Chapter One: I Have a Bomb

I have compiled the three parts of Chapter One: I Have a Bomb into this one blog post to make it easier for y’all to read and share! Chapter Two: I Lost the Drugs is in the works : )

*WARNING: Below this line there may be curse words and profanity that some find offensive. I use them only to accurately demonstrate the experiences and stories of my family’s journey with my brother’s Tourrette’s. This is the first installment of the book I am writing about that journey. Just remember it’s okay to laugh. In fact, please do! Just make sure you’re learning about and gaining respect for an unfamiliar challenge and the group of people who must deal with it. Above all else, take from it a deeper understanding of acceptance, and enjoy!



Fuck. Shit. Fuckshit. FATASS TITTIES!

If you are offended, I suggest you put this down because you won’t like it.

However many times you have experienced curse words in your life, I still win, I promise. I’ve been kicked out of restaurants, churches, and movie theaters for it. So trust me when I say your ears, or eyes rather, will be ok.

While it is impossible to tell you this story accurately without the profuse usage of profanity, the journey you will read about is that of a family struggling against the most severe form of Tourette’s, complete with boob punching. Yes, that’s right, my brother gets away with grabbing women’s breasts because he literally can’t help it. And I get in trouble for getting home past curfew…

It is an ongoing story, so I apologize in advance for not being able to deliver all the answers on what is still one of the world’s most misunderstood disorders. But my wish is that this journey gives hope to individuals struggling directly with Tourette’s, enlightens others on what this disorder truly is, and if nothing else, provides for a few good laughs.

This is a story about spit, tolerance, hilarity, learning, family, and most importantly, Xanax. Enjoy.

Chapter One – I’ve Got a Bomb

If you are one of those people who skips reading the Preface, stop that. Go read the Preface.

Tucker being Tucker…

We all know that person who loves to tell the simply ‘outrageous’ story about the time they had to go through the security scanner twice at the airport because they forgot to take the sunblock out of their carry on. “And they gave me a pat down! And the whole line got backed up!”

That sounds kind of nice, actually.

The first time we tried to take Tucker to the airport was a horrifying experience. I’d liken it to throwing an arctic whale into a hot tub with very mean, whale-eating dinosaurs and then setting the surface of the water on fire, from the whale’s point of view. In other words, not good.

We always knew that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (or ADHD) runs in the family. The name is almost as obnoxious as the people who have it.

My grandmother swallowed her sister’s tooth because it sounded like a good idea, and my dad taunted rabid dogs with steak (he has the scars to prove it). At age five, I would surprise-attack the adults in church with my head-butting skills and push their children over, and Tucker eats tadpoles and ‘then’ realizes that they don’t taste good. We’ve got impulsivity on lock. So there’s Tucker, Dad, Grandma, and me being very not quiet and not calm and not rational and not shy and SO not go with the flow. And then there is Weatherly (my sister) and my mom, who are about as chill as it gets. If you can imagine, they don’t exactly get the spotlight that often.

At first we thought his was just off the charts, and it is, but the doctors told us there was much more going on with him than just massive hyperactivity.

Although he had always struggled with extreme ADHD and mood swings, this was something new. My brother started to notice that his head would twitch and turn without his consent. Trying to understand just what was going on, he laid down on the floor and remained motionless. And then his head lifted, by itself.

My brother (Tucker) on the left, me on the right, and my sister (Weatherly) in the middle. Guess which one doesn’t have ADHD? Hint: It’s not him or me. Notice who is just waving sweetly and non-abrasively. So pleasant.

Let me interject here with a little side note on what “by itself” means. When I refer to him moving or speaking against his will, I don’t mean people with Tourette’s just happen to look down at their left arm and go, “Aw fuck, that’s my arm wiggling all over the place again. Oh look! Now I’m slapping myself in the face, what a surprise!”

To an extent, you are aware that the “tic” is coming. It’s strangely similar to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which oftentimes accompanies a person’s Tourette’s in the sense that you feel compelled to do a certain action. You think on overdrive.

“Look at the dent in that car door, I have to touch it, but right in the center, or else it doesn’t count. Okay I did it.”

These are the types of tics that are easily anticipated by the individual with Tourette’s. Sometimes a single action quenches what feels like a thirst in your brain, and the tic-ing may end for the time being. In more severe cases, like Tucker’s, it goes more something like this…

“Look at the dent in that car door, I have to touch it, but right in the center, or else it doesn’t count. Okay I did it. I have to do it again now, just to make sure that it was in the center and not a little to the left like I may have actually done. Okay I did it again. That one also seemed more like on the left hand side. Well now I should probably touch it on the right side of the center twice to make it even and balanced. The second time I touched the right side was accidentally more forceful, so it’s still technically off balance. One forceful tap on the left side and one light touch on the right side will set it even with two light taps and one hard tap on each side.”

Keep in mind that we are still talking about an inch-wide dent here people.

This is why people with this disorder are so easily mistaken by others to be at fault for their tics. The common assumption is, “well can’t you just not do it?”

Short term, yep, sometimes. Although I can assure you that no guy chooses to hit themselves in the crotch, and my brother definitely punches himself in the crotch. Long term? Nope.

Me not thinking before licking a “tennis ball snow cone” and showing off for the camera as well. Oh, the beauty of middle school…

As Tucker often says to us, “I have to get the tic out!” and then proceeds to punch us in the boob. You can begin to understand that the nature of this disorder is not one of surprise to the individual. They know the tic is coming, understand its presence, an sometimes try and fend it off.

But it keeps gnawing at them, this urge akin to that of an addictive substance, and eventually, if not instantly, the thought process becomes, “well if I give in just this one last time, the urge will be satisfied and I will be able to keep any more at bay from now on.” Unfortunately, another urge will come, and it rarely ends up working that way. Otherwise, this disorder would be an entirely different scenario.

Of course, this entire sensation usually happens within a span of milliseconds, so while there is this thought process involved, it is still an extremely physical and involuntary experience.

But I digress, we are currently about to walk into the airport with Tucker, who at this point in time has been diagnosed with Tourette’s, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and an anxiety disorder. In other words, yay.

When my family is planning for air travel, you can tell.

Mom gets this face like, “I had children and I’m not sure why…” Don’t misunderstand me. My mother is one of the kindest, sweetest, most understanding and patient people you will ever meet.

My father too, for that matter, has been an absolutely amazing man and role model. It’s funny how we all regard him as considerably impatient and yet he has withstood more turmoil, challenges, and seemingly insurmountable obstacles with my brother than most fathers could ever imagine, all the while being there for my mom, sister, and me.

Momma being momma. You could never tell that she has had (and kept alive for some reason) three ridiculously high maintenance children. Isn’t she beautiful?

In addition to his Tourette’s and other disorders, another alarmingly abrasive characteristic of Tucker is his irrational temper. So when my parents work their entire social lives around making sure he doesn’t feel left out, bend over backwards to not only accept but embrace the challenges of his disorders, and fight tooth-and-nail in his defense when his peers tease him and adults criticize him; the most unsettling thing of all is not the constant stream of profanity or unexplained and grotesque body movements, but his choice to oftentimes lash out at the only people who love and care for him unconditionally.

We seem so small!

Of his own volition many times, he has called them, Weatherly, and myself absolutely terrible names. He has threatened to stab me with a knife before, and he wasn’t kidding. When he does literally anything, he leaves destruction and mess in his wake. Because he doesn’t sleep very well, he wakes up early. By the time we get to the kitchen, every cabinet is open, there is cheese mixed with some liquid on the floor, some eggs are cracked and caked directly onto the stove, and the refrigerator is warm because the door has been left open for at least a few hours. None of these are tics.

Many people chastise my parents for their lack of discipline. They say, “Why can’t you control your kid?” or “Why don’t you punish him for doing those terrible things?” and it takes literally every ounce of their strength to keep from either telling them where to shove theirs or crying. When, on average, every action he takes contains some aspect that is considered punishable by “normal” parents, mine have realized that the whole “picking your battles” thing is infinitely valuable and necessary.

