“There’s truth
to the way you see things.”

This particular box was used in the live taping of the pilot of Diff ’rent Strokes, which my dad and his writing partner created. At that taping, my dad was in the booth pressing and pressing the LAUGH button. FULL STORY

Barnaby Harris
President, itsasickness productions
New York City, NY


This nine has been riding in my wallet for the last three years and I don’t see any reason at all to stop carrying it around.

Santa Monica, CA

“The shame about being poor goes all the way back, and having
a glorious shell
was the opposite of that.”

This has always been an object of wonder for me, but I’ve never talked to anyone about it. Even my husband didn’t know the story. FULL STORY

Cheryl Strayed
Author, Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things; co-host, Dear Sugars podcast
Portland, OR

This Apple III was a gift from my father, who was an engineer working with NASA. I was about 16, and we were all supposed to share it, but I took it over almost immediately and persuaded my parents to let it live in my bedroom. FULL STORY

Co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Seattle, WA

“The diamonds are a
reminder of how
the soul can be.”

I was only 19 when we got married, and the ring symbolized the love Michael and I had for each other, love in its purest form, undiluted by time. But then three years ago, I put the diamonds from the ring onto this necklace. It’s come to symbolize coming out of my darkness. FULL STORY

Taryn Guerrero Davis
Founder, American Widow Project
Wimberley, TX

“It’s this absolute
tangible reminder
that my life was
once that weird.”

“My strat” sounds cooler than it is because it isn’t a Stradivarius or Stratocaster. It’s my straw hat — a boater, like they had in the ’20s. We had to wear them at Winchester, my boarding school in England, along with a jacket and tie. We couldn’t be bothered to say “straw hat.” FULL STORY

Joss Whedon
Writer, director, activist,
creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Los Angeles, CA

“Come on, man,
don’t rob the ice cream truck!”

To be born in Compton is to witness everything ... Why these awards matter so much to me is that people where I come from don’t win Emmys. They don’t sit in a room writing political satire for Jon Stewart, and they don’t stand on that stage.

Travon Free
Comedian, head writer of
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
New York, NY

“I thought I was
supposed to grow up to do girly things.”

I was 11 and struggling to understand my dad, since he didn’t have a “normal” dad job, like construction or accounting. He was a “random access memory designer” and his technological world was a mystery to me. FULL STORY

Heidi Reed
Creative services manager, global health nonprofit
Pawtucket, RI

“There was
no going back,
not after this dress.”

She wore it for the first time on Christmas Eve, and she entertained all the aunts and grandmas with her dance around the living room, so proud of how the skirt poufed out when she twirled. Her hair was still cut short, and we were still calling her by her boy name, but the writing was on the wall. FULL STORY

Marlo Mack
Producer, How to Be a Girl podcast
Seattle, WA

“I am his
wildest dreams.”

My great-grandfather was born in Jamaica in the first generation after slavery was abolished there. He traveled across to Cuba as a young man to work in the sugarcane fields so he could save money for two things: a plot of land and a ring.

Kamilah Forbes
Executive producer, Apollo Theater
New York, NY

“I Remember Waiting in a Vehicle in the Tense Moments Before a Drug Bust.”

I’ve gone through a lot of life feeling like I got dealt a bad hand, and I used to look for confirmation to prove it. Like if the light turned red just as I was approaching. Even if it’s not real — and I know it’s not real — you still feel shitty. FULL STORY

MALCOLMFormer FBI agent
San Francisco, CA

“Beauty and sadness fashion and hope, and Dennis”

I got this T-shirt in 1995. It’s the perfect shirt. Bright blue, vintage, and it says HEAVENLY LAKE TAHOE in white letters. When I look at the shirt, I see a whole lifetime, a million lifetimes. FULL STORY

Co-founder and creative director, Stone Fox Bride
Brooklyn, NY

“I wanted
something to remember
the day by.”

I loved the day we spent searching for this old ghost town in New Mexico, in a little red car, just enjoying each other’s company. He and I could spend days on end together and never run out of things to talk about. I’d never felt a connection like that with anyone. FULL STORY

Jackie Mock
New York, NY

I’d been printing money since I was 15. I had a long run. I’d always try to do the right thing, but then I’d get impatient and I’d start printing. I was 33 when I finally got arrested. I had $500,000 in printed money and I ended up going to prison for six and a half years. FULL STORY

Artist, painter, and counterfeiter of the most secure banknote ever created
Bridgeport, IL