staff Fiction & Poetry Editor-In-Chief
Kjerstin Burdiek Valerie Casola Jessica Molz
Nicole DeVincentis Blake Lubinski
Luisa Beguiristain James McNamee Robin Xiong
Alexander Akers Jessica Molz
Publicity Faculty Advisors
Tiffany Curtis Jenne Knight Lucas Southworth
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Corridors: the Annual Literary and Art Review of Loyola University Maryland. Volume 1/2015 Corridors does not claim publishing rights of any kind for the materials within its pages: all rights remain those of the author or artist. We invite the Loyola student body to submit original poetry, fiction, nonfiction, artwork, and photography to next yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s issue. All submissions remain confidential. Please direct all electronic submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org and feel free to visit us on Twitter and at the Writing Department website (http://www.loyola.edu/academic/writing) for more information. Published by: Mount Royal Printing Co. 6310 Blair Hill Lane Baltimore, MD 21209 Cover: Courtney Heller Back cover: Cassandra Halko Corridors 201 5
Editors' Notes In my early, formative years, I wrote about danger. In second grade, I wrote “The Creepy Coffin”: a daughter survives a family car crash, but because she is sleeping, the authorities think she is dead and bury her. (Yes, problematic. Why did they not check the girl’s pulse?) In third grade, I stayed in from recess to write “The Lion Pride”: a pack of lions surround a bus of elementary school students on a field trip in Africa. (What were they doing in Africa? Where was the adult? All good questions. Not answered in the story, though, unfortunately.) Other stories, unnamed and unfinished, begin with a chase, an escape—what I thought was conflict. But my stories were missing something. Even though I wrote about exciting and scary things, the stories generally weren’t exciting or scary. Factors can be contributed to my poor and unformed writing skills as an elementary school student and also the questionable nature of the plots, but I think, instead, what my stories were missing is what so many of the stories and poems in this first issue of Corridors exemplify. That is, strong characters. In writing, characters are what drive the readers to feel; they are who we connect with, who we root for (or who we don’t). In their reactions, their actions, their interactions, in their motivations and desires, the story comes to life. The conflict is only conflict if the character feels it because if the character feels it, then we feel it. You may recognize some of the names—from Prince Charming to Hercules, Napoleon to Elvis—but each has been rethought, reimagined, and reconstructed in a way that should surprise you. Other characters will remind you of relationships: with sisters, mothers, grandmothers, strangers, lovers. Others, still, will make you feel as if you’ve met someone entirely new. As you read, I hope that you are taken down a thousand corridors. The hallway may be cold, it may be dark, but I hope that you open the doors. When you do, I hope that there, you are greeted by a hand. Take that hand because that hand is character. Thank you to those who created these corridors and the characters within them. Thank you to my fiction staff for sharing long nights with me in the seminar room. Thank you to Nicole and Blake for your dedication and communication. And thank you to Luke Southworth, Jenne Knight, and Tiffany Curtis, our faculty advisors, for everything else. Jean Gillingham Fiction & Poetry Editor-in-Chief Corridors 201 5
Editors' Notes “What do you want to do?” That’s what I kept hearing during my junior year in high school. My sister was relentless: “What are you passionate about?” she would ask me. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t give her a straight answer. I hadn’t given much thought to where I wanted to go with my life, but having a profession in mind while looking for colleges would benefit me in the future. The problem was, I didn’t know what I wanted to do yet. Then it clicked. “I want to be an editor.” My sister wasted no time and soon had me looking at Loyola’s website. I fell in love with the campus instantly. Fast forward a year, and I was fully immersed in college life. It wasn’t long before I learned from a friend of mine about the literary magazine for the school. I immediately emailed the editor-in-chief and, a few days later, I received a response telling me I had a position as an Assistant Editor. I was ecstatic. I finished my first year at Loyola with a copy of the nonfiction component of the magazine, formerly known as the Forum. I was proud of the work I did that year, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the sense of responsibility and reward that comes with being co-editor-in-chief of the newly published Corridors. The hours of hard work that went into this magazine were truly worth it. What’s more, I can tell by the emotions I’m feeling now that I made the right decision in choosing a career in the publishing field. I found incomparable partners in Jean and Blake and have enjoyed working with both of them throughout the year. I’m grateful to Professors Southworth, Knight and Curtis for their guidance and support. And I thank the nonfiction staff, James, Robin, Luisa, and Alex, for their hard work and diligence in helping to craft the magazine. Finally, I thank the students on campus for submitting their work. Without it, there would be no magazine, and we owe a lot of our success to you all. I had a choice of going with a career that would ultimately provide me with a steady salary, security and stability. I would have walked into work every day in a suit, carrying a briefcase with the dozens of files I would have memorized. I would have been ready to argue my point at the drop of a dime, and I would have stood before both a judge and a jury and upheld the law. Yet, what I chose was a job where I will spend the majority of my time reading and organizing. I will cry at the tragedy, sympathize with the pity or laugh at the joke I read on my desk. I will email the writer congratulating him or her on his or her acceptance or I will Corridors 201 5
Editors' Notes humbly decline. I will sit down with the writer and help him or her transform his or her piece into the strongest vessel of provocation for human emotion possible. And, at the end of the day, I will go home knowing the power of the written word. Sure, I could have chosen pre-law. But, seriously, how can you compare the two? While reading submissions for the magazine, I felt a grip on a personal level, and I hope you all enjoy reading these essays as much as I did. Sit on the edge of your seat and let Corridors take you down a path of strength, faith, love, hope, intrigue, struggle, and enchantment. Nicole DeVincentis Nonfiction Co-Editor-In-Chief
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Editors' Notes A rectangular touchpad, now worn and textureless, sits center. A crooked, diagonal-leaning scratch on the left side of the palm rest provides a lopsided frame. A nicked-up LCD display, broken-off pieces of plastic lining and smashed-in I and J keys nearly complete the picture. Only missing are the cracks that collect at the corners of the screen. I lifted my feet onto the bench, my back leaning against smooth concrete and my head attempting to avoid another collision with the metal showcase perched on the wall. As I pulled my legs toward my stomach to make room for my feet, crisis struck: my laptop, once resting on my thighs, began slipping, falling, threatening a crash. My arms flung from my sides to catch my computer, but the effort was too late: my laptop already had slammed into the hard tile. A strange sense of calm came over me when I realized that panicking was futile. I lowered my legs, tipped my torso and looked at the black plastic spread flat, backside-up, on the speckled tile. Panicking was futile, but pleading was not: Please don’t be dead… Please don’t be dead…, the voice in my head recited like a chant. As I reached down and curled my fingers under the black plastic, I heard it: “Bloawaaa!” An email? I thought. Then, it dawned on me: An email! I got an email! My laptop’s not dead! Pulling my computer up to the bench and returning it to my thighs, I looked at the blue box in the top, right hand corner of the display. Lucas Southworth The Forum Hi Blake, When I clicked on the box, Windows Mail App popped up with one unread email. I opened it and started reading. As one of our two most faithful editors on the Forum last year, I was wondering if you would be willing to help Nicole run the magazine this year, the first line said. I stopped reading after that. Yes! Absolutely! Of course! I— I noticed the cracks. The jagged, unsightly cracks. I stared at the chipped Corridors 201 5
Editors' Notes pieces of plastic on the floor. Several months have passed since I dropped my laptop, but until now, I’ve had little time to think about the cracks. After I responded to Professor Southworth’s email, I soon found myself thrown into organized chaos: forming a new magazine with Garland, selecting a new name, recruiting a new staff, creating new publicity materials and soliciting new submissions. A few weeks later, the nonfiction staff and I were scheduling staff meetings, discussing works, accepting essays and editing manuscripts. Then came the second submission period, and again, we were soliciting submissions, scheduling staff meetings, discussing works, accepting essays and editing manuscripts. All-nighters blurred the days, and you might say that they blinded me to the cracks on my laptop, too. The all-nighters are over, though: the edition is complete. Although that means that I’ll have more time to notice the cracks on my laptop, I am thankful to all who helped to distract me from them over the past few months. Thank you, Nicole, for suggesting that we exchange cell phone numbers so that we could share updates computer-free. Thank you, Jean, for sending emails at night when the darkness obscured the cracks. And thank you, Professors Southworth, Knight and Curtis as well as Alex, James, Luisa and Robin, for meeting with me in-person so that my laptop could sit inside my backpack, sheltered from further damage. Blake Lubinski Nonfiction Co-Editor-In-Chief
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T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S
poetry Hard Candy by Jennelle Barosin 19
My First Week in Paris by Isabel Bernate 20
by Sierra Blackwell 189
One Hundred Years by Emma Ditzel 190
Autumn Passover by Sierra Blackwell 22
by Kiki Coffman 23
Learning a New Language by Rachel Christian 24
Where I'm From by Emma Ditzel 25
The Proletarian by Blake Lubinski 26
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When Are You Gonna Come Out? by Rachel Christian 191
Vinyl Counter by Mackenzie Lowry 192
Summer Haze by Samantha Fazekas 194
Autumn (A Sestina) by Anna Quinn 195
I Want to Be a Rockette
T A B L E
Different, but Same
True Love Waits by Darby Barrett 41
Little Brother by Jean Gillingham 43
by Laura Biesiadecki 46
Five Milligrams by Juliana Neves 50
Men's Rights to Terminate their Relationships with their Children by Corey Falls 54
by Samantha Crawley 62
by Emily Earenfight 65
The Last Step by Selvin Amador 69
Who We Look Up To by PJ Portera 72
A Dual-Education by Sean Munier 80
C O N T E N T S
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T A B L E O F
fiction Our Heroic Prince by Isabel Bernate 97
by Michael Ebmeier 116
by Michael Ebmeier 103
Feeding the Beast by Sydney McClure 121
C O N T E N T S
by Nicole Lopez 108
Magazine Life by Isabel Bernate 110
Napoleon Enjoying Retirement by Zachary Pociask 123
White Lilies Elvis Lives by Ryan Mattox 114
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by Lia Paven 125
effective writing essay contest winners F i r s t p l ac e One Puppet at a Time by Brittany Brock 147
T A B L E
s e c o n d p l ac e
Dear Kovie Biakolo by ZoĂŤ Smallidge 152
t h i r d p l ac e
People and Perspectives at J. Crew U by Mary Glosenger 156
f o u rt h p l ac e
The Fight Not to Delete the Written Letter In Society by Julia Ainsworth 164
f i f t h p l ac e
Expectation and Acceptance by Annie Malady 169
C O N T E N T S
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T A B L E
Yen-Chia Tseng 16
Siobhan McKenna 29, 138, 139, 142
Mariah Palmieri 38, 183
Emily Covais 30, 35, 178
Jillian Alonzo 85, 92
C O N T E N T S
Christina Mollo 31
Nicholas Arakelian 32
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Courtney Heller 86, 89, 140, 177
Tori Sluko 87, 88, 141
Connor Kennedy 90
Kelsey Reiff Keyana Sabbakhan
91, 136, 137
Nicole Ardito 180, 181
Kaitlin Fitzgerald 94
Megan Suder Gabriel Carter 183, 184
PJ Portera 135
Bethany Lamonde 182
T A B L E
Kristen Wigand 186
C O N T E N T S
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Yen-Chia Tseng Untitled
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Hard Candy Grief looks like an ambulance outside my house on Christmas, like the boy my older brother knows from Boy Scouts pulling out a stretcher. It looks like dinner forgotten on the table, mashed potatoes going cold, like presents left unopened, like uncertainty hovering above the phone. Grief smells like hospital antiseptic, like flowers rotting in the hospice window, like the bitter cold of January. It tastes like hard candies that I find in her chest of drawers. It tastes like regret when I eat the whole box.
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My First Week in Paris I’ve been given an apartment On Rue Oberkampf, Paris. The walls are white, the bedding Too. I lay, window open, Welcoming the cool breeze. Unencumbered, it being summer, My eyes are as lazy as I. They wander over the walls, Meander to the single window. Slowly, they focus on a man. He has thick arms, once powered By muscle, I assume. Now, they fall flabby by his sides. He’s wearing a wife-beater. I am alone in a new country, But I wonder: is he tired? Cemented in a wooden chair, I see him there again at night, When I’m preparing myself for bed. I am thoughtless, too hot From the metro and the sun
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To bother closing my window As I undress. When I look out, I can see him read And eat, moving not unlike a glacier. I begin to wonder: can he see me too? Does he see my tears at night Or my anticipation in the morning? Can he see my fears from across the way? I hope they are contained In this empty room That reminds me nothing of home. He stretches his arm out, and for a second, I think heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s addressing me. With a deep breath I close my window.
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Autumn Passover Autumn shuns Niagara Falls; it always has. The cold water has always been cold, The bare trees have always seemed bare, The ground is usually hard-packed with primordial permafrost, And daylight savings is a lie, for there has never been any daylight to save. We stand in our front yards, bereft of vibrant autumn leaves, The dead hay-grass claws at our booted feet And Father Winterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s exhale pierces us, Freezes our blood midstream and turns our bones to ice. Staring wistfully towards where the Niagara roars, Where the abysmal whirlpools churn in the river, Where the water ferns are long dead and the mallards And geese have absconded to the warmth, We all imagine the autumn sun, distant, but warm and kind. Thick, icy dusk settles over the edge of the Niagara River And distant clouds carry the promise of snow. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve missed it here, in our gray little town Where the winter sun mocks us by shining But not keeping us warm.
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Heaven I think perhaps If I could know how it felt To stand on the edge of the Cliffs of Moher Without wanting to slip, Maybe I would know how to stop my mind From dancing on the broken glass Of dreams Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll never fulfill.
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Learning a New Language I touched her cheek. Her dark hair curled around my finger. Her eyes shone like gold. We told my mother, but didn’t dare confess to her dad. Broke and broken, her Brazilian accent couldn’t say mayonnaise; my American accent couldn’t say beijo. I knew her for a thousand years. Lost and found, we fit like puzzle pieces. Alive and awake, we tiptoed down the hall. We bought Ramen and a hamper in Walmart, and no one cared, but in the library people stared at us. They looked. An ambiguous fear hovered in the air, but we laughed at it and all those vague judgments evaporated. She took my hand. We crossed a bridge.
Rachel Christian poetry
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Where I'm From I’m from sand dunes with tall wispy grass, blowing in the salt air, piles of flip flops on the back porch and my trusty purple bike, early morning walks to the bay to see the sunrise, squealing and running across scolding hot sand. I’m from warm welcomes and iced tea, shucking corn and oysters in my bare feet, long nights on the back porch and laughing ‘til we cry, bonfires by the ocean and rough puppy paws. I’m from old pancake joints with peeling paint and sweet maple syrup, sour lemonade and kites speckling the sky, coffee stained and dog-eared pages of an old book, old bay on my corn, ‘cause that’s the only way to do it. I’m from the back corner of the arcade where they keep the old dime machines, snow cones bigger than my head and hand me down baseball caps, the sweet sound of waves and the fishing pier at twilight; I am the tide—never quite able to stay away from my home on the sand.
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The Proletarian I toss on my dust ‘n throw on my dirt, then slip on my pants ‘n slide on my shirt. Shoulda washed off the grit ‘n wiped off the grime but I ain’t no capitalist; it ain’t worth the time. ‘ccording ta the sun, it’s a quarta ‘til eight, but it’s a long walk, so I’m sure I’ll be late. I buckle my boots ‘n, ta the factory, I’ll go ‘til sunset, then I’ll come back home. But, I’m outta luck if, in my pocket, I plan on havin’ any dough. I hug my child ‘n plant one on my wife— it’s a steep price ta pay, but hey, that’s life. Out the door, down the steps ‘n ta the city— I ain’t locked up, but hopefully, they’ll pity. O, I ain’t eaten a bite since last night when SPAM in a can tasted like grease in my hand, but even then, it were only a bite. Five years ago, industry brought in misery, but, now, we joke ‘bout what they call “new liberty”: “yer value ‘n yer wealth be yer body power, so long as ya sellin’ yerself by the hour.” Sunrise ta sunset, dusk ta dawn, my body I sold in spite of wind ‘n rain ‘n in spite of hot ‘n cold. Then, over my head, I lifted a sheet of lead but slipped somehow ‘n found myself flat ‘gainst the floor, ‘most dead ‘n resolvin’ ta work less instead.
Corridors 201 5 Near the city, I see what looks somethin’ like a man; more than a coupla feet away, he throws up a hand. “Where ya goin’, bub?” shouts the ol’ fellow. “I ain’t know, Mel,” I holler ‘n I bellow. “What’s my hat say?” I ask with a chuck. It flies, ‘n he catches. It spins, ‘n he inspects. “The hell I know—it’s covered in muck!” Closer now, I spot with my eyes a pretty, li’l lady. She prolly ain’t got no time for fellows like me, but maybe. “Missus,” I call as I pass. “How ya doin’ today?” She scowls ‘n scoffs, then tells me, “Go away!” She’s got money in her mouth, cents in her cheeks; I’ve seen her type before, but ‘least this one speaks. “How ya like that gray sky?” I ask. “The smoke adds a nice touch.” She glares ‘n crosses ta the rich side of industry, but I stay back here ‘n think ta myself, I’ve said too much.
Siobhan McKenna Afternoon Commute
The Brown-Eyed Sisters
The City Runs Through MyVeins
Nicholas Arakelian Thinking Larger, Seeing Smaller
Cassandra Halko Untitled
Emily Covais Strength Through Affection
Maggie Powell Untitled
Mariah Palmieri DoodlesWithin Shapes
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True Love Waits I believe in the comfort and security of my purity ring. I find solace in the fact that my soul mate is waiting for me just beyond my fingertips, and the gleaming silver band around my ring finger on my left hand signifies my promise to him. In a society seemingly dependent on sex symbols and a drive for maturity, my ring grounds me and reminds me of the importance of chastity. Deciding to purchase this token of faith was an enormous decision, and weighing the benefits against the disadvantages made for many sleepless nights. During spring break of sophomore year, I went to a religious store while visiting some family friends and needed to make up my mind if this ring was something that I truly wanted. I saw the rest of my high school career and my future college experience flashing in front of me. I thought, does putting this ring on mean that I won’t have a full college experience? Of course not. This object is instead a shield that protects the most sacred part of myself: my virtue; a shield I so desperately need when faced with the temptation of desire. I did not have the intention of being promiscuous if I didn’t buy this ring, but I appreciated what it stood for and welcomed the reminder. Seventy dollars later, I had a new piece of jewelry that was much more meaningful than any of the others. My boyfriend at the time (now ex-boyfriend) didn’t appreciate what I had done. He saw me wearing a purity ring as a punishment to him. This opened my eyes to the harsh existence of some men who have no interest in a girl who saves herself for marriage. The sacredness of my body will only be shared with one other, so this boy’s inability to accept this aspect of my personality showed me that he was not “the one.” Sex is supposed to be an act of creating, of bringing someone new into the world. This act between man and woman should be cherished and pure. However, in our modern society, it has turned into need, lust, and desire. Sex has become an impulsive activity with no thought of repercussions, only physical gratification. I set myself apart in my potentially old-fashioned ideals that clash with a modern view of this act. I will not use my body as a tool for indulgence. Rather, I intend to keep it untainted and unblemished. I wear this ring in the place of a different one. When the time comes, nonFiction
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I will be ready to switch my rings, signifying a different type of promise. The band I wear now is a vow to my soul mate that he is my one and only love. A wedding ring is an eternal promise pledging myself to him â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;til death do us part. True love waits, and I will remain faithful to this one true love with the constant reminder from my ring. This I believe.
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Little Brother Ben was the kind of brother that would peel off his shoes during four hour car rides and wiggle his toes beside your face. The green tendrils of vulgar odor were nearly visible to the eye. He would collapse your seat relentlessly during the trip. Ben was the kind of brother that would pull your hair out by the root and toss it in your lap. He cringed when you yelled at him. When you hit him, he would swing his arms in propeller-like motions, attacking you. Ben was the kind of brother that would lie on the head of the couch directly behind you so that the cushion deformed and thrust into your back.Years later, the couch is still deformed; the back cushion lumps out no matter how hard to try to push it back into place. My sister and I had bedrooms upstairs. At the top of the stairs, there was no hallway, only a landing with three doors: one to the left that led to my room, one just ahead that led to the closet, and one to the right that led to Ellen’s room. The doors were brown, something like the color of dark sepia, and had old locks that used skeleton keys. The skeleton key to my room was kept delicately in a jewelry box. When I turned the glass doorknob to my bedroom and felt it resist, intense fear overwhelmed me. I screamed for my mother, crying in absolute rage. Ben locked me out of my room! I needed no confirmation of who had locked the door; it was obvious. He was the culprit. Something about standing on the island of the landing, trapped between the three doors, unable to reach my room where Sammy, my beloved stuffed raccoon, laid on my bed, imprisoned while I was stuck outside, wreaked havoc inside of me. Honestly, the skeleton key had always scared me: it did not fit easily in the lock and was next to impossible to turn or remove. I had never locked the door before on my own, and I truly believed that I would never be able to get back inside. Somewhere downstairs, Ben was hiding with the skeleton key. My mother called for him. He did this, and I would hate him forever for it—a thought that I would have on several occasions, yet never seemed to be able to carry out. My parents like to share the story of when I was caught on camera hitting my brother. I was sitting in the intersection between my brother’s nonFiction
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room, the bathroom, and my parent’s bedroom, another three-doorway interval, this time on the ground floor. Probably, I was six to my brother’s four. The camcorder was set up on a tripod filming me play a game of Polly Pockets, which were like tiny Barbie dolls with plastic hair. The houses and furniture were set up exactly how I wanted them, and I was well into the storyline of my movie. Then, a giant. Crashing through the set. Waddling to his bedroom. Indifferent to what I was doing. Uncaring of the work that I had put into the show. Heartless. He ruined it. On impulse, I reached out and slapped him, probably only getting his leg or shoulder, whatever I could reach. Satisfied with the punishment that I’d enacted, I reset the houses and furniture and continued from where I’d left off. He might have cried. I don’t remember. Was I cruel? He thought me cruel, especially as we grew older. I saw it painted across his face whenever I yelled at him. I thought that he was stupid and annoying, and I often told him so. Everything he liked, everything he said was irritating. I never let him hang out with me and my friends. Sometimes, I think he hated me for my hatred of him. Or perhaps he hated me because I was truly awful to him. He had become such a nuisance in my life that I had stopped treating him kindly. At one point, he became fed up with me. I can’t remember what I did to him; all I can remember is the sound of him screaming at me. In my memory, he stands on the basement stairs, his face scrunched and red, tears held tight in his chest. His words, pained and asserted in rage (pain that I had never before noticed, never before knew) fractured my tense silence. Then, he stomped to his room, and I heard the door slam two floors down. We maintained a back and forth relationship of arguments, challenges, attacks, and unapologetic cruelty to one another. We fell into a habit of malice. Even though, as the years went on, he became less and less frustrating, I became more and more frustrated. I remember once dreaming of his death. A giant spider ransacked the town, destroyed our house, and killed Ben, my brother. I woke up crying. The idea of his death wrenched my heart. The pain of it stunned me. I don’t want him to die. I don’t want him to die. I chanted, as if I had to convince my own nonfiction
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subconscious of it. Sometimes, I wonder if any of my hatred came from jealousy. I often felt like Ben got the bulk of my parents’ attention and after that, Ellen. My siblings were exceedingly brilliant: Ellen, all around; Ben, particularly in math. Ellen did the International Baccalaureate program in high school and frequently felt the need to remind me. Ben could complete my advanced math homework two grades before me without help—the same homework that I struggled with.“You’re not allowed to do my math homework anymore!” I said. Resentment boiled over at my own inabilities. All of my pain, always, taken out on him. My love and hatred for my brother, like a light switch, flipped on and off, his snickers filtering through the flashing darkness. Still I can’t stand when he lies on the head of the couch. Still I yell through the wall at him when he sings ballads at four o’clock in the morning. Still I tell him that he is annoying and stupid and infuriating when he is being annoying, stupid, and infuriating. Am I justified in this? Surely, there are times when I still go too far in my anger. Surely, I could be kinder to him. When will I stop being spiteful? Will it be when I come home from college for the first time? When he hears my voice, runs downstairs, picks me up, and spins me around because he is so happy to see me home? Or will I still refuse to play Yu-Gi-Oh! with him even though he’s waited all this time? Will it be when I leave again, and his face drops, and he asks when I’ll return? Or will I still feel free of him when I walk out the door? Will it be sometime after I graduate and we both move away? Or will I ignore his calls and refuse to visit? And what does he think of me now? When I get aggravated as we talk, is he reminded of all the times that I yelled at him? Does he remember when I soaked his clothes by hurling a water bottle at him? Or the time that I stepped on him? Or sat on him while he was hiding under a blanket and got off only when he thrashed? Or when I held a knife out toward him because I knew that it made him very frightened and laughed when he ducked to the other room? Has he forgiven me? Does he too feel guilty?
