“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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“And that’s such a special memory because that was his last picnic.”

My mother loved picnics and she quite often would organize a picnic for a Sunday afternoon, and we would go maybe down by the river. We lived along the Grand River. It was across the field and stuff, but we lived fairly close to the Grand River on our property and, and there was woods and stuff. And my mom would say, "How about if we have a picnic today?" And so she would start fixing stuff, and we'd be thinking about what we could take on the picnic, and getting things organized. Taking them, what we need to take with us, ‘cause we would go down by the bank of the river, and we'd build a fire, and we would cook over the open fire. And we would most always cook hot dogs because that was the easiest thing to cook over an open fire without having to bring along dishes and a tripod and all that kind of stuff. But I remember so many times of going on picnics at various places along the river or, there was one very special time, I remember. It was before my father died. He died twenty eight years ago. And my sister was home from Seattle for a visit and Mom said, "Let's go on a picnic." And so, my dad was in really poor health, and he said, "I don't think I can go on a picnic." He said, "I, I can't get down to the river." And I said -- my sister and I said, "Well, we'll figure out a way to get you there." And so what we did instead of everybody walking down there, we took the pickup truck, and we loaded my dad in the truck, and we drove down and got as close as we could get to our picnic site, and then my sister and I used -- my sister was in mountain rescue in -- out in Washington, out of Seattle, she was on a mountain rescue team, and she knew how to carry people that were injured and stuff. And so, her and I made what she called a basket with our arms crossed under my dad, and we carried my dad from the truck over to the area where we were gonna have our picnic. And that's such a special memory because that was his last picnic. And I was so…

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“Once you get on the bridge, you have to cross over the bridge.”

So we managed to get on the Mackinac Bridge and it’s, it's a nice bridge. I, I was really, I was so apprehensive about going on it, but my daughter wanted to go so I thought, “I'll brave it for her.” And the reason I was apprehensive is, many years ago when I took them on a road trip through California, we got on the Golden Gate Bridge. I can't remember if we got on the Oakland Bridge, we might have. But the Golden Gate Bridge was so terrifying that as soon as -- as soon as we were on it, I just wanted to get off. But you're stuck, you're committed to it. Once you get on the bridge, you have to cross over the bridge. I think what made the Golden Gate Bridge so terrifying was, it's up so high that you can see all the way down and you, you realize you're so far up in the air, and if there's some horrible mishap, you could plummet down into the ocean. It was, it was just, really frightening and probably the traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge. That probably add, added to it. Today coming up on the Mackinac Bridge, it wasn't frightening and that really surprised me that it wasn't frightening. I did steal glimpses off to each side to the lake and it looked like we're traveling over the ocean, and it's, it was such a far, far bridge, because it just kept going for several minutes. I think one of the reasons it wasn't so frightening was that it's much lower than the -- or it seems much lower than the Golden Gate Bridge. Another one is maybe that they used the steel cables instead of the steel construction ‘cause Golden Gate Bridge has a lot of steel bars. And maybe the -- I don't think it's the color of the Golden Gate Bridge versus the color of the Mackinac Bridge. The Mackinac Bridge has a lot more openness to it because of the steel cables. So you, you’re just looking into the sky and the lake. So you have that feeling of openness and nature. The Golden Gate Bridge, you see the concrete, the bases for the pillars that are holding up the bridge. Maybe it's the cragginess of the rocks on either side. The Mackinac Bridge is just straight through, you’re looking…

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“I think I was waiting for this rejection in order to make a change.”

