“If I ever see a grasshopper, I’m telling it to leave me alone.”

I remember riding bikes with my brother. My brother was like, "I wanna go ride around the block." And so he was able to do it alone. He was only three years older than me. And I was probably like seven. And I wanted to do it too, but I wasn't allowed to because I'm a girl. That's lame. I'm just a girl. Oh no, in the world.  But during that time I was riding my bicycle, and for some reason -- I didn't realize it, but something had jumped in my shirt. And it was hurting, and so I started yelling, "Bee! A bee is stinging me in my shirt!" And I fell off my bike, and then I found out it was a grasshopper. So I have beef with grasshoppers. If I ever see a grasshopper, I'm telling it to leave me alone. They can jump way too high, and they can bite. And I don't like that. I don't like that at all. And also they have this thing where they can spit tobacco, which I don't even know what that is.

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“I just wish in the future I can have the same kindness in the airport.”
Background of airplane seats

“I just wish in the future I can have the same kindness in the airport.”

I will have 36 hours of flights and layovers to try and troubleshoot it. But I guarantee, I guarantee on the way back, I'm going to be such a mess, I'm going to be crying in NAIA. I'm going to be crying in the airport, in the terminal, in the plane. Last time I flew back from QC to Grand Rapids, I literally -- I was sat next to this grandma. And they gave -- they were passing out this like Haagen-Dazs ice cream. I don't know. I don't feel like -- at the beginning of the flight like Haagen-Dazs, and I was crying, like I was sobbing in my seat quietly, but albeit very, very distressed.  And this poor little lady, she looks at me, and she does not speak any English -- I do not speak any Thai, because she spoke Thai. And I just -- I was just like looking at her, and she looked at me, and then she was like going over to like the, what is it? What is it called? What are they called? Stewardess? I think that's -- flight attendant. Flight attendant. And she's like, she's like gesturing for like more, and so she got like all these Haagen Dazs, and she gave them to me, and I was like, "No, no, like I'm lactose intolerant, it's fine." And she's like, "No, no, no, no take it, take it." And I was like, "Ope," so then I just had all of this Haagen Dazs, and it was kind of a beautiful moment. But I also was like, I feel so bad whenever I feel distressed in public that I'm like visibly, visibly crying, because then I feel like people are like, "Oh you poor thing, like, how can I help?" And I genuinely don't know, like, I genuinely have no idea. But the Haagen Dazs, the Haagan Dazs was a very nice surprise. She was so sweet. She was so sweet. Um, I just wish in the future, can have the same kindness in the airport. Otherwise, it may not be as enjoyable as a journey.

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“So I started hitchhiking. Now mind you, I’m five months pregnant.”

The phrase in a pickle means to be in a tough spot. Tell us about a time you have been in a real pickle. I was 20 years old, and I was single and pregnant. And when I told my parents, they kicked me out of the house. They put me on a bus to my brother's house. And there was a transfer from one bus to another, and I lost my transfer ticket. And I was in a pickle, and I didn't know what to do. So I started hitchhiking. Now mind you, I'm five months pregnant. I'm in the middle of nowhere in North Carolina where my brother lived. But I had to get from one end of North Carolina to the other.  There's some really gross people out there. Men who would pick me up for sex in the car to give me a ride. One man offered to buy me a hamburger if I gave him a sexual favors. I was starving, and that -- I just couldn't, I just couldn't do some of the things that these men were asking me to do just to get across the state. So I climbed over the embankment, and I came down in a town. I didn't even know the town's name. It was Charlotte, North Carolina, I found out later. But I saw this green, luscious grass, and I went over to it there was like a little hillside incline. Just a little one, and I laid down on that incline, and I fell sound asleep, middle of the day. When I woke up there was three women surrounding me, asking me if I was alright. And then a cop showed up and asked me, you know, who I was, and what I was doing there, and why I was there. And the ladies had talked to the cop and pretty soon the cop left. And the ladies said they would take me home, give me a hot meal, listen to my story, and they did. I told them my story. They asked me why I didn't abort the baby, and I'm a firm believer in choice. But for me, it wasn't the right choice. So I maintained the pregnancy as best I could, I was in a real pickle. I hadn't eaten in five days. My brother didn't know where I was, I was somewhere in…

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“He says, ‘Don’t you dare pop that clutch getting started.’”

