relationships

An Ode to Tuna Noodles

Dear Tuna Noodles,

Thank you, for being you. Thank you for your egg noodles. Thank you for your tuna. Thank you for your cream of mushroom soup. But most of all, thank you for your 100% not organic or diet friendly or doctor recommended Velveeta cheese.

Thank you for all of the evenings that you cooked in the oven at my grandparents’ house, in my childhood homes, and in friends’ kitchens. Thank you for your heaping portions on the plastic plates that my cousins and I decorated and my grandparents kept on a shelf just for us; and for those on the spring pallet glass plates that my parents still have in their cupboard to this day; and even for those in deep set bowls that somehow still managed to encourage a second and third helping.

Thank you for being easy to make, for giving me something I could cook with my grandma and my mom, and by myself when I studied abroad and wanted a taste of home. Thank you for the memories you unlock with every bite—be it a weeknight conversation at my grandparent’s long, padded dinner table, a lazy Friday night sat on my parents’ kitchen stool with the broken leg, or a living room crowded with family, pets, and TV trays set up in front of a Dodger game.

Thank you for teaching me what comfort food is, and for giving me a recipe to share at every bridal shower I will ever attend. Thank you for giving me something to fall back on and to build up from. I’ve come a long way in my cooking, and I can only hope I have a long way to go, but you will always be my first love. So thank you for all the love. And again, for the Velveeta.

30 Good Things that Happened in April

Hello and welcome back to another edition of All the Good Things, a monthly series where I highlight all the good things (get it?) that happen in each 30-day (or so) span. I hope it can be a reminder that amongst all the well known bad, there is a lot of undercover good happening in our world.

Let’s dive right in

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1) Author James Patterson set up a fund to help Indie bookstores.

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2) This house had fun:

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3) This woman accidentally turned herself into a potato during a zoom call.

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4) This man survived the coronavirus and then celebrated his 104th birthday.

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5) This dad brought a birthday tradition home.

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6) The Getty asked people to recreate paintings with household items and they delivered.

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7) This Australian family simulated the 15 hour flight they would have taken for their planned vacation.

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8) This grandson organized a parade for his grandpa’s 100th birthday.

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9) After supplying over 20 million facemasks, Apple went to work on producing and delivering facemasks.

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10) This dad built a ramp to help ducklings out of his pool.

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11) This man made his last run of ski season from inside his home.

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12) Matthew McConaughey hosted a virtual bingo night for a senior citizen home.

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13) This:

View this post on Instagram

5 nuggets costs 1 smile.

A post shared by Good News (@tanksgoodnews) on

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14) This man played the trumpet for a woman on her 104th birthday.

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15) This man made art with food.

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16) People in Australia started dressing up in crazy outfits to take their trash barrels out.

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17) This bar owner took over $3000 worth off bills of the wall to pay her unemployed staff.

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18) This man went to get a coffee:

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19) This 99 year old veteran raised $9 million dollars for UK’s National Health Service by walking.

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20) This life hack was revealed:

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21) This delivery driver sanitized a package for an at risk girl.

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22) Coffee chain, Dutch Bros donated 100% of their April profits to first responders.

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23) Ashton Kutcher & Mila Kunis released a quarantine wine and 100% of the profits will be donated.

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24) This dog played volleyball:

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25) This 10 year old donated 200 gift cards to his local police officers.

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26) This boy 3D printed ear guards for medical masks.

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27) This boy said, “Good morning!”

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28) This couple got married in the middle of their street.

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29) This girl was sad about missing her prom, so her dad asked for a dance.

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30) And finally, if you haven’t already, please check out John Krasinki’s Some Good News.

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Wanna know the best part? There is SO much I didn’t include.

I can’t wait to see what May brings!

You can view the last edition of this series here.

