Couch Diaries Issue 02: What Are We Going To Do With All This Future?

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Couch Diaries

Issue 02 / Fall 2019



issue 02 // fall 2019


from the editors: A month into our freshman year of college, we ordered the cheapest couch we could find from Amazon and assembled it with our hall mates. The purpose was to serve as a place for guests and travelers to crash. We didn’t expect it to turn our room into a meeting place, a space to host all the holidays, to share new movies and music, introduce friends and friends of friends and foster creative ideas and the wildest dreams of sleep deprived college students. Now we invite you to take a moment and join us on our couch, meet new people, share your hopes and passions, and grow with us through our Couch Diaries. Thanks for coming,

Founders and Editors-in-Chief

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Meet the Team: Editors in Chief: Liv Coron & Carolyn Knapp Social Media: Carmen Vosmik Design: Carolyn Knapp, Katie Pruden, Liv Coron, Hunter Csathy, Halle Baerenstecher Writing: Liv Coron, CJ Dowling, Maria Takigawa, Katie Muschalik, CHloe Janson, Simran khalsa, Carolyn Knapp, Maia Kirkpatrick Music Editor: Hunter Csathy Horoscopes: Stephen Yun Art: Halle Baerenstecher, Phoebe Dubisch, hunter csathy Photography: carolyn Knapp, Saul singleton, Liv Coron, Jackson Hinkle, Maria Takigawa, Cj dowling, Chloe Janson Featured: Jackson Hinkle On the cover: Regan NightIngale

Photos by Carolyn Knapp and Saul Singleton, cover photo by Carolyn Knapp 6

INSIDE: Letter From the Editors - Page 5 Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? - Page 8 “Who” is more important than “What.” Here’s why.

On Heartbreak, and Finding Respite in Escapism - Page 10 A reflection of death, emptiness, and guilt from the other side the world

Home, Eight Years Later - Page 12

Returning to the country that I thought of as home, and finding that I exist in the space between two cultures

A Walk Through the Forest - Page 16 A trip through Halle Baerenstecher’s mind

Kids Predict the Future - Page 18

Three kid’s thoughts on everything the future holds for their generation.

Confessions of a Social Media Addict - Page 20

The effect of screen time on happiness, productivity, and everything in between

Jackson Hinkle on the Immense Power of Youth in the Survival of our Planet- Page 22

The 19 year old San Clemente City Council Candidate gets real with us about his motivations, and why we need to get motivated too

Alphabet Soup - Page 26

A mishmash of words and feelings from our personal diaries

Stranger, Burning - Page 28

Short story: What happens after the end of the world?

Patience, Please: A Gum Free America Comes First - Page 32

Ever heard of misophonia? Yeah, we get it, the world is f*cked up, but this is a big issue too.

Horoscopes For skeptics - Page 33 Libra Season

What Are We Consuming? - Page 34 We tell you what’s cool.

Music Gooroo - Page 36

Our resident music guru is back at it again with another playlist that just might change your life

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I’m so afraid of not delivering, of disappointing myself, that I’d rather lie than say that I actually have no backup plan whatsoever, and that I haven’t really thought that far ahead yet. And I’m not alone in this. This fear is taught by askWhen’s the last time someone asked you that question? ing children what they want to be when they grow up. Personally, I don’t remember. But I know they stopped Sounds silly right? Hear me out. This question teaches asking. children to put the highest value in their career aspirations instead of their aspirations morally or otherwise. Instead, they ask what you want to study, or “what you Implying that your worth comes from a part of life plan to do with that degree” as if suddenly the growing where success is measured directly in wealth, fame, or up has already happened. Maybe it has. some sort of combination of the two. When I was 6, I wanted to be a real estate agent, not because my dad, or my neighbor, or virtually everyone else I knew was, but because the boy I had a crush on said that he wanted to be one (probably because his dad, or neighbor, or virtually everyone else he knew was too). And that was an acceptable answer, no reason was needed other than the fact that I wanted it. As if wanting it is enough.

So perhaps instead of asking what children want to be we should be asking who. This change of phrasing puts an emphasis on kind of person every parent wants their kids to grow up to be. Not a doctor but a caring individual, not a lawyer but someone who stands up for themselves, and so on and so forth.

This question also teaches kids that people only have one calling. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you have a few. My best friend growing up wanted to be a singer. We Maybe you’re the kind of person who’s really good at often sat and talked about our futures, big houses, fan- a lot of things but never finds a true passion. Or god cy clothes, handsome husbands who of course came forbid, maybe you change your mind. from the crop of awkward preteen boys that populated our seventh grade class. We’d have kids with names Most importantly, maybe wanting it is enough. Bemodeled after people we thought were cool (I wanted cause, really, isn’t something you want going to bring to name my future son Joe, after Joe Jonas, who I still you more joy than something you don’t? It’s more likethink is the best Jonas brother) and our kids would be ly than not that this want, this thing that brings us joy, best friends. On the weekends we would fly to Paris for will change over the course of our lives, and that’s okay. brunch and shopping because she would be a singer and I would be an actress – I had since moved on from my That’s okay, because we too are constantly changing. real estate dreams – and that meant we could do what- This question implies that at some point you’re grown ever we pleased. up and that’s that. But, as a fairly new member to the grown up world I can tell you, I sure hope this isn’t it. But of course that didn’t happen. She went into busi- Not because being a young adult isn’t awesome – it is – ness, and I’m still chasing the Hollywood dream, never but because life would be pretty boring without change, sure if I’ll make it or not. I’ve wanted it for so long it don’t you think? seems like a shame to give up now… right? As if wanting it is enough. We are constantly growing into the newest and best versions of ourselves. Growing as people, as friends, Now when people ask “what I plan to do with that de- as partners, perhaps as parents, and always as so much gree” I answer with a learnt abashedness that I would more. And whether I’m growing up, down, forwards, like to be a writer director, but I’ll do business if that backwards, upside down, or sideways, I know I want to doesn’t work out. Or I’ll do advertising if that doesn’t grow for the rest of my life. work out. Or I’ll go back to school and be a lawyer if that doesn’t work out. Or I’ll learn to code, or wait ta- So don’t ask me what I want to be when I grow up. bles, or work at pet smart, or marry rich, or live in my Because I’m not there just yet, and I don’t think I ever parent’s basement, or, or, or… will be.


