love affair with food

I tried and tried to lose the weight I had gained with the birth of my little guy for close to 4 years by eating less and moving more. It wasn’t working. I kept feeling defeated, didn’t like my body, didn’t like myself and just wanted to hide in big clothes. I would drop my son off at school and pass by the Weight Watchers center on the way to the gym. I would think about going in but I was ashamed of asking for and paying a large corporation to tell me how to eat and lose weight and at the same time, I knew that whatever I was doing wasn’t doing what I wanted. So one day I walked into the place and signed up. That was in 2009. Before walking in, I promises myself 2 things: I was going to do what they told me without trying to find loopholes or ways to cheat the systems, and I was going to stick to it until after I lost weight and learned to maintain my weight. I needed to do this.

The whole thing with WW is to eat a certain number of points per day determined by the company based on criteria specific to the individual. The members role is to consume foods they choose based on that number and to track what they eat. So basically I had to write down whatever I ate every day and all of a sudden, seeing what I consumed became important. I was to limit how much I ate but what I ate was all my doing. Seeing what you are eating and becoming aware of how your body is responding to the food became very important to me. When you are confronted with limiting yourself, you realize how important it is to give yourself the best that you can to nourish and satisfy you.

Here we are three years later and I’ve lost the weight and maintained it. Mind you I’m a bit obsessed with my weight but I can live with that since I can fit into a size 6 pair of jeans and that’s what I wanted. I walked into WW to be able to fit into a pair of skinny jeans if I chose and the consequence of it has become my love for eating healthy delicious food.

I spend time making a weekly menu. I base my menu on the box of vegetable that arrives to my house on Fridays from SLO Veg. By having a box of different vegetables come to me taught me to step out of my comfort food zone. I stay away from meat that are factory farmed. My eggs are fertile and free range. If I want more vegetables, I go to my local farmers market and pick/choose from what they offer. My sister and I were talking about this change in me and I told her that for the first time in my life, I’ve actually started to love food. Making the connection with food on my terms, I’ve become both very controlling of what I put in my body and learning to let myself to just have fun with it. I’m still learning how to balance my uses of food, how to enjoy it, not to obsess about it, and sometimes just let myself go and just be.

The more I learn about the food on my plate, the more I realize that what my sister has lived by for decades is becoming more and more true. The personal is political. Without intention, how I choose to feed myself and my family has become both a personal need for nutrition and a political stand. Here’s the kicker, at the same time I’m conflicted because I feel like an absolute snob and elitist when I do these things because I know that a large part of the world is suffering with hunger/starvation and there are places on this planet where clean drinking water is unavailable. I think about this while I walk around with my handmade bag massaging kale to determine which one will go well with my dinner. It’s gross and I am conflicted about it.

The point of this blog? Nothing, Everything. Food.


Posted by on June 24, 2012 in in my head


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ImageI think reality checks about yourself are the most interesting and surprising experiences one can have. I assume that if there’s anyone who can really know about the workings of my brain it’s me since I’m the one making them happen. But sometimes I am confronted with my raw, unprocessed reaction to situations and I find myself giggling at what little I really understand about me.

My ideas of me change as situations and years progress. Looking back at my self-identity through the years, I can see the changes in me but there has always been one thing that I’ve always considered a foundation of my basic personality traits is my need to be alone. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved being alone. It has been the times in my life when I can create, reflect, deflate and just be with me. I like me. I would be my friend.

So here we are today. It has been 10 days of living alone. I’ve never lived alone so this is a big deal for me. The Pauls are on their Great American Roadtrip Journey and I have had the most interesting time finding out about my many different feelings about life without my boys. I had so many grand plans and ideas of what I was going to do. I made a list of projects I haven’t had time to finish off because (insert excuse here: I use the boy as mine). I made plans to do the things that you can’t do with a kid attached at your hip. I was going to be single and loving it. PERFECT!

The thing I forgot to include in my grand plan was the emotional connection I have to my love and our little love that we have made. I forgot that for the past 10 years my heart has been filled with love deeper and more alive than ever in my life. I forgot that my little man, even though his affections are conditional,  wakes up and asks for a hug. I forgot that the little man starts my day and reminds me of when my day is over. I forgot that when my love wakes up mid-day, I am always greeted with a kiss. I forgot that when I’m alone, it is quiet around me but not inside my head. I forgot that I may have to deal with a roller coaster of feelings.

Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed this time and I can’t thank Paul enough for allowing me not to join their trip. I need this time for many reasons. It’s wonderful to be able to get up and go without having to herd a kid to get going. It’s wonderful not to hurry up and wait. I love that I can spontaneously get up and go or be a slug and just lay around doing nothing. Sleeping in and laying in bed watching the sky feels good. Making myself dinner without having to modify any of it is lovely. Walking around town at my own pace and not having to slow down to keep with someone else pace is a good thing.

So with the contradictions of emotions about this experience, I am happily enjoying my days, dreading my nights, missing them deeply, wishing it would last a few days longer, wanting them to get home now, needing more time, wanting to be held, and learning more about me as the days pass.

They come home in three days. I am going to just laugh at myself when I get annoyed they are home to ruin my good thing within an hour of their arrival. Mind you I wouldn’t be surprised by it because I’m that ridiculous about the whole thing.

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Posted by on June 22, 2012 in Uncategorized


a letter from me to me

On Saturday, I was having a conversation with three other women whose ages range from their 30s to 70s. We were talking about life’s strange journeys. One of the women told us about an article she read regarding women who wrote letters to their young selves as they see the world now and the conversation wove itself into what kinds of things we would write to tell our young selves about life as we see it now based on the paths we took to get to this point. Well, let’s be honest. They talked about it and I sat quietly and listened. I didn’t know what to say because whatever I would have said would have been a lie. I thought about this on my way home and I’ve been thinking about it since. Each time I try to make a letter to the young me and I can’t because I don’t know her. I have no real frame of reference to her because I don’t have any memories of her as me when I was her as a young girl. I don’t know what she liked, what she thought, who she looked to, what she saw, what she feared, loved, hated, wanted or cared about. I don’t know anything about her except for what my parents tell me and even then, she isn’t real. She is a person I have no connection to but really want to know because she sounds like she was a nice person to share time with when she wasn’t sad or angry.

As I entered my adulthood, I knew that my lack of memory was my brain compartmentalizing traumatic events to keep me safe. At least that was my reasoning for not wanting to open the door into why I couldn’t remember. It boggled my mind to hear people talking about going to hypnotists and therapists to bring up childhood traumas to come to terms with them. I remember having a conversation with my roommate who was going to therapy to remember the loss of her sister who she only had recollections of in dreams. She was mad at her parents for not talking about it and how she wanted answers. I was so mad at her for wanting to do this because it meant having to relive something that could never be changed. I was mad at her for wanting to bring up memories for her parents and didn’t understand why she was so insistent on wanting cause herself so much sadness. As I was arguing my point, I was thinking about me. I was thinking about the recurring dream that haunts me still. I wanted her to stop so I wouldn’t have to think about the fact that my lack of memory was because I was afraid to know what happened around me until I was safe. I didn’t want to ask my parents to relive a time they didn’t want to remember and have to tell their daughter who feels lost in the world because she has no foundation to stand on. I was mad at her for doing what I knew I had to but wouldn’t. I kept going without wanting to open the doors to my past.

The brain is a funny thing. It’s my belief that the brain protects the person from itself. I know that things were safely stored from me in my brain because I wasn’t safe and ready to know. But those days are now coming to an end. In the last few years, maybe since I turned 40, little bits and pieces of images are popping out of my brain of a little girl in the strangest and most unhappy places. I am starting to hear and see moments that I know are real but I don’t know how much of it is real and how much is cushioned from years of telling myself not to think about it. After having a very disturbing dream a few months ago I did the thing I never wanted to do. I asked my parents what happened before we move to the US. I knew this would bring up concern in my mother who wants to constantly protect us even now. I knew that it would bring things up that no one has thought about for 30 years. I knew that when I asked, it would also mean that I would have to find a way to bring it out from inside me and work toward finding some peace in what happened and maybe become familiar with the little girl I don’t know who became me.

