’d take Hoth over this place any day.
  • Though this place does have some tunes.
  • R2! C-3P0! My guys!
  • They have a message from Luke.
  • What is this plan, Luke?!
  • Exchange the droids for Han?
  • I don’t know if I’m behind this.
  • I mean Han’s a good guy (as it turned out) but R2-D2 and C-3P0 do not deserve to stay here in this awful place watching Jabba the Hutt slobber all over everything.
  • I’m not down with this.
  • Ah yes, here’s Han! Poor guy. Still frozen as a Disney movie.
  • But who’s this bounty hunter lurking around his frozenness?
  • She kind of looks like Leia…
  • Wait! It is Leia!
  • She’s come to give Solo a Han.
  • Okay come on that was pretty good.
  • Maybe one of my best.
  • A Han and Leia kiss!
  • I’m into it.
  • Uh oh, Leia’s captured.
  • And now sporting some sort of golden bikini.
  • Wait.
  • This is the bikini!
  • I finally get that Friends reference now!
  • Hey Chewy! Lookin’ good pal.
  • Did you grow your hair out?
  • We can talk about that later. First, we need to get out of here.
  • Oh, okay. The old, diving board loop de loop light saber shoot out move. Smooth, Luke
  • Leia: Screw you Jabba, imma murder you in this bikini
  • *looks for symbolism in Luke’s lightsaber being green now*
  • Okay, we’re free and back with Yoda.
  • Why is Yoda moving so slow?
  • No.
  • No, Master Yoda, you can’t die.
  • DOES YODA DIE?
  • NO ONE TOLD ME YODA DIES.
  • HOW DID I NOT KNOW THAT YODA DIES?
  • HOW IS THIS NOT A BIGGER DEAL?!?
  • “Unexpected this is” – Yoda.
  • I’m 100% going to start saying that whenever I’m casually surprised.
  • OH MY GOSH HE’S DEAD.
  • What in all hell?!
  • THIS IS LIKE DOBBY ALL OVER AGAIN
  • THIS MOVIE PROVOKES SO MUCH CAPS LOCK
  • *Luke learns that Leia is his sister*
  • Bet you’re pretty relieved about that, eh Luke? Seeing as she’s clearly chosen your best friend and all.
  • Okay, I don’t know what an ewok even is, but I’d like one. Preferrably Wicket, here.
  • Luke’s heading to fight Darth!
  • Dear Dad, I would totally battle you in order to save you if you became Darth Brian.
  • You too, Darth Gina.
  • Also, I get the whole *power* thing, but the dark side’s biggest selling point appears to be wrinkles, black cloaks and asthma—pass.
  • Note to self: always befriend teddy bears. You never know when they might come in handy against your enemies.
  • The Emperor: are you totes mad, Luke?
  • Luke: NO
  • The Empereor: your feelings betray you!
  • I’m super glad people can’t read my mind when I’m nervous or scared. It goes weird places. Things would get awkward.
  • #DaddyDarthDiesAHero
  • Key Fact Learned from Episode VI: I’d like to move to Ewok Forest.

Thoughts I Had While Watching Star Wars for the First Time: Episode V

As stated in yesterday’s blog post, I recently watched the first three Star Wars movies, both to accomplish one of the goals I set for myself this year, and to, you know, catch up with the world.

Going into Episode V, I felt a little less like a rookie. I knew (most of) the characters and I had a better idea of who I was rooting for and who they were fighting against. Of course, this did little to quiet my mind when it came to actually watching the movie. I still had a lot to say, and most of it was on topic.