But back to the airport. Mom and dad were silently throwing last minute items into their suitcases. Dad was almost done, but mom was farther behind because she first had to pack Tucker’s carry on.

Candid cuteness!

Not to be taken lightly, the contents of Tucker’s carry on can determine whether we get to our destination alive or not. One of the most effective combatants of Tourette’s is simply distraction. The more your mind is occupied with one thing, the less mental horsepower you have to focusing and dwelling on the urges. This is one reason we cringe when people stare, ask questions, or want to talk to him about it. It reverses the effect of distraction, and instead puts the spotlight on something that he tries constantly everyday to resist and forget about. This is where the headphones, iPad, video games, and endless snacks of the carry on become essential. Our sanity depends on it.

Tucker also has coprolalia, or the involuntary use of obscene words or socially inappropriate words and phrases. This is the first thing people think of when they think of Tourette’s, and it can be a part of the disorder, however it is actually one of the rarest forms of the disorder. Tourette’s normally consists of occasional involuntary physical motions accompanied at times by noises or sounds. Of course, Tucker had to one-up statistics, and so as I am pacing back and forth in the kitchen waiting for the rest of my ridiculously slow family to load up the luggage and go, I hear what we dread most on airport day.

In the room next to me, I can hear Tucker, and it’s bad. He’s watching Bob’s Burgers, or Family Guy, or maybe the Cleveland Show, and above the show dialogue I hear Tucker’s involuntary additions. “Fuck, FUH, fuckfuck. Shit-ducky!”

Don’t ask me where he comes up with this stuff. Every once in a while, he’ll say something super weird (yeah, weirder than shit-ducky) and he will have this look on his face like, I really just don’t even know…

This is bad, because it means that he is nervous for the flight, and when he gets nervous it really works up his tics, and that is just super fun in the line for security.

Oftentimes with the onset of puberty, a child’s Tourette’s can morph into something far more extreme than what it began as. This has been evident in the change of ease over time with which we have been able to fly with Tucker. Before puberty, his tics were limited to only physical movements, and so air travel and going out into public in general was fairly challenge-free. This specific airport experience, which happened just a couple of months ago with Tucker at age fourteen, is the one mainly described in this chapter. I will throw in some specifically poignant airport experiences from the past into the mix as well to give you a fuller understanding of the progression of difficulty experienced. Also, some of them are just too unbelievable not to share.

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Mom pleasantly preparing for go-time

We park and walk through the automatic doors.

“Cunt!” And he didn’t just say it, he screamed it. At the top of his lungs.

The 80 or so people hurrying to security or the ticketing counter just stopped and stared, again with that whole, “why aren’t you punishing your son?” look. To make matters seem worse to these strangers, we don’t even seem to be alarmed. For extremely obvious reasons, the members of my family are not easily embarrassed.

We have learned from past experiences that we need to call a few days in advance in order to arrange an escort for us through security, and since that escort did not seem to be readily at hand we took Tucker back outside to hide and wait. If you can remember the character Bubbles from Lilo and Stitch, the man assigned as our escort was him in real life.

He was extremely nice, sharply-dressed, very dark-skinned, and well past my height, which is quite tall considering that I am already 5′ 11″. He was donning a jet-black suit on his broad shoulders and wore impenetrable shades over his eyes. He must have gotten word that there was some kid screaming profanity in the concourse and assumed that this profane child may be his joyfully accepted responsibility for the next several hours.

He shook our hands and said, “How do you do? I’ve got a flight to get you on today.”

Tucker looks at him and shakes his hand, keep in mind that he has been tic-ing every word in the book for the entire 45-minute ride to the airport from our hotel to the Newark airport to fly home to Austin.

“Hello, nice to -nigger!- meet -nigger!- you too.”

Meet bubbles

Here is where I feel the need to say that tics are not based on morals or values. Our family embraces diversity and by no means encourages or supports racism or closed mindedness. We understand that that word is extremely offensive, and no, my parents did not teach it to us.

“Well then why does he know the word and say it?” ask snide individuals, the same ones aiming to criticize my parents for their lack of virtue and parenting skills.

One, he knows the word for the same reason that you know the word. It is unfortunately and incorrectly thrown around from time to time in society, it appears in literature required for school readings, it comes up in stories of the past, and it appears in movies and television shows. Everyone in society has been exposed to its meaning and implications at some point in their life, not excluding my brother. Two, he actually says it because that’s how coprolalia in Tourette’s works.

If an overweight woman walks by, the worst possible thing that you could say is fat ass c***.

If a Hispanic person is nearby, the worst possible thing to say is f***ing Mexicans.

If a homosexual person is in sight, the worst possible thing to say is faggot.

And if, Heaven forbid, you see a black person in the Newark airport, you should avoid saying the n-word.

Remember when I said that distraction is key to avoiding tics? Well, once you are aware of the fact that Tourette’s can cause you to curse, you also involuntarily begin understanding at what times it would be most inopportune to be forced to say those words. You become hyper aware of potential triggers for profanity, and in the process focus even more on trying not to say them. Of course, this is the opposite of distraction, of calm, of anything positive, and so if brings the mental focus of the individual entirely on avoiding the word, which of course makes them say it.

So it’s now the three of us standing there silently, and as usual I am trying to assess how bad this situation has just become. I am just going to call him Bubbles, because they seriously are the same person. I am assuming that Bubbles has been briefed on all that the situation entails, including the racially-charged profanity, but how people say they will react when faced with this and how they actually react, I have learned, are two separate things entirely.

Much to my relief, he chuckles a little and only continues to talk about our game plan for when we get inside, mixed with a few questions about the trip we just finished up. And you know what? Because no one paid any attention and his focus was being redirected, the frequency of Tucker’s tics actually began to decline. Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Of course, calm before the storm, right? Bubbles kindly helps me with the luggage and we re-enter the airport. I’m going to save some ink here and let you get creative with what Tucker said.

Bubbles, who turns out to be head of security of the airport, leads us past the winding lines for ticketing and up to the front. As we stand there, he explains to the employee the situation and that we will be rushed through the security procedures. While he and my parents are in discussion at the front of several individuals who are now giving us the “line-cutter” stare, Tucker starts to feel very conspicuous. You know what makes you even more noticeable in an airport? When you start screaming, “I HAVE A BOMB!”

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Tucker with our 4-person TSA escort team in our own personal security line.

This is just another example of the “worst-possible tic” catered for the specific situation in which the individual finds themselves. That one gets some people’s attention.

Bubbles momentarily turns around, and assures the audience that the kid does not have a bomb and that he is with him, but Tucker has momentum now.

“I have a bomb! Bomb-in-my-pants! Gun in my pants!!”

Trying to play off of the benefits of distraction, I start racking my brain for things to say and ask him about, because the more they stare, the more he will tic, and the more they will stare. I ask him about what he wants for Christmas, how many “girlfriends” he has, what his favorite Taekwondo move is, anything to get his mind off of his surroundings. He knows what I’m doing, and he tries to go along with it because he knows he will be better off if he can make himself forget. But we all know how trying to forget works out, and so I come up with a new strategy. I smack him in the face with a water bottle.

You know what’s weird about that? It actually works. If my mom, sister, or dad tried that he would be livid. With me it works, and I think it is because we are so similar. We both have had to deal with some pretty overwhelming ADHD at times, and while I don’t have Tourette’s officially, I do exhibit certain symptomatic similarities. When I was little I would make these very high squealing noises to satisfy some strange physical urge that I felt to do just that. I sometimes blink my eyes very hard together to overcome a similar feeling, and I have always relentlessly picked at my nails. So while I have overcome my obstacles, I am able to understand what he is feeling on a deeper level than the rest of my family.

Every time I smack him with the bottle, he says stop it through giggles, and while people are still looking at us like we are on something, we are both temporarily comfortable and Tucker isn’t tic-ing. I then realize that my valid, unexpired license just got checked with my baggage, and my expired one is in my wallet. Back to reality (I seriously feel like reality is not really the appropriate term for this situation). Nonetheless, she checks my ID as I grit my teeth, and either out of pity or lack of attention gives it back and sends us through security.

