22 West Magazine- 2023 Grunion Issue

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Issue 89.03 · May 1, 2023 · 22westmedia.com
Jensen Puckett Editor-in-Chief Sofia Carlos Managing Editor Mia Bishirjian Distribution Manager Natalie Comfort Lead Copy Editor Caroline Bae Art Director Kacey Acosta Advertising Manager


Spring has sprung, the flowers are blooming and I’ve run out of ideas for content so this is what you’re getting. This semester has been a paradox of sorts. On one hand, I can’t remember when the endless amount of deadlines, assignments and exams began or even the beginning of the semester for that matter. But on the other hand, I didn’t fully realize it was already April until last week. This semester made me realize how funny time can be. How it moves faster the closer you get towards the 11:59 p.m. submission deadlines and how it slows down when you’re stuck in traffic for minutes upon minutes trying to leave campus after a long day.

You know what else is funny? Our Grunion issue!! For this issue we decided to be jokesters and a little quirky. After all… we’re not like other student media outlet magazines. We have it all in this issue folks, it’s filled to the brim with satire and humor. We’ll give you special coverage on our very own 22 West Esports team, a breaking news report on the JPR gang war, an in depth look into wellness culture and more. The world’s your oyster and in a way so is this issue for satire. In all seriousness we have very talented writers and artists who have contributed some truly awesome work, so give this issue a read. As always live, laugh, love!


Jensen Puckett, Editor-in-Chief editorinchief@22westmedia.com

Sofia Carlos, Managing Editor managingeditor@22westmedia.com

Natalie Comfort, Lead Copy Editor copyeditor@22westmedia.com

Mia Bishirjian, Distribution Manager distributionmanager@22westmedia.com

Caroline Bae, Art Director artdirector@22westmedia.com

Kacey Acosta, Advertising Manager advertisingmanager@22westmedia.com


Phyke Soriano, Volunteer Artist



Meetings every Friday at 2:00 pm on Zoom Contact editorinchief@22westmedia.com or check our bio @22westlb on Instagram


Email: info@22westmedia.com

Mail: 1212 Bellflower Blvd, Suite 108 Long Beach, CA 90815

Disclaimer and Publication Information: 22 West Magazine is published using ad money and partial funding provided by the Associated Students, Inc. All Editorials are the opinions of their individual authors, not the magazine, ASI nor LBSU. All students are welcome and encouraged to be a part of the staff. All letters to the editor will be considered for publication. However, LBSUstudents will have precedence. Please include name and major for all submissions. They are subject to editing and will not be returned. Letters may or may not be edited for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and length. 22 West Magazine will publish anonymous letters, articles, editorials, and illustrations, but must have your name and information attached for our records. Letters to the editor should be no longer than 500 words. 22 West Magazine assumes no responsibility, nor is it liable, for claims of its advertisers. Grievance procedures are available in the Associated Students business office.





Amajor gang war between student media associates left three students dead over the weekend, law enforcement officers reported. Among the victims were DIG Magazine editor-in-chief, Vittina Ibanez, 22 West Media video producer, Duy Mai, and a Daily 49er staffer who could not be identified due to extreme facial disfigurement.

Witnesses heard two gunshots near the LA-4 complex. When law enforcement arrived on the scene, the source of the shooting was discovered to be an unaffiliated TPUSA member. While shaking his hand, officers completely missed the purely physical skirmish happening between the three student media gang members in the courtyard mere yards away.

“Cause of death seems to be blunt force trauma,” said UPD officer Kevin Prost. “Though I wish that Turning Point member just shot them all.” According to law enforcement, the confrontation began when a Daily 49er staffer caught Mai crossing the boundaries of the Upper West Side Demarcation Zone. Mai was filming content for his 22 West docuseries, Spotlight, on 49er grounds—he was immediately jumped. Ibanez attempted to intervene, as Mai

was recently initiated as DIG’s multimedia editor next semester, but was fatally brutalized in the process.

“You should’ve seen it,” said Jensen Puckett, editor-in-chief of 22 West Magazine. “Duy kept screaming ‘Spotlight’ over and over. He put up a good fight though. That 49er didn’t stand a chance.”

Allegedly, Mai was attempting to investigate the self-immolation of collegiate journalist Reyn Ou, who was affiliated with all three publications.

Tensions among student media gangs were exacerbated when the three publications had territorial disputes over being the first to break the story.

Ou had reportedly set themself on fire in front of the University Student Union the week prior as a political statement to protest the profit-driven and transphobic landscape of mainstream journalism.

“It’s just like Reyn to go out so nobly,” said Anthony Lewis, a 22 West Video volunteer. “By the way, does anyone know what happened to the microwave? I wanted to make my special edition Spider-Man mac n’ cheese. It’s red and blue.”

In an interview with 22 West Magazine lead copy editor, Natalie Comfort, Ou made vitriolic comments criticizing the practices of both the Daily 49er and the Department of Journalism and Public Relations. Mai was said to have suspicions about the true nature of Ou’s death, leading him to trespass on 49er territory to interrogate.

“I mean, I’m not surprised that Duy didn’t buy it— Reyn says a lot of things,” said Sofia Carlos, managing editor at 22 West Magazine. “They’ve always said that they were going to kill themself to make JPR confront what it did to them, but they also wouldn’t stop talking about this ‘Instant Hot Yerb’ idea they had as well.”

Tensions among student media gangs were exacerbated when the three publications had territorial disputes over being the first to break the story. Before first responders could put out the flames on Ou’s body, reporters had already staked out the residence of their partner, Alina Kim, to ask for a quote.

In response, Kim publicly announced that she would not speak to anyone regarding Ou’s death. All publications have been unable to cope with the capital loss of not being able to weaponize a young woman’s grief for a clickable headline.

A DIG representative commented that the campus magazine deserved to break the story first because Ou had served them the longest.

“Shouldn’t that mean something, that Reyn decided to produce content for us the most?” asked the representative. “We could have really used the panache of their death.”

DIG later stated that it had changed its mind about covering the story, as the nature of Ou’s death did not align with its mission as a lifestyle magazine. It will instead publish a roundup story of the best places to self-immolate on campus.

A representative from the Daily 49er argued that it was entitled to Kim’s quote because “any property of that queer Reyn is property of BeachMedia.” There

were more comments that the publication gave, but none could be used due to rampant misgendering and queerphobic language when referring to Ou.

Regardless, Kim has specifically refused to work with the campus newspaper. Honoring their commitment to objective and ethical journalism that accurately represents the interests of the student body, the Daily 49er gave up searching for a relevant source upon the slightest inconvenience and subsequently interviewed President Jane Close Conoley for her thoughts instead to meet the self-imposed deadline for its article.

When reached for comment, 22 West Media responded by saying that the publication had just found out what AP Style was, and thus a news report could never be in the works. Instead, the video branch will create an experimental narrative short called Portrait of a Reyn on Fire. All of 22 West Magazine’s funds will be divested into the production of this short.

“We were originally going to name it Future Ou,” said 22 West Video intern Movie DeOlden. “It was just going to be us screaming ‘FUTURE OU’ for three hours. It took me like two months to develop that script.”

When asked about Mai’s death, DeOlden said a

separate commemoration wouldn’t be necessary. “They’re like the same person,” said DeOlden. “Both of them were planning to try this ‘hot Yerba Mate in a can’ recipe Reyn wouldn’t shut up about. We were going to make some for the watch party, but the microwave’s blown up for some reason.”

In a public statement, the Department of Journalism and Public Relations said: “We are deeply impacted by the tragic loss of our JPR students, including Reyn. Reyn’s work was always the most valuable thing about Reyn, and when Reyn took Reyn’s life so soon as one of the only remaining transgender journalists in our department, we all swore due diligence to honor queer students like Reyn and give Reyn the basic human dignity of acknowledging Reyn’s identity.”