I feel like every guy that I've liked has kinda just rejected me. Which, it's totally fine and cool it -- for the most part it turns out to be for the best because I find out really horrible things about them. And so it's always like “Oh I've kinda dodged a bullet” but this is the first guy that, you know, it kinda hurts, it kinda stings. But on the plus side, I mean I didn't cry about it until like I was on the phone call with my mom like talking with -- like our weekly phone calls and she asked me how I was and then I just broke down into tears. So I'm kind of using this as sort of a motivational thing. It sounds like I haven't processed it. I think I was waiting for this rejection in order to make a change. I feel like it's what I needed in order to actually implement the next phases of my life, which is, I’m actually gonna do running again. I really loved running. It's one of those things where I don't like doing it in public, but I love running like a track or on the treadmill. Just something that gets my blood pumping. And, you know, I don't like doing it competitively either but it's just something that I've been wanting to do for the longest time, but really haven't found the confidence to do. So I'm kind of using this whole situation of this guy rejecting me as a way to run more. I did today. I ran for three miles. I was pacing myself, so I'm just very excited, I think, about you know, now I don't have to focus on him and whether or not “do I look good” or anything. I know I look good. I know I'm killing it. Now it's just a matter of actually implementing my life changes, which now I have time to think about ‘cause I'm not thinking about him. So I'm actually super excited to begin this new phase in life and you know, it turns out that the way that it works in my situation, ro- uh, romantic relationships always hit when I least expect them or when I'm not looking for them. So maybe this is a good opportunity.

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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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“This person was meant to be a dad.”

So, I was driving back from Chicago to, to Michigan with my dad ‘cause usually I take the train, but this time I was moving a lot of boxes with books in 'em, and so I needed somebody to drive me back. So essentially what I was doing, I was trading books with books. I, I was hoping that somebody could take my books, bring them home, meanwhile, I'm bringing my books back here. But yesterday I was with my dad in the car and we -- my dad’s a very quiet person, like a lot of the time I don't know what goes on in his mind, but when he talks and like shares stories and gets very personable, he's genuinely like a good person. Like, you know, when you look at somebody who's like a dad or something, you're just like, "This person was meant to be a dad.” I feel the same way with my mom, I’m like, “Yeah. She was definitely meant to be a mom.”  But specifically with my dad -- my dad and I have a lot of good conversations, the downside is unfortunately a lot of them happen when they are drunk, where I get the most “dad lore," the most juiciest pieces of backstory for my father. But yesterday we were just talking. My dad's an alumni at MSU, and so we were driving by because we were going back to my apartment and he, he takes a look around like a liquor store or something and he's like, “Oh man, I just used to have a ball there.” He's like, “I would go crazy and blah blah blah blah blah,” ‘cause my dad was a frat boy. Like, this I know. I know what type of frat he was in, I met some of his frat brothers, and to me that's like the hardest part to believe because my dad nowadays is like this very strict military guy, like, “Oh, I'm in the army, like, I never do anything.” And especially because I think both he and my mom hi- -- like, hold my sister and I to not so high standards, but they definitely think that we are better than they were in high school and college.

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“I was projecting my own self-esteem onto this girl who has no opinion of me.”

I was in class the other day. I'm currently on a study abroad trip in Dublin, Ireland and we did the still face experiment. We paired up with people and did an experiment where it was it from an outside perspective it looks like a staring contest, but we would close our eyes and look away, and then on the count of three, these two people would sit dead across from each other, open their eyes at the same time and stare at each other. And when -- the theory is that depending on how -- what stage of development you're in, you will feel some sort of reaction, um, when you look at the other person.  So me being the mentally unstable, insane person that I am, I close my eyes and look away. He goes, "three, two, one, open your eyes,” and I opened my eyes. I look at this girl straight in her eye, and I -- and my entire body does a backflip. It just completely freaks out and I'm like, "She hates me. She hates me. She hates me. She hates me. She hates me so much. And I'm going to die right now." But then I realized because we were talking about projection earlier in class, I realized that I was just over identifying with this feeling and I was projecting my own self-esteem onto this girl who has no opinion of me.  And that's what I've been doing my entire life is just projecting my own self-esteem onto other people and the circular reasoning of constantly being self-reinforced. Um, they hate me because they're doing this, and you know myself esteem is so low. It just keeps looping and looping and looping, you know -- er, it's my self-esteem is so bad because people hate me, and people hate me because of my low self-esteem, and it just circles around and around and around and around and around and around. And now that I realize that I've been doing this my whole life, I might be able to change it. Twenty years of this kind of sucks, and I feel stupid because I didn't figure this out until much later in my life, but this could actually be a massive game-changer for me.

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