MANY VOICES, ONE DU
VOLUME 2 A UNIVERSITY OF DENVER PUBLICATION
Many Voices, One DU
Many Voices, One DU
Many Voices, One DU
Volume 2 2018
A University of Denver Publication Edited by: LP Picard with support from the University Writing Program & Undergraduate Academic Programs
The University of Denver
ÂŠ 2018 University of Denver Writing Program All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the University Writing Program at the University of Denver. www.du.edu/writing firstname.lastname@example.org 303.871.7448 2150 E. Evans Ave., Denver, CO 80210
Designed & Typeset by LP Picard Photo credits for images appearing on front, back, and inside covers on page 85. All other photographs provided by authors.
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Contents Foreword vii Chancellor Rebecca Chopp
The Prompt ix Introduction xi LP Picard
“See Ya on the Other Side” Lisa Truong
“Truth” 7 Alana Silber
“Exclusive” 13 Evan R. Kravitz
“The Ten Rules to Surviving a Tornado”
“My Grandmother’s Legacy”
“Janus” 31 Kamila Kinyon
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“Cosmos in the Calm” Blake A. Harris
“Icarus” 47 Micala Khavari
“Knitting a Friendship” Rebecca Macey
“Grist’s Cat Ranch”
“Against All Odds”
“A Gift of Magic”
About the Cover Submit to Volume 3 (2018–2019 Prompt) Acknowledgments
85 87 89
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For most of the history of the United States, “e pluribus unum” (Latin for “out of many, one”) served as our nation’s de facto motto. Just as 13 original states formed one nation, despite their diverse politics, economies and geographies, so too did its people. The phrase has always reminded me of the inherent contradiction of any community—that even as we unite, we are unique. We carry our own stories, our own truths. We are the product of our ancestors, of our culture, of our environment. And just as our young nation struggled mightily with issues of grave ethical import—individual liberties, freedoms of religion and speech, slavery, suffrage, and more—all communities wrestle with disagreements and differences. In rural church communities, fast-changing urban neighborhoods, JD Vance’s hometown in Ohio, and our own complex university, we feel the tension between conflicts that divide us and values that unite us. The notion of “One DU” is one of e pluribus unum. Together, the University of Denver community is stronger than the sum of its parts. Through our various perspectives and stories, we have the power to enlighten one another. This book—a collection of just some of the stories of our DU community—is enlightening, not only because of the stories it contains, but also because of its implicit acknowledgment of the thousands of stories that are waiting to be told and heard. We have opportunities in and out of the
classroom to listen deeply to one another—to learn, to question, to challenge. To grow. First-year student Lisa Truong shares her experience of loss—of realizing only too late what those around us have to offer us and the world. Staff member Lauren Salvador delves into issues of betrayal and forgiveness. As a scholar of religion, I am familiar with these themes—as are most of us, in some way or another. Magic passed on to her from her mother inspires first-year student Nai’a Perkins to see the world in bold and exciting ways. Recent alumnus Evan Kravitz recalls his struggle, as a budding journalist, with what could have been his “big break.” The complex realities of human suffering, however, take him by surprise. Junior Blake Harris grapples with loneliness—not through his own story, but through his understanding of the experience of a stranger. Three stories that center on immigration, from two students and one professor, show that even on the same topic there can be great variety of experience. I hope you enjoy these entrees into the stories of our community as much as I did. And I hope they will inspire you to share your own stories and to investigate those of your colleagues and friends. —Rebecca Chopp, Chancellor
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Think of a person whose story has left some impression upon you. Tell their story. In 2016, DU began a common reading and writing pilot project—DU IMPACT 2025’s One Book, One DU—in which students read the same nonfiction text and then respond to a shared prompt. The goal of this project is two-fold: 1) to give incoming students a shared intellectual experience beyond the FSEM, and 2) to encourage our campus to wrestle with the challenges and rewards of building a diverse and inclusive community. Over that summer, the incoming class of 2020 read Thomas King’s The Truth About Stories, which explores how narratives shape our identities and the lenses through which we understand the world. King argues that we are all composed of many stories—he even goes so far as to suggest that that’s all we are. This year, we asked the class of 2021 to read JD Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir of a family and culture in crisis. Whether Vance intended it or not, his memoir has been treated as representing a segment of the US population. His story of growing up in Middletown, Ohio, rose to the best sellers lists and became a talking point in our political landscape. Some praised the memoir as offering a portrait of the Appalachian working class; others criticized it for overgeneralizing and mischaracterizing, wondering how one writer had the ethos to speak on behalf
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of an entire region. Some paid particular attention to his treatment of the people who populated his life. In his introduction to Hillbilly Elegy, Vance notes the immense responsibility he was tasked with: “[I]f I leave you with the impression that there are bad people in my life, then I’m sorry, to both you and the people so portrayed.” Telling someone else’s story is hard, especially if you’re trying to tell it responsibly. In telling other people’s stories, we must render their perspectives with generosity and honesty; we must show the good and the bad. In order to fairly and accurately tell other people’s stories, we must empathize without projecting our own experiences onto theirs. It’s a challenging task, but an important one.
