Meet America’s #NewAstronauts

We’re so excited to introduce America’s new astronauts! After evaluating a record number of applications, we’re proud to present our 2017 astronaut class!

These 12 new astronaut candidates were chosen from more than 18,300 people who submitted applications from December 2015 to February 2016. This was more than double the previous record of 8,000 set in 1978.

Meet them…

Kayla Barron

This Washington native graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor’s degree in Systems Engineering. A Gates Cambridge Scholar, Barron earned a Master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Cambridge.

She enjoys hiking, backpacking, running and reading.

Zena Cardman

Zena is a native of Virginia and completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Master of Science degree in Marine Sciences at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her research has focused on microorganisms in subsurface environments, ranging from caves to deep sea sediments.

In her free time, she enjoys canoeing, caving, raising backyard chickens and glider flying.

Raja Chari

Raja is an Iowa native and graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1999 with Bachelor’s degrees in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He continued on to earn a Master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

He has accumulated more than 2,000 hours of flight time in the F-35, F-15, F-16 and F-18 including F-15E combat missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Matthew Dominick

This Colorado native earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of San Diego and a Master of Science degree in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. He graduated from U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

He has more than 1,600 hours of flight time in 28 aircraft, 400 carrier-arrested landigns and 61 combat missions.

Bob Hines

Bob is a Pennsylvania native and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from Boston University. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, where he earned a Master’s degree in Flight Test Engineering. He continued on to earn a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Alabama.

During the last five years, he has served as a research pilot at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Warren Hoburg

Nicknamed “Woody”, this Pennsylvania native earned a Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkley.

He is an avid rock climber, moutaineer and pilot.

Jonny Kim

This California native trained and operated as a Navy SEAL, completing more than 100 combat operations and earning a Silver Star and Bronze Star with Combat “V”. Afterward, he went on to complete a degree in Mathematics at the University of San Diego and a Doctorate of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

His interests include spending time with his family, volunteering with non-profit vertern organizations, academic mentoring, working out and learning new skills.

Robb Kulin

Robb is an Alaska native and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Denver, before going on to complete a Master’s degree in Materials Science and a Doctorate in Engineering at the University of California, San Diego.

He is a private pilot and also enjoys playing piano, photography, packrafting, running, cycling, backcountry skiing and SCUBA diving.

Jasmin Moghbeli

This New York native earned a Bachlor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering with Information Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, followed by a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.

She is also a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and has accumulated mofre than 1,600 hours of flight time and 150 combat missions.

Loral O’Hara

This Texas native earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Kansas and a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Purdue University.

In her free time, she enjoys working in the garage, traveling, surfing, diving, flying, sailing, skiing, hiking/orienteering, caving, reading and painting.

Frank Rubio

Frank is a Florida native and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy and earned a Doctorate of Medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

He is a board certified family physician and flight surgeon. At the time of his selection, he was serving in the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

Jessica Watkins

This Colorado native earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geological and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University, and a Doctorate in Geology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

She enjoys soccer, rock climbing, skiing and creative writing.

After completing two years of training, the new astronaut candidates could be assigned to missions performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and launching on deep space missions on our new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space:

*finishes photographing Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night*

*drives back from Chapel Hill*

*starts importing photos*

*realizes he hasn’t posted anything on blog yet*

*hurriedly creates gif of a dog eagerly anticipating stabbing a voodoo doll of his owner in the butt*

*realizes his life makes zero sense*

Virtual College Visits!

Thanks to a lot of lovely people, Virtual College Visits can officially start!

What is this post?

This post is a way to connect students who are unable to visit a certain college with someone who has visited that college.


There are so many things about a college that can’t be learned by looking at their website, or comparing statistics. Yet, at the same time, it is impossible for most students to visit every college that they’re interested in. This is a tool that will hopefully help bridge that gap!

How do I use this?

Think of a school that you’re interested in that you probably won’t be able to visit. Then, scan this (alphabetical) list of schools to see if it’s listed. If it is, congrats! The url(s) listed next to it belong to a person/people who have visited that school. They have contacted me saying that they are willing to talk about their experience at that school with other potential students. Feel free to shoot them a message explaining that you saw their url on this post and want to learn about x school (You should probably specify what school because most of the contributors have visited more than one school).