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Meet Jimmy June, My Tin Can Robot

When I was 10 years old, my family and I drove to Arkansas to visit my great aunt. About ten years later, my mom, sister and I flew out to visit again, and then when my cousin and her husband moved out there, we tried to make our visits more regular.

Four or five years ago, my great aunt was moved into an assisted living facility where she would live for the remainder of her life, and so when we went to visit, we could no longer stay at her house. As a result, we often stayed with Jim and June, close friends of both my great aunt and my late grandparents—who we called Grammie and Papa.

When my great aunt got sick and eventually reached a point where she didn’t recognize us, and would often sleep through most of our visits, Jim and June (and my cousins! 😊) were the reason that our trips were still full of light and laughter. They are the reason why, when people ask about my favorite places in the world, I immediately think of their living room, curled up in one of their chairs, watching the sun set off the front porch. I think of simple drives to the store, or sitting down at one of their favorite restaurants, always giggling and talking and feeling happy and relaxed for what always seemed like the first time in a long time.

On one trip, while walking into a restaurant just before the sun started to set, I saw this tin can robot hanging on a hook and I immediately fell in love with it.

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“Do you think I could make this?” I asked my sister as I snapped a picture of it.

She and my mom agreed that I could try, and we decided to start saving cans as soon as we got home.

In the first or second week of this quarantine, I found that stack of cans, patiently waiting to be upcycled.  It was almost 11:00 p.m. but I couldn’t help it, I sat down, spread them out, and got to work. While the state of the world would prevent us from traveling anywhere anyway, we had recently found out that Jim and June moved to Texas to be closer to their family. It was the right move, a move that we supported and encouraged in our last few visits, but it made me sad to think that I would no longer find myself in that Arkansas house, walking around their property on a humid summer afternoon to go see the neighbor’s horses, or continually trying to photograph the house in a way that would show people the way it made me feel. And so, I decided it was about time I made my robot—to re-find that feeling.

While the original is screwed together with nuts and bolts, I worked with what I had (and avoided any trips to the hospital due to possible clumsiness with the drill) and I hot-glued him together. I also found some washers I could use for eyes, and an extra allen wrench to give him a smile.

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Call me crazy, but I have now fallen in love with two tin can robots in my life.

One is probably still hanging outside that restaurant we visited on almost every trip, where the five of us always ordered the same thing and talked about what we were going to have for dessert before we even finished our meal. And one is now sitting, smiling, in my house, reminding me about every time we pulled into that driveway, primed to hear stories about the neighborhood cats, and every time we pulled out of that driveway, praying there would be a next time.

I still hope there will be. Maybe this time in Texas.

Until then, I have this robot, who I named “Jimmy June” to remind me of who I consider to be my third set of grandparents, and of all the times we spent sitting on the couch, watching the sky go purple in a thunderstorm, and drinking margaritas until all hours of the night, giggling and plotting what mischief we could get into the next day.

Places I Miss

Among the many positive messages posted to provide encouragement and comfort throughout this tough and confusing time, one of my favorites that I’ve seen was a reminder that it is okay to grieve.

Looking at the world as a whole, it would seem there are thousands of reasons not only to grieve, but to set aside your own personal grievances, complaints, etc. Because with pain and suffering happening on such a grand scale, it might seem like having your own personal grievances makes you selfish or ungrateful.

I thought it was so important for people to be reminded that they are allowed to grieve the things they are missing in their own lives. Things like vacations, weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, concerts, sporting events, etc. It is okay to be sad that those things aren’t happening. It is okay to be mad or heartbroken that they are being postponed or canceled or brushed over. It is okay to wish things were different, that things were back to normal, that you could leave your house, see your friends and hug your family. It is okay to feel sad, angry, hurt and lonely—that doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a human.

For me, I miss baseball and Dodger Stadium. I miss sitting next to my sister in whatever seats we found a good deal on, drinking a beer, eating a hot dog and trying to talk ourselves out of ordering deep fried Oreos, even though we know we probably will anyway.