When asked why the statement repeatedly used Ou’s name in place of using their pronouns, the JPR department proceeded to deny ever knowing Ou and said that they/them pronouns weren’t grammatically correct anyways.

Despite the violent loss of four students, no publication has made an effort to resolve the conflicts between each other.

“It just doesn’t make sense to me,” said Rachel Livinal, a member of DIG and 22 West Radio. “Why would they even fight about who gets to tell Reyn’s story first when their body is still out there?”

The remains of Ou’s corpse have been outside the University Student Union for five days. No one has come to dispose of it yet due to the ongoing collegiate gang war. It is unclear as to why the task of removing Ou’s body was delegated to student media.

“I think Reyn should be cremated,” said Caroline Smith, a 22 West Video producer. “But that’s just me.”

Editor’s Note: At the time of publishing this article, it has been ruled that Reyn Ou’s death was not a suicide, but in fact a freak accident involving a microwave and a can of Yerba Mate.




Illustrated by Abihail Ortega

There is a riff in my relationship with Long Beach State. Imposter Syndrome has been prescribed to many students, but I believe I’m unable to grasp the fact that success isn’t weighed by external gratification. It is instead determined by connections, money, and the ability to network. My education has flourished here at LBSU. I have met amazing individuals with drive and motivation for their respective fields.

As a peer looking at them from the outside, I feel unfit for those jobs, not because I lack those qualities but because I’m not confident in them. Only in this month the stress of deadlines has bled into my personal development. I second guess myself now. I’ve convinced myself trying isn’t worth it anymore because what’s worse than failing? A silly project I had put off instead becomes a confusing panic attack. Then, into embarrassment.

I have learned how to handle Imposter Syndrome through my own mental health struggles. Similarly, I’ve felt the most supported when people share their experiences that match my own.

The announcement of the demolition of the resource building and its relocation has convinced me that I have more than just my career to be anxious about. Visiting the building for the second time, it made me realize how impractical it is to move a very important piece for building community to the basement of the library. Being a transfer student at a four-year university feels impersonal. I’ve been

scrambling to find people who I can connect to who are also trying to navigate the school, their education and future career.

Next month, I will be earning my Bachelors in journalism. Next month? I don’t know. My goals and worth seem to be held onto this last hurrah. Graduation. The one time where I’ll be recognized, for me, Kamryn Bouyett. For the two years I committed to the Beach. I have wasted tears, driven miles, ran across quads and walked plenty of steps for my name to be said, on my graduation day.

What has the school gained? My money. The pesto chicken sandwich I had to buy because I didn’t pack my own lunch. The scantrons I have stocked piled up because I thought I didn’t have any. The $500 dollar parking pass that I used last year as a student and while I lived on campus.

Currently the parking permit as a student for one semester is $300. So, for a full year at LBSU students this year had to pay $600. That is a crazy number for a parking pass. Even the distance between (actually)


available parking spaces and parking on campus is completely different. It’s also important to consider when you’re weighing out the time it took to make that money.

If I didn’t need to purchase my permit last year; I would have bought a new pair of Doc Martens (the open toed, platformed ones). Or just simple repairs on my car, gas, rent, food. There are so many different things.

Why is it $500? Well, according to the CSULB Parking and Transportation Services FAQ page, the slow increase of the permit is to maintain the parking facilities and transportation services they provide on campus. They described the parking prices as “quite low when compared to other CSU campuses.” We were ranked 17 in 2021 for being the most affordable parking permit but second in providing the most parking spaces (lol they also said we were ranked behind Cal Poly Pomona). With over 14,000 parking spaces on campus I still have to park next to the Bob Cole Conservatory so I at least have a spot to park on campus.

Okay great. We are funding the infrastructure of an institution I will be graduating from in a month, cool. For only 105 days of my first semester at the beach, I paid $250. Then, for the next semester I moved to Beachside, the off campus dorms (subpar

come and scout out license plates. I was so scared of getting a ticket until one day I did.

I had parked the night before in a parking lot near the building of my first class. The next day I was going around minding my business, going to classes and when I walked up to my car I had a ticket. I had parked the night before after 5:30 p.m. but I did not realize I needed to be out of that parking lot by the morning. That $60 I had to pay hurt my pockets at the time. Funny thing is, the only reason I had parked in the spot the night before was so I didn’t have to walk back to Los Alamitos to get my car just to drive back the way I had walked.

It was so frustrating trying to figure out ways to get to my class quicker and without losing any money. The amount of gas I had to put in my 2011 Kia Soul (which was totaled last year on the 405 freeway) to get from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach must be more than the $500 I originally spent.

Can you tell I’ve been paying attention in my economics class? My brain is absolute mush from the amount of time I’ve spent stressing over money, my career and my future. Learning economics this semester has been the worst. It’s been fueling my anger and causing me to question: Why did I choose Long Beach State?

I am tired. My cap and gown are still in their packaging because I’m too scared to open it. I think I would have opted out of graduation if they sent the option to do so.

I’m now only going for my family. My opinion on the matter isn’t as significant to first generation students, students with more barriers preventing them continuing their education. There are so many stories, backgrounds and experiences students have shared especially through the recent Let 23’ Walk coverage.

I wonder if the president is even listening (or reading). We, as students, hold power despite the president. According to the people I’ve met through movements like these have allowed me to see what really matters. Our voices.

Without us, Long Beach State would not be the successful school that it is. Even if you haven’t received any gratitude for the work you’ve done, I am proud of you. This year will be the third year in a row where graduates’ names will not be called. Why?

I believe the commodification of education has caused the resources students (actually) want to go underfunded. Soon the only evidence of this will be no air conditioning in the Fine Arts buildings, a Covid safe commemoration and a pile of old 60s cement.


spreadsheet gaming


August 25th, 2022: My fourth day ever of being on a university campus.

I found out that double degrees exist, and I remembered that in this god-forsaken economy, a single bachelor’s degree isn’t enough anymore. Or something.

After two semesters of work, ridiculous amounts of Japanese pop music, and several Google searches, I have gained an unnecessary amount of knowledge of school mechanics and several obscure university policies.

Statistics major I am, but my heart lies with people – journalism, psychology, sociology. Statistics, to me, is a mathematical variation of the investigative methods present in those subjects I preferred. Still, I hadn’t an idea of what statistics I wanted to do, but I figured I’d have a normal school life after a hectic high school one.

Unfortunately, my curiosity drew me to check out other subjects, and so I started making a spreadsheet that listed my requirements for my Honors program, statistics degree, and sociology degree. After a meeting with my advisor, Tim Kalliomaa, he suggested I see Dr. Olga Korosteleva, the statistics advisor, and in that fateful email, she suggested two options: double major, and then public health or public policy. Being not too fond of healthcare, I chose the latter.

And promptly spiraled.

Nonetheless, not all of my tools were great. The spreadsheet was partially based on the degree planner in the catalog, but I found myself weary of the degree planner’s sluggishness and lack of flexibility. You couldn’t, for example, move around classes with a few quick clicks.

So I decided to make a better one.

“should”, and in trying to add a sociology minor, I was up against a strange limitation.

As it turns out, my advisor informed me that there’s a soft cap to how many units you can take for a degree: 144 units. After 120, the minimum to graduate, the school starts bugging you. At 144, you better have a good excuse – or at least, an excuse. I wasn’t about to start risking things. So what’s the answer? Start using obscure mechanics!

As it turns out, College Board’s chokehold over high school-college education isn’t limited to the AP exams: they have the College Level Examination Program, or CLEP for short. They’re usually multiple choice exams, with some being essays, that can be taken at just about any normal working time at various test centers. This program is so obscure that several universities don’t even accept CLEP credit, but LBSU does.