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Introduction by LP Picard
It’s a daunting task, storytelling. It’s not an exercise in sympathy—in simply acknowledging someone else’s experiences and chronicling them in a compelling way; it’s an exercise in empathy. It requires putting their behaviors, emotions, and words into the appropriate contexts, and then offering a coherent explanation of their actions for our audience. We can see why, maybe, people don’t leap at the opportunity to do it. But that’s exactly what we asked members of the DU community to do—tell someone else’s story. My high school class was chosen by The Boston Globe to be shadowed by a reporter during our senior year. How or why we were selected, I’m not sure. Each month, a new article would be published to investigate the ups and downs of this transitional period: the college applications, the inevitable disappointment of rejection or elation of acceptance followed by the panic of paying for it all; final sports seasons, final theatrical productions, final everythings; breakups, promises, new beginnings. At first, we were elated. We tried and failed to act naturally in front of the cameras. We lingered near the reporter—Irene—hoping that she’d ask us for an interview. When the first article was published, we rushed to get a copy…to see ourselves brought to life in print. Once we began reading, our enthusiasms waned. Details that we had never noticed about ourselves or that we considered innocuous were given strange significance. In the first article, I was described as having “highlights
in her long blond curls and a lacy shawl around her shoulders.” I wasn’t exactly hiding the highlights (I mean, it was the early 2000s)…but seeing them called out like that made me regret them. I told the reporter that I wanted to study engineering in college and design buildings. She quoted: “I look at skyscrapers. They’re perfect,” [Picard] says. “I don’t feel smaller. I feel bigger because we as human beings were able to do that.” Ugh. That’s how that sounded? I had just returned from seeing my older brother perform in a collegiate production of Cherry Orchard and was trying—in the way that future Creative Writing MFAs are wont to do—to somehow connect a single line of Chekhovian dialogue* to my adolescent interest in The Fountainhead. Not the worst thing I could have said to a reporter. But still: ugh. It wasn’t just the knee-jerk reaction to seeing the written representation of our youthful syntax. We soon realized that we were all there to represent something. Not just the standard Breakfast Club roles, although the tri-sport captains, future Ivy Leaguers, and alt scene punks were all given space on the page. We came to stand for the wealthy families and the poor ones, the broken homes and the “model” ones. Our individual stories and experiences were used to illustrate the vast income gap in our town. Our insecurities were singled out to represent the experience of all high school seniors. Our personal devastating breakups were everyone’s typical senior-year breakups. We felt used, or flattened, or both. Recently, I pulled up one of these articles with some students from my First Year Seminar. In the course, “Based on a True Story: the complicated intersection of facts and storytelling,” we had just listened to Season One of the Serial podcast. After positing our own theories and debating the relative “trustworthiness” of various witnesses, we honed in on a specific moment from the series—Adnan Syed (our protagonist?) confronting Sarah Koenig (our reporter) about his representation. He felt frustrated by the ambiguity of their relationship and the instability of his character—he oscillated from innocent victim to potential sociopath week by week—and by his lack of agency in the telling of his story. To help unpack this issue of agency, my students read and discussed an essay by journalist and professor Carolyn Wells Kraus, “On Hurting People’s Feelings: Journalism, Guilt, and Autobiography.” In it, she suggests that her “job consists of sucking people’s guts out.” Even as she agonizes over context, triple-checks her facts, and maintains
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journalistic integrity, the people she writes about still get mad: Undoubtedly, reducing a person’s story to words on a page robs it of complexity. Subjects may perceive a gap between what they meant and how their exact words sound on the page. Perhaps those characters bearing their names are people they cannot recognize, or people who come to stand—in the story—for ideas they never thought about. Reading about themselves in print is rarely the experience that people expect it to be. Looking back, there was no reason to get upset over The Boston Globe’s coverage of my senior class. The articles got nothing wrong. I did wear lacy shawls (over tank tops to bend/protest dress codes). But that wasn’t the line that, so to speak, sucked my guts out. “Melrose has this much racial diversity,” says high school principal Daniel Burke as he moves his palms close together, “and this much economic diversity”—he spreads his hands wide apart. X’s father is an orthodontist who’s straightened the teeth of more than a few Melrose students. Y’s mom is a single mother who drives a school bus. There’s a used Volvo in the driveway of Lauren Picard, daughter of a longshoreman and a physical therapist. Her dad says he will register the car in her name after she finishes her college applications. Class secretary Z, whose dad, a single father, rebuilds auto engines, cannot get her driver’s license until she can afford to finish driver’s ed. When I mentioned the car, I was telling the reporter how I just wanted to go to Wake Forest University (my older brother’s alma mater) and felt unmotivated to apply to other schools. I needed the Volvo, which had passed already from my mother to my brother, for soccer practice. My dad knew this and was using it for leverage. I wasn’t bragging, but I looked obnoxious in the article. I was so ashamed and mortified. I was the haves and my friends were the have nots. But getting mad that my words were taken out of specific context would
not change the fact that they were true. I did come from privilege, regardless of the guilt it brought me when juxtaposed in print to students worrying about making ends meet. At seventeen, I lacked the maturity to grapple with that. So I blamed the person with the byline. I should make a confession here: I said that “we felt used, or flattened, or both,” but I have no idea if that’s true. I just know that’s how I felt. I shouldn’t have used we because I don’t know how many of my classmates shared my reactions, or how many still care. Perhaps I am just projecting my own anxieties onto the class of 2004. And there I go falling into the same trap I am critiquing—my own story comes to stand for a whole group. But asking these questions of agency and representation is critical, especially if we are to encourage responsible storytelling. At the end of her essay, Kraus asks, “[How] can nonfiction writers divert the vast energies of their obsessions and their pathologies to creative ends, shaping without deforming, depicting without disfiguring, crafting without mutilating their subjects’ lives?” She doesn’t provide an answer, nor does she suggest that these concerns should keep us from tackling the enormous task of capturing another’s story with honesty and integrity. Responses to this year’s One Book, One DU shared prompt were spectacular exercises in compassion, nuance, and honesty. Contributors to this collection consider what gifts and traits we’ve inherited from our ancestors, render the moments that changed the lives of a loved one, try to see themselves from the perspective of a stranger experiencing their worst day, and even try to find empathy with a friend who committed the ultimate betrayal. Above all, these thirteen authors—students, staff, alumni, and faculty of the University of Denver—represent without simplifying, flattening, or reducing the lives they are writing about. They bring these stories to life.
* “Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I think, ‘Dear God, you gave us these vast
forests, boundless fields, endless horizons, and living in this place, we should, by all rights, be giants…’” Lopakin, Cherry Orchard.