But I do remember some incidences with the hay. One time, I was driving the tractor and the field had quite a hill on it and we were going up the hill. The wagon was almost full. It was up to the top of that back rack and my brother was up on there and I had had to stop part way up this hill and with the tractor you use the clutch. It had a brake and a clutch and, and you had to keep your foot kinda on the brake and then letting up on the clutch. And when you're on a hill like that, it's really tricky to not roll backwards and, and my brother threatened me. He says, "Don't you dare pop that clutch getting started because you're gonna knock me off the wagon." And of course then because he had said that it made me nervous and I popped the clutch and sure enough, him and a couple of bales flipped off the wagon, and he was not very happy. Let's just put it that way. He was not happy. But anyway, I never forgot that how if he hadn't said anything, I probably woulda been just fine and had started up, but because he said he thought I was probably gonna pop the clutch, that's exactly what I did and flipped him off the back.

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“Get rid of all the bird flu food.”
Various canned food in metal cans on wooden background , top view - canned goods non perishable food storage goods in kitchen home or for donations

“Get rid of all the bird flu food.”

I wanna say, was that 2006 or 2007, my husband had the -- we had the bird flu thing before. And my husband was concerned about the fact that we might have like a pandemic and we wouldn't be able to go to the grocery store and so he stockpiled some food. And he stockpiled food, things like Campbell Soup and Kraft macaroni and cheese, you know the standards. And he had stockpiled those in the basement and that was okay. We ate those because we would have eaten them anyway, I mean, you know chicken noodle soup, tomato soup, you, you go downstairs and you go "Oh, well, there's some soup in the basement. I'll go get it." You eat it. But there were some odd things that he bought that we didn't eat. And in 2014 -- no '15 we went on a cruise and my son was still living -- he had come back to live at the house for a year and he was gonna move and I said, "You know what? We're gonna be gone for three weeks and I would really appreciate it if you would just -- if you're looking at apart- -- for an apartment, if you wait till after we are gone for three weeks, and you could just house sit here and be here for three weeks and then move." And he said "Well, that's good 'cause I didn't wanna move till the first of June." And I was like, "Fine." So he stayed. But he said, "I'm going down to the basement and I'm gonna get rid of the stuff that dad insists is still good in the, in the bird flu food." And I said "Get rid of all the bird flu food. Just get rid of it." I said, "When I come back, I don't wanna know -- I want it to be empty shelves down there." And so he did, he went down there and he, he got rid of it all and hauled it up and out to the trash and got rid of it. And that was a very good thing because there were some cans down there that I kept thinking were gonna explode and every time I'd say to my husband, "We need to get rid of this food. And you need to carry it upstairs." He would always go, "It's fine."…

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Harry Kasper

“It wasn't a real hug, but it was something phenomenal.” I was trying to think of the last time I felt genuinely happy and that was on February 15th 2024, because on that day, I got a massive hug of encouragement. It wasn't a real hug, but it was something phenomenal that gripped my heart and kept me moving throughout the semester. I really did love that day so much. Um, I was having a very difficult time writing this paper for my LGBTQ+ studies course. And that was -- the, the, the topic of the paper was to find a couple artifacts, dig through them, get everything out of them, find the codes, find the true meaning, find everything, find all the interpretations, and tie it up with class topics and submit. But I was having a horrible time because I just had no confidence in my ability to write. I -- there's nothing worse than looking at something that you did and saying, “Wow, this is awful.” And that's how I felt on that day, so. But before I get into that I want to talk about the artifacts that I chose and that -- er, those were zines. They were “blue floral gusset” and “Travesty #2” by, uh, Spurzine, who's an Australian zinester. And the thing I love so much about zines is the completely unfiltered nature of the, of the zine. It's so phenomenal. It's a window into the mind. It's true passion, and that's what I can sniff out. That's what I love to see. I love to see true passion radiating off of my computer monitor or holding it in the palm of my hand. It just feels powerful. I was researching these zines and I felt awful about ‘em because I didn't have any confidence in myself. But I went to the writing center. I went to the writing center at my university. I sat down with somebody. They were a sounding board for the, for the ideas that I was creating in my mind. And at the end of the session, they looked at me in the eyes after listening to me ramble on and on and on for like an hour and a half, and they say, "Don't undersell yourself. You're a phenomenal writer. All of the things that you said made sense." And I like stood up from my chair,…