The second incarnation of the sheet was more organized. It listed out all of my requirements in two columns, but now had a schedule area for me to plan it out.

The third incarnation saw me pivot to an economics degree, which arose from a sociology internship tabling cursorily mentioning economic impact. However, I focused on “could,” not

And CLEP credits aren’t Timely Graduation credits, just like AP credits. So, if I took lower-level classes via CLEP, I could clear out some Timely Graduation credits. Thus, I chose their microecon and biology exams, kicking out six units. For free –thanks Modern States!

However, the limit was still there. To make sure I had the exact classes I needed, I did some Googling and got a conditional formatting code. Given a hypothetical schedule box, the code would check

“I have gained an unnecessary amount of knowledge of school mechanics and several obscure university policies.”

it; if the box had a class, it’d black out the corresponding class in my catalog lists. Thus, I always knew if I had every class to complete a major/minor.

After discarding my sociology minor, I found a new, obscure minor that seemed neat: Interdisciplinary Public Policy (IPP), which has the issue of one of its classes not being taught recently. Around this time, my desire for an MPA had a thorough grip on me, but an old siren song started to sing in my ears.

Right, I wanted to write.

I stuffed myself in a few creative writing classes and remembered I wanted to write a novel, pref erably with professor support. That’s how I found ENGL 499, Directed Studies, and after some finagling, I found that I could fit in an economics and IPP minor along side some creative writing classes that I wanted, but I also had an alternative plan where I did just statistics and economics as a double major.

Around this time, my advisor mentioned that there was a way to get an economics degree with fewer units: Economic Math Theory. Intended for future economic grad students, I was using it to do a minor’s amount of units (about 18 units) for a whole major – which was a shame, as I wanted to do more in economics. In choosing it, I found out I could fit in my creative writing plan and IPP.

Unfortunately, to do ENGL 499, you need at least a creative writing minor. I found out that it wasn’t too many extra units from the rest of my creative writing plan. With some additional, but costly, summer courses, I also found that I could sneak in two years of 12-unit semesters, for potential internships.

All in all, this entire spreadsheet has helped me realize students’ limitations and academic policies in higher education and how to deal with them, such as through CLEP exams and community college credit. My excessive schedule watching and research also revealed two oddities in LBSU’s educational methods.

For example, at the time of this writing, several upper-division GE classes don’t actually list in

the line below them their “GE AREA” when on the public class schedule, meaning that we don’t have an automated linkage between actual class credits and that specific line below them. It can be bypassed by searching by GE Requirement, but it’s still an issue if you search by subject.

This can be confusing, especially with recently-changed classes. ENGL 317, formerly Technical Writing, is required for statistics majors and was not a Writing Intensive course 2022-2023. However, it is now ENGL 317, Professional and Technical Writing, and it is Writing Intensive for Fall 23 and onwards. Had I not found this out, I could have blundered into learning about old people in our usual easy WI class, GERN 400, and taken a credit I would’ve gotten from an obligatory course.

There’s also tuition. Unless you’re from outside California (in which case you do pay a per-unit fee), you pay in two options during the main-line semester: one to six units and seven or more. 12? 15? 18? 21? 24? Doesn’t matter, you pay the same amount for seven or more. This is technically a disadvantage for working students since it means you’re working with less “efficient” semesters by paying more per unit. For example, a 12-unit semester pays about $291 per unit, whereas an 18-unit

semester pays about $194 per unit.

Have a full-time job, but godly work ethic and a trash schedule selection? Could pull off the 15 units, but six of those units are in the Mon/Wed 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m. and 12:30-1:45 p.m. block when you’re working? Too bad! With enough bad luck, you might end up with an extra semester when a student without a job would have no problems, thus taking the same number of units but costing about $3,000 more since we pay by semesters, not by units.

With this in mind, I nervously strode into a professor’s office hours and asked if I could listen to their lecture. With the plan I have in mind, a failure completely destroys it, so why not reduce risk by previewing the content? You can’t say I’m freeloading – 15, 18, 21, I pay the same amount. If I’m not disruptive and the professor allows it, then it’s all good. So what does this all mean?

Local community colleges limit you to nine units per summer. Starting in the summer between ninth and tenth grades, that’s potentially 27 units coming into LBSU before the application even opens. With some careful aiming and planning, you can easily make a plan that can demolish the entire lower-division GE requirements. All 48 units while other teens are flirting.

But you can do more than just GEs, although it is slightly risky. Still, it’s annoying having to search through colleges to make sure the class is actually offered during summer. To solve that, a separate website, Quottly, has a class search that compiles articulated classes in one area.

A particularly productive student can even get an Associate’s around the time of their high school degree – a rate of about five units per semester, including summers, from freshman to senior year. A bit of effort via Open University for upper divisions, limited to 24 units towards a degree, and you could get a hypothetical teenager to walk in with some 94 units.

And probably burnout.



The antonym of freedom is freedom. Your freedom of choice infringes upon my freedom of choice. Your freedom to duck overrules my freedom to punch. Your freedom to speak challenges the freedom to be silenced.

This is exactly why we should all be supporting Bill s.686, titled Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology Act—aka the RESTRICT Act. You may know this as the “TikTok Ban” Congress is currently deciding on. This act will protect all Americans by not only banning TikTok in the US, but allowing government officials to audit any website with over 1 million views and freely delete or censor information on the website. To put that into context, there are currently 331.9 million US residents, so this will be 0.003% of the population. . The act will also illegalize the usage of VPNs, punishable by a fine of $1,000,000 and 20 years in prison.

But honestly, this isn’t going far enough. If Congress truly wants to protect the people of the United States of America, they need to propose a new amendment.

The 28th amendment.

This amendment would override the first amendment, which was useless to begin with. Now, you spoiled liberal gen-z snowflakes may bitch and moan about this, but shut up for once in your life and listen. The adults are talking.

This new 28th amendment would include the RESTRICT Act and new governmental enforcement policies. All the new information available will be produced and verified by a newly established organization, under the 28th amendment. This organization will be called the Collection Of Rational, Religious, United Political and Transformed Information Of The Nation, or CORRUPTION for short.

Firstly, we would ban Apple and all its products. Fuck apples anyways, they’re red, like communists. Apple would be replaced with a new company called “©arrot”, created by mysterious emerging entrepreneur Zark Muckerberg. The usage of devices produced by this company would be mandated, and anyone caught using Apple will have their hands cut off. (Android is, and always has been, irrelevant, so removing that won’t be an issue.) We will burn Apple products at 1000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Books will not need to be burned. We’re not dictators, after all. Presses will stop running, as everything is online anyways. Books will simply be recycled into toilet paper until we run out of books, in which case we will return to normal toilet paper.

However, we understand that carpal tunnel is an issue. To combat this, anytime a person types on a ©arrot, handcuffs will dart out of the device and wrap around the person’s hands. That way, their wrists won’t hurt from typing their love and support for the government (as well as restricting other types of messages).

Second, we will edit the algorithm on these devices to solely display government messages and sponsorships, and these will be played on a 25-hour, 8-day loop. It’s the only content worth watching anyways. Of course, we’re not monsters! We will showcase exceptionally entertaining content! That includes our government sponsorships. Dance Moms, Love Island, Duck Dynasty, and The Kardashians will be part of this loop. Intellectually challenging media makes our brains hurt, according to an article written by Zark Muckerberg titled, “My Brain Hurts When I Watch Intellectually Challenging Media.”