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See Ya on the Other Side by Lisa Truong
This is not my story. I was merely a passerby, a witness on the sideline, a reporter. But I feel the need to share this, as a way to cope and to reflect on my life. At the time of the event, I thought I was selfless. I helped out in the community, I was involved at school, I took care of my loved ones. And at the time, I didn’t care about what happened—and by that I mean, it was just another day, another piece of news. It wasn’t until college that I realized: This minuscule and seemingly minor part of my life? I was meant to witness it and write it down. Through the guilt and shame and honesty, I hope that you see my sincerity. I graduated in May of 2017. Back then, high school seemed like the highlight of my life. Being an International Baccalaureate senior, captain of our color-guard team, as well as Homecoming Queen, I deemed myself worthy of the adjective “well-loved.” From completing term papers for all my classes to staying out late for competitions, everything was perfect. While I was having the time of my life, Scott Labelle’s life ended. Labelle was my high school’s drama teacher, but I never took his class, nor did I want to after the humiliation he had caused me. The fall of my freshman year, I was so determined to land a leading role in our school play, The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon. But instead of being beautiful Cinderella, I was stuck playing a crab. A loud, annoying, horrendously dressed crab. I was pissed. I knew I had a knack for performing on stage from playing in orchestra, and I could act. All of my other teachers recognized my potential,
but not Labelle; he had given me a minor and forgettable role. It feels ironic because he was a minor and forgettable role in my story, until now. At the end of the production, Labelle wrote me a letter. He wrote to all of the cast members as his tradition. The letter read, “Dear Lisa, congratulations on completing your first production. It’s not easy to play a small role and still capture the heart of the audience. See ya on the other side.” That was his catchphrase, “see ya on the other side.” I threw away the letter but somehow, I still remember the content by heart. It was morning in beautiful Da Nang, Vietnam—my birth place and where I had been spending my summer vacation before heading off to college. Like usual, I was casually scrolling through Facebook before getting up to wash my face, and I saw a post from my old Chemistry teacher, Mrs. Sautel. Her post said Labelle had passed away the night before. It was supposed to be like the movies, where the world around me becomes a blur and a single tear falls from my eye, but none of that happened. Labelle and I had never crossed paths again after the school play. In the back of my mind I had known that sooner or later, a tragedy would happen because by senior year, everyone was talking about his condition. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment something inside me broke, but I can tell you that it was because of him, and it is my biggest regret. This is his story. Labelle was a short, pale man, and on the heavy side. He always wore a plaid shirt, blue jeans, and thin metal-framed glasses. After being diagnosed with cancer, his body became disproportionate; his neck and throat shrunk in diameter and he was almost like a bobble head. His face became bony and the dark circles from even before he got sick became more prominent. His speech became quiet and inaudible. The room would have to be ghost silent for him to talk. He taught the IB theater course; I wasn’t familiar with what that entailed. He was also in charge of drama and speech classes until he started getting too tired and the school had to find someone else. Due to his treatments, he was often not in school, and thus, his IB students were lost without him. And by lost, I mean lost. Often times, IB seniors would take advantage of his absences to slack off and then would ask for extensions when he was around. This wasn’t a new phenomenon—in previous years, theater projects were often neglected until the very end because students simply did not put in the effort. The year before, students had needed to
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come back after graduation to finish assignments. I worked closely with other IB instructors, so I would often overhear stories of Labelle’s unending suffering, and his cancer. Mostly, these stories would come from Mrs. Sautel, who was also the IB coordinator. So anytime Labelle had an issue, he would go to Mrs. Sautel, and this sometimes happened while my class was in session. Despite knowing his students’ real intentions, he was willing to extend deadlines and offer any help he could. It wasn’t that he didn’t care about the class, it was because he cared too much about his students and their happiness that he would do anything to make the class easier for them. As the year progressed, it was clear that Labelle’s health was not improving. Everyone knew of his condition, but I think they chose to ignore the possibility of death. It turned out that the doctors focused so much on the tumors in his brain that they didn’t fully treat his cancer. His departure came as a shock to many people. My old IB music teacher, Mr. Hills, had been posting updates on Labelle and his health on Facebook for everyone to read, but I had only skimmed through them at the time. Weeks after Mrs. Sautel’s post, I started looking back on Mr. Hill’s updates and really paid attention to what he was saying. The first update was on August 9th, Mr. Hills talked about the torture Labelle was going through with all the tests he had to do. Another update talked about his options while in hospice. The doctor had said it was unlikely his lungs would get better and offered a breathing tube as an option. Labelle had refused. He became more irritated and tired but welcomed visitors and loved reading messages that were sent to him. And then, the last update finally came: Labelle had passed away on August 15th at noon. After the last update, Mr. Hills posted a story about visiting Labelle that was powerful to me. He came on a Tuesday while Labelle was doing some testing, and he looked pissed off. The hospice had made him fast for 36 some hours for a PET scan. The nurse asked him if Mr. Hills was family and Hills answered, “No, I’m just a friend.” Immediately, Labelle asked Hills for pen and paper, as he was no longer able to talk due to fatigue, and wrote him a note. The note read, “You’re not ‘just’ anything, you’re part of who I am, part of who I have become, part of my spirit. You’re part of my life. I care for you, I love you. You bring my life into focus and give me meaning.” Mr. Hills quoted the whole note. Despite the hunger, the tiredness, the annoyance,
and the pain, Labelle still found a way to put others in front of himself. That was the reassurance Mr. Hills needed. Finally, reality hit me: Labelle was not on this Earth anymore. Suddenly, the anger that I had felt over the years became trivial and stupid. I had used Labelle as an excuse for not trying out for school plays or musicals. I had never given myself a chance to do what I loved, and I had placed the blame on him. This was what I was guilty of. This kind-hearted, passionate, devoted man, I had hated him throughout high school and I was never going to see him again. I should have cared about the letter. I should have cared about his students taking advantage of him, I should have paid more attention. I should have cared about him more, or asked how he was doing. I should have been the kind of person I would have needed to save me in this situation. I wish I’d had the chance to get to know Labelle as a person. But his kindness, strength, and positivity will always be in my heart. Think of others before yourself, be kind no matter what you’re going through, motivate younger generations. I never knew of a person who embodied all of those values until I witnessed Labelle’s story. Being selfless means caring for everyone, not just those related by blood or time. Labelle touched many people’s lives. I had a friend who was very timid, but she decided to enroll in his speech class. I’m not sure how it happened, but she grew to believe in herself and that was beautiful to see. Later in her senior year, she became a mentor for younger students. Labelle planted a seed of courage and hope inside of her, and she’ll have it with her for the rest of her life. His old IB students felt remorse and regret for not making things easier for him while he was fighting for his life. And I’m sure that this is not something they can easily forget—I’m still shaken by it. He inspired many, not just IB students, to pursue acting and performing. And others to believe that their voices matter. When alive, he was an active advocate for the Arts department, always fighting for funding and for ways to preserve the individuality of students. This is the definition of selfless. In October of 2017, there was a ceremony commemorating his life and naming the auditorium in his honor. I wasn’t able to attend due to school conflicts, but at the same time, I didn’t feel worthy of attending. Looking back, I realize that crab and I had a lot in common. We were both small, ambitious, and looking for a place to fit in and be noticed. May-
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be Labelle saw that in me and thatâ€™s why he chose me for the role. How unfortunate that I only realize it now. I would have thanked him for knowing the real me when I didnâ€™t even know who I was. He was the small role that captured my heart. I understand that now. See ya on the other side, Labelle.