Jean Gillingham nonFiction
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Processing You’re sitting at your boss’s desk at 12:49 in the morning on a Wednesday, avoiding the withering glow of her twenty-seven-inch Mac, gazing past the blank Word document, past the wireless keyboard and empty water glass, into the festive garland, desperately seeking answers in the crevices of the pinecone. Maybe you’ll be able to develop the next best thing, the next masterpiece. There’s a great chance that the work you put into this essay tonight will give way to original brilliance. What if—now this is crazy, but hear yourself out—what if there’s a slumbering Mozart inside your head? A Van Gogh of the written word lying dormant in your skull? It’s very possible! You can be great. Imagine the incredible stories you can write, the beautiful prose you can produce for the world, the lives you will change! Dreaming is half the battle. Right? Right? Your efforts are ruthlessly mocked by the plastic apple nestled among the synthetic pine needles, but you tell yourself, Just shut up, you stupid apple.Why are you even on that strand of garland? At least the pinecone makes sense. Jesus, stop talking to the fake fruit. One more paragraph, just one more.Then, you’ll only be three pages away from going home and going to bed. No, don’t cry. It’s not as bad as it sounds. It took you two hours to actually sit down at the computer, so how long could it possibly take you to write the stupid thing?You’ll be fine. Just do it. Just go. Go. But in that weird, hollow space between your ears, behind your throat, you know that the most you’ll get accomplished tonight is writing your name and the date at the top, left corner of the page. The distractions of the office are going to get to you, no matter how hard you try to concentrate. There’s no way to ignore the soothing glow of the Christmas lights, the sound of fingers clacking on keyboards, the surprisingly soothing smell of coffee. There’s really no way to work in these conditions. It’s not your fault.Your procrastination is only a product of your surroundings, not of laziness or of an inability to make decisions, not at all. In fact, it took a lot of effort to stay at the desk this long. Great. Solid work. Nap time. At this point, the only thing keeping your eyes awake is the glow of the Mac and the snoozing Senior Campus Ministry intern on the ground behind nonfiction
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your swivel chair; getting your legs out from under the top of the desk would require swiveling over her hair. Convincing yourself you have to pee and tricking yourself into thinking that a five-minute break will do you good, will get the creative juices flowing, you grip the edges of that vice of a mahogany slab IKEA calls a desk and push yourself exactly two-point-six inches closer to the slumbering “Min-tern,” watching for her hair all the while. Done.You’re safe; she’s unharmed and in a state of unconsciousness you can’t help but envy. Stepping over her with grace that is foreign to you, the stereotypically gawky writer who embraced her love for the written word after being asked to leave ballet classes at the age of four, you trot out of the office, through the lounge and down the hallway toward the bathroom.You get as far as the kitchen, where a plate of two-day-old frosted brownies beckons. I’ve been working so hard. I deserve a brownie, right? Right. I also deserve this one… and this one. Three brownies and no bathroom break later, you head back to the office and the virtually blank Word document, thinking that it would be pretty darn easy to write a paper about your uncanny ability to suffocate your own self-esteem with stale baked goods. You check Facebook, you check your e-mail, you check your Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Imgur, any and every blog or social networking site you can get your hands on. Heck, you may even make a StumbleUpon account and spend a solid twenty minutes browsing first-hand accounts of Central American spelunking expeditions, recipes for The Best Cinnamon-Pecan Pie This Side Of The Mason-Dixon Line, pictures illustrated by talentless twenty-somethings trying to kick-start their modern art careers in urban Seattle, and anonymous ideas commenting on the many uses of cat hair and parakeet feathers in crafting. There are a million and one ways you could spend your time, but surfing, poking, liking, tweeting, tumbling, stumbling won’t write your essay. The essay has become the enemy, an oppressive tyrant.You convince yourself that committing to its completion—or even its beginning—would be a disservice to every creative bone in your body; on behalf of your young and impressionable creativity child, you are taking a stand against the smothering mother that is academia. Who is your professor to tell you how to live? How to create? He may have commissioned the painting, but you, you are the one with the brush! You work on your own time, follow your own rules! Paint yourself a nonFiction
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masterpiece with words that rivals the beauty of da Vinci’s The Last Supper, van Gogh’s Starry Night, the intellectual provocation of Magritte’s The Son of Man or that piece of modern art in MOMA, the one where a taxidermied jack rabbit is mounted on the left antenna of a 1960’s black-and-white television set.You may not understand that one, and it may not come to you as easily as other things can, but you have the literary savvy to push through any kind of mental block or creative crash.You are an artist! You come very close to standing on the swivel chair and proclaiming loudly your right to do absolutely nothing, but you submit to the threat of a failed assignment, a failed class, a failed life.You stay seated in the swivel chair, put your hands on the keyboard, and start… something. You tell yourself to crack down. You are going to sit, you’re going to glue your fingers to those keys and you’re going to stare at that screen until that essay is written or until your corneas burn, whichever comes first. iTunes comes first.You browse your master playlist, a hodgepodge compilation built up over years in spite of stereotypically teenage financial worries: do you buy those shoes or that album? The new phone or the new single? Spending less than thirty minutes browsing, mixing the perfect “Homework” playlist, would be criminal and an insult to your musical accomplishments. Selections from Babel make the cut and soon enough, the lyrical brilliance of Mumford & Sons washes you with a heavy, soulful, cleansing folk-rock rhythm while rainymood.com bombards you with the sounds of thunder and rain on glass. A huge crack of lightning strikes at the bridge of “I Will Wait” and you are absolutely and unwaveringly certain that sweet, darling Marcus Mumford is sending you a message of encouragement: your essay is alive and breathing somewhere in the bowels of your brain, and it will wait for you to write it! You have the potential, you have the talent, you have the spirit of the Bard in your gut, and you will write four or five pages of eloquent prose by the end of the hour! You’ll certainly never be a Marcus Mumford because you don’t really understand how instruments work, but maybe you could be a Plath, an O’Connor, a Brontë, an Austen...You could touch millions of lives, handfuls of generations, with the written word! And it all starts with this essay. Your fingers are oceans, crashing over keys, dominating entire paragraphs, drowning continents, crushing dormant civilizations with white water, nonfiction
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flooding the essay with inspiration. One thought follows another, and you’re not quite sure where you’re going with this, but you know it doesn’t matter— whatever, your writing feels like a work of genius, the product of a prodigy. Time stands still, and pages write themselves; one sheet in three minutes, two sheets in seven.Your brain isn’t even connected to your fingers anymore; this is raw and real, and if you keep going, you know that your soul will invariably seep out from underneath your fingernails and fall down between the keys, melding with the hard drive, the battery, the program, the essay, and stay there forever.You are consciously and effortlessly giving your entire self over to the page. In less than ten minutes, you’re on the third page and you tell yourself without any doubt that you will finish what you’ve started. The slumbering Min-tern stirs. Your fingers stop.You blink.You can’t restart.You are paralyzed. It’s gone. Everything that wasn’t already on the page has disappeared. Poof. Gone. You exhale.You take your fingers off the keyboard, hit “Save,” push yourself back from the desk and swivel over her hair before silently starting for home. She doesn’t wake. This is the worst part: the waiting, the devastating hours that lack inspiration or productivity. It’s all too likely that you will develop an artistic complex, rejecting idea after idea, telling yourself that you’re better than what you come up with on the first try. You promise yourself that it’s only a matter of time before you think of something revolutionary, something inspiring, something unbelievably powerful and profound. There will come a time for you to change the globe. In the interim, you settle writing an essay about how you put off writing the essay and assure yourself that someone in the world who isn’t your mother will find it compelling. It’s the process.
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Five Milligrams The audience for this essay is all those who have mental illness and experienced stigma and unwanted stereotypes.The essay is to connect with those who have struggled with mental illness and illustrate their experiences to communicate that they are not alone.The essay, and in my opinion more importantly, is also to illuminate the reality of mental illness to those who have not experienced it and believe the unrealistic stereotypes.Through the essay, I hope to bring people to a higher understanding and respect for mental illness. I looked down, and for the first time, I noticed my hand. I noticed all the lines crisscrossing in fleeting moments of interaction and then back into solitude. I noticed the crescent-shaped scar on my thumb that cuts through my fingerprint. I noticed the faint green hue at the base of my ring finger. I noticed the sporadic pen marks on my palm from class earlier that morning. All these things were me; they made my hand, my hand. Everything, except that one stark white, chalky, unnatural, misplaced pill. The tiny pill felt enormous while it drowned in the creases of my sweating palm. This foreign object was to dissolve into me and then what? Would I change? Would I finally be “normal”? Would I be worse than I already was? Would I even be me anymore? I was not the pill. I could feel my breath shortening, my lungs shrinking, my skin burning, sweat pooling in my hand, and the pill taking control. All these emotions concentrated into five milligrams, but the weight was near unbearable. I decided to end it. I threw my head back, closed my eyes, and dropped in the pill. I felt the rush of cold water down my throat, and then I just waited. I anxiously waited in silence for adjustment, for modification. I felt the same—whether or not that was a good or bad thing—but how long would familiarity last? The questions continued as my eyelids became heavy. Drowsiness is one of the side effects. Would the burning anxiety, would the depressing isolation, would the heart-wrenching ache, would they all disappear? And if so, what would be left? A mute, dull vessel with nothing but a steady pulse? With these thoughts, a deep, inevitable sleep came over me. I let myself go with my last conscious hope: I hoped I would recognize myself in the morning. My problems started three years ago, the winter of my junior year of high school. It came as a shock to my parents that the girl who was always smiling was not just as happy on the inside. I was no longer “okay.” I was no longer “fine.” My newly exposed emotional inconsistency caused a disruption nonfiction
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in my family. They decided with my consent that I start weekly therapy sessions. Although I was fairly open to the idea of a personified diary, I still feared judgement from those around me. My parents would think their daughter was not the strong, self-assured girl they believed her to be. My friends would think I was “fucked up,” and jokes about being depressed would have to stop for my own inconvenient sanity. My therapist would think my problems were insignificant in the grand scheme of my already petty life. Most of all, I thought I was not as strong as I expected. Shockingly, therapy was not in a dull beige room lit poorly by a 20th century desk lamp. Nor was it covered by a mess of books and files from previous nut cases. Nowhere was the infamous, leather lounge chair in which I would lay back and tell someone my feelings with a clump of tissues in my hand. My therapist did not sit legs crossed, holding a tiny leather note pad, writing down incoherent, patronizing comments, with nothing better to say than “how does that make you feel?” My therapist was Rachael. She had short, spiky chestnut hair, soft brown eyes, a genuine smile, and a voice that could soothe me to sleep. She wore jean skirts, purple turtlenecks, and no matter what, her diamond heart necklace. She was a child therapist by practice, so I, being sixteen, was one of her oldest patients. I felt like a giant among the toy boxes and miniature plastic chairs. She told me if I ever wanted to play a game, it was more than welcomed, but for the most part we talked, or I talked, and she listened. For those sixty minutes, and most days, a few more, I rambled on about anything and everything while she sat there and listened. She had tissues on hand and my favorite chewing gum to keep me calm and focused. I felt completely open around her; I gossiped, sobbed, and laughed with her. She was my friend, not my superior, and we talked like friends reconnecting over a warm cup of coffee. Aside from all the random ranting, I valued being listened to more than anything. Finally, someone who could professionally listen to me and say something with more substance than “it’s okay.” We talked about how to solve my ephemeral problems, but she always said, “I can only help you so far; it’s all up to you.” Her confidence in me was encouraging, but did I really have the ability to conquer my own illness? I suffer from panic attacks, which can vary from case to case but are universally moments of extreme mental and emotional distress. Feelings of crushing stress suffocate any thoughts of rationality. My body starts to heat up while I feel surrounded by isolating cold. Sometimes, I hold my head so tight that I pull my hair out. On the outside, I seem simply quiet, but inside, explosions are setting off in my head. Then comes the release of tears, never-ending nonFiction
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tears. Aside from my sobbing, I am silenced completely. I can verbalize only a few words at a third-grade level. During those few minutes, I am not myself. I hate who I am. The pill was to help calm this side of me. But I still worried, would it eliminate all of me? Mental illnesses and disorders have the ability to make you feel invisible and completely exposed at the same time. Since mental illness carries the societal stigma of not being a real disease, I and many others feel virtually unnoticed by the medical community and society as a whole. We are marginalized and ignored. However, at the same time, our illness does not only make us invisible; it exposes us. It exposes our fears, anxieties and darkest parts of ourselves. To the world, we are crying out for unneeded help, but to us, we are trying to escape our dark truths. Mental illness, like any illness, is not selective. It does not choose the person with a traumatic life story as if to make it expected. Mental illness is not chosen by the individual as an escape route from ordinary or extraordinary problems. Mental illness is a broad spectrum of medical conditions. That’s the problem: we are not all depressed. We are not all crazy. Those are both too simple and too common generalizations. Mental illness does not have the luxury of lighting up on an X-ray. Mental illness is a fire that can burn without scorch marks. I do not have scars from my panic attacks, I do not have a wheelchair for my emotions, nor do I have a limp to give people warning that I am not “normal.” Panic attacks are terrifying from the inside, but from the outside, people just see a girl crying. People stare with pity, as if to say, “I feel bad, but I don’t know what to do.” People cannot possibly see the more serious problem, for it is something that manifests deep within. That’s another problem. Mental illness cannot be publicized, but it still exists among us. In 2012, 4.1% of Americans 18 and older were diagnosed with Severe Mental Illness. In other words, 9.6 million Americans suffer from serious mental illnesses. In other words, 9.6 million Americans live, suffer, survive and thrive walking amongst the “normal majority.” When I began therapy, my mother would tear up and in a broken voice say, “I feel like I don’t know you.” It hurt more than anything. It was far worse than the heart-racing anxiety. It felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest completely. I hopelessly pleaded with her that I had not changed and I was still her baby girl. I grabbed her hand, hugged her, desperate to make her look at my eyes and recognize me again. But then I thought about her words and realized I had changed. The tough, sharp-lipped girl was hiding a sad truth. She blamed herself for not seeing the signs, but how could she? I did not show any. Out of my own shame and fear, I kept us both smiling at all costs. We both nonfiction
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moved aimlessly through the day. She naively assumed a healthy relationship while I secretly wallowed in loneliness and separation. She had been in the dark for so long and now what did she come to find? A broken daughter that she could not mend. While she felt like a failed parent, I felt I had cheated her out of a fair chance. Guilty and ashamed of the pain I caused, I cried into her shoulder, begging for her forgiveness. How many more people would I hurt? I hurt many. Intentional or not, I had to accept the reality that my illness was not only my burden but the burden of those around me. My parents had to re-learn how to comfort their own daughter. As a child first learning to speak, my parents learned what were the right words to say to me during my episodes and what â&#x20AC;&#x153;trigger wordsâ&#x20AC;? to keep away from. My friends learned that my actions and external behavior during panic attacks were out my control. I learned not only how to articulate my problems, but not to weigh others down with them. The fine line between self-help and self-pity is one that no one can walk straight upon, myself included. Although self-pity seemed to be the easy way to deal with problems, I trained not to fall into a cycle of pity and instead focus on finding a solution. When I would fall into a depression, mood swing or panic attack, I stayed calm and remembered that I am stronger than my illness. I remembered who I am is greater than what I am. Although my illness hurt many people besides myself, over time, the wounds began to heal. I forgave those who unknowingly hurt me, I forgave those who could not understand, and most importantly, I forgave myself. I forgave myself for all the days I could not stand to see who I saw in the mirror and accepted this would be part of me, but it would not be me. Mental illness is not definitive. Mental illness is not the preferred generalization for the unwanted complexities of the human psyche. I am not an anxious person; I am a person with anxiety. I and all others with mental illness are people first and patients second. We are all human. We all suffer from the human condition and thrive off the human experience. I have learned to never suppress what I and others cannot understand. I have learned that it is okay to not be okay. I have learned that I was not and never will be that pill. I am me, crazy and all.
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Men's Rights to Terminate their Relationships with their Children
Male Stance, Responsibilities, and Legal Rights in their Partner’s Abortion and their Children’s Life and Development When you think abortion, what comes to mind? You may think of a woman who was raped and does not want to have the baby. Or a woman who has an unplanned pregnancy that she is not ready or responsible enough to handle. Or a woman who would have to risk her own life in order to carry her child to term. These examples are relevant, but certainly not comprehensive. Have you ever stopped to consider the male’s perspective? What happens when men are sexually assaulted or have an unexpected pregnancy? Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, winner of the Arthur C. Clark Award and Prince of Asturias Award for her writing and activism, represents the point of view of a male faced with an unwanted pregnancy in her book, The Edible Woman. In this book, Len and his partner Ainsley are expecting a child; however, Len never intended to get Ainsley pregnant or to become a father. He learns that Ainsley’s plan the entire time was simply to use him in order to become pregnant: “All along you’ve only been using me. What a moron I was to think you were sweet and innocent…you weren’t interested in me at all. The only thing you wanted from me was my body!” (Atwood 158). Len further explains that being a father is so much more than passing on genes; it creates a different psychological mindset for a man who must consider himself, but also his family and child:
“You involved me psychologically. I’ll have to think of myself as a father now, it’s indecent, and all because you” – he gasped: the idea was a
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novel one for him – “you seduced me!” He waved his beer-bottle at her. “Now I’m going to be all mentally tangled up in Birth. Fecundity. Gestation. Don’t you realize what that will do to me? It’s obscene...” (Atwood 159)
While most only think of the mother and her reaction to losing something that is a part of her, as a culture, we rarely recognize the father’s take on the abortion and his investment or lack thereof in his unborn child. This essay is not meant to argue the moral implications of whether abortion is right or not. Instead, it solely examines fathers’ roles and rights in the pregnancy, and the consequences of their partners’ choice for abortion. Sometimes, men are not looking to become fathers and can unwittingly produce a child, just as Len did, in order for a woman to have a baby.Yet, men do not have the same options as women have to deal with an unwanted pregnancy after the point of conception. However, does this statement imply that men do not have the same responsibilities to care for or support the child after it has already been born? Because fathers are held equally accountable for bringing a child into the world, they should have the same rights as women to not want their child or terminate their involvement in their child’s life in one form or another. In most cases of abortion, people tend to only acknowledge a mother’s stance on her unwanted pregnancy. But what happens when the mother does not want the child, but the father does? In America, according to Roe v. Wade, mothers have the absolute decision in cases of abortion and fathers have no right to say whether or not the mother has to carry the child to term (Roe v. Wade). Although it makes perfect sense that a woman is in control of her own body, it can also be an extremely difficult case to settle when the father wants to continue with the pregnancy despite the fact that he is not physically carrying the child. Although, in a court of law, Roe v. Wade would be upheld and the mother of the child could decide whatever she wanted, regardless of the father’s opinion. Furthermore, women are not obligated to notify their partner if they get an abortion. In the 1992 decisive Supreme Court case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, five provisions of the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act of 1982, all concerning the issue of notification, were challenged. These five points included: the informed consent rule, the parental notification and consent for minors rule, a 24-hour waiting period, a spousal notice rule, and finally, necessary record keeping, i.e. medical records, at facilities like Planned Parenthood. The Supreme Court upheld four of the five provisions but overturned nonFiction
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the spousal notice rule. Under the spousal notice rule, mothers would have to notify the fathers before being allowed to get an abortion. Without a signed form from the father, the mother would not be able to go through with the abortion. This provision was rejected because the court believed it would put an undue burden on the mother, especially in cases of rape where the victims did not know their attackers (Oyez). Due to the fact that this provision was rejected, fathers will not have to be notified, now or in the future, of possible abortions their partners may have. The law was created to keep in mind cases of sexual abuse and rape; however, they have neglected the instance where a father genuinely cares about the life of his child. Although these cases are not as common, they still continue to be an issue with potential parents that can create bigger problems down the road. Consider the same case as Atwood described: a man who does not want to be a father, yet by having consensual sex, runs the risk of becoming one. As Len stated, once he found out that he became a father, his perspective changed. There is a psychological shift when a person realizes that they are going to become a parent, regardless of whether or not they truly want to be. Although men are not physically affected by pregnancies as women are, they are still emotionally and psychologically affected; this is something they cannot avoid. Steven Hales, a philosophy professor at Bloomsburg University, explains in his article, “Abortion and Father’s Rights,” that there are three main principles when dealing with abortion. Firstly, “[women] have first and last say about what happens in, and to, her body.” Secondly that “men and women have equal moral rights and duties.” And lastly, that “[both] parents have a moral duty to provide support for their children once they are born” (Hales 6). Hales continues to logically explain that since the first provision is true and the second provision of equal responsibilities is assumed to be true, it can be concluded that men also have the right to an abortion. He acknowledges how ridiculous the claim sounds, “…because men cannot get (physically) pregnant, and so it is silly to talk about them having a right to an abortion” (Hales 7). However, unlike women who can terminate their pregnancy, men do not have any other option after the point of conception to stop the pregnancy from happening. If we agree that fathers cannot prevent pregnancy after conception, then there are very few other options left in order to prevent pregnancy before conception as well. While it is true that the man can abstain from sex completely, ultimately many men, like women, will not choose abstinence. But if he chooses not to abstain and his partner does not take birth control pills or he does not use forms of pregnancy prevention, then there is no way to prevent the pregnancy from happening. In the court case of Wallis v. Smith, Wallis nonfiction
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claimed that his partner, Smith, said she was on birth control pills but later quit without informing him. Smith became pregnant, and Wallis claimed that he was deceived in order for Smith to have the baby (Di Nucci 448-449). Ultimately, the court decided that Wallis did not have to continue to care for the child, financially or emotionally (Law School Case Briefs). Therefore, men cannot effectively prevent a pregnancy without the assistance of a woman’s prevention as well. Ezio Di Nucci, a philosophy professor at the University of Duisburg-Essen, argues in his essay, “Fathers and Abortion,” that men’s main and strongest form of protection stems from abstinence or getting a vasectomy to be one hundred percent positive that they cannot get a woman pregnant. Other forms of birth control are unreliable by comparison. However, just because a man does not currently wish to have a child does not mean that he never wants to have one, and a vasectomy is a permanent solution to this temporary problem. For example, like the Atwood case, we cannot expect men to have a “vasectomy just in case he may be sexually assaulted” (Di Nucci 451). In this respect, it is still “a possibility that perspective mothers can wrong perspective fathers by bearing a child” (Di Nucci 451). Because of these factors, it is difficult for a man solely to prevent pregnancy; he must usually rely on his partner to also take preventative measures to ensure that an unwanted pregnancy does not happen. Since men have no rights when it comes to wanting or not wanting an abortion, we must also consider the possibilities of problems that arise after the child is born. Currently, there are many studies, including Carol Potter’s research into father-child relationships of fathers engaging with their children at a young age, which promote and support the importance of paternal guidance that creates and fosters developmental transitions in children’s lives. In Potter’s article, “‘I am reading to her and she loves it’: benefits of engaging fathers from disadvantaged areas in their children’s early learning transitions,” she explains that families whose fathers had more one-on-one time with their children saw “significant benefits obtained from project involvement, such as improvements in the quality of fathers’ relationships with children, as well as enabling them to become more closely involved in their children’s play and learning” (Potter 86). This argument is biased towards men who want to remain a present father figure to their children. Likewise, it does not and cannot account for instances where men are unhappy and do not wish to have children. In Edward Kruk’s article, “Social Justice, Spirituality, and Responsibility to Needs: The ‘Best Interests of the Child’ in the Divorce Transition,” he argues that in cases where parents are having problems or are fighting over issues such as divorce or an unwanted pregnancy, it can emotionally traumatize the child that is involved. nonFiction
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Kruk explains that under Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, children need a solid foundation with their parents in order to mature. If parents are constantly fighting, this can never be achieved (Kruk 99-102). Kruk suggests that parents’ constant fighting can be the most detrimental experience for a child, and for this reason, should be avoided. Instead of contributing to an unsafe environment, the alternative option for fathers to maintain custody is through child support payments. Di Nucci continues to expand on this topic of child support in the respect of men who did not want to become fathers. He explains that there is a difference between men who simply do not want to pay child support and those who never intended to have a child in the first place:
[C]hild support does not really address the prospective father’s concerns in not wanting to become fathers: these concerns are not material, but fundamentally personal. Furthermore, fathers, once the child is born, might want to (or feel a duty to) support it materially (and emotionally). But it is exactly this state of coerced parenthood that they want to avoid and, as I have argued, sometimes their interests in this regard might be legitimate. (Di Nucci 453)
Di Nucci compares these men to women who choose to get an abortion because they fear the same thing of becoming attached to the child and feeling morally obligated to care for the child in some way even if they cannot currently handle that responsibility. Although some men want to be a part of their children’s lives, they cannot emotionally or financially carry that burden. Once children are born, and fathers wish to be less present in their lives, fathers may choose to begin payments of child support to continue their rights as parents without having to be “full time” parents. Under the law, it is illegal for anyone to purposely avoid paying child support payments. These “certain circumstances” are not explicitly stated and, if challenged, must be brought to the state government (Child Support). In “‘It’s Not Just About the Money’: Non-resident Fathers’ Perspective Paying Child Support,” Kristin Natalier and Belinda Hewitt, doctors of sociology, researched fathers’ opinions on child support and its burdens. In many cases, fathers resented having to pay child support “because it comes at a financial and social cost” to their own lives (Natalier 501). Since child support can be looked at as a burden rather than a responsibility, many fathers view it as a loss of control in their children’s lives because mothers take the money without explaining how it will be used for the children. In this respect, “fathers nonfiction
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use money to define their relationships with mothers in ways that emphasize traditional provider roles” (Natalier 503). Fathers feel even more distant while paying child support that can result in unhealthy relationships for both the fathers and their children. As Hales argued earlier in congruence with Di Nucci and Natalier, fathers have limited options once the child is conceived. He explains a culturally expected, fourth option regarding abortion: “fathers are under an absolute moral obligation to provide for the welfare of their children, despite the intentions or desires of the father before the birth of the child” (Hales 13). This means that, although fathers can intend not to have a child, they are expected to financially provide for their children through child support or otherwise become culturally known as “deadbeat dads” who refuse to financially and emotionally support their children (Hales 13). As Hales and Natalier both explain, fathers who pay child support generally tend to resent this forced commitment while, on the other hand, fathers who completely opt out of their children’s lives are negatively viewed by our culture as an unfit parent who cannot get their lives in order to care for their children. Ultimately, Hales makes it clear that fathers should have the same opportunity of aborting their involvement with their child as it equates to the mother’s option of getting an abortion. Like mothers, there should be an imposed period of time in which they can decide whether or not they want to continue their relationship or terminate it. For women, this window of opportunity comes during the first trimester of pregnancy and ends at the age of viability, which last a total of about 21 weeks (Roe v. Wade). Men should also have the same window after the child is born, in which they can choose whether or not they wish to continue their relationship with their child. In this case, men who never intended to have a child can opt out of becoming a father with less psychological damage that comes from this maturation. Although one could argue that intentions of parents are rarely clear and expressed, there could be a process in which fathers have to see a psychologist, during and after the birth, and explain why they cannot afford— financially, emotionally, etc.—to have a child, and it will be up to the discretion of the psychologist to determine whether or not the father should have rights to terminate. Only after this process may men be able to end their involvement with their children. Although men are equally as responsible for bringing a child into the world, the fact remains that men, unlike women, are left with few options regarding the birth of the child and what happens after that child is born. Men have no rights to tell a woman whether or not to get an abortion, but this leaves them almost powerless when it comes to their involvement with their child. nonFiction
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Men who never intended to have a child are now stuck in a situation that they never expected, and once the child is born, they can choose between remaining in the child’s life and being unhappy, which could cause further psychological damage for both of them, or pay child support and still be at a disconnect emotionally and financially. If we want a society where men and women are created equally, shouldn’t they both have the same rights when it comes to terminating their relationship with their children?
