Annan Kirk

I was blocking the whole lane. There were like six cars behind me. I had a less-than-successful driving situation. It has to do with the Michigan lefts. So what I didn't realize is, um, you're not allowed to turn left. You have to go straight and then do a kind of U-turn to get to where you're going, and these intersections do have a sign. They are kind of clearly marked, I guess. But, the intersection in particular I'm thinking of, all of the, the signs, like the lights and that no left turn sign, they're just sort of dangling on a wire. I don't know, it's hard to tell what lane the sign applies to. So there's this intersection that's no left turns. I've been turning left. There haven't been very many cars. I've been getting away with it. It's been fine. Um, except, about a, a week ago. There were a lot of cars, it was very busy, and I went to turn left, like I normally do. And I realized at the last second, like, "Hey, there are way too many cars, I should probably go straight here. Wait, no, I can turn here, I always turn here. Wait, no, I can't turn here." And so this thought process was happening back and forth, while, you know, there are cars everywhere, I'm actively driving. I was just at a dead stop at this intersection. I was blocking the whole lane, there were like six cars behind me, and people were honking at me. I knew I was completely in the wrong, I could feel my face turning red, I could feel my ears turning, like, hot, turning red. And there was this guy who really -- he stuck his whole torso out of his window just so that he could use his arms to make rude gestures and just communicate that he didn't like my driving. Um, which, you know, fair. I was, I was completely in the wrong. Well, apparently no cops saw me, which is great. No traffic tickets. I haven't had any Michigan traffic tickets. Um, I got through the intersection just fine.

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Jessica Shepherd

"But one thing I am grateful for is the connections that we do make." This week, I moved across the country and I'm away from all of my family and friends that I had built up. Um, and it's an exciting change. I'm excited for everything that I am going to do. But it has been difficult adjusting to a different culture and a different place. But one thing I am grateful for is the connections that we do make, and those chance encounters that we sometimes have. I was at a gathering of young adults, uh, for part of my church and, while I was there, I walked in not expecting to know anybody. I looked around the room and I wasn't very excited, uh, to talk to anyone, to get to meet new people, but I looked around and, uh, as I was scanning, I saw someone from the area that I had just moved from and I was super excited, so I called out to her. I said, "Hey!" and she turned, looked at me, kind of not really expecting it to be me. When she finally recognized who I was, her eyes just lit up. And seeing her eyes light up just really made me grateful that we had made that connection earlier. It made that evening go so much smoother than I had planned, and it made moving here and adjusting a lot easier.

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“They were looking everywhere for him. Nobody could find him…”

Friday, I was there feeding them and noticed that -- we got a new fish probably three or four weeks ago -- I noticed that I couldn't find that fish. Like he, he was really good at blending in, really good at hiding. Um, you know, there were often times when we would struggle to see him and then have to really look around and then it was like, “Oh yeah, there he is.” Well, I looked and looked and looked and could not find this fish. It was a, a dwarf hawkfish. So kind of like, pinky-white striped, kind of, um, nice. You know, people, people were excited that we'd gotten a new fish and they thought he was kind of cool looking. He was kind of spiky on the top. And, um, so, I had a couple of other staff members come over and look for him to see if I just was, was not seeing something. And then, of course, there were a few patrons that heard us talking about trying to find him, so they were looking everywhere for him. Nobody could find him. So I called the company and I said, "You know, I -- maybe he's just hiding or I don't know how long you wait before you worry like, that something happened or, you know, that -- whatever. Like we, we just can't find him." She said, "Oh, you know, he's probably just hiding. I was just there yesterday. Like, he seemed fine, you know, call us tomorrow if you still can't find him." So I left a note and my colleague, who was working on Saturday, called and -- ‘cause she still couldn't find him -- they said, "Okay. Do you see any remains anywhere? Like can you see any, any bones or, you know, anything that would indicate that he's maybe no longer with us or anything?" Um, and she said, "No, like we don't see anything." And the, and the, um, the fish people said, "Okay, you know, if we're in the area, we'll stop by, but, you know, there's still a really good chance that he's just, he's just hiding and you know, he'll, he'll be -- you'll, you'll see him come out, you know, at some point." Well, it got to be Tuesday, they -- and they never came out. Like, they must not have been in the…

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“That conversation was the last nail in the coffin…”

