Thought Catalog


I Saw Something Unexplainable In The Graveyard And It Haunts Me To This Day

Posted: 20 Jul 2015 05:05 AM PDT

Flickr / Cindy Funk
Flickr / Cindy Funk

Producer's note: Someone on Quora asked: What’s the creepiest/scariest unsolved mystery? Here is one of the best answers that's been pulled from the thread.

I’ve told this to a select few. And while “creepiest/scariest” is subjective, in the context of my life, it truly is the creepiest and scariest unsolved mystery.

beetlejuice

I was a freshman in high school in my home town of La Crosse, Wisconsin.

I was sleeping over at my friend Tom’s house. We were watching a movie in his living room when he suddenly got a phone call. I watched as he listened to what was being said on the other line. I watched as emotion poured over his face as he threw the phone across the room.

After moments of crying, he told me that a boy at my school had committed suicide. Now, I knew this boy only through seeing him in the halls. My friend Tom and I didn’t go to the same high school but Tom had gone to middle school with this boy. Apparently, Tom bullied him during those years. He wasn’t proud of it, and to be honest, I was pretty surprised because he was a great guy.

He had utter remorse.

We decided to sneak out and go for a walk. The year was roughly 1990. Maybe 1991. We were freshmen in high school.

Now, sneaking out was nothing new. We always did it. At the time, we weren’t into drugs, alcohol, or partying. We just liked the freedom of walking the streets at night. The discussions were always great.

Normally, we’d go walk through the big cemetery that was near my house. It was behind the train tracks that still run through La Crosse to this day. We loved the danger of the cemetery. The scares. We were kids. It was a rite of passage.

As we walked along the train tracks, leading to the cemetery, we stopped. To this day, I can’t explain why. We had walked into that cemetery dozens of times… and on scarier nights.

For whatever reason, we didn’t want to go in there. I don’t know if the thought of death on our minds due to my classmate’s suicide was a factor. Perhaps. Regardless, without really saying anything to each other, we stopped, turned around, and decided to head down a nearby street.

Now, in retrospect, I do have to say that throughout this walk, things seemed off. There wasn’t a car in sight. This was suburbia. Even walking through the town’s main street was odd because there just weren’t any cars. Odd. It was roughly after midnight. It was a weekend night. Where was everybody? Perhaps just a strange coincidence.

Lastly, there was something in the air. Both Tom and I felt it. We even brought it up.

“It feels weird tonight. The air. The lights.”

So we decided to walk down a dead end street. At the end of the street was a ditch with a simple up, down, and up trail that led to the street that I lived on. Simple enough.

Keep in mind, as I get into the horrifying part of this story, that we were in the suburbs. These weren’t old, creepy houses with strange individuals. And the trees were small. It wasn’t a brand new development, but it wasn’t that old either.

So as Tom and I are walking down this street, we’re looking down to the road beneath our feet as we talk. I don’t remember the exact conversation at this particular moment. Perhaps we were talking about the tragedy of that night. But it could just have easily been about Star Wars or Akira.

As we approached the dead end, which was a few houses away…

Tom and I suddenly stopped.

We did so at the same time without saying one word to each other.

Our heads slowly turned towards each other, both sensing something. The hair on our arms and backs of our necks standing high. Then our gaze slowly moved forward in unison, slightly to the right.

That’s when we saw it.

About two houses away, in a virtually barren front yard of a suburban home, besides some bushes, was a DARK FIGURE.

It was someone or something in dark robes.

No face. No features at all. Just the robe.

Now, this figure didn’t acknowledge us. Not yet.

It instead walked or moved in a certain way. I can’t articulate it correctly. As if it was walking in circles slowly… without really walking.

It held something that was blowing in the wind. And yes, the wind picked up a little bit as well.

Another odd element was the light that illuminated it somewhat. There was a street light a few houses up, but it wasn’t strong enough to illuminate this figure as it was.

Tom and I were frozen. In fact, I’m almost frozen as I write this. It’s been awhile since I have thought about this night.

So there we stood, frozen in fear, staring at this dark figure moving, yet doing so without moving.

And it was holding something. Or perhaps what was blowing in the wind was more of its robe. I’m not sure.

We stared at this… thing… for I don’t know how long… until…

IT STOPPED AND SUDDENLY LOOKED UP AT US, as if finally alarmed by our presence!

That was enough for us. We ran away as fast as we could. We cut through a side street that was to lead us to a parallel street towards my neighborhood. This street lead to a slight hill. As we rounded the corner and started running up the hill in a panic…

We stopped. Because on top of that hill, we saw another dark figure with its arms raised.

We turned around and ran away in the direction of Tom’s house, which at this distance was at least five miles away.

We ran. Time stood still.

The next thing I remember, we’re lying in the middle of a courtyard of some other neighborhood that we’d never been in, gasping for breath.