I miss going to the movies. I miss ordering popcorn, guessing how many previews are going to play before the movie, and then finishing my popcorn before we find out.

I miss sitting on the couch at my grandpa’s house. I miss eating lunch and catching up with him on our favorite television shows. I miss watching the golfers go by off his back porch and then coming inside and reaching into the dessert drawer in his dresser for a mini Hershey bar for me, and a mini Twizzler for my dad and my sister.

I miss going over to my friends’ houses and sitting on the couch and then the floor and then at the dining room table as we talk and plan and laugh. I miss us deliberating over what we should do for dinner and taking pictures when one of the kids does something funny or cute.

I miss sitting behind the menu at a restaurant, taking in each and every option before I decide 1) what I want to eat most and 2) what I can order that I can make the least amount of changes to because I’m brutally self-conscious about coming off as a picky eater. I also miss saying, “it doesn’t hurt to look” when offered the dessert menu, and then ordering something—and finishing it—even when taking another bite of anything seems impossible.

These are only a few of the places I miss, but they are places I can’t wait to see again once this is all over. They are places that, when I find myself there again, I will take a moment not only to appreciate them, but to thank those who worked tirelessly to help get me back there.

Thank you to everyone on the front lines of this pandemic, to everyone working round the clock to heal the sick, calm the fearful, and keep the peace. We will forever be in your debt, and I hope we can continue to motivate you, thank you, and appreciate you throughout the remainder of this pandemic and long after.

Thank you.

31 Good Things that Happened in March

Well, hello there.

It seems things are a bit different since the last time I made one of these posts.

But that hasn’t stopped the world from showing unmatched kindness, compassion and love to those who need it most. This was actually one of the easiest “good things” posts to put together, which makes me so proud. Let’s keep that good coming, y’all. heavy-black-heart_2764

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1) Adam Driver, who plays Kylo Ren in the Star Wars films, helped save the day for Ben Affleck on his son’s birthday.

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2) The people of New York applauded first responders and health care professionals.

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3) This little girl with alopecia was thrilled to meet a bald model.

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4) This boy dressed up as his school security guard for “Dress As Your Favorite Person Day”.

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5) A malfunction at this Italian winery caused wine to leak through the towns pipes and faucets.

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6) This man brought the internet a taste of sports:

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7) As did this man:

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8) Hallmark gave away 1 million cards to help connect loved ones separated by the Coronavirus.

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9) This boy, who was bullied for his love of reading, started a book review account and got over 100,000 followers.

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10) This girl got an R2-D2 prosthetic arm and was called a hero by Luke Skywalker himself

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11) This girl’s family found a way to spend time with her even though she was in quarantine.

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12) This New York pizza company put pictures of dogs on their pizza boxes to help them get adopted.

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13) This woman launched a makeup line that is specifically designed to help those with Parkinson’s apply makeup more easily.

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14) The people of Italy sang together during quarantine.

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15) These YouTubers gave away toilet paper for free.

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16) Netflix launched “Netflix Party”, a way to stream the service with friends online.

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17) This woman found beans

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18) Meals meant for a cancelled Ohio Sports Festival were donated to tornado victims and first responders in Nashville.

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19) Animals devastated by the Australian bushfires found a new home.

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20) This girl caught a fish.

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21) This customer left an extremely generous tip to help restaurant staff during the Coronavirus shutdown .

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22) This car dealership offered a safe place for people living in their cars to sleep.

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23) Chick-fil-a began selling their sauces in stores to raise money for their employee scholarship program.

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24) Distilleries made hand sanitizer from their in-house alcohol and gave it out for free.

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25) This man donated COVID-19 test kits to 54 countries in Africa.

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26) These two friends snuggled.

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27) This woman in North Carolina—who is now working from home—started shopping for her elderly neighbors during her lunch break.

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28) This school district in Cleveland provided two free meals every day for anyone under the age of 18.