Works Cited Alward, Peter. “Abortion Rights and Paternal Obligations. Public Affairs Quarterly 26.4 (2012): 273-291. Philosopher’s Index. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. Argys, Laura M., and H. Elizabeth Peters. “Interactions Between Unmarried Fathers And Their Children: The Role Of Paternity Establishment And Child-Support Policies.” American Economic Review 91.2 (2001): 125-129. Business Source Premier. Web. 16 Nov. 2014. Atwood, Margaret. The EdibleWoman. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1969. 158-159. Print. Brake, Elizabeth. “Fatherhood and Child Support: Do Men Have a Right to Choose?” Journal of Applied Philosophy 22.1 (2005): 55-72. Web. 20 Oct. 2014. nonfiction
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“Child Support.” LII / Legal Information Institute. Cornell University. Web. 22 Oct. 2014. Di Nucci, Ezio. “Fathers and Abortion.” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 39 (2014): 444-58. Advanced Action Publication. Web. 20 Oct. 2014. Eberl, Jason T. “Cultivating The Virtue Of Acknowledged Responsibility.” Proceedings Of The American Catholic Philosophical Association 82. (2008): 249-261. Academic Search Complete. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. “Law School Case Briefs | Legal Outlines | Study Materials.” : Wallis v. Smith Case Brief. Web. 3 Nov. 2014. Merrick, Jana C. “Paternal Obligations During Pregnancy: Breaking New Ground.” Politics And The Life Sciences 2(1994): 251. Academic OneFile. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. Hales, Steven. “Abortion and Fathers’ Rights.” Biomedical Ethical Reviews: Reproduction,Technology, and Rights (1996): 5-26. Humana Press. Web. 20 Oct. 2014. Kruk, Edward. “Social Justice, Spirituality, And Responsibility To Needs: The ‘Best Interests Of The Child’ In The Divorce Transition.” Journal of Spirituality In Mental Health 15.2 (2013): 94-106. Academic Search Complete. Web. 16 Nov. 2014. Natalier, Kristin A. “Descriptions Of Loss And Resilience Among Fathers Paying Child Support.” Journal Of Family Studies 2-3 (2012): 246. Academic OneFile. Web 16 Nov. 2014. PLANNED PARENTHOOD v. CASEY. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 20 October 2014. Potter, Carol, Gary Walker, and Bev Keen. “I Am Reading To Her And She Loves It: Benefits Of Engaging Fathers From Disadvantaged Areas In Their Children’s Early Learning Transitions.” EarlyYears: An International Journal Of Research And Development 33.1 (2013): 74-89. ERIC. Web. 16 Nov. 2014. “Roe v. Wade.” LII / Legal Information Institute. Cornell University. Web. 3 Nov. 2014. nonFiction
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I Want to Be a Rockette
What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a Rockette.
I was six when I first saw the Radio City Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall in New York for the Christmas Spectacular. I have loved them ever since: the shapes they made on the stage and how every person seamlessly danced in flawless unison. As their red and green sequined dresses shined under the bright lights, it looked as if every single girl was having the time of her life—her Rockette Red lips stretching ear to ear. Their performance was so natural that it seemed like they had been doing the same dance all their lives. Ten years later, at the age of 15, I sat in front of my mirror every single night before I went to bed just trying to imitate the perfect red lipstick and smiles that the Rockettes wore so well. I belonged to Berest Dance Center, a studio in my hometown on Long Island, where I took at least 90 minutes of dance classes, five days a week. I traveled into the city at least once a year to watch the Rockettes in action, where I watched their legs and made mental notes about how best to stretch my legs toward my neck. I auditioned for the Rockette Summer Intensive at the Radio City Music Hall. This intensive included one week filled with dancing with real live Rockettes and learning the moves and formations that made them famous. The night before the audition, I packed my bag with tap and character shoes, a muscle roller, body warmers to keep my legs and arms warmed up when I wasn’t dancing, Band-Aids for my feet, hair and makeup supplies, and my Rockette Red lipstick. To be honest, I was not all that nervous. I was going to be auditioning with an older dancer from Berest, Taylor, who barely ever paid attention to detail but always expected to be positioned front and center. When our teacher stretched her hand to the ceiling with a straight wrist, Taylor would slide her hand up, ending with her wrist bent. However, she obviously either didn’t know or didn’t care that she was doing something different from everybody else because she always thought that her way was the correct way. Whenever I would ask the dancer next to me to help me with the next count of eight, I could always count on Taylor to interrupt to let me know what exactly she nonfiction
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thought I was doing wrong. Thank you, but there are ten other capable dancers in the room. I knew that even if it came down to the two of us (which was unlikely due to the dozens of dancers auditioning), I would definitely get the spot over her. At least I have Taylor next to me to make me look better. I met Taylor at the train station so we could ride into the city together. It was a 45-minute train ride filled with hairspray, bobby pins, and red lipstick. The other passengers, mostly dressed in black suits with a folded newspaper on their laps, either rolled their eyes or gave us miffed stares. Taylor and I, however, simply continued to slick our hair back and put on much more makeup than anyone who wasn’t a Rockette would ever need. I need to stand out. I will demand the judges’ attention. By the time our train got into Penn Station, we walked out onto the platform like we were Rockettes ourselves. We took an eight-minute cab ride until we were standing under the golden bright lights and the block-long building that is Radio City Music Hall. I was in awe as my eyes fixated on the sign. I walked out of that audition not knowing exactly what to expect in terms of my acceptance or rejection from the intensive. Over one hundred girls were vigorously stretching their legs, doing as many sit-ups as their abs could handle, and practicing their eye-high kicks. Each girl auditioned one by one with the rest of us watching, so I had a lot of critiquing to do. Some of them really resembled the Rockettes I’d watched from the third mezzanine, kicking perfectly to the height of their eyes with their toes pointed and smiles so wide; they made me smile, myself. When the girls were good, I wanted to be them. When they were not, I felt bad for them. A few weeks later, I stood perfectly silent and still, alone in my room. OMG Did you get an e-mail?!We’re going to have so much fun this summer! I can’t wait! Text me back! I knew that if Taylor got accepted, I had nothing to worry about! I opened up that e-mail. I’m sorry... I had been placed on the waitlist. My eyes glazed over at the black and white on my computer screen. At first, I felt like the room was closing in on me, and there was no more oxygen for me to breathe, speechless. I didn’t understand how this could happen. I guess I was too busy focusing on what everyone else was doing and how they did it; I never really paid attention to how I was doing it. Maybe I was the one doing it wrong. I always thought that I paid attention to detail, but could it be possible that I only paid attention to the things that the other girls did wrong? I sat at my desk, in front of the vanity mirror that never left my side backstage at my dance performances. When I wiped away the tears that I hadn’t even noticed on my cheeks until I saw them staring back at me, my makeup wiped away with them. I was left nonFiction
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staring confused at the girl in the leotard with tears in her eyes. I began to watch only that girl in the mirror at my studio. Was her wrist straight? Even though my wrist felt straight, I should have been making sure— because it was not. Since that day, I felt as though that vanity mirror was held in front of me so that I could watch every step that I took, every word that I spoke, and every thought that came across my mind. I felt like Lindsay Lohan in the movie Mean Girls—my intentions of watching my fellow dancers started out sincere, but I got carried away and accidentally began to think that I was better than everyone else. Then, about a week later, I received the e-mail I had been waiting for, and I was not going to let this opportunity slip away. When I finally got to Radio City for my first day in the program, I took a step back to really soak in the surreal view from the huge black stage, looking out into the velvet red sea of chairs. I stopped to thank all of my Rockette teachers individually after each class, even when my feet and back were exhausted from the constant standing during class. I came fully prepared to all of the Question & Answer sessions with everything and anything I ever wondered. How did you get to this point in your career? Did you always want to be a Rockette? There was one question I knew I didn’t have to ask. Do you love your job? I knew the answer—they would not suffer through the months of several hour long rehearsals, constant hard work, and the loss of time with their families for something that they were not passionate about. I knew what my answer to that question would be as I never forgot the feeling from when I opened that first e-mail. I began to notice how hard Taylor worked during class.Yes, she still pushed her way to the front and center of the room, but at least she broke a sweat doing it. I stared as the expression on her face matched the tone of the music and the steps in the dance. After class one day, I stayed behind in the studio to practice after everyone else had left so that I could focus solely on my own dancing—alone and staring into the mirror. One day, I would join the long legged, wide-eyed and beautiful young ladies who dance at Radio City.
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Different, but Same As the sun began to set upon the brisk city streets of Chiang Mai, the tight-knit group of us friends who started out our abroad experience together gathered in the sauna-like heat of one of our hostel rooms. We stayed there as long as our restless bodies could manage, laughing and sharing our final tranquil moments together before we would meet our feared fate of being separated for the three-day trek in the unapologetic mountains. Although we were throwing out endless witty jokes into the air, bantering about how we wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t survive without one another, we were all aware that those words were very far from being a lie, and this was our reality. Unlike the eager thrill we felt coming to Thailand in July, we were now restless, filled with worry and fear. We had spent so much time getting to know one another, clinging to each othersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; sides for a sense of familiarity when everything around us was always changing. We were confident in this land because we knew that we had each other. Without that sense of comfort, we could feel just as lost as the first day that we arrived. As the sun slowly rose above the surrounding mountains, I walked to meet my group who were waiting around the rackety trucks, which would take us on the two-hour winding drive up to the mountains of Chiang Mai. That gut-lurching sensation, that sense of worry and loneliness in this seemingly familiar country, came flying back, and it felt as though I was starting from the beginning again. With a deep breath, I gathered my trek bag, tightly tied my hiking boots, and crammed my body amongst the other strangers in the back of the truck. And we were off. The trucks came to an abrupt halt as we staggered off the bus onto the rocky, dirt path, queasy from the meandering and winding roads up the mountainside, and gathered our trekking needs. I had finished clipping a life jacket to my bag and covered it with a waterproof cover as the thunder began to roll in, a precursor for the rain that would begin to fall heavy upon us. As I stood there, adjusting my straps in an attempt to balance my bagâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s weight evenly upon my shoulders, I looked at the eclectic and wide range of individuals that made up this group. A lanky and long-limbed girl was rearranging things in her bag, each movement a hasty one, but with intention. She was a girl who seemed very put together and organized, but her body moved in ways that conveyed a sense of common clumsiness. With a shy smile, she struggled to get the two-sizes-too-big pack successfully on her back. Miriam, with her tall stature, was staring down upon us all in her combat boots, jean shorts, tattooed arms, nonFiction
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and hair extensions that fell to the mid of her back. Although she lived in the room directly across from me for these past few months in Bangkok, I was still too intimidated to utter more than a mere hello here and there. She wore a poker face, hard to interpret, but one that I found a peculiar comfort in, despite her intimidating demeanor. My eyes continued to scan the small crowd, each person giving off such a drastically different aura. My internal thoughts of bewilderment proved difficult to conceal from those around me. From the first five minutes, I was nervous and simply perplexed by this odd collection of strangers that surrounded me. With thirty-seven students from Loyola studying in Bangkok together, why did our supervisor, Father Kelly, decide to group us together? We were all told by prior study abroad students that the trek was one of the most profound experiences in Thailand, and some of the closest bonds would be formed through the carefully chosen groups of Father Kelly. I wondered what our supervisor had seen in each of us that would cause him to form this alliance that would endeavor these next few treacherous days in the wilderness. The humid air enveloped us as we ascended the almost entirely vertical dirt pathway, our shirts clinging to our bodies, eyes stinging from the beads of sweat that slowly, but without fail, dripped into our eyes. I have always been interested in fitness and was maintaining a solid pace, doubtful that the few that I studied not long before would even be in my line of sight, trailing behind me. If I was struggling with professional hiking boots, I couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even imagine the battle the girl in fashion boots was going through, or the delicate girl who was struggling to simply lift the bag upon her back. I kept my eyes on the ground, focusing on my breathing and my balance as each foot hit the turbulent ground beneath me: one-step, two-step, one-step, two. About thirty minutes into the ascent, the thick branches disappeared and welcomed in the beating sun as I stopped to reward myself with a birdâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eye view of the land below as well as a refreshing sip of water. The second I reached the clearing, sun beaming down on my heated skin, I turned around to look at my progress when Nichole and Miriam, in conversation, were a mere ten steps behind me. They were steadily, with long strides, making their way up the mountain as if in a mechanical motion when they caught a glimpse of me resting and slowed their pace to stop with me. Miriam in her combat boots and Nichole with her fresh battle scar covering her entire kneecapâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;we had nothing but smiles and mutual determination to take on the rest of this trek together, three misfits who at first glance had nothing in common but the sweat dripping down our bodies and the dirt that covered our faces. In this moment, my eyes opened not only to the beautiful sights that surrounded me, but also to the illustrious nonfiction
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people that stood beside me. Six hours, endless hills, and countless bug bites of all sorts later, we had at last made it to the village where we would be spending our first night. After our trembling bodies dropped our excess baggage to the ground with a thud, we rushed to our cots, which lay beneath hovering mosquito nets, so we could relieve our aching feet. We slid our sore feet out of our hot, crammed shoes, and complained to each other about our blisters, bantering about whose was the biggest or whose hurt more, complaining about how hard those six hours were, and how unprepared we were. All the while, Miriam sat on her cot with her worn out combat boots beside her, taking in the room and this final moment of rest to its fullest, wearing nothing but a smile of relief on her face. Nichole, the only one so far that had taken a tough tumble, was sitting alongside her with the same satisfied face, simply happy that we had made it. And with those two faces beaming with positivity, I realized a smile had contagiously grown upon my face as well. The sun slowly set as a handful of us girls gathered on the back porch with an ice-cold beer in our weary hands, eagerly awaiting the meal that was being prepared in the room next door. We quickly fell into deep conversation, making up for the lack of words that we were able to communicate through our difficult hike that day. Everyone told their stories, one way or another, without much encouragement from the observerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s side. These people that I was once so surprised were put in the same group as myself, sat next to me, sharing laughter, discussing our strikingly similar views and thoughts, and were surprisingly open with one another. It was as if the fact that we had made it through a strenuous journey together, only knowing each otherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s names, created a strong bond. These girls, whom I doubted would make it up the mountain, were not only strong with their bodies, but also with their minds. All of us had faced continuous challenges throughout our lives, each one different from another, but all had faced them head on. As I listened to Miriam, Nichole, and these other girls speak their life stories, I realized that each and every one of us had some of the strongest minds I had ever come across. It was no longer a mystery to me why we were here together, and now seemed so natural. After our candlelit meal, bodies began to drift off to bed to rest their weary minds. I sat, looking out into the darkness, listening to the bugs buzzing, dogs barking, and occasional call of a rooster off in the distance. After everybody had reflected openly to one another, I sat and pondered about these newly discovered views within myself. What I thought was comfort and familiarity in this land I now call my home, was simply a figment of my imagination, something that I believed in order to assure myself that I really came a long way since nonFiction
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the first day I arrived. What I really needed was a challenge: people here to test me and question whether I truly am independent and can take on any situation on my own, go into it without predetermined assumptions. I had found a group who accepted me from the first days here in Thailand and was content with those people in my life. What I needed then was a shock to my system to zap me back into reality, to show me there is more out there in the world than being content. These people, those two girls walking up on the mountain with me, made me step out of my comfort zone. Those I once thought were unequipped and unsuited to take on this trek, were the ones who had made it with the most confidence, both mentally and physically. And, although our first glances may not be too comparable, they were just as fit to do this trek as any one of us. They proved me wrong when I was so sure that my predetermined assumptions had been right. I don’t think it’s that I saw a person and assumed they were one thing and didn’t like them; it was that I didn’t care to peel those layers back and find the core of each person’s real self. I thought that by observing them from a distance I could tell what kind of person they would be. These girls taught me more than the simple concept that there is more than meets the eye. They taught me that it actually is worth discovering what lies behind that first impression. People have a lot to offer to you that will not only change your perspective on life but on everyone within it as well. The cover of a book shouldn’t decide whether its story is worth reading, and every person that comes into our lives should be looked upon with that mutual respect of finding out what lies behind that outer layer. In Thailand, they have an expression, “same same, but different,” that is used to show how things may appear the same, almost identically, but are in fact drastically different. In the mountains of Thailand, we have proved that saying to be quite the contrary, that in this case we are all “very different, but all very much the same.”
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The Last Step I remember my dad waking me up at 3:00 a.m. He said that it was time for me to go. Part of me didn’t want to leave Honduras, but I knew there would be a better future for me in the United States. As I was walking towards Coyote’s car, I looked over my shoulder to my older brother and my younger sister, who were sleeping. It was difficult to leave them. I knew if I woke up my little sister, Riccy, she would cry, and ask me to stay. Seeing my sister cry would have changed my mind about going to the United States, so it was better for me not to say good-bye. When Coyote started driving away, my father yelled, “Te quiero mi hijo. Cuídate!” I burst into tears, but pretended that I didn’t hear him, just so he would repeat it. “Te quiero!” he said as he disappeared in the dark of night. Even at the age of ten, I knew that I was about to start a journey that was going to change the course of my life. It was a journey that would test my dedication, endurance, perseverance, and fears. I was ten. My small body heaved with my crying because I did not know when I was going to see my family again. I knew it could be at least ten years before I saw them. The plan was for me to meet up with my grandmother, Elvira Delao, so she could take care of me. After picking her up, Coyote took us to a white house surrounded by barbwire. The house looked isolated and derelict as if no one had been living there for decades. Coyote told us to get out of the car and go inside, where I found a group of 20 Salvadorians whose goal, like mine, was to get to the United States. “Four of my friends died on this journey,” a woman said to me. “You are only ten years old. It is going to be hard for you.” Then, Coyote walked in the room and indicated to us to get inside a pick-up truck that was waiting outside. Walking to that pick-up truck was a struggle, as my legs were still shaking from what the lady had just told me. We arrived in Guatemala after hours of driving. Hours later a bus took us near these mountains—in order to get to Mexico we had to walk across mountains—and we started walking to our next destination. We had been walking the whole day, and, as the sun dipped behind the nearest mountain, my grandmother stopped. She could not walk anymore. She was tired. We took a break until she recovered; then, we started walking again, until we finally came across a safe spot where we could sleep. nonFiction
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That night, my grandmother woke up around 2:00 a.m. “Ayúdenme, me quieren matar!” she screamed into the night. Help me! They want to kill me! My grandmother woke everyone up with her worries. The leader and the rest of the group woke up and tried to make sure she was okay. The next morning, we took her to a house nearby. There was a small family living there, and they tried to help my grandmother, but it was a lost cause. She kept saying we were pointing guns at her, and that we were going to kill her. Coyote didn’t know what to do with her, so he called my mother. “Mijo, your abuelita cannot continue on this journey.You have two choices.You can either keep going or go back with her.” “Yo quiero continuar,” I said. I want to keep going. Later that day, Coyote sent my grandmother back to El Salvador. We were about to start walking again, but now I was alone. How was I, a ten-year-old boy, going to make it by myself? I had to follow someone, but there was no one to take care of me anymore. I puffed up my chest. Selvin, you must take care of yourself. After two hours of walking, we came across another house. Soon, all I heard was Coyote yelling “La migra! La migra!” The police were near. Everyone started running towards the trees, so I followed. I ran as fast as the adults in the group. I ran for five minutes at full speed. I remember the burn of my lungs as I strained for breath. The more I ran, the heavier my body felt, but getting to those trees for safety was the only thought on my mind. We hid until there were no more signs of the police. That night, Coyote made sure everyone was safe before we started walking again. The next morning, a van picked us up. In approximately two hours we arrived at a safe house in Mexico. From that house, we were supposed to go to our next destination, where they would prepare us to cross the desert. To get there, the group had to be divided. Half of us were traveling on a trailer and the other half on a black truck. “You,” Coyote pointed at me, “you are going on the black truck.” I was happy because there was a lot of space on the truck. But as I walked toward the truck, a girl approached me. “Podemos cambiar de lugar?” She had asked if we could switch spots. “Me quiero ir con alguien que conocí.” She wanted to travel with someone she’d met. I did not want to give up my comfortable seat to her, but she kept on asking. I got tired of hearing her voice, so I let her take my seat. I was really uncomfortable in the trailer. When we arrived at our destination, my back ached from the lack of any support. I had spent the last four hours trying to sit cross-legged, and I had to pee badly. Later that day, we noticed that the black truck was not there. Later that day, we heard the truck nonfiction
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had had an accident, and the people traveling in the black truck were severely injured. Coyote said, “Si hubieras estado en la troca talvez no hubieras sobrevivido el accidente.” If you had been in the black truck, like you were supposed to, you would probably be dead right now. When he said this, I realized that I was not in this journey alone; I knew that someone with a greater power was watching over me. Twenty-three days had passed since this journey started, and it was now time to cross the Mexican desert. This would be the last step. We started walking on a rainy night. I was tired and beat up. However, knowing that this was the last obstacle to my final destination, to the dream land, gave me enough strength to keep walking. We walked for three days. The last day, we didn’t have any food left. I remember walking next to a dead body and feeling scared. I had heard stories of people dying of hunger in the desert. When I saw the dead body, I realized how lucky I was. I was not in this journey alone; someone was guiding and watching over me. I had been born for a greater future. The sun was setting, and my stomach grumbled from hunger. “Ya casi llegamos,” Coyote said. We finally made it to the border. There was a big chain-link fence, and under it was a hole from previous groups that passed through. I managed to crawl through the hole without any problems. Although we had crossed the border, I did not feel better. In that moment, I thought I was going to die. My legs gave up on me, and my knees buckled. I was dehydrated, starving, and crying when, finally, I heard the sound of a car. The noise of that engine was like the sound of paradise. When the car arrived, the man driving offered us chicken sandwiches and cold sodas. I will never forget the heavenly taste of that meal. There I was, sitting with a cold soda in my hand, telling myself that I had made it.
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Who We Look Up To Disney movies are cherished by people of all ages, and most can name their favorite Disney movie whether it be something as old as Snow White (1937) or as new as Frozen (2013).The Disney Princess Franchise consists of thirteen female Disney icons like Mulan, Snow White, Ariel, and Cinderella, which are cherished as household names that many little girls look up to. I love these characters as much as the next person, and dissecting these characters in the way that I have has been one of the hardest writing endeavors I’ve ever taken on. But, as hard as this has been for me to write, I feel it necessary to point out the fact that when you watch these movies closely, you’ll realize that many negative archetypes regarding gender roles are prominent in many, if not most of our favorite Disney classics. Belle from Beauty and the Beast (1991) is locked in an abusive relationship, Ariel from The Little Mermaid (1989) gives up her voice for a man she has never met, and Mulan is forced to believe that she must become a man to reach her full potential and save her father. These movies, while extremely entertaining, could be negatively influencing the youth of today, and in return can give girls a false impression of what is expected of them as adult women. I think it is important for young girls to learn at an early age to be comfortable with themselves—that they don’t need tons of makeup and sparkly dresses to feel beautiful, that they are capable of anything they put their heart into, but most importantly that they don’t need a prince in shining armor to come and save them. A common stereotype for young women is the idea that they need to strive for marriage, and once they pass a certain age, they are no longer desirable as a wife. Noted feminist writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says in her speech, “We Should All Be Feminists,”
We say to girls “You can have ambition, but not too much.You should aim to be successful, but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man.” Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important…We raise girls to each other as competitors, not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think would be a good thing, but for the attention of men.
The ideas that Adichie addresses in her speech are the exact problems that Disney movies like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and others have. The Disney stereotype makes it seem like girls need to rely on men to fix all nonfiction
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of their problems, that only with love from a man will they be happy, and that something as simple and menial as a kiss will change their fate. Like Adichie says, love can be an amazing thing, but girls do not have to strive for it the way that Disney makes it seem, especially if men aren’t expected to as well. Children are extremely impressionable. In the article “Raising ‘Media Healthy’ Children,” psychologytoday.com writes, “children imitate what they see, hear, and observe to be true…[for] most children under the age of eight, television is reality.” If what this article says is true, then it would be fair to say that when children watch what adults would see as a character, they see as a teacher. What could seem harmless now can really influence a child’s behavior in the future. A poor role model can influence a child’s actions tremendously once they reach adulthood, especially if they strive to have or become something they never can have or be. If this is the reality young girls create for themselves, their confidence could deteriorate tremendously once they reach their pre-teen years. In “The Impressionable Youth,” an article from teenink.com, the author states:
A child is just as able to learn inappropriate behaviors as appropriate behaviors. He might carry out these negative behaviors for years to come. Other than the obvious effects on others the child may have when he grows up, he ultimately destroys, or at the very least, whittles away, his confidence. He would not have learned the strategies to behave in life’s situations, creating a feeling of helplessness which results in low-confidence. A child with low-confidence, more often than not, does not have resiliency.