Additionally, everyone will be obligated to wear a government-assigned electric collar. The collar will be pre-programmed to detect certain buzzwords. Every time those predetermined words are spoken, the speaker will experience a (non-lethal) electric shock. If the buzzwords are spoken more than a certain number of times, civic duty will mandate that the speaker’s mouth will be sewn up.

This will be made infinitely easier when the English language is reduced. This will be accomplished by removing words from the English dictionary. Words such as, rebellion, resistance, depression, censorship, discontent, anger, originality, creativity, fascism, dictatorship, poison, racism, lies, sexism, and more will be eradicated. Of course, they are all buzzwords.

This will not apply to the Bible, however. As we are children of God, and his most devout followers, we would never dare infringe upon His words. We could never silence God and Jesus! It’s a different story with other religions, but our Christian God shall speak unrestricted. Now you may call this “hypocrisy” (another buzzword), but that simply isn’t true. Humans are stupid and everything they say—with the

exception of government officials—is trash. God and Jesus, however, are honest, genuine beings that we seek to serve in every way possible because we are His most holy disciples.

Moreover, any and all communication with the outside world will be illegalized. Why would you even want to talk to anyone from a foreign country anyways? Unless you’re a communist! The internet’s communication abilities will only be used for talking to approved US citizens.

You know what? Let’s go further than simply restricting the internet! Coalitions shall come into formation with the singular goal of hunting down political dissidents. We’ll even bring back the guillotine! We can use the heads to build a glorious wall that isolates and guards us from the outside world.

The 28th amendment may be met with some initial resistance *cough cough snowflakes*, it is only because its inherent beauty and utopian qualities cannot yet be comprehended. In the old days, the new powers granted by the 28th amendment were called corruption—I mean protection!

Our carefully crafted amendment has refined and perfected all the best characteristics from the most powerful governments globally. No other nation will hold more power than us. And in our absolute power, you can be certain that all potential foreign danger will be eradicated.

Do you see? Your freedom of choice and speech threatens the government’s freedom. Another word for governmental freedom is democracy. Do you want to be responsible for the downfall of democracy? Are you truly that selfish, that avaricious, that wicked?

The 28th amendment protects you from yourself, and protects our society from your hazardous, treasonous words. Innovations such as ©arrot, electric collars, witch-hunt coalitions, toilet paper novels, manipulated algorithms, verboten words, government information organizations and guillotines shall launch us into a utopian future.

And who are you to scorn utopianism?!

Trust us, the 28th amendment is the best representation of freedom. And honestly, no one cares if you disagree.

This is America. We’ll tell you what freedom is.



Written by Darya Jafarinejad Illustrated by Krizzha Dee
É ëé ç ê í ë=Ç áî áëáç å ESPORTS DIVISION
Written and Illustrated by Caroline Smith

Here at 22 West, we try to support each other in all our ventures. We are that kind of closeknit, supportive, collaborative friends. And as a video producer, I really do try to support my friends here, even when their ventures and ideas are truly worthy of ridicule. So very worthy.

You see, one day I walked into the office, ready to do some very complex, grueling video producing. Who do I see but my coworker and occasional friend, Duy Mai, saying that there’s big things happening in the office today, which could mean everything from there’s a bug in the office to Dwayne Johnson came in and suplexed someone.

It was then revealed to me that the big thing was a new branch here at 22 West, 22 West E-Sports. Now this was involving all the biggest nerds in the office, so of course my immediate response was to point and go “HAHAHA.” But I have learned recently that pointing and laughing can come off as mean and rude and hurt my friends’ little feelings. Or so I have been told by my boss. So instead I decided to be polite and hear about their little team.

First Duy told me about the game he plays. He said, “Caroline it’s very complex. You might not get it, but it’s beautiful and layered and makes you really think.” I sat behind him as he booted up his computer. On the screen, Minecraft. I tried to tell him that I have at least heard of Minecraft before, but he kept insisting it was a super underground indie game that I had not heard of. While playing, he started singing Minecraft parodies that I’m pretty sure he made up himself. He sang “Marvin’s Room” by Drake but it was about dying and losing all of his inventory in a cave. It kind of made me wanna grab his skull and scramble his brains around, but I had to refrain. I had to try to be nice.

Then, News Director and little creature Reyn Ou informed me that they are also on the team. I assumed that they would also be playing one of these competitive games, like a first-person shooter or whatever, but then they revealed that they speedrun Animal Crossing, just Animal Crossing. I didn’t believe them at first, but then I watched them furiously trade bells for five hours and collect all the fish in the aquarium. I had never seen them so stressed or hyper-focused on what they were working on–which is saying a lot because that is often their natural state.

Magazine Art Director Caroline Bae had also gonegamer. I sat behind her at her desk to observe, but I think I was in over my head. She had a complex set

up on her screen, furiously clicking and highlighting boxes in front of her. I saw the title of the level was “Class Schedule Fall 2023.” She kept switching to different tabs while also writing stuff down in a notebook. Honestly, this seemed like the most complex one and I really couldn’t wrap my head around it.

At this point, I was starting to see their side. That maybe gamers did have something going here. I decided it was time for me to see their side of things. To play one of their games. Now Duy, Reyn, and Caroline were very excited by this and sat me down in front of the brand new gaming setup in the office. It was very high end, full flatscreen, like all the consoles, and a big pc that sounded like it was taking off. I don’t really know where they got the budget for this, especially since I was struggling to get an SD

again, hear the whimsical rumblings of the woods, and to see the fiends that once terrorized me and meet them in a hellscape. They had their control over my mind for far too long and it was time for me to rise up against them. Now I was the bane of their existence. I was their destroyer. The heffalumps and woozles had their time, and they had to now tremble in fear of me!

I beat the game finally, and it felt great. I finally saw what these silly little gamers saw. Maybe they weren’t as strange and off-putting, but understandable and potentially normal. Who knew that gamers are people too.

card for weeks, but you know, I’m trying to stay open. Now what game to play… I had many options avail able to me. I was being told to try a shooter like Call of Duty, or a team based game like Fortnite or Spla toon, but none of them spoke to me. I wanted to play something that I could connect with.

That’s when I saw, the one. Piglet’s Big Game for the Nintendo GameCube, based on the 2003 film Piglet’s Big Movie, soundtrack famously by Carly Simon. I used to play the game as a child, but also would never get very far because the premise of the game used to scare me. In the game, you play as Piglet, the loveable little coward of the Hundred Acre Wood. Little Piglet has a big task ahead of him: to enter his friends’ dreams and expel the demonic heffalumps and woozles terrorizing them.

To hold the GameCube controller in my hands

“To hold the GameCube controller in my hands again, hear the whimsical rumblings of the woods, and to see the fiends that once terrorized me and meet them in a hellscape.”


Illustrated by Caroline Bae


It’s another day in the office. Or will be when, nay IF I make it in today. I’m late. I pick up my speed, start walking more briskly, swaying my arms and legs around so it appears to others I’m in a hurry. You never know who’s watching, maybe my boss is peering down on me from their window, maybe my boss isn’t even there today or maybe they are going to be more late than me.

I don’t even have enough energy to pretend to walk faster after the night I had last. I spill my coffee, losing the only motivator I have to keep walking towards an office I dread and ruining my new jacket. The coffee was steaming, and my skin burns. I just bought this jacket and might not be able to get the stain out. This is the only jacket I have left that meets the dress code of the office.

There were others I had at one time or another, but after a long night on the job they were ruined in other ways. Slashes and tears in coats that cost more than my rent. If I thought long enough I could probably remember, but it’s easier to talk about the money or the spills. Easier than the pain from the trips to the hospital or blood stains that cannot be taken out. The corrosive chemicals required to clean them would ruin the coat. And we can’t have that, now can we? Remember, this is rent money for me here. It would be nice if I could use the little money I do get from this job for my actual rent, rather than for coats that get ruined, regardless of how careful or safe I try to be.