We sat up and without saying a word, we walked in silence back to his house. The air felt normal again. Although we felt like we were in a haze of sorts. Albeit out of danger.

We fell asleep in his house. I woke up that morning and went home.

beetlejuice

A few days later, I rode my bike to the location.

Perhaps it was shadow play? Perhaps there was a certain tree or bush or maybe a For Sale sign or something that made it look like there was something else there?

Nothing. It was an open yard.

Here’s is the Google Earth image of where this happened. The white arrows represent the sightings of the dark figures, the first of which was the one on the left. You will also see the railroad tracks and the huge cemetery on the left of that as well. All the way to the bottom, you’ll see the address of my former home that I grew up in.

Google Maps
Google Maps

Tom and I didn’t speak of that night for a long time. Years later when I brought it up, he replied, “Yeah. What the hell was that?” As if no time had passed.

What was it? I have no idea.

We hadn’t taken any drugs. We hadn’t been drinking any alcohol.

I often wonder if it could have been a haunting, a specter, a ghost, etc. Maybe it was an alien abduction or sighting. We saw no craft but there was that unexplained light. Or maybe it was some other kids messing with us. But how would they have known we were coming? How could they be so prepared?

I just don’t know.

That was roughly 24 years ago, give or take.

And yes, this IS a true story…

Sadly, my best friend Tom passed suddenly a few months ago. I thought of this night during his funeral. I thought of returning to that site. I thought of the odd coincidence of unexpected and surprising death, just like my classmate that night. Is there a connection? Were we seeing some future fate for one of us, which sadly fell upon my best friend Tom? Was this all some dual hallucination (In my mind, no way)?

It haunts me at times. TC mark

This answer originally appeared at Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and get insider knowledge.

How To Effectively Use Flashbacks And Other Helpful Literary Techniques In Fiction Writing

Posted: 20 Jul 2015 08:54 AM PDT

Note: I'm reading Celeste Ng's novel Everything I Never Told You and discussing literary techniques I notice in each chapter. For the installment on chapter one (and a link to an online excerpt of that chapter), click here.

Part Two: Writing the Graceful Flashback

I've always struggled with flashbacks. My first novel was full of them, to the point where one of my writing professors had to sit me down and say, "As a reader, I spend two minutes with your teenage character in Pittsburgh. Then, I'm yanked back to this character's childhood in a freaking forest somewhere, and then I'm returned to Pittsburgh for just a paragraph. It feels like I'm a marlin being yanked out of the water by a fisherman in almost every scene." It was basically a "flashback intervention," and it taught me a valuable lesson about how disorienting flashbacks can be if overused. Flashbacks in general can be tricky, which is why I was so impressed by the way Celeste Ng uses them in chapter two of Everything I Never Told You.

In this chapter, the author is throwing a lot of vital information at the reader: there are big backstories for two major characters (and backstories for two minor characters). There are five different settings and the chapter itself spans about 58 years. Despite this, it's never difficult to follow what's going on. How does the author manage this?

1. Using Flashbacks to Create Suspense

In the ominous final sentence of chapter one, Lydia's family learns that she is dead.  Instead of letting the reader stick around to see the family's reaction, Ng shoots the reader back in time to learn about Lydia's parents. This smartly delays an onslaught of grief even while the reader can't help but wonder, during the next 28 pages, how the family is coping with the news. In other words, this technique keeps the reader turning the pages because they know that they'll eventually return to the story of Lydia's very unhappy family.

2. Give Your Flashbacks a Destination

I always tell my students, "A description of a character running is okay. A description of a character running somewhere is better. A description of a character running home from something is even better." In other words, readers trust you more when they can sense there's a destination (and that you're taking them there for a reason).

Every flashback in chapter two has a specific endpoint: Marilyn's flashback feels like it's meandering when it describes her schooldays, but it's actually carefully moving towards the moment when she kisses James in college. After the kiss, James' big flashback rewinds things to 1900 (when his father immigrated to the USA) and swiftly moves forward to his college days to show the kiss from James' perspective. Having these two endpoints subtly lets the reader know that the author is going somewhere with all these flashbacks—and with the novel in general. Even if the reader doesn't quite understand why, he or she trusts the author a little more after finishing this chapter.

After we see the kiss from James' perspective, the chapter moves forward, chronicling the couple's courtship and marriage. At the end of the chapter, Ng gives us this ominous sentence: [After the marriage] "That was the last time Marilyn saw her mother." This reminds the reader of mothers, daughters, and loss, and it's a subtle/effective way to build up tension before the reader re-enters the present timeline—the one where a teenage girl just drowned.

3. "Chunking" Flashbacks by Gender

Sometimes, instead of weaving past and present together, you need to separate and "chunk" them to make things easier on the reader. As I mentioned before, there's a lot going on in this chapter, so Ng wisely chunks the flashbacks by gender: in one big flashback chunk, we get Marilyn's origin story first and, briefly, her mother's. Then, in another big flashback chunk, we quickly get James' father's origin story, and then James'.