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29) This:

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30) This Italian hospital started 3D-printing respirator valves for free

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31) And John Krasinski started a news network dedicated to good news

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Wanna know the best part? There is seriously SO much I didn’t include.

Check out Good News Network and Tank’s Good News for more good stuff, and also check out Good Good Good, which not only sends email newsletters, but also “Good Newspapers” which I just opted into start receiving in the mail.

There are lots of good things happening y’all. Let’s do our part to keep them coming.

You can view the last edition of this series here.

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Things to Do with Alexa in Quarantine

Since we live in a time that is full of technological companions (e.g. Alexa, Siri, Google Home, etc.) and many of us might be finding ourselves with little more than their company these days, I think it’s about time we start utilizing them to their full potential.

This past weekend, as my sister and I were sitting on the couch eating donuts we ordered from our local shop, we decided to talk to Alexa. After buying our Amazon Echo about three years ago, I started getting weekly emails from Amazon that provide a list of fun prompts that you can give Alexa, but I’ve more or less ignored them—until now.

Note: if you have a Google Home, check out both this article and this one for prompts. If you have Siri, check out both this article and this one, and if you have neither, I’d recommend Facetime, Zoom, or, if all else fails, this:

No judgment, times are weird.

Anyway, here are some of our favorite things you can do with Alexa:

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Play Jeopardy

Say: “Alexa, play Jeopardy.”

Each day you are given 12 trivia questions that you have to answer Jeopardy style (what is, where is, who is, etc.) Weekdays you are given extra questions from the same categories showcased in that day’s televised episode, and then Saturdays are College Jeopardy and Sundays (my favorite!) are Sports Jeopardy.

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Play Puzzle of the Day

Say: “Alexa, open Puzzle of the day.”

This is a crossword puzzle that you play in the style of a word game since you don’t have a paper in front of you. Alexa gives you a clue and the number of letters in the answer, and then you try to guess it. If you have trouble, you are able to ask for a letter, but you lose points by doing so—which may not matter to you, or may matter more than anything. I land somewhere in the middle.

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Make Fart Noises

Say: “Alexa, make a fart noise.”

I will just leave this one here.

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Look up the Spelling and/or Definition of a word

Say: “Alexa, spell ______” or “Alexa, what is the definition of _______”

Sure, I could Google it, but she does it faster, and asking almost makes me feel like I’m back in high school with no responsibilities or pandemics to speak of.

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Set a Reminder

Say: “Alexa, remind me to______.”

If you’re working from home, it might be hard to find a good routine, which makes it easy to forget to do things like drink enough water, or take necessary medications, or stop looking at Instagram. That’s where Alexa can come in as an accountability partner. Set reminders, as many as you want, about anything you want. Maybe it’s to put on pants, maybe it’s to refill your water bottle, maybe it’s to go outside, maybe it’s to move to a different section of the couch so you can blob evenly. Whatever you need, she’s there to remind you.

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Use Announce and/or Simon Says

Both of these functions make Alexa repeat something that is being said.

If you say, “Alexa, announce it is time for lunch,” she will play back a recording of you saying, “it’s time for lunch.”

But if you say, “Alexa, simon says it’s time for lunch,” Alexa will say, “it’s time for lunch.”

So it’s really your preference on that one. If you’ve ever wanted to actually hear yourself talk to yourself, now is your chance. Or if you’re someone who lives alone and needs a voice other than your own to whip you into shape, Alexa can do that for you. Again, no judgment.

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Learn Something Weird

Say, “Alexa, tell me something weird.”

Then strap in.

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Hear a 20-second song

Say, “Alexa, sing a song for twenty seconds.”

It has been a widely spread recommendation to (constantly) wash your hands for (at least) twenty seconds. In an effort to make that easier, people have been on the hunt for songs and choruses of songs that are approximately that long so we can get a better idea of the timing. But please look no further than your Alexa, who will sing you a song that (at least when I’ve asked) rhymes and lasts exactly 20 seconds. Also, good luck not having that song stuck in your head.