This is cool! Can I contribute?

Absolutely! Send me (appblrgirl) a message with the schools you would be willing to talk about with others. I will continue to update this post periodically.

Unfortunately because of school and various life things, I won’t be making any more updates to this post for the foreseeable future.

The school I want to visit isn’t on this list!

That sucks. Keep checking back as the list gets updated, you never know when your potential school will show up!

You can also message me with additional questions if you have any.

A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed so far, and good luck to all of you!

P.S. To avoid a large number of schools in the ‘U’ section, any schools starting with ‘University of’ have been reformatted. e.g. Virginia, University of

American University - success mess, biochemstudy

Amherst College - stickynotestudies, successmess, mxifu, irblr, cornelldiary, thecollegecollage

Anna Maria University - sarahblogsaboutstuff

Arizona State University - cancerbiophd

Arizona, University of - cancerbiophd, justhitthosebooks

Arkansas, University of - arkansassy-girl

Assumption College - serendipityinboston

Auburn University - drivenstudy

Austin College - college-journey, nap-or-study

Baltimore Rowan University - biochemstudy

Barnard College - rightwingrepublican, firstyearviolet, momochrissy, graduationbound, thecollegecollage

Bath, University of - pigrescuer

Baylor University - college-journey

Binghamton University - cornelldiary

Boston College - gotocollegebutnevergrowup, serendipityinboston, betting-onyou, pensandtea, prepared4theworst

Boston University - rightwingrepublican, university miracles​, stickynotestudies, gotocollegebutnevergrowup, serendipityinboston, morpheusorpheus

Bowdoin College - assof2016

Brandeis University - pensandtea

Brigham Young University at Provo - academicsandperformingarts

British Columbia, University of - perdurabimus

Brock University - thecanadianundergrad

Brown University - university miracles, stickynotestudies, chasingcollegedreams , studylikewillowrosenberg, skyclarke, cornelldiary, serendipityinboston, fiendishly-nerdy, graduationbound

Bryn Mawr College - thecollegesearch, success mess, blaizedzabini, doctortatertot

Bucknell University - bos-bound

California at Berkley, University of - future collegiate, chasingcollegedreams, claryjsimmons, collegeappadventure, resarciating, tyffanyblews, thecollegecollage, messin-w-the-message-man

California at Davis, University of - resarciating, thecollegecollage, superminino

California at Irvine, University of - thecollegecollage

California at Los Angeles, University of - chasingcollegedreams, acca-demic, tyffanyblews, thecollegecollage, study-blurry

California at Riverside, University of - booksmrts

California at San Diego, University of - last-constellation, cornelldiary, resarciating, pcrkjimin, tyffanyblews

California at Santa Barbara - embues, studyprn

California at Santa Cruz, University of - resarciating, tyffanyblews

California Institute of Technology - chasingcollegedreams, mocha-study

California Polytechnic State University - redlipstickpremed, classical scientist​, coffeeforstudiers

California State University at Northridge - redlipstickpremed, spunkylittlebookworm

California State University at San Diego - redlipstickpremed

California State University at San Francisco - redlipstickpremed

California State University at Stanislaus - redlipstickpremed

Cambridge University - study crush

Canisius College - gallyd

Capital University - dontworryjuststudy

Carleton College - mraemb

Carleton University - pencilcandy, crimandcoffee

Case Western Reserve University - firstyearviolet

Carnegie Mellon University - drowninginmediocrity, privateschoolstudent, betting-onyou, mvths

Central Connecticut State University - czardex

Central Florida, University of - itscassielouwho

Centre College - theoryofbelle

Chicago, University of - future collegiate, the-college-quest, skyclarke, tyffanyblews

Clark University - sarahblogsaboutstuff

Clemson University - asaprocket

Colgate University - cornelldiary, darbysdiamonds

College of the Holy Cross - serendipityinboston

College of William & Mary - thecollegesearch, success mess, theoryofbelle, worldaccordingto

Colorado College - tumblr-illiterate

Columbia University - studylongandprosper, rightwingrepublican, stickynotestudies, chasingcollegedreams, appblrsandoranges, skyclarke, cornelldiary, momochrissy, thecollegecollage

