Matthew Faltz
Matthew Faltz

It was one of those Saturday nights for most college kids in my town, and on that specific night I was just playing the part of every single other one of them. We were all out drinking, having a blast, hopping from bar to bar and discovering new drinks and things about ourselves through our slurred and honest speech. Dialect of a drunken language. After the fourth bar and the twentieth time some losers asked us if they could buy us a drink, it started pouring down raining outside.

“Damnit,” Leo said as the rest of the group shrugged their shoulders and kept dancing. He was the DD of the night and was clearly not having the time of his life or “living it up” as we had stated. By this point in the night, I was extremely intoxicated and getting exhausted. I slurred this to Leo whose eyes bulged out and thought I was speaking some new language thought up by aliens.

“What?” he asked.

“I said I think I’m going home. I can take a cab or something… it’s just a few blocks over, you know.”

Without too much of a fuss from him or any of my other friends, I was out on the street in the pouring down rain. Nauseous effects from the overabundance of alcohol set in and I began quickening my pace, thinking I needed to find the nearest trash can but instead losing the contents over the edge of a sidewalk. I kept walking and realized I had been walking in the rain for quite some time and it felt pretty good, so I kept up the pace and kept going until I reached my block.

A neighbor of mine was getting out of her car and smiled at me, but as I drew closer, her face turned to near horror. She pointed above me and I had only seconds to look up when I noticed that a monstrous branch was letting loose from the tree it was attached to. As it fell above my head, I heard her scream, “Lucy, WATCH OUT!!”

When I woke, my eyesight was hazy as if I was looking through a telescope with limited vision on both sides, and my head was pounding like a rocket taking launch. As the blurriness faded, I noticed two people leaning over the bed and my vision zoomed in until I made out the lines of the man and the woman.

“Mom…Dad?” I asked, confused as hell and wanting to leap out of my bed, but my mom held onto my arm and stopped me from going anywhere.

“You took quite the hit,” my mom laughed. “Freaked us out, back there.”

I looked down at my ruffled, pink bed sheets and my sleeping gown with the princess on it. “Wha-what happened?”

“You fell out of the tree in the back yard, honey,” my father insisted, placing a hand on my forehead and feeling my temperature. “We’re going to let you rest and you’ll feel better in no time. Good thing, too, because there’s a lot of chores to do around here.”

My parents trudged out of the room and as I began to gain more focus in the bedroom, I saw the other familiar bed across the room with the blankets pulled up to the mouth of nobody other than my sister, Julie. She was small and shaking, her eyes tremendous as she watched me from across the room.

“What?” I asked, still a bit lost and confused.

“You really don’t remember?” she asked.

“Remember what? What are you talking about?”

“You…you don’t remember what they did to you,” she replied softly. “You don’t remember anything. You think you fell out of a tree.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked again, this time a bit furiously.

“Go look in the mirror, Lucy,” she shot out, her face totally revealed from behind the blanket. She had large, black bruises all over her face and a cut at her lip.

I strode across the room and as soon as I was in front of our full-length mirror, I gasped. My arms were covered in scars and upon further inspection, I noticed that one had a bump the size of a golf ball at the elbow. My face was completely black and blue with two purple eye sockets, glowing from the newness of the bruises.

“Holy… what happened to me?” I asked, whipping around to face my sister on the bed.

“It was the fight,” she said. “We were doing chores and you finished up and asked mom if you could walk to the neighbor’s house to play. She insisted that it wasn’t done yet and that you couldn’t go today. You stomped off and…she grabbed ahold of you and threw you down the stairs.” A few steps went by the bedroom and I hopped back into my bed frantically. When I turned back to Julie, she had her finger raised to her mouth in a shushing motion to remind us to be quiet. “She yanked you by the hair. You passed out. I was screaming for them to call an ambulance… and then dad came in and whipped me across the face until I shut up. He told me the neighbors would hear.”

“What?” I asked incredulously. “No… mom and dad wouldn’t do that. What in the world are you talking about?”

Then my eyes dropped to the scars and unhealed bruises on my arms, not so fresh, and the memories came flooding in. Each bruise a new reminder of what we had gone through and probably what was likely to come as well.

My mind turned to fresh panic, probably not the best in a situation where my mind was already racing and shot full of pain like morphine. In my haziness I told Julie to get dressed. She was younger than me by a year and I had to protect her. I told her we would have to escape out the window.

“Do you know how much trouble we’re going to be in if we get caught?” she asked me in a whimper, her voice rising at the end.

“Do you know how dead we’re going to be, like really dead, if they lay their hands on us again?” I threatened, and she nodded as knowingly as anybody would.