As ridiculous as it sounds, this was one of the most issue-free ticket counter experiences with Tucker that we have ever had.

Basically the security line we passed. Except it was far more racially-diverse and I wasn’t allowed to hit him with the water bottle anymore because I could use it to smuggle potentially explosive materials past security-the irony.

We once had a woman who refused to print our tickets for fifteen minutes, even though our specific information and medical papers were on file, because she was worried about the comfort-level of the other passengers. We understand that we can’t force his disorder on people, that’s why we don’t go to church anymore or eat at restaurants or see movies. Unless we can find someone willing to watch him, we are stuck, and even that takes a toll on my parents who are torn between pursuing a social life and ensuring that he does not feel isolated. We do however expect fair treatment and respect, and ultimately were forced to call the director to receive our tickets.

We follow Bubbles past the hundreds of people in line for security and continue toward the terminal. It is always funny to see people’s reaction to our escorted line-cutting. At first their faces look quizzical, as if they are trying to figure out our claim to prestige and special attention. They quickly go from trying to discern if we are celebrities to an “oh, that kid just has problems” face. My confusion is replaced with amusement when I see them unlocking and powering up an entirely separate security scanning unit just for us. Black people keep walking by on the other side of the hallway, and so my family, Bubbles, and three additional TSA (not to be confused with TSA, or the National Tourette Syndrome Association – I also find this to be a bit hilarious and oddly ironic) escorts are all doing everything that they can to keep his attention in the other direction.

They check my ID a second time, still good. And then they set us free into the terminal packed with people of all ethnicities, sizes, shapes, and sexual preferences, alone without escorts until the plane departs 50 minutes from now. Tucker starts to scream that he has a bomb.

The terminal was built in just about the worst configuration possible. Our flight gate was at the very end of the hall, along with several other gates in a small, compacted roundabout sort of shape. In other words, it was like being on stage in front of an auditorium. Yay, yay, yay, yay…

As I have explained before, our family is the opposite of discriminatory or racist, but in public scenarios I often finding myself, as I’m sure my mother, father, and sister are all doing as well, hoping that we do not walk be any non-Caucasian individual. The n-word, f***ing  Mexican, or yellow tic will invariably come out of Tucker’s mouth through no fault of his own, and suddenly we are faced with an extremely uneasy situation.

Where I would normally be thrilled to be in the company of such diverse and richly unique people from all ethnicities, sexual identities, body weights, and walks of life, my only thought in that moment was, retreat.

“Nig-, nigg, nigger! Nigger, bomb in my pants!”

Dear goodness I was going to die. I was going to be murdered and die in the airport.

We had our audience’s attention. After living with this for a while, you really develop an eye for reading just how pissed off people are in these situations. It wasn’t looking good. There were some eyebrows raised, but most of them pierced us with a dark stare that conveys so much meaning. It says, “how immoral of you, you racist scum”, and “your parents must be lowlifes for teaching you this and allowing you go on unpunished.” Because of the “bomb” component, several individuals also displayed a twinge of concern for their own safety, and many were simply struggling to overcome the sudden and shocking language that they had just heard.

Tucker kept it coming, and the eyeballs did not help. The more tension and judgment you can detect, the worse the tics become. This was not the place to be.

We retreated. I dragged Tucker back through the terminal, past every single gate, and we set up camp on the floor just beyond security where there was minimum potential for exposure to humans. We were hiding.

Many of the passengers and airport personnel were Black, and so each time they would pass our camp on their way to the terminal, all focus was placed on redirecting Tucker’s attention and vision in the opposite direction. I will let you imagine how that one worked out. Every time our attempts failed, the stares, and occasionally the irate responses immediately followed. With each n-word outburst, we issued our disclaimer to the individual.

“He’s got Tourette’s, and he can’t help it!”

Yeah, whatever, is the usual reaction.

I still jokingly give my mom crap for this, but it was at this time that she felt overwhelmingly compelled to go and purchase some coffee with my dad, just the two of them. The coffee line was the longest line in the terminal, and we still had 50 minutes before boarding. Well played mom, well played. She looked over her shoulder and shot me a grin as she escaped. I laughed and stuck out my tongue.


I don’t  know how many of y’all are aware of the popular phrase “the struggle is real”, but it is usually used in some ridiculous context where no struggle is present. For instance, “omg, I can never figure out a way to keep my strawberry dream lip gloss from staining my pumpkin spice latte cups. The struggle is real.” You just think about that one.

At this point I look like a crazy person because I’m leaning against the wall laughing at what appears to be a boy screaming racial profanities at passersby. I still feel obligated to prevent as many offensive comments as possible, but the ridiculousness of the entire situation has temporarily rendered me incapable of sane thought.

I draw it together though, and devise a new plan of action. If he has food in his mouth, he will stop, or at least they won’t understand what he is saying. So I give him an absurdly large sandwich and hope for a momentary reprieve. It lasts the exact four and a half minutes that it takes him to inhale the sandwich.

“Ni-, nigga, nigger!”

You can hear him fighting the tic, cutting it off halfway through the word and then giving in. This entire post-security fiasco has lasted approximately twelve minutes, we have 48 minutes more to wait, and I’m pretty sure that mom has just ingeniously went to the back of the coffee line again…

As much as it sounds like a jerk move on her and dad’s part, I was actually glad that they had the opportunity to find some space for a bit. Even though I live with it, I still only get the tip of the iceberg. They are the ones constantly consulting doctors, helping him fall asleep every night, driving to Houston to meet some world-renown chiropractic neurologist,  making sure he feels included in family activities, scheduling and attending meetings with schoolteachers and administration, setting up special programs for him, dealing with his outbursts when I can just walk away, picking him up early from school when his tics are so bad that he can’t even stay in the nurse’s office, cleaning up the messes that he makes every day, going to bat for him when he is made fun of, and so much more. Somehow they are still some of the most resilient, caring, and funny people that I will ever know. Amidst all of this, they find time to both work full-time, loyally support and drive us to our sports, clubs, and hobbies, be there for anything we ever need, and still be into each other. So yeah, they can ditch us for coffee.

I want to explain what I mean when I say that they have to “go to bat” for Tucker when people make fun of him. Although he is going through the beauty of puberty and middle school and a whole heck of a lot of the taunting comes from immature peers his age, adults are not out of the water. Sometimes, they are worse than the kids.

My mom once took a trip with Tucker to D.C. alone. They were on their way to meet a doctor and were staying as far away from everyone else at their gate as possible. People can still hear though, and so when “I have a bomb!”, “Nigger!”, and “Fatass!” reared their ugly heads, it attracted the attention of one man in particular.

After having stared at Tucker for a considerable amount of time, which as we have learned does not have a desirable effect, he decided instead to make his contempt more explicitly known.

“Hey, you better knock that off, boy.” He seemed so proud of his refined sense of morality.

Tucker and my mother respond with the normal disclaimer, “I can’t sir, I’ve got Tourette’s and I can’t help what I say.” What happened next still makes my dad fantasize about what he would have done to the guy if he had been there too.

“You just think you’re so clever, don’t you?”

Exhausted from an already strenuous day of airport festivities (remember what security was like with an escort?), my mother got up and went over to show him the medical papers explaining the disorder and how it affects Tucker.

“I don’t care about your papers. You’ll be sorry one day that you were such a punk,” he said, looking right past mom at Tucker, who was now tic-ing twice as much.

It was at this point that my mother’s uncanny ability to guilt-trip people who deserve it without meaning to provided some reconciliation. The woman sitting next to him asked my mother what Tourette’s was and how she was feeling, clearly sensing that she needed a companion. While attempting to explain all that the past six years of discovering and dealing with Tourette’s entailed and what they were trying to do on this specific trip, my mother burst into tears. After briefly summarizing what she had been through, she pointed at the man and said, “It’s all worth it because my son is worth it, but when people are so cruel and closed-minded it just makes everything so much harder than it needs to be.”