At a young age, girls should learn to want to be confident, smart, loyal, and ambitious. Without confidence, children could struggle to achieve what their parents so badly yearn for them: success and happiness. The Disney cookie-cutter stereotype is the idea that a young girl, a princess, is struggling with an inner desire that she cannot obtain on her own, and she can only obtain these goals if she has help from a man. This archetype also has the princesses relying on their beauty to solve their problems. From watching these movies, I’ve come up with what I call the “Happy Ending Theory,” based on the idea that women can only be happy when they find their “one true love,” and only then can they have their “happily ever after.” I find it important to point out that only two out of the thirteen official princesses do not support this theory. Because these two princesses do not support the Happy Ending Theory, I would say the franchise is changing for the better. Below is a spectrum that divides the princesses into three categories. Under “Better” are the princesses that follow the Happy Ending Theory the nonFiction
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least. Those in the “50/50” section are the heroines that somewhat follow the idea, yet have redeeming qualities, and the “bad” are the princesses that I believe fully follow the Happy Ending Theory.
The princess whom I believe could be seen as the most negative role model is Aurora from Sleeping Beauty. Aurora is a young girl who was cursed at birth to fall into a deep slumber by pricking her finger on a sewing wheel’s spindle on her sixteenth birthday, a curse that could only be broken by her true love’s kiss. As the curse predicts, on Aurora’s sixteenth birthday, she pricks her finger on a spindle. This threatens her entire kingdom’s safety when the witch who originally cast the curse, Maleficent, transforms into a dragon that sets out to defeat the prince that is to save Aurora. In the end, the prince saves Aurora, and together they live happily ever after. The film is extremely entertaining and harmless enough, but the problem lies within princess Aurora’s role as a main character, seeing as she only speaks a total of eighteen lines in the seventy-five minute film. When she does talk, it is only to confess her love to a man she has just met and whom she believes is her true love. She relies solely on her looks to get by and has no distinctive personality. Aurora can barely be considered a heroine, and in the end, the movie leaves a bad taste in the mouths of feminists everywhere. The “50/50” section of the spectrum was harder for me to determine because I had to pinpoint and classify the characteristics that I personally believe are more/less positive than others, and my senses of morality could differ from others. Princess Belle, from Beauty and the Beast, falls on the middle of the “50/50,” as well as the entire spectrum. On one hand, Belle is extremely nonfiction
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intelligent and loves to read. She is beautiful, like her name states, but, unlike Aurora, she does not let her beauty define her. She has a quirky personality, and even though she is seen as “peculiar” by most of her village, she remains confident and poised in any situation. While those qualities are exceptionally exceptional for a respectable role model, Belle also has her downfalls. In her film, Belle is taken captive in place of her father by the beast that lives in the woods near her village. The Beast forces Belle to become his houseguest and forces her to dress up and eat meals with him. The Beast frequently screams at Belle for going against his wishes and roars at her when she cleans his wounds, which he acquired during a wolf attack. While these circumstances would clearly be seen as illegal and abusive, Belle somehow falls for the Beast. In an almost sick and twisted way, Belle has a lethal dose of Stockholm Syndrome, also known as when victims of abuse or kidnapping end up getting emotionally attached to their captors or abusers (“Stockholm Syndrome”). In fact, if you search the term “Stockholm Syndrome” on the Internet, many articles about Beauty and the Beast are the first to appear in the results. Belle could easily be seen as a great role model during the first half of her film, but then she takes a complete turn-around and becomes someone who is astonishingly un-kosher and loses all of her morals. Belle is frustrating because she had so much potential to be a fantastic role model, but then when she begins to fall in love with her captor, everything that made her respectable is thrown out the window. Of the thirteen princesses, only Brave’s Merida, Frozen’s Elsa, and Mulan’s Mulan are truly well-rounded role models. Merida specifically falls at the top of the spectrum for many reasons. Unlike many of the princesses, Merida is a rebel, as she goes against her parents’ wishes and refuses to be married. She also has a genuine talent in archery, compared to most of the princesses whose only talents are singing. Most importantly, she makes mistakes. In her film, Merida accidently turns her mother into a bear with the help of an elderly witch. She later fixes the problem with ambition and determination and without any help. Merida goes against the Happy Ending Theory in that she solves her own problems and does not rely on anyone else to change her fate. Merida is the epitome of what a role model should be, and I think it is worth stating that Merida was not originally a Disney Princess. Brave (2012) was created by Pixar animation studios, a completely different branch of Disney. Merida was the first princess film that Pixar had ever created, and Disney was hesitant to add her to the princess line-up. Merida goes against everything that a Disney Princess had always been mentally and physically. Merida has smaller eyes, an athletic build, a curvy waist, and unruly red hair. Merida has the closest physique to an actual women than any of the other princesses, and Merida nonFiction
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is naturally and believably beautiful. After months of deliberation, Merida was added to the line-up. Once the princess franchise got their hands on her, though, they gave her a complete makeover:
Merida clearly looks different. Her hair is thicker, her eyes are larger and lighter, she has a thinner waist, a completely different dress, and the absence of her signature bow and arrow is clearly evident. What kind of message is Disney sending when they take everything that makes their most original princess original and throw it out the window? Merida was not the only princess to be made over either, every princess, with the exceptions of Anna and Elsa from Frozen, received makeovers that gave them smaller waists, sparkly dresses, and an excessive amount of makeup. The standards for beauty that Disney is setting for women is ridiculous. By changing Merida, they are saying that anything that makes you unique is subject to change. My proposal is not to get rid of Disney films, which would be ridiculous. Many of my favorite films actually happen to be Disney classics. Rather I propose that parents should help their children to break the barrier between fantasy and reality. Help children to understand that the characters they idolize are not perfect and have their faults by highlighting their good characteristics and downplaying their bad. Also, to help introduce other types of Disney characters into their children’s lives, not only princesses. Two Disney heroines who aren’t princesses but could be great potential role models are Lilo Pelekai from Lilo and Stitch (2002) and Vanellope Von Schweetz from Wreck it Ralph (2012). Both of these girls are characterized by good qualities and are the actual ages of the Disney target audience, which consists of children from ages 4-12 (“Consumer Analysis”). Lilo is seven years old and Vanellope is nine. Lilo is a young girl from Hawaii, who finds friendship in a little blue alien that she calls Stitch. Together the two learn that anyone can be good, even if the odds are against them, and that family comes first. Vanellope is a video game character from a game called ‘Sugar Rush’ who dreams of being a nonfiction
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racer. However, she cannot become a racer because whenever she tries to race, she glitches. Her glitch could end up ruining ‘Sugar Rush’ and get her, as well as her fellow video game characters, unplugged from the arcade that their game is kept in. But, when she befriends the gentle giant Ralph, she is able to overcome her glitch on her own and finally become a racer. Both Lilo and Vanellope are able to overcome their insecurities and oddities, and while they do not overcome their problems by themselves, they also help their friends overcome their own problems. The lessons that Lilo and Vanellope could teach young girls are that not everyone is perfect or confident and that, if you feel like you can’t overcome struggles by yourself, asking for help from a friend or family could prove to be fruitful and healthy. Lilo and Vanellope are great role models for young girls because they express their individuality and are proud of it. So many young girls today have low self-esteem because they think of themselves as weird or abnormal. The online article “11 Facts About Teens and Self Esteem” states that “7 in 10 girls believe that they are not good enough or don’t measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members” (dosomething.org). The idea that 70 percent of teenage girls believe that they are not good enough because of the pressures that society places on them is extremely upsetting. Ultimately, children are going to watch Disney princess movies, simply because they are cherished by so many and are extremely entertaining. I am not suggesting that you try to keep them from watching them. Because, while it could possibly go against everything I have just said, these movies do teach good lessons as well. Belle reads, Pocahontas fights for what is right, and Rapunzel frees herself from the chains that have held her down her whole life, all wonderful lessons for children to learn. From them, your child can learn many things like how to be curious, how to seek adventure, how anything can change, and how to be a good friend. But while they can learn such things, it is extremely important to help your child understand that these films are stories and not reality.Young girls can learn that they do not need to follow in their idols’ footsteps, even if it might be as good a role model as Elsa or Merida, and that even though their heroes have many good qualities, they, like everyone, are not perfect.
PJ Portera nonFiction
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“11 Facts About Teens And Self-Esteem.” Do Something. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2014. Aladdin. Dir. John Musker and Ron Clements. By Linda Larkin. Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc., 1992. Beauty and the Beast. Dir. Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise. By Linda Woolverton. Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc., 1991. “Best Disney Movies.” Top Disney Movies. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2014. Brave. Dir. Mark Andrews. Pixar Animation Studios, 2012. Cinderella. Dir. Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton S. Luske. RKO Radio Pictures, Inc., 1950. “Consumer Analysis.” Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2014. Frozen. Dir. Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. Walt Disney Animation Studios, 2013. Film. Gardner, Joshua. “Busting the Disney Myth: Artist Tears Apart the Unbelievably Perfect Anatomies of Your Favorite Characters Step-by-step.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 04 June 2013. Web. 15 Apr. 2014. Healy, Maureen. “Creative Development.” Raising “Media Healthy” Children. N.p., 3 Feb. 2010. Web. 30 Mar. 2014. “The Impressionable Youth.” Teen Ink. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2014. Lilo & Stitch. Dir. Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders. Buena Vista, 2004. The Little Mermaid. Dir. Ron Clements. Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc, 1989. Mulan. Dir. Tony Bancroft. Walt Disney Feature Animation, 1998.
Corridors 201 5 Ngozi Adichie, Chimamanda. “TED | We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at TEDxEuston (transcript).” Vialogue. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014. Peter Pan. Perf. Bobby Driscoll and Kathryn Beaumont. Walt Disney Productions, 1953. Film. Pocahontas. Dir. Mike Gabriel and Eric Goldberg. By Carl Binder. Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc., 1995. The Princess and the Frog. Dir. Ron Clements. Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures, 2009. Sleeping Beauty. Prod. Walt Disney. Beuna Vista Distribution, 1959.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. By Walt Disney, David Hand, and Perce Pearce. Distributed by Buena Vista Film Distribution Co., 1937. “Stockholm Syndrome.” RAINN. RAINN, n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2014. Tangled. Dir. Nathan Greno. Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures, 2010. Wreck It Ralph. Dir. Rich Moore. Perf. John C Rielly and Sarah Silverman. Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures, 2012.
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A Dual-Education From the passenger seat, Bob rolled his eyes and let out an exasperated sigh. “All right, let me just put on some music, and we’ll hit the road. And please, don’t kill us today. That would really suck,” he said half-jokingly. In an effort to conceal my own fears as a driver with only six hours of collective experience, I let out an uneasy laugh. That WOULD really suck, I nervously thought. Perhaps that’s why my brother was so eager to put on a song before he hit the road with me at the wheel for the first time. There’s a certain theory on the origin of music that suggests “that complete silence is often perceived as a sign of danger,” so naturally, people began making music to fill those silences (Byrne 323). Having just graduated from college, Bob was in his final summer of nothingness before officially joining the New York City workforce. Surprisingly, rather than sleep all day, Bob agreed to be my personal driving instructor for the summer; I welcomed his aide, as my newly-acquired permit required that someone drive with me at all times. This was a treat for me. Bob was a truly fascinating person to be around. I say with no exaggeration whatsoever that everything in the world seemed to annoy him. He had a way about speaking to people that always seemed to imply that his time was being wasted. Fast-moving, arrogant, and decisive as he was, there was still something incredibly endearing about him. His unflappable confidence, while intimidating, could satiate the air and make you feel like you could do anything. In my eyes, Bob was a god. I nervously turned the key to start the engine. “Where are we going tod—” “Shhh,” he snapped before I could finish. “Let Dave speak. Let Dave guide the wheel.” I looked back at him confused. Who the hell is Dave? I thought to myself. He spun the volume dial all the way to the right, leaned back, and closed his eyes. Suddenly, a chorus of trumpets and snare drums filled the walls of our Jeep Grand Cherokee. I looked down at his iPod and saw “Too Much” by Dave Matthews Band pan across the screen. I rolled my eyes with contempt; I was no fan of Dave Matthews. “Sean, this summer, you’ll be getting a dual-education from me. First, you’ll be learning how to drive from one of the best. I nonfiction
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practically invented parallel parking. So you’re welcome. Secondly, you’ll finally be getting an education in what real music is. Everyone likes rap in high school. Then they grow up.” The next two months of that summer proceeded fairly consistently. I would drag my brother out of bed, and reluctantly, he would agree to take me out to drive. However, his resistance would subside quickly once we were in the car where he would immediately plug in his iPod and blast Dave Matthews at concert-level decibels. As we drove, Bob would intermittently turn the volume down, partly to critique my driving, and partly to throw in some obligatory derisive, older sibling banter. “Sit up straight.” “Don’t move the wheel so much.” “Stop being so bad at this.” All very constructive criticisms. However, more common than the driving instructions were the Dave Matthews anecdotes. My brother spoke about Dave Matthews like he was a childhood friend. They were even on a first name basis. “Dave was born in South Africa, Sean.Yet, he’s like, the ultimate American. Isn’t that crazy?” Or, “Dave Matthews says a lot of his music is inspired by Bob Marley.You should listen to Bob Marley, too.” While I never really cared much for the Dave Matthews history lessons, I did love how it affected Bob. He could get so wrapped up in singing along with the music that it was like we weren’t in the car but at a concert, hearing Dave Matthews perform live. For me, it was reassuring to see him so immersed and so distant from the present moment, since I felt as though he trusted me at the wheel. For maybe the first time in my life, it felt like his signature confidence was directed towards me. By summer’s end, I found myself belting out the Dave along with him. I found myself at my driver’s exam that January, petrified. As confident as I had become in my driving since receiving my permit, I still couldn’t help but be terrified by the possibility of not passing the test. I fidgeted nervously in my seat. Suddenly, the passenger door swung open. “Hello, Sean. We’ll get started in just a few minutes. Have you been practicing, son?” asked the proctor of my test. “Uhh, yeah, I think I’m ready,” I flatly responded. “Just try and take it easy and forget about the test. Just think about nonFiction
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whatever you’re used to, and you’ll be fine.” I swallowed the lump in my throat. As we inched closer to the beginning of the course, the anxiety intensified. “All right, you’re up, Sean. Pull out over here to the left,” he instructed. I was drenched in sweat. Panic began to fill the air. I searched my brain for something that could make me feel less overwhelmed and less likely to spontaneously crash into the nearest stationary object. Suddenly, Bob’s annoyed, yet reassuringly careless voice popped into my head: “Dave Matthews, Sean. Dave. The Man. Matthews.” I took a deep breath. In my head, the familiar guitar riff of Dave Matthews’s “Lie in Our Graves” filled my head. The carefree voice of Dave rang out in my ears as I made the first left: “When I step into the light/my arms open wide.” As I continued through the course, I suddenly felt the fear lift from my shoulders. In a single moment, the sound of Dave Matthews seemed to ease the tension in the car, and the reassurance of Bob’s unwavering confidence returned to me. I smiled and continued though the course, silently enjoying the concert for one in my head. Six years later, I’m now a different person than I was when I passed my driver’s test. High school came and went, and I grew up and went to college. Bob moved out and became an adult. And yet, while I’m no longer the wideeyed younger brother seeking his brother’s approval, that feeling of having the person you look up most to in the world put their trust in you is something that never gets old. In his book, How Music Works, musician David Byrne comments that, for some, “music can be made to bolster nostalgic urges” (12). I can say that today, I’m still not the world’s biggest fan of Dave Matthews. I find a lot of his music to be redundant and a little bit boring in general. And yet, the sound of Dave never fails to bring a smile to my face, as it conjures memories of that one summer filled with poor driving, worse singing, and countless hours spent with the man I respect most in my life.Years later, I now often find myself driving with my iPod on shuffle when suddenly, the familiar chorus of trumpets, saxophones, funk guitar riffs, and that all-too-familiar raspy voice emanates from the speakers. When this happens, I never skip the song. Instead, I let Dave guide the wheel and drive on.
Sean Munier nonfiction
Corridors 201 5 Works Cited
Byrne, David. How Music Works. San Francisco: McSweeney’s, 2012. Print. Dave Matthews Band. “Lie in our Graves.” Dave Matthews. Crash. RCA. 1996. MP3.
Jillian Alonzo Untitled
Courtney Heller On the Edge of the Petal
Tori Sluko Untitled
Tori Sluko Untitled
Courtney Heller Clear Meadow
Connor Kennedy Iron Wake
Keyana Sabbakhan Still
Jillian Alonzo Untitled
Kaitlin Fitzgerald Untitled
Artist: Mariah Palmieri
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Our Heroic Prince My name is Prince Charming, and I save princesses. Kings and Queens from my land and lands far, far away contact me to save their princesses, and of course I oblige if the correct fee is met. It’s always something foolish like “Oh, I made this deal with this witch and now my daughter is in a tower guarded by a dragon” or “I married a terribly vain woman who wants to be The Fairest of Them All, and she has banished my daughter from the kingdom, and now she’s trying to murder her with a poison apple” or something like that. I’ve saved a total of 14 princesses from horrendous fates. I was quite heroic. What other man would go up against armies guarding towers, dragons wielding fire, and princesses with truly monstrous breath? I’ve made a good pile of treasure doing it too. Of course, I don’t do it alone. Though no one knows it, I have two men under my command. They are what I call my “Invisibles.” I don’t disclose them to potential clients. They don’t know any of the details of the job. They never see anyone, and no one ever seems them. That’s the point! How am I to keep up this charade if everyone knows I’m not alone in my work? Half the appeal of a princess being saved is that she’s being saved by Prince Charming, not that she’s being saved by Prince Charming and his, what? Assistants? Now, I know what you must be thinking. Who does this guy think he is? I bet he doesn’t even pay his people half of what they deserve. Let me explain because I want to be transparent with you. Of course I don’t pay the peasants what they deserve. They should be lucky to get anything at all, if you ask me. I do pay them though. I have no choice in the matter. No one is exactly knocking down my door to slay a dragon. It’s not a bribe either because I don’t pay them until after the job is completed. I do bribe them to keep it a secret though. We can’t all be good. It’s been too long since I’ve received a request to save a princess. I wish I could say princesses were being abducted and put under curses like they used to be, but it’s just not happening like back then. Witches are getting thrown out of business left and right, dragons are dying or retiring to lands with more grass, and don’t even get me started on evil stepmothers! It’s absolutely dreadful how happy people are these days. Fiction
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But after months of waiting, I finally have one in my hands, ready to be opened, and I’m ready for the journey to the treasure to begin. Turning the crispy yellow parchment over in my hands, I open it. Prince Charming, Please excuse my informality, for I am writing to you under great duress, and frankly, I do not have the time for manners. My name is unimportant as I hope that we will never meet. I do not need to be rescued; I am no Damsel in Distress. Do note that I am a princess and have the appropriate treasure to pay you for your services. At the completion of your service, granted I find it satisfactory, I will pay whatever you ask. Now, I know you usually save princesses, but as I have already stated, I do not require saving. I am afraid I require something much, much different. I own a chunk of land that I would like to eventually build on. Right now, there is nothing more than a small hut occupying it, and of course it is only temporary. It has a grass roof, for goodness sake. No self-respecting princess would live in it. I intend on tearing down the hideous thing and replacing it with a grand palace suitable for a princess like me. Here is my problem, Charming. A grizzly and quite unruly group of children have taken up residence in my hut. I discovered them there some time ago when I arrived at the hut in the early morning.This land is very private and well hidden by trees, you see, so I am unsure of how they even found it. But they did, so we will not dwell on that. I found them first in the open room of the hut.There were maybe two or three of them there. I am afraid I raised my voice, for I was very surprised to have found them. I told them to please get out and mind the step.They ran out, probably surprised to have found me there. Outside, there were children that weren’t there before. Four kids sprang up when they saw me.These kids were not as frightened by me as the others though.They were rather rambunctious and rude, in fact. Right away, they screamed as though I was horribly disfigured. It was quite upsetting, if I am being truthful. Anyway, the four children outside picked up thick branches they seemed to have been using as walking sticks (though they had sharpened one end dramatically) and began to chase me. What was I to do? A princess, just recently insulted by children, now being chased by the lot of soon-to-be criminals. I have no magic and am no fortune-teller, but even I know that murderous children will beat a princess any day. These—I do not know what to call them!—imbeciles have been living in my hut for a fortnight now. I know this because I visit every night to see if they have gone. Alas, the problem has not solved itself. Now, we have arrived at where you come in. I am interested in your sword skills. Of course, I am not so heartless that I would imply for you to kill these children, no matter how foul they may be. I just wonder if you could scare them away, threaten them if they ever choose to return, chase them out, something of that fiction
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sort. Do you understand? Make them leave, that is all. I gather that you charge quite steeply. Do not fret—I will not grumble about that, and I certainly will not stiff you. Obviously, having taken the time to write you this letter, I am fully prepared to meet your demands if you meet my own. Please do not take the time to write back—either complete the job within a fortnight of this week’s end and receive what is due to you or do not and get nothing.The choice is yours, Prince Charming. I put the parchment down on a wooden table that looks like it belongs in a bar. That’s what I’m dealing with—I don’t even have the funds to buy proper furniture! I look around my castle’s main living room and sigh. This is not how a prince should be living, scrounging for jobs and whatnot. As I cradle my head in my hands, heavy footsteps echo off of the high ceilings. “Prince Charming?” a voice from behind me bellows. Before turning, I know John, the bigger of my Invisibles. He’s a gruesome guy to look at, towering at almost seven feet tall with a giant hooked nose casting shadows all over his face. He’s big, and that’s what I need for jobs. For this job though? A bunch of children scaring a timid princess? Even John would laugh at me for taking this menial job. “Ah, John.” I wheel around and tilt my head up towards his face. Raising my left eyebrow just ever so slightly, I say, “Just the man I was looking for.” “We’ve got another job offer, then?” John’s voice is heavy and slow like an elephant walking through dense mud. I somehow always feel older after listening to him. “How do you feel about a journey, John?” John and I are silent as we walk side by side, carefully checking our surroundings by pivoting and taking turns glancing back. We’re quite the pair, I dare say, but I prefer silence before a job. I need to imagine what we’ll be up against and work out a plan before we get there—it’s my method. With the sounds of leaves crinkling under our feet—mostly under John’s feet—I create a plan to the beat of our steps. We walk for what feels like hours. “John,” I say, pushed to my limits of boredom and already done with my plan, “what do you say you tell me a story?” “I’m not sure I’ve got one to tell, sir.” He shifts and takes his turn checking behind us. “Right, well, I’m not entirely sure I’d be interested to hear it.” Fiction
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“Why don’t I tell you the one about the prince who went missing in the forest,” he retorts rather eloquently. Shocked by his candor and wit, I laugh. He returns my laugh, and soon we are both cackling in the woods like a couple of lunatics. “We ought to control ourselves, sir,” John says between breaths. “Right you are.” We breathe deeply and continue our journey, made difficult by the sloppily drawn map on the back of the letter. I wiggle my nose, having caught a stench of something awful. “We should be there soon, if the princess drew to scale.” “I think we’re here, sir.” John stops and I bump into him, too enveloped by the map to notice my surroundings. I look up and find a swamp. A big, smelly swamp. I can only see mud for miles, all surrounded by a shield of giant trees. And the smell! To say that something had died would be an understatement. This is a vile, vile smell, akin only to the smell of the batch of Easter eggs found hidden in my castle a full year after they were hidden. Be glad you can’t smell it now, for it is burned in my nostrils forever. “Alright, then,” I gather myself quickly and stand rigidly facing John, “go into that hut, scream at anything you see, then chase when they run.” “They, sir?” John always looks frightened the minute before a job. I don’t know why; the guy couldn’t be killed by a hundred fit men. “Nothing to be worried about, John. Won’t take but a second.” I pat his back, admittedly lower than I would have liked, and push him along. I watch from the forest’s edge as John stomps his way to the small hut. There is a single path of grass that leads from the forest to the hut on each side. Everything else is mud. Why would a princess build a castle here? Is land really that scarce? Perhaps this is one of those new princesses with new treasure. With the increasingly stable economy, bursts of new princesses have been popping up all over the place.You’d think this would fare well for my business, but as I said, the others aren’t doing their jobs. Plus, these new princesses aren’t like the old ones. They’re tough because their treasure is new, and they’re used to harder lives. They don’t need saving, unfortunately. John gets to the door, a rather large piece of bark, and pushes it open. Beginning his scream, he lets out a dark howl that vibrates my ears and makes my back hurt. He steps into the hut, continuing his monstrous growl. Just as I expected, two kids run out from the hut, their faces white with horror. John’s scream suddenly stops. I know there have to be more children in fiction
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there though. Only two have run out; there are at least four or five still in there. Perhaps he has realized they are not the monsters we are usually up against. “John?” I call. No reply. “John? Can you hear me?” I walk slowly towards the hut, suddenly overcome with an idiotic kind of fear. I say idiotic because these are children we’re talking about, right? What do I have to fear? I approach the bark door and peek in through a hole. The first thing I see is a fire place, glowing red hot even though it’s the middle of summer. Then I see a gown, the kind a new princess would wear. It is shorter and brighter, a more magnificent color than most princesses would try. It hangs on a hook, and on the hook next to it looks like a wig of some sort. Long, curly blonde hair but a little messy—that kind of wig. How unusual, I think to myself. Perhaps this princess is balding. Poor thing. By the fireplace, there is a small wooden table with six chairs around it. The children, who look to be playing cards of some sort, occupy a few of the chairs. I move my eyes to the dirt ground where I can see John, lying flat on his back in a pool of his own blood. “Oh my,” I breathe out before catching myself. I quickly throw my hand over my mouth and clutch it—willing myself to stay silent. John is circled by a child who is holding a long knife. The child isn’t really a child though. Where bright, innocent eyes should be are empty holes, black and daunting. The child’s skin isn’t normal, somehow; it’s glowing almost. The child with the knife spits, and I can feel the anger boiling inside of me. A voice talks inside of me, though, I swear. It says, “Charming, if that kid took down a seven-foot-tall giant with 400 pounds on him, he’s going to take you down too.” And I listen. I’m too slow though. One of the kids playing cards sees me, looks me dead in the eye with his black holes. And he screams. The others jump up from the table, knocking the gown and wig off of their hooks. But it’s not a wig; I can see that now. It’s a head, rolling around, and I’m betting it’s the princess who wrote to me. Her eyes were open, and they were staring at me, saying, “run,” so I do. Dropping the letter from the princess, I run like the evil witch herself is chasing me. Tears roll out the sides of my eyes. I hear the screams and screeches of the devil-children who killed John and that princess following behind me. Zig-zagging, I duck under trees and continue deeper into the forest. Fiction
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When the screams stop, I find shelter. Lunging into a cave, I go into its depths to hide myself. I curl my body around itself and rock, allowing all of my sobs to heave out of my body. I open my pack and pull out a fresh piece of parchment and a quill. To my second Invisible, I quickly write, “JOHN GONE. FIND ME. –PC” and whistle. My second Invisible, named Mark, is the brains of the two. He’s the son of a powerful witch and has a number of helpful tricks up his sleeve, including a locator spell. At the call of my whistle, a dark black, almost blue-like raven appears, awaiting instruction. I tie the note to his leg and whisper my command, “to my castle,” and the raven is gone. Now, I wait.devil-children who killed John and that princess following behind me. Zig-zagging, I duck under trees and continue deeper into the forest. When the screams stop, I find shelter. Lunging into a cave, I go into its depths to hide myself. I curl my body around itself and rock, allowing all of my sobs to heave out of my body. I open my pack and pull out a fresh piece of parchment and a quill. To my second Invisible, I quickly write, “JOHN GONE. FIND ME. –PC” and whistle. My second Invisible, named Mark, is the brains of the two. He’s the son of a powerful witch and has a number of helpful tricks up his sleeve, including a locator spell. At the call of my whistle, a dark black, almost blue-like raven appears, awaiting instruction. I tie the note to his leg and whisper my command, “to my castle,” and the raven is gone. Now, I wait.