I few weeks later, I got an email from my dad. I printed out the 4 pages of my life which he titled “Houry’s timeline through Semerdjian saga”. I read and reread it. I could hear him telling it like a story with his sense of humor, his accent, his accuracy. I could also hear my mother telling him to remember little details only my mother would remember. There it was in ink. All that was hidden in my brain was out, as told to me by the two people who did everything they could to protect me from the insane world we lived in. Their courage in the middle of madness to find a safe place for us, going from one country to another with three kids (one still an infant) in tow. I asked my dad what kept him going in taking risks instead of settling for what he had. I remember his face getting very serious for a second and responding with “I knew there had to be a civilized place to raise a family”.

The email talks of a happy childhood with lots of love and wonderful people around us. It goes from that to wars and being uprooted from country to country. It talks about times of hope and despair. It talks of risks with no guarantees and it talks about me as a little girl. It’s hard to read it but I do every so often, trying to find the link that is going to bring me a connection to her so I can tell her that eventually she is going to find peace in her world, with a wonderful little family, friends who she will love and enjoy, and a little son who is probably just like her who is me.

So if I were to write the letter I would probably say..


I am you when you are older. I don’t speak your language but you will learn to speak mine when you turn 8 years old. It’s going to be a strange and scary time when you finally get here because you will have to learn to speak, behave, think and be like people you have never been around but don’t worry, you will play the part and no one will ever know that you don’t really feel like you fit in. You will be good at keeping what you really think inside strong enough to even trick yourself into a comfortable place. You will make a lot of mistakes, some so ridiculous, you will be laughing about it while sitting by yourself at a coffee shop when you are 40 years old. Some mistakes will hurt you for years and years but you will not have any physical scars from them. You will never fit in but that’s okay because I have come to learn that most people you will know will never feel like they fit in because everyone has something broken.

There is going to be a time in your life when you are going to be asked to take a real risk. You are going to be asked to let go of everything you know to be real and move your life from your comfort zone. This request is going to come from a specific man who is going to be the only person who will make you know that you belong. When he enters your life, you will KNOW it’s real and you are not alone. Take the risk. When you do, you will finally be safe and you and I will be me now.


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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in in my head


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It’s been a week now and my body is readjusting to normal and my brain is getting off its high from my first half-marathon. The whole thing was an experience I never thought I would go through because it wasn’t ever an interest to me and I figured I can’t do it. Now I am working on my next one. This time with the intention of run/walking to set a baseline for my time. Yes, I said it. I want to set a time to work from.

It started months and months ago. One of the women I work with, Sheryl, kept telling me I should run a marathon. The thought of her really thinking that I could do it was really nice but to actually run anything was just not going to happen. I don’t know how to run properly, and I don’t like how it feels when I do run, which isn’t often. The only thing I found appealing about it was that the training would get me fit so I agreed to do it. After a bit of time though, as with most things I do, I lost interest and figured if she ever asked me, I would tell her I forgot. But she persisted and I finally went ahead and signed up for the SLO marathon/half-marathon. With two months ahead of me, I started following a training program half seriously but since I registered, I figured I should do something. I walked, walked, walked and walked some more, but it never went past 8 miles. I figured at some point I just need to accept that on race day, I’ll have to let momentum take over because I ran out of places to walk in town.

On the day before the race, I drove into the Madonna Expo to pick up my packet. My heart started racing and I got overwhelmed with multiple emotions and it finally hit me, I’m going to do a 13.1 mile race the next morning starting at 6:30am. Oh I forgot to mention that a couple weeks prior, I walked most of the route just to make sure I knew what was coming-no stone unturned in my life because I’m not a fan of surprise in anything.

The night of the race, I set two alarm clocks, asked small paul to put himself to bed and went to bed at 7:30pm knowing if I got an hour or two through the night it would be more than I’d had in the last three nights. I woke up every 30 minutes or so to make sure time was progressing like it’s supposed to, having short dreams of missing the race all together, opening my eyes to make sure I don’t miss the alarm. It was an OCD night. While this is happening, my brain keeps wondering if I’m going to be able to go to the bathroom before I leave the house at 5:30 because I don’t know if I could go in a porta potty. Seriously! This was a major concern.