The man’s head dropped in shame, and he murmured “sorry” almost inaudibly.

Mom: 1, Stupid Man: 0

Back to Newark. When pre-boarding finally begins, Bubbles shows back up and escorts us to the front of the line once more. Tucker is tic-ing literally anything you can think of that should never be said in public, and the 500 or so individuals surrounding us are less than pleased. Bubbles and my dad board the plane in order to brief the captain and crew members of the situation. Every passenger waited to board until after the staff had all been briefed and were informed that the twelve-year-old screaming “I have a bomb!” does not, in fact, have a bomb.

Once boarding begins, we decide to experiment with seating arrangements. I suggest that we try putting Tucker in the very back and that the rest of us leisurely sit in the bulkhead; my idea was declined. We instead opt to sit in the seats that are as close as possible to the engine in the hopes that certain pleasantries are at least somewhat drowned out. We quickly found out that Tucker was very talented at literally being louder than a jet engine.

Imagine yourself as an unsuspecting passenger flying home from a week-long business trip. You are exhausted, and ready to see your family and be home. You hear the f-word and you turn around, not entirely sure if someone actually said that. There is a girl and her mother laughing at what you presume to her the girl’s brother, and all of a sudden he screams the f-word again, absolutely screams it. And you know what? The girl and the woman just look at each other and burst into giggles all over again.

I am sure that we look insane, but in all honesty, if we don’t laugh, then we would cry. Where is the fun in that?

As the crew is performing the safety announcements, Tucker adds on his own little soundtrack.

“Although we do not expect a change- Fuck! Fuck you! – in cabin pressure, in the event – TITTY! – of cabin pressure change, oxygen – Bomb in my pants! – masks will drop from the overhead – you’re fat! Tittyfatass! – compartment…”

Lucky for us, Tucker was not sleepy at all, so we had the pleasure of his conscious company for the next three and a half hours back to Austin. At some point during Tourette’s camp the past week, Tucker had picked up some “fun” new tics from the other kids.

At camp, they do this thing called “tic shopping.” It is not a planned activity or purposeful action, but the tendency for the kids to involuntarily see each other’s tics and pick them up as their own. Sounds like a really relaxing place, doesn’t it?

Apparently there had been a girl there whose current tic was a “meow” sound. Guess what Tucker screamed the entire plane ride home?

“FUCKING MEOW MIX!! Fu-, fuck-, fucking MEOW!”

Another boy at camp had, for lack of a better word, a boob-grabbing tic. He literally just grabbed women’s breasts against his will (whatever “against his will” joke that just came to your mind, we know). He also involuntarily punched people in the head. Tucker picked up both of these.

Mom and I, who were blessed with the opportunity to sit next to him, were thrilled to have our boobs squeezed, get punched in the head, and profanity shrieked into our ears for almost four hours.

I had never seen what we now refer to as the “boob-squeezer” before we were seated on the airplane that afternoon. I look at Tucker, trying to hide the fact that I’m giggling at his “Fucking Meow Mix” tic, and he just straight up grabs my boob. Nothing should surprise me anymore, but somehow I was completely taken aback by this lovely addition to Tucker’s arsenal, and the look on my face must have been priceless. Mom starts laughing uncontrollably to the point where she cannot keep her eyes open and, you got it, he just goes right ahead and gives her a squeeze as well. She began to snort from laughing so hard.

So now imagine that you’re that guy two seats up watching the woman and girl with the boy. You’re probably wondering why he is grabbing their breasts, and probably also why they are ok with it. Maybe you’re starting to wonder if that isn’t his mother and sister, but that he may just be really good with the ladies and really handsy. I seriously don’t know what goes through people’s minds when they see us doing our thing. I can imagine it’s probably incredibly confusing. I would love to know their first impressions though, as they try desperately to make sense of the insanity before them.

Invisible passengers would have made this a lot easier…

At this point, Tucker is freaking out because he is grabbing his mother’s and sister’s boobs, and it’s kind of freaking him out. So in between the actual boob-grabbing, he is also frantically asking us to sit with our arms tightly crossed in front of our chests so that he can’t actually get to our boobs. We are laughing hysterically.

All of a sudden, he clocks my mom in the temple with a wickedly strong left hook, and the “merriment” ends. Now is a good time to mention that my brother is 5’9” and weighs 200 pounds. He’s also very strong. Mom begins to cry because it hurt, and dad is furious. Of course, as has been established by now, this was just another tic that Tucker couldn’t help, but my dad nonetheless is extremely upset with him. They begin to fight, with dad threatening him and Tucker responding that he is an asshole for not understanding that he can’t help it. Tucker is also asking mom incessantly if she is okay and repeatedly kissing the spot that he hit her.

His tics disappear for a split second in the midst of his distraction, but then return.

Understandably, the man in the aisle across from us is just staring incredulously at the five of us, to which Tucker lashes out, “Hey! I’ve got Tourette’s old man, so just keep your stares to yourself!”

Slowly, dad calms down, mom feels better, and we are beginning to find “fucking meow mix” funny again. Now that the head-punching tic has been established as the worst-possible thing he could do, that becomes the primary focus and therefor the primary tic. For the next three hours, he unwillingly goes after me and mom, but we are more prepared now. We see him start to move and will catch his fist before it gets to our head. To this he protests, saying that it doesn’t let him “get the tic out.” He pleads with us to just let him “tap” our heads, just a touch, and then it will all be good.

He says, “Put a pillow on your head so I can punch that,” but no matter what he does, “tap” or pillow, he can’t control how hard he actually hits, and so we say no.

He protests, saying that we don’t understand his Tourette’s because we are asking him to stop something that he inherently cannot because of the disorder, but we tell him that he is still not allowed to hit our heads. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tic.

You can see how this gets very circular and very quickly, and there is no clear-cut answer to a scenario like this. You either “don’t understand,” or you become a victim.

Some people are very in tune with, for lack of a better description, Tucker’s “vibe.” For some reason or other, a complete stranger will feel Tucker’s struggles, as well as ours, and pitch in any way they can. The woman behind us was one of those people.

She asks where we are going, what we are coming from, and what is going with us, and we briefly explain, including some of the trouble that we had encountered earlier. Tucker  looks at her and says, “Fuck you!”

She laughs, and then yells, “Well I don’t have Tourette’s, and fuck you too!”

My family laughs uncontrollably, happy to see her positive reaction where so many others that day had been so cruel, and the passengers around us who had been silently enduring our very audible dysfunction began to giggle to themselves. The tension felt before just slipped away.

Sensing that Tucker needed to get the ants out of his pants, she requested that he escort her to the restroom and guard the door for her while she was in there. He willingly obliged.

I turned to the man who Tucker had yelled at earlier and said, “it’s been one heck of a day,” in a somewhat exhausted voice.

To my surprise, he took my hands into his and just held them for a moment, smiling and nodding his head that it would all be okay.

And you know what? He was right.

Chapter Two coming soon!

You can follow me on Twitter @CambriaSawyer

Like, share, whatever floats your boat, but help us share this story so that people can learn and connect! Thank you! : )

College is Fun, Part One

I mostly just added the “Part One” thing on the end of this title because it rhymed, but it is the first post about my adventures here at the University of Texas, and I thought I’d have some fun with it. WARNING: I am about to shove a ridiculously exciting first month of college into one blog post, so bring it on!

P.S. More adventures to come, I promise!

Turns out my roommate, Emma, likes food just as much as I do. We were basically meant to be.

Where to begin… The diversity and intrigue of the people that I have met is incredible. There are two types of people on this campus; the kind of people who make themselves yawn on purpose so that they have an excuse to close their eyes and avoid social confrontation with you in the elevator, and the people who will literally initiate a conversation with you about your opinion on the thought processes of squirrels in the twelve seconds that it takes to ride from floor two to floor four. Deep, I know. In all honesty though, almost everywhere I turn someone is learning something, debating something, hypothesizing, you name it, and it is incredibly refreshing to be surrounded by so much meaning.