Just as I asked for her help to pry the window open and we hoisted it together, our bedroom door shot open and we screamed like a pack of monkeys who had just discovered their babies had been killed. Our dad was standing there, mom in tow behind him, and he didn’t take more than a couple of seconds to adjust his sights in on what was taking place in our bedroom.

“I KNEW you shits were up to something!” he thumped across the room, screaming loudly with the window half-open. I attempted to push Julie out and scramble on myself, but it was too late. I remember catching a glimpse of her last foot getting caught on a sharp nail sticking out of the window, screaming in pain, and the horrified look on our neighbor’s face across the street as she went unnoticed by my parents and slipped into her home, grabbing her phone to call 9-1-1. And then my father’s hand met my face and I was out cold.

“I just hope there’s no long-term, lasting-“ My mother’s voice cut off and she shrieked in joy as my eyes flittered a bit like the wings of a butterfly lost in a storm. “SHE’S AWAKE! OH MY GOD, SHE’S AWAKE!”

My eyes refocused and I felt my face, looked down at my outfit and feet, wiggled my toes for good measures. I peered into the mirror next to my hospital bed and noticed that I was in a hospital gown and there were absolutely no bruises on my arms or face, safe for the wrapping around the uppermost part of my head and hooked up to numerous IVs through my arms.

“Where am I?” I asked. “I just had the weirdest dream…”

“Oh, honey,” my mom cried as my dad met me by my side and the nurses rushed around happily, seeing that I was now awake. “You were struck by a branch outside your apartment at college and you were in a coma for a few days. We didn’t think…didn’t think we would ever see you speak or blink your eyes again. This is just wonderful.”

“Struck by a tree branch?” I asked. “You would never believe the dream I just had. I have to tell you about it.”

“It can wait…” my mom trailed off as doctors and nurses pushed around her and checked my vitals.

“No, mom, really,” I said, feeling my blood pressure rising through my body. “I had a dream that you guys weren’t my parents and that my real parents were these child abusers. And I had a sister, Julie…”

“Honey, really, not now,” my mom whispered close to my face. “We’re so glad that our baby is okay. These doctors know what’s best to you.”

“But it was so real, mom,” I said. “It was like… a fucking memory.”

Over the next few weeks I was sent into extensive therapy and rehabilitation on the road to recovery. Missing school wasn’t so bad and Leo and the gang came to visit me occasionally. We kept in contact through texting which was really the only thing I looked forward to as the drone of the same daytime television shows were doing me no good. I heard from my neighbor and thanked her profusely for coming to my rescue and being there when the branch fell. Neighbors do wonderful things sometimes; it’s good to have them around.

My therapist mentioned to me one day that my memories would start to come back. I keep telling him that I remember a lot of what happened before the branch cracked me over my head and sent me into la-la land, and he laughs as I tell him this but it’s a bit more serious than that to me. Memories are coming back, for sure. I remember a lot about how my biological parents killed Julie and buried her in the forest of our old hometown. I remember moving across the country to my aunt and uncle’s and adjusting back into my lifestyle. Yes, childhood is coming back. Memories are coming back, just as he promised they would.

And I have a lot of questions. TC mark

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The Devil Wears Prada
The Devil Wears Prada

“This position is unpaid.”

One of the most dreaded phrase for students everywhere, second only to “we regret to inform you”.  You had scrolled hopefully through the whole job description with the extensive and intimidating list of responsibilities and qualifications. You were beginning to believe that this was it, the job you were looking for that would not be so bad. Something you could see yourself doing without actively hating yourself and your employer. But there it is, the loathsome word: unpaid.

However, that is not even the worst part. Not only is the internship unpaid but for the sheer privilege of essentially volunteering for Company X you need two years of relevant experience, at least a 3.5 GPA, and extensive extra-curricular activities (ideally in leadership positions). In addition to that you need to be able to work 60-hour weeks and willing to sacrifice your first born child. Wow. Thanks so much.

Sure, it’s phrased as a wonderful learning opportunity to “get experience” in the “real world”, whatever that means. Company X is really doing you a favor. They are going to help you learn skills that companies want in someone they will hire and pay actual money to. But wait just one second. Isn’t that what college is for?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought I was paying thousands of dollars a year on a higher education to learn such skills that will make me an employable adult. But now that isn’t enough. In addition to that expensive college degree I need to spend my summers working for free to get this experience that everyone throws around as a buzzword, without actually explaining what that entails. Well that’s just bullshit.