Though I don’t really want to do anything else right now, I tell them all these other possibilities, because

by Liv Coron

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On Heartbreak, and Finding Respite in Escapism.

by CJ Dowling

It was a Thursday night and I was perched on a hard wooden bench in a popular Irish pub at the center of Old Town, Bratislava. The bar patrons were almost exclusively older Eastern European men decorated in jerseys and ostentatious caps sporting nothing but burgundy and white. This past spring the Slovak capital city hosted the Ice Hockey World Championship and the streets were rowdy with overzealous fans. Across from me sat three teenagers who spoke in broken English. Rudolph, their tacit frontman, had a habit of lighting up a new cigarette every few minutes, though he would hardly take a single puff before stamping it out on the dirty table. It was too loud to make conversation as the feverish spectators were shouting obscenities in either Czech or Latvian. As a result, our pri-

mary mode of communication was via a contraband bottle of Ciroc that would be passed under the table to avoid the wrath of our waitress (whom we were already on bad terms with.) I’d arrived in Vienna three days prior. Shortly before my plane took off I made a phone call to my great aunt’s home in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, where my grandmother was in her sick bed slowly dying of lung cancer. She and I talked for only a few minutes. I told her which cities I anticipated visiting, we exchanged cursory “I love you’s”, and I promised to send her pictures. In the days after we spoke I explored castles, strolled about the cobblestone streets of Old Town, and drank my first-ever negroni in a prohibition-themed speakeasy. But I still hadn’t sent any photos. And now I was progressively getting drunker as the Latvian teens encouraged swig after swig from the bottle, accompanying each and every one with their rendition of Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer.” By the time Czech finally put the Latvian national team out of their misery, two thirds of the trio stumbled into a cab, and one had disappeared entirely. I saw stars as I

stumbled back to my friend’s house nestled into the bottom floor of the Dutch embassy. Once he managed to find the keys buried in his pocket we trudged into the foyer and collapsed on the sofa. I quietly hummed the tune of Living on a Prayer while I flitted in and out of dazed half-consciousness. Then the tune changed. A familiar melody drifted out of my cell phone before an automated and monotone voice announced my mother was calling. Even in my intoxicated state I knew what that call meant. I never got the chance to send my grandmother any pictures. Why I neglected to beforehand was disconcerting. I knew her days were numbered but I still held a hazy belief that she was going to outlive my days in Bratislava. That I could make it to Poland, maybe even to Hungary or Czech, before the cancer took her. Then I could send them all at once and she could stand witness to all of my travels. Maybe if I made it home in time I could show her the pictures in person. She had plenty of life still. We had months, even years, to share yet. Mortality would wait for me to come to terms with its inevitability.

People say that when loved ones pass on they continue to watch over you. As though that’s a comfort. I don’t believe in ghosts and I don’t believe in God, so the pragmatist in me promised that she could not see the vices I indulged in as I bounced from city to city, country to country. But the guilty granddaughter who never sent photographs carried her with me. Could she see me as I lit up a cigarette in the Kraków marketplace? Was she there, looking down, as an Australian stoner grabbed my ass in a club and asked if I was naughty? When I lit up a joint in a children’s park in Budapest, did she roll over in her grave? No, I had to remind myself, that was impossible. We hadn’t even buried her yet. The day after I got the call I tried to quit smoking, denying cuban cigars and Camel Blues in her honor. Instead, I bought a few rounds at a literary-themed pub named after my favorite dead poet. We drank a round of Fitzgeralds for her and I masked my pain in drunken stupor. I knew she had no way of knowing what virtues I negated in my weeks abroad but I was haunted nonetheless. Haunted that I never texted her the only picture I took, of me smiling in front of the Hrad, as I told my friend “I’m going to send this to my Grandma.” Haunted that our last phone call lasted less than five minutes and finished

with an unfulfilled promise. Before she moved to Colorado my grandmother lived with me. I was lousy kin then, too. I avoided conversations and hardly visited her room. I went to work and to school and to bars but my affirmations and affections were infrequent. I said goodbye to her when I left for college with a bent over hug because she was too sick to get out of bed. That was a two-minute interaction. The next time I saw her she was ashes in a box sitting on top of my piano as I haphazardly played the keys to “Yesterday” by The Beatles. As I traipsed across the continent I largely pushed her death out of my mind. I found respite in escapism, only being reminded of my apathy as I smoked cigarettes in a churchside park in Prague, watching my mom’s Snapchat story of the dozens of condolence bouquets being sent to our home. I knew she was broken inside, but I didn’t send her any photos either. That was the very point of leaving everything behind. While a part of me indulged in the idea that my grandmother would live to see me come home, finish college, and become an adult, I was not stupid. I knew she would die while I was abroad. I knew my mother would cry for days, drowning her sorrows in Kettle One, while I did mine in