About Lisa Truong
Lisa Truong was born in Vietnam but moved to
Lakewood, Colorado, when she was eight. She is currently a first-year undergraduate student at the University of Denver and is studying Biological Sciences. She attended Alameda High School and was the valedictorian. In her free time, Lisa enjoys reading and writing. Her love for writing compelled her to submit her essay to “Encountering Stories,” where it was one of the featured stories. She is also part of a non-profit dance group and volunteers regularly. Lisa’s goal is to become a pediatrician and open a clinic in a developing country like her own.
Class of 2021
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Truth by Alana Silber
A cramped, congested room, gleaming yellow with full moon luster. The antique curtains on the window across from him swung lazily in the soft breeze, and he wished he’d closed them before he’d gotten into bed. The sweet, moist Florida air that was wafting in and that usually calmed his senses like an incense candle now just added to the overwhelming sensation that he was suffocating, slowly. When he was younger this room had felt so much larger, this bed so much roomier; but now his feet nearly touched the metal frames, and he could not get comfortable. He’d been tossing and turning for what felt like endless hours, listening to our grandparents’ soft snores in the other room. In his restlessness, it occurred to him that it was especially hot out, but that didn’t matter. He clutched the wool duvet up to his chin anyway and let his teeth chatter in anticipation. She loves you, he repeated like a yoga mantra in his head, willing himself to believe it. She loves you. She will still love you. She loves you. She loves you. It felt like a far-off siren was buzzing in his ears, and he remembered from reading online that anxiety could do that to you, make you hear things that weren’t actually there. She loves you. She will still love you. But what if she doesn’t? What if she looks at you differently?
And with those two quick thoughts, the other side of his brain—the one that made his back tingle ever so slightly, made his chest tauten, made his heart start to pump deeply, so that he could feel the pulse in his fingernails—sabotaged him. He wondered again, as he shivered and soaked his own shirt with his sweat, how absurd it was that the brain could cause so much worry. There he was, in the warmth and comfort of a bed, surrounded by loved ones in each room, and yet he felt as though he had just missed a deadly car crash by a second’s time. Fight or flight; that’s what he was feeling. But there was no running from his mind. She loves you. I wonder how much will change because of this.
She loves you.
Once you tell her, you can never take it back.
She loves you.
You could lose everyone you love because of this.
She loves you. Fuck.
He reached down to the blow-up mattress below him and pushed. “What Jake?” I grunted, my voice rusty with sleep. “Alana, I’m gay.” And when he cried it was violent and confusing and painful and raw and yet it was as if he’d shifted the air around him with electricity, turning muddled moonlight yellow to fluorescent white; and there was static in the air, exhaustive and glorious, and full of Truth. The second time would be easier. He would tell his mom in his own room where there was a sense of safeness, as if the four walls surrounding him were on his side. He had grown up in that room, and it had seen him through times of anguish before. Sitting on the edge of his multicolored comforter, bouncing his left leg up and down absentmindedly, he thought back to 6th grade. He’d kissed Alexander that year, sitting in that same room, on that same bed. They had stolen the Bud Lights from the fridge in the basement, and Jake could still feel the dripping glass in his hands, frigid and chilling his
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skin. Laughing and joking around boisterously as they always did when his parents were out of the house, they had ended up breathless and sighing on top of his messy sheets, smiles wide and effortless. Then, Jake had turned his head to the side and suddenly there was Alexander facing him, his face close enough to smell the Old Spice aftershave they’d bought at CVS together. In a moment that seemed like halted time, Jake’s head spun mildly, his lips felt wet with tangy moisture; the air surrounding them thickened as they made eye contact. There was a jolt inside of him, a stirring of his groin, and though he didn’t want to call it a spark, he felt something had ignited. There was nothing else he could do as his thinking mind shut off like a light switch, as his body pulled him to Alexander’s lips, closing the mere inches of gap between them. They had kissed for minutes that felt like hours that felt like the end of the world, and then they had never spoken of it again. Jake told our mom this story as they sat together six years later. She asked him all the right questions (“How many other boys?”, “Have you ever had a real boyfriend?”, “Who else have you told?”, “Are you okay?”), and she cried as they held each other. There was a split second where he felt doubt creep into their hug, and he questioned whether she was crying for his pain or for her own. Would she mourn the loss of him, or feel that she didn’t want him this way? He wanted to ask, and when he did she clutched both his arms, looked at him with wet eyes that were fierce, intense, animal-like, and said, “You are my son. You are my world. I accept you in any way that you are, and nothing will change that.” Their embrace after that, and every one since then, held no room for doubt. The sun in New York City was blinding, even at the start of winter. As we walked the city streets, passing men in fluorescent orange suits hunched over as they cleared trash from the sidewalks, business woman clad in black work suits, toting toddlers at their heels, and pedestrians from all walks of the world, Jacob watched each person with a furrowed brow, trying to paint pictures of their lives in his mind to drown anxiety out. He hadn’t been successful so far. That morning had begun like any other. Our dad had come back to the apartment at the start of the day, carrying with him both a full stomach and bragging rights for how much he had accomplished while the rest of us had
slept in. In the kitchen, the smell of espresso and raspberry mixed together, a sign that mom was awake and about to be in a good mood. Us kids yawned and complained about being woken up too early (“That’s what a vacation is for…”), and the sky was as bright as a pair of blue eyes. But that afternoon, Jacob, my father, and I had decided to venture off by ourselves. At that point, I had been dead set on becoming an actress, a fact that was well known to my family, as I dragged them to every show the city had to offer and then droned on about the show well after the curtain had shut. That day, we’d seen a wonderful production by Jason Robert Brown, one of my favorite directors at the time, and I had been head-rushed with excitement. I was oblivious to Jacob’s stoic silence, as was my dad who was oblivious to all things emotional. We were on our way to a famous cupcake restaurant near the theatre, and I was practically skipping into the entrance when we got there, with my father and Jacob trailing behind. Our seat was right by the door, but Jacob went immediately to the counter to pick his treat. I followed, picking one for our father too. Sitting and eating, Jacob’s heart fluttered like a frightened butterfly, and I chattered on about the production. The tension was nearly visible, but this was common between my father and Jacob. As I was used to this fact and to making and holding the conversation when it came to the men in my family, I didn’t think twice when a Frank Ocean song came on the speakers and I said, between mouthfuls of cherry cupcake, “Did you guys know Frank Ocean came out as gay last year?” My father made a rude comment (“That’s disgusting, I can’t imagine why anyone would ever want that”), as he always did when someone mentioned homosexuals. Jacob dropped his fork with a soft clatter, and we all heard, in a life-altering moment, the words “Dad, I’m gay” leave his mouth with clarity. Time froze again for Jacob in a surreal instant that felt close to infinity. Slowly, our father’s hand moved to his mouth; he went rigidly to his feet and walked out of the restaurant. “Jacob,” I whispered, my eyes as wide as dollar coins, “I’m so stupid. I don’t know why I said that. I’m so sorry.” “Hey Lanz,” Jake said, using his pet name for me and taking my hands, “it’s all good. I’m glad you said it.” And he smiled as he too left the restaurant, leaving me with a thumping chest and crumbs of red on the sides of my mouth.