Connecticut College - last-constellation

Connecticut, University of - london-elephant, foreverayoungblood

Cornell University - cornelldiary, bos-bound, alistaircriesduringsex 

Curry College - sarahblogsaboutstuff

Dartmouth College - brinkerhadleyapologist, neildegrassetyson, collegemania

Davidson College - thecollegesearch, pensandtea

Denison University - ready-aim-study, dontworryjuststudy

DePaul University - pineappletroye

DePauw University - theoryofbelle

Dickinson College - thecollegesearch, darbysdiamonds

Drexel University - drowninginmediocrity, gotocollegebutnevergrowup, sleepswithtextbooks

Duke University - future collegiate, pensandtea

Elon University - iwhaleyouva

Emory University - mxifu, caffeinatedsuccess

Florida State University - collegedreamss, iwhaleyouva, studyingsamantha

Florida, University of - collegedreamss, fruity-tuna

Fordham University - rightwingrepublican, appblrsandoranges

Fort Lewis College - andstraight-on-tilmorning

Franklin & Marshall College - thecollegesearch

George Mason University - studyingsamantha

Georgetown University - success mess, privateschoolstudent, betting-onyou, pensandtea, thecollegecollage

George Washington University - successmess

Georgia Institute of Technology - mxifu, study hacked, iwhaleyouva

Georgia, University of - mxifu, polyglotdawg

Gettysburg College - thecollegesearch

Glasgow, University of - revolution-avec-un-grantaire

Grinnell College - strawberryshortcakemurder

Grove City College - yourguidetostudy

Hamilton College - cornelldiary

Harvard University - studylongandprosper, universitymiracles, stickynotestudies, chasingcollegedreams, mxifu, tyffanyblews, thecollegecollage

Hawaii, University of - memorizing-microbio

Hollins University - firstyearviolet

Ithaca College - cornelldiary, bos-bound

Illinois at Urbana-Champain, University of - the-college-quest, eashmere

Iowa, University of - university miracles, chasingcollegedreams, karalee-untersucht, 2016studies

Indiana University - pineappletroye

James Madison University - desperatesammy

Johns Hopkins University - collegeapps2016

Juniata College - theoryofbelle

Kent State University - studyinguntil5am

Kenyon College - starsfallover

King’s College - pigrescuer

Kutztown University of Pennsylvania - studysesh

Lake Superior State University - prepre-nursing

La Salle University - gotocollegebutnevergrowup

Lawrence University - mraemb

Lehigh University - london-elephant

Lock Haven University - bos-bound

Loyola Marymount University - thecollegecollage

Loyola University Chicago - acca-demic, biochemstudy

Lubbock Christian University - arkansassy-girl

Marist College - darbysdiamonds

Marquette University - imawhiteblankpage

Maryland Baltimore, University of - biochemstudy

Maryland, University of - sleepswithtextbooks

Mary Washington, University of - thecollegesearch

Massachusetts Amherst, University of - sarahblogsaboutstuff, universityofsassachusetts, the-man-and-the-mouse, eatsleepsciencerepeat, bos-bound

Massachusetts Institute of Technology - studylongandprosper, stickynotestudies, chasingcollegedreams, mxifu, skyclarke

Meredith College - firstyearviolet

Miami University - future collegiate, morganstudies

Miami, University of - music studying, hella–bella

McGill University - pencilcandy, theoryofbelle

Michigan at Ann Arbor, University of - the-college-quest, therunningfox, momochrissy, tyffanyblews, monochromeonsienna

Michigan State University - studying-with-bri, college mania​, pineappletroye

Michigan, University of - study hacked​, cardiolotea, sleepswithtextbooks, collegemania

Mills College - tyffanyblews

Minnesota, University of - 2016studies

Missouri at Columbia, University of - messin-w-the-message-man

Montclair State University - unafraid–eponine

Mount Holyoke College - rightwingrepublican, last-constellation

Mount Ida College - sarahblogsaboutstuff

Mount St. Mary’s University - biochemstudy

Muhlenberg College - thecollegesearch, studylikewillowrosenberg

New Jersey Institute of Technology - fire-on-the-girl, doctortatertot

New York, State University of - revolution-avec-un-grantaire

New York University - stickynotestudies, firstyearviolet, appblrsandoranges, momochrissy, sleepswithtextbooks, yungblkfem