cheap cocktails and cute boys with peculiar accents. I used them to forget. I justified my reticence with remoteness. I bathed in indifference and cool detachment. I was halfway across the world surrounded by people I did not know, who did not know me. It is easy to fill the void left by heartbreak and loss when you pretend like your life does not belong to you. In California, I saturated in a world of pain and despair, until I got on a plane and left it behind. But I didn’t have a one way ticket. My romantic world of ancient architecture and evenings dipped in starlight had an unwelcome expiration date. I returned to the States and within weeks the message was loud and clear. When you love deeply, and you used to dance under the moon on your grandmother’s back patio, and you still sleep with the blanket she knitted you as a baby — apathy is ephemeral. Pain is impossible to escape no matter how many oceans you cross. Suppressing it only means it will bite back twice as hard. But it is human nature to attempt to shield ourselves from anguish. And if I must suffer, I might as well do it in Europe.

Being 19 is scary. My who all I want to do is lay in show on Netflix. Luckily, tunity to loun for months is n option 12


ole life is starting and n bed and binge watch a the oppornge around not an

for Couch Diaries - 13

by Maria Takigawa: This summer I am in Japan: My Motherland. Being back after eight years has definitely been different.

Here, my grandma cooks most, if not all, of my meals. She doesn’t mind washing my clothes. She always insists on paying for everything when we go out. Staying with my grandparents is a return to my childhood, and my roots. 14

Even though I was born here and have been here before, multiple times, I feel like a foreigner. I’m overwhelmed by the few Roman alphabet letters I see and by the many Kanji characters that surround me. My grandparents’ friends, workers at the mall and at restaurants are constantly shocked or impressed that I can speak Japanese at all, and well at that. It’s weird because in America I always identify as Japanese. Maybe that’s why their reactions are a bit hurtful: because I want them to think I am one of them. However, I’ve come to realize how westernized I am, and that’s okay. Couch Diaries - 15


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Anonymous ramblings ripped straight from the pages of our secret journals.

photos by Saul Singleton

July 7th, 2019. Cameron Boyce


died today. I’m

19. He’s 20. W ell, he was. My best friend is 2 He had absolute 0. ly zero impact on my every d am by this. Som ay life, which is ething just feel why I am so baf s so wrong, an fled by how dis d I can’t put m turbed I y finger on it. He was the firs t person from m y childhood, th Heath Ledger an at I can remem d Alan Rickman ber, who has d and David Bow more famous to ied. Yeah I kno ie were way big o. But I grew u w that p with Camero ger parts of my n Boyce. childhood, and way I guess I’ve alw ays had dream s of fame, to an because that’s extent. Or at le the opposite of ast notoriety, su th e values that m being a child ac ccess. Which is y rational mind tress. I don’t th ironic holds. When I ink I ever told it. I remember was little, I dre m y mom, or if I watching these amed of did, it didn’t go 12-year-old kid to become fam as planned so I s on Disney Ch ous by this tim dropped annel and think e next year to b ing, ok well I g e as successful u es as s I have th ey are. I agree, that so unds stupid, bu t at the time, I them. We exper think it created ienced presiden this weird conn cies at the sam the first generat ection between e age, graduatio ion of internet me and ns at the same children. I gues in the depths o time. Together s I just kind of f past Disney C , we were assumed that C hannel stars wh ameron Boyce o randomly co would exist me into your m He didn’t die o ind forever. I w f a drug overdo as wrong. se, or a car wre pect from a ch ck under the in ild star. His fam fl u ence, which I g ily said he died know if that m uess I have com in his sleep fro akes it more or e to exm an ongoing less tragic. medical condit io n . I don’t I know that it’s morbid as hell, but I just can’t help thinking ab out who might be next.

h the sides matc verin y M r. a e en I start o alypse is n c th o p d a n e A . th y el like e. o happ eryone els nd I was s s outside fe v e d e k e in h e w it w y w v is lf a g myse The he tand, th comparin n’t unders , o y g d n I ti a r. e n ti th e constantl cras wea r o a r s p g , n g li e in s stres , your fe ared thinking, sine curve ond. Life isn’t a squ a e k li is y, that “Life a good wa at any sec e n t I m u . b y ld r , c y to a e d e delin ade m ay to Today Ma t week to week or d d.” That m o o g r o d a o N ad or b changing. happy or s t s ju ’s it r e plot wher looking fo ’m I t a th hip is ay I think. a relations . I didn’t s y in r g n e n e a b e r e m made ’ve nev nce. That e reason I a h th c t a a s th e b id e may Lucy sa ever give th be she’s right. n I o s t, c perfe . May st nodded ju , g in th y an

19. April 8, 20

August 14, 2019 My town feels so sleepy on a summer Wednesday at dusk. Tufts of pink mist still hang over the ocean, heavy with the weight of the day. A couple in their late 60s ride their bikes through the haze, surfboards tucked under their arms. The air is still, holding its breath, and I am filled with fleeting clarity. I often worry about not knowing what I want, planning through each possible consequence of every decision I make. But in this moment I know exactly what I want. I am strong, and I know that can achieve my goals if I can just force myself to focus. I helplessly grasp at these thoughts before they slip back into the depths of my mind. This is rare, and needed.