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As Jake sat beside my dad on the curb of the busy sidewalk, he felt a surge of empowerment. It really would be okay, he knew, instinctively. There was a lot of hurt between them, a pain that was too powerful and full, but for all the damage there was a solution, for Jacob knew his father loved him deeper than anyone. He had a hard exterior, worked hard hours, and sometimes spoke words too hard to hear, but Jacob was his first-born child, his only son, and he would change for his son. He was sorry, so sorry. And Jacob heard the words and let them wash over him like a warm shower at the start of a new day. It was light and airy around them, crisp in the chilly city air, and Jacob sensed some of his burden had been lifted from his own weight and added to his father’s. For once, he felt that was okay. He was still a child, at times an infant in how much he craved support and needed reassurance, and this was only the commencement of the rest of his days as a gay man. He had spoken the words out loud to the only ones who mattered, and now he had to trust that the way forward was to allow us to hold him up—to protect him and jump start him. While he sat holding his sobbing father, Jacob breathed a sigh of utter relief. He wondered what the others were thinking, those masses of people walking past them, beside them, even over them, scurrying onward with their lives. Were they creating his story in their own minds, masking their personal anxiety and doubt, trying to find an exit route from their pain? He realized then what he’d always known: that we’re all feeling the same struggle of humanity, facing the same demons, that in the end, we are all One.
About Alana Silber
Alana Silber, who recently turned 20 years old, was
born in Rochester, New York. Currently, she is an undecided major at DU, but her interests range from Creative Writing to Criminology and Psychology. In addition to attending university here in this amazing city, Alana is a part of Food Recovery Network, as well as a singer in the a cappella group Idiosingcrasies. She is a member of Hillel on campus and hopes to soon be a part of the Lutheran Family Services Refugee Program in Downtown Denver. In her spare time, Alana loves to travel, hike, watch movies, and spend time with her friends. She wants to thank her teacher, Heather Martin, for suggesting that the class submit our pieces, as well as her friends at DU and her family back in New York.
Class of 2021
Many Voices, One DU
Exclusive by Evan R. Kravitz
This is the way I pictured her day unfolding, but it’s only a guess. I never got the chance to ask her. For a stretch of time, we were two narratives bound to collide. When the lines of our lives did eventually intersect, I was forever changed by a woman whose name I have long since forgotten. But I still, clearly, see her face every time I watch some bit of breaking news reporting on a school shooting. My guess is that she went about her morning peacefully, sipping coffee, finishing some work at the kitchen table. A television in the background is muted, but the graphic on the screen catches the corner of her eye. “Breaking News,” it reads, “Reports of shots fired on the Virginia Tech University campus.” Her husband is a professor at the school. He would have been on campus at that very hour, teaching. Alarmed, she calls his cell phone and office. He does not answer. She sends an e-mail. There is no reply. The television, now unmuted, spits out bits and pieces of information, confirmed and unconfirmed, but no one on air is completely sure of the situation. Within the hour she gets call after call. Friends and family worried about her husband. She calls the police and school administrators, but no one can tell her anything. Seemingly in an instant, feeling like an eternity, she gets word of her husband’s murder. He is one of 32 fatalities in a mass shooting on the Virginia Tech campus on April 16th, 2007. Around the time she learned of her husband’s fate, I was sitting in the living room of my home in Philadelphia, six hours north of Blacksburg,
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Virginia, where the campus was located. I watched the breaking news streak across my television screen. Barely a minute of the news report registered before I was on the phone with a network news colleague I had once worked with. She was a producer in New York City, and from time-to-time she got me freelance opportunities producing news pieces. The adrenaline pulsing through her voice was contagious; I felt it too. I could hear the newsroom coming to life in the background. The troops were being mobilized. She told me to get on the road and check in when I arrived on campus. A split-second later I was upstairs throwing clothes into a bag. I don’t remember if I slowed down long enough to say goodbye to my wife. I was out the door and on my way to Virginia Tech. For television news producers, the first minutes of breaking news are a mix of adrenaline and logistics. Context, perspective, and even restraint come later. As a journalist, I was fairly unremarkable, but I thrived on the intensity and excitement of a newsroom. A few bad career decisions sidetracked me from the professional pursuit I loved, but I was clawing my way back. I needed the proverbial “big break” to happen for me at Virginia Tech. Impressive news producing could be leveraged for a fulltime job in New York. That was my mission, and it was my sole reason for going to Virginia Tech. I gave little thought to the magnitude of devastation and the scope of lives lost. Empathy took a backseat to ambition. Thinking back on it, I realize I was operating in the absolute shallowness of my being. A problem, however, was that my experience had been confined to the insular protection of news-gathering in a newsroom. I had very little experience out in the world where news and newsmakers collide. Virginia Tech became the epicenter of the news world that day, and the pace of news-gathering would be furious. My hope was that some nugget of information was yet waiting to be uncovered. Every second of the six-hour drive, I listened to accounts of the tragedy. My head was filled with eyewitness testimony and community reactions. Journalists, like myself, were desperate to collect any scrap of new information. On campus, students were bombarded by news teams. Microphones and cameras shoved into sacred places where students encountered trauma and then clung to one another in grief. Students, in the earliest stages of shock and trauma, described sounds of gun shots, confusion, and feelings