I got up before the alarm at 4:30am. Got ready in a very surreal state of mind and walked up to the high school to the start location. It was completely dark out and my only guide was the distant voice of the announcer up the hill. The place was packed with some 2000 people. Some in groups, some alone, some dancing in place, others huddled to keep themselves warm, some cheering others on, others praying in groups. It was a wide array of people and I was alone. I wanted to do this alone to make it mine for me to take the experience without external motivators or detractors. But standing in the dark surrounded by people was very lonely. For some reason, someone else must have felt it too because out of the blue, I had a walking partner who entered alone as well. Her name was Sue and she lives up north. We helped each other keep going when it was hard, and cheered each other on when it wasn’t so hard.

It was an amazing journey because all of me was somehow changing as the race progressed. My first thought when the race started was immediate fear and excitement. There was no way to turn back at that point and the only way to go was forward. Being with Sue kept me in check. I had planned on running part of the race but knew that having not trained for it at all would be a bad idea and having her there not wanting to run made it safe for me not to. As we were going, a woman I know came riding by on her bike telling me she came to find me to make sure I knew I wasn’t alone. TRIP. I only know her from a couple of weeks ago but she was insistent on being a cheerleader for me. This made me want to do it more. As we hit the 2 mile mark, we were passing by my house. I thought about how cool it would be if the little guy was outside to watch me but I knew he was still sleeping, which made me think about how cool that is. Mom is out racing while son is dreaming about Star Wars legos I’m sure.

It went on and one. The sky changed from dark to light. The day started but 2000 people were already going. At around the 6 mile mark, I was rubbing my leg. It was starting to talk to me, telling me to stop doing this but I knew that at this point, I would merely feel the pain when I was done. Not too longer after that, something inside me shot me with power that I had never felt. It was so exhilarating and amazing. I wanted to run as fast as I could. This surge of energy was all I needed to stop any doubt or fatigue I had. It was amazing. As the road kept going I started having some serious questions about me. I questioned why it has taken me so long to start taking care of me, thinking about the things in my life that I shouldn’t have done and how those memories affect how I look at the world. I started to feel regret about those things that shouldn’t have been but then kept coming back to the moment and remembering that all of that shit brought me here today to do this. It’s my only to move forward and not dwell on the past. My brain went to the future and how much I could do from this point. I’ve made a wish list this year of things I want to do. They are no longer wishes but things that I need to do for me

I got to a point when I had to go pee. I saw a porta-potty. I had to do it but my hands where swollen. I’d been walking over 8 miles without stopping and I  knew if I stopped it would hurt me worse than not stopping. I told myself I was going to listen to my body and she is telling me it’s time to relieve myself. I did. Giggling about how silly I must look trying to do something I do several times a day. When I got back on the road, Sue was waiting for me. At that point, I wanted to confirm how important she was to me. I just let the words come out and told her that no matter what happens, she is going to be part of my journey because I don’t know what would have happened if she wasn’t with me. She told me her thoughts and without anything more to say we knew after we got to the finish line, we would say good bye and move on. It was one of the purest moments in my life ever.

At the 10 mile mark, I hit the wall. I could see the end. I know the route. It’s close to my house. My body just tensed up and it HURT. Sue gave me Gu and told me to slowly suck on it. It was gross. It was disgusting. It was crack in gel form and it was what I must have needed because as we were making it to the last mile, I was giggling and taking pictures of people and just not caring because I was going to be done and it was going to be NOW.

I did it. I know people have done it before me and they will do it after me. I know that our experiences will feel unique to us but we have all felt the same thing. I know that at the point that I crossed the finish line, I became a different person. I don’t know how to put words to it but I feel different. At this point, I won’t let me stop me from doing things I want to do. I can’t. I did something I was never going to do because it seemed too hard. Now I have no excuses

**I want to thank Sheryl Collmer for being the person who told me I needed to do this. Without her words and constant reminder of what I could do, I would never have done it.



Posted by on April 30, 2012 in in my head


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Is this what they call Mid-life Crisis?

I’m 43 years old. The last three years in my 40s were pretty much like any other year in my 30s except for 35 (weird year). I didn’t understand when some of my friends who were a bit older than me, when they asked me if I felt “it”. Unable to explain exactly what “it” was, I figured it passed me. I am not sure when “it” came to me but I don’t see “it” as a crisis because I’m not panicking or having an identity issue. I’m still me and I’m doing pretty good. However, there is something in me that wants to make more of what I have. I want to grasp things I’ve never tried to. I want. I can’t explain it. It’s more about wanting to challenge myself and accomplished more of the things that I’ve found interesting, fun or just down right scary but intriguing. Is that what the mid-life crisis is about? Crisis isn’t the word. I think we need to remove that from our language. How unfortunate for the generations before us that they had to label wanting to better themselves as a crisis. I am now officially it calling the Mid-life Balance. That’s what it is. I’m balancing what I know as my normal with new things I’m bringing into my life to make things funner, better and just a bit different.