Couch Diaries - 19


on the immense powe by Carolyn Knapp, photos by Jackson Hinkle


er of youth in the survival of our planet.

Jackson Hinkle was born and raised surfing and hiking in the beach town of San Clemente, California. After realizing that West Coast groms of the future will not have the opportunity to enjoy our ocean and land as he has, Jackson dove into action as a community organizer and environmental activist. From campaigning for a sustainable alternative to plastic water bottles with Jaden Smith to running for San Clemente City Council in an effort to lead his town in aiding our earth, the 19-year-old has made it his mission to fight for a radically greener tomorrow. I sat down with him at a local coffee shop this summer to discuss his vision of the future.

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Is there a particular moment you can pinpoint that initially got you politically involved? The first time I think I really thought about it was when my friend Xiuhtezcatl - he was 16 at the time, I was 17- was suing the federal government over continuing to propagate fossil fuel consumption and subsequently exacerbating anthropogenic climate change. I saw the fire he had and saw how he was utilizing the political process in his own way to score victories for the environment and future generations. Everything kind of skyrocketed out of seeing that, and then getting to become friends with him. I first saw him on a Vice News special, and then just a few months later I was in the mountains of New Mexico spending a week with him, camping with like 20 other young people, just brainstorming different ways that we could take action for environmental protection. How were you politically involved in high school and how has that changed since you graduated?


In high school, I started an environmental organization local to our school. I helped lead a campaign to rid our 58 campus school district of plastic water bottles in the hopes of reducing our plastic consumption and carbon emissions. We ended up reducing plastic consumption by 9,000 pounds annually. [I also led] environmental education events for students my age and

younger and tried to foster a sense of necessity to protect the environment. Post high school, the scope of things that I care about broadened to

looking at how injustice and inequity relate to the climate crisis. That was largely due to running for San Clemente City council and having to learn about a whole new host of issues and how our [local] issues relate to those throughout the country and the world. Once I started learn-

When you were first trying to reduce plastic consumption in San Clemente, why did you choose disposable water bottles as your main target? Growing up as a surfer, plastic pollution has always been a huge deal that impacted me personally. When you look at the main sources of plastic pollution, you go to everyday items that you can easily cut out, whether its plastic cutlery or plastic straws or water bottles. Water bottles are a clear and easy target because there are so many different alternatives that are affordable, if not more cost-effective. The first time it really became something that was like “alright let’s do this”, was when I was in Calabasas with Xiuhtezcatl and Jaden Smith, who is the co-founder of JUST Water. We were having a brainstorming round table in his office when we were like, why do schools continue to supply us with plastic water bottles? And it was just this very natural discussion of like, well if they don’t have to then let’s do something about it. What would you say to a college-age student who says they’re just not that interested in politics?

ing about one thing it became almost an obsession of how do we eliminate these forms of injustice everywhere?

I don’t know. I had that discussion this morning actually with a coworker at Bear Coast, the coffee shop I work at. I always mess with people, I’m like, yo, you live in San Clemente, are you gonna vote for me? I have one friend who’s always like, nah I don’t vote. Then last

night the Alabama abortion ruling was written up by the state legislators and then signed into law by the governor and she posted about that. It was emotional for her, it really got to her. And these are the situations where your whole life is dictated by politics, whether you like it or not. The air you breathe, the water you drink, the car you drive, the job you have, how much you get paid for it, where you live, how much you pay for rent; the list goes on and on. If you’re not gonna be there to make your voice heard and advocate for yourself and your people, then other people are going to input their voice instead. There are so many corrupting influences that want you to do exactly that [because it will give them more power]. How have you seen social media impact politics either personally or nationally? I think that on the positive side it has given rise to independent journalists and independent voices in general that aren’t being funded by BP or Chevron or big businesses like that. You know, they just have a Youtube channel or an Instagram and in that process, it has given rise to a lot more legitimacy in the news space. As far as politics go, I think that social media has kind of destroyed this notion of mainstream media as the sole arbiter of what’s going on in the world. It has allowed for the president to go straight to the people and tweet to his fanbase of however many

millions of followers. Similarly, it has allowed for people like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to not have to deal with the media bullshit and go straight to her followers. So, for better or for worse, it allows people to speak directly to their base. On the negative side, it has also allowed for quick, widespread circulation of stories that aren’t entirely factual. But then it also has allowed for the extremely quick circulation of true and important stories that wouldn’t previously have been covered in mainstream media, so, you know, it’s a double-edged sword. I think in general it’s a positive thing, but that’s coming from someone who utilizes social media heavily, so I guess that’s just my two cents. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I definitely like Southern California... I’ve also had thoughts of doing things outside of here, whether that’s joining Americorp and helping people out who aren’t as privileged, or something else. I think that one way or another it’s gonna be a similar wavelength of continuing to fight for justice, equity, and environmental protection. Whether it’s gonna be directly in politics, I don’t know, but that’s what I’m doing right now, and I like it. I’m not sure... 10 years, we have to get through the next 2 years first, or the next 1 year I guess. I think what happens in 2020 is gonna dictate a lot of people’s next decade which is crazy.