In my novel, I tried weaving the past and present together in some chapters. For example, I'd write a scene where my character Tommy was working as a clerk in a 7-Eleven while remembering this time when he was a teenager and was planning a mass shooting at a factory he worked at. But, to be honest, when I was writing this scene, I think I was trying to show off by creating a complicated timeline. As it turned out, what happened in the past was far more compelling, so I wisely revised that chapter so it was entirely set in the past.

Celeste Ng carefully picks out which details are important and streamlines the rest. Did you ever notice how many Disney characters come from single-parent households?  That's because it's a lot cheaper to draw just Mufasa (or the Sultan of Agrabah, or whatever Cinderella's dad was named) instead of Mufasa + Queen Mufasa. In this chapter, focusing on one parent for both Marilyn and James has a similar effect. Shortening the cast list allows the reader to spend more time with the characters who matter. And fortunately (as opposed to Disney movies), the important parents in EINTY aren't all dudes.

4. When You're "Telling," Don't Sleep on the Sensory Details

When you're "telling," or writing exposition, it's easy to start spouting information at the reader. Here's the "Just the facts, ma'am" version of chapter two's opening: Marilyn was a freshman at Radcliffe in 1955. She was from Virginia, originally. She was headstrong and determined to excel academically. Her academic advisor was surprised she wanted to major in physics instead of nursing. Zzz.

Instead, Celeste Ng lets us see Marilyn's academic advisor, "a plump man with a tweed suit and a crimson bowtie, a dark gray hat brim-down on the table beside him." We get to hear him speak, and we see an interesting gender-related conflict play out between them.  Even in sections where there's a lot of "telling," Ng uses specific examples and the reader gets to hear, for example, the condescending phrases used by male students in the lab.  These small sensory details in exposition are pretty flourishes, but they also prevent those sections from feeling like stale, obligatory "information dumps."

Optional Writing Prompt:

Here is a writing prompt inspired by the chapter. If you come up with something you'd like to share, please feel free to include it in the comments section:

Inject sensory details (sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing) into the following exposition in order to make it more lively:

In the year 1952, John, a teenager in Virginia, wanted to take home-economics courses in high school.  The school was located in a suburban neighborhood in Virginia.  John's parents disapproved, and so did his guidance counselor.  In the counselor's office, there were three chairs, a desk, and a metal fan. Eventually, John convinced the guidance counselor to let him take home-ec.

I'll post my version in the comments section in a couple days. Can't wait to see what you come up with! TC mark

For more great writing, check out Robert Yune’s debut novel available here.

Eighty_Days_final

Featured image – Flickr / Nic McPhee

My Childhood Home Movies Are Being Used To Torment Me And I Don’t Know Who’s Sending Them (Part 4)

Posted: 19 Jul 2015 05:23 PM PDT

Flickr, Cam Evans
Flickr, Cam Evans

Read part 3 here.


Erin stared at me, wide-eyed, still holding my hair back.

"You know where Gretchen is?" she said. I nodded and wiped my lips with the back of my hand. My mouth was full of that acidic sour-sick taste.

"Yeah." I turned the tap of the sink and ran cold water. Sipped delicately at it, rinsed, spit.

"Okay, I know you're clearly going through a thing right now but you can't leave me hanging like this," Erin said, sounding panicked.

I rinsed and spit again before turning to her.

"She's in my old house. The one on Turner Street. They've been filming in the bathroom."

"Is that what you saw?" she asked.

"Yeah. I recognized the wallpaper." Sure I did, I'd had my face pressed against it enough that I should've recognized it sooner. It was in that bathroom that Clay had raped me when I was 12, the first time after my school's Christmas play. How could I have forgotten? Dressed up like Dorothy, hair curled in perfect pigtails, smearing my grown-up mascara on the flowers and vines.

I never wore my hair in pigtails again but that hadn't stopped him.

"So let's go get her!" Erin exclaimed. I didn't respond right away; I chewed absently on one of my acrylic nails. "Amanda? Let's go get her, right?"

"We need to finish the video," I said, deciding not to tell her about Clay and the bathroom and why I recognized it.

"What?! Gretchen could be in serious trouble, we need to go get her and you know where she is so let's GO!" She gestured violently towards the door.

"You said it yourself," I said as I leaned away from the sink and headed back to the dining room where my MacBook waited on the table. "There's something they want us to figure out. I've got a piece but not all of it. We need to finish the video."

Erin stared at me like I was a crazy person then gave up, throwing her hands in the air.

"Okay, fine, but then we gotta go!"

We gathered around the screen. I wasn't sure if I could watch without getting sick again now that I knew where the videos were set but I had to try. I clicked play.

Gretchen jerked back to life, still watching whoever was behind the camera through miserable tears. She shook her head once, weakly. Her bad eye sagged, her burn marks lit in ruthless clarity.