Cumulative student debt in America is in the trillions, increasing numbers of students are financing the ever-growing costs of a college education through loans. There are countless articles and news clips detailing this phenomenon and what students should be doing to avoid gaining thousands of loans and the most obvious solution is working. Get a job, says an online article. Work part-time during the year and full-time during the summer, says some expert.

Invest in yourself through this unpaid internship, says Company X. In order to get a paying job you need relevant experience, says Company Y. Work these long hours for no money to pad your résumé, says  Company That Makes Millions in Profit Each Year.

So I’m supposed to work to not take out student loans to finance my college education that is supposedly not teaching the skills/experience needed to get hired at a paying job so I need to accept this unpaid internship for which I need a college education. Great. Thanks. I feel more experienced already. TC mark

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Let Me Explain
Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain


There isn’t room for idols.

The next Kanye isn’t out there worshipping Kanye. He’s the person who thinks he’s the real Kanye.

Sometimes rebellion works.


Of course, the opposite is true as well.

Respect is crucial because without paying respect you’re letting your emotions get ahead of your talent. How can you succeed without paying dues, or at least paying attention? School may be borderline worthless but actual learning? Knowledge and talent, taken and applied? Priceless.

Take it where you can.


You have to be yourself, but you have to find who that self is.

That’s a mix between two philosophies. You have to try on the aspirational success and experiences you want to whittle out the self of you that will wear them. What works will be obvious and what doesn’t will be too.

Don’t ever feel like you have to do something. All you have to do is try it. You can’t pick your life; life picks you like a wand chooses its wizard.


Open up your vision.

Your obsessions and focuses have to align with your energy and skills. Otherwise it’s like trying to force a peg in the wrong place.

What are you trying to do? If it’s coming easily, see if it fits you. If it’s coming hard, see if there’s an easier way to get the end result done. Sometimes we can get caught in rhythms and patterns that feel easier but are, in fact, harder than exploring a new route for ourselves.

A larger view of your life may reveal paths and put into context and perspective your more solvable problems.


You should probably listen to a lot of Drake.

I can’t promise this will help you, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think that 50 milligrams of Drake a day will enhance your life.


Do what you want.

I don’t mean mindless nihilism or selfishness because, deep down, I don’t think that’s really what you want. The same way your body doesn’t really want chicken nuggets every day, your soul doesn’t really want to be selfish and cruel either.

Bodies and souls have a natural balance. Encourage and empower yourself to find it. Your wants and instincts are a much better barometer for who you are and what you should do than, say, internet marketing campaigns designed to provoke.


Be mindful of yourself, your time, and your energy and use it better.

When you start to pay attention to anything, be it sleep, nutrition, finances or love, your focus improves as do your results. Mindfulness takes practice to cultivate but it creates permanent gains.


Remember that, push comes to shove, you don’t even have to try that hard because you’re always getting better and what does getting better even mean, you know?

You knowwwwwww?



Sometimes it’s easy to get better and sometimes it’s hard. Always, always, go for the easy. Do the hard ones too but if all your improvement needs is consideration, go for it.

Sometimes it can be hard to remember or consider improvement, but if the step itself is simple, it’s worth pursuing.


Ask for help.

Nothing helps quite like help. If you can’t get something done as is, make it easier. Change the rules and bend them. Find the methods that enhance you and if they come externally, through education or a hand or even an ear, go for it.

People like to help, and sometimes the smart and brave thing to do is to accept that for yourself. TC mark

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Gilmore Girls
Gilmore Girls

1. She is the one who taught you manners. You know it’s important to RSVP to a party, keep your elbows off the table, and shake your girlfriend’s fathers hand when you meet him. You rolled yours eyes a lot when you were younger at some of these rules, but you are thankful she taught you how to behave like a lady or gentleman.

2. Her words of wisdom will always live in you. When I was young, my mother would always tell me “just try…even if you know you are not good at it…just try.” I know as an adult that even when I am out of my comfort zone, I will always give every task the effort it deserves. This in turn has taught me to be grateful we all have differences and to remember to place yourself in others shoes before you start trying to walk on water…

3. She is the only one who has held you from her insides. She loved you before she met you. She felt your heart beat before her arms were wrapped around your tiny body. And you will forever be inside her. Maybe not physically but you will live in her soul regardless of age.

4. She taught you to be strong. Moms do not get enough credit. They juggle more tasks than any circus clown. They are the ones who ran us to soccer practice, made sure we did our homework, cooked us dinner, and tucked us into bed every night. There should be an Olympic sport for this type of multitasking. And they did it all for you.