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of pure terror. At the student center, an invasion was underway. Countless reporters, producers, and news trucks blanketed the campus in successive waves like soldiers dropping into a battle zone. It was organized chaos. For whatever reason, the universe took note of my selfish anguish and answered my prayers with a seemingly straightforward assignment. Back in New York, producers found the home address to a slain professor. I was told to quickly make my way there and persuade his wife, now a widow, to grant us an interview before anyone else. Her address wouldn’t be a secret for long. If other producers hadn’t descended on the home already, they would not be far behind me. The house sat, if I remember correctly, in a quiet cul-de-sac not far from the campus. I paused when I got to the front door. I was feeling a bit anxious. But those nerves quickly gave way to thoughts of career success that lay waiting on the other side of her door. I took a deep breath and knocked. A few seconds passed. The door opened slowly, and a woman revealed herself. I had never seen a picture of her, but I knew I was looking at the wife of a murdered husband. Shocked at her appearance, I felt the ground crumble beneath me. Her anguish transmitted through my defenses by a facial expression, which was lifeless. Only hours before, I imagine that face was brimming with love and passion. Her cheeks were grey, and her eyes were swollen and sunken. Any cosmetic touches added that morning had been completely washed away by a steady flow of tears that had long-since evaporated within those early stages of unimaginable grief. Standing there speechless, the career ambition that consumed me less than a minute before was replaced by a hollowness screaming for empathy. I knew I would never be able to forgive myself if I did anything other than wrap my arms around her. She was experiencing utter devastation. I may very well have been her first contact with an outside world that she hoped and prayed would tell her the news accounts were incorrect. But I couldn’t answer those prayers. Every instinct in my body told me to turn and run. But it was the television producer in me that prevailed and clawed its way back to the forefront of my consciousness like a bucket of cold water splashed across my face. I was being paid to get an interview with this woman. The exact words I used to greet her escape me. I no doubt introduced myself as a news producer who was incredibly sorry for her loss. My offer was the opportunity
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to share her grief on television. I was anything but sincere, and I knew I was conning her. What other explanation could there be to justify my being at her front door at this exact moment? Before I could utter another word, a second woman appeared at the door and held the professorâ€™s wife in a warm, protective embrace. Perhaps this was her mother; I do not know. They both looked at me with profound disappointment as they shut the door and shut me out of their lives without ever saying a word. I had seen raw emotion like this before, but only in footage that I helped to condense, enhance, and present from a newsroom far from where the news happened. I was face-to-face with tragedy, and I was completely unprepared to process these emotions. As I walked back to my car, I wondered what the professor and his wife spoke of that morning. Did they part ways as lovers or foes? I thought about the lightning speed with which I left my own wife that morning. I simply took for granted our moment together. For the first time that day, I thought of others. Other cars were pulling up to the house as I walked to mine. Desperately, I wanted to believe these were friends and family coming to be by her side. But these people moved with speed and purpose. They were on deadline. I thought about tackling them to the ground and doing whatever I could to keep them from her. But you cannot stop a television producer in pursuit of an exclusive. There would be countless knocks on her door in the hours and days to come. From the knock alone, she would not be able to tell the difference between those who cared and those who wanted an interview. Defeated, I got back in my car and slumped into my seat. I called the producers in New York and told them there would be no interview today. She was overcome with grief and not ready to talk. I thought that would be the end of it, but I knew better. This scenario was well rehearsed. The producers concluded that she simply needed more time to process the grief. I was told to knock again in a few hours. They also thought about sending her flowers. My memory has faded, considerably, since that day. I try to convince myself that I never went back to her home. Instead, I called and lied to the producers back in New York. It is unimaginable to me that I would have bothered this woman again, but I cannot say for sure. After all, I was a news producer in an ultra-competitive environment. I was doing a job. In all, I
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spent one week on that campus soliciting soundbites and capturing images. The challenge was convincing myself that the job I was being paid to do had some noble purpose. Perhaps it did, but I operated with little conviction, little drive, and little integrity. Students grew irritated with the media’s unrelenting intrusion, and they cursed us. I cannot say I blame them. In a professional sense, I never really recovered from the encounter with the professor’s wife. Years later, I got my shot as a news producer in New York. But my heart wasn’t in it. I knew too much about behind-the-scenes guest wrangling. We ask too much of friends and families of the victims. They say yes when we should say no. Especially during coverage of school shootings, young adults are encouraged by the media to go on television to relive horrors barely processed. Such is the dilemma I continue to grapple with and learn from when I think back to Virginia Tech and what I asked of this woman. When I got laid off in 2013, I decided to go back to school and do something different with my life. I now work as a Career Counselor at a community college in Colorado. Ironically, I sometimes advise students with aspirations of working in broadcast news. I encourage them to pursue their passion, and I cheer them on. Sometimes, I share this story. Perspective takes time to unravel and reveal itself. Our narratives collided and crossed paths for barely a minute, but my life was forever changed by this woman. She shook the foundations of my being with her silence. She stirred empathy. I sometimes wonder what her life has become and how her days are spent. Journalists often circle back to tragic events on their anniversaries. It’s a chance to remember those we lost. I can picture reporters knocking yet again on her door on these occasions. If and when she is ready to talk, I will tune in.
Evan R. Kravitz
About Evan R. Kravitz
Evan R. Kravitz is a recent graduate of the masterâ€™s
program in Higher Education at the University of Denver. He currently works as a Career Counselor at Front Range Community College in Westminster, Colorado. After receiving his bachelorâ€™s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia in 1998, Evan worked as an Associate Producer, Assignment Editor, and Financial News Producer for CNN in Atlanta and New York. In 2015, at the age of 40, Evan turned his sights to higher education and went back to school. Evan credits his time working as a consultant at the DU Writing Center, under the mentorship of Dr. Juli Parrish, for helping to improve his writing. Evan, his wife, Laine, and their daughter, Madeleine, currently reside in Centennial, Colorado.