December 2011 was a strange month for me. My mind kept playing around with the idea of creating a list of things to do for the new year. I never do resolutions because they are empty promises one makes to herself and then feels like a failure. Why do that to myself? I didn’t like the idea of a list-of-things either. Since I became a mother 6 years ago, I feel like there isn’t anything I do that doesn’t come from some list that I have either on paper or in my head. I wanted something that I can create that would be reasonable, interesting, challenging, and easily modified depending on my mood. I have been wanting to do a lot of things that I never get around to doing. I’m not one to challenge myself so to set something up like this was/is a big deal.

After going back and forth with what kinds of things I’ve wanted to do, I started writing down the things I want to complete or remove from my life. The older I get the more I want to live with the minimal of things. I didn’t think I could get rid of more but apparently I can. I gave myself projects to finish what I had started and to get stuff that’s been lingering in the corners of the house out of my space. If it hasn’t been used in the last 6 months, then there is someone else in this world who can and wants to use them, I’m sure.

The hard part came after I made my obvious list of clean ups. I started writing up all the things I wanted to do and then had to cut it down so that it wasn’t so overwhelming. Then I thought a bit deeper about it. I gave myself 12 things I want to do and I want to attempt them one per month. If I am able to complete at least five of the things on the list, I feel that I’ve done more than what I’ve done in previous years.

I wasn’t going to put the list out there but hey we are in the world. Nothing is private and in some ways that’s not so bad. So here is my life of things I want to do…

Things I want to do this year

  1. Standup Paddle Boarding (Jan)
  2. Vegan Cooking Class (Feb)
  3. Go on dates with Paul once a month. Try different things on dates.
  4. Relearn to take pictures with film camera
  5. Send hand written letters and cards to people in my life at least twice a month
  6. Half Marathon (April)
  7. Learn to shoot gun (March)
  8. Belly dancing
  9. Learn Archery
  10. Give Paul a gift a month
  11. New exercise
  12. Go to a city I haven’t been to by myself.
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Posted by on March 4, 2012 in in my head


“Good” and “Bad”

Since Paul started school, he has become a boy of his environment outside of the house. I knew this was going to happen and I’m accepting of some of the things he is learning as “normal” and there some thing I wish I had more say in.


luke fighting vader

Killing “bad” people is not something that I can wrap my brain around. I grew up with violence outside the house and no one told me that the ‘bad’ people needed to be killed by the “good” people. Identifying people as “good” or “bad” was not taught to me.

We have never used the term “good boy” or “bad boy” in regards to him or to him. I was insistent on making sure he knew that those two terms were based on behaviors and not the being of a person. We are neither good nor bad, sometimes we behave in ways that are deemed good or bad based on the rules of conduct set up for us by our culture to follow. It’s pretty simple. You are not good or bad, you just are.

That being said, I realized in the past year or so that I have competition that is stronger than I can ever be. Star Wars has entered my home on a level so much bigger than I could imagine. My lessons of value and identity are mere words when Star Wars has set up a pretty cut and dry idea of GOOD and BAD. George Lucas in all his movie making wisdom made the people of the Empire bad with simple identifiers: They wear black clothes, have deep voices, the deep foreboding music as Vader entered a room, the Emperors maniacal laugh and electrical finger tips. The gray skin of people who don’t smile or go outside to look at the suns. They are bad because they have one purpose: to protect the Empire by killing whatever gets in their way. The Rebels are good. They wear white, they have a wide range of emotions, they train in nature, they have forest friends and discuss their emotions instead of reacting instantly. They don’t make the first move but will kill if they have to. They are good because they are fighting for freedom from the Evil Empire. It’s pretty cut and dry. I get it. I’m not criticizing Star Wars, I know not to because there are way too many adult men who will deem me as ignorant of the genius of the Star Wars magic. I accept that.