Submitting My Friendship Resume

To Whom it May Concern,

Seeing as we are in a strange time, one that encourages not only kindness and politeness, but undeniable kinship and unity, I have come to the conclusion that we should be friends—from afar obviously, because, well, YOU KNOW.

That being said, I’ve attached my resume for your review. If the contents appear up to par, I’d like us electronically agree, from our own homes, that we are in this thing together, and will at no point physically or emotionally harm one another in order to get the last package of toilet paper or container of oatmeal.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Attachment: KimK_ResumeforFriendship

 

Kimberlee K.

kimberleek.com

Education:

Hiking Trails in Southern California

May 2014 – Present

Various Locations

Major: Keeping a Steady Pace

Minor: Heavy Breathing

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Facts No One Should Know

August 2006 – Present

News Articles, Assorted Googling, Neighboring Conversations, Etc.

Major: “Did You Know?” anecdotes

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Limited Slang

One day in Middle school – Present

Peers, Urban Dictionary, “Kids these days”

Major: Stealth Research

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Work Experience:

Adult

Legally 2008 – Present

Various Locations

Concrete Identity Pending

  • Dresses self for a variety of formal and informal occasions.
  • Feeds self a variety of meals, both in controlled and uncontrolled portions, in order to sustain life.
  • Attempts to take on and maintain responsibilities
  • Cries periodically
  • Often says, “Thanks, I got it at Target.”

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DIY

September 1995 – Present

Usually the Floor

Project Creator & Artist (of sorts)

  • Formulates a wide variety of projects capable of being made on one’s own
  • Fails miserably during the first attempt and throws it on the ground/in trash
  • Completes second (or third or fourth) try and shrugs at result, calling it “good enough”
  • Learns to love project with whole heart
  • Creates new project and starts the cycle over again.

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Watching Movies

September 1990 – Present

Various Locations

Memorizer of Noteworthy Comedic Quotes

  • Watches a variety of movies both in theaters and on VHS/DVD/Blu-ray/Streaming services
  • Enjoys nearly all movies thoroughly
  • Chooses a number of anecdotes from the films to quote numerous times a day.

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Other Work Experience:

Instagram Stalking

July 2012-Present

Hidden on the Internet

Creep

  • Follows curious thoughts into the depths of social media, often losing one’s mind in the process.
  • Becomes extremely knowledgeable in persons and events that bear no relation to me.
  • Audibly gasps often.

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Introverting

February 2002 – Present

Various Locations, Primarily Home

People Avoider

  • Often enters state of desire to be completely and utterly alone
  • Cancels all plans and stays indoors, making little contact with the outside world
  • Has minor moments of clarity regarding the benefits of creating and maintaining meaningful friendships, then makes a meal, turns off the lights and continues to introvert.

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Awards/Achievements:

Summited Mt. Whitney

Has not broken a bone

Once made a triple decker bologna sandwich

Has vomited due to motion sickness in various major cities

Once hooked a mudsucker by the tail while fishing in the Owens River

Member of 2016 Winter League Championship bowling team: Beer & Waffles.

Has twice defeated The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Hasn’t died yet*

*Note: void when dead.

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Strengths:

Sarcasm

Smiling politely

Requesting Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” at weddings

Making excel spreadsheets for every occasion

Committing to puzzles

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Weaknesses:

Mini golf

Making omelets

Overcommitting to puzzles

Forgetting to bring toothpaste on vacation

Often drops phone for no apparent reason

For Laycee

This past weekend my family lost our dog, Laycee, who was a vibrant, beautiful member of our family for nine years. It was a hard day, one that we’d dreaded, but ultimately knew had to come, and we are happy to know that she lived a good life, full of love, both given and received.