New York University at Abu Dhabi - mraemb

North Carolina at Asheville, University of - firstyearviolet

North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of - london-elephant, pensandtea

Northeastern University - rightwingrepublican, university miracles, success mess​, applestoappblrs, gotocollegebutnevergrowup, espressoprep

Northwestern University - future collegiate​, stickynotestudies, momochrissy, tyffanyblews, assof2016

Northern Arizona University - justhitthosebooks

Notre Dame, University of - appblrsandoranges

Ohio State University - messin-w-the-message-man, systemsandsewing

Ohio University - engineeringmyowninsanity

Oregon State University - chasingcollegedreams

Orgeon, University of - chasingcollegedreams

Ottowa, University of - pencil candy

Oxford Brookes University - thescienceofracing

Pacific Lutheran University - emucat95

Pennsylvania State University - pensandtea, prepared4theworst, bullshitsandbravery, borasayshi

Pennsylvania, University of - studylongandprosper, drowninginmediocrity, stickynotestudies, chasingcollegedreams, applestoappblrs, privateschoolstudent, the-college-quest, bos-bound

Pittsburgh Technical Institute - mvths

Pittsburgh, University of - drowninginmediocrity, studylikewillowrosenberg

Portland State University - gunplagirl

Princeton University - stickynotestudies, the-ivyprep, cardiolotea, cornelldiary, universitize-me, thecollegecollage

Providence College - serendipityinboston

Puget Sound, University of - last-constellation

Purdue University - cupcakehinch, pineappletroye

Queens University - freshstudythoughts

Ramapo College - unafraid–eponine

Reed College - fiendishly-nerdy

Regent University - iluthientinuvielfan

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute - cupcakehinch

Rhode Island College - withloveandstrength

Rhode Island, University of - espressoprep

Rice University - appblrsandoranges, fiendishly-nerdy, thehenchmansociety

Richmond, University of - pensandtea

Rochester, University of - drowninginmediocrity, heartbeats-becoming-slow, darbysdiamonds, aestudyblr

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology - ahlltimelow

Rutgers University at Camden - doctortatertot, starkbannr

Rutgers University at New Brunswick - gotocollegebutnevergrowup, callmeglados, doctortatertot

Salve Regina University - serendipityinboston

Scranton, University of - gotocollegebutnevergrowup, pleasegivemealcoholanddiamonds

Scripps College - mraemb

Simmons College - stickynotestudies

Southeastern Louisiana University - studyingsamantha

Southern California, University of - study-blurry

Southern Oregon, University of - chasingcollegedreams

South Florida, University of - fruity-tuna

South Carolina, University of - jwuuuu

Smith College - rightwingrepublican, success mess, fiendishly-nerdy, cranberry geese, inkdrunk

Stanford University - future collegiate, chasingcollegedreams, collegeappadventure, graduation bound, messin-w-the-message-man

St. Andrews, University of - iwhaleyouva

State University of New York at Geneseo - half-neversure

St. Bonaventure University - briel

St. Edwards University - thehenchmansociety

Stephens College - studylittleliongirl

Stevens Institute of Technology - biochemstudy, doctortatertot

Stevenson University - biochemstudy

Stonehill College - sarahblogsaboutstuff

Swarthmore College - chasingcollegedreams, privateschoolstudent

Texas A&M at Corpus Christi - arkansassy-girl

Texas A&M University - universitymiracles, arkansassy-girl, college-journey, theoryofbelle

Texas at Arlington, University of - appblrsandoranges

Texas at Austin, University of - studylongandprosper, university miracles, appblrsandoranges, college-journey, asaprocket, thehenchmansociety

Texas at Dallas, University of - theoryofbelle, thehenchmansociety

Texas at San Antonio, University of - university miracles, thehenchmansociety

Texas at Tyler, University of - arkansassy-girl

Texas Christian University - asaprocket, thehenchmansociety, mighty-bull-discovers-universe

Toronto, University of - pencilcandy

Trent University - pencilcandy

Truman State University - thealphapigeon

Tufts University - rightwingrepublican, stickynotestudies, success mess​, applestoappblrs, pensandtea, graduationbound, espressoprep