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The Ten Rules to Surviving a Tornado by Autumn Fredline
Growing up as a child, I have been surrounded by many negative forces, including drug abuse, mental illness, and early death. Even so, when considering the story that has most impacted my life and character, Terrible Tuesday is the one event that comes to mind. Coming from Wichita Falls, Texas, tornado culture is an essential influence on everyone. On April 10th, 1976, an F-4 tornado leveled my home and created a stigma that cast a spell over the area. Nothing was more frightening or more traumatic than seeing nature tear away everything that you know. Somehow, this fear became a hereditary trait, as if evolution had taught us once and for all that the world is to be feared, and not ignored. This gene of mine, the stigma that runs through my veins, haunts me. I will never forget the lesson that the winds taught my family that day. Ever since my mother first told me this story, I have prayed that God would keep us safe from nature every night. I maintain this habit to this day. So far, I have lost no one to a tornado, and yet it is still my greatest fear. I will never be able to fully understand how traumatic the event was, and yet I feel like Iâ€™ve gone through it myself, a sense of paranoia being my only real connection to what happened that day. A constant tornado watch in the spring, a warning or five in May, tornado culture raised me. So, I decided to portray this heavily emotional experience of mine, my motherâ€™s, and my grandmotherâ€™s through my own way of speaking and feeling: poetry. There is a certain difficulty one faces when
trying to portray a story that is not completely theirs. There will always be something missing, or something completely new, but that is the beauty of storytelling. With age, added details come to portray emotion more than reality. By the time my grandchildren hear this story, I’m sure it will be even further embellished to portray the truth more accurately than I do here. In this piece, I discuss the ten major rules I grew up with. No, they don’t address chores, or household expectations, or anything like that. Instead, the ten rules that have been drilled into my head since I was a kid are those that tell me how to live through a twister. These rules are best portrayed through the eyes of my mother, who witnessed the events first hand as a student in the sixth grade, with no knowledge of what true fear was. She would learn that day. The rules my grandmother had taught her would save her life, just as I am sure they saved countless others. Rule #1 to Surviving a Tornado: Don’t trust the winds. Only that siren can tell you what’s coming. Sometimes not even that. When the siren started going, and my mom started panicking, there was barely even a howl to the wind. We call this the calm before the storm. Everything stops. Silence. It seemed like a normal day to 12-year-old me, a native of Wichita Falls. Rule #2 to Surviving a Tornado: The safest room in the house is the one with no windows and no outside walls. Make the divider between you and the 100-mile-per-hour wind more than just a layer of wood and sheetrock. For my family, this safe haven was the closet. No one had the customary storm shelter until after the twister. When my mom told me to get inside, she also told me to grab my shoes and my coat. I remember thinking of my brother, a guard at the prison a mile away, who was supposed to be home by then. I could tell my mother was thinking of him, too, as her movements began to shake with the wind. Rule #3 to Surviving a Tornado: Take everything you can, but don’t take too much. One extra toy could mean life or death. After I grabbed my shoes and coat, like my mom said, I grabbed our poodle, Bridget, and my stuffed Curious George Monkey. I couldn’t grab my
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or my brother’s dog, though. Bridget was just closest to me at the time, I guess. I’m still not sure, in all honesty. Rule #4 to Surviving a Tornado: Grab a couch cushion to hold above your head. It will protect your neck from breaking under the falling debris. I wore the big cushion above my head as if it were some weird kind of hat, just like my mom and dad did. Even through the thick padding, you could hear the heavy wind by now. Rule #5 to Surviving a Tornado: Don’t try to understand anything that happens outside of your safe place. You can’t trust the devil. Along with the wind, there was a train horn blasting full volume. It made a sick harmony with the screaming air that only a sociopath could sway to. A few minutes later, the wind and the train both stopped completely. Rule #6 to Surviving a Tornado: In the middle of a tornado, there’s a calm called the eye of the storm. Don’t think “it’s over” at the first sign of relent, because it’s just beginning. My dad was just starting to open the door when a wood plank flung through it, barely missing his head. That’s when the wind and the train started back up. Rule #7 to Surviving a Tornado: You can’t be too careful before leaving the closet. Wait as long as you can before opening that door. We sat there for a full ten minutes after we heard the last gust of wind. We would have stayed longer, except we heard a scratching noise from outside the door. We weren’t sure if it was my dog or my brother. So we opened the door, greeted the panicking animal, and looked at the damage. There was nothing but rubble. Our house was ruined, Sikes Center Mall leveled. You could literally hear the broken gas pipes leaking. Rule #8 to Surviving a Tornado: Don’t walk around. There might be dead people beneath the debris. Even so, I wandered around. My dogs were okay, running in circles from shock. The bunnies were fine, just tipped over in their cage. I just had to
look for my fish. The glass was shattered, but I couldn’t find the bodies on the ground. However, we did find the bodies of the old couple down the street, buried under wood and dust. The two were holding hands, praying when the storm took them. Rule #9 to Surviving a Tornado: Things won’t just go back to normal afterwards, so don’t expect them to. Follow everyone’s directions, no matter how weird they are. After Dad and some other guy flipped over our van back onto its wheels, it began to grow dark out. My parents told me to stay in the vehicle where my brother would be able to find me with Bridget, Duchess, and ChooChoo for the night, or at least until they could find somewhere to stay. It was so dark, and so quiet… so quiet. I was terrified. Rule #10 to Surviving a Tornado: You don’t come out from a tornado the same way you went in. You don’t trust the silence anymore.
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About Autumn Fredline
Autumn Fredline is a first-year student at DU,
majoring in English with a focus on Creative Writing. Her studies center around poetry, primarily in the realm of spoken word. She grew up in Wichita Falls, Texas, where she raises six dogs, give or take a couple of stray cats. Along with this, she is an activist in both the LGBTQ and Mental Illness communities. She eventually hopes to combine her passions to help others feel included through literature and poetry.