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back 

  • Okay, here we go.
  • Hmm, we’re somewhere very cold.
  • Hoth. I’m told we’re in Hoth.
  • And Luke is going somewhere on his own? He must know this is a bad idea.
  • What did I tell you Luke? You always have to bring a buddy. You never know when you’re going to encounter a yeti!
  • There’s Han! Still handsome.
  • Hey Han, Luke needs you.
  • Wait, you’re leaving again? Please don’t go.
  • Oh damn, Han is just leia-ing it out there from the Princess.
  • Han: you love me
  • Leia: No I don’t.
  • Han: 342cc6d14060407efd20b32714a3f1bf
  • I say you go for it, girl, he might be kind of douchey but at least he’s not your brother.
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi! You’re back! At least in Luke’s fever dream you are.
  • And you’re talking about Yoda! Listen to him, Luke. I have it on good authority that Yoda’s a good dude.
  • Han found Luke! Yay! And he cut open a yeti creature thing and shoved Luke inside to keep him warm. That’s…friendship?
  • Did Leo and the crew at The Revenant see this? Is this where they got the idea about that horse?
  • “Laugh it up fuzzball” – Han.
  • If only I knew a very sassy, hairy person I could say that to.
  • I can’t decide if I’m more of a C-3P0 or an R2-D2. I’d like to think I’d translate gibberish for my friends whenever they needed me to (like C-3P0), but I also speak gibberish sometimes (like R2-D2).
  • Some days I also think I could speak strictly in yells like Chewy.
  • I’m going to say I’m a C-3P0 though. I can completely relate to his random spewing of fun facts and his constant state of anxiety. He might be my spirit animal.
  • Does no one have motion sickness in space? It seems like these ship rides are pretty rough.
  • FANGIRLING OVER YODA.
  • Oh my gosh, everything he says is iconic.
  • Yoda: *pulls ship out of space mud*
  • Luke: I don’t believe it
  • Yoda: This is why you fail
  • GOOSEBUMPS.
  • How are there not more t-shirts that say “YAASS YODA”
  • Lesson Learned from Episode V: When needing to escape an enemy, float away like space garbage.
  • NOOOOO! SEE-FREE-PEE-OHHH! My man is down. He is literally in pieces.
  • Lando = scoundrel
  • *watches Han get frozen* UM. WHAT.
  • Leia: Luke it’s a trap! Don’t come! Seriously! You’re very important, don’t come! Darth is just trying to bait you!
  • Luke: Be right there!
  • I TOLD YOU HE WAS YOUR DAD LUKE.
  • And I told you the dude was dark.
  • Okay, I know this is traumatic news, but this is seriously no time to have a complete breakdown.
  • The world is still falling apart and I need you to pull yourself together.
  • …and there goes your hand. Okay, I know this is rough, but stay strong here buddy! Think about Leia! Actually don’t, she’s kind of hitting on your friend. But that’s good because remember, you’re siblings. But don’t think about that now! Think about Obi-Wan. And Yoda. They’re good guys.
  • Well, Yoda isn’t actually a “guy” per se. I’m not sure what he is. But he’s awesome, that’s for sure!
  • That’s right! Keep fighting Luke!
  • Darth: Come to Daddy!
  • One-Handed Luke: No!
  • Did Luke just cannonball away from this duel? That’s pretty badass.
  • Hey gang, Luke’s hanging from a weather vane over here, come give him a hand! Uh…sorry. Too soon.
  • Ahh! My man C-3P0 is back. He’s not exactly in working condition. But he’s alive, that’s all that matters.
  • We’ve got Luke. We’ve got the droids. We’re back at the base. Let’s all take a deep breath.
  • Aww, look at you Luke. They were able to give you a *literal* hand. Happy for you bud.
  • Also, shout out to Lando for not being 100% awful. You can join Kenobs in the “I trust you now club.”
  • Alright peeps, next movie, we find Han!

Thoughts I Had While Watching Star Wars For the First Time: Episode IV

As some of you may know, one of my goals this year is to watch all of the Star Wars films for the first time.

Yes. The first time.

*pauses for impending judgment*

Recently I finished the original three films (i.e. Episodes 4, 5 & 6) and was pleasantly surprised by how good they were and ultimately shocked that I knew very few spoilers.

I watched the films with some friends who have already seen them, and even though they weren’t quite on my level—a.k.a they weren’t gasping or oohing or aww-ing because they already knew what was coming—they seemed genuinely amused by watching me experience the phenomenon for the first time.

After each film, they looked at me with questioning eyes: Sooooo?? What did you think? And while I always gave the same answer: I’m obsessed, the truth was I had a lot of thoughts. I figured most of them were thoughts everyone had while watching the movies for the first time, but others I expected were unique to me and my incredibly stalled viewing.

You figure I’ve seen mention of Star Wars my entire life, but never got any of the inside jokes. And going into Episode IV: A New Hope—because I’d been told the true way to watch the films is 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 7, Rogue One—the only thing I knew was that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. Why that was a big deal, I had no idea.