When thinking about how I could honor Laycee, and the love that we all receive from pets that come into our lives at just the right time, I knew I had to turn to my sister Natalee. She had such a special relationship with Laycee, that my mom often interchanged their names in conversation. They were destined for each other, and just as any love story changes the world, so too did theirs. And so, as a final goodbye to our pretty girl, I wanted Natalee to tell their story.

This is what she wrote:

 

To My Perfect Angel,

It was a chilly day in early December of 2010. My whole family piled in to the car and set out on what ended up being a long, confusing drive. I don’t even remember the story my parents told us about where we were going, but I do remember feeling slightly concerned that the deserted, off the beaten path location we eventually found ourselves in might be the place of the Koehn family’s demise. I later found out Kim and our brother Troy were feeling the same way. Much to our delight, however, we soon learned that our parents had pulled a fast one on us! We hadn’t driven out there to meet our doom, we had driven out there to get our first family dog!

Soon we were flooded with the exciting and overwhelming scene of dogs barking, tails wagging and eyes begging to be chosen. I remember being in total disbelief. I had wanted and asked for a dog for SO long. I couldn’t believe we were actually getting one! We immediately dispersed and started looking for the one we would take home with us. Troy liked a black lab with giant paws and an even bigger personality. Kim loved all of them. I had no idea how I would ever walk out of there with just one.

 Until you walked over to me.

 With your head slumped down and your whole body shaking, you walked up to me, you let me pet you, and you stole my heart. My whole family saw the instant connection, and not 10 minutes later we were walking back to the car with you in my arms.

I know it sounds cliché, but that day changed my life. It was the beginning of winter break in my senior year of high school, and those days were truly some of my worst. I was in a dark place, and the punches were only just starting to be thrown my way. But you made all the difference. No matter what happened during the day, I had a loyal, loving, anxious little angel waiting for me at home, never questioning my character or making me feel like I wasn’t worth anything. I had a companion. Trust wasn’t an easy thing for either of us, but I had yours, and you had mine.

As it turns out, my parents knew what they were doing all those years they said no to letting me have a dog. They knew the right time, and the right pup, would come along. And for me, that was and will always be you. See you soon my precious angel. I’ll love you forever.

My Favorite Moments of 2019 (List-cember #9)

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it approximately 600,000 times: this year was busy!

But within the confines of our crazy calendar, there were so many good moments. And I don’t just mean big, fancy moments. Some of my favorite parts of this year were the small but meaningful bursts of joy. The cozy, perfect moments that I’ll undoubtedly be thinking about when that ball drops tomorrow at midnight.

For me, these were those moments:

1) Meeting Lyra

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I have long been afraid of holding babies. They are just so fragile and so perfect and so little, and the thought of holding something so important in my hands (especially when it is not even my something) has always terrified me. But in January of this year, one of my lifelong friends had a baby, and she encouraged me to overcome that fear when met her little one for the first time in the hospital. That moment inspired me to write this blog post and I will remember it forever.

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2) A Ball at Spring Training

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My family went to Spring Training in March for the first time this year (which you can read about here.) and easily one of my favorite parts of the trip and of the year was when my friend Mel, after trying for innings on end, got a baseball from one of the players. Not only was it a joyous celebration of perseverance, but the resulting footage includes a look of fuming jealousy from her neighboring fan, which makes for an all around perfect video.

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3) Finishing the Marathon

There are many moments of the marathon that I would deem “defining,” but perhaps my favorite was crossing that finish line and seeing my 6 foot 2 brother standing among the crowd. I was so proud and relieved to be finished, and seeing a familiar face to welcome me to the otherside of that journey was truly great.

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4) Mom Scores a Goal

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Some of the best memories I have of my family are the slow, ordinary days where we are just spending time together, which is why this moment from May stands out. My mom, sister and I had gone to visit my cousin Brittney and her family in Arkansas, and we spent one afternoon sitting outside, drawing in sidewalk chalk, and playing soccer. At one point we set up a challenge between my mom and my little cousin Landon. While Landon won in the end, the crowd (of me, Natalee, Brittney, and baby Nora) went wild for this goal scored by my mom.