Us Zumba-ing and also going blind because it was at least 400 degrees and the sun was ridiculous.

I tried to introduce myself to two young men during a meeting a few days ago, and after they returned a quick “hi!”, they both turned right back around and continued trying to solve some ridiculous equation they had created on the back of the handout.

“Is that for a class?” I asked.


And they turned right back to what was apparently a ridiculous, unsolvable equation that was created solely for “fun”. In this sentence, I will express my appreciation for the relative lack of mathematical skills required for Public Relations, yay!

Regardless of how this specific encounter ended up, it goes to show what I mean when I say that everyone is working on something, and that there is this sort all-encompassing momentum of knowledge that, as nerdy as it sounds, I seriously cannot get enough of.

Seriously, what is up with my glasses?

The first week leading up to day one of class, everyone talked to everyone. There was this tacit “if I don’t introduce myself to every person within screaming distance, get their number, and friend them on Facebook, then I will be that person with no friends the second week of college and become a hermit” mentality. Everyone made themselves bubbly, and I’ll admit, I was no exception (although the bubbly-ness was nothing new for me). The university hosted plenty of “social events” so that our angst-y, freshman selves could fulfill this “task”.

Taking on the Goldfish!

A social event of epic proportions. Keep in mind that everyone in this picture is thinking, “WHAT IS GOING ON. MUST MAKE FRIENDS. DID I PICK THE RIGHT MAJOR? CAN YOU MAKE RAMEN ON A PLATE?”

By the end of the third night, I found myself with my roommate and five other people casually sipping on Wendy’s frosties at two in the morning and certain that this is a pretty nice place to be.


B-Tang and Peter

Classes started. They were ACTUALLY INTERESTING, and that is always a plus. My Perspectives of Deafness class has been one of the most eye-opening experiences for me, and I have learned SO many things about deafness (or Deafness, rather) and the mindsets, obstacles, and culture that accompanies it. If you have not, I highly suggest that you look more deeply into this topic. There is so much to learn and discover.



I have also learned that if you want to make people listen to you, give them a shirt. It does not matter if you have to dance, sing, or give them your social security number; I you promise a shirt, they become your slave.

So then I signed up for literally about 80 clubs, because I like to do stuff.

I applied to be a member of Texas Tower PR, a student-run public relations firm on campus for non-profits in Austin. I got in.

Click this picture to read an article that I wrote FOR Longhorn Life ABOUT Texas Tower PR. The irony : )

I applied to be an Account Executive to lead a team of Associates for a client called Teatro Vivo for Texas Tower PR. I got in.

I applied to be a staff writer for Longhorn Life, a monthly publication on campus. I got in.

I applied to be a member of the Freshman Founders Launchpad, a startup accelerator program specifically to provide mentorship and support to freshman students with a business plan aiming to launch and work with customers by the end of the year. I am launching a PR firm, named Damos PR. I got in.

I applied to be a marketing intern at the Frank Erwin Center, a concert venue downtown. I got in.

You are now aware of why I unfortunately had to give up doing Taekwondo…

Bear crawling in Texas Taekwondo!

The name tag makes it official, right?


I also just had midterms.

So now I am having a blast doing a billion things that I love, I just occasionally forget to eat.


Somewhat impromptu lunch dates!

My lovely roommate, Emma (right), the birthday girl, Barbara (left), and Umbrella (top).


One of my new-found friends turned nineteen, and so she requested that her birthday celebration include a trip to 6th street and to “try to get into clubs”. So we all went to Forever 21 and bought cute new dresses that “fit” the 6th street vibe (please keep in mind that I am totally making fun of ourselves here). Man, were we stylin’.

Of course it rains, and we are poor college students with limited means of transportation, so we trudged to the nearest bus stop (after the photoshoot, obviously) in our six inch heels and umbrellas. Yes, I hid some back-up yellow flip flops in my purse.

Okay, so then it got weird, extremely fast.

We go to the place we had reservations for, and it seriously is not looking like much of a restaurant, so we go downstairs to leave, and a man starts beckoning us to come into his “party”, as he preferred to call it.

More photoshoot! (operation flip flops is a go)

Keep in mind that he is motioning to a red curtain behind a door underneath the staircase, and from inside we can hear some ridiculous bass. A little sketch. We also have no idea what idea what we are doing, let’s be real here.

So the man continues to tell us that we should go to his “party” called “Vinyl” under the sketch staircase and what do we do? Go in of course, and oh my goodness…

The room couldn’t fit more than two cars, and is completely in red velvet. Walls, floors, ceiling, everything. There is a DJ in the corner, a bar in the other, and about 20 guys who were extremely not above the influence of something. I look in the other corner, and there are two dudes sitting in chairs mindlessly nodding their heads up and down to the beat, for the entire four minutes we were in there.

Barbara, Emma, Kaitlyn, Me, Hayden, Hana, and Devi on a mission!

This man came up to us holding a can and said nothing but, “it moo-s!” unceasingly while shaking the can near our ears (very much against our will). He then proceeded to introduce himself and hold out his hand for someone to shake, which of course no one was interested in, and so I selflessly sacrificed Barbara by pointing at her and saying, “It’s her birthday!”

Part “look at us and our food!” picture, but also part “we survived the creepy ‘party’ under the staircase behind the velvet curtain!” picture.

Don’t worry, she din’t shake his hand either. Then we escaped, and ate at Iron Cactus, which felt extremely pleasant in relation to what had just happened.

Then these rappers set up shop right outside the window, and made faces at us. It was awesome. So we feasted, and then proceeded to “try clubbing”. Again with the whole we have no idea motif. Turns out, most bars have guys out on the street that will tell you the first round of margaritas is on them if you go to the such-and-such bar. So we laughed and said “okay!” and then tried to go in, which obviously did not work. This process repeated itself about 6 times, and we decided to try one more place, which let us in for some reason but ended up being full of cockroaches (ew), and so once again we escaped.



Cookie Masterpeice

Emma and I baked cute little cookies the other day in our homey little dorm kitchen, and they were pretty tasty. We have also discovered coffee, and even though I don’t like it unless it is at least 50% chocolate, coffee is my friend. My favorite is when I can wake up on a Saturday at noon and not have to “worry” about anything besides croissants and remembering the difference between a latte and a mocha.

The most recent adventure took place at the Austin Startup Crawl, along with a few of the other Freshman Founders, where I was able to meet some incredibly talented founders and mentors in the startup community. We worked our way from Trendkite, a PR analytics company, to Mutual Mobile’s penthouse, and ultimately ended up at Capital Factory. Insights were gained and connections were made, and of course we also made full use of the complimentary photo booth opportunity. I also used Uber for the first time to get back to campus.

A very happy day!

Oh, and of course, we got into the Fall mood by baking some pumpkin pie and rice crispy treat pumpkins to celebrate the fact that it is no longer breaking 95 degrees everyday!

I have met so many absolutely wonderful people, and made so many memories already! I can’t wait to see what’s next! So that is the first moth or so in a nutshell, as I sit here telling you stories rather than focusing on actual homework that is due tomorrow. Sweet logic, right? I’ll have more stories soon!

You can follow me on Twitter @CambriaSawyer

You can follow Damos PR on Twitter and Instagram @DamosPR

Grown Ups

The saying goes, “be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it,” and it applies to more than just material possessions.

How is this concerned with the way that we are treated by society? We ask everyday to be treated as an adult, so when our parents, the community, our teachers, and our siblings decide to grant us our request, we must not be disappointed when we receive it in its entirety.

When I say that we ask for adulthood, I am referring to our lifelong struggle to be given privileges of independence.

As toddlers, the notion of getting to use the “big girl” and “big boy” cups, you know, the ones without lids, was an enticing concept. We learned that we had to clean up the messes that we spilled. We longed to be able to sit at the adult table at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and felt mighty when we no longer had to use a car seat.