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Lin Cabada

"I'm sitting here in my dorm, everything's absolutely in shambles" So, I am completing my first year as an undergraduate student, and it's been quite the journey, just getting here and all so, um, like completing the year itself, but specifically I'm packing up my dorm. I'm like pack- -- I'm packing everything up, and I don't consider myself to be quite a collector. If you were to ask me outright, I would say that I'm quite minimal, but after seeing everything that I have accumulated this year, I have to come with the -- I have to grasp the fact that I may be a tad bit of a collector. Um, my friends and I, we tend to frequent the crafting events on campus, and so there's usually extras, so I take like things like collages or like jewelry making supplies and I put this all into like ottomans in my dorm. And now that I'm going through the ottomans, I'm realizing I may have a tad bit of a problem with crafting, and I'm not sure how I'm going to get all home.So I'm sitting here in my dorm, everything's absolutely in shambles, and I'm going through this like, it's um, it's quite a curation of artifacts. But yeah, everything everything's in such a disarray, believe it or not. I'm supposed to be out by tomorrow, my mother is coming to collect me. And yeah, I highly doubt everything's going to fit into our car. And as a side note, I've hung up quite a bit of posters, and some of them have ripped off the paint off the wall, and I'm not trying to catch a charge, so what I've done is, because they've repainted over these walls so many times the paint kind of comes off in these like layered chunks. So they're very pliable. It's like a piece of paper. And so I have taken some of these crafting supplies that I've collected over my over the year, and I have begun gluing them back onto the wall. Um, because I don't know what else to do.So, I started taking off these like little pieces that have come off the wall, and then you know what, I'm going with my Elmer's glue stick, and I'm just sticking them back on and they're actually staying, so I'm going to consider that a win. I'm going to…

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Damon Miller

"It was a very serious gash in my leg" When I was 13, I had a scimitar-esque sword that I would play with because I was super into anime and action movies for the main character would be fighting off hordes of enemies with just his trusty blade, and I thought that was the coolest thing ever. So I would play with that thing in my room late at night, and unsurprisingly, one of the nights I was playing with it, I got myself quite badly because it was a sharp and pointy blade. So, when I did end up getting myself, it was because I pulled off that action movie move where the main character stabs somebody behind him because he's just so in the zone that he can like sense their presence. I got myself in the hip, and I couldn't feel it. I think my body went into like a protective shock right away, but I knew that I had done it. So I rushed into the bathroom and right when I saw how bad it was, I started panicking because it was about two inches in diameter and like half an inch deep, so it was a very serious gash in my leg. And my family had like first aid kits in all the bathrooms, so I wrapped myself up really good, really tight and left the bathroom a big mess. And I just went to bed after that. I was still in middle school. I still had chores to do. So I would be moving around with it. And I never told an adult about this until years later when I was sure that I wouldn't be punished or scolded for my embarrassing actions because I was just so embarrassed. But it was a very like deathly wound. At a time about a month in, I unwrapped it to see how it was doing. It was doing poorly. It was healing, but it was gross looking, like it looked like something that a doctor needed to see and even then, I just wasn't going to tell anyone. My body did eventually just heal it all the way up. The scar is very strange; it looks kind of like a potato. But I didn't die, which is surprising. The more I explain the story to people, the more people tell me that I was probably just…

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Connor Bechler

"She was in the room with the bird as it flew out of the fireplace" I'm in the process of selling the home that my late wife and I bought when we moved to Lexington, Kentucky. So, the -- one consistent issue that the home has had is certain parts of the roof and siding and gutters have not always been the most impervious to intrusion. So, repeatedly, we have had birds get into two different parts of the home. Most consistently, they've gone into the attic, originally through the eaves and then more recently through some of the side of the gutters. But, what happened more often -- or the problem that arised earlier which I'm actually kind of grateful for, was for a little while, in 2021, 2022, birds were getting in through the chimney of the house which then -- which had a cap, but there was a large space at the top of the chimney between the opening and the cap, large enough that birds could pretty easily fall in. And then the trick was they couldn't really get out. So we first discovered this when we came back from visiting family over Christmas 2021, 2022. We got into the house and found that a bunch of things were knocked down. There was bird poop everywhere, unfortunately, and there was a dead bird. So basically, over the next few months, I dragged my feet and I did not, did not take the necessary steps to getting the chimney properly screened in to prevent birds from getting into it. So sometime in Spring of 2022, I was working on campus in the writing center, which is how I got funding that first year and I -- Jaci, my late wife, tried to call me and of course I couldn't receive the call because I was in the basement. So I only found out about it after the fact. But she called and left a voicemail because another bird had dropped into the chimney. And so the voicemail was actually -- she took it while the bird -- while she was in the room with the bird as it flew out of the fireplace, knocked a lattice off our window, the lattice came crashing down, partially cracked. The panic in her voice was pretty obvious, but also a note of sort of manic humor, and she basically told…

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