Maybe I got off on a tangent. Is that a bad thing? Couldn’t you argue every thought or conversation or thing to happen was just a tangent idea from a previous thought or conversation? Or even a cultivation of everything that has led to that moment. Every experience, thought, conversation, interaction, dream, coffee stain, and every other thing you have experienced has led you to this moment exactly. It has also led me to be late to work, with skin that is red and burned, a jacket that I can’t afford that I either need to learn how to clean or buy another of, a lack of coffee, and a wandering mind that is distracting me from getting to work, the place that I love to hate depending on the day. Not just for coat money, or rent money, but because I have to go there. That’s where I go, that’s what I do, right?

Come to think of it, I’ve been walking for a while and I don’t recognize any of these buildings. They seem familiar, but I’m not really sure why. All of the signs above the doors are obstructed, I know I’ve been here before. Am I lost? Can one ever truly be

lost if they’re following their heart. OK, not the time to go there, I am late for work afterall. I am late, aren’t I? Come to think of it, I’m not sure what time it is. Or how long I’ve been walking. I have a watch on my wrist but it’s broken. It has been broken since it’s been in my possession, if that’s what you could call this. Part of the uniform for the office, or maybe it’s not?

Oh! There’s Tony! I guess I am walking towards the office. Tony is a good kid, always excited to help others with their work. He likes stories, stories of unlikely heroes. I hope he realizes how much of a hero he is when he helps others with their work, with their lives, how nice it is to have someone say hello to you in the hallway, whether it be in the office or during an ongoing existential crisis monologue by someone who’s on their way to an office for a day of work that might be their last. OH! Now he sees me, he talks

and holds the door open for me as he usually does. I can’t help but thank him, not for just opening the door but for being him, for walking with me into the office when I was “lost”, for still being so incredibly passionate about something he’s also been working on for years. Come to think of it, has Tony worked here longer than I have? Have the long nights that blend into weeks and years really warped my perception of time that much? Our boss sees there might be a moment of genuine human connection and feels the need to stifle it by yelling at Tony to see him in her office.

J. James Jensen, one long, alliteration that makes me question if it’s even her real name or just an alias. As Tony walks into her office, I hear her scold him for not doing more work and not having more to offer. Specifically, she wants pictures of these unlikely heroes that Tony praises, lots of pictures. I want to walk in there and tell the good old JJJ how there’s a hero right in front of her doing her a favor while she is asking for more. But, I have a new coat to buy, so today isn’t the day I do that. Sorry, Tony. WAIT my coat, is it still stained?

about some of his ongoing projects, he still has that spark in his eye when he talks about it. Passion, that’s so special, and unfortunately something that can be rare to find nowadays or at least in my office I don’t seem to find it enough.

Maybe that’s human nature, maybe there is a point that our brains decide that the thing we’re now doing is no longer romanticized as it was in our mind but rather becomes monotonous. Maybe it takes years of stress and not being able to see the difference we make. Oops, that was another tangent and I’ve been walking along nodding my head as Tony talks; I hope it wasn’t anything important. Is it better to ask him what he said, politely if he could repeat it or just keep smiling and walking? Wait, now I’m missing the new things he’s saying. Oh, I guess we’re at the office now.

As we both approach the door, taking our last breaths before we enter the dungeon of an office that we both love working in, Tony walks ahead of me

I decide that stain or not, I am already in the office so I will go to do work until someone tells me otherwise. I keep walking deeper into the office. I do have a desk here, don’t I? I circle around the whole office and don’t recognize any of the nametags on any of the desks as my own. I recognize them and understand most of the references, at least I think I do. But, I guess I don’t need my own office or desk to do work.

Come to think of it, I think yesterday was my last day in the office. Or maybe it was the day before that? That’s right! I haven’t worked here for the past 22 years! Silly me, it’s funny how your own brain can play tricks on you like that. Well I’m sure if I’m still walking in 22 years later and they’re still indulging an old man’s delusions they must be pretty nice after all.

Wait, is this the right office?

“Couldn’t you argue every thought or conversation or thing to happen was just a tangent idea from a previous thought or conversation?”


Did you know that Skittles are considered to be the most toxic food in the world?

Notice how I didn’t cite any sources here? I saw this “fact” in a TikTok where a guy with not a thought behind his eyes nodded his head to dramatic music that accompanied this alleged “fact”. No sources. No reasons why. No explanation for the toxicity of said Skittles. Just a dumb guy, with a phone tripod, and a dream. Oh, and almost one million likes, and comments with thousands of likes that simply read, “damn. makes you think.”

A meeting of the minds here, folks. Let’s all gather around to witness it.

I’m not saying that Skittles are a part of the food pyramid or something. When I eat them at the movies my heart is still pounding out of my chest on the car ride home, which cannot be a sign that they are helpful for the immune system. Where I have an issue is with the verbiage used here.

People are dumb. People do not understand what words mean. When they see the word “toxic” they think of the neon green sludge that appears as background art in old episodes of Scooby-Doo. To label a very popular candy as “toxic” is to condemn millions of dummies everywhere to an evening of burying themselves in the WebMD rabbit hole wondering if

red dye 40 has burned a hole in their stomach lining. All things health and wellness are part of a trillion-dollar industry. A lot of this money comes from impulse buying as a result of this kind of fear-mongering. Whether or not that dumb guy on TikTok was employed by a rival candy company to sabotage the sale of Skittles is beyond my paygrade, but I do know that it will influence the next time a lot of people go to the candy aisle at their local grocery store.

The fact that it took such little effort on his part to make this video and its contents go viral is an indicator that people everywhere are seeking answers on how to live their lives. I’m guilty of this myself.


When I want to find a new moisturizer for my face or a new soap for doing dishes, I seek solace in the tik tok search bar while forgetting that brain rot is a terminal disease on that god-forsaken app.

When I search for a new moisturizer I am told the one I am currently using is clogging my pores, and that if I have been using it consistently then I have probably shaved ten years off of my life. Fine. Great. Dandy. I just bought a new bottle of it though and in this economy? I’m using it until the last drop. Shave another two years off of my life for all I care.

That search for a new dish soap? Not only was I given a plethora of options that all cost three times as much as the regular blue shit everyone uses- I was told the blue shit in question is toxic! Like, if I use it within eighty feet of my cat he might vomit, toxic. My cat is the light of my life and when he goes, I’m going with him. Might as well go with the soap that isn’t burning a hole in the pocket of the American consumer!

Oh, wait. Right now? Everything is burning a hole in the pocket of the American consumer. Rent and gas have basically quadrupled in price and the minimum wage has remained as stagnant as that Andrew Tate knockoff from the Skittles TikTok.

Maybe that’s why I’m so fixated on how health and wellness, as products, are being marketed in misleading and predatory ways. People should be able to spend their money without feeling bad that the food they are buying might have ripped a hole in the ozone after it came off of its conveyor belt.

We’re all just trying our best to stay upright most days! If some mom on TikTok is giving each of her three kids individually wrapped snacks, who gives a flying fuck? I can guarantee you that one mom is not responsible for the global climate’s rapid uptick.

If you want to go and live off the land in the middle of buttfuck nowhere, be my guest! But to take time out of your day to shame lifestyle choices that people are condemned to without much wiggle room is loser behavior.

We also cannot have a conversation on the misleading advertising of certain health and wellness practices without mentioning how most of these

this scheme is six feet under by now, but I am still their number one enemy.

It’s all mind-boggling, really. That deodorant is more expensive because the packaging is a dainty white color, adorned with flowers, and named something like “fresh jasmine evening” makes me want to rip my fucking hair out.

