5 Pictures, 5 Stories | Part 2

Hello, friends! I recently posted a blog entitled 5 Pictures, 5 Stories, which people really seemed to enjoy! I really like going through old pictures, and reliving memories of the past, so I thought that I would do it again. So here we go, 5 Pictures, 5 Stories | Part 2.

1. New York, New York
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Back row: April, me, Danielle. Front row: Barbara, Kat, Theoni.
The summer after my junior year in high school, I had the amazing experience of going to NYC with several of my soon-to-be senior friends in the Upward Bound program. This also happened to be the weekend that the final Harry Potter book in the series was being released, marking the end of our collective childhoods, and we all bought it, and basically all finished reading it that weekend. It was amazing. I struggled so hard, because I was the first person to finish the book, and I wanted to talk about it SO badly, but I had to wait. This picture was taken in Central Park, the day after the release. I still in contact with all of these wonderful ladies, and I miss them all so much.

2. Manduca Sexta
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The summer before the summer that I went to NYC, I had an internship in the Biology department at the University of Southern Maine (I was part of the UB program for 4 years total). My boss was a very tall, very nerdy man, who was obsessed with Harry Potter, and we got along amazingly. I also worked with a young woman named Muna, and another guy… whose name I can’t remember. My main job, every day, was to take care of the Manduca sexta caterpillars, in all of their various life cycles. Every day, I would:

a) Scrape the eggs off of tobacco plant leaves leaves from the moth cage, and put them into little containers with slices of wheat germ loaf (which I also made).
b) Take out the hatched eggs from the days before, and transfer them into bigger containers with more food.
c) Take the even BIGGER caterpillars from the days before that from their containers, and put them in even bigger containers with food.
d) Take the biggest caterpillars, which were ready to begin their chrysalis stage, and put them in wooden blocks with holes drilled in them, and store them away.
e) And finally, take the oldest blocks, with the already formed chrysalis, and put them in a giant moth cage. However, I was not allowed to open the moth cage myself, because the dust on their wings was dangerous to inhale, and at my height, they would fly directly into my face. My very tall boss handled that part.

The best part was that all of this was for cancer and tumor research. Something about how the caterpillars go from having multiple eyes within an eye (sort of like a fly), to two eyes as a moth… or something… I never fully understood it, but it was an amazing experience, and I loved it so much. I enjoyed the work, and keeping meticulous records on all my little bug friends. I wanted to be a forensic entomologist for the longest time, and being able to work closely with scientists and these insects was an amazing experience.

3. Dancing Kings
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These are my friends, Julien and George. When I was accepted into the Upward Bound program as a freshman, which is pretty uncommon, I had a hard time making friends. As an upcoming sophomore, I was a whole year or two younger than everyone, and my awkwardness and shyness didn’t help me connect to anyone. Until I met Julien and George, who were two years older than me, and best friends. They were both genius level intelligent, and I still have no idea why they chose to befriend me, but I’m not complaining.

We had very similar interests in music (Julien introduced me to the Foo Fighters, George introduced me to Pink Floyd), books, and video games… including DDR. I had been playing DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) for only a year, mostly in the privacy of my own living room, when I met them. We started a DDR group in the lounge, and spent all of our free time playing. They were both incredible, and pushed me so hard to be good at it. This picture was taken at the Friends and Family Night Talent Show, which I was too afraid to enter. They KILLED it. That was the last summer I spent with them, as they went to  different school, but they helped me become more confident in myself, and also helped me get on a healthy track with my weight loss. I lost 45 pounds between my junior and senior years, and I owe it all to them.

