Thoughts on making my Audible credit count and Paul Kalanithi’s “When Breath Becomes Air”

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“I began to realize that coming in such close contact with my own mortality had changed both nothing and everything. Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. But now I knew it acutely. The problem wasn’t really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.”
Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air 

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Somewhere Outside Munich

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I somehow only took two pictures in Munich, and this was the slightly better one…


My whole body aches. My neck, in particular, is sore from resting my head on the car window. And then… then I remember that I’m in Germany. I’m in Germany, traveling with some of my favorite people. The excitement wakes me up, and my exhaustion wanes slightly.

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The Year of the Unicorn (Frap): 2017 in 25 Facebook Statuses

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It’s the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events. Joy comes in sips, not gulps.

~Sharon Draper

As the year wraps up, I hope you’ve braced yourselves for the onslaught of “year-in-review” and “2017 bashing” videos and posts coming your way from all sides this weekend. I’ll let the big news agencies and everyone else cover the heavy stuff.

Instead, I’ve taken a much more lighthearted approach. From January to December, here’s my year, summed up in 25 Facebook statuses. I went through all my posts from the last year and picked my favorites. Never forget, 2017 was the year that Starbucks dazzled us with unicorn frappuccinos, the Harry Potter series turned 20, and poop emoji’s are still a thing, leaving sociologists and cultural analysists with plenty of material for future research.

Enjoy!  

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And there it was…

And there it was: exacting and persistent, unforgiving and conspicuous as ever. It neither cares for my schedule or my need for sleep.

There it was… that deep, familiar longing to write.

I’m afraid that wherever I go, words will always follow. They pester and annoy me until with not a few heavy sighs, I walk over to my desk and commit them to paper. Or well, you know, the fathomless depths of the internet, otherwise known as this blog.

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Clearly, binge-watching Downton Abbey has taken a toll on my writing voice.

Here’s to my favorite character, Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, who has all the best lines in the show:

Violet: “I’m so looking forward to seeing your mother again. When I’m with her, I’m reminded of the virtues of the English.

Matthew: “But isn’t she American?

Violet: “Exactly.

— Violet, speaking to Cora and Matthew about Martha Levinson.

Pst… Pst…

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“We are like children building a sand castle. We embellish it with beautiful shells, bits of driftwood, and pieces of colored glass. The castle is ours, off limits to others. We’re willing to attack if others threaten to hurt it. Yet despite all our attachment, we know that the tide will inevitably come in and sweep the sand castle away. The trick is to enjoy it fully but without clinging, and when the time comes, let it dissolve back into the sea.”

Pema Chodron

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The Mix-Up

Brother: I read your blog about healthy eating. Those are my favorite kind, the ones that are short and relatable.

Me: Thanks for reading my blog. I don’t always know when you read it.

Brother: Yeah, the ones about swimming too, and the one about the beach.

Me: Beach? Which one are you talking about?

Brother: The one with the couple having sex on the beach.

Me: What? I didn’t write about that on my blog.

Brother: Yeah, yeah you did. And there were like Pokemon Go players too or something.

Me: Wait… Do you mean the story about the blind man and his wife at the marina, the one where she’s describing to him what she sees?

Brother: Yeah!!! That was the one.

Me: HAHAHAHA I can’t believe those were the two stories you mixed up.

Brother: Hahaha!

Me: I mean, I did tell you a story about seeing people having sex on the beach. And I guess both stories involve water and a couple.

Brother: I’m sure they were at two very different stages of their relationship.

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So yes, there was one time I saw a couple having sex on the beach. And no, I don’t mean the cocktail.

It happened about six months ago. They were on the side of a sand dune, right by the entrance to the beach. The audacity. It was a cold day. The beach wasn’t crowded, but people had still come out to see the sunset. Several people honked at them, others yelled, and a lucky few were oblivious to the live performance.

I had been a part of the few in ignorant bliss. That is, until my other brother told me, “Hey Evelyn, did you see that couple having sex over there?” Because that’s what you do when you see people having sex on a public beach:

You tell your little sister so she can be scarred for life.


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Will My Grandchildren Know?

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O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

America, The Beautiful Lyrics by Katharine Lee Bates – 1913

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Every now and then, my father will tell me a story about my grandfather that will surprise me. Like how he got shot once, fled on horseback, and even though he reached safety, the bullet was never taken out. It’s moments like that one when I realize my grandparents had a very different life than I do.

I tend to reflect a lot on my family history, mostly on the vast life differences between generations. I especially thought about this during my college graduation. As I sat on the metal chairs facing the commencement stage, among all the other graduates, I kept thinking: How did I get here? 

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