What would you recommend to someone our age who is truly interested in helping the environment? I think it depends on what your passion is. I met this young woman a few nights ago who works at the Ocean Institute and she does science-based advocacy… well, it’s truly just science. She’s collecting data on coral bleaching in different parts of the world and reporting that to different agencies and government entities. From helping out at your local community garden to getting involved in the environmental club at your school and holding a space for the environmentally conscious to come and speak their minds and organize, anything helps. If you look at all the greatest social movements throughout history, they’re made of a lot of different sectors with different people and different ideas coming together and overcoming these issues that were thought to be impossible. It’s just about finding what’s best for you and voicing your opinion where you can and hoping that people will tune in and listen. If there’s one thing that there’s a lack of, it is young, uncorrupted people who are willing to stand up and make their voice heard and endure the beating that is inevitable when you decide to stand up for what is right, but that’s what’s gonna change our country.

Confessions of a

Social Media


by Chloe Janson


@chloe.janson Instagram launched on October 6, 2010, five days before my tenth birthday. About a year later, in September 2011, Snapchat was released. At the time, I only joined social media because my friends told me to; I had no idea what the apps were or what I would be doing on them. ~ Let me be perfectly clear: I am a recovering Instagram addict. It took me until college, eight years after I created my online persona, to realize this. With Apple’s heroic decision to include screen time as a part of their new update, I could no longer ignore my addiction. I was spending an average of two to three hours daily on Instagram alone. ~ An addict, as defined by is “a person who is addicted to a particular substance, typically an illegal drug.” If smoking is the gateway to harder drugs, then iPhone photography and editing was my gateway into social media addiction. Let’s be frank, I never solely used social media for artistic reasons. I, like many other young people of our generation, became obsessed with the amount of likes I was getting, how many followers I had, and most negatively, I was relying too heavily on what I posted on social media to showcase myself. Now looking back it’s easy to see what I was posting was far from natural and it merely projected a facsimile of me, without depth or feeling. ~ Somehow, over time, social media morphed from a fun diversion into a scary big brother apparatus convincing me that the only way people would like and accept me was through staged, attractive posts. ~ Imagine what our generation could accomplish if we regain the 10-15% of our days that we spend on social media. While social media will and should remain a part of our lives, it is important that it doesn’t control our behavior. We are the ones responsible for helping future generations understand that social media should be a way to express ourselves, not define ourselves.

@eviestrausss If I didn’t grow up with social media I don’t think I would be so focused on keeping myself at high standards like trying to be perfect all the time, and I feel interactions would be different because I wouldn’t automatically judge based on a profile and instead have more personal conversations.

@colby_mortell Most people I meet now, especially in my home town, I already know who they are just from seeing them on Instagram and it’s not even like I get to learn about them from talking, I pretty much already know what they like or what their reputation is.

@cjdowling Our generation is more extreme because of social media...Political beliefs are always being affirmed instead of contradicted with another perspective, there are floods of images of artificially perfected people… social media in general has just fucked our generation because it has created an illusion that everything is more left or right wing, more skinny and flawless, et cetera, than is healthy or normal. Couch Diaries - 25

Predict the Future Three kids tell us their thoughts on everything the future holds for their generation. by Liv Coron

Age, 4 Age, 9

“I play with toys”

“I like to run and play soccer”

Age, 6 “I am very funny”

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Maggie: I’ll probably be playing lots of sports like soccer and track for college or something. Drew: I’ll be in heaven. Who do you think should be the next President? Maggie and Drew (simultaneously): Me! Peter (the deciding vote): Drew. Drew: Maggie will be the president of Hawaii.

What are you most proud of? Maggie: My soccer skills and my running skills. Drew: Nothing. Peter: Doing my homework. *at this point Drew felt the need to point out that Peter does not in fact have homework*

What will the future be like? Maggie: I think the future’s gonna be like instead of plain cars they’re gonna be hovering over the ground and they’re gonna be able to fly. And I think there’s probably gonna be robots. Peter: Space. My Dad’s gonna go to space probably.

Okay, so maybe they’re not psychics, but I think there’s a thing or two we can learn from these kids. They can remind us of when times were simpler, of when toys were of the utmost priority and anyone could be President. Of times when contentment was found easily and often, judgement limited and hearts open. Perhaps if we applied some of this child like naiveity to our own lives, we too could practice having open hearts and clear minds, ones that find joy easily and often. Perhaps we could (and should) focus on the fundamentals: sharing, caring, and taking time to play. And perhaps - despite everything we see, hear, and read - the world doesn’t have to be so serious after all. Couch Diaries - 27

It’s a beautiful morning at Camp Cordova.

The realization comes too late. The flames

Ben wakes up with sun on his face, stream-

crash collision course to the dry grass around

ing in through a clumsily-repaired gap in the

wooden panels of the woodshed he has found himself sleeping in. There’s a leak, too. On

are already leaving his fingers, making a

her feet, covered in the ashy remains of all who came before her.

the roof. Drops of condensed dew making

He pauses to watch it all burn, violence still

on his left ankle.

time when he’d only ever light a match to

their way to the puddle that’s been forming

Home, he thinks. And then he gets up. His day starts as it always does -- climbing

to the top of the tallest wall’s nose, bag slung

over his shoulder. Bouldering, really, without a harness or a rope or a spotter -- save the

twisted worn out string he pulls out when he

gets to the top and hooks himself to a rusting metal anchor. He’ll belay down, later.