My issue is what it’s done to my son’s perceptive of identifying those who could justifiably kill. I see it in his drawings. He draws the “good” guy with a smile and with lighter colors and the “bad” guy with a frown and darker claustrophobic cloths. I hear it in his language and questions about laws that are for the good and for the bad. It’s in his playing now. This week he created a couple of characters with his Lego’s and was making shooting sounds. I asked him what was happening. He showed me his characters and told me which one was bad because he was a burglar and a murder and which one was good because he was killing the bad guy. WHAT? I had to step outside of my thoughts for a second and not get emotional about it. I asked him why killing the burglar was okay to which he said because he is doing something that’s against the law which makes him a bad guy. When I told him that based on that reasoning, when the good guy kills the other guy, he becomes a bad guy because killing is against the law. At this time, he waved his hand at me like he was done with me and my lack of understanding of the obvious. I walked away from this brokenhearted. My son is becoming a member of our social structure that is able to justify behaviors toward others by creating the “other” or “them”.

Yes, I know that some will think that this is human nature or a ‘boy’ thing. I can’t argue against it anymore, I’m tired. Boys will be boys but when they become men with their “natural” tendencies we deem them as “bad” and punish them. There has to be a moment when we stop allowing ourselves to teach our children to think in such black/white ways because as we see in our culture, our world, what thinking in absolutes creates. Endless wars against the “other”, revenge and discrimination of people we don’t understand or accept because they don’t fit our understanding of “good”. I want more for my son. It hurts me to know how many more obstacles there are in making the world a better place when you have such powerful influences that tell him that things are simply identified based on the easy terms of “good” and “bad”.


Posted by on December 29, 2011 in life with the pauls


My Perfect



This upcoming Thursday is our 9th anniversary. Each year, we do the same thing: We look at each other surprised that it’s been so long because it feels like we met last year.

I don’t believe that things happen for a reason. Things happen because things happen. I don’t think there is destiny.  We create the roads we take based on what’s available to us. It’s the essence of my being. I am here now, and when I’m gone, I will be gone. What happens in that time is not set. Saying that and wanting to stick it, I wonder why this amazing person entered my life flawlessly, joined me on my road without any loss or conflict for either of us, and filled a void I didn’t know I had makes me.

When Iain met him, he said it perfectly. Paul finally showed up to the party. And that’s what is was. He finally showed up and it was all supposed to happen when it happened because we were both in the place in our lives where we were supposed to finally meet our real life partners to travel on our road together until we are gone. I feel a seriously gushy love for him. He is MY PERFECT.

I was looking at stuff on the computer and found the following. I had written it three days after we met. I remember the feeling like it happened last night

November 20, 2002

You know that feeling you get in your gut when you walk into a “situation” where you have a brief but intense moment? It won’t be life altering or change your disposition in life but it will be one of those “things” that you will carry with you for a really long time.

A few days ago a couple of words were said that keep lingering in my mind. “…make assumptions”. If those words weren’t said, would what happened not happen? Would there be other words to create the situation for the act to happen? Would it have been as natural and flowing if the words weren’t said? What gave it away? What was it I did to allow those words to be said? Was it a courageous move to say those words or was it a done deal? Was it going to happen at some time and this time was it? . Make assumptions…

There are moments in life that play in slow motion for me. The sounds/noises disappear, everything around me become dark and the only thing that is in focus, clear, vivid and real, is the thing that is making this moment happen. It’s happened to me a few times. Moments that I can’t really explain to people because it’s about the moment and it’s a feeling. It happened when H* first touched my skin, when M* first touched my lips, when J* and I kissed after fighting. Moments that in the larger picture don’t mean anything to anyone but those are the ones I remember. 

“…make assumptions…”, then the leaning of the head slightly, waiting for a reaction…everything went quiet and nothing seemed real. Without any hesitation, I took the assumption and made it into a moment. 

It’s moments like that that make life so fun. I know there are more coming in my life. Because no matter what, another situation or moment is bound to happen as long as there are other people in my life. It’s these intense moments that I remember vividly, the ones that can’t be repeated-once in a life-that make it all so exciting. And they all happen within a moment you aren’t expecting. And it all happens because one of us “…makes assumptions…”

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Posted by on November 14, 2011 in Uncategorized