4. Little Sister
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This is a picture of the last time I ever saw my little sister, Desiree. The picture was taken at her 4th birthday party, the summer that I left for college. Desiree had been taken from my father and his girlfriend, along with her other two girls, and had been adopted by a woman named Amy, and her husband. I was not able to visit them often, and was fed a lot of bullshit reasons as to why. In 2012, I flew to Maine as a surprise for my mom, and had planned to visit them, but my grandmother, who had known of my plans all along, told me that I could not. According to her, despite my sister knowing she was adopted, she would not understand who I was, or how we were related… yet she understood who our grandmother was, and she was allowed to visit frequently. I was so angry. This beautiful girl is 11 years old now. Maybe I’ll get to see her again at her wedding. Who knows? I also now have a 4 year old sister, who was also taken from my father, who I may never see again as well. Family

5. Relay For Life
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I had the honor and privilege to participate in our local Relay for Life event for 3 summers in a row. Kyle’s grandmother and mother both have teams, and Kyle had been doing it since he was young. His grandmother is a breast cancer survivor, as is mine, and my uncle died of a brain tumor, and I wanted to be a part of this so badly. This picture was taken in the summer of 2014, when I was 3 months pregnant, at the last Relay event that I attended. That is our stand in the background, which was boxing themed, to match the Relay theme of “Finish the Fight“.

We had our snow cone machine set up, which Kyle and I manned every year, as well as trinkets for sale, and a boxing ring and props for pictures. This was the first year that the event had to be held indoors, due to weather, and we had to fit our tent inside the hallways of the high school. The turnout was still great, and we ended up raising the second largest amount of money out of the two dozen teams there. Kyle’s mom joined a nursing program that same year, and we had to say goodbye to our Relay team. Hopefully we can do it again in the future, especially after this incredibly emotional year, where we have already lost so many to this disease. Fuck cancer!

Thank you for reading, friends!

Jan

Dream Journal 2/28/16

Future.

All I remember is that Kyle, Liam, and I were living in a post-apocalyptic city, which resembled the city from the movie I Am Legend (NYC?). We went walking down a street, littered with old cars, piles of debris, and overgrown plants. Liam was 3 years old or so, and had long, curly hair. I was wearing him in a large, custom baby carrier on my back, which was also equipped with swords, machetes, and all sorts of other weaponry.

I was wearing a torn shirt, which revealed my tummy, which had miraculously developed some hardcore abs. Kyle was shirtless, and had some pretty intense ab action going on as well, as well as a massive gun strapped to his back. We were walking down the empty street, when a large pack of dogs ran by, yet didn’t seem to notice us. I could see the shadow of a large bird fly over us, though it looked more like a pterodactyl. Kyle made a series of hand signals to me, and I shushed Liam, before ducking behind one of the cars on the side of the road. Kyle hid behind a nearby tree, just in time for the large, bird/pterodactyl shadow to circle back around, flying over us again, lower this time. After it was gone, Kyle motioned for me to run, and I ran ahead, and shut Liam and myself into a nearby building. I heard a loud, terrifying siren, like the sirens in Silent Hill, and a few moments later, Kyle was standing in the doorway.

Darkness fell over the city, with nothing but the moon to light the streets. We left the empty house, and headed back outside. Kyle said something about meeting up with the rest of our group at camp, and moments later, we were sneaking into the back of a huge, empty mall. We were greeted by a large man, dressed in a nice suit, who unlocked the padlock to let us in. In the next room was an elderly woman, a two twin boys around 13 years old, a blonde woman, who may have been their mother, and a middle-aged man, who was wearing nothing but dark green swim trunks. They all waved and clapped enthusiastically when we walked in.

The elderly woman was cooking a large turkey over a fire in the middle of the room, and the twins were throwing clothing, straight off of the store racks, onto the fire to keep it going. The middle-aged man was complaining that there wasn’t enough butter for everyone, and the large man offered to make a run to the store to get ingredients to make more, but the other man just kept yelling. The elderly woman threw a chunk of turkey at him, and he stomped away, and everyone laughed.

I offered to go and get butter ingredients with the large man, but Liam started crying, and told me not to go, so the twins offered to go instead. Liam brought me a soccer ball and asked if we could play, and I smiled and walked into the main lobby of the mall…

And then I woke up.