For now he takes another thing out of his

bag. A bottle. Something strong. Moonshine,

maybe. He looks at it, takes a sip. Then takes out a match.

It’s when the molotov cocktail is about to be thrown, down at the encroaching horde of

on the tip of his tongue, and remembers a burn the end of someone else’s cigarette. Elsie was a sunset. Cliffs at 8:30 on a

Wednesday night. When she’d smoke she’d

exhale opposite the wind, let it blow back in her face. Into Ben’s too. He’d breathe her in

and pretend he enjoyed this type of existence. That’s back when his hair was cut short. And hers was long.

She buzzed most of it off the day the convenience store they’d been raiding ran out of shampoo. It’s easier that way, she’d ex-

plained. Ben still can see the ghost of waistlong locks sometimes, if the sun hits her in

just the right way, when she’s cutting a wire or tying a knot.

zombies that make their way to his doorstep

There was a time, when things were more

neighbors have not come to greet him. Rather

be about two leave, rush past the group,

every morning, that Ben realizes his usual

one singular corpse, stuttering, staggering,

wheezing her way forward towards the wall.

dire, when they lost most of their party. He’d fighting with blood and sweat and all that he

had left, that she’d make him pause.with just the sight of her cropped cut.

“You like what you see, Miller?” she’d ask, because old prep school last name habits die hard, and then he’d swoosh

streaming through broken beams. A type of heartbreak.

his hand across her buzzcut for good

She was always the one to still see the

He forgets why they stopped doing that.

He’d thought, for a while at the be-

Now she’s quieter. She smiles a lot less.

caught in here.

luck and she’d do the same to him.

Sometimes he catches her fishing in

human in them.

ginning, about the two of them getting

her pocket for a pack of cigarettes that

Not a sexual sort of moment, a deep

out around the same time she stopped

They’d be halfway to somewhere good

hasn’t been there in years. They ran

calling him Miller and started calling him Ben.

Ben thinks about the corpse long after she’s turned to dust.

Every rope and wire in the shed be-

comes a tendril of hair, a finger, a nail.

conversation. An almost I love you.

and deep and real and Jefferson would walk in, with his greying hair and his

shotgun, and tell them to get lost with that funny sort of gruffness Ben still

misses about him in the months since

he was decapitated by one of their own traps.

He’s seen once-human bodies burn

That is how all stories seem to go now-

this one stayed with him. He would

by the grim realities of their situation.

more times than he can remember, but burn like that.

Ben wonders where Elsie is, when he’s putting his gear away. He throws away

the pack of matches -- they won’t need that anymore. He should tell her, too, about the last zombie. But he doesn’t want to, because he can just picture

the look on her face, under the light

adays. A young sort of hope overcome

This is why they never got their mo-

ment in the shed. There was no moment to have. Only grabbing ammo. Hanging up the ropes after a long day of wall surveillance. Never in there for too

long, never at the same time. And, in

that time, he allowed himself to forget

about everything he’d hoped for in the

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earlier days of understanding the definition of survival.

“What are you thinking about, stranger,”

Elsie asks, water from the bucket she’s been

carrying splashes her feet a little as she turns

So instead of telling her about the corpse,

he walks away, checks their ammo supply,

stumbles into the storage shed still thinking

of all the moonshine he’d wasted on the last of the horde.


At night the corpse comes to visit him.

Ben doesn’t really know how to tell her

His dreams are vivid these days, a bright

believe him after all this time. they’ve found

go down, he thinks. Barely thirteen when

that it’s over. he doesn’t even know if she’d

so much of a purpose in being a team here, in

working together to fend off the horde. losing friends and lovers and everyone they’ve ever

electric blue. She’s a young girl before things she’s hit with the symptoms, days before everything collapses.

come to grow to trust besides each other.

In his dreams she’s wearing a pink watch

“Not much,” he responds, and then etches it

recognizes it from somewhere. On a wrist in

out. “Well, I mean… Do you ever think about after, Elsie?”

“What?” she asks. “After? What do you mean by that?”

“Like… the horde can’t go on forever. Eventually the world’s gonna run out of zombies, right? And then there will be an after.”

She laughs, sets down the bucket. “Sure,

when he throws the fire at her. He’s sure he

a dream a lifetime ago. Maybe he knows her. From somewhere.

He forgets he’s pushing thirty, but the answer to the question of his age is there when he

wakes up in the middle of the night, doing

quick math to try and figure out what year the corpse would’ve been born. A lot of the time he still feels eighteen. Maybe it’s the long hair. Or the lack of a mortgage.

Ben,” she says. “I guess eventually there will

“Do you remember those pink watches?”

about it.”

“That they’d sell at the mall and all the girls

be an after. But no, I’ve never really thought

he asks Elsie at breakfast the next morning. had?”

Yeah…” she pauses. “Did you sleep at all last night?” He’s scared it’s written on his face. That she knows what he did. Somehow the last of the hoarde is beginning to feel more and more like a murder. “Why?” he asks, before shoveling poorly-scrambled eggs into his mouth to brace himself for whatever judgement she’s about to pass. “You look like shit,” she says. “But also, you’re usually up on the wall by now.” Ah yes. The wall. That fun kept secret. “You didn’t answer my question from yesterday,” Ben says, dodging her. Under Elsie’s gaze he feels eighteen again. Smoking on a cliff. Well, he was never the one with the cigarette in his mouth, but still. “What question?” she asks. “What we’re doing after this.” This is not the same question as before. A slip of the tongue and it is a we instead of a you or an I. And yet, it is a truth. For Ben has never considered a future where they part ways before in any way other than a particularly violent death.