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Herc The community center’s stale wallpaper was stained in some spots— peeling in others.The flaky chunkboard ceiling drooped through the plastic lattice like pale meat bulging through a net. “I love the powder fluff donuts with jelly busting out the top.” Hercules toyed with a pastry in one hand and scratched his thinning hair with the other. “I know I don’t look it, but I’m just as strong as I was when I was a boy.” The waif hovering near the craft table filled her paper cup with ambrosia from a beat up Gatorade cooler. Herc tossed his doughnut high and swallowed it in one athletically fat gulp. He wiped some glazy sugar from the corner of his mouth and spoke. “Are you new? You look new.” The girl rolled her shadow-caked eyes. “Nope,” she declared. “Got a name?” “Delphine.” The obese demigod raised an eyebrow and brushed some crumbs off his coat. “Groovy.” “Fellas? We’re going to get started over here!” called Ajax, the group leader. Delphine slunk over to the circle where a dozen or so figures and champions of legend sat expectant and grabbed a seat away from everybody else. Hercules moseyed across the yellowing tile floor and settled into a chair next to Delphine. Ajax ran his fingers through his wiry hippie-hair and sipped some brosia from his recyclo-plastic mug. “Good evening everybody, and a big howdo-you-do to our new playfellows! I’m touched to have a couple new beautiful souls to share with. Remember friends, this is a safe space. Would either of our fresh faces like to introduce themselves?” Herc hefted upright from his seat and hiked his gaudy buckled belt up. “Hi, my name’s Herc.” “Hi, Herc,” the group chanted. He turned up his chubby palms and confessed: “And I’m sorry, but I’m not really an alcoholic.” Fiction
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The circle laughed together in knowing pity. Theseus spoke up. “Think you’re the first person to say that, slim?” “Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.” AJ observed. “No, I’m serious; it’s just a court thing. My liver’s just as strong as the rest of my body, I’ll be fine.” Hercules flexed his bicep. He was a massive man: hugely fat and hugely powerful. “I could drink all day and not even feel it,” he lied. AJ frowned. “Well Herc… some problems have to be tackled headfirst, you know?” Orpheus piped up: “AJ, encourage sharing through sharing.” AJ smiled. “Swell idea!” Orpheus stood. “My name’s Orpheus, and I’m an alcoholic.” “Hi, Orpheus,” the group said together. Orpheus looked gaunt and anemic. “Most of you know my story. When Eurydice passed.When she… passed again. I looked back. It was my fault. And I drank myself half to death for it.You never put that behind you. It becomes a part of you. I’m an alcoholic and that won’t change. But today I can say I’m four hundred and thirty eight years sober. And I owe it all to this group.” The group nodded somberly. “Thank you for sharing, Orpheus,” AJ said. Herc brushed off the sincerity. “That’s great. So, I do need one of those registration cards. One that says I showed up—with a signature on it.” Delphine tried to suppress a chuckle, but succeeded only partially. “Herc,” AJ chided, “we’re not in the business of just giving those away, you know.” He cleared his throat. “And I’ll ask you to please be respectful of the other group members if you want to receive credit.” Herc sighed. “What do I have to do?” The circle intoned in unison, “The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.” The hero-god smirked. He glanced at Delphine, who raised an eyebrow mockingly. The air in the room was stale and heavy. Herc tumbled out through the community center’s doors into the brisk December night. He held his little card under the light of a streetlamp. It read: “Olympians Anonymous: 2/13/15 – Peace & Love, Ajax.” fiction
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“Asshole.” Delphine puffed a cigarette beneath the squat building’s grungy vinyl awning. Hercules quickly stuffed his card into his peacoat pocket. “Hey chicken-sticks, I did exactly what I was supposed to do. I confessed that I have a problem.” “And didn’t mean a word of it.” She flicked her cigarette into a dirty puddle of streetwater and crushed it. “But I talked, didn’t I? Busybody.” Delphine folded her arms. “Yeah. I totally believe that the drinking started after you bedded ‘half the women in Egypt.’ How much of that story wasn’t a lie?” “Some of it,” he shrugged. “This isn’t a fix-it shop.You’re not going to make right whatever you’re trying to with a certificate and an apology,” Delphine assured. Hercules clenched his teeth and dug his hands into his pockets. He took a step off the concrete onto the asphalt, searching for a cab to hail. The girl bit her lip. “So you’ll be back next week, then?” she asked as Herc caught the attention of a cabbie. “That’s the plan.” He heaved his way into the backseat. Delphine stooped down and glared at Hercules through the window. “Good.” Herc stood on his old front porch with a lump in his throat. The bristly welcome mat mocked him from below. The freshly installed lock glimmered in the twilight. He thumbed the card in his jacket pocket and pressed the doorbell. “Penelope? It’s me. I went to the meeting like I said I would.” He gulped. “I brought the card back so you can see it.” He rang the doorbell twice more. “We can make this right. I can make this right.” Three rings: no answer. The bottom dropped out of his stomach. He staggered down the porch steps and looked closer at the front of his house. The windows were all dark. It would’ve taken just a flick of a pinky for Herc to break his door down, but he slammed into it with all his weight—at full bore. The door exploded off its hinges and splintered into the house. “Penelope?!” He ran as fast as his fat wracked body could into the bedroom and pulled open her dresser. It was empty. Her nightstand was bare. Fiction
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The jewelry box he made for her was nowhere to be found. He spent all night searching for a note. He found nothing. The next week, Delphine found herself on a porch, standing on a bristly welcome mat. A flimsy piece of plywood stood in the doorframe. She rang the doorbell once, then again. She slid the makeshift barrier aside and took a step inside the house. Wood chips and empty bottles littered the floor. Garbage overflowed from the wastebasket in the kitchen, and the sink was full of plates and bowls caked with congealed sauces. The noise of a football game murmured softly from the bedroom. She knocked on the bedroom door. “Herc? AJ says he’s worried about you. He asked me to come get you.” A groan from the other side of the door. “Take your time,” Delphine said. She shuffled into the foyer and took notice of the stuffed head of the Nemean Lion over the busted plywood door. Its massive snarl looked sad fixed in place. Some picture frames sat on the counters. Most of them had been emptied, but there was still one photo of a thinner Hercules playing fetch with a three-headed dog. The door to the bedroom swung open. Herc stood in the portal in a dingy robe, sweaty with deep dark circles under his eyes. “Cost of making small talk I guess. He must think we’re buddy-buddy.” Herc lead Delphine into the living room, sweeping away small messes as he went. “What happened?” Hercules struggled to find the words. “My wife… I just… She—” “You don’t have to explain,” Delphine said. Herc nodded. Delphine changed the subject. “Aren’t you curious how I found you?” He shook his head no. “You used to be an oracle. It makes sense—” “Google maps,” she smiled. Herc chuckled, then sighed. Delphine scanned the living room. Trophies, a chalice, and a gold apple lined the mantle. Herc chimed in. “All that’s worthless anyway. I failed. The drinking. Penelope. My fat ass. I just wasn’t strong enough.” “Not on your own,” she said. Herc eyed her skeptically. “AJ’s too spacey to remember where I live. fiction
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Who are you really here for?” he accused. Delphine picked an empty bottle off the floor. “I can see these things coming.You’re going to drink until you forgive yourself for whatever you did. Which will be never.” “And what do you care if I do?” Delphine brushed the hair out of her eyes. “I’ve been where you’ve been. He left me. I should’ve known why too, but I just couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see anything.” Herc straightened in his chair. She continued, “I lost my husband and my touch at the same time.” She reached her hand out to Herc. “So please: don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” Silence rang out for a moment. Herc then grabbed her hand and stood up. “Let me sponsor you,” Delphine implored. Herc paused a long while, then nodded. For once, he looked genuine. “You piss me off. Take a shower, and let’s get back to the meeting,” she deadpanned. He laughed his way into the bathroom while she stepped outside to smoke. Hercules looked at himself in the mirror. He looked at his baggy eyes, the beads of sweat on his forehead, his balding dome and his big fat gut. Then he smirked. He raised his arm and flexed his massive bicep. “Looking good, Herc.”
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Unpalatable Vivienne warns that the red is too dry.You cannot stomach this, she says. He says, that’s a risk I’ll take. The restaurant is small, pleasant even. The velvet curtains draping the slightly cracked window shield them from the setting sun, but not from the breeze. She welcomes the warm air with another sip of her Cabernet, the burgundy on her lips staining the crystal. Swigging the last of her wine, she thinks, I’m going to need another glass. They have shared some years together, but the man sitting across from Vivienne is no longer familiar. She crosses her left ankle behind her right as he reminisces about their college years. His babbling forces his glasses to slide down the brim of his nose. Where is my soup? He reaches for her hand, outlining the shape of her nail beds with his thumb as he reminds her of the night they spent watching Casablanca on the floor of their loft. He fails to recall the affair that followed. Did I tell her to bring me crackers? Her left hand feels a squeeze and she looks away from the waitress at the next table to see those once familiar eyes looking into hers. They’re warm and naïve. He whispers, thank you for choosing me. She looks back at the waitress. I should have gotten the salad. The candle between them flickers, and Vivienne reaches to protect it from the wind. That is when she notices her man of some years looking down at his lap. The box David pulls out from under the table is small and square. Her eyes move toward its red exterior while her head stays turned towards the flame. His eyes are fixed on her, and his smile widens as he moves from his seat. He is down on her right, only his left knee supporting him. When the box is opened, it reveals the largest rock she’s ever seen. Clear. Round. Ominous. I wish I could have eaten first. She imagines her eyes should fill with tears. Her hands should rush to her mouth, her face should flush in shock, and the restaurant should erupt in fiction
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applause as she nods her head in agreement. Instead, she thinks of Michael. She thinks of ivory and onyx party streamers, of glasses shaped like 2009. She thinks of bubbling champagne and masquerade costumes. She remembers a countdown, a kiss, an opportunity. Removing her hand from the flame, she turns and looks at David. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Perhaps a Vin Santo.â&#x20AC;?
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Magazine Life I made it all the way up to the front door before realizing I was at the wrong house—that I had pulled into the wrong driveway. We picked our house out of a magazine, room by room. My dad wanted a rock fireplace, so we paid more for the upgrade from the usual fake marble. My mom wanted her own walk-in closet, so that was another upgrade. My parents thought their home would be perfect, that their house would be different. But I suppose that’s what everyone thinks, don’t they? That they will be different. Everything in this neighborhood is generic.You have to really pay attention or you’ll end up in the wrong house. Here I am, a little bit too drunk to drive, going barely 10 miles an hour, trying to pick my house out of a hundred that look the same. Granted, I feel as though I deserve this for driving right now. I swore I’d never drink and drive, that I’d never put other’s lives in danger. “So it goes,” as Vonnegut wrote. After what feels like an hour, I find my street, Chickadee Lane. I pull up to the last house on the right and click my headlights off as I roll down the driveway. Fumbling with my coat, purse, phone, and keys, I speed-walk around the back of my house, following the cobblestone path my mom wanted. “We don’t need a goddamn cobblestone pathway, Selina,” said my dad. Buzzed and spinning, the cobblestone path proved to be more of a challenge. She did this on purpose, I think to myself. My mom says I blame her for everything. I tell her, “I can’t help it if it’s all your fault.” My mom and I used to be close. I know. It’s typical; every girl complains about her mother and claims their relationship used to be special. I’m so hell-bent on being different that my whole life is a copy of the most clichéd story there is. But it’s true; my mom and I used to spend all day together, whether it was playing with my dolls or running her errands. I was her sidekick—that’s what she called me. But then she started getting restless—that’s what my dad called her. Restless. He told her to pick up some hobbies, get a job, something to keep her busy while I was at school all day. I shake the memory from my head. It’s been almost a decade since our mother-daughter friendship ended, and I’m about to leave for college. The past can’t be repeated; I think Fitzgerald wrote that. Letting out a sigh and lifting the heavy wooden door open, I hear that my parents are still up. Surprising, since it’s almost two a.m., and they both have work in the morning. “Dad?” I call out as I enter the kitchen. nonfiction
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“Shut up, Brian. All you do is complain.You hate this house so much? You built it.You hate your job and your life and you blame it all on me. I didn’t ask for this, you think I wanted this?” My mom is screaming, her face blood-red and glowing against the white foyer she designed. “Selina, pull yourself together.” My dad’s voice is menacing and sharp. It pierces my ears and makes me wince as I make eye contact with him. “I’ll be upstairs,” I manage before making my way to the staircase and lunging up them two at a time. I’ve seen them fight. My mom is the worst— she knows his soft spots, his weaknesses, and she hits them every time. “You’re a disappointment” is her favorite. But this time feels different, somehow. The whole house feels colder and heavy. I think that if my mom had let me have a dog, it would be barking right now, predicting a storm. Feeling the room spin, I lay down. I forgot that the night had started with so much excitement. It was the first graduation party of the year, and it was my best friend’s. I went over early, and we got ready together, intricately applying our makeup and selecting our outfits. Her parents let close friends stay and drink, and I did, until my dad called demanding me home. He didn’t say why, and I didn’t have time to ask. I didn’t want him to know that I had been drinking, and I definitely didn’t want my mom to find out. She’s so judgmental; she can find her own things to bother me about. I lean over my bed to my tiny plastic trashcan and position my mouth over it. Squeezing my eyes shut, I let the sound of my mom’s screeching drown out my stomach emptying itself. Tears run down my face when I open my eyes and flop myself over onto my back. “KC!” My mom throws open the door like a gust of wind. “Pack a bag.” I turn my head and look at her. The room stops spinning as I focus on her face—the deep frown and furrowed brow, the veins in her neck bulging. She has a duffel bag on her arm, and she’s pulling a suitcase behind her. It’s my suitcase; the one dad bought me when I went to Cuba to volunteer for a month. My mom scoffed when I told her I was accepted, something about leaving her here with my dad. But my dad was proud. He told our family, and we had a fancy steak dinner. I was his shining star, off to bring light to the darker parts of the world. My mom got drunk at the dinner and told my aunts that I was only doing it to get into college. “So she can leave me forever,” she had slurred. My parents fought that night, too. “Where are you going?” I mumble, trying to keep the volume at a bearable level. “We’re leaving. We’ll stay in a hotel tonight and then go somewhere new tomorrow. You’ll see.” She starts towards my closet, and my dad walks in. nonFiction
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“Dad?” I look at him for some explanation, some clue as to what’s going on. “Your mother is leaving.You can stay here with me, or you can go with her. I’ll leave it up to you.” He’s over six feet tall, but in my doorway, next to my mom, he looks almost shrunken. “I’ll be in my office.” “I’ll help you pack, KC. It’ll be fun. An adventure, right? That’s what you want. We’ll have an adventure.” She keeps talking, bordering on frantic. She’s going on about hotels and finances and which state is the happiest when she mentions someone named Frank. “Frank? As in the new guy’s dad? Your trainer?” I search my mind for words, memories, anything to tell me what to say. My mom’s face turns down, and she’s staring at me, wordless. “Mom.” “He doesn’t have to move in with us right away, I mean,” she trails off, taking hangers down and stuffing random articles of clothing into another duffel bag. “You’ll of course need time to recuperate, readjust. But him and his son Justin will move with us; we’ve talked about it. Which state have you always wanted to see?” I stare at her. The wheels turn in my head and in my stomach, and I lean over and vomit into the tiny trashcan again. “Oh, goddammit, KC.You always have to be so melodramatic.” I wipe my mouth on my sleeve, a shirt my mom gave me last Christmas. Our last Christmas. “I’m staying.” I stare at her expression, changing from hope to anger. I see a vein appear on her neck and her face turning back into hues of red. “Get out.” I point to my door, to the outside. I swallow the screams boiling in my gut and stare at her, refusing to cry. I will not cry. My mom has been gone for a day. She stormed out—she was a hurricane, ripping family portraits off of the walls, throwing pillows across the room. I waited it out in my room with my door locked. I imagine my dad waited in the basement where my mom wanted his office to be. We let her tire herself out before she left, and then she was gone. I wake up still wearing my clothes from the party, the stench of vomit filling my room. Walking down the stairs, one at a time, hesitantly, I peek out into the living room, where my mom had wreaked the most havoc. Tip-toeing around the shards of glass and broken wood, I make my way to the basement. Before opening the door, I smell whiskey. “Dad?” I call from outside his office door. I stretch my body and fingers over the top of the doorframe where an extra key hides. A precaution for houses fiction
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with kids who lock themselves in rooms, I suppose. The door opens before I can try the key, and my nose burns with the smell. “Hi, KC,” he says. I feel feet taller than him, my shrinking dad. He’s even smaller than before. I follow him into the square room, lined with shelves, and sit on the couch. On his desk, there are empty bottles of old whiskey he was saving for a special occasion. “Does whiskey get better with age?” I asked him the first time he told me he was saving them. I forget what he said, but it was something along the lines of “hell if I know.” I think now of asking him how the whiskey tasted. If it was better. Like small talk would somehow fix this. I look around the room as silence moves between us. Next to the empty bottles, there’s a rag covering something. Standing, I reach for the rag. “Don’t,” is all my dad gets out before I reveal a gun. “Dad?” I croak, my throat suddenly dry. “It’s not what you think, sweetie.” He’s quiet. “I clean it when I’m angry. It works off my frustration. I don’t know. It helps.” He folds over himself and cradles his face in his hands. “I thought I could fix the problems. I thought if I kept giving her what she wanted…if I kept going along with her…” I can hear the weight in his voice. His pain. Tears sting my eyes, and I blink, releasing them. I pick his torso up and sit on his lap, wrapping my arms around his neck and crying into his shirt. I think about my mom starting her new life, her new family, how in a few years she’ll probably do the same to them. I think about my dad, about how we’ll move on. I cry every feeling of anger and sadness out onto my dad’s shirt as we rock back and forth. He repeats, “it’ll be okay,” not only to me but also to himself. I cry until I can’t breathe, until my dad’s shirt is soaked, until I feel nothing but the heaviness of it all. I stay with him in his office, even though I’d rather be miles away, and we both cry until we can’t. This is how I tell him I love him. This is how I tell him I’ll stay.
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Elvis Lives “The name’s Elvis Aaron Presley,” he told me, sipping his margarita as cool as a polar bear in a freezer. He flashed me a smile, and as the Waikiki sun blazed off his dark glasses, I felt compelled to believe him. There could be no mistaking that hair, gray like the clouds of a hurricane, or those golden vocal chords producing the baritone voice of a musical legend. At our bamboo table in the sand of Honolulu’s largest beach, Elvis and I chewed on the rubbery black meat patties he’d grilled himself. Luckily, we had his personal recipe margaritas, mixed with agave nectar for a sweet taste, to wash them down. He mentioned that I looked in desperate need of some grub and good drink, and then asked what I was sweating over on such a peaceful evening. I sheepishly pushed towards him the sheet of music on which I’d been scribbling and explained that I was in town for a performance. He pored over my work, nudging his sunglasses down his nose to see properly and started humming the notes out loud. Now—and bear in mind that I was never a fan of the King—when Elvis Presley hums out the lines of your music, you instantly fall in love with it. Maybe it was just the validation from a truly mythical musician or maybe I just needed to hear someone else enjoy the music. I resolved to make a few slight changes to the pitch and the progression, but I would debut this new song of mine, if only I could think up a name. Elvis convinced me to stick around for Karaoke. Elvis Presley was 79, and his flabby sunburnt frame was wrapped up in a red floral print shirt and a pair of white Khakis that had seen better days. But he looked so serene and easy beneath the stage lights, like he’d found Nirvana for the hundredth time. He sang Cobain, Shakur, Chuck Berry, and we even got a slow, surf-style rendition of Bieber. But he never sang “Jailhouse Rock,” “Hound Dog,” or “Blue Suede Shoes.” The King sang everyone, except Elvis Presley. He bowed and winked. I sat at my table. Elvis closed up the shack, still humming the tune of “Bad Romance” like he hadn’t just sang for three straight hours, broken up only by three “margarita and fries” breaks. I asked him why he hadn’t sung any of his own songs up there on stage. fiction
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“Baby,” he said, “I heard myself sing those tunes a hundred times before I ‘retired.’ I’ve been into the new stuff ever since.” His sandals clapped a rhythm on the sidewalk as we left. “What about Graceland? Why live out here?” I asked. “Man, don’t you know? Graceland is a place in the mind, brother. Not a place you can find.” He stopped to watch the moon hang over the bowl of the ocean. “Well, not in Memphis anyway.” I asked him if it was difficult hiding who he was. “Shoot, I tell people who I am all the time,” Elvis yawned. “Whether they believe me or not is up to them. I ain’t hiding. I’m just living obscurely.” He turned to me and smiled wide. “Mostly, they think I’m some old fart with a famous name who just can’t get enough of music, food, and talking to strangers. Just some old dog howling at the moon cause he wants too.” Elvis wandered onto the beach and sat cross-legged in the sand. “Which is just fine by me, baby. Just fine by me!” He told me to keep an eye out tomorrow at my show. He didn’t promise to make an appearance. Why should he? As I walked away, I watched that loud shirt, like the plumage of a tropical bird, vanish into the deep blue of the night. But I could still hear him belting out a private performance of “Tiny Bubbles” to the Pacific surf. I pulled out my notebook, flipped to my unnamed song and jotted the title: “That New Stuff.”