Her irises flicked back and forth like her captor was pacing. Then it cut to black again —

YOU'RE ALMOST THERE

A beat, then —

DON'T GIVE UP YET

Then —

ONE MORE

And that was all.

"One more?" Erin said, puzzled.

"One more DVD." I swallowed against my sickly lurching stomach. "We can't do anything until that one shows up."

"Amanda, this is crazy!" She rewound the footage, found Gretchen's face again, then paused it and jabbed an accusing manicured finger at her. "Your friend is in serious trouble! If you really think we can't go to the cops but you know where she is — I mean, this could be a trick! What if they're just trying to stall you? By the time you finally show up after waiting for their last DVD — if there even is one — Gretchen could be dead!"

"That's not the game they're playing," I said softly. Something about this felt undeniable; there was a method to their madness. I was meant to remember something. I was meant to learn something.

Erin wouldn't understand. She hadn't been there.

We let a long, tense pause pass between us before I finally said,

"24 hours. Okay? If I don't have anything in 24 hours, I'll just go to the house."

"24 hours—” Erin covered her face with her hands, overcome, then looked back at me. "Amanda, this isn't some Fox drama starring Kiefer Sutherland. It's not going to be wrapped up nice and pretty by the time the credits roll. This is a real person, a person you knew and cared about, and she could die."

"What the fuck am I supposed to do, Erin?" I demanded. "The video said to wait for one more! If I show up there before I see it, they might just kill her anyway! Or me! There's something here, something I'm missing, I need to find it! And it's on that last DVD!"

There was another moment of silence.

"What did you remember, Amanda?" she asked quietly. "You saw something. Whatever it was, it was so bad it made you sick. It's about that, isn't it?"

I didn't answer. She nodded.

"Yeah. It is. And you can't tell me?"

"I'm sorry," I said, but I didn't really mean it.

"I'm your friend, Amanda. That's why I'm here, getting involved in this insane mess. Because we're friends. If you're not telling me something—”

"I can't." I'd never told anyone. I couldn't start with Erin. I couldn't bear it. I'd already had so many of those side-eyed looks of pity just from people who even met my step-dad, heard how he talked to me — how could I tell a single person that he had a key to the bathroom, one of those slim little metal things you slid into the hole on the doorknob to disengage the lock? That I couldn't avoid that room but I was never safe in it — in fact, that it was the least safe place for me in the whole world? That all he had to do was catch me there when Mom wasn't home and for the next half hour I had to leave my body in order to stay sane?

That it was so horrible I'd somehow pushed it from my mind for the last 16 years?

I couldn't. That was the simple answer.

Erin let out a long breath.

"Okay. Fine." She pursed her lips, then locked eyes with me. "I need to go home, I have to work early. Take your 24 hours to figure shit out without me. But if I haven't heard from you by—” Erin checked the screen of her phone. "—9pm tomorrow, I'm calling the cops. That's that. Okay?"

"Okay," I agreed. It was the best I could do; the DVDs had been coming pretty quick so I figured it would be enough time. I hoped it would be… for Gretchen's sake.

"Okay," Erin said again, grabbing her purse and her shoes. She headed for the front door, then stopped and turned to me. "Why did you and Gretchen stop being friends?"

I told her the truth:

"I can't remember."

Erin nodded slowly, mouth set in a grim line.

"That says a lot, Amanda," she said, and left.


I didn't sleep well that night. I spent most of it in broken, shuddery nightmares where I relived what happened in that bathroom over and over again. Sometimes I was a kid, sometimes I was older. In one particularly nasty one I was my 26-year-old self and god help me I actually liked it, the nightmare turned into some lurid guilty sex dream and I woke from that with a scream in my throat. I was drenched in sweat and had to run to the bathroom to vomit again.

I called in sick to work and sat backwards on my couch, staring out the window at the mailbox all morning.

No one came.

By noon I was really feeling the lack of sleep. My eyes were drifting closed; my head throbbed. Before I knew it I was jerking awake, startled and disoriented. I checked my phone: 2:32pm.

I only had until 9. I forced myself off the couch and went to check the mailbox and wouldn't you know it, the mail hadn't arrived yet but a slim clear plastic DVD case had. It read:

ACCIDENT 1999

My stomach lurched. Accident? What accident?

I brought it inside. Stuck it in my MacBook. I thought about calling Erin first then decided 'fuck it' and clicked play.

The opening footage was of a car. Clay's car, the beaten-up teal Camaro he took so much pride in. I didn't recognize this video.

The camera zoomed in on the gas tank, which was open with the cap popped off. A hand was thrust in view, clutching a dirty rag. A small, pale, freckled hand.

Wait.

Wait.

Something was coming back to me.

"Gretchen?" I said, and at the same time the camera swung around to show 12-year-old Gretchen with her wire-frame glasses and a brightly-colored ski cap over her kinky red hair. She was grinning like she was proud of herself, pointing the camera at her own face.