Ursinus College - thecollegesearch, panicqueerstudies

Utah, University of - graynger

Vanderbilt University - pyetromaximoff, asaprocket

Vassar College - successmess, cornelldiary, darbysdiamonds, assof2016

Villanova University - darbysdiamonds, b0rnglamorous, lordvoidemort

Virginia Polytechnic Institute - desperatesammy

Virginia, University of - thecollegesearch, collegedreamss, keyykey, messofa-daydreamer, pensandtea, iwhaleyouva

Washington and Lee University - pensandtea

Waterloo, University of - its-a-cs-life

Washington University in St. Louis - the-college-quest, cardiolotea, collegeappadventure, pineappletroye

Washington at Bothell, University of - exhaustion drain

Webster University - collegemania

Wellesley College - hermionesharrypotteressays, rightwingrepublican, stickynotestudies, successmess, fiendishly-nerdy, espressoprep

Wells College - blissfulstudies

Wesleyan University - applestoappblrs, last-constellation, thecollegecollage

West Chester University of Pennsylvania - studylikewillowrosenberg

Western Washington University - commandercatbug, katie-studies-science, frugalstudies

Williams College - darbysdiamonds, assof2016

Wisconsin at Madison, University of - the-college-quest, monochromeonsienna, studydud

Wisconsin at Superior, University of - itsliz104

Worcester Polytechnic Institute - sarahblogsaboutstuff, ahlltimelow, cupcakehinch

Yale University - studylongandprosper, stickynotestudies, chasingcollegedreams, skyclarke, irblr, cornelldiary, fiendishly-nerdy, thecollegecollage

York University - pencilcandy

#🙌🙌🙌: How Chris Suggs Got Into His Dream School

To read about more inspiring students like Chris, follow the hashtags #BetterMakeRoom and #CollegeSigningDay on Instagram and post your college acceptance story. Use (#🙌🙌🙌), thanking your three biggest inspirations, for a chance to be featured on Instagram.

“My name is Chris (@chrisjsuggs), and I’m 16 years old. This fall, I’m going to my dream school, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, so I can continue my work in public service. 2014 was probably one of the darkest times you’ve seen in my hometown of Kinston, North Carolina — nearly every other day you were seeing a shooting on the news. I knew I had to do something, and I felt like youth needed a role. So, I invited local media, our mayor, city council members and our police chief to a meeting where I presented my idea for an organization. That was the start of Kinston Teens, a nonprofit that empowers young people through service, leadership and civic engagement. My work there led me to become the youngest recipient ever of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award. And this past January, when the vice provost of admissions gave me a call personally telling me I was accepted into @uncchapelhill, I was overjoyed. I’m so excited to stay close to my community and continue to make a difference.

Three things I’m grateful for:

🙌 My organization, @kinstonteens. Our mission is to empower young people through service leadership, and it’s driven by my passion for my local community of Kinston. I’m committed to improving it.

🙌 Former President @barackobama and former first lady @michelleobama. They are definitely my biggest role models and always have been, throughout their entire time in office.

🙌 My parents. My mom is a teacher, and my dad works for our local government. As public servants, they have always inspired me to get involved — and stay involved.”

Our Story

Read the other chapters here.

Life goes on—quickly, greedily, and with a hunger that brings them to their knees. How to satiate it? How to stop it? They start journals (Claire), write more books (Jamie), do everything they can snag the veil with immortalized moments. If a memory is made concrete, they think—in writing or in a photograph—then perhaps time will have to move around it? Be forced to decelerate? (Time doesn’t care. About them, about anyone. The universal enemy.)

Claire is promoted to Chief of Staff, improves at Scrabble, develops a lump in her breast they believe to be cancer (it isn’t). Jamie learns how to sail without puking, gets a teaching job at Chapel Hill. He is less motivated by the idea of tenure—stability, money—than by the opportunity to stoke creative sparks in others just like him. In the fourth row sits a girl whose essays are colored by the loss of her mother, the grief of it found even in the gray eraser clouds. The boy behind her writes poems of spun sugar, overly romantic but endearing in their sincerity, and Jamie remembers this boy whenever he looks in the mirror.