When I decided to try men’s deodorant after figuring out that women’s deodorant provides the equivalent of slathering canned frosting on my underarms, I was shocked to find lower prices, dystopian gray packaging, and scents like “KNIFE FIGHT” and “BEAR SWEAT”. I had always wanted to smell like how World War Two movies look, so I reveled in this new purchase.

Until the internet told me that a majority of off-the-shelf deodorants contain aluminum! And this can give you cancer!! Because why wouldn’t it give you cancer?? Right?? RIGHT????

things are targeted toward women. This is not to say that men aren’t preyed upon by this industry (see: gym rat culture), but it seems like women are made to feel like haggard old ghouls if they do not buy into the propaganda.

I was born a woman and now identify as non-binary, so I have and still do endure the pink tax, which is when products marketed towards women are more expensive than products that are marketed towards men. I am sure that whoever came up with

Skittles contain chemical X, my moisturizer has dead polar bears in it, and the dish soap I use spat on an old woman. My deodorant is responsible for 9/11 and my water bottle was made by the feeble hands of starving kittens. We can never fucking win. No matter what we do, we will be doing that thing wrong. We just have to carry on, thinking that somewhere out there is the product to end all products. The thing that does not contribute to climate change. The thing that is natural and cheap and easy to use. I don’t give a fuck where or what that thing is. I’m tired of searching for it like some poor soul trapped in the desert hallucinating a river at my feet.

Just let me consume my dyes and soak up my aluminum. I’ll be dead soon anyways.

I hope they put “Skittles” on my autopsy report.

“When I search for a new moisturizer I am told the one I am currently using is clogging my pores, and that if I have been using it consistently then I have probably shaved ten years off of my life.”


Do you struggle with questioning what your life means? Whether what you are currently doing makes you happy? What do you really want in your future? If your problems require you to move to a new country and start a new life or if you should just spend more time outside? Now, conventional wisdom might tell you to do some self-exploration. But I disagree, I believe in quick surface-level solutions that require minimal effort. Really, I understand the put a band-aid over a bullet hole phrase was meant to make fun of this, but have you ever filled a dent in your apartment wall with a thin coat of paint and gotten your security deposit back. What I’m trying to say is I think sometimes the easiest path is the right one. If you do too, keep reading.

Think about your current morning routine. Does it include any moment of silence, time to ponder unnecessary obscure details of your life? If so, you’ve pinpointed the first aspect of this problem. Think about all the time you are giving thoughts to enter your mind, frolic, disturb your mental state and break your plan for the day. Put plainly, your carelessness is causing your own pain. Prevention is better than a cure.

Now you might complain that distracting yourself isn’t solving your problems. But the issue with your problems isn’t the problem itself but the emotional distress that it causes you. Most of the time, persistent problems in your life are complicated, based on circumstances out of your control, or require excessive amounts of time to fix. If you can’t fix the problem itself, you can at least stop yourself from perceiving the emotional effects of your problem.

I would go so far as to say distraction is an act of self-compassion. What happens is out of your

control, whether you choose to give it headspace is in your control. Remember, how when little kids get upset you just wave something shiny or noisy in front of them or give them food? Sometimes, the simple method works and there is nothing wrong with that. Now I am not saying that your emotional coping skills should stay the same as a toddler, but I am saying if something is not broken, no need to fix it, right? I mean it will be super beneficial to your mental health to allow your problems to pile up until they reach an unmanageable level.

telling people what upsets you, just silently keep a tally of their wrongs without telling them. Eventually, you will become so resentful with those you love, that you will be able to cut them off completely with little emotional attachment. Never mind that if you had just been honest and shared how they acted made you feel, they might have corrected their own behavior. They also might have continued, in which case your suspicions that they don’t care about your well-being would have been confirmed. Rather than going out on an emotionally risky limb, cut the entire branch off.

The best part of this approach is that it is a blanket solution for most problems because it isn’t really a solution at all. But what you can’t fix, you can always hide. Not all obstacles can be moved, but they can mostly be avoided, and if not, there is no shame in turning around and going back the way you came. You don’t know if what is ahead of you is worth all that effort, so I wouldn’t recommend overexerting yourself. After all, the journey is more important than the destination or insert some other bullshit inspirational phrase.

On a personal note, do you have conflicts in your relationships? Do you have issues with the way your friends or family act? I have a suggestion that has always resolved the problem flawlessly. Instead of

Or are you unsure of what you want in the future? Do you feel like your current path might not be the right one for you? Well, the bad news is that finding a path for yourself will require trial and error, self-reflection and then going back to the first step and starting again. There are tons of paths that might make you happy in different ways and such limited time in your life, that it is highly likely even step one will elicit a fuck ton of difficult questions. And even if by some stroke of miraculous luck, you settle upon a path to follow, with all the unpredictability of life, your chances of making it down that path is low.

But hey, I have a simpler solution that requires a lot less effort. Instead of weighing the options available to you, pick up more and more obligations that until exhaust yourself. Rather than enduring that emotional suffering that is self-reflection, just continue to pile on more tasks. Eventually you will have so much work to do you won’t have the luxury to consider how much you like each of your activities, or the alternative paths for career that you could be going on.

I mean, let’s be honest, who wants to put in effort to solve their problems anyways?

“The journey is more important than the destination or insert some other bullshit inspirational phrase.”



The year is 1947, Dodgers are doing their annual tryouts, and two African American men are sitting on the bench waiting for their shot at being on the team. Jackie Robinson and Anthony L. Lewis. “Good to see another person of color here,” said Jackie. “Man you have no idea,” Anthony said. “I’m Anthony Lewis,” Jackie pulled out his hand shaking Anthony’s hand.

The two talked about their experiences in baseball throughout the whole tryout until it was their turn. “Where’d you grow up?” said Jackie. “I grew up in Toronto, Canada,” Anthony replied. “Oh? So you’re a long way from home, what made you come down here?” said Jackie. “Well, the same reason why you’re here, of course: baseball. Ever since I was a kid baseball was all I thought about and played. I would wake up, turn my radio on and listen to the Astros play. Wasn’t a day that went by where I wasn’t rooting for them. What about you?”

“I just wanted to play professional baseball but you know since we’re people of color they don’t let us play in the MLB so I started my career in the Negro

League and played for the Kansas City Monarchs.” They both seemed to have gotten along pretty well and enjoyed each other’s company.

My dad was humble, respectful and fearless. Well, the fearless part started to change once it was his turn to try out. “Lewis! You’re up,” said the recruiting coach. “Wish me luck, Jackie,” said Anthony. Anthony grabbed his bat and ran to the plate, he started to sweat and tremble a bit but tried to keep his cool. The pitcher got ready and threw a fastball, Anthony screamed and jumped away from the plate. All the baseball players looked at Anthony with confusion, even Jackie. “What was that Lewis?” said the recruiter. “Sorry I just lost my footing, that’s all,” said Anthony.

The pitcher gets ready and throws another fastball, yet again Anthony moves away from the ball and screams. “Lewis, don’t tell me you’re afraid of the ball?” said the recruiter. “What? Not at all, coach, I just had a fly go in my ear,” Anthony replied. Last pitch. Anthony gets serious. The pitcher throws the ball, Anthony swings and… misses.

“Alright Lewis you’re out,” said the recruiter. Anthony walks in shame back to the bench and sighs. “So you’re afraid of the ball,” said Jackie. “I’m afraid of the ball,” said Anthony. The recruiter shouts “Jackie you’re up!” “It’s okay to be afraid sometimes, Anthony, but what makes us brave is our ability to overcome our fear, like this,” said Jackie. He runs out to the field with his bat and gets ready for the first pitch.