Oh, and the only reason I even knew who Luke and Darth Vader were (besides the constantly circulated memorabilia) was because of the Star Wars gummies my coworker’s 5 year old son, Maddox, used bring as part of his lunch. On days he visited, he would lay them out and name them for me: Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, C-3P0, Yoda and R2-D2, and I’d nod, ashamed I had nothing to contribute to the conversation. But alas, now I do. And since my mind can get quite chatty, I’m going to split this post into three (and eventually more) parts. First off, Episode IV: A New Hope

  • Ah! The music!
  • The moving font!
  • We’re really doing this!
  • Okay, let’s read up on this storyline. Where are we? Who are we rooting for/fighting against?
  • Got it. We’re the rebels.
  • Ah, Carrie Fisher—I mean Princess Leia—finally I’ve met you. I’m sorry it took me so long.
  • Darth Vader!
  • Is that James Earl Jones?
  • Is he Darth Vader?
  • Is he in the suit?
  • *asks friends and they shake their heads no*
  • Then who’s in the suit? Who’s doing all the physical labor inside that black monstrosity and not getting any credit? Who’s in there?
  • *friends stay quiet, insinuating I should just keep watching*
  • C-3P0! R2! I know you! I’ve seen your gummies.
  • Maddox loves you most, C3-P0, though he calls you, “see-free-pee-ohh.”
  • Luke! I just met your dad back there. But I’m not supposed to know that yet. Who’s this other guy you’re with?
  • Ben Kenobi? Wait, that sounds familiar…
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi! That’s right. I’ve heard of you too. Though I always thought your name was Obi-One. My bad, Kenobi. Can I call you Kenobi? Has anyone ever called you Kenobi Bryant?
  • Ahh yes, “The Force.” The infamous “force.” Let’s learn about it and see why everyone always says it’s with me.
  • Luke! Kenobs knows your dad! Oh…but wait he’s saying Darth Vader killed your dad. That’s a fib Ken-obgyn. Even I know that.
  • Okay, I don’t know if I 100% trust this guy.
  • Hmmm. Well played Kenobi Beef. You tell the kid a lie and then you hand him a lightsaber. I’d be tempted to believe you too. But what about those nice people you were with before, Luke?
  • Okay, never mind. Those nice people are dead.
  • Alright, I guess we’re trusting this guy. Let’s regroup and go find that princess from R2’s hologram video broadcast…thing.
  • HEYO. Who knew Harrison Ford was so handsome in the 70s?
  • And he owns The Millennium Falcon? Sorry Luke, my eyes be wanderin’.
  • Chewbacca!
  • Okay, Jabba the Hutt is disgusting.
  • Seriously, top 10 grossest dudes I’ve ever seen.
  • Woah, okay, back to the Death Star.
  • I think I saw a Death Star waffle maker once.
  • Don’t tell Darth anything Leia!
  • Oh. Okay. Darth means business. He’s all, “help me find who I’m looking for” and Leia’s like, “No,” and he’s like, “but I’ll blow up your planet!” and she’s like, “I’m loyal to the cause but protective of my people so okay, I’ll slip you the info,” and he’s all, “thanks, chickie, but I’m still blowin’ up your planet. Bye.” The dude’s dark.
  • Yeah, sorry Luke & the gang, about Princess Leia’s planet…it’s not there anymore.
  • And now you’re captured. I really should have warned you sooner. That’s my bad.
  • Okay, Obi-Wan’s going in alone. Just stay safe guys.
  • Or, you know, go in dressed as Stormtroopers to rescue the Princess.
  • Wait, isn’t Luke…like…related to Leia…or something? I feel like I heard that somewhere. I DON’T THINK YOU SHOULD GET TOO INVESTED IN THIS LUKE.
  • Okay, we got the princess—who you should probably (almost 100% definitely) not fall for, Luke—and now we’re stuck in an intergalactic garbage can. Just your average day here in space, I guess.
  • R2! C-3P0! Deactivate the auto-garbage muncher!
  • I realize that since there are two more movies after this one that it’s highly unlikely any of these three die via trashcan, but it’s still very stressful!
  • Okay, thank goodness, everyone is safe.
  • Back to Obi-Wonton dipped in soy sauce.
  • He’s fighting Darth!
  • He’s losing to Darth!
  • He’s dead!
  • Obi-Wan Kenobster is dead!
  • WHAT?!
  • Poor Luke. Aside from getting a lightsaber, this has really been a rough couple of days for the guy.
  • Oh! We have a chance to fight back!
  • Are you sure you’re ready for this Luke?
  • Wait, Harrison, you can’t leave. Don’t tell me you just leave after this movie. That can’t be a thing. No, I don’t believe it. You’re totally going to Grinch yourself a heart and join this misfit crew, aren’t you?
  • Okay, Luke, I don’t want to put any pressure on you, but all of your friends are dying and the fate of the universe is on your shoulders.
  • Obi-Wanna Zig-A-Zig-Ahh is that you? Are you communicating with Luke via The Force? Is that what’s happening? How do I subscribe to that email list? Is there an app for this yet?
  • Harrison! I mean Han! I knew you’d come back!
  • Go Luke!
  • We win!