My brother want[ed] to go to the Asian buffet for his birthday, which was last week. And as we're, you know, talking about this, my mom throws from out of f****** nowhere, "Oh, that place is like 40 or 50 dollars a person now. I don't know if we should go, it's really expensive." And I was like, “The f*** did you get that number from? Like seriously, where did you get that number?” Does not f****** respond to me because of course, she doesn't, because I'm calling her out on her s***. Which you know, she loves to lie and makes s*** up and has, apparently, immunity like a diplomat because no one will call her out on her s*** ever, except me. And now I'm the bad guy. So he -- my brother goes and messages me, "Oh, you know, if she doesn't respond just let it go." Like, I'm sorry do -- are you expecting me to just let her keep lying about stuff and making s*** up all the time and not say anything? "Well, it's not a big deal." It is a big f****** deal and that was the -- right there, that conversation was the last nail in the coffin of me sitting here going, "You know what? I'm not gonna have kids. Um, not on purpose anyway."

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“And I was like, ‘What happens if I don’t eat it, huh?”

One time, I was like really sick, I had to take this like, pill. And I, I cannot swallow pills so my mom crushed it up for me. And so, we went to Starbucks so, and she got me this like, treat or something that I used to love and now I don't like them at all. I don't know why. They were so good. But anyways, um. So I was at -- we, um, got the food -- got the treat from Starbucks. And I was in the backseat at that time ‘cause I was seven. So, um, and my mom looked back. And she was like, “Why haven't you eaten your thingy yet?” And I was like, “I know you put the medicine in here.” And I was like, “What happens if I don't eat it, huh?” And I was really like such a baddie back then. Bro I thought I ate, though. And then, my mom was like, “I'm gonna -- ” I said, I said, “Are you gonna go to jail? Huh?” And she was like, “Yeah. I'm gonna go to jail if you don't eat it.” And so I was like, really scared. I started crying. She got out of the car, it was like an apartment building. She started walking towards it. And I just stuffed the whole thing in my mouth and ate it. And, that was so mean, but whatever. I forgive her now, it was like kind of funny now that I look back at it. But yeah, so that's what happened.

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“I knew that it was my grandmother from Heaven, seeing her iris bloom for the first time.”

It says here, "Do you have a favorite flower? What — why is it your favorite?"Well, my favorite flower is a white iris. The white bearded iris. It's so beautiful, so beautiful, but I gotta tell you a story about the white bearded iris. When I was five years old, my grandmother went blind. So I really didn't know her — I remember her wearing glasses. That's the only memory I have of her being a sighted woman. All my memories of are — are her being blind, except that one. And she paid what she thought was an exorbitant price when I was about 13 years old for a flower tuber. It turned out to be a hybrid bearded white iris, and she planted it in, next to her house where she knew where it was. And every spring we'd go up there — and we went up there more than every spring. But in the springtime, when we were there, she would always ask about her flower. "Is my flower out? Is it blooming? I, I haven't felt any flowers on it." And it never bloomed. It never, ever, ever bloomed. The greenery was there, but the flower never bloomed. When I was 17, my grandmother passed away. My mother dug up that white bearded iris even though it never bloomed and brought it home and planted it in November. The next year, in the springtime, that iris — I gotta back up a little bit. If anybody knows anything about irises, they usually take two years to bloom. The first year, you put them in, they get the greenery. The second year they grow, they get the flower. But the following spring came up this beautiful white iris, as big as a dinner plate. It was so beautiful. I never seen a flower like that since. I've seen plenty of white irises and plenty of white bearded irises, but I've never seen one quite as spectacular as that one was. And I knew that it was my grandmother from Heaven, making — see- — seeing her iris bloom for the first time. It still gives me chills when I think about it.

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“It was just like the perfect day. I was able to practice yoga again.”

Um, but a moment I had recently that I felt like I was totally present, which I hadn't felt in quite a long time because of all those things — Um, the yoga studio that I practiced at, it's a hot yoga studio. And so, because I'm pregnant, I can't practice in the heat. I was told by my doctor that that was not a smart choice. So I haven't really been going, and it's definitely an outlet. So I kind of also lost that, I guess, on top of all the changes this summer and was just having a hard time finding like a physical outlet. But they were hosting an outdoor class at a non-profit that had a really big farm. And so it was just like the perfect day, I was able to practice yoga again. I was with a friend of mine, we were under this beautiful tree, surrounded by these beautiful gardens. Before the actual yoga session, I had kinda been starting to not feel that well. I had a headache and was feeling a little nauseous. And my friend and I — she actually works at this nonprofit. She showed me all around the gardens and explained different planting techniques and just different things that she does there, and it was just so cool. And I felt like the stress, I don't know, it helped kind of melt away the stress. I felt like my headache went away and then we got to practice yoga, there was a gentle breeze, it was just really wonderful and I felt very present in that moment, um, and really grateful that I had that outlet and that opportunity to do that.