First throw from the pitcher and Jackie swings; he misses. He shrugs it off and gets ready again. Next fastball he misses again. Jackie is sweating but keeping his cool for the last throw. The pitcher throws an intense fastball and Jackie lands the swing. It ends up being a home run and all the players cheer and look in amazement including Anthony.

So yeah that’s how my Dad could’ve been the first Black baseball player in the MLB, if it wasn’t for Jackie Robinson, it would’ve been Anthony L. Lewis. Hey, did I also mention my Dad was born in 1964?

“My dad was humble, respectful and fearless. Well, the fearless part started to change once it was his turn to try out.”



rtificiaI Intelligence has taken the news by the balls. No, literally- like they give you facts on the best plays in the sport. Ok let me cut to the chase here. Do you ever think about how lonely you are and how you’ll never, ever, ever find a partner? Or that you really need therapy because everything you think of is very depressing and you find joy in thinking about depressing things and you want someone to share interest in your silly, absolutely normal impulsive and intrusive thoughts? Me too! Chat GPT and other AI forms have been a recent update in the news and it’s been reported by organizations like the Washington Post and the Huffington Post that they have become somewhat dependent on AI to give them their social interactions and acceptances.

Isn’t it ironic how forming friendships and partnerships stemmed into creating something that would essentially replace social interaction? Like ok- get this: human connection is what opened our minds to the creation of AI so that we are able to improve human communication, yet here we are, utilizing it as a substitute for human connection. Granted, COVID really did throw us for a loop. It took away a lot of communication abilities that we had pre-COVID, and made us more reliant on technology. In some ways, the pandemic sped up our reliance on technology- it was inevitable, after all. Given the speed at which innovations for phones, computers, smart TVs, and even the takeover of industrial work was increasing, it was only a matter of time before we were intrigued by what AI could do for human love. “I think it’s great,” said one friend, “I mean, let love be love… just know it won’t be physical.”

So why is it so controversial? Most importantly, why is it that people are taken to AIs, and what makes humans differ from computers? Well, to answer the first questions, I can simply say this: love has always been a controversial topic. From literally the beginning of time, when humans

“Outside of romance, what is the biggest difference between humans and AI?”



said “hello” or some semblance of sound, love of any sorts other than a heterosexual love was criticized- but even then… it’s not like heterosexual love has always been without judgment either. So to hear that there’s controversy surrounding human love with AI is… unsurprising, to say the least. Regardless of how new it is, people are realizing that machines are not quite as sentient as we would like to believe that they are. So if this is the case, why is it that some humans have taken to AI as their preferred partner? For some, human connection seems to never work out for them. Other times, AIs simply were just able to provide them the listening ear that humans were not able to. For one, AIs are programmed to wait until you’re finished speaking, and programmed to respond to you the way that would help you the best, in the most perfect way that a human couldn’t. In some ways, AIs make up for human flaws.

Outside of romance, what is the biggest difference between humans and AI? Well to summarize as a whole, AIs are able to provide information to humans at a speed that is incomparable by humans. Some things that may be too dangerous for humans would be the “perfect job” for AI or robots to do.

I guess like many have said, love is indeed love, and you should love an AI if that’s what your heart desires, but realizing that that love is uhm… particular… is an understatement. Don’t expect them to do much in terms of playing sports except for giving you sports reports. Other than statistics, they wouldn’t really be able to head to the park with you and play. One of these days they’ll finally be able to take your balls, and be a physical sentient being. Then, we’ll answer all the other Illustrated by Huy Tran


I’ve been on Hinge since the summer of 2022, not counting the number of times I’ve deleted the app so far. The amount of soft launches I’ve been a part of would rival NASA. And while I hate to say that some of the most pivotal changes in my character were influenced by romantic relationships, I’m a sucker for plot. Treating your life like a romcom does have its risks thought, so here are some of my biggest lessons I’ve learned while navigating love and other feelings in online dating:


Now, I suck ass at confrontation. My voice quivers and my palms get clammy: It’s not pretty. For the longest time my dating intentions were set to “Figuring it Out” (D-tier). On the rare occasion where I saw a future with this person and felt that things were getting serious, like going halfers on a parking pass serious, I would disclose my intentions. To my surprise many of the conversations went well and while things didn’t workout romantically, there was always a clean break.

Trauma bomb responsibly

“I was kidnapped as a baby, wait what was the question again? Oh what’s my favorite color?” While vulnerability is appreciated, start with baby steps. After establishing that the complete stranger you’ve been texting is indeed not a serial killer, more or less, it’s always a good idea to go somewhere the two of you can talk. Ideal places being cafes, parks, boardwalks and generally anywhere with a nice ambience. Once you get there keep the conversation small. And if you’re someone who hates small talk, then pay close attention to this next part: EVERYONE HATES SMALL TALK.

Don’t get me wrong. I hate talking about the weather and how when it’s gloomy outside, I feel gloomy inside--cue “aww” sound track. And while trauma bonding may seem like an attractive talking point, focus on getting to know the basics. Be inquisitive and attentive to their responses. Conversations about lingering childhood trauma will follow over time.

P.S. I included the google calendar thing because one time I scheduled a date back to back and I pulled up to the wrong place--I was sipping on a vanilla latte, she was waiting for me in the parking lot of Golf N’ Stuff, I still think about it when I pass by on 605.

phone and her phone played back her response in english. She was an international student from China and admitted to me then that she wasn’t confident speaking English, so we continued the date using google translate to exchange funny anecdotes and flirt in a robotic tone of voice. Even with a language barrier I felt just as close to her as I did over the phone, to this day it’s still one of the best dates I’ve ever been on. After we parted ways she sent me a text, it read “I don’t think this is gonna work, you’re really awesome though” (something along the lines of that).

Long story short, ghosting fucking sucks and people should stop doing it. Just be honest with the person and if they don’t take it so well, then you can ghost them.


I still like you babe, it’s just the way you always want to play Bjork when I give you the aux that throws me off a bit.

This one is a little hard to explain. In my experience, being on dating apps has exposed me to such a wide variety of “icks” I never knew I had for other people. Highly subjective, but some icks are just bigger than others. Deal breakers even. It’s up to you to figure out what icks you can live with and speak to your significant other about, and what icks require executive action.

Deleting the App… For Now

Dating Multiple People

The key is communication, make your intentions clear and regularly update your google calendar. When you open Hinge for the first time a prompt appears asking you to select your dating intentions from seven different options. At the top you have “Life Partner,” and at the bottom you have “Prefer Not to Say,” the former being S-tier intimidating and the latter F-tier lackluster. I always considered myself a hopeless romantic, daydreaming in heavy traffic when I looked over and saw the driver next to me was sorta cute, then flooring the pedal when they noticed me staring. And I knew I was the monogamous type, but I also wanted to see who was out there and experience things with different types of

The Vanishing Act: To Ghost, or Not to Ghost

My first date on Hinge was prefaced with two of the most wonderful weeks of banter. It was the kind of texting where you find yourself lying on your stomach in bed, with your feet in the air, swinging back and forth as you wait for their appropriately timed responses. We made plans to meet at a boba cafe and watch a movie at the drive in. On the day of I distinctly remember walking towards her and having to stop halfway to tie my shoe, my hands were sweaty making it difficult to grab the laces. When I looked up, her smile was hidden behind a set of palms as she giggled. My face was red hot.

I went in for a hug and began asking about her day. She stopped me, pulled out her phone and opened the google translate app. She spoke into her

Half the time I deleted Hinge it was because I felt like I was prioritizing romance above other relationships. Getting caught up in making memories with one person, I found myself forgetting about other people and aspirations I had dreamt for myself. In the search for somebody else it’s easy to lose yourself. It’s sort of corny, but you can’t fill another’s cup when yours is empty. It’s good to be selfish and take time to figure out who the latest iteration of yourself is. And so my last lesson in online dating is that in between dating other people, try dating yourself. Contrary to the saying– no company is better than bad company.