"We're gonna get him back, Amanda," she said firmly. "We're gonna fuck up his car, ka-blooey, blow it to bits. He can't get away with what he did to you."

Wait…

"I'm doing this for you," Gretchen said, and suddenly there were tears in her eyes made so small by her thick lenses. "Because you're my best friend. That fucker deserves worse. I wish I could blow it up with him inside, but this will have to do."

Wait—

"I love you, Amanda," she said, and suddenly the footage cut away to the same dark bathroom from the other DVDs and my nightmares, but this time it was—

Oh god.

It was Erin.

She was wearing the same ski cap from the video. Her mouth was covered with duct tape and she was thrashing violently in a way Gretchen hadn't in the other DVDs.

I'd done this. I'd put her in danger, how could I have been so stupid? Of course whoever was behind this could see Erin coming and going, they'd been delivering the DVDs so why didn't I think about whether they were watching my house?

I watched her struggle for almost a minute before the video cut to black, and then —

REMEMBER NOW?

Then —

IF YOU'VE FIGURED IT OUT

And —

COME

I left my MacBook open, grabbed my keys, and ran to my car. The old house was 20 minutes away. I hoped I could get there in time. TC mark

Read the finale here.

27 Hilarious Tweets You Probably Haven’t Seen Yet

Posted: 20 Jul 2015 01:34 PM PDT

21 Facts You Didn’t Know About Labrador Retrievers, Every Child’s Favorite Dog

Posted: 17 Jul 2015 09:55 AM PDT

via Flickr - Greg Westfall
via Flickr – Greg Westfall

It takes a certain something to be voted the most favoritest dog in all of America for twenty four years straight while simultaneously capturing hearts worldwide. Here’s just a few facts about the Lab that you may not know.

1. The Labrador Retriever is a pretty young breed of dog. Bred into its current form primarily by English royalty, the first “official” recognized member of the breed appeared in 1899 and was named ‘Ben’. However, there are records of dogs referred to as Labradors going back decades previous to that. [Source]

Ben, most likely a 'very good boy' via wiki commons
Ben, most likely a ‘very good boy’ via wiki commons

2. Prior to being bred into its current form, the Lab was known as the St. John’s water dog and was used as a sporting dog in Newfoundland in Canada. They look like this.

St. John's water dog via wiki commons
St. John’s water dog via wiki commons

3. The St. John’s Water Dog was what’s known as a ‘land race’ meaning it was never an official breed but was created using selective breeding. I say was because the St. John’s Water Dog is now extinct as a breed and has been since the 1980s.

4. However, it has tons of descendants. The St. John’s Water Dog was used as a foundational breed for a number of other common and beloved dog breeds including the Newfoundland, the Cape Shore Water Dog, and the Chesapeake Bay Retriever

5. The St. John’s Water Dog’s ancestry can also be seen in some modern labs in the form of a white patch of hair on the chest which was characteristic of many St. John’s Water Dogs. The dogs were used to retrieve fish and fishing nets and loved to swim just like Labradors. [Source]

6. Here’s how the St. John’s Water Dog was described by one new observer:

“These are the most abundant dogs in the country…They are no means handsome, but are generally more intelligent and useful than the others… I observed he once or twice put his foot in the water and paddled it about. This foot was white, and Harvey said he did it to ‘toil’ or entice the fish. The whole proceeding struck me as remarkable, more especially as they said he had never been taught anything of the kind.”

7. Here’s a video homage to the St. John’s Water Dog and all the wonderful breeds that came from it.

8. The Lab itself, as I said, isn’t from Labrador at all but Newfoundland. It’s called the Labrador Retriever because they were used as working dogs in the Labrador Sea. Here’s a map of it complete with ocean current maps. [Source]

Labrador Sea via Wiki Commons
Labrador Sea via Wiki Commons

9. The Lab is an extremely social breed and basically loves everyone. The one thing it’s not great at is spending a lot of time alone which, if you’ve ever owned a Lab, you probably already know. [Source]

10. The Lab and its ancestors were originally “working breeds” as were most dogs. This is different from “sporting dogs” which is what Labradors are mainly used as today. Today, Labs, in addition to being great pets, are used as sporting dogs to retrieve waterfowl and even flush out game. However, their ancestors were used to literally make a living, helping do the actual work of gathering fish for sale which was no leisure activity.

11. From those “sporting breed” beginnings, the Labrador Retriever has moved into other areas that firmly reassert it’s “working breed” legacy such as working as bomb sniffers in war zones.

via wiki commons
via wiki commons

12. They also make amazing search and rescue dogs. A Black Lab named “Jake,” one of only 200 certified rescue dogs in the nation, became famous after aiding the search for survivors at Ground Zero post September 11th for 17 days. He also aided in recovery efforts after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and spent his later years as a therapy dog for the elderly and for burn victims.