Jamie grows a beard specifically to impress them. All of his professors concealed their weakening chins in thickets of hair, so why not him? The new aesthetic receives a positive response: Claire loves its tickle between her legs, his classes seem to find him wiser and mind less when his memory suddenly fails. (A common occurrence as of late, damn it all.) But when Jamie shaves for the summer, he feels strangely guilty—Bree’s expression, a scowl of disappointment in the reclaimed smoothness of his face. (The source of her sadness is revealed a few days later: she’d believed her father was Santa Claus.)

Jamie and Claire watch their bodies sag, widen. They watch their cholesterol, their caloric intake. There is the month-long agony of a shared paleo diet, an experiment which, come July, they decide is the dumbest thing they’ve ever done.

“No carbs!” Jamie crows in disbelief.

“No alcohol!” Claire hoots.

“Did I tell ye I cheated one day?”

“Jamie, you didn’t!”

“Aye, I ate Bree’s leftover macaroni,” he says. “Gobbled it right up, didna even use a fork.”

“Bloody traitor,” Claire says, and they laugh and laugh. Clink hearty glasses of wine as a toast to the old-age blessing of letting go and getting fat. (Jamie will repay Claire under the full moon, to redeem himself.)

For a while, it seems everyone they know gets divorced: a beloved colleague, a woman in Claire’s book club. When they hear the news, they praise their own luck, secretively locking hands before offering their sympathies. Such announcements inspire extra enthusiasm for the “Married” boxes on government forms. And saying things like, “My wife, Claire” or, “Have you met Jamie, my husband?” gives them a heart-swelling high.  (Belatedly, they realize this shouldn’t be considered luck at all—but a given. This, their lasting marriage.)

It’s only after the Abernathy’s separation that worry niggles its way between them. They watch each other carefully, sousing out possible itches: a desire to flee to a foreign country, a lust for someone whose faults are more expertly hidden. (No marriage, even Jamie and Claire’s, is without its itches. The difference here is that they never want to scratch them.) Jamie is careful about putting the toilet seat down, and he allots himself just an hour of self-pity for every negative book review. Claire does not organize his messy office, respects the calculated disorganization of his shelves, even though the clutter makes her skin crawl. She keeps the AC off every night that summer, just so she can feel Jamie’s heat next to hers. A way of ensuring that he is still there, sweating himself into their sheets, which will remain unwashed for several days.

Their biggest fight is in September of 2014. One of Jamie’s students begins to show more interest in her professor than in her studies. There are bold advances, firm rejections, a vengeful letter that describes their trysts in explicit detail (strangely, Claire finds the Dear Mrs. Fraser and Xoxo Malva to be the cruelest things of all). All lies, of course, but still Jamie and Claire fight. Feelings of betrayal stew overnight, and Jamie is exiled from their bed like a misbehaving dog, Claire watching from the doorway as Jamie whimpers to the couch. Two days of silence pass—the dean notified, apologies made, and tears shed—before he finally barges into the bathroom, uninvited.

“Are ye going to leave me?” he asks Claire, very quiet for someone who nearly ripped the door from its hinges.

“Jamie, now is not a good time.”


“Because I’m peeing.”

“So ye canna pee in front of me now?”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.”

But Jamie stays there, waiting, fetches toilet paper when Claire’s hand lights on the used-up cardboard roll. She flushes and stands. A child is born and dies a man in the minute it takes his wife to wash up.  

“So?” he asks. “Are ye?”

“Don’t be an idiot,” she says.

They throw themselves into parenthood. Bree learns her ABCs, then her multiplication tables, then how to weep so that the dinosaur coloring book secures a spot in their shopping cart. Some innocence is lost after a public mounting: two petting zoo goats, vigorous thrusts, shameless bleats of ovine ecstasy. On the way home, “Where do babies come from?” is asked loudly from the backseat, though Jamie and Claire’s discomfort speaks louder from the front.

“From…from love,” Jamie stutters. “It’s something very special,” Claire adds—though a child is neither the guaranteed result, nor always the aim. They glance at each other, wondering if their daughter’s newfound awareness will require more discretion in the night. (There’s an element of danger to sex now, and the sneaky, moan-suppressing game of it reminds them of being young again.)