Elementary school was filled with pleas to stay up “just a little longer”, and when we were allowed to stay awake until dad got home, we were sleepy victors.

In middle school our need to be older intensified, and we found ourselves wanting the responsibility of having a cellphone, but not the consequences of going over data, a monthly bill, or a bad decision that could never be retracted. We wanted makeup. We did not want to pay for makeup. The desire to go to the mall with some friends without Mom waiting at the food court was rampant, and we were finally entrusted with the independence to make good decisions monetarily and socially.

Then we got to high school, and we wanted that license. We were given this token of adulthood under the assumption that we would drive our siblings to practice, pay for gas, and make decisions that valued the lives of others and ourselves on the road. We wanted facial hair, like real men. We wanted to go on dates and to have a later curfew, but we didn’t want to face the report card that reflected nights with no room for homework.

We now, after almost two decades of asking to be older, are being regarded as adults. We cannot have partial adulthood. Mom and Dad cannot choose to skip work, abandon their duty as mother and father, or spend their money carelessly because they dislike certain aspects of what characterize the meaning of being grown up. We may not fall in love with everything inherent in adulthood, but we cannot have the cars, the privileges, or the respect without the responsibilities as well.

Adulthood is where we have arrived. When we responsibly accept it in its entirety and embrace the independence that it offers, that is when we have truly become “grown up.”


“Here! Take a photo of me slowly biting into a strawberry while sitting barefoot on a swing after I paint this glitter onto my lips so that I can post it to Instagram with some Lana del Rey lyrics!”

I respect the artistic intent, however this type of mindset among young social media users that we must manufacture a beautiful, dramatic, and sexually appealing moment all for the sake of a photograph and an acceptable amount of likes, is one that I feel does not accurately represent and respect our existence as human beings. This behavior simply fails to acknowledge who we actually are in our everyday lives.

Why are there hundreds of thousands of pictures hash-tagged “#provocative” for no other purpose than the simple viewing pleasure of the entire world? These people, whether clothed in bikinis, lingerie, a revealing outfit, or even just posed suggestively, are consistently undermining their value and worth as individuals by presenting themselves as eye candy rather than people with aspirations and intellectual capacity who deserve to be respected. And it is all in the name of something called “likes”. We are sacrificing our individuality and unique qualities for popular approval.

My question is, will pushing your chest out three inches to get ten extra likes make you feel more complete than the pride of knowing that you have preserved your respect for yourself? There is not a required pose for selfies, no one way to make a selfie “successful” after it is uploaded, but rather an infinite number of possibilities available to share yourself, in all of your beauty and dignity, with the world that does not involve objectification.

In addition to the self-depreciation that arises from the sexualized photographs, we are also undermining our existence by pretending to have special moments for the sole purpose of taking a picture. The opposite is what originally took place. People used to take pictures because something special, interesting, or admirable happened. Now people make moments because they want to take pictures. The occasional artful picture is always fun to see, but then I think about how our children, when we come to that point in our lives, would think of us if they only had these fake moments preserved forever electronically to understand how we once were and where we came from. The answer? They would see someone else entirely.

While speaking on this subject of the discrepancies between our internet and real life personalities, columnist Mark Byrne, while referring to himself, states “I can tell you who Instagram Mark is. Instagram Mark is a man who lives on espresso and aged Manchego and spends more time with his feet dangling into pools than he does working. (Does he even have a job?) He’s never eaten fast food, and his apartment is always crowded with friends. Truth be told, Instagram Mark is kind of an overcompensating jerk.” Hardly reality, and hardly what you want to be remembered as.

When all is said and done, we are each the sole determinant of how we come across to others. Regardless of if we choose to portray ourselves with another identity, as promiscuous, down to earth, fake, real, sexualized, or beautiful, we must realize that this is how people will begin to view us and be prepared to be treated as such. Likes do not determine our self-worth, but rather our devotion to remaining genuine and respectful to ourselves. Share what you’re proud of, but with an approach in the name of self-respect and class, because what is classier than #you?

Switching Gears

Alright, let’s change things up a bit! The blog took a bit of a hit with me finishing up senior year and applying for college and graduation and all, so now that I am a freshman again, and all settled at the University of Texas, let’s try this again.

I’ve got several things to share with y’all (like the accent?). Some will be little adventures that my UT people and I find ourselves on (and boy are some of those interesting…), some will be excerpts from the book I am writing about my family dealing with the wonderful combo of my unfathomably ADHD brother and Tourette Syndrome (yes the “I have a bomb!” incident in the airport will be told), and some will be my writing just for the sake of having fun, like the older posts on here. I promise we will have fun together, with so many adventures to explore. I’ll see you soon, I’m glad to be back!

You See: Where I’m From

You may befriend the scarlet fox

whose steps fall silent on a freshly white meadow

But I shake hands with a balmy palm

Whose milk tastes sweet and cool inside that burlap shell

You are born with a strong beat

in both hand and heart

And mine too beats with zeal

but my fingers and lips play a softer melody, soothe like a violin bow

You confront life with volume

like your father, and his mother, and her grandmother

I cross my legs and take in what has now gone from a sticky bowl to a flaky pan

as a proper woman would, and I do, but only when I feel like it

You think and think and think some more,

after all, that’s what the greats were made of

And I do too

but with far less question marks

You come from a world between the cactus and frosty mountain

where the snow pants save or suffocate

But I, I am only from ice

and my, what boldness it taught me

You are from, “it is your choice”

from an internal war won with the might of heart and a little bit of Strattera

I have never known such things before I met you

I suppose he gave them to you too

Before you were free from inside of me

we met and married you with glee

Because I am you, and you are we

            you see, that is what my mother said to me.


For those of you who aren’t me (obviously everyone), I’m not sure if you’ll get this. The poem is where I’m from, so a lot of it has subtle nuances that only myself or people very close to me will understand, I suppose. But it was still a great joy to write. If you happen to care enough to want to know what the italics and little things mean, I also suppose I can tell you that, because I really would absolutely love for people to read it and go, “Wow! I get that!” So here goes.

            I figure that just as much as I from physical and mental experiences, I am also equally and literally “from” my mother, so the second half of each stanza is actually describing her, in all her loveliness, while the first half is me.  I placed the pronouns for my mother and father in a normal font, while the ones for me are italicized, partly to help whoever is reading, but honestly it’s just as much for me to get my bearings as well. When, at the very end, I say, “that’s what my mother said to me it’s my little way of saying that every time I have said “you” like it is someone else, it’s actually her talking to me, and then comparing how we are different from one another. Really, the whole poem is my mother speaking to me, explaining what I’ve done myself, what she’s done, and how both my own idiosyncrasies as well as hers have combined to make the me that I am.

            I promise I haven’t married my mother, I promise. That “we” and “you” aren’t italicized because they’re my parents and my dad, who I am also from and share a great many similarities with (such as ADHD,,,hence the Strattera).

            Mom hates the cold. I love it, and the beach too. I’m a drummer, she plays the violin. I never shut up, she is usually the calm, composed one with a few random bursts here and there. But it’s all in me. Her, me, my dad…all there. I’m made of complexity, like we all are, so I feel like making this poem simple and to the point would undermine the true wonder of how diverse and complex the process of becoming who we all are really is.

            If you want to, go back and try it again, and I hope you understand. It would make me so happy to know that, because it’s a tribute to mom and my dad, but also their parents and grandparents and everyone else who comes from somewhere.

So here’s to you, for being you.

The Happy List

I felt that on this fine glittery afternoon, in celebration of my newly granted freedom from studies, I should commemorate my own, as well as many others’, first day of true summer with a list of some of the things that make me happiest in this world. Now, below you will not find an eloquently composed piece of literature or content of any real cerebral value, but that is not the point. It is simply a happy list. Today is a day for celebration, appreciation, and hope for a wonderful season of fun that has just now arrived, so with that said, enjoy the favorite list and happy summer to each of you!