It wasn’t a fluke. Today, instead of a singular corpse, there is just nothing. Nothing as far as the eye can see. Ben, for the first time in a while, considers a road. Remembers all the highways across America are, in fact, connected. They could go anywhere from here. Absolutely anywhere at all. He surveys the spot where the last zombie fell. There is no plastic pink watch. Not even a stain of melted material. Still, he tosses down some leaves over the spot. Says a prayer. He knows the funeral rites by heart nowadays. Elsie finds him in the shed. After, when he’s hanging his gear back up, still thinking about the lack of the watch and the lack of the puddle and the sudden lack of a solid enemy to fight against. “The hoarde is gone,” she says, and he watches her study his expression, waiting for his face to fall or rise. Instead he says “I know. I killed the last one.” “Is this why you were asking about after?” she asks. One of her weathered hands slips into the pocket of her cutoff shorts. “About what we’re doing?”

Not exactly the healthiest of ways to maintain a friendship.

“Yeah,” Ben says. “We could go anywhere, Elsie. Absolutely anywhere.”

“I don’t know,” she smiles. “Getting ice cream?”

She smirks. “Who says I’m going anywhere with you?”

He goes up to the wall anyways. Just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, that there’s not, in fact a horde of zombies banging on their front door, demanding to know why he murdered the corpse with the pink watch in such cold blood.

He takes her hand and for the first time in a while there is no danger of interruption. Just them and the shed and the whole big wide world out there. Ben doesn’t even notice the watch, pink and plastic, that dangles around her wrist.

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PAtience, Please. A gum free america comes first! by Katie Muschalik Hmmm. What do I want in the future? As a young, relatively woke American, I think about this question a lot. I mean, there’s a lot to change. End world poverty? Solve climate change? Health care reform? Elect the first woman president? Nope. Another time. What I want to see in the future is an end to chewing gum. It all started in biology class my freshman year of high school. A young, spritely, Texan boy seated three desks behind me loudly chewed gum every single day. The sound! The smell! It was enough to make my ears bleed. Every day I debated: should I give this guy a note politely telling him to knock it off? Beg him to please, stop? To end the incessant Dubble Bubble/Wrigley/ Orbit/Double mint/Big League Chew/(Insert Gum preference

of choice) consumption before I ended him? Well, I never passed the note and suffice it to say, he peaked in high school. Laugh me off! Say I’m a fool! I can take it. Chewing gum is disgusting. A curse on anyone who engages in this abominable, grotesque act. I mean where to begin? The sound. The sinister movements of the tongue as chewers gnash on these cancerous rectangles. If I wanted to hear the repetitive actions of your salivary glands, I’d go down a black hole of ASMR til my ears fell off. The smell. Instantly permeating the air around me the second sugar meets spit. “This is a joke,” I want to think. Let’s all just carry around tubes of toothpaste and squirt it in every crack in the sidewalk so our pals can randomly get a whiff of mint every once in a while! It’s enough to make me scream. But that’s not even the worst of it! There’s a whole another breed of users who enjoy inflicting unimaginable pain on the innocent public via the loud popping and snapping of chewing gum. Enough! Enough, I say. My own personal hell. You heard it here first: gum poppers worship Satan. Are members of the Manson family. Westboro Baptist Church goers. There’s no other explanation. Who sits in a crowded movie theater and thinks, “Hey, this is a good idea. I should pop my gum.” There I sit, innocently trying to watch Avengers: End Game, when all I can hear is “pop pop pop.” They aren’t paying Robert Downey Jr. millions of dollars for

me to listen to you chew gum for three hours. I mean, doesn’t your jaw hurt? Look, I’d jet set off to Singapore, I would. God bless the Singapore chewing gum ban of 1992. But a girl has no money and I’ve heard it through the grapevine that there is a widespread illegal gum trade infiltrating the once secure island. I thought I was safe outside of the United States – I was wrong. So, so wrong. There I sat, minding my own business on a bus ride through the Spanish countryside when I heard it – the abhorrent sound. “Well, fuck,” I think. Guess I’m stuck listening to this for the next 37 hours. Buckle up! Ever heard of misophonia? Before freshman year biology, I hadn’t either. It’s “the hatred of sound,” especially from repetitive things like slurping, whispering, breathing, and (no surprise) chewing gum. It’s more common than you think. So, next time you find yourself reaching to unwrap that indigestible confection in a movie theater, a subway station, perhaps a public restroom, think of me. Think of me and say to yourself “I could just chew on a candy cane.” “I’ll suck on a mint!” “Maybe a Listerine breath strip?” “That weird spray stuff?” “Try dropping acid?”