This is amazing but it’s even more amazing considering Jake was abandoned as a pup and was found with both a dislocated hip and a broken leg. [Source]

13. The British Lab “Endal” is considered to be the most “decorated” dog in the world due to the number of commendations he’s received for his role as a service dog to British Naval veteran Allen Parton and was able to recognize and follow hundreds of commands in sign language. Endal could do almost anything including rolling his master into a recovery position if needed, shopping in the supermarket, and even doing the laundry in washer and dryer like a person.

Endal was another Lab who beat the odds. Despite suffering from a joint condition from birth he was able to become the model of a perfect service dog through “sheer intellect. and problem solving ability.” [Source]

14. 10-year-old Sabi, a Black Lab and Australian bomb disposal dog, disappeared in Afghanistan during her second tour of duty when the unit she was with was ambushed. During the battle she disappeared. A year later she wandered up to a U.S. soldier who knew the Australians were missing a bomb dog. After giving it some commands which it followed, the soldier contacted the Australian military who were elated to have Sabi back, especially her handler who claims he always believed she was still alive. Here’s the reason why Sabi managed to stay alive during that year on her own:

“They are so outgoing and social and they have this real character about them, just because of the fact that they want to go and chase things and have a fantastic character,” he said.

“That would have endeared her to the person that was looking after her or the family or the village.

“I’d imagine that the fact that she is alive now means that she has been looked after and her character would have carried her through that.”[Source]

15. Adjutant, another English Lab, lived to be the seventh oldest dog in known history at age 27. [Source]

16. A Chocolate Lab named Hawkeye, received a lot of attention in 2011 after his owner,Jon Tumilson, a Navy SEAL, died in combat and was transported back to the U.S. During the funeral, Hawkeye walked up to the casket and lay down in what was seen as gesture of mourning and loyalty. [Source]

via YouTube
via YouTube

17. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s favorite dog was Koni, a Black Lab given to him as a gift in 2000. He was so fond of her that he used to take her to meetings with world leaders. She was also notoriously bad about being without Putin and was known to even sneak on stage with him while he was giving speeches. The below photos of Putin and Koni show that the affection of a Lab can make even the most stoic people relax, or something like that.

via wiki commons
Oh you! via wiki commons
Vladimir_Putin_and_Koni-4
Good dog is good. via wiki commons

18. In 1938, the first dog ever to appear on the cover of Life magazine was a Lab named “Blind of Arden.”

Screenshot via Life Magazine
Screenshot via Life Magazine

19. Labs have a tendency to put things in their mouths and are even known to gently put their owners arms and feet in their mouths as a way of holding on to them. They have such gentle mouths largely as a result of breeding so that they could gently pick up game birds shot by their masters but genetically this trait goes back to the St. Johns Dog which were required to use their mouths for a variety of working tasks every day.

Labs have such control that they’re able to pick up an egg with their mouths and carry it without breaking it. [Source]

20. During the Vietnam War, all combat dogs, including Labradors, were classified as “expendable equipment.” When the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam, the remaining 200 plus dogs were either euthanized or left in Vietnam. In 2000, Bill Clinton signed a law enabling future combat dogs to be brought back home and adopted by either civilians or military personnel so that this wouldn’t happen again. [Source]

21. Despite a very real penchant for eating dog meat among some members of Vietnam’s population, Labs are popular dogs in Vietnam even if their owners sometimes have to lock them up to keep them hidden from dog thieves. The punishment for stealing a dog is being tied up, placed in a public area, and being beaten by passersby. Vietnam takes its Lab love seriously.

Here’s some Lab pics just because. Enjoy. TC mark

via Flickr - scott1346
via Flickr – scott1346
5185896885_35485e3a4b_b
via Flickr – Paul David
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via Flickr – Manuel J. Prieto
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via Flickr – Pete Markham
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via Flickr – smerikal

What You Should Know If Your Best Friend Has Crohn’s Disease

Posted: 20 Jul 2015 11:46 AM PDT

Olga Rosi
Olga Rosi

They’re going to depend on you a lot, even more so than they let on.

And it’s not that you have to do anything more than just be a normal friend. The reason they love you is exactly that: you make them feel normal. You bring a sense of routine into their life.

You’re consistent. You’re dependable. You’re something that they understand and you’re something that makes sense, and that’s something they can’t count on in their own body. Their body is a lottery – anything could happen at any moment, and they really have no way of predicting it.

So being around someone like you, someone who makes them feel safe and light and happy, is sometimes better than all the Remicade and Prednisone and Mercaptopurine and Humira in the world. (Although, these magical potions are definitely a plus.)

When you have a disease that, for the most part, is not life-threatening, you feel both incredibly blessed and incredibly lost in terms of what to do. For the most part, there is no short-term, all-consuming, stressful fight to survive, and for that, Crohn’s patients are incredibly grateful.