When they revisit the subject a few years later, they add such parental wisdom as: Trust is key; you must trust the person you consider doing It with. (Boy or girl, it doesn’t matter, they will love her anyways, does she know that?)

Actually, there needs to be trust and there needs to be protection. A rubber. A condom? Has Bree ever heard of a condom? (Yes.) What? How? Why is she aware of condoms if she is only eleven years old?

She is twelve years old, she is fourteen, she is sixteen going on thirty. Jamie and Claire spend hours looking for an elusive Pause button, the world moving at the same rapid-fire pace. 2015 becomes 2019, then 2022 in the blink of an eye. 

They watch Bree join the volleyball team, break her wrist, break her heart. They watch her pinch whiteheads, lust after jocks and platinum hair dye, suck in her stomach before full-length mirrors (sometimes, this makes them want to cry; sometimes they do). They watch her as she descends the staircase in a pair of towering heels, a vision of silk and emerald and such astounding loveliness that they cannot fathom how their bodies made her.

This is the night of Bree’s senior prom, the winds of change in the air. It is ten hours before she will lose her virginity—a three-minute fumble inside a Toyota—to the boy now standing on the porch. (There will be trust and a condom and the first delirious onslaught of love.) The boy, named Roger, looks utterly stunned as Bree pins his boutonniere to his lapel, as if she has driven the needle straight through his tux, directly into his heart.

The couple is herded to stand beneath the sycamore, and to say, “Cheese!” (“Or gouda,” Jamie jokes, having settled quite comfortably into the routine of bad Dad humor.) Jamie cannot get a picture that isn’t blurry, and so it is Claire, with her steady surgeon’s hands, who manages the perfect shot. This is the photo that will hang on the fridge door, while the other—the one taken mid-parental transition—will make the family album. Roger laughing, Bree rolling her eyes at her father’s incompetence. It is a photo that will make Claire misty whenever she sees it. Even ten years later, when she glues their wedding photo beside it.

Still—life goes on. Birthdays, high school graduation, anniversaries. Bree gets into Harvard, Claire becomes addicted to RuPaul’s Drag Race, Jamie chops off his finger while julienning vegetables. Their Cocker Spaniel, Adso, lunges at the pinkish nub, mistaking it for a discarded bit of hot dog. (Thankfully, Claire rescues the finger, and it is transported in a baggy of ice—along with its owner—to the ER.) 

Bree spends freshman winter term in Spain and calls home speaking the language, which only Jamie understands. They make it a joke to mislead Claire with outlandish stories, until she eventually catches on:

“Brianna got a tattoo of Roger’s face in Barcelona,” Jamie translates. “Full color, and at a verra reasonable price.”

“I know for a fact that the word ‘tattoo’ has not been used in this conversation,” Claire replies. “I’ve been watching Rosetta Stone, just FYI.”

“Weel, you’ll just have to see the proof of it, then.” 

Doubt flickers across Claire’s face.

“You’re not serious, are you?”


“You’re lying.”

“Yes, he’s lying, Mama,” Bree chimes over the speakerphone, and they both start laughing.

“You two are the worst.”

“But you’re the best, Sassenach,”

“Damn right,” she mutters.

November 2028. The year, somehow, is almost over. In one week Bree will come home for Thanksgiving, wearing a Harvard sweatshirt and a promise ring from Roger. Roger himself will tag along, and in the manner of all nervous boyfriends, he will stutter through Jamie’s questions, be all-too-grateful for the distraction of clearing plates. (“Don’t worry about that, I’ll get it!”)

Claire, away on a 3-week conference, will be back as well. She will serve the turkey with a glint in her eye, daring someone to note how the side dishes seem suspiciously store-bought. The table will only offer their effusive praise, lubricating the dry turkey with the chemical-laden gravy, feeding Adso the scraps they couldn’t get down themselves.

Until then, Jamie has the house to himself. He has not been alone like this since the early 2000′s, and his mind becomes unsettlingly untethered by the solitude. He goes hunting, fishing, hiking. He leaves the front door wide open, pours Adso too much food. He forgets his tackle box in the woods and doesn’t realize it’s missing until the sun has sunk. Tomorrow, he thinks.