Hey, lovely readers of Couch Diaries! First, welcome to the second ever issue of Couch Diaries. I hope you guys are loving it so far! Second, welcome to Libra season 2019! Libra season is going to be a very social period for everyone. You’ll be making lots of plans and will find very little alone time. Be ready to meet new people from new places! Whether the connections you make are platonic or something more, allow yourself to be open to all sorts of possibilities, as some of these connections will be key over time. It’s a big time for romance as well, so make sure to spend some quality time with your partner(s). If you’re single, then turn the love on yourself. With all the hustle and bustle of your social calendar in the coming weeks, reserving time to take care of yourself will be important anyways! Libras are big appreciators of the arts, and this Libra season they will find themselves feeling more creatively charged than usual. Fuel that passion and see where your imagination takes you. This is going to be a really good time to hone certain skills you’ve been wanting to learn, finish that project you’ve started, or even take a quick trip to an art museum you’ve been meaning to check out. Immerse yourself in artistic experiences; not everyone can be lucky enough to have the taste of a Libra.

Libra’s ruling planet is Venus, so this will be an intense period of pleasure and passion for everyone. Be prepared for those emotions, but not terrified. This can be a positive thing if you play your cards right. Don’t let your indecisions get the best of you (and don’t try to deny your indecisions either, Libra). Additionally for some, this may be a period of ~sexual~ awakening, so buckle up and get ready!

In terms of the rest of 2019, Libra has a relatively low-key and positive few months on the way. Appreciate the calm and allow yourself to relax a little bit. It is easy for you to become high-strung about the things you are passionate about, so allow yourself to indulge in things for the sake of enjoyment for once. No need to stress yourself out when everything is truly fine. At the end of the day, astrology is up to the individual interpretation of each being as they see fit. If you don’t believe in it, that’s ay-okay. I don’t believe in it most of the time, either. But sometimes a horoscope will tell you what you need to hear when no one else will, and I hope that if this applied to you in anyway, you were able to take something away from it and make the appropriate changes for a better and happier you. Until next time,

(Sagittarius Sun | Aries Moon | Taurus Rising)

Art by Phoebe Dubisch

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Consuming in Fall 2019

by Maia Kirkpatrick


I watched the first season of Big Little Lies in my junior year of high school and it became an instant hit amongst my friends and I. You could only imagine that I was eagerly awaiting the return of the show when HBO announced they would be making a second season. The second season follows five women in the wake of the unthinkable tragedy that occurred last season when (spoiler alert), Celeste Wright’s (Nicole Kidman) husband Perry was killed during a school fundraiser. Though the season is not yet finished, I have had mixed feelings about the recent episodes. Originally, the show was intended as a mini-series, as it was based off of a novel and had covered all the plot points included in it. I personally felt that the first season had an incredibly satisfying ending – depicting all five women on the beach, seemingly living in harmony. It showed that those these women had lived through some unspeakable tragedies, they were able to band together


and form an alliance amongst one another, despite their differences. However, the second season has exceeded my expectations for it. I don’t think it has surpassed the first season by any means, but the fact that the story line doesn’t feel like some dragged out narrative that is only put in place to please the viewers is enough for me. The plots are fresh, and don’t feel unnecessary. Its like these women have an extension of their story that was not yet finished in the last season. I mostly think that one of the reasons why I was so drawn to Big Little Lies in the first season was that my friends and I watched it as it was airing, rather than binging the show all at once. This creates a dialogue in between episodes and for a show that has a lot of cliffhangers, a sort of detective like role in the weeks between them.


Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut follows two high school seniors Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) on one last wild night before they graduate high school. Molly and Amy were both so focused on getting into college that they completely forgot to mess around in high school, and after learning that the kids who did mess around got into the same colleges as them, decide they have to make up for lost time. The film is an over exaggerated version of a wild high school night, yet speaks so truly to the experience of growing up and moving on to a new chapter of life. Molly and Amy are best friends about to be separated for the first time as they go off to college. Rather than focus on love interests and romantic partners, the films true love story is the one be-

tween these two best friends. The bulk of the film follows Molly and Amy on their journey to get to a party which has hilarious bits and situations they find themselves in. However, I found that my favorite part of the film was the last scene as Molly and Amy say goodbye before leaving for college. The scene wasn’t sappy and overplayed. Instead it was short and sweet – emotional without throwing it in your face. It brought m right back to the times I said goodbye to my friends before leaving for college and maybe that was what was so touching about the movie. There were some wild and pretty uncommon circumstances that these characters found themselves in, but at the end of the day it was a story about friendship and growing up – something that almost everyone can resonate with.

ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE Gail Honeyman’s 2017 novel came to my knowledge recently after my mom gifted it to me back in March. Though it took me a couple of months to pick up, I couldn’t put it down after I did. I know that’s a painful cliché everyone says about a good book, but the twists and turns of this story kept me on the edge of my seat and anticipating every next chapter.

Eleanor Oliphant is a chronically lonely young woman whose only true companion, other than her coworkers, is her mother that she communicates with on the phone about once a week. Though the novel, we learn that there has been some sort of traumatic incident that has prohibited Eleanor from forming deeper relationships with others and also with herself. The book follows Eleanor as she learns navigate

this tragedy and how not just to survive, but rather live life to its fullest potential. In an interview, Honeyman discussed how she wanted to explore the concept of loneliness within a younger person. So often we ass ociate loneness with old age because we get older many of the people in our lives pass on, or perhaps we revert to a life of solitude. Our twenties are meant to be these wild and rambunctious years, filled with late nights and foggy memories. I found it particularly interesting and more impactful to have this character that didn’t necessary align with the stereotypes of her demographic. The novel sends messages of empathy, compassion, and the importance of caring for not only others, but for ourselves. Couch Diaries - 35


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