Summer 2017 Charity Walks

Have you ever been driving around running errands, minding your own business, and wanted to stop by your favorite donut shop, when suddenly you come across a big orange construction sign saying, ROAD CLOSED, and you feel like your whole day is ruined. Then, to make matters worse, you find out the reason the road is closed is because there are hundreds (or thousands) of people participating in a Walk/Run event that benefits a super amazing charity, so you drive home and feel doubly bad 1) because you didn’t participate in such a great event and 2) because even though it’s clearly an important event that will benefit many, you’re still pretty upset your route was blocked and you didn’t get a donut.

I’ll admit it, I have.

HOWEVER, I’ve also been amongst the crowds, running and/or walking for a great charity that I care about, and I can honestly say it is way more satisfying than any donut. (Which is saying something, because, you know, #donutsarelife)

With the arrival of summer right around the corner, we’re in for a season of beautiful mornings, perfect for both donuts and charity walks—and if you are living life to fullest: both—and since one of the hardest parts about signing up for a walk/run is knowing which ones are available to sign up for, I figured I’d do the work for you.

WARNING: this does take away the “I had no idea this was happening!” excuse you might have planned to use to not sign up. Sorry about that.

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Relay for Life

Who you’re walking for: American Cancer Society

Distance: varies

Find more information here

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Light the Night

Who you’re walking for: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Distance: About 3 miles

Find more information here

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Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Who you’re walking for: Alzheimer’s Association

Distance: 2-3 miles

Find more information here

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AIDs Walk

Who you’re walking for: multiple AID’s related charities

Distance: 6.2 miles (a 10k course)

Find more information here

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Strut Your Mutt

Who you’re walking for: Best Friends Animal Society

Distance: varies

Find more information here

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March of Dimes

Who you’re walking for: March of Dimes Foundation

Distance: About 3 miles

Find more information here

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Walk for Wishes

Who you’re walking for: The Make A Wish Foundation

Distance: 3.1 miles (5k course)

Find more information here

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Walk MS

Who you’re walking for: National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Distance: 1-3 miles

Find more information here

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Buddy Walk

Who you’re walking for: National Down Syndrome Society

Distance: varies based on location

Find more information here

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Race

Breast Cancer 3-day

Who you’re walking for: Susan G Komen for the Cure

Distance: 60 miles over 3 days

Find more information here

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I’d recommend any and all of these and any others you can find. There’s truly no greater feeling than helping someone, and being a part of events like these where you can see and feel the direct impact of the difference you are making is unbelievable.

So I challenge you this summer to get out there and be a part of something bigger. Walk, run, sit down and cry, I’ve done all three at a variety of different races and I’m a better person because of it.

Also, be sure to check out this website to find more charity walks near you, and if you know of any other upcoming runs/walks that benefit great charities, please share them below!

Why the Internet Can Be Good (RE: Alex Rayfiel)

The other day as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw a link a friend posted that caught my eye. It had a picture of a boy named Alex, who I’d gone to high school with, attached to an article whose title didn’t quite register until after I clicked it.

When the page loaded, my face went white. Alex was sick. Recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. His family had created a donation page in the hope of raising money for a radical new treatment in Israel. I read through the story his wife posted, aching for the two of them and their newly born daughter. It all sounded so completely unfair.

Now, I’d never known this guy. We’d gone to high school together for four years, and I’d seen him around from time to time, but never got to know him. In fact, I only met him once in a brief introduction from a mutual friend at our shared college. But as I read the story about the turn his life has suddenly taken, I realized I remembered him, and how, even in our lack of interaction, he’d left a mark on me.