He attempts to write his story for The New Yorker, but he can’t seem to parse his thoughts into sentences. They buzz around his head like aimless bees, and he almost wishes for a sting, a pricking back to his eloquent senses. (Where is that damn outline he made a month ago?)

Like a teenager, he goes to his bedroom at 3PM, intending to jack off his loneliness. He tries to summon an image of Claire from the last time they fucked (18 days ago!), but there’s nothing clear enough to get him hard. Just a pale throat, the vaguest suggestion of a flower. He resits his phone—he’s called three times in the past six hours—and watches a football game instead.

The days go on. Adso watches him, alert, as if he’s waiting for the final unraveling, the arrival of a ghost. Jamie starts five books, returns them to shelves before he finishes. He prepares extravagant meals, stores the bulk of them in tupperware. He eats, he drinks, he sleeps.

Then, in the middle of the night—a smell. It sits on him, pressing down like an angry fist. He sits up. A searing pain that keeps his eyes closed. A sudden constriction of his lungs. An alarm going off and a dog’s yip, the roar of them traveling through a fog, a—smoke?

There is smoke. Jamie falls out of bed and runs, blindly, but there is only heat where the door should be. He feels heavy; he feels light. He feels as if he is rising high above the house and that he is falling down, far down, beneath it. He plans an escape, but there is no synergy between his mind and his movements. He pauses.

Claire. Where is Claire? If he could just open his eyes, if could just breathe properly, then he would call for her, and—

He is on the floor now. When did he get here? How did he get here? The carpet is soft under his cheek, a pillow to go with the blanket that suffocates him. Perhaps he’ll simply sleep and wait for the nightmare—for that is surely what this is—to end. A dream, only a dream.

But he can’t just lie still! There was someone else, right? That name from a few minutes (hours?) ago is on the very tip of his tongue. He wants to yell it into the screen of smoke, but a surge of memory tells him to conserve his breath. Whoever it is, isn’t here. Whoever it is, wouldn’t hear. (How frustrating it is to feel such desperation for an unknown.)

It’s so hot now, unbearably hot. It reminds him of something. Stories. A boy who sucked the spirit right out of his mother, entered the world in a stolen blaze of fire. Another woman whose hands licked him up and down, the most exquisite burning.

There are sirens. There are shouts. Bright beams flash through the black cloud around him. He raises an arm to admire their light on his skin, deceptively playful in their colorful dance and silent song. Pretty, Jamie thinks, and because the familiarity is a comfort, he lets it take him under.

And just like that, in a wash of red and blue—life stops.


Brooks Brown, when visiting Chapel Hill Cemetery, leaves cigarettes on the ground in memoriam of his deceased friend Rachel Scott. She had quit a week before the massacre, but Brooks and her used to take smoking breaks together.

Bonus: Though all thirteen murdered victims’ have crosses there in the Columbine Memorial Garden, only two students (Rachel Scott and Corey DePooter) (and teacher Dave Sanders) are buried there.

In the closing credits [of “Children of Men”], the Sanskrit words “Shantih Shantih Shantih” appear as end titles.[37][38] Writer and film critic Laura Eldred of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill observes that Children of Men is “full of tidbits that call out to the educated viewer”. During a visit to his house by Theo and Kee, Jasper says “Shanti, shanti, shanti.” Eldred notes that the “shanti” used in the film is also found at the end of an Upanishad and in the final line of T. S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land, a work Eldred describes as “devoted to contemplating a world emptied of fertility: a world on its last, teetering legs”. “Shanti” is also a common beginning and ending to all Hindu prayers, and means “peace,” referencing the invocation of divine intervention and rebirth through an end to violence.[39]

A spiritual orientation toward the local landscape defined the herbal practice of enslaved communities. The herbalism of southern blacks, it can be argued, expressed a sacred worldview as clearly as singing, praying, or dancing. As they gathered, administered, and taught about botanical medicines, enslaved African Americans enacted a relationship with the land that was both practical and spiritual. Antebellum black herbalism thus became not only a pragmatic resource for survival but also one of the sacred arts of slave doctoring in North America.
—  Sharla M. Fett, Working Cures: Healing, Health, and Power on Southern Slave Plantations (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), p. 76