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Paulie The social worker frowned. “Where are his parents?” The policeman took a sip of his coffee and shook his head. “Don’t worry,” said the social worker. “We’ll get things straightened out. Okay buddy?” The kid was sedated, but a flick of his eyes showed that maybe he understood. Paulie was a fourteen-year-old boy whose lips were too big for his face. His jacket was kind of bad, so by the time he walked from the bus stop to his apartment building: he was cold. Chilly. Brr. Because Paulie stepped in a dirty puddle on the way home, he wiped his sneakers on the mat before stepping into the entryway of his apartment complex. Then he smiled. He felt good when he had reasons for doing things. As he walked inside, the nice neighbor lady from the third floor was walking down the stairs carrying a purse and a child. “Hello!” said the lady. “Yeah!” Paulie replied enthusiastically. “What?” replied the lady. “Have a good day!” Paulie returned. After the lady left, Paulie smiled and made his way to the mailbox. He counted the boxes, second from the left and third down. He found it faster to remember the positions of the mailboxes than to read the names. He inserted the key into the hole and turned it. But that was the wrong direction, so he turned it the other way. There was an envelope in the mailbox. That was bad. Paulie pocketed it and sighed. He hadn’t seen his mom in a lot of months, but couldn’t remember exactly how many. His mom said she drove taxi cabs. Paulie theorized she was a prostitute. Or some kind of “drug lady,” whatever that meant. It didn’t matter to him though. At least she sent him his medicine and some cash every few weeks. Except that stuff usually came in a box because pill bottles are too large to fit inside of an envelope. Paulie opened the door to his apartment. Therewasn’t much furniture: just a table and a chair. He didn’t feel too sad about living on his own. fiction
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He was all out of the red pills he was supposed to take. That medicine made it easier for Paulie to understand that some of the things are real and some of the things are not. He sat down at his table and plopped his backpack to the floor. He considered doing some homework, but that would’ve required him to pick his backpack up, so he decided he’d better not. The fridge had some spoiled milk and some old bread inside. Paulie wasn’t quite sure if the bread went in the cupboard or the fridge. He was going to ask his mom if she ever came back. He held a piece of bread up to the light to check for mold. The bread looked mostly brownish white, which was a good color for bread to be. He put the bread on the table, retrieved some ketchup from a drawer and enjoyed his dinner. As he opened the envelope, he tried to remember how much money he had left over. He was pretty sure he didn’t have any. What he did know is that it took him about five twenty-dollar bills a week to eat. But there weren’t five twenty-dollar bills in this envelope. There was only a note. Paulie, Sorry. -Mom Paulie sighed. He knew this meant he was going to need a job. But he didn’t know how to do anything. He remembered something his mom said one time: “Only losers work at McDonald’s.” Or something like that. Paulie remembered that there was a McDonald’s on the corner of 25th and Cranston. He got in bed at 9:00 p.m., but lay awake for hours fantasizing about his new job working for McDonald’s. He rose at 7:00 a.m. sharp, skipped a shower, put yesterday’s pants on and walked outside. He was supposed to go and wait for his school bus, but today was for McDonald’s. He was smart enough not to do two things in one day. Halfway to the McDonald’s, the boy realized he’d forgotten his coat. Brr. When Paulie entered the restaurant, he took his place in line and stared at his shoes. After some minutes of waiting, it was his turn. “Welcome to McDonald’s, how can I help you?” asked the cashier in her twenties. She was pretty, and Paulie was shy around pretty girls. “Yes. I would like a job, please.” “You don’t have to stand in line for that. Applications are over there.” Paulie nodded, then quietly left the line to fill out his form in the Fiction
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corner. He carefully printed his name, address and date of birth. He returned to the line and waited his turn again. When it came to be his turn, he gave his form to the cashier. The girl was impatient. “I told you, you don’t have to wait in line to turn this stuff in.” She took the form and handed it to an older man wearing a different color shirt from everybody else. Paulie shifted his weight from foot to foot impatiently. The girl eyed him up strangely before shouting “Next!” to the line. It took another few minutes before Paulie figured out that she wanted him to leave. He interrupted a fat woman ordering a Big Mac: “So what is the first thing to do for my job?” The woman shook her jowls offendedly, so the cashier spoke up. “That’s not how this works.You apply, then you hear back later. Go home, kid.” Paulie was not satisfied. “But I need to get a job now instead of later,” he replied. “That’s not my problem. Next customer!” shouted the girl. Paulie was not satisfied at all. He called out to the authoritative-looking man in the special shirt. “Excuse me? McDonald?” The man was filling the ice cream machine with pink goop; he didn’t hear the boy. Paulie stepped behind the counter. “Excuse me? McDonald?” He tapped the man on the shoulder. “Yes, I would like a job.” “Sir,” the manager said, “you can’t be back here. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” The boy frowned. “Oh. Sorry then.” He ignored the people staring at him in the restaurant and left for home. On the way back, he saw an old bucket turned over on the sidewalk. A voice in his head asked him if McDonald was hiring anyone for the position of “bucket man.” Someone who dips the food into a bucket of mop water before serving it to the customers. The voice continued: “Start out as bucket boy, work your way up to bucket man. Climb the ladder.” He didn’t sleep very well that night. Or the next night. Or the night after that. Three days later, Paulie woke up in a cold sweat. He was mad, and he couldn’t remember why. He was actually fucking furious. He looked at his clock. It was a little after five. He decided that he couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t get up and moving, so he somersaulted from his bed onto the floor and did push-ups. He fiction
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did push-ups until his arms were shaking, and he felt like he was about to die. He ran into the kitchen and held his head under the tap. He did what that doctor from third grade told him to do. Breathe deep. Take your medicine. He shook his empty pill bottle, hoping for a rattle. The fog in his head was clearing, and the clarity stung. Paulie showered up, got dressed and got on his school bus. He never said much, but despite that, people didn’t seem to like him. If he paid close enough attention with his ears, he could hear people call him “retard” behind his back. He wasn’t though. But he didn’t bother to correct them. It didn’t really matter. He was making it through first period okay, but suddenly became aware of the forces watching him. If he stayed there long enough he would stop existing, so he asked to be excused. Paulie walked out of his classroom slowly to avoid suspicion. He started into a brisk walk down the hall. The echo of his footsteps behind him pounded threateningly. Terror gripped Paulie’s chest, and he sprinted out of the school into the winter air. He ran back home as fast as he could and turned every lock and latch. That night, he dreamt that his kitchen floor was absolutely covered with red pills. When he tried to reach for one, a rude, weird bucket crab scuttled out from under the fridge and stashed the pill away in his bucket. “Sorry,” said the bucket crab. “That’s okay,” said Paulie. He reached for another pill. The bucket crab scrambled in and stole that one too. “Sorry,” said the bucket crab. “It’s okay,” said Paulie. Surely he could get the next one. After all, there were thousands of pills on the floor. “Sorry,” said the bucket crab. The bucket crab would surely give up sometime. “It’s okay,” said Paulie. The dream had to end sometime. “Sorry,” said the bucket crab... Paulie woke up naked, cradling the loaf of bread. He opened the refrigerator door, and a gust of cold air jolted his senses. Brr. He looked over at the kitchen table. His mom’s note was still there. He nodded his head right, then left. Then he smacked his own skull for good measure. Fiction
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He read the note from his mom one more time. He was overcome by a bad feeling. He kicked his refrigerator as hard as he could. He was proud of the dent left over. He put on a sweatshirt, slung a tie around it and marched back to McDonald’s. He kicked the door open and stormed into the bathroom. He set his eyes on the mop-bucket full of grey-brown water. It was heavy, but he managed to hoist it up. He ran out of the bathroom with a huge smile on his face. The pretty cashier from the other day was horrified. “Put that down right now!” He spiked the full bucket at her chest, and she careened to the floor. On impact, the grimy bathroom water exploded into the air like a fountain of mud-black juice. The manager wrestled Paulie to the ground with little resistance. “What the hell, kid!?” Paulie looked up at no one in particular, repeating to himself, “Sorry. Sorry. Sorry…” He sobbed and shivered and recited those words even as the police loaded him into the back of the car.
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Feeding the Beast Floating in the middle of Lake Tropical was a small wooden rowboat. A young woman with purple hair and a determined, if slightly unhinged, look in her eyes sat in the boat with her legs crossed. No one else in town believed in the Lake Tropical Monster, much less searched for it daily. Lilian was alone in that obsession. A ripple traveled through her body, and she was sure the beast was beneath her boat. “You’re here,” she whispered. She bent down and opened the cooler, browsed the fish until she found a large, light silver one, then threw the fish overboard and watched as it slowly sank. “I’m here, Trope. I’m here,” she whispered to the water, as if anything louder would spook the creature. The townsfolk told her there was no Lake Tropical Monster, that she was only wasting perfectly good fish. Lilian knew, though, that there was something swimming in the deep caverns beneath the lake. She knew because her grandfather told her so. He’d seen it with his own eyes. Whenever her parents brought her to visit him, he would tell the story of his encounter with the legendary Lake Tropical Monster. Lilian could still picture him leaning back in his rocking chair, his hands across his chest, fingers interlocked. “I was just a young boy playing by the lake,” he would tell her. “I threw pebbles into the water when I saw a deer at the edge of the lake. I remember how the deer started to splash and flail, then disappeared like something had pulled it under. Then I saw the hump rise above the water like a small island. I was simultaneously excited and terrified, but to my disappointment and my relief, the miniature island vanished. I never saw Trope again, but a few days later, I found this tooth washed up on the lakeshore.” At this point, he always pulled the giant, curved tooth from his desk. Some people might not have believed it was a tooth at all, instead insisting it was simply a large rock, but it enchanted Lilian and filled her with faith that the beast was out there. “I believe you,” Lilian whispered to herself as she dropped another fish in the lake. Two years had passed since her grandfather had passed away. She Fiction
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missed having someone like him to talk to. All anyone ever talked to Lilian about was whether she has been taking her medications. She hated how everyone treated her like a child that needed to be constantly looked after despite the fact that she was currently living on her own. Most of all, she hated that no one seemed to have faith in her. Her grandfather never treated her that way, though. He had the decency to treat Lilian like an actual person, like someone that didn’t need to be stuck in a padded room for her own safety because of an acute case of schizophrenia. He didn’t think that hearing a few extra voices or seeing things that weren’t there meant that Lilian couldn’t live her life to the fullest or be looked after every minute of every day. She loved him dearly for that and wanted to pay him back by proving to the townspeople that his story was not something to be laughed at. Her grandfather had always shrugged off the insults, insisting that the townspeople didn’t mean any real harm. Lilian, on the other hand, couldn’t be so generous and forgiving. She wouldn’t allow her grandfather’s legacy to be that of a town fool. She owed her grandfather that much for his kindness. “We’ll show them soon,” she cooed as she held another fish beneath the frigid winter water. Lilian leaned over the edge of her boat and stared at the light reflecting off the water. Seconds later, her attention was pulled back to her submerged hand when she felt a quick tug. When she brought her hand up the fish was gone. She went to the cooler, but found no fish were left. She thought for a moment, then stood up, and took the plunge.
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Napoleon Enjoying Retirement This beach chair isn’t going anywhere today. I don’t think I will either. Yes, I’ve grown accustomed to the warmer climate of St. Helena, the balmy silence that only an island affords. It’s nice, despite the harshness of the dry air on my skin and the occasional idiot kids kicking up sand into the wind. I’ve been dieting so as to look better in these short pants, but let me tell you, no desire to conquer land, no desire to confiscate the artwork, gold, and weaponry of a seized capital comes close to the hunger that suddenly strikes when the bakeries open in the morning. But I don’t deprive myself of everything—some nice champagne and freshly balled mozzarella help keep me content. No, I don’t intend on reconquering Europe. I learned my lesson at Waterloo against those uncultured Prussian dogs. But you wouldn’t possibly think I’d stay in exile, would you? Of course I had to return! At the very least to check up on things. I’m happy to report the Arc de Triomphe is finally looking like a monument and not an eyesore. All the apartments and shops still have their crisp blue glow in the early morning. The cobblestones stay in place when wagons pass them over. Hopefully Paris will stay this wonderful for a long, long time. I worry that some may portray me as an arrogant tyrant, a greedy buffoon who didn’t know when to stop. I’ll admit, invading Russia in the winter was one of my lesser moments, but look at everything else! I gave the entire continent the Napoleonic Code! That will stand for ages! And spreading the metric system? How could anyone forget that?! Honestly, those fools east of the Rhine and beyond should be thankful I brought them civilization. Those stupid teenagers who have just laid down their beach blanket where the incoming tide will soon wash over… they would be a better fit for leading nation-states than some of the kings I’ve overrun. Honestly, I’ve dethroned more unfit rulers than there are bubbles in my champagne. This is a fresh glass, too. I’m fearful the quasi-monarchs now ruling Europe in my place will Fiction
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bring about a horrible plague of nationalism. I mean, that’s not a bad way to govern if you do it right, but now that all these smaller nations are free, it’s worrisome. Just as this beach goes from soft, warm sand to prickly, heat-ravaged grass—that type of sudden transition—that’s the type of divide between cultures and political mindset you risk with all these European nations. If anyone ever wants to radicalize a nation… well, I don’t know. I’ll be dead by the time anything irrational happens. If there is an afterlife, and I can return to Earth as a ghost, I’d love to sit and watch all those egotistic leaders move the borders all over again, like partygoers who keep cutting themselves a bigger slice of cheese. Speaking of which, I’m on my last slice of mozzarella. Time to don my coat and fetch some more. Fortunately, I’ve got a few means to sneak about in order to get my hands on more of this exquisite dairy product. Sometimes it’s this drab rain jacket that makes me look like a little old man; other times it’s a blacksmith’s outfit with a fake beard. All of them look ridiculous, but it’s a worthy price to pay for being able to relish the country you’ve been kicked out of. Thankfully, the generals who kept loyal to me found and brought me my parading hat and uniform, but I can’t be seen in public with all that on. For now, I have to be content with the jacket, some short pants and a sailor shirt…. I have the hat in my travel bag, though, and when no one is around, I wear it, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Old habits die hard.
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White Lilies FADE IN:
INT. APARTMENT LIVING ROOM - DAY ANN BELMONT, a woman in her early 70s, sits on her couch in her small, one-bedroom apartment. VOICES of her neighbors can be heard outside her front door. She is staring through the television at the wall in front of her. She appears to be uninterested, not listening to the show on the television. The rest of the room is silent. Ann suddenly hears a KNOCK on the front door, but remains still as she continues to stare at the wall in front of her. ANN Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unlocked. JULIE RICH opens the front door and walks into the living room. She is 43 years old, but has aged well. She has very long, beautiful hair. She is carrying a plastic bag full of clothes in one hand, her cell phone in the other. JULIE
Hi, Mom. I bought you some new sweaters.
They were on sale at--
When are you taking me home?
This is home. Remember?
No, no, no. Dad should be home any
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minute. He’s had a very long day of
work, and you know he’s going to be
upset if I don’t have dinner ready
on the table when he walks in the
door. Julie looks uncomfortable and upset. She glances around the room at the photographs of her family, specifically of her mother and father. JULIE
Mom, how about we go downstairs and
get something to eat? I heard
today’s special is--
Did you not hear me? I have been
sitting on this couch, wasting away
my day, staring at this wall. All.
Damn. Day. All I want you to do,
all I need you to do, is to bring
me home so that I can shower in my
own bathroom, cook in my own
kitchen, and sleep in my own bed.
Is that so difficult to understand?
Do you- JULIE Hey! Calm down, calm down. I know.
Dad would be upset...
Damn right! Christ, do you ever do
what you’re told?
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I’m not a little kid anymore, Ma.
Just listen to me for a sec--
Jesus, Jules, is it impossible to
have one nice family dinner? Can
you not just--
(Sternly, but gently)
Dad isn’t coming. He’s not going to
be here for dinner.
What the hell are you talking
Dad isn’t here, Mom. Remember? It’s
2014. It’s been six years since--
A KNOCK at the door distracts Ann and Julie, bringing their argument to an abrupt halt. A voice with a slight Spanish accent is heard from outside the door. HIRED HAND
Ms. Belmont! I found a little girl
roaming the lobby who I think
belongs to you.
Julie jumps and quickly makes her way to the door.
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INT. HALLWAY - DAY She opens it to be greeted by a kind employee who is holding the hand of a little girl. LISA RICH, Julie’s ten-year-old daughter, stands in the doorway with a smirk plastered across her face. She has the same long hair as her mother. JULIE
Ah, thank you. My apologies, she’s
mine... Julie grabs Lisa’s hand while quietly thanking the woman at the door.
INT. APARTMENT LIVING ROOM - DAY She closes the door, and the two of them walk back into the living room towards Ann. Ann has not moved from the couch. JULIE
Lisa, say hi to your Nana.
Hi, Nan! I’ve missed you. I was
looking in the dining room to see
what they were serving for dinner.
Some pasta with meatballs, I think.
Not as good as yours though.
Lisa wraps her arms around Ann’s shoulders. Ann visibly tenses up. She looks slightly confused and makes eye contact with Julie, who reassuringly nods her head at her mother. ANN
Ah, hi hun. I was just telling
Julie, I mean, your mom, that it’s
about time I go home so that I can
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cook my homemade bolognese and
meatballs. Isn’t that right, Jules?
Nan, you are home.
Mom, the house on Kingstown...
Well, we sold it. Remember? This is
home, now. LISA
Look, you’ve got your own balcony
here! And they cook for you. Sounds
like a lot more fun than living
in that big old house alone.
Home. Right... Well, what about
your father? How’ll he know where
to find us?
LISA Nan, Papa-Julie looks defeated. She takes a deep breath. JULIE
He knows where we are. I’ll call
him right now to let him know
dinner is taken care of. Okay?
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Julie exits the living room and walks into the bedroom. Ann, still sitting on the couch, looks up to find Lisa staring at her. Lisa is grinning from ear to ear. LISA
Last week I had my first piano
rehearsal. I wish you coulda come,
but that’s okay. I know it’s hard
for you to get all the way there.
Mom recorded my solo. You
Gosh, you look just like your
But younger. Without the wrinkles.
You’re going to be a real
heartbreaker when you grow up. Hun,
how old are you now?
I’m ten, Nan.
Right, right. Ten.
Ann anxiously glances back at the doorway to the bedroom. Julie’s VOICE is faintly heard. ANN (CONT’D)
What grade are you in again, dear?
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Fifth. But next year I’ll be in
sixth, which will be cooler because
then I’ll be in middle school, and
I’ll only be in middle school for
three years. So I’m practically
almost in high school.
ANN Right. LISA
So, are we gonna go downstairs
soon? I know it’s not
your meatballs, but I’m starved.
(Beat) What? No. What are you talking
Dinner, Nan. They’re serving--
God damnit, Julie! I told you, I
have to start cooking dinner before
your father-Lisa, startled by Ann’s reaction, takes a step back. Julie reenters the living room after overhearing their conversation from the bedroom. JULIE Mom! Cut it out. Lisa, say goodbye
to your nana and wait for me
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Lisa gives Ann a forced, awkward hug, and skitters out the front door. JULIE (CONT’D)
She’s just a kid. She’s
ten years old, Mom. For Christ’s
I’m sorry... I-- I was confused.
That was meant for you...
We’re going to leave now. Lisa
still has homework to do before she
goes to bed. You are safe. You are
at home. Go downstairs and get
yourself something to eat. I’m
going to remind the nice woman at
the front desk to send someone up
here if they don’t see you down
there soon. ANN
I-- I’m sorry... I didn’t mean...
FLASHBACK - INT. KINGSTOWN HOUSE KITCHEN - NIGHT A young girl, GIGGLING, runs through the kitchen towards the stove. We cannot see her face, as her back is to us. Her long hair bounces as she runs. GIRL
Meatballs! Meatballs! Meatballs! Is
it ready yeeeet?
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No! For Christ’s sake, go play in
the other room! I have to finish
dinner before your--
A KNOCK on the door grabs their attention.
Now he’s going to be upset that
dinner isn’t ready. Hun, go play in
the other room. Now!
The young girl scurries off into the next room. Her hair is still bouncing. The young girl’s giggling echoes.
PRESENT DAY – INT. APARTMENT LIVING ROOM - DAY Ann picks up a photograph of her, her husband, and a young Julie off the table in front of the couch. Staring at the young girl with long hair, she becomes visibly upset and confused. ANN
Kingstown is gone. This is home.
Kingstown is gone... Julie is grown
up now. God, I could’ve sworn that
little girl was Jules. Lisa. Lisa.
Her name is Lisa...
The front door suddenly opens. The employee who stopped by earlier stands in the doorway.
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Ms. Belmont! I think it’s time we
go get something to eat. Yes?
My husband isn’t coming.
The woman at the door shakes her head. ANN
Right. Yes, I’m coming.
Megan Suder Bright Eyes
PJ Portera Untitled
Keyana Sabbakhan Overgrown
Keyana Sabbakhan Efflorescence
Siobhan McKenna A Nordic Night
Siobhan McKenna Copenhagen
Courtney Heller Dahlia
Tori Sluko Untitled
Siobhan McKenna Riesenrad
Kelsey Reiff Untitled
Essay Contest winners
One Puppet at a Time In the old Signal Mountain Elementary School, if you were to pass the ancient, still classrooms and the empty cafeteria, you would find a dimly lit hallway leading to a hidden room. At a quick glance, what’s in the room is startling. Newspapers stacked like little skyscrapers throughout the room, webs of ribbon and yarn piled on tables, and rolls of cloth scattered on the floor. Curious creatures dangle lifelessly from large wooden hooks against the old peeling wallpaper. A giant pig with a tiny chef hat, a spotted cat dressed as a wizard with a long grey beard, mermaids with glittered tails and delicate seaweed hair. In the corner is the most curious sight of all. A tall, lanky, beautiful woman with a mane of grey hair that flows to her hips hunches over a machine table. Feverishly, she pushes colorful cloth through a sewing machine with her long fingers, a look of such concentration on her face you would think she was performing a surgery. This woman is Colleen Laliberte. She has been a professional puppeteer for thirty-four years. This room is her studio, where she hand makes puppets for shows she writes, directs, and puppeteers. “This passion feeds me continuously,” Colleen says. “I find myself looking at the world through the lens of puppet making, watching and anticipating how people react to and interact with puppets. It’s a delightful way to navigate through the world!” Puppets have been a part of her life since she was a child. When Colleen was in elementary school, she was first introduced to puppetry through the show Captain Kangaroo. Bunny Rabbit, the silent puppet who was always causing mischief, captivated Colleen with his immense personality and power. However, even though she was enchanted by puppetry at such a young age, Colleen didn’t find her passion for puppetry until later in life when she, her husband Ray, and their baby Jessica moved to Shreveport, Louisiana where Ray had taken a job teaching in the theatre department at Centenary College. “Even though I had a young daughter and was in my early twenties, I decided it would be fun to take a children’s literature course,” she says. “Since we now had Essay Contest
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Jessica, I thought a course in children’s literature would be delightful.” Colleen loved the course. Her favorite part was creating and building things for her assignments. She proved her creativity by making lavish collages and diagrams for the class. Little did Colleen know that an assignment to adapt Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who for a show would launch her towards a career of puppet production. Searching for an imaginative solution to the project, Colleen decided to make a puppet production of the book. Colleen put a tremendous amount of effort in the project: “I didn’t own a sewing machine at the time, so I designed the characters and then sewed each one by hand.” Colleen captivated the entire class with her elaborate production and her powerful storytelling. Colleen’s professor was so impressed and enjoyed it to so much extent, that he asked her to present the show at the local library. The rest, as Colleen says, is history. Even after this, though, Colleen’s puppetry hobby didn’t turn professional until a couple of years later when Colleen, now thirty, and her family (now two children), moved to Chattanooga. The rich Chattanooga art scene awed Colleen, and she and her husband were quickly embraced and accepted by Chattanooga’s “wonderful theatre family.” Inspired, Colleen decided to audition for a part in a puppet show at the Oak Street Playhouse. “I had Jessica and Zach with me since I didn’t have a babysitter. I wasn’t offered a role, but both Jessica and Zach were cast!” It was through Jessica’s and Zach’s involvement in the show that Colleen met her future mentor, designer, and master puppeteer Fred Arnold. Though Colleen was an accomplished puppeteer, Arnold pushed her into the next level. “His productions were all amazingly complex,” Colleen says, “with elaborate set changes, exquisite puppets, many of which required up to four puppeteers to operate. I quickly learned from him how much I did not know about the art of puppetry!” During her children’s rehearsals, Arnold started to take notice of Colleen and her curiosity and enthusiasm for puppetry. He soon recognized her raw talent, creativity, her charismatic storytelling, and the absolute joy she displayed when performing. One day, when Arnold’s cast was rehearsing an adaptation of Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Blue Bird, Arnold was a puppeteer short and decided to invite Colleen to join as the replacement puppeteer, bringing Colleen officially into the professional puppeteering world and also bringing her under his guidance. Essay Contest
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“I became enthralled,” she says. “Fred’s work in producing this fulllength puppet musical that communicated not only humor, but pathos, mystery, love in stories for audiences of all ages, inspired me to continue the journey into the world of puppeteering.” Colleen and Fred Arnold continued to work with each other for twenty-nine years at the Oak Street Playhouse. Colleen had many different roles under Fred Arnold’s supervision, from puppeteer to puppet maker to set designer, and even assistant director. This was where Colleen was truly able to mature and cultivate into a professional puppeteer. In 2010, Arnold—seventy-eight at the time—announced his retirement and that he was going to sell all of his puppets and play rights. This also marked the end of The Oak Street Playhouse puppetry department. Although the announcement crushed Colleen, a remarkable opportunity arose. “I was devastated beyond description!” Colleen recalls. The idea of Fred’s works being sold off was heartrending for Colleen. “I kept calling him and suggesting organizations that might want to keep the Puppet Theatre going; perhaps the Discovery Museum, perhaps the History Museum, perhaps the Hunter Museum, perhaps this elementary school...and on and on and on.” He rejected every single one of Colleen’s hopeful options, slowly selling his puppets and play rights to various theatres across America. Finally, there was only one play left to sell. But this play was different; it was his favorite play, making it difficult for Fred to trust anyone enough to sell it to. After months of hearing Colleen’s desperate cries and seeing her dedication, Mr. Arnold said to her, “Look, if you are serious about continuing this work, I do have one show that I have not sold the rights and puppets to. It’s my favorite show.”—It was The Blue Bird, the play Colleen and Fred’s first worked on together. Of course, Colleen immediately and gratefully accepted. This put Colleen to the test to see if she was a genuine puppeteer professional. She had to run the show by herself, without the help of her old mentor. Colleen was up to the challenge. The first obstacle was deciding where to put all the puppets and equipment, stage included. “I had no idea where I would put a 20-foot puppet stage,” Colleen recalls. “I didn’t even own a garage at the time, but I knew a way would be found!” Of course, the resourceful Colleen found a place to store the show. She used the old Signal Mountain Elementary School theatre. Eventually, Colleen would aid in transforming this Essay Contest
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abandoned school into the Mountain Arts Community Center. Although she found a place for the stage, Colleen was faced with another trial. “The Blue Bird is an amazingly beautiful and poignant production with a cast of over fifty puppets. The show is 80 minutes in length without an intermission,” Colleen says. “I couldn’t present that show without a minimum of ten adult puppeteers.” So, she called up old colleagues from the Oak Street Playhouse, who excitedly offered to come perform and were thrilled to help out the beloved Colleen. In her directing debut, Colleen was able to put on an extremely successful run, selling out the theatre every night. Since then, Colleen has gone on to found the New Tennessee Center for Puppetry Arts, which promotes puppetry departments in theatre programs and runs puppet shows that Colleen directs from the MACC. She has written and directed a new popular show called Beastie’s Birthday Party. Fred and Colleen are back at it again, writing a new play called A Cosmopuppitan Review, which is going to be a reunion show of all of Fred’s old puppets he sold. “I am really busy gathering many of the puppets that have been sold or given away so they can make an encore appearance at the New Tennessee Center for Puppetry Arts in 2015!” One of Colleen’s biggest contributions to the puppeting world is her puppet camp, where she inspires new puppeteers each summer at Signal Mountain’s very own Mountain Arts Community Center. “That is certainly something I consider to be a huge accomplishment! I am very proud of our puppet camp!” There, she gives children the opportunity not to just be enchanted by watching puppets, but to become puppeteers themselves. Over the course of two weeks, the kids design and create their own papier-mâché puppets, write a play for the puppets together, design their own sets, and finally perform their work in front of an audience. As a young child, I attended Colleen’s camp. I can still remember her energy and enthusiasm. Every day during lunch, she produced an impromptu puppet show for us. We all watched in wonder as she brought to life an array of outrageous characters going on all sorts of exciting adventures. I remember the way her face lit up when she saw our completed puppets. In her eyes, our puppets were probably even more beautiful than the Mona Lisa. Over the years, I have stayed in touch with Colleen and have even helped out with her camps. “Keep making puppets,” she says. “Continue writing stories for puppets to act. Essay Contest
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Continue encouraging young artists to be puppeteers. Continue on to continue on...one puppet production, one puppeteer at a time.â&#x20AC;? Colleen is as unique and beautiful as one of her puppets. Just as a child views a puppet show with wonder and delight, so too does Colleen Laliberte view the world.