But the hard part is coming to terms with the fact that, for the rest of your life, you will be fighting through unpredictable periods of ups and downs. Flare ups. Never-ending medical trials, where you’re trying not to get your hopes up but you’re praying that – just maybe – this one will work, at least for now. You’ll try diets and supplements. You’ll have anxiety in all aspects of your life: work, social gatherings, airplanes, vacations, road trips.

Having Crohn’s as a lifelong companion is an unfortunate realization that every patient has to acknowledge. Because, at least for now, there is no cure. Crohn’s is just something that each patient is learning how to work into their life. Something that they’re doing their best to adapt to and to be proactive about, because the last thing they want to do is to spend their life in a vacuum of self-pity.

And that’s where you come in. You bring in a bright light, a feeling of normalcy, a much-needed sense of calmness when they’re on the verge of hyperventilating or having a meltdown or simply feeling like they’re not a match for their own frustration.

They love you for understanding, for being discreet when they need to leave a party or go home early from work or skip out on an event altogether. The fact that they don’t have to explain anything to you is a godsend, and they’ll appreciate it, and you, more than you’ll ever know.

Whether or not you realize it, you’re being one of the most incredible friends in the world, just by being there. Just by providing them with a sense of continuity and regularity. Just by making them laugh and reminding them that, although you’ll never be able to fully relate, you understand that they need you and you know how to remind them that they aren’t alone.

Your normalcy is a gift. Your loyalty is a gift. Your simple presence has the power to put them at ease. You’re a gem. And you’re very much appreciated for it. TC mark

10 Miranda Lambert Heartbreak Songs To Get You Through Her Split With Blake

Posted: 20 Jul 2015 11:51 AM PDT

Today in The Worst News Ever, country supercouple Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton released a statement announcing their divorce after four years of marriage. This comes as a serious blow to those of us who believed in true love, as Blake and Miranda were always counted as one of those couples we thought would make it, a Tim and Faith for the ages. But now they're donezo and we need to let them go and be free … and wait with bated breath for the incredible breakup album that we'll get from Miranda. After all, Blake sold out to pop-country and got a big Hollywood ego, and Miranda does her best work when she's heartbroken and/or pissed off.

Are you as devastated as I am? Good. I made us a playlist of Miranda's best heartbreak songs, from her quiet and sad moments where she really shines to those bad-bitch with a bone to pick riots that made her famous. No one masters the emotions of a country breakup quite like our girl.

"Same Old You"

You know when you realize that no matter what, this relationship ain't gonna work? You love each other, but you're tired of his shit and you're out of there? This is the perfect song to articulate that feeling. Maybe it's an ex you reconnected with on the off chance that he had changed, but whoops, he didn't! Maybe your man just sucks. You've done some thinkin', and you think you're done with him. See ya later. You're sad, but it's the best for both of you.

"Love Letters"

"Love Letters" is a classic country weepie. "You've broken my heart for the last time," she sings in her goodbye. Miranda knows that this breakup has to happen, but she's allowing herself to be bummed out.

"Hard Staying Sober"

It's totally true that when you're completely devastated, a drink or five is a great way to divert your attention. "It's hard staying sober when I'm getting over you," says Miranda. The idea of coming home to an empty house is keeping her at the bar.

"Desperation”

Mid-breakup, you have days where all you want to do is stay in bed hiding under the covers and feeling completely terrible. You want to text them, call them, beg for another chance, but you know that's not gonna happen. You're just going to feel desperate and dejected for awhile. Miranda understands.

"Better in the Long Run"

Awwww, this is a duet with Blake. We should've seen it coming, read between the lines. The two sing about loving each other but not being able to make it work, and that giving up will be better in the long run. Miranda released this in 2011. Why did we turn a blind eye to it? Hope and faith in love, I guess.

"Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Miranda is the patron saint of crazy ex-girlfriends. This classic Miranda jam includes the stellar line, "When you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail." It's OK to be pissed off and jealous, honey.

"Mama's Broken Heart"

During my own insanely painful breakup in 2011, I played the shit out of this one. No one knows how raw and awful you feel when love goes bust like Miranda.

"Baggage Claim"

However, that pain can't last too long. Soon you're seeing your ex for the shitty person they were, and remembering all their faults. You're actually glad to be done with them and feel so much lighter now that you're not carting around all their emotional baggage. Play this one with the windows down when you're zooming down the highway and belt every word. Better yet – play it twice. They ain't your problem now.

"I Can't Be Bothered"

You're finally done feeling sorry for yourself and shitty about your failed relationship. You're ready to move on, shove the mementos under the bed and fall in love again. You can't be bothered to miss that stupid ex. You're moving on! You're golden.

"Love Your Memory"

Except when you're not. It's OK to miss them sometimes, to save those memories for a rainy day and revisit them when you want to wallow. You don't wanna see them in person, but you might want to dwell on the good times tonight. Let Miranda join you. TC mark

Featured image — DFree, Shutterstock

These Puppies Know Exactly What To Do On Mondays

Posted: 20 Jul 2015 10:53 AM PDT

1. It’s Monday, and that means…the week starts all over again.

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2. Can’t we stay home today?