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5) A Circular Celebration

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In June my family got the opportunity to go to Europe, and among the many jaw dropping, awe inspiring moments of that trip, was this one. My cousin Taryn (which, if you didn’t read the blog I wrote about our trip, is the whole reason we went) finished writing a long tedious essay that would complete her study abroad program, and we did what any family would do when they’re in England and about to head to dinner but need to take a moment or two to celebrate this accomplishment: we formed a circle around her and and jumped up and down, chanting, “We are proud of you, say we are proud of you! Hey! Hey! Hey!”

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6) That Eiffel Tower Sparkle

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Upon arriving in Paris and seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time, my most prominent and low key embarrassing thought was, “oh my gosh, the Eiffel Tower is actually real.” It’s not that I thought we’d been lied to all this time, but the realization that I was really, truly seeing it in person was so unbelievable that I was having trouble accepting it all as reality. This shock and awe only multiplied as we sat on the grass in front of the tower and watched as the sun set, the tower glowed gold, and then started to sparkle.

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7) Axe throwing in Vegas

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For my brother’s 21st birthday, a group of us went to Vegas with a list of things we were looking to accomplish in order to properly celebrate his milestone. Among the items on that list was throwing axes. After almost an hour of learning and practicing, we decided  to document our newfound skills, and showcase our ability to hit the target. What makes this moment one of my favorites, is that the video recording is almost four minutes long, (three of which we fail miserably) but when we finally do all hit the target at once, we all threw our arms up and yelled, “first try!”

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8) You’ve Got Ice Cream

About two years ago, on a visit to Arkansas with my mom and sister, I discovered the magic of Blue Bell ice cream. Upon arriving home however, I was very disappointed to discover that it is not sold in California. But for my 29th birthday, I was floored to find a box from Blue Bell waiting for me. My parents had all of my favorite flavors (including the holy grail, Salted Caramel Cookie) shipped to me and it. was. EPIC.

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9) Pop the champagne

Last year my cousin Cory married my now cousin Amanda, and this year they were able to purchase their first house! I was so happy and honored to be there when they popped champagne in their living room, that at the time had little more than a table and some folding chairs, but is now a beautiful, cozy home.

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10) The Dodgers Take Game 3

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For a Dodger fan, the 2019 playoffs were rough to say the least. But before we had our hearts broken, we had our hopes up, and on the night of Game 3, me, my sister, my cousin Taryn, and my best friend Allison were walking into a concert at the Honda Center as the Dodgers entered the 7th inning. As we made our way to our seats, I was streaming the game through the TBS app on my phone, which I’d downloaded while waiting in line, and we asked multiple employees if they could turn on the game, all of whom turned us down. So as we went to the 8th inning and then the 9th, the four of us stood out in the hallway, crowded around my phone to watch us close out a victory.

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11) The Frozen North Lake

northlake

In November, my family made one of our annual trips to Bishop to squeeze in a weekend of fishing before the season closed. On the Saturday of the weekend we were there, we parked our car and hiked in to one of our favorite fishing spots, only to find the lake frozen solid. While this obviously prevented us from fishing, it did little to deter our fun. We spent a solid half hour throwing loose pieces of ice onto the lake and watching them shatter and glide across its surface.

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12) Sending “The Hulk”

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On the same trip to Bishop, my brother, who is an avid rock climber, had his sights on a boulder at Happy Boulders known as “The Hulk.” After spending a few hours attempting the climb on Friday, he was determined to return, so on Sunday afternoon, me, him and my sister headed back to Happy Boulders on our way home, where we watched him try time and time again until he finally reached the top!