Dear Kovie Biakolo, I am writing to you in response to your recent Thought Catalog post, “What the World Teaches Women.” I agree wholeheartedly with your account of what it is like to be a woman in today’s society. I’m tired of being gawked at when I speak my mind, tired of watching eyes roll when I stand up for what I believe in, and tired of the constant patronizing, condescending weight pressing down on my shoulders. I am a woman, and I am extremely proud of that fact. But I am not proud of the way that society has constructed an ideal of silence for my gender. Every day, subliminal messages hit me, telling me to look nicer and be quieter. Females are being taught to be silent, and quite frankly, I’m done with keeping quiet. You express my struggle very accurately when you write, “The world teaches women how to pretend. I have done it many times. I have done it when I have wanted to say something but decided it would be too ‘unladylike’ or too aggressive or too something or the other to come from my mouth as a female.” While males generally have the freedom to speak their minds, women are often strongly filtered by societal standards. Proving the point that society runs a woman’s life, you continue by saying, “No woman’s experience is universal yet the world somehow manages to teach women universal lessons.” The universal lesson tends to be that silence is the key to acceptance.You write, “Even when we are not conscious of it, we internalize all our socializations about who we’re supposed to be as women. No matter what religion or creed, nationality or culture, I have never met a woman who doesn’t in some shape or form, live for the world.” This thought is especially haunting. Society will not usually go out of its way to muffle the voice of a man, but if a woman steps out of the figurative boundaries of what is acceptable, she is under fire. In order to duck and cover, she cannot speak. Why is it that one of the biggest hurdles for women is the allowance to speak their minds? In examining the idea you present, that the world teaches women to act a certain way, I found that there is no biological evidence to back up boys being more talkative than girls. Therefore, no scientific case can be made, which further backs up your point. Society itself is quieting females, pushing them into a silent corner. The pressure of what you call “living for the world” is so essay contest
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real that in many cases it goes undetected as normalcy. Even in my own day-today life, it often takes a jarring instance of unfair treatment to make me realize that I am being kicked down and told not to speak. The source, though, is in fact the world. More specifically, the source is a perpetuated ideal of silent women, created by society in previous gender-role prevalent eras. Since this trend is an inequality between genders, it is most logical that it would begin at the forefront of male and female cooperation. A mine of information regarding this idea exists in the elementary education system, where research on gender interaction becomes easier and therefore more common. At a very young age, girls are shown that the path of least resistance involves quietly following along in class. Janet Holmes, a poet and professor at Boise State University who has published several books on sociology, highlights a study in her article, “Language as Prejudice; Language Myth #6,” in which a male science teacher said he was only able to create a classroom environment of equal contributions from each gender when he felt as though he was dedicating 90 percent of his attention to his female students. With the equal attention, the male students in the class complained that they were not receiving the same treatment as the female students. Holmes writes that this is because the boys “may therefore be asserting a claim to higher status than the girls by appropriating the majority of the time left for pupil talk.” Beyond the classroom in every day life, this message is perpetuated. In your piece, you quote Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who says, “We teach girls shame: Close your legs; cover yourself. We make them feel as though by being born female, they’re already guilty of something.” This is entirely too true. The world teaches girls to be as small, passive, and non-threatening as possible, in turn, damaging one of the largest forms of self-expression: speech. The risk of being reprimanded by society for saying something out of line, which in a woman’s case is essentially anything, is very high. In the workplace, when a man is vocally assertive, he is considered successful while if a woman is vocally assertive, she is considered aggressive and pushy. This perceived attitude has the potential for serious repercussions in the professional setting. So her only other option is to be silent, and clearly that is the desired outcome. In the media, women are typically portrayed as quiet objects to marvel at. Amy Jacober, PhD, an associate professor of practical theology and youth ministry at Truett Theological Seminary, explains this menessay contest
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tality and writes, “Women should not be speaking in public. They should not be in leadership. They should be passive. Close by and present, certainly at the table but more ornamental than functional.” She is not endorsing this idea; she is only trying to explain why women have been put into the societal position we are coping with today. This statement perfectly sums up the ideal role of a woman throughout time. While many will argue that the ideal of silent women vanished with second wave feminism, society today proves that it did not. In “Women Taught to be Passive Study Says,” Shaina Gaul, a writer for the women’s health website EmpowHER, cites a study by I.K. Broverman. Participants in the study were asked to attribute adjectives in a list to femininity, masculinity, or healthy adulthood. The adjectives ultimately attributed to healthy women were “passive, dependent and illogical.” Women are pigeonholed as incapable individuals with these descriptors, thus perpetuating society to further limit our freedoms. The cycle is vicious and condescending. I’m exhausted when it comes to pretending that I don’t have something to say. The more I think about it, the more I feel the bubble of society’s standards closing in, suffocating me. In some cases, it’s much easier to forget about it completely and carry on in blissful ignorance. But that would be achieving nothing in terms of progress. As a society, even with our rather sizable mistakes and flaws, we are making huge strides for equality. We can’t stop. I would like to extend further advice to anyone who may have read your piece because I believe a call to action must be made. Whoever you are, of any age, race, gender, and creed, give girls and women the opportunity to speak before you swat them down. Grant the little girl in elementary school the chance to build up her confidence and feel comfortable asserting her opinion in every day situations. Give the woman who has received condescending remarks her entire life for speaking up the chance to breathe. Raise your voice and lift up the voices of the females around you. Ignorance is not, in fact, bliss. Thank you for using your voice to so eloquently illustrate this. Sincerely,
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Biakolo, Kovie. “What The World Teaches Women.” Thought Catalog 7 Sept. 2013. Web. Gual, Shaina. “Women Taught to be Passive Study Says.” EmpowHER, 18 Feb. 2010. Web. Holmes, Janet. “Language as Prejudice; Language Myth #6.” PBS, 10 Mar. 2014. Web. Jacober, Amy. “When do we teach girls to be passive?” Theological Curves. 18 Feb. 2014. Web.
People and Perspectives at J. Crew U
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Every kingdom divided against itself is laid in waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.â&#x20AC;? - Matthew 12:25
Of our 3.1 billion base pair genome, our genetic makeup, exactly 99.9 percent is exactly the same as other men and women of differing races, classes, and mental abilities (Thieman and Palladino). So how have the whopping seven billion and counting on planet Earth all come to be so entirely unique? To answer this, we need to accept the notion that people are fundamentally products of their environment. Through interactions with their environment, people are influenced and formed by the cultural and social norms of those who surround them. People, in many instances unknowingly, mold and conform to please others and also themselves. In hopes of being free, people of differing colors, shapes, and sizes have traveled far to make the land of the brave their home. Through hard work, prosperity and great success could be achieved. This belief served as the very foundation of our great nation, the United States of America. Many realized these dreams. But as Americans, united as a people under one Constitution, we must acknowledge all Americans do not achieve this dream. Millions of Americans go without a bed to rest their head on at night or a home for that bed. Millions find themselves unsure when they will eat their next meal, struggling just to survive. President Barack Obama recognized this in his 2014 State of the Union Address. He urged Americans to realize, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Citizenship demands a sense of common cause; essay contest
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participation in the hard work of self-government; an obligation to serve our communities” (“Obama”). This service comes in many forms and the impact we feel for a good deed done, small or large, cannot be measured in a dollar amount. Living the American dream today seems to consist of starting the day buying at least a standard, tall cup of brewed coffee at the local Starbucks for the hefty price of $1.85 (Wong). Ordering just one Starbucks coffee each day for one year adds up to $675.25. Daily Starbucks cravings can be tamed, and there are many reasonable, economical solutions to resolve this desire. Most importantly, the money spent on overpriced caffeine addictions can be put to many better uses. Contributions to the charity, Feeding America, which strives to feed America’s hungry through food banks, offers just one example of where this money would do much more good. This organization can make one of your dollars feed nine people a basic meal (“Ways to Give”). For a single day’s worth of Starbucks, sixteen people could go to their local food bank and enjoy a meal. One person’s yearly Starbucks bill would allow Feeding America to serve 6,076 meals, which would provide more breakfasts, lunches, and dinners than a privileged family of five could eat in an entire year. Service is not bound to just giving up daily Starbucks; instead, service opportunities can arise in endless forms. Giving a neighbor homemade food when they are experiencing the loss of a loved one, extending ourselves to those in need by participating in a charity walk, even lending someone a pencil when they need one all constitute forms of service. The ultimate goal in serving is to realize that service opportunities are not just résumé boosters. Service changes your perspective.You become more aware of the pressing issues all around you and in so doing, you become more thoughtful and considerate.You see the world through a completely different lens. Going beyond selfish interests drives purpose to your life.You realize by serving others that you live above yourself while also nourishing your soul. Think of the impact of your day-to-day actions. People say power comes with numbers, but I challenge the application of this notion.Yes, numbers bring power, but a single individual, alone, possesses considerable power.You have power.You have freedom. More importantly, you have more freedom to do as you please with the power you possess than you may think; therefore, you have no reasonable excuse for not making change. essay contest
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In Walden, Henry David Thoreau provokes the thought that we are all victims, slaves of the clock. We conform. One of my professors shared with my class that Loyola holds the stigma of being known as “J. Crew U,” thus exemplifying how we are not immune to conformity. That made the class laugh, myself included. Everyone here acts the same, dresses the same. We might try to fight it; we might try to prove instead that we are all unique and special in our own way. But, I believe the “J. Crew U” view holds true; the Loyola student body and college students in general have lost touch with individuality. When it rains, we break out our Hunter boots. When it is warm outside, we sport our pastel colored shorts and our Sperrys. When spring break rolls around, we take trips to lavish tropical beaches. And every time morning comes, we get our daily Starbucks. To bring back our uniqueness, we must break from the “clock.” We must cleanse ourselves by restoring the pure, organic self we were meant to gift the people that comprise our world. It is imperative that we prove we are above preppy personalities. We need to prove to the world living for the magis is our driving philosophy. We need to do more, for Christ, and for others. Together, this should be our model for conformity, not what we wear. This essay, so far, could possibly be deemed a declaration of inconvenience for you, the reader. Right? But, I am calling you to take action. Find time in your overscheduled, twenty-four hour constrained day to go online and fill out the necessary information Feeding America needs from you in order to feed America. If you have spending money from a side job or from the holidays, make it your mission to give back. It may be hard to let this money go, but you will be surprised by how good this will make you feel. But then you think: On top of the major inconvenience of working out the logistics of getting my money in the hands of those who run Feeding America, I like my Starbucks! I am a hardworking, deserving student. I do not ask for much in my life. The Starbucks drinks are just a couple dollars each. Why should I willingly give up something so comforting in my daily life? If I give a donation of thirty bucks, how much good is that really going to do? Everyone at Loyola drinks Starbucks. The impact will be so inconsequential because I know my peers will not willingly give up their Starbucks in pursuit of the magis. I see no logic in pursuing this plan of action because the costs far outweigh the benefits, for me. But as Martin Luther King, Jr. would say, “Injustice anywhere is a threat Essay Contest
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to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly” (King). We, united under one Constitution, must recognize injustice in the form of our starving brothers and sisters as a battle this powerful nation of ours has not been able to conquer. We must recognize that as one nation, we are one body, one pulse. When one member of our body is suffering, weak, or weary, then our whole body is prevented from operating at full capacity; we are only as strong as our weakest link. We must also acknowledge this nation became great because of the investment we made in human capital. Human capital is the knowledge people possess that makes them productive. People are not born with human capital. Instead, investing time and other resources in education, training, and experience produces human capital, making our nation great. This has also been the pitfall of our nation. Some have soared when the resources and conditions allowed them to build their personal capital while others, through means uncontrollable by them, have not been so fortunate. To further develop as a nation, we must lift our brothers and sisters from this chasm of inequality. Due to our upbringing, we know how to advocate for ourselves and to be resourceful. Money does not have the power to strip us of this skill. Therefore, let us utilize this resourcefulness and our human capital to bring about positive change, only then will we be able to fight the good fight against hunger. Isn’t giving up overpriced Starbucks worthy of such a fight? An alternative to freshly brewed Starbucks could include something as simple as starting out your day making your own coffee at home. Or if you are not willing to give up your Starbucks every day, do it just once a week, say on Fridays. By doing this, you will have saved $96.20. Give the money to Feeding America because $96.20 will provide over 865 meals to those who really need them. Take the magis in baby steps; I promise no regret will come from such actions. For a boost of inspiration, I googled “images of homeless people” and I came across a rather profound picture of a man holding a cardboard sign with Sharpie markings on it. It read, “I used to be your neighbor.” This man could have been your neighbor, my neighbor. In viewing this, I came to think about how my family treats my neighbors. I recalled memories of handing out homegrown vegetables from my mom’s garden. I recalled times when heavy, wet snow blanketed our long driveways, and our neighbor would lend his snow blower. I recalled when my neighbor’s house was on fire at 3 a.m., and my dad Essay Contest
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heroically went over to let them know and help out. I recalled a time when my mother was in the hospital for breast cancer, and I stayed at my neighbor’s house as they watched over me during that difficult time. Hospitality and goodness define these acts because over the years we grew close to our neighbors. We watched out for one another; we had each other’s backs. So why do we feel that it is necessary to have our immediate neighbors’ backs and not our “extended” neighbors? Why do we make some of our brothers and sisters invisible, even nonexistent in our world? Our society calls us too much to think inwardly. We, by means of social conformity, all too often tend to limit our view of the world and only see our immediate surroundings at home, at school, in college. As we walk through the hearts of our cities, we see unabated hunger alive and beating with a powerful pulse. Still, we have conditioned ourselves to look away. We have trained ourselves to pretend the struggle is not real; the problem is nonexistent. By some unimaginable method of madness, we have come to accept the notion that these people rely on the government and local charities. By so doing, they get by, or so we tell ourselves. The soup kitchen’s food, the beds the shelter provides—they are not a guarantee from one night to the next. This is because the persistent demand far outweighs the available, limited supply. But I urge you to thoroughly consider: Do they really get by? If you think they do, how are you defining getting by? Would going to a local soup kitchen day in and day out be getting by for you? Would “making it” for you be getting decent grades, or not arguing with you boyfriend or girlfriend on a daily basis, or being able to make your monthly smart phone payment? One man from a Feeding America survey conducted in 2013 responded to a survey question about struggling for everyday essentials by saying, “I’m a man, I got to stand up like a man, but sometimes it brings me down, and it’s a hurting feeling because when I do things like that and asking people, it really bothers me and it hurts me. Sometimes it brings tears to my eyes” (“IN SHORT SUPPLY”). Do we need to reconsider our definition of “getting by,” our beliefs about making it? As divided and different as we are, Americans know maintaining self-dignity drives our being. I felt startled by this stark truth when I volunteered at a local charity, Beans & Bread. As I served meals to hundreds of hungry Baltimoreans in the course of a single afternoon, I became overwhelmed by how real the struggle is for some to find daily meals. The men, women, and children Essay Contest
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I served longed for what would be, for most of them, their only “real” meal for days. But I saw many eat with their heads down, in a mannerism reflective of being ashamed. The majority found it hard to accept this simple offering of food. This gesture meant, quite bluntly, they have reached a point where they could not provide something as basic as a meal for themselves. Nevertheless, they expressed gratefulness beyond words to escape the bone chilling cold outside and to feel the warmth of the dining room as they consumed their meal of pulled pork, green beans, and macaroni and cheese. As the meal slid down their throats and filled their stomachs, my obligation to serve the community became very real. Beans & Bread serves restaurant-style meals, intentionally, to promote, but moreover to maintain, the human dignity of the people who came to eat there. I found that mission to be beautiful. It called me to realize: We are all human. We all eat. We all dream. We all must feel. We feel pain when a loved one dies; we experience anger welling up inside when injustice is brought upon one we care about.You, I, our classmates, Father Linnane, and all the people who ate at Beans & Bread are not capable of functioning without food. We all feel hunger because hunger has no boundaries; we all inhabit a human body. That one thing is so sure; we are bound to our genetic makeup. Fact is we cannot escape our humanness, our 99.9 percent similarity with other human beings. And some unfortunately cannot escape the environments they were placed in without our help. I acknowledge going against the current is not an easy task, but in certain circumstances, in this circumstance, it is absolutely necessary. The term “glass ceiling” has traditionally been coined to symbolize the barriers women face in the workplace. But glass ceilings, I argue, are not just for women in the workplace. The poor can see the beautiful homes of Roland Park with their neatly manicured lawns, but they cannot imagine entering our utopian-like world because a great white picket fence stands before them. Most of the people who go to soup kitchens never had the chance to finish high school; most never had the chance to attend college. In essence, they never had the chance to build their human capital. And in not being able to do any of these, they have also not been able to secure a decent-paying job or in some instances, any job at all. They have not been able to sustain themselves or satisfy Essay Contest
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the demands brought upon them. The reality is the American dream is too far out of the reach of too many Americans. The basic necessities required to sustain human life can arguably be boiled down to simple food, water, shelter, and clothing. No person in our community should be deprived nourishment, whether for the body or soul. Still many feel brokenness because their basic needs fail to be met. I am not calling my peers to reach for the impossible. Instead, I am calling you to recognize where the “clogged arteries” are and to operate differently to prevent “those arteries” from getting further blocked in pursuit of the magis. Reverend Kolvenbach, S.J. asks Jesuit colleges and universities to remember, “So central to the mission of the entire Society was this union of faith and justice that it was to become the integrating factor of all the Society’s works” (Kolvenbach). To this end, let us stay true and faithful to our Loyola motto and deliberately live our strong truths.
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King, Martin Luther, Jr. “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” African Studies Center at University of Pennsylvania. N.p. N.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2014. Kolvenbach, Peter-Hans. “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education.” Marquette University. N.p. 06 Oct. 2000. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. “IN SHORT SUPPLY: American Families Struggle to Secure Everyday Essentials.” Feeding America. N.p., 2014. Web. 03 May 2014. “Obama’s State of the Union 2014 Address: Full Text.” CBS News. N.p., 28 Jan. 2014. Web. 02 Feb. 2014. Thieman, William J., Michael A. Palladino. Introduction to Biotechnology. Boston: Pearson, 2013. Print. “Ways to Give.” Feeding America. N.p., 2014. Web. 02 Feb. 2014. Wong, Venessa. “Starbucks Is Raising Its Prices Today. But By How Much?” Bloomsburg Businessweek. N.p., 25 June 2013. Web. 02 Feb. 2014.
The Fight Not to Delete the Written Letter in Society Technology’s influence on our lives is astonishing. It used to take days…months to deliver a message, but our culture is getting more and more up to speed with every generation. New advancements in communication make it easy to forget the art behind writing a simple letter. Although technology seems capable of nearly anything, a letter can achieve so much more. The effort a written letter requires distinguishes it from your average text message, and it calls for thought and more complex writing. The disappearance of the written letter not only changes how we deliver messages, but the time and thought that goes into them. Writing should be done carefully, using conscious deliberate thought to get the most out of the words and their meaning. Our country’s preferred method of communication is changing rapidly. A business insights article in the HR Specialist reveals that “the average U.S. home received a personal letter only once every seven weeks in 2010, down from once every two weeks in 1987.”1 But why is this when, according to the same article, letters and “handwritten notes [can] carry a greater impact, communicate sincerity and can build stronger connections?”2 In a world built on efficiency, people no longer take the extra time to deliver a letter. People communicate differently, and they do not have to wait as long for a reply. With each generation using technology more, their writing becomes more and more condensed, seeking the most efficient method of communication. Twitter, a fast growing communication system, encourages efficiency by requiring its users to condense their word count. Laurence Baines holds the chair position for the academic curriculum at the University of Oklahoma School of Education. In his article, “A Future with Fewer Words? Five Trends Shaping the Future of Language,” he discusses how technology influences how we communicate. According to the article, the “140 character limit restricts essay contest
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both linguistic complexity and sentence length.”3 If writers switch from letter writing to Twitter, they may detect a change in how they formulate sentences, and their writing in general. Their sentences will likely be shorter and more succinct, a basic statement that reflects a need to be efficient. Writing a letter forces us to slow down and think about what we want to say. Pen-on-paper makes us concentrate on not making mistakes because deleting what is written in pen is harder. We are more conscious and involved when we write on paper. Baines points out that “text messages are usually spontaneous, written with little to no revision, often as a response to previous communication.”4 Communicating through technology is more careless and haphazard. We are more prone to make errors because we want to be efficient and race to the next thing, whereas letters require the meticulous editing that is actually beneficial. In addition, a study in a scholarly journal written by various Psychology professors at California State University discussed the correlation between communication through technology and the quality of writing. Through research, they found “[n]egative associations between reported textism use in daily communications and formal writing and positive associations between textism use and informal writing.”5 Its “shortcuts…[may cause] youth…to lose the ability to write acceptable English prose.”6 These findings highlight the changing way young people convey their thoughts. But words on paper can be more powerful. If the younger generation is trained through this trend to write only through shortcuts, it could change how they communicate their most complex ideas. The impact that words have on the reader may be different depending on where and how they are written. Baines argues that “a few chosen words have the potency to change society.”7 If “a few chosen words” can create change, then they need to be written with sincerity and conviction, reflecting the thought that went into them. These powerful words might be swept to the side during the shift towards communication through technology. Messages on the screen could become brief, lacking in charged language, meaning, and even sincerity. The benefits of letter writing have been shown throughout history. It was the first method of long distance communication before even the simplest technology was invented. A recent book series, The Power of Writing in Organizations: From Letters to Online Interactions, written by Anne Laure essay contest
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Fayard of NYU and Anca Essec Metiu of the Business School of France, discusses the many benefits of written forms. It argues that the act of “writing, despite long lasting criticisms…is in fact a creative mode of communication supporting the development of reflection and critical thinking.”8 The extra effort it takes to send a letter is somewhat satisfying—the peeling of the stamp, the sealing of the envelope. Those actions and handwriting that are uniquely yours make the message have more worth than even the aesthetic component of the stationery can convey. These elements make receiving it more special, not just a notification on a screen. The message in the letter may have more meaning to the recipient, even if it is just simple conversation. Seeing the word “love” actually written by someone you love is more powerful than an E-Card any day. A study titled, “Desiring to be in Touch in a Changing Communications Landscape: Attitudes of Older Adults” deals with this aspect. It was conducted by Siân Lindley, Richard Harper, and Abigail Sellen of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK. This study describes the perspectives of adults on changing modes of communication and the art of writing. The study suggests that “older adults view the act of keeping in touch as being worthy of time and dedication,” and communication should require “skill [that is] demonstrated and personally expressed.”9 It seems that the language typed and used on a screen is lacking in personal expression, or that unique style might get lost in the technological world. Writing on screen has a uniform look, whereas handwritten letters have a personal quality that express genuine thought and care for the recipient. The meaning and art behind the written letter may be diminishing as our culture evolves and communication becomes more centered in technology. Think about it. Our world is based upon doing things efficiently, and a trip to the post office fits in to almost no one’s schedule. It is much less time-consuming to be able to send a message wherever you are with almost immediate delivery. Though technology is useful in school or work, it shouldn’t replace thoughtful messages that connect people on a different level. If some of the greatest speeches in history were written via text or tweet, they would lose some of their quality. Although they may reach a greater audience, the message would lack a personal aspect. When words are written over technology, they become interchangeable with any other words on the screen, because they usually conform to the same format and font and are universally seen through this medium. This is Essay Contest
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different with written letters, where the handwriting and stationery all vary. Rushing through our fast-paced routines amidst the chaos of daily life, it can be hard to sit down and write a letter. Actually doing so preserves a long-lasting tradition of communication and can positively influence relationships. Instead of clicking “compose” on a screen that looks like all the rest, sit down—slow down, and take the extra minutes to write. Writing promotes reflection and creativity and calls for vigilant thought. It will not only resonate more with the recipient, but it is an excellent opportunity to tear away from the screen and genuinely write.
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ENDNOTES __________________________________ 1 “Handwritten Notes: The Pen is Mightier than the Send.” The HR Specialist. 5 Oct 2013. Business Insights. Global. Web. 18 Feb 2014, 1. 2 Ibid, 1. 3 Laurence Baines. “A Future with Fewer Words? Five Trends Shaping the Future of Language,” Futurist, March 1st, 2012, Academic Search Premier (0003000123400013), 44. 4 Ibid, 45. 5 Larry Rosen, Jennifer Chang, Lynne Erwin, Mark Carrier, Nancy A. Cheever, “The Relationship Between ‘Texisms’ and Formal and Informal Writing Among Young Adults,” Communication Research, (2010), 1. 6 Ibid, 421. 7 Laurence Baines. “A Future with Fewer Words? Five Trends Shaping the Future of Language,” Futurist, March 1st, 2012, Academic Search Premier (0003000123400013), 44. 8 Anne Laure Fayard, Anca Essec Metiu, “The Power of Writing in Organizations: From Letters to Online Interactions,” in Organization and Management, 15 Oct 2012, 1. 9 Siân Lindley, Richard Harper, Abigail Sellen, “Desiring to be in Touch in a Changing Communications Landscape: Attitudes of Older Adults”, CHI 2009 Designing for Senior Citizens, April 9th, 2009, 1.