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“We spent a couple days in Tokushima.”

Yeah, my aunt picked us up at the terminal and we went to, we drove to Tokushima, which is where she lives, which is where my family grew up and, yeah, and then we spent a couple days in Tokushima. We went shopping. I love shopping. I really love shopping, especially in Japan and Korea, like they have really good stuff. But yeah, we went shopping, we — last year, we went to the zoo, this year I think we maybe just went shopping. I don't know. It's been a month. Um, yeah. And then after that, my aunt drove us to this island in Japan — like there's a bridge, so we could, you know go on it. Um, and then, yeah, it's this little island. I forget what it's called. But if somebody said it, I would, I would know. And then she dropped us off at this hotel. And then we went fishing, and then some other Japanese friends that we know from America met us at the hotel. They checked into their room. We checked into our room. It was, it was fine. And then we went fishing. And then later that night, we ate the fish that we, we cooked. Like the hotel, they take the fish that we cook and, um, cooks 'em. We take — they take the fish that we caught and cooked them. Yeah, that's a mouthful.  Um, and, yeah, that dinner was very interesting. They gave us a lot of weird stuff including tomato jelly, which is the most disgusting thing I've ever tasted. I almost threw up. I do not recommend it, zero out of ten. Okay, and then after that, we took a bus to, to the bus terminal, we took a shuttle to the bus terminal, which is where we kind of parted ways. Because the friends went to Osaka and we went somewhere else. We went past Osaka to another town. I'm trying to remember... We took the Shinkansen to... yeah, to a hotel.

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“I thought I might be able to cheer them up with some flowers.”

So, flowers have been a pretty prevalent thing in my life. I remember a long time ago, I read an article and it turns out that most men will not receive flowers until they die. And so I've always had that stick out to me, and that's why I like to buy people flowers. Like, if they're close to me or if they're just — I just feel like, I just want to buy people flowers. I love giving gifts. I always have since I was a child and so people know me for bringing snacks at school, and it just — I want to make people feel happier and I want people to look forward each day and know that they have something to look forward to every day. Because I know how hard life can get, and I just want to remind people that there's still good in this world. I myself haven't received flowers even though I've been a Boy Scout and I've done karate and piano, after concerts or after performing at karate, I haven't received any flowers. And I'm hoping that maybe one day, I'll be lucky enough to receive flowers before my funeral, but life is life, so whatever turns out will turn out. But I do remember three distinct times I've given flowers to people. So, back in middle school, I was hanging out with my friend and I saw that flowers were on sale. So I got these flowers and then I gave them to my neighbor becauseI know my neighbor was going through some stuff, and I thought I might be able to cheer them up with some flowers. And I heard that they kept them on their, um, like, their kitchen top. Like, they have like, a little island in their kitchen and they just placed it there until, like, the flowers died, I assume, and hearing that that they actually kept them actually kind of felt nice because, you know, I just assumed that they would keep them out for a while and then just throw them out, but they kept them there for their entire time. And then when I first started seeing my ex, I remember the first time I went to their house, I brought like a huge bouquet of flower- — well, it wasn't huge. I think it was moderately sized, at least, but it…

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“I was holding my breath the whole time for like 20 seconds.”

My favorite thing — well, I went to Michigan's Adventure with my friend again — the same one I went to fair with — but there was like water slides there and it was just like really fun ‘cuz the water slides were like honestly scary, but most of them were fun. I like the black ones where you can't see anything and there's like a drop and you're on a tube in it. Those are my favorite and I hated the ones that we went on. It was almost like a drop-slide thing or the platform goes under beneath you but you start out like a slide. So the platform doesn't drop beneath you but you just like sit down and it’s super steep and water kept spraying my face.  So I was like I couldn't breathe. So I was holding my breath the whole time for like 20 seconds. And that's like the max I could hold my breath for I can't hold my breath for very long, but whatever. And then so I had like a terrible headache after because I held my breath for like way too long. So, that was the time I was at the water park.

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