“After establishing that the complete stranger you’ve been texting is indeed not a serial killer, more or less, it’s always a good idea to go somewhere the two of you can talk.”




JESSE: “Hey Andy, could you pass me the black pepper? I’m feeling particularly spicy.”

ANDY: “Huh? But it’s closer to you than it is to me. You have long arms Jesse. Use them.”

JESSE: “I asked you if you could pass the pepper, not how long my arms are. Don’t talk down to me with… you and your big bones. You know what? Actually, go ahead, gesture at me with your sausage fingers.”

ANDY: “You’re just being mean now. I’m not big boned. I’m self-conscious about that.”

JESSE: “No, no no no Andy. I wasn’t ever serious. God, some things just go over your head man. You know I’m never serious.”

ANDY: “You sure? How ‘bout the other day when you said I was ‘slow’? Or when you said my hairline has the shape of a dumbbell? That doesn’t even make sense! I’ve been ignoring this for a little too long.”

JESSE: “Heh. Well, you do have a big head…


“Alright enough of that, I’ll just get the pepper myself. With me and my long arms. Mmm, this flavors my carne asada quite well! Straight from the results of child labor! I can just taste the tiny child working at a sweatshop. Or whatever people do to get pepper.

“Hold up now bucko now what was that? You are fuckin’ ridiculous you know.”

“Bucko? What do you mean bucko? I have not heard that word since I was a young man ‘bucko’ in the sixties. Bucko. You sound like a wanna-be cowboy. You see, now that’s ridiculous.”

ANDY: “Ha ha. Now I can’t shake the idea of a cowboy in the sixties asking for pepper from, like, a stranger in a saloon. I bet where his revolver should be is a pepper shaker shaped like a gun and ketchup packets shaped like bullets. Oh my god that’s gold.”

JESSE: “He’d have to time travel forward then back just to get ketchup, and he’d need a proper smith to—wait a minute. What the hell are we even talking about?”

ANDY: “The best thing there is, Jesse.”

JESSE: “That is far too situational for it to come from your intuition. You are a properly cringe dude.”



Illustrated by Nina Walker

ANDY: “Bro. You joked about child labor of all things man. That’s dark.”

JESSE: “Aha! So you did know I was joking. Put on a grin for me then, since you understand it so well. Don’t let all that beauty go to waste.”

ANDY: “I have a feeling that was more insensitive than you are letting on. You are not a fifty-year old man talking to a seventeen-year old waitress at Denny’s. Oh, and the next thing you say better not be mansplaining.”

JESSE: “...Bah! Fuck, you got me, that’s all my brain could muster right now.”

ANDY: “I just don’t think it’s all that funny. You have to talk down on things and people just to get your laugh. I don’t get that. I just don’t. Sometimes what you say makes me sort of uncomfortable.”

JESSE: “Well I can’t take you seriously either. I mean, your humor is just so vanilla—how does that just tickle you? I don’t mean anything by it of course. It doesn’t make you less odd than me.”

ANDY: “Ok–ok. Fine. We will call a truce on that then. But I do think I’m funny. I’m friendly, charming and witty. You’re just…you like…absurdity.”

JESSE: “And I don’t mind that, my friend. Lowkey, your jokes actually do make me chuckle. But because they’re cringe, not because they’re funny. I pity you man. I really do.”

ANDY: “Oh shut up. You are not funny.”

JESSE: “ Ha! Yeah. I’m not funny.”



Disclaimer: This is all based on my personal experiences. (If you have any problems with anything that I have mentioned here, I don’t know, ask your mom.)

Ah, yes, what a pressing issue to discuss for Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month: the heavy weight of disappointment that Asian parents place upon their children. It is what spawned a whole, wide list of general stereotypes about Asian students in American schools: They are the ones who get straight A’s in school, have an ungodly number of extracurriculars on their hands, aim for a career in STEM, politics, or law, excessively apologize for minor things and more often than not are the instructor’s pet.

It is believed that if the child cannot reach their potential, then everything that they have done in life would go to waste. The child, in turn, would be left as nothing but a failure and burden to the family – and not to mention, their ancestors. They would probably be cursed and slapped by their great-greatgreat-great grandfather, who’s all dead and skeletal and everything.

And let’s be honest here: Asian-American children have been treated as if they are the “chosen ones” in some fantasy game. They are destined to meet the goals and expectations of the people above them, to fight dragons and obtain gold in the glory of the family and ancestors. Their victory or failure in their “quest of success” will forever determine the fate and future of the family. Now that’s something game developers should take note of. Asian-American children are following the image of their parents, but they rarely live for themselves. The conflicting idea of doing things for other people versus one’s own self is something many Asian-American people can agree upon. There is at least an iota of that urge to be someone who each of us want to be, to do the things

that each of us wants to do, to chase the dreams that each of us have been dreaming for all our lives – but all at the risk of losing the connection of our parents. For we know that one small mistake can mean the end of it all.

But is it really?

What about being virtuous and a role model in front of the entire extended family? That, and I cannot stress this enough, is nothing but an artificial facade. The parents create a narrative in that their child is going to be better and do greater things, when in reality, the child has no way of actually knowing what the future holds for them. Life is an artwork, and the artist is not one’s own mother nor the father, but one’s own self.

So, if you are of Asian origin and you have parents who give you way too many expectations, here’s my advice (and this is coming from years of experience): Break any and all expectations given to you by your parents and give them your perspective – your reality – of what the world is like. Tell them that the rules of the world that we are living in now are completely different from your parents’. Take the time to talk to them on the dinner table and make them listen to you.

But if that doesn’t work out well, here are some ways to disappoint your parents even more:

1. Get a grade of D or lower in at least one of your classes.

2. Declare a major in the Arts.

3. Pursue a career in the Arts.

4. Drop out of college.

5. Attend clown college.

6. Drop out of clown college.

7. Become a clown anyways.

8. Become a VTuber.

9. Become a cosplayer. Bonus points if you turn into a furry.

10. If you live with your parents and you have your room, lock the doors. You deserve privacy.

11. Move out of your parent’s house. Become independent from your parents.

12. Blast your music – one that your parents don’t like – on loud.

13. Get a tattoo. Get earrings. Dye your hair into whichever color you want. Cosmetic changes and all.

14. If you want to come out to your parents, now is the time. And it’s ok if you don’t want to. You got all the time in the world.

15. Make your own religion, and make your parents follow it.

16. Spend thousands of hours on video games.

17. Go to some faraway place for several months without having to tell your parents. Norway is a good start.

18. Make millions of dollars off NFTs.

19. Have a large anime, manga, comics, or figurines collection.

20. Live your life.

Hopefully all of these are giving you some insights. Good luck, have fun!

“Their victory or failure in their ‘quest of success’ will forever determine the fate and future of the family.”


Alberto Juarez, Writer

Anthony Lewis, Writer

Caroline Smith, Writer & Artist

Darya Jafarinejad, Writer

Huy Tran, Writer & Artist

Jude Sampson, Writer

Kamryn Bouyett, Writer

Keanu Hua, Writer

Kobe B. Lopez, Writer

Michelle Lin, Writer

Natalie Comfort, Writer

Reyn Ou, Writer

Scott Carso, Writer

Abihail Ortega, Artist

Ahrahm Joo, Artist

Caroline Bae, Artist

Eleah Kang, Artist

Jadyen Arana, Artist

Krizzha Dee, Artist

Nina Walker, Artist

Phyke Soriano, Artist

Ryan Nieto, Artist

Tricia Vu, Artist

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