Popsicles, real music, rainbow things, watching a person crank their neck to drink out of the refrigerator’s water dispenser, the ocean, monkey bars, the sharp crayon, animals that don’t bite, waisty skirts, pinky promises, clouds that look like stuff, sailing, wind, garagesailing, snow, the cute shirt you thought was 25.95 but it’s actually three bucks when you walk up to the register, playing instruments that aren’t there, playing real instruments, when the blinker in the car in front of you is in tempo with your music, lit up trees, neon, ice cream, funny people, the grass you can walk in and know nothing will bite you, exploding fake cheese cans, when you finally get where you’re going, storms, wind chimes, family, soul sisters, great books that make you forget what day it is, fans, when you find something you thought you lost, finding out they like you too, remembering the funny thing your friend said 3 and a half weeks ago and laughing out loud in the middle of an exam, your treasure box, trying on a thousand dresses, ordering diet water, stealing your dads last bite of cake, realizing you won, knocking the candy out of the piñata, typing the period at the end of your 30 page thesis paper, water so hot it feels cold, hotel room smell, French silk pie, old fashion candy stores, sand in between your toes, sunsets, metal detectors, finding treasures, hermit crabs, pillow fights, auctions, contests, that spinny thing on the playground that everyone loves but no one knows what it’s called, loopy roller coasters, unlimited refills, singing, running at the flock of birds, realizing that the frog you just caught peed on your hand, your leg tickling because you were sitting funny, when your tummy stops hurting, cheese, pop out stickers, finger families, considerate hair, remembering when you realized that it was your grandma screaming your name across the Walmart, putting on that dress and everyone stares and you KNOW you  look amazing, prune hands that have been in the water too long, ice cream, Duvall street, unfathomably talented people, singing  into your hairbrush, snowflakes on your  tongue, trying to eat the blow-dryer air, glow in the dark things (especially fish) , waking up and freaking out that it’s Monday when it’s Saturday, pajamas, happy tears, remembering how your brother shut up and you could actually hear yourself think,when your teacher chucks her pick axe at you, when you drive by the hummer that ran out of gas on the side of the road, sparkly things, waves, band, when you can’t quite figure out what color their eyes are, the backspace button, right before you fall asleep, funny bumper stickers, when justice is served, milk, flipbooks, when your expecting to taste water and you take a sip only to freak out because it was lemonade, happy people, unicycles, watching your dad fall out of the canoe, slushies, being the leader, the little happy dance people do, the personal bubble, summer nights, nutella, real friends, shopping, making fun of cheesy movies, loosing all of your willpower and yanking open the oven to eat the half baked brownies with a spoon, the dream where you fly, closets you could probably play basketball in, finger-painting, sleeping, pickles, smencils, the flea market, thinking you’re going to die by meteor and then realizing it’s just a floating lantern, taking pictures, enchantment, chicken toys, the rainbow channel on TVs, trying on 30 inch heels, parasailing, having a plan, taking pictures of pictures, remembering what you forgot, when the car next to you is playing the same song, randomly  seeing your friend at the grocery store, racing each other with the midget shopping carts at Randall’s, when you’re taller then your momma, landing in a plane, sleepover camp, babies, watching mustard blow up in peoples faces, selling stuff you made, waving strangers and watching their reaction, getting  splinters in your nose because your face was pressed up against a wooden door, friends, getting a whistle, watching their face when they open the present, making it happen, saving a life, knowing that you have in fact jumped off a bridge and therefore can say that if somebody told you to jump off a bridge you would do it, writing on your hand so you remember, accidentally sleeping on your written on hand so u have squiggles on your face in the morning, Jello, naming the blister on your thumb,  when the stereo always crackles right before you get a text message, POURING rain, being unexplainably happy, frappes, people who get it, the person you can be with and never have an awkward moment, sushi, what’s for dinner?, colored eye liner, seeing someone who looks exactly like you, making playhouses out of cardboard boxes, peanut butter and pickle sandwiches,  drum line, perhaps means yes, kitties,  really old nail polish on your toes, sweet potatoes, breathtaking wind, smoothies.

What are your favorite things? 🙂


It’s always a fun day over in my corner (but it just becomes especially wonderful on the days that people show me that they appreciate what I write, like today!). Many thanks to theseeker for sharing not only these awards (Shine On Award and Because You’re Fantabulous Award)with me, but also her marvelous words. If you want to know a secret, I  just figured out how to make words turn blue so they can act as links and I am incredibly proud that I can more easily share awards with others now (I know, my technological competence is astounding right?), so for all of you who take time out of your day to read my words, thank you so much. You are my inspiration! Please take these awards if you like, because you sure deserve them!

As the awards say, Shine On, because you are all Fantabulous! (Get it?) 🙂

1. Irene

2. Petrel41

3. adinparadise

4. maryamchahine

5. Seyi Sandra

6. ourlifeinaction

7. vandevebram

8. stuffitellmysister

9. Jess

10. angel313

The Memory Guard


            There are certain memories held tightly by each of us that induce such a strong nostalgic happiness and magic that we feel if they were ever allowed to fall through our fingers, so too would a beautiful piece of ourselves vanish from our lives. These memories are formed from actual experiences, ones that could not have come to exist in the beginning if we were not blessed with a free country in which we may prosper and savor life. One such memory of my own, which replays each time with as much sweetness as when I first experienced it, took place in a frosty winter in Pennsylvania.

My parents were taking me, my brother, and my sister to get ice cream. As we made our way down the mountainside, we rolled down the windows and the wind readily swept my hair in all directions with a 30 degree gale. I sat in the front seat, body cocooned in the warmth of a down feather blanket, head out of the window, and face to face with the frigid current. My eyes raced through the blackness of the night, up the towering pines that surrounded me, and jumped to the glowing moon. I was ready to take on the world as I was lost in the complete awe-inspiring majesty of night’s serenity and the icy chaos that enveloped me. My own, and everyone in this country’s ability to re-live our most cherished experiences is extended to us only as long as we also have the ability to live them for the first time. It is this privilege that we have, the privilege to experience a beautiful and free country of which we may later reminisce, that is guarded and protected by the men and women of the Armed Forces. For this service, we honor and remind those lost in the strides for freedom that they are not forgotten or taken for granted, but appreciated and respected on Memorial Day.

            For many of those who enter the Armed Forces, their personal enjoyment and making of cheerful memories is selflessly forfeited so that they may preserve the joy of the many. They willingly lay down their lives for the cause of providing us with privileges that the people of so many countries find unfathomable. Their commitments often wreak havoc in their lives during their absence, and with those blessed with the occasion of a safe homecoming whom we honor each Veterans Day, upon their return as well. Marriages are strained, childhoods are missed, homesickness runs rampant, injury is likely, and depression is common.

 Does not this exceptional level of loyalty and sacrifice on our behalf deserve exceptional recognition? In a world where we take far too much for granted, Memorial Day is one where we must pour out our sincerest thanks and respect as a token of our appreciation for what they have given up. As Veterans Day reminds the recently returned soldier struggling with PTSD that his pain and altruism were not and are not in vain, and proves to those who proudly adorn their silver hair with their military cap that we as a nation still understand the importance of what they fought so valiantly for, Memorial Day reminds the American people of something equally as important. It reminds us of those who fought so that little girls could wrap their tiny bodies in a warm blanket, and so we can have the occasional leisurely ice cream trip, and so we can all experience the exhilaration of knowing that the country we live in is a free one.

The men and women of the military, past and present, have given and continue to give us the liberty to take on the world, as I felt that I could on that November night, through their allegiance and sacrifice. They allow us to partake in the magnificent experiences held by a free nation, those which we may later re-live as sweet memories. They are our Memory Guard, and for that, we honor them this Memorial Day.

The Pirate Queen


                 She turned to my mother, “I’ve never had one morsel of red meat my entire life.” Almost in a giggle she added, “look where that got me.”