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3. Please?

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4. This one’s not up yet! 😉

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5. Can’t Monday be tomorrow?

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6. So tired…

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7. Just a little longer.

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8. Repeat after me: Monday lasts only 24 hours.

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9. Let’s go!

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10. On second thought, give me another minute.

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11. Or another hour.

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12. Maybe another two.

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13. See you tomorrow! TC mark

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50 Of The Best Tweets From #MyUnpopularBlackOpinion

Posted: 20 Jul 2015 10:43 AM PDT

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TC mark

Ladies, Chill Out. Here’s 10 Relationship ‘Dealbreakers’ That Aren’t Really All That Bad.

Posted: 20 Jul 2015 06:42 AM PDT

Shutterstock / William Perugini
Shutterstock / William Perugini

There’s been a lot of talk about settling for Mr. Good Enough, due to Lori Gottlieb’s book, Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough.

Despite the book’s provocative subtitle, however, Gottlieb’s latest opus isn’t really about settling. Rather, it’s a case for maintaining an open mind when considering new men, instead of nitpicking over inconsequential surface details. Because — pro tip! — the man we overlooked may be the only one who can make us happy.

She has a point. Which is why we put together a list of the 10 dating deal breakers that … well … shouldn’t really be considered deal breakers.

1. He’s considerably older or younger.

A lot of people pass judgment when they see a May-December couple, muttering things about gold digging and cougars and dirty old men. And, in some cases, they’re right. It can be difficult to have a partnership of equals when both halves of a couple are at different places in their lives. Still, if the relationship works, you can overcome an age difference. Just make sure you’ve thought about the pros and cons of the gap.

2. He’s balding.

Shame on you! While it’s important to be attracted to the one you’re with (without physical chemistry, good sex is pretty tough), it doesn’t make sense to arbitrarily rule out an entire segment of the population just because they sport a soul patch, or have a few extra pounds, or are balding. Have you seen how sexy Taye Diggs looks without hair?

3. He’s lives far away from you.

Long-distance relationships (LDRs) can be rough. They can be lonely. They can be expensive. They can be frustrating on both emotional and sexual levels. But they can also be worth it. Several YourTango staffers have rocked the LDR, proving that — despite the agita — it can be done.

4. He doesn’t have a college degree.

A lack of formal education does not necessarily mean he lacks ambition, smarts or chances for career success. Think real estate broker. Plumber. Ultrasound technologist. Lobster fisherman. All of these jobs require hard work, a good brain and can net big bucks, yet none of them require higher education. If he spends his days on the couch, wearing nothing but his tighty-whities and expects you to foot all the bills, however, we’ll forgive you for dropping that dead weight.

5. He’s divorced.

Okay. Stop hyperventilating. While a previous marriage can leave one with serious emotional baggage, a divorce does not mean there’s something wrong with the person who went through it. In fact, the experience may have left him with a better perspective on what he wants (or doesn’t want) in a partner, and what works when it comes to negotiating the rough spots. Over time, he may open up about the specifics of his divorce. In the meantime, concentrate on who he is as a person, not who he is as a divorced person.

6. He has kids.

Seriously, guys. Stop. hyperventilating. And then, once you’ve calmed down a bit, observe. The way a man acts with (or talks about) his children can be a great indicator of how well he’ll end up treating you, or even what type of father he’ll be to your kids.

7. He comes from a wildly different background.

Are you nervous about what people will say if you date someone outside of your race? Afraid your parents will go berserk if you end up with someone of a different faith? If you’re confident enough to shrug off their judgments, you may find such relationships extra-rewarding; working through your differences will result in greater understanding of each other and another culture. And, hopefully this goes without saying, but the color of his skin does not affect his ability to love the heck out of you.

8. You’re a Democrat; he’s a Republican.

So long as neither one of you is an extremist, you should be capable of keeping things civil. If nothing else, your differences will make for some rousing political debates and, if you’re extra open-minded, it could be fun having a window into the innermost thoughts of someone whose political values are so different from your own.

9. You have different interests.

Your diet consists of pasta and veggies, he’s a major meat eater. He loves smash-’em-up adventure flicks, you’re a fan of the artsy fartsy. You still have Debbie Gibson in your iTunes music library, he…well, he’d rather not comment on your musical tastes, because it might hurt your feelings. While it’s nice to share someinterests with your significant other, you don’t want your partner to be a carbon copy of you. If you don’t give someone slightly different from you a chance, you may never realize how totally awesome horror flicks are, or how exhilarating rock climbing can be, or how perfect Pulp’s “Common People” sounds when it pops up on your playlist directly after Debbie Gibson’s “Electric Youth.”

10. His last name is Hymen, Wertzberger or Hogge.

Don’t fret. You could always keep your maiden name. TC mark

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