High school is tough for everyone, often in different ways, and while I wouldn’t say I had a terrible experience, I also wouldn’t volunteer to do it all over again. I was a quiet, reserved student who stuck to what she knew and rarely felt comfortable in her own skin. That being said, Alex made me laugh.

He and his friends had participated in the talent show as the “Finger Flippers” which became legendary amongst our senior class. And during our senior luncheon, they created a video that discussed which of our classmates had celebrity lookalikes. I remember sitting at the back table, nervous as always, counting down the days until I graduated. I hadn’t been sat next to any of my friends, and I was internally apologizing to the people around me for not being more interesting. But then the lights went down and the video started, and I laughed through the whole thing. It was a genuine laugh, the kind that makes you feel lighter, and as I looked around the room at my classmates who felt the same, I felt included. Afterwards, when Alex and his friends mentioned they had plans to post the video to YouTube I took note, excited to have something positive to look back on in the future. I’d forgotten about the video over all these years, and only found it when I searched his name. When I watched it again however, it still gave me that good feeling.

So as I read through his story and then through some of the comments, I couldn’t help but feel drawn to donate, not only because it was the right thing to do, but because it felt like a way I could say thank you for giving me those moments of freedom all those years ago. And even more, allow me the opportunity to be a part of offering him the chance to experience a moment of freedom in the future. Be it through minor progress, or radical recovery.

This is the good part about the Internet. For amongst all the drama and fake personas, there also lie small bursts of goodness. There are chances to read stories of hope and resilience, chances to reconnect with old friends and family, and sometimes, chances to lend a hand to a near stranger. And so, Alex Rayfiel, while we may remain essentially strangers, I hope you know I’m praying for you, and that I’m grateful for what you gave me all those years ago, even if you had no idea. I wish you and your family all the best, and I hope the next time I find you in my Facebook feed, it will be to inform me that you’re on the road to recovery.

If you want to help Alex, you can find his donation page here.

Congratulations & Thanks, Little Brother

Yesterday my little brother graduated high school.

*takes a moment to process this*

At 5 o’clock, the school staff ushered us in single file. I walked passed smiling siblings and proud fathers and anxious mothers; aunts and uncles and cousins and teachers; girlfriends and boyfriends and best friends. I knew almost none of them, and yet I knew how they felt when they woke up in the morning, and I knew how they felt walking in the school gates that afternoon. We all shared the same look in our eyes. We all had those smiles that were hard to suppress. We were all so proud.

For me, it was strange more than emotional. As the ceremony started and tissues were shuffled through the audience, I couldn’t help but sit silent, thinking. How is it, I thought, How is it that the infant who used to laugh when I tickled him, the toddler who used to call me “Supergirl”, the boy who used to wake up early to watch me play video games on Saturday mornings, and the teenager who used to ask me for a ride to karate class, how is it that they’d all grown up into this man that stood before me in a cap and gown? How had they become someone I look up to, that makes me laugh, that is my own personal superhero?

As the name of each student began to be called, cheers came in bursts around the audience. Families and friends stood and shouted, hoping to showcase their pride and spread it outward. We were no different. When my brother’s name was called we waved our fists and wooed our “woos”, hoping to let my brother know we were proud of him, and to let the crowd he was ours. And as dozens of other families followed suit, I began to realize why I didn’t feel sad so much as dizzy.

Yes, it was crazy to think that my baby brother, the boy who, over the years, has led people to believe he was my son (which we took advantage of and pulled pranks), my stepbrother (which made no sense because we are essentially the same human), and—after a colossal growth spurt—my boyfriend (which, ew), this boy was graduating high school and could now legally drive, vote, and serve jury duty. Yes, this was off-putting, but not sad. For I had known the baby who grew into a boy who grew into a teenager and then into a man, and seeing him take this next step forward was like accepting an invitation to meet the man he will soon become.

So as the caps began to fly, my heart began to swell. The dizziness had been overtaken by anticipation. I walked through the crowd to find my brother and gave him a big hug, anxious to tell him of all the things I know he’s yet to accomplish. I wished him “congratulations” but what I really meant was “thank you.” Thank you for letting me be a part of your world, and thank you for offering me a front row seat to watch you conquer it. May the future only hold good things for you, crazy things, preferably things that include pizza and In N Out Burger. May you always be brave enough to be yourself and kind enough to let others do the same. May you never stop letting me call you Bub, and may we never stop taking this picture.

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