            The anti-social, impulsive child that I was, I laughed, a little too loudly, along with the rest of the adults in the parking lot that sat adjacent to the schoolyard and church where the rest of the little ones created a cacophony of gleeful screams. “That’s mine-s!” and “Tag! You’re it-s!” all harshly brewed together to produce the discordant song of a Sunday afternoon.

            I made a mental note to ask mommy why that was so funny later.

            To me, Mary Cerami was beautiful, in some aged and peculiar way, funny more often than not, and tall. So tall…well at least from my five year old perspective. She looked like a queen with an eye patch. What I didn’t and couldn’t understand for many years was that her lovely face was kissed with those wrinkles not by the gentle lips of time, but by something that surpassed description with even a word such as vile, or monstrous, or deranged. The word cursed with the task of describing this sadistic disease that was slowly annihilating this woman from within herself hid somewhere in the depths of a cave of language, where no tongue had yet had the satisfaction of reaching and pronouncing its acidic syllables. It crouched in an infinite chamber that had no lights, impossible to find. No pen that had yearned to discover its hiding place had yet succeeded. All had slouched in defeat, using a word that would not torture the ears when heard or blister the eyes when read. Malicious or morbid would suffice, but still it could be felt, lurking there, just out of reach.

            Perhaps she was well acquainted with this word. They may have had quite an intimate relationship. If they did, if it did haunt her relentlessly, she made no indication of it visibly. She did not plague her permanent stadium of cheering fans with her obvious discomforts and undoubtedly horrifying thoughts. She marched forward with love and God in her heart with her husband’s hand in hers, and the support of hundreds held tightly in the other. She smiled, she made jokes, she laughed at these jokes, and she prayed to the Lord who had blessed with the life that she had been given.

            That Sunday afternoon changed my life. While everyone was busy talking about “adult-y” things as I saw it (the reason I had promised myself that I would never be an grownup, as they were painfully boring), my little fingers slowly weaved their way through the ugly skirts, khaki, and pantyhose that so often choke the pews, and gave the slightest tug on Mary’s skirt. She felt the pressure and immediately looked down. Being quite the opposite of shy once I got myself going, I peered right into her face and demanded to know why she wore an eye patch.

            “Well you see…It’s because I’m really a PIRATE!” She burst out and proceeded to tickle me until I was a pile of furious resignation on the floor.

            “NO! Why are you REALLY wearing the eye patch??” I persisted, emphasizing the “really” as if I was the smartest human being on Earth for interpreting the fact she wasn’t telling the truth.

            She smiled and ignored my parents’ horrified expressions and went on to explain in that adult voice that I love to be addressed in. There was nothing that I hated more than to be spoken to as if I were an infant. Googaa talk…after all, I was five years old. It was at this time that I first realized that I really enjoyed this woman, and that we should be friends. I also instantaneously became aware of the fact that she was very sick and that the eye patch helped her headaches to be ones of less severity. A get well card was clearly the solution to this cold that she had.

            With my plethora of friends (sarcasm), I managed to fit her in frequently for play dates. We had grand old times together with plenty of adventures, toe painting, and of course, we always sat together at the church service every Sunday. It had rocketed from my least favorite to the absolute best part of my week, all because of my first friend. I taught her how to hold hands and skip, because, understandably, Iwas the only one in the world who knew how to do it, but I would let my secret slide just this once. I had forgotten she was sick. After all, if you were sick, you were stuck in bed all the time, and your mom would come and give you lots of soup and Popsicles.

            As I spent more time with her, I learned countless things about how to treat people, when to talk, and when to keep my mouth shut. She talked to me about God, and how miraculous he is, and how to appreciate things, because when the grass that you always complained was itchy is gone, you always remember how thrilling it was to get the blades stuck in between your toes, and how soft it was. You didn’t remember that it hurt when you stepped on a pricker.

            With these fantastic new and improved “social skills” that I came to possess, I became engaged with kids my age and made some friends. In the midst of all of these novelty distractions, I became less and less aware of the fact that Mary could not come and play as often as she used to.

            Her disease was closing in on this amazing woman I had come to know and love. It was running wild inside of her, crashing and bruising and tearing her to pieces, like a bull trampling through a once delicately furnished living room. The cushions were slashed. They bled stuffing out into the fireplace which immediately ignited and roared upward in licking motions to the ceiling, the curtains their medium. Vases were shattered, and the shards could be found imbedded into the tattered walls which were once adorned with smiling family portraits. The idea of a flawless paint job once residing in the room now seemed like a preposterous idea. The sleeping family rested peacefully in a world of dream one floor up as the flames ascended the stairs.

            One of the last nights I saw her, we spent most of our time in the wonderfully decorated living room of hers, as she could not do much else. I was aware that she was sick, but, as most five year olds are, still ignorant to the severity of her situation. I turned to her and asked one of those questions that you regret for the rest of your life.

            “When are you going to die?” I inquired, completely heedless of the fact that my question probably burned like fire in her ears.

            “The doctors said that I have a hopeful two years,” was her answer. It was delivered through smiling lips.

            I disregarded the answer as alarming and gave a nonchalant, “OK,” not understanding that to everyone over the age of eight, two years are gone before you can remember what you had for lunch.

            We had a wonderful time the remainder of the evening, although I’m sure my question haunted her conscience long after I departed that night. I did not leave, of course, without a very large hug…

            The following morning, I awoke to a crinkle in my ears and squealed with delight at the sight of a present on my pillow. It was the candy bead set that I had so fervently spoken of with Mary on a number of occasions. It was accompanied with a small card that told me how much I meant to her and that she was so glad we were friends. She told me to be brave and that she loved me. It was Sunday, so, for obvious reasons I was ecstatic about thanking her for my wonderful present.

            I ran to Sunday school, as if the sooner I arrived, the sooner I would get to leave. When the “a” of “Amen” was made audible in the prayer, I was only a figment of the classroom’s imagination. Perhaps they had placed one too many prayer mats on the floor that day.

            I plopped down outside the chapel door as their last notes of song were ending, and anticipated Mary’s exit with an almost unhealthy excitement.

            She never came.

            I waited every Sunday, but she never came. Mom wouldn’t be fair. She would pick me up and make me go out to the car. Once, she had to drag me. The thought never came to my mind to ask where she was, until I was lying in bed with my mother one night. Night time and stars always made me think of death and Heaven, and its permanence would either terrify me so much that I was rendered unable to speak, or lull me to sleep with the thoughts of angels and their singing.

            I turned to my momma, half buried in a cocoon I had built in an attempt to hide myself from what I was now beginning to realize.

            “Mommy, is Mrs. Cerami…?” My eyes flitted to the stars.

            “Yes hon, I’m so sorry,” was all she said, and I crawled right up into her arms and cried for my friend. I cried for the sweetest, bravest, best friend I could ever have wished for.

            I believe that people who are real heroes do not call themselves the latter. My ears hear the word hero, and my mind hears Mary…Mary…Mary, over and over again. I will never forget that smile she wore until the end, and my, she wore it well. Fighting through horrendous headaches and nightmarish treatments, she never spoke of her pain; she only went faithfully on to be the most incredible example that a human being could be. Bravery may be an understatement. The correct word may not exist in any language, or it may hide in a chasm similar to in which the disease’s word lies; in a cave somewhere out of reach. I will continue to search for it, but for now I will call her a hero. I most certainly am not a hero, but if I ever am to become one, I will be able to tell, as I know exactly what one looks like. Every time I face a challenge, I think of her and accomplish it, because I know that she had a much larger task set before her than any one of my miniscule problems. Do I still find myself acting like a spoiled brat at times? Of course, but when I notice it, it sure disappears in a hurry. I don’t let others around me get away with it either, because there are so many terrific things in life to pour your energy into, none of which include griping. I used to cry for everything. After she touched my life, there is only one thing to this day that makes me cry. I am strong. I can handle anything that comes my way, and knowing this, I put myself out into the world for more opportunities to present themselves, and I take each head-on with a vibrancy of step.

            I am not afraid. The night does not scare me anymore.