Expectation and Acceptance How Women Are Seen Through the Lens of Media
Commenting on the roles of women in modern society, journalist and author Anna Quindlen asks, “When an actress takes off her clothes onscreen but a nursing mother is told to leave, what message do we send about the roles of women?” As a society, we witness contradictory expectations of women in the media on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s the semi-nude and expressionless women dancing in the background of Robin Thicke’s highly sexualized hit “Blurred Lines.” Perhaps it’s when we read the countless editorials about “shedding the fat” from female celebrities in bikinis. Often, we listen to a reporter praise the determination and intelligence of a Congresswoman, while another news network criticizes her shabby appearance or supposed lacking presence at home. American media juxtaposes the image of women as caring and gentle mothers with that of strong and independent fighters; young girls will watch a television program promoting female self-esteem, while also creating stereotypes for female characters of a heavier weight and different socio-economic, cultural, or racial backgrounds. With all of these conflicting ideas and expectations, women face falling into a specific role or being torn between the many roles and ideals presented to them. However, many of us may not recognize these patterns and trends in our media; in ignoring and accepting this presentation of women, we accept the discrimination and negative impact it has on women of all ages: from “slut-shaming” to victim blaming to expectations of women to uphold instituted feminine norms. The biased representation of women in American media extends to all ages, portraying high standards of ideal femininity, as well as enforcing gender norms and roles for women in the workplace, media, and at home. Beginning in childhood, young girls are exposed to the high standards of the “ideal female image” in popular media forums. The media can easily sell the idea of beauty to women of all ages; from hairstyles to fashion to makeup essay contest
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and body type, the media maintains a noted influence on social trends in female appearance. A pediatric study was conducted in which the amount of mass media consumed by young women was compared to their opinions and treatment of their bodies: In a cross-sectional survey of 548 girls from grades 5 to 12, participants self-reported the frequency of reading fashion maga zines, and attitudes and behaviours, including dieting and exer cise. After controlling for weight status, school level and racial group, those who frequently read fashion magazines were twice as likely to have dieted and three times as likely to have initiated an exercise program to lose weight, than infrequent readers. (Katzman) This study, in utilizing girls in such a young age group, demonstrates the strong influence of the media on women from an extremely young age, as well as the incredible power the media holds over many girls. Due to the media’s heavy involvement in the lives of women of all ages, the question of responsibility becomes crucially relevant. In the very same forms of media that promote wellness, fitness, and healthy living, we see young women who share the same body type: thin and sometimes slightly muscularly toned. During the same programs that promote uniqueness and acceptance, we often watch girls and teenagers who do not fit the current style used as comic relief or as a tomboyish foil to the feminine leading ladies. How often do we view this trend as normal? Do we understand these stereotypes put forth in popular culture? With the endless amount of information and entertainment we receive, we find ourselves and the media desensitized to the severity of the negative effects of promoting ideal images to impressionable children. An example of this nonchalance directed toward this issue is exemplified in an episode of the popular Disney Channel show Shake It Up. A young female model chats with the two main characters, joking, “I could just eat you guys up! You know, if I ate!” (YouTube). Shockingly, the comment is played off for laughs, and everyone joins in on the supposed joke; the heavy subject of body image and eating disorders is turned into a fluffy, child-friendly moment. However, this skewed representation of the female image unveils a deeper and more concerning aspect of the media’s influence on our social interpretation of women. What Essay Contest
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Shake It Up’s misplaced joke reveals is an acceptance on part of the audience, ourselves, to its jab at the severity of eating disorders. More importantly, we must recognize that this joke could have touched on any issue young women face today, such as low self-esteem or self-harm. We are complacent and tolerant of these intolerable issues developing in young girls; a mainstream children’s program including such an unfortunate attempt at “relatable humor” should make us all stop and think. But, after all is said and done, does it? Do we take a stand and turn off the television? Do we explain to our daughters and sons why the joke was inappropriate? Do we even notice the joke or its inappropriate nature? Pushing ourselves to be mindful and aware of the ever-present influence the media has on our children and ourselves, I believe, is a positive and healthy means of attempting to counter this pervasive issue. In an article from her book, Representing Women, journalist Myra Macdonald observes, “What is obvious from even this potted history is that versions of the ideal female body shape are interconnected with the evolving fashion industry” (198). Macdonald, in her observation, suggests something deeper than a correlation between the fashion industry and body image. In this instance, the forums that promote those images maintain firm holds on the acceptability of women’s style and image. Ideal images promoted and taken on by women remain popular, and the negative ramifications of these standards are inter-generational (Duenwald). Therefore, we can see that the media’s influence on our perception of women spans all ages and continues through our adulthood. The ideal feminine norms enforced on girls do not stop with children’s shows; in fact, even more complex and demanding norms follow girls into their adulthood. Contrasting representations of women in popular culture affect our social views and expectations of women in politics, at work, and at home. In popular media, we often witness women portrayed with one defining quality: toughness or femininity. From the violent intensity of Alice Ripley in Alien to the damsel in distress Willie Scott in Indiana Jones, women in film and television often fall into the categories of fighter or feminine, protector or protected, mother or loner. In Tough Girls, Sherrie A. Innes’s analysis of women in popular culture, she argues, “We shall find that when the media do depict tough women, it is often to show that they are exceptions to the rule that women are not tough” (Innes 5). Often, when the lead female character is portrayed as tough, Essay Contest
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it often comes as a double-edged sword in terms of feminist advancement in the film industry. The women placed into roles of a leader will often be the sole female leader; there will be strong women, but they often are not leaders. How many times do you go to a movie and notice the strong female leader? How many times do you do the same with a male leader? More often than not, characters such as Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games are given attention for being a strong-willed leader than Captain Kirk from Star Trek would. Why is this? It is accepted and expected that men are the leaders and will act as such, both in real life and in the media. A woman as the admired leader is, as Innes describes, an “exception,” even today. With the rise of women in the workforce and the increasing amount of complex women with diverse interests in the media, the pressures of appeasing all possible aspects of a “well-rounded” woman arise. How often do we hear about a celebrity balancing life as a mother and as a career woman as though it was nearly impossible to succeed as both? How many fantasy genres depict females as warriors and mothers? When was the last time you saw a mother “juggling” her career and her children, but thought the same of a father? This issue mirrors that of real-life battles women face in politics, journalism, and corporate America: it is suggested that men do not face questions of their leadership abilities or qualifications due to our acceptance of those gender roles, whereas women simply have too many responsibilities in their daily lives to fulfill those leadership positions (McHugh 237). The women portrayed as “tough” or “maternal” we see in all facets of our media reflect a sad truth of our society’s expectations of women. When we place women into boxes of particular gender roles, we see women as the “either/or.” However, now that women are taking on duel roles of mother and worker, we expect more out of them in terms of fulfilling social expectations. Social critic and analyst Debora Spar addresses this question faced by many women, herself included, commenting:
[W]e are laboring instead under a double-whammy of impossible expectations—the old-fashioned ones (to be good mothers and wives, impeccable housekeepers and blushing brides) and those wrought more recently (to be athletic, strong, sexually versatile, and wholly independent).
I believe our social expectations of women and girls shape how they are Essay Contest
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perceived in the media; if a woman wants to have a career, she cannot have children, if she wants children, she cannot have a career.Yet, if a woman has both, she must fulfill traditional and modern roles. Often, there is no mention of a woman’s partner in this situation. It falls on the woman herself to balance these unbelievably high and demanding expectations society puts forth, only to have them enforced in multiple facets of our media. While modern feminism pushes for women’s equality and representation in all areas of our society, the ideas clash with the traditional ideas of femininity. The issue is that neither the traditional or modern view of women’s role is positive or negative; it’s that there are roles and norms set in place for women at all. Spar addresses this issue further, concluding, “The result? We have become a generation desperate to be perfect wives, mothers, and professionals—Tiger Moms who prepare organic quinoa each evening after waltzing home from the IPO in our Manolo Blahnik heels.” We live in a society in which the media often mirrors its current social, cultural, and political atmosphere. The double standards of our society, such as traditionalists criticizing women in leadership positions and modern women condemning other women deciding to stay at home and not work that our society all come out in several facets of our media. Women are not perceived as strong enough; when they are, it often is in terms of the traditional role of maternity. The issue of questioning the qualifications of a woman outside of her perceived gender role, however, is a question many women ask themselves. In pressuring women to choose a path inside or outside of the perceived norm, we diminish their own agency and disrespect their choices in choosing a path in life. We often hold women to a higher standard than men; sadly, in many ways, the media’s portrayal of women sets them up for failure no matter which path they pursue. Women are pushed to pick a box: be the fighter or mother, or choose both and perform to our standards. The pressure to do so much just to appease both norms, as Spar points out, extends to all women. Social criticism does not extend to just picking either lifestyle, but for trying to appease every expected norm perpetrated by our media and ingrained into our society. Like Anna Quindlen’s observation on women onscreen versus in real life, there is a double standard held by our society; in fictional worlds, female characters can be shown in sexual ways frequently, but in real life, a woman breastfeeding or dressed in a matter considered inappropriate is highly criticized. Contrasting with the norms of maternity and modesty, the expectation Essay Contest
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is that women in the media can dress how they like because they are behind a screen; they are not real.Yet, every day, real women face stereotypes and expectations we all concede to. We allow the media to put forth images of idealized young women for our daughters to strive for and our sons to accept as the norm. We are content to allow the media to place women in perceived boxes based on their appearance, interests, personality, and life choices; in doing this, we support the norms and roles pushed on women every day. What are we willing to do to demand more of our media industry and, more importantly, ourselves regarding this issue? As men and women whose lives are consumed with the current media, we are far too content with the disconcerting; to help those who are hurt or struggling because of this bias, we must simply be aware of the problem. In developing an awareness and understanding of underlying sexism in the media, we can, in turn, work toward a positive change in the representation of women as a whole in our society. We do not have to go out and protest, or go to any website or do any research; all we have to do is be aware of this issue. More often than not, those who ignore or mock the matter of women’s portrayal in the media feed into the negative stereotype of women already in place in our society. However, in noticing that there is a skewed representation of women in the media and that it reflects a biased view of women in our society today, we can stop those ideas from affecting others. Instead of letting your child watch shows that make jokes about women’s rights or body image and reading magazines with nothing but tips for a “better bod,” we can promote positive body image and healthy living. Instead of ignoring women who feel that they are pushed into choosing a lifestyle instead of receiving support, we can listen to them and understand their perspective. Instead of letting ourselves be absorbed by the media’s reflection of these biased norms, we can turn off the television, or we can push corporations to put out more positive and well-rounded representations of female role models. What we have to do is stand up and take notice of this problem, because ignorance and silence will only support this flawed portrayal. Through our effort to take notice and not shrug off this issue, we can promote positivity and support to women of all ages. In pointing out several aspects of women’s representation in the media, my hope is that both men and women can take note of bias and openly recognize and discuss the social stereotypes perpetrated by our media. However, we sometimes do not personally see the problems in our media’s portrayal of women. Essay Contest
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Even if you are not connected personally to this issue, I implore you to think about the ramifications of our mediaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s influence. The little girl struggling with body image could be your daughter, the teenager watching other young women portrayed as sexual objects could be your sister, the woman facing criticism for following her ambitions while raising a family could be your mother. The expectations we hold for women, the bias we allow to continue, and the misrepresentation of women in our media can extend to anyone. From raising self-esteem of girls to not indulging the expectations and stereotypes of women, we can make a positive change in the lives of many facing these issues every day.
corridors 201 5 Works Cited
Duenwald, Mary. “BODY AND IMAGE; One Size Definitely Does Not Fit All.” The NewYork Times. nytimes.com. 22 June 2003. 11 Nov. 2013. Innes, Sherrie A. “Introduction.” Tough Girls. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999. Print. Katzman, Debra K. Morris, Anne M. “The impact of the media on eating disorders in children and adolescents.” Piedatrics & Child Health. PMC: US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. May-June 2003. 11 Nov. 2013. Macdonald, Myra. RepresentingWomen: Myths of femininity in the popular media. London: Edward Arnold, Hodder Headline PLC, 1995. Print. McHugh, Mary. “The Money Honey: The Rise of the Female Anchor, the Female Reporter, and Women in the News Business.” You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby: Women, Politics, and Popular Culture. Ed. Goren, Lily J. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2009. 243-252. Print. “Shake It Up – Eating Disorder Joke.” YouTube. 24 Dec. 2011. 12 Nov. 2013. Spar, Debora. “American Women Have It Wrong.” Newsweek 160.14/15 (2012): 38-48. Print. Quindlen, Anna. “States finally move to safeguard rights of nursing women.” The Register-Guard. 25 May 1994. Print.
Courtney Heller Framed
Emily Covais Reflections Series
Nicole Ardito The Road Less Traveled Wood You Break
Bethany Lamonde The Heart Dance (Muybridge)
Gabriel Carter Two Birds
Mariah Palmieri Four Elements Mandalah
Gabriel Carter Au
Kristen Wigand Untitled
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Spoiler The world is ending; We fall asleep during the climax, We drift right into a car crash, Three bus pile-up on the beltway; We take off our life jackets and drown Our way to an Oscar. We teeter on the edge of a cliff, We sabotage our parachutes, We slice a notch into our bungee cords, We cut our brakes, We drink a cup of wine Laced with poison. We ball up our fists, Cross our hearts, Say our hellos to Jah, Allah, Buddah, Rah. Then, we fall; We hit the floor, the ground, The water, the bottom of the earth, Hell. And itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s only then When we realize We took the plunge too soon. The movie still has an hour left, And our names will appear as afterthoughts in tiny font.
Sierra Blackwell poetry
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One Hundred Years We don’t got nothin’ like this in Giles County. Alls we got here is six hundred feet of land that swallows you up like quicksand and won’t let you go without a fight. Alls I got in Giles County is the memories of bein’ stuck in old factories and smoldering hot cotton fields. It ain’t much good for nothin’ else. We don’t have nothin’ even close to this. Cold wind and sea salt huggin’ my skin like the quilts my mama used t’knit. For a second, it all feels familiar, even though I never been here before. When I told ‘em I’d never seen the ocean, they thought I was crazy. But I ain’t, I told ‘em cause Giles County’s all I’ve ever known. But nows I’m here after one hundred years, sittin’ on the sand, looking out at the sea that keeps on goin’ jus like me.
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When Are You Gonna Come Out? Walking home one night, I overheard some freshman jock ask his buddy, “When are you gonna come out?” I chuckled to myself. I knew exactly what he meant— ‘When are you gonna come out to the bar.’ But it sounded more like ‘When are you gonna come out of the closet.’ It reminds me of a word my roommate taught me: ‘FOMO, or ‘Fear Of Missing Out.’ That’s why they go out. She’ll say, “I’m such a FOMO!” on her way out the door on a Tuesday night. They dance and drink and eat and laugh— it all seems like a mask to me. Still, being drunk is far more acceptable than being gay.
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Vinyl Counter The girl in the princess dress is falling in love With the power that comes with the crown, Chasing white tails and broken glass dreams, Spinning so fast she falls down— The chef up the street is falling in love With the girl who he thinks that I am, Chasing paint faces and burnout boy dreams, Pouring his cups in the sand— The skinny cartoon boy is falling in love With the girl who he knows I’ll become, Chasing the signs and universe dreams, Smiling ‘cause he knows she’s the one— The dreadlocked lover is falling in love With every witch girl that he meets, Chasing a song and lost nomad dreams, Roaming to outrun his feet— He sits in a corner and plucks on some strings; He knows in his heart what is true. He sings so softly to the dark and the clouds “I know I’m nothing to you.” I dance to his slow song; I dance down the stairs, Searching for answers that ran. I check in the attic; I check in the drain; I check in the AC and fan. But the answers are few, and the questions are many. Smoke fills the air that ran thin, Needle dipped skin and dirt-covered nails, Reaching for something within. poetry
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I coast in between finding love in a cup And staring out into the rain. My skinny cartoon boy is waiting outside, Feeling me drive him insane. We helped create wonderful; I know for a fact There was nothing we couldn’t find here, But the world took its hold; it asked for too much; It questioned all I held dear. They say home is the heart, but mine was a joint. My heart’s off wandering the lands— Discovering drains clogged with words cut to shreds, All the lost, rusted, young plans. Skinny cartoon boy just knocked on the door, Shaking straight down to the bone, Following footsteps of a girl that he knows, Hiding in vinyl and chrome. The dress just won’t fit, not even an arm; I outgrew it years ago. The crown is lost, crushed to bits in the drawer, Under promises I used to know. I glanced at the counter only to find The answers were all sitting there, Stuffed next to groceries, right in plain sight, Waiting ‘til I was prepared. Skinny cartoon boy came into the house Even after I drove him insane. We sat by the fire, finding love in the couch As we both stared out at the rain.
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Summer Haze The slumbering humidity breaking cool air, deafening intervals of soulbearing. Numbing silence of the humming AC clashing with the steady, dead lull of single-track discs. Dreams of words on beige paper. Page break, line break, paper scribbling, Plato, Aristotle, a summer hazeâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; lunch break, phones ringing, attention-splitting. Opening, closing doors, stifling heat waves, remembrance of heartbreak, turning, changing, revolving doors, ever-lasting food trays. Turning of heads, wondering, who is there? Fumbling for reality through scorched air, through luscious locks of his curly, black hair.
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Autumn (A Sestina) From the window, my sister sees the sun as it falls, its streaks of light glowing through the hanging leaves. Just yesterday, it seems, the sun was out for hours longer, but now it seals the day shut as it did September. She returns to her stool, feet dangling, waiting for a steaming mug of chocolate seasoned with floating marshmallows. Our mother doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see her reach out too quicklyâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the scalding mug almost falling over as she takes an eager sip. She always hated to wait. Tomorrow she will collect the drying leaves with careful fingers, trying to usher in the November piles a month too early. But soon her wishes dissolved into hours spent, rake at hand, mimicking the motions of our father as he gathers the leaves with a seasoned patience. The heaps were mountains, at least as we remember them. They sat under the tire-swing, awaiting the fall of a giggling child. The warm-colored rainbow of leaves splashing into the air under our weight. Our time was spent in suspension, two sisters waiting to grow tall like the trees from which we swung. We scoured the attic, carrying boxes as big as us down the stairs: a maple leaf cut from construction paper, fake cobwebs, a sea of spider-rings and corn wreaths. But free-falling through her favorite season, she failed to remember that time keeps moving. Soon, it was November.
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The biting cold and flurries threatened to eat the golden, crunching leaves that had fallen while we were looking ahead. And soon more hours passed. Then, days, weeks, months and seasons stacked up like gathered leaves. With only a few warm days left, we bundled ourselves and waited for December. The trees stood bare: we could see our breath. Now each moment carried weight. Savoring the waning warmth, we are holding closely onto whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s left of fall. She thinks of all the time she left, the years fallen behind her. The memories that became ours transformed into reasons to make time wait.
contributors F ict io n a n d P o et ry Jennelle Barosin, 2018, from Georgetown, MA Writing & Classical Civilizations double major This poem is for my grandmother, Ann Barosin. Isabel Bernate, 2016, from Baltimore, MD Writing major Sierra Blackwell, 2016, from Niagara Falls, NY English major, Masters of Arts in Teaching Program I have so many people to thank, but the most notable are my mother, Professor Matthew Hobson, and Professor Karen Fish. Rachel Christian, 2015, from Saco, ME Writing major Thanks to my darling partner,V창nia, for teaching me a new language. Kiki Coffman, 2016, from Annapolis, MD Psychology major Special thanks to Ciary. Emma Ditzel, 2018, from Ocean City, MD Writing major Thank you to my parents who taught me the power of words. Michael Ebmeier, 2016, from Harford County, MD Writing & Quantitative Economics double major Thanks for reading brother-brother big dude. Samantha Fazekas, 2015, from Potomac, MD Philosophy major with German & Catholic Studies minors Thanks to my parents, my twin pillars without whom I could not stand. Nicole Lopez, 2015, from North Haledon, NJ Biology & Writing double major Mackenzie Lowry, 2017, from Rockville Centre, NY Psychology major with Communications minor Thanks to the Skinny Cartoon Boy as well as all the crazy kids from Fire Island. Blake Lubinski, 2017, from Baltimore, MD Communication (Journalism & Advertising/Public Relations) & Writing double major Thank you to Chris, who edits literally everything that I write.
Ryan Mattox, 2017, from Lansdowne, PA Writing & English interdisciplinary major Thank you, mom and dad.Thank you, mentors. Sydney McClure, 2016, from Martinsburg, WV Writing major with Computer Science minor Thank you to Professor Matt Hobson, who helped me edit down this piece into something actually readable. Lia Paven, 2015, from Hingham, MA Writing major Thank you Nana for the years of better memories. Zachary Pociask, 2016, from Storrs, CT German & Writing double major Thanks to Matthew Hobson and Ursula Beitter for helping me to constantly improve my writing. Anna Quinn, 2016, from Fairfield, CT Political Science major with Writing & Spanish minors Thanks to my sister and parents, with whom the memories showcased in the poem were created.
contributors n o n f ict io n a n d e s s ay s Julia Ainsworth, 2017, from Holliston, MA Psychology major A very special thanks to Professor Ryan, who encouraged me throughout the process. Selvin Amador, 2018, from Baltimore, MD Mechanical Engineer major Thanks to Jennifer Knight, who encouraged me to write my story. Darby Barrett, 2018, from Norton, MA Nursing intent Laura Biesiadecki, 2015, from Lawrenceville, NJ English major with Writing & Film Studies minors Thanks to Kristin, for letting me sit at her desk, and to JP, for a lot of things. Brittany Brock, 2017, from Chattanooga, TN Philosophy major Thank you to Mrs. Laliberte for being such an inspiration to others and for allowing me to share your story. Also, thank you, Professor Hobson, for all of your guidance during the writing process. Samantha Crawley, 2018, from Port Washington, NY Biology & Psychology interdisciplinary major Thank you to The Rockettes for inspiring me to work harder and be a better dancer every day. Emily Earenfight, 2016, from Kensington, MD Communications major A special thanks to Miriam and Nichole for giving me the inspiration for this piece. Corey Falls, 2018, from Springfield, PA Psychology major Thank you to my family, friends, and professors for all of their love and support.
Jean Gillingham, 2016, from Glen Burnie, MD Writing major with English minor For my brother, whom I love dearly, despite my essay. Mary Glosenger, 2017, from Boiling Springs, PA Marketing major Many thanks to my parents for their unwavering love and support. Annie Malady, 2017, from Pittsburgh, PA Writing & English interdisciplinary major Thanks to Dr. Leary for her wonderful support in writing this essay and her continued support in my work now. Sean Munier, 2015, from Wyckoff, NJ Biology major Thanks to Professor Lucas Southworth, who helped bring this story to life. Juliana Neves, 2018, from Poughkeepsie, NY Undecided major Thank you to Lisa Zimmerelli, who taught me to trust in my story, my voice and myself. PJ Portera, 2017, from Demarest, NJ Writing major with Film Studies minor Thanks to Professor Leary for letting me get creative with this one. ZoĂŤ Smallidge, 2017, from Salem, CT Political Science major
contributors a rt a n d p h oto g r a p h y Jillian Alonzo, 2016, from Montclair, NJ Communications (Advertising and Digital Media) major Nicholas Arakelian, 2018, from Lynnfield, MA Marketing major with Computer Science minor Nicole Ardito, 2015, from Monmouth Beach, NJ Communications (Digital Media) major with Photography minor Thank you to the photography past and present staff for pushing me to think outside the box! Gabriel Carter, 2015, from Clinton, MD Digital Media major with Photography minor A special thanks to my models, Isabel Figueroa and Emily Covais, for whom these images would not be possible without. Emily Covais, 2016, from Lansdale, PA Psychology major with Studio Art minor My work is and has always been encouraged by my dear friend, Jean, and my family.Thank you. Kaitlin Fitzgerald, 2018, from Babylon, NY Business Major Thanks to my family who inspires me everyday. Cassandra Halko, 2015, from Babylon, NY Communications (Advertising/Public Relations) major Courtney Heller, 2015, from Dix Hills, NY Photography major Thank you to my professors Dan Schlapbach, Jon Malis, & Mary Skeen. Connor Kennedy, 2018, from Frederick, MD Engineering major For Mr. Barber, who sparked my interest in digital photography. Bethany Lamonde, 2018, from Hingham, MA Art History & Studio Art double major Siobhan McKenna, 2016, from Exton, PA Biology & Writing interdisciplinary major with Sociology minor Thanks to my Mom, Dad, Amanda, and Michael.
Christina Mollo, 2015, from St. James, NY Psychology major with Studio Arts minor Mariah Palmieri, 2015, from New City, NY Accounting major Special thanks to my parents for their encouragement with everything I do. PJ Portera, 2017, from Demarest, NJ Writing major with Film Studies minor Maggie Powell, 2014 , from Denton, MD Communications (Digital Media) & Studio Art double major Kelsey Reiff, 2015, from Brookfield, CT Speech Pathology major Thanks to Professor Maher for the encouragement and Luciano for the inspiration. Keyana Sabbakhan, 2015, from Waterbury, CT Psychology major with Photography minor Tori Sluko, 2016, from Scranton, PA Communications (Journalism) major with Photography & Writing minors Megan Suder, 2017, from Langhorne, PA Writing & Studio Arts interdisciplinary major Yen-Chia Tseng, 2018, from Queens, NY Business major Kristen Wigand, 2018, from Hampstead, MD Psychology major