5. She taught you about finding the right one. She warned you of certain types of girls and boys and to always follow your gut when it tells you something is right or wrong.

6. She has never stopped trying to make you the best you can be. She continuously gives you little pieces of advice along the way because she has already lived it. She will offer up her mistakes made in the past so you don’t make the same ones. Even if she has to throw herself under the bus, she will do it so you will feel no pain.

7. She always makes the holidays feel special. You will forever remember decorating the tree with her while she plays Christmas carols in the background. Or receiving that special Easter basket she did not have to put so much detail into. She wants these particular days to mean something and more than anything, put a smile on your face.

8. She knows when sometimes all you need is a good home cooked meal. She will always remember your favorite recipes and make sure you know how to make them down the road.

9. She is always your number one fan. She will wear her pride for you on her sleeve. She will encourage you when you are down and remind you to be humble when you are up. This woman will scream the loudest at your baseball tournament, but ensure you know the importance of shaking the losing team’s hand at the end of the game. Win or lose, she will teach you the importance of experiencing both in life.

10. A mother is the truest friend we all have. When others leave, she will remind you why you are better off without them. When heavy trials weigh our hearts, she will be the one to cause peace to return to it. She will give you strength that one day you will wish you could bottle up. She will not be there forever but her faithfulness will reside in you, the one she has always loved most. TC mark

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IG | @justineredman
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Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Buffy The Vampire Slayer

1. You are a damn Casanova online, but…when you make the switch to IRL? Ugh. You clam up and go silent. Maybe a few nervous giggles every now and then, but you’re basically mute. You long for the days of AIM. You could spit some serious game on AIM. Let’s be honest, SmarterChild was smitten with you.

2. Daydreams are somewhat of an addiction. It’s just so much safer to live in a world you create, one you are in complete control of. You know it will only do so much for you, but it’s become a crutch. It’s a comfort, and when there’s so much uncertainty in the real world it becomes all too easy to just stay in your own fantasies.

3. You choose Netflix romcoms instead of actually going out. Sure, you’ll go mix and mingle on occasion, but you’re much more inclined to kick back with When Harry Met Sally. You can still get all the lovey, dovey feelings, but not risk the anxiety that comes from small talk with attractive strangers.

4. You’ll keep your feelings bottled up. The good ones. The bad ones. Maybe you’re secretly dying to tell this new person you just started seeing that you’re absolutely crazy about them, but you won’t. Not now. Not yet. The thoughts will stay buzzing in your head, but your mouth just isn’t ready to say them out loud.

5. You’re quick to fall in love. But not quick to fall out. It takes a lot for you to open up. So when you do and things don’t work out? You can’t just brush it off that easily. It takes you a little longer to move forward. And that’s okay. Take your time, boo. Do what you gotta do.

6. When you do go out, you prefer having a wingwoman/man with you. Like seriously, having another person there to champion you? To swoop in when you start awkwardly rambling about falafel recipes? SO. MUCH. EASIER.

How I Met Your Mother
How I Met Your Mother

7. You wish you had a fast forward button. You’re so happy in relationships, but the casual dating part gives you massive ulcers. You’re someone who needs to know and trust someone before really letting the true you shine, and casual dating really messes that up. You end up overthinking everything and just feel exhausted. Can’t you just skip to the part where you love and respect one another, and just chill without pants?

8. You have a “falling in love” playlist prepped and ready. Because you never know when you’ll need it. Maybe the barista is really cute and it gives you butterflies and YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO ED SHEERAN RIGHT AWAY. And sometimes, you listen to it when you aren’t even remotely dating anyone. You’re just a sucker for that stuff.

9. Carl and his wife (like, pre-dying…) from Up are your #RelationshipGoals. In fact, all elderly couples are sort of your goal. Just someone to stay inside with, knit blankets, or whatever old people do. Yep, you can’t wait.

10. The idea of going to a “Singles Party” or a speed dating event is Hell on Earth. You crave a deep connection, sure, but this feels a bit like dropping Mufasa into a stampede. How can you possibly navigate a room with all those people? You’d just completely shut down. Nope. Not a good move.

11. You’re so flattered if a romantic partner wants to call you…but it also freaks you out. Can you just text me? Please? It might be ridiculous, but phone anxiety is REAL. Introverts like to have time to think of what they’re going to say, so really texting is just us at our best.

12. You could never date multiple people at once. You can really only handle a max of one date a week (unless you REALLY like someone) because it’s just exhausting. The idea of juggling? Oh my god. Bless those who can, but you surely cannot. TC mark

For more from Ari, be sure to follow her on Facebook. She wants to be your friend. Seriously.

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