recall /rəˈkôl/, v.

Everybody likes a listicle. I love making lists, but prefer writing long-form. In this moment, however, I am wildly outnumbered by, well, everybody, so you get a listicle featuring five different sentiments people have said to me over the past couple months.

These are all happy thoughts (à la Peter Pan) that I wanted to share, in hopes that my doing so may remind you to share the thoughts you have tucked away in the corners of your minds. You never know when your words may make someone’s week.

1. “Dude, these brownies are so good.”

I haven’t baked in a long while, so when I had the chance to bring dessert to a friend’s potluck, I over-ambitiously sought to combine two new brownie recipes into one. My high goals left me with flat, porous brownies whose bottoms were pockmarked from my last-minute add of a large handful of vegan chocolate chips (they’re just carob) getting stuck to the baking pan.

Not my brownies | Photo by Courtney Cheng

I didn’t have time to remake anything, so I salvaged the brownies and brought them to our get-together. A friend almost immediately ate three pieces upon my arrival and the other two bookended their lunch with the brownies. One even asked what I’d done to achieve the brownies’ unique nutty taste—the taste that was actually from my secret, failed vegan chocolate chip addition. I fumbled with my answer, knowing the full story of why I had vegan chocolate chips in the first place would take too long.

Her reply? See above.

2. “Did you ever think you’d say that?”

This came from a number of people in a rather wide variety of contexts, but each time, it was always a nice reminder from an objective third party observer to take a look back at the progress I had made. There were times when I didn’t think I had the right mindset to make certain decisions, assert my beliefs, or just express particular thoughts. And yet, there I was.

3. “I know you like planning. Wanna help me?”

As you read this, my brother is either in or has returned from an impromptu two-week trip in Japan and Korea. A couple Fridays ago, my boyfriend had plans with friends and I’d opted to keep my Friday night open to relax, maybe watch the new season of the Handmaid’s Tale. I hadn’t really decided.

person walking on street near buildings
Photo by O-seop Sim on

Then, my brother messaged me, announcing the news of his post-Ph.D.-graduation trip. “Oh, that’s awesome,” I replied, “When are you going?” “Before work.” “When’s that?” “July.”

I kid you not, I stared at the calendar, wondering if was actually possible that my brother was trying to plan the entirety of a two-week international trip in barely two weeks. “Have you started planning…?” “Nope. I have no idea where to start. I know you like planning. Wanna help me?”

A good part of me reeled in shock—I am that person who will make a packing list for a weekend trip down to Monterey a full week beforehand—but another part of me swelled with joy. My older brother trusted me, his younger sister, enough entrust me with planning his first international, solo trip. Forget joy, this was an honor.

4. “Thank you.”

I don’t mean the BS thank you’s we all sign at the end of our work emails to be polite or drop so often we say them at the wrong moment. I mean the genuine, full-bodied thank you that precisely highlights the reason you want to thank this person.

DSC07339 copy
Photo by Courtney Cheng

A couple weeks ago, I was discussing with Candle Boy our “motivation languages.” (Think love languages, but regarding motivation. Motivation Languages©) For instance, I can’t stand pep talks from friends unless they’re a slightly sarcastic, “You got this, bro,” one-liner accompanied by the shooting star Tuzki sticker on Facebook Messenger. I feel awkward hearing “good job” or receiving encouraging pats on the back.

If anything, a deliberate, quiet thank you to acknowledge me, my time, and my energy means so much more. This thank you isn’t said out of a desire to simply be polite. It’s said out of genuine gratitude that I can feel through words, and being able to see and experience this means the world to me.

And on that note: Thank you, my friend, for reading.


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