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13) Eli’s Last Game

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To cap off the year, at the beginning of this month my family took a whirlwind trip to New York to see our favorite football team (the New York Giants) play for the very first time at their home stadium. We went the week they played the Dolphins, which wound up being one of only 4 games we won this season, and on top of that, it was our longtime quarterback, Eli Manning’s, probable last game with the team. We couldn’t have picked a better game!

Note: Please leave all Giants hate at the door, thank you.

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14) Coming June 2020

At our annual family Cookie Baking day, my cousins Spenser and Ashlynn gave my grandpa (and all of us, really) a very special gift: the news that we have a new member coming in June 2020! On Christmas Day we found out that the little one is a boy, and while we already know his name, I’ve taken to calling him Meatball for now.

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15) Meeting Luca

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Since I started this list with a baby, it seems only logical for me to end this list with a baby! And in true bookend fashion, I got to meet one of my best friends’ new baby, Luca, just this past week, and even though he is handsome and perfect and practically impossible not to want to hold, it was still a big deal for me to do so without fear. And as I looked down at him and his big curious eyes, I couldn’t help but feel every good moment of the year capsize in this one moment. It was a busy year, but it was a good one. I got to do so many great things and love and be loved on by so many great people. I’m very thankful for the life I live and I feel so honored for the opportunity to live it.

Here’s to 2020, I hope it’s full of wonderful moments, big, small and everything in between. Happy New Year!

Say it & Keep it

It’s not always easy to say what’s on your mind.

Personally, I thrive at having entire conversations in my head. I can work things out, make plans for later, overthink something from 10 years ago, and make myself laugh—sometimes accidentally out loud.

There are times however, when I’ll be with a person or group of people, and I’ll find myself walking away from a conversation or situation where I wish I would have said something. Maybe it was a compliment I wanted to give, a joke I wanted tell, a story I wished I had the courage to share, or simply a hello, how are you?  But for whatever reason, it just sits there on the end of my tongue and doesn’t budge.

So, I’ve been trying to do better.

The way I see it, if you have good intentions, and especially good jokes, you should do your best to share them with other people. You should share you with other people. Even though sometimes it’s scary, and sometimes your friend just went to the bathroom and left you at this table with a bunch of random people you don’t know and you wish you could hide under your chair until they get back.

I’m not saying you have to make awkward, miserable small talk, or say things you don’t mean, but if you find a compliment forming or a relatable story coming to mind, go for it.

Say it.

Make your mark on a conversation, or on that stranger whose ______ you really like.

Say what you’re thinking, even if it’s just hello. You never know what kind of internal dialogue someone else is having, and you never know how much you can put their mind at ease. Maybe you can make them laugh or tell them something they’ve never heard before or simply make them feel noticed. Maybe you can inspire them to try something new or be inspired yourself. Maybe you’ll make a new friend who might feel just as uncomfortable as you are in a certain situation, and who might even offer you contraband snacks. You never know.

On the opposite side of this whole situation, it’s also not always easy to receive compliments.

Personally, I thrive at deflecting, rejecting and passing them along so I don’t have to bear the weight for even a second. Compliments make me uncomfortable, and sometimes overwhelmed. My toes curl up inside my shoes and I usually change the subject as fast as I can.

But again, I’m trying to do better.

For as uncomfortable as compliments might be in the moment, they’re not going to hurt in the long run. Like on those days when you feel like a troll who doesn’t dare leave the house looking like such a disaster, or when you feel rejected or sad or alone. It’s times like these when we could use a compliment or two, some motivation and encouragement that we are more than we are making ourselves out to be, and deserve more than we’ve led ourselves to believe.

So, when someone tells you look nice, or when they compliment a project you’re working on or a blog you posted or a meal you made, keep it. When someone thanks you for being a good friend or for a good gift or for a great day, keep it. Keep those compliments and tuck them away for later. For when you need them most.

Say the good things and keep the good things. You deserve them, someone else might need them, and sometimes there might be snacks. It’s a win win win as far as I’m concerned.