Class of 2021
The University of Denver
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My Grandmother’s Legacy by Rebecca Duffy
The roads were windy and tree-lined as we sped down the back roads of Winchester, Massachusetts. The summertime air was heavy with moisture as it entered our car through the rolled-down window. My sister sat opposite me, gazing out upon the small, unchanging neighborhood. Soon, we rounded the bend, and the brown-coated house was visible. We parked in the driveway under a canopy of leaves and unloaded our luggage out of the trunk. My family and I walked over the speckled, shaded walkway surrounded by overgrown bushes, large trees, and a sky-reaching flagpole bearing a worn American flag. We entered the front door without knocking, for we were always welcome here. No one greeted us as we ventured farther into the house, a place seemingly frozen in time. The couch was floral-patterned and the floor tiles were rimmed with dirt. “This house hasn’t been cleaned in years,” my mom whispered as she held my small, chubby hand. “Don’t touch anything.” “Hello?” an aged voice called out from the study at the back of the house. We entered to see my grandparents standing up to greet us in the dimly lit room. Greetings were exchanged warmly and swiftly, and then we migrated to our designated seats. The room was lined with bookshelves containing biographies and law books, whose dust quantity increased in alignment with the years. The wooden desk across the room mirrored the shelves, overloaded with receipts, to-do lists, pens, and a clock counting the moments that
the television droned on in the corner of the room. My wide eyes surveyed this environment and settled on my grandparents, who inhabited this worn, tender domain. My grandfather, a small man, wore plaid and khakis as he grinned at his son and the rest of his family. My grandmother, wearing pearls and a gold watch, sat cross-legged and content, her dyed blonde hair beginning to show its grey roots. Wire-rimmed glasses obscured her bare face as her eyes focused upon us. We visited them about once a year, usually in the summer, when we made our way to Cape Cod located only an hour away from their home. I was never very close to them as a child, especially not my grandmother. The ten-hour drive made our visits infrequent. They were rather gruff people, as one would have to be after raising seven rowdy children. My parents conversed politely with them, asking about recent activities, politics, and family members. However, my interest soon waned and my young self became increasingly bored. I reflected on the times my grandfather took me onto his lap and brought out a large, overstuffed photo album. Then he would proceed to tell me of his glory days when he could walk without need of a cane. Although I tolerated his avid retellings, I would find myself gazing at my mother, pleading for rescue. My grandmother never told my sister or me any stories. I hardly knew anything about her life, and she was never open to share. However, during this vacation, a topic arose which prompted her to tell of her own experiences, a rarity to which I quickly took an interest. “I studied law and then went on to own my own banks,” my grandfather recounted to us, “I followed my dreams with this decision and it payed off!” “You know, I never really had that opportunity,” my grandmother interrupted, surprising us with her sudden proposal of information. She continued by explaining how in school, she always greatly excelled in the fields of science and math. This ease of calculations was in her blood, she said, as her father founded a successful chemical company, and her two older brothers graduated college with degrees that led them to become a doctor and an engineer respectively. Therefore, my grandmother planned to graduate college and find herself employed in similar fields. However, her father envisioned her working a different, more reserved occupation. “I was hoping you would study majors that would open doors to you be-
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coming a secretary or a nurse,” he had told her. “It is a critical and harsh world for women entering the science fields.” My grandmother had been taken aback as she viewed the stoic man before her. She enjoyed both math and science, and wondered how her brothers could pursue success in these fields, but she could not. However, she viewed his advice as plausible. After all, a woman in the science field was quite unheard of. She explained to us that in this time period, women were secretaries, nurses, or teachers. Therefore, she would plan to be the same. Of course, she resented the fact that her gender predetermined her occupation and that she was unable to pursue what she loved. Nonetheless, she heeded his advice. In 1947, she entered Simmons College, a prestigious, young women’s college located in Boston. Its tree-spotted campus and contemporary curriculum made it a prime choice for my grandmother to study nursing. However, she quickly realized her instant dislike for the major and changed to business shortly thereafter. “I just couldn’t envision myself with the responsibility of caring for someone,” she commented as inflections began to appear in her voice, “I imagined it could be a heavy burden. Plus, it was just plain gross! I decided changing bedpans wasn’t for me.” Her four years at Simmons passed rapidly. Her days were filled with studying, socials, and planning for her future as a secretary. She graduated in 1951 with confidence and high expectations. However, her interest in science never wavered, and she landed a job at Draper Labs. Dr. Draper was a balding man with glasses who allowed my grandmother access to the high security files located in the laboratory. Only he and my grandmother had the privilege of viewing these documents, or in her case, filing them. However, this did not stop her from looking over these complex papers, allowing her to indulge in the dreams she could not pursue. “One day, I found myself gazing at those papers again. However, this time, something was different,” she told us. She had noticed that multiple formulas were sporting major miscalculations. Hesitantly, she debated correcting the wrongs. However, she was sure of her intelligence and subtly made the corrections. Later, Dr. Draper discovered it was she who made the alterations to the documents, and
commended her for her quick eye and judgment. Nonetheless, her career in science went no further than this particular afternoon. “And then I met your grandfather on a blind date, and the rest is history!” she said as she leaned forward in her seat, eyes wide and reflective. She was referring to her marriage to the young veteran in 1954 and the life they made for themselves and their children in that monotone, federal styled house. I watched her as she repositioned herself in her leather recliner, hands clasped and ankles crossed, almost blending back into her previous mindset. She had appeared to me as stoic and almost regal, a figure in my life who had always seemed untouchable. But here, she had opened up to us, to me, in a vulnerable way that allowed me to see both how compassionate she was and also how blessed I am. She had struggled to abandon her excellence in science in order to comply with the gender limitations of her society, while I had grown up in an era where my limitations were defined only by my dedication. Our shoes clicked down the tile-lined hallway, and we passed chipping paint on our way to the door. My grandparents had bid us goodbye from their study, and I looked back upon their figures. My grandmother’s story still weighed on my mind as I considered the woman who wanted to achieve greatness in her young age, yet found herself ensnared by the coils of expectation and a monotonous destiny. However, her current alignment with her routine background was one of choice. I mulled over the possibilities I had for my life, opportunities that were unattainable to my grandmother as a young woman in the late 40’s. I hoped to find my own “errors” in my chosen field of study, one that would mimic my grandmother in their display of intelligence and perseverance.
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About Rebecca Duffy
Rebecca Duffy grew up in the countryside of
the tiny village of Lincoln, Virginia. She moved to Denver when she was 12 and is now a freshman at the University of Denver. Her major is currently undeclared, however she has a strong interest and passion for Art, English, and History. She loves to curl up with a good book and read for hours on end. She lives with her parents and has one older sister and a little dog named Annie.
Class of 2021
The University of Denver
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Janus by Kamila Kinyon
She looked at the suitcase into which she had thrown the belongings they would need for the next year. For the next year? Or for a lifetime? It wasn’t clear how long they would be gone or if they would ever be coming back. The shock of the invasion was still whirling in her mind. She had been returning home to Prague from the weekend house at Hraďištko, and the cars were driving at insane speeds. Something out of the ordinary must be happening. She only found out about the invasion after returning home, because the house at Hraďištko didn’t have a phone. Back in their apartment, her husband told her he had gotten a call the night before from their friend Málek. The Soviets were invading. Shortly after the call, her husband had observed the glasses in their apartment shaking from the vibrations of the planes that flew overhead delivering tanks to their destination. The Prague Spring of 1968 was over. A lot of things were over. Three days after the invasion, they went to Václavské Náměstí to protest. Crowds of people were surrounding the tanks, admonishing the drivers to go home. No, there wasn’t a counter-revolution in Czechoslovakia. There was just socialism with a human face. Five days after the invasion, she had gone to work at the children’s hospital. After several years of searching and waiting, a promising opportunity had presented itself. She had recently been offered the position of radiologist here and was settling in to her new job in the much sought for central precinct of Prague. She had given up her dream job when her daughter was born, but now that her kid was old enough to stay
with the nanny, she was glad to be returning to work that she loved. Today she would have been perfectly happy at the children’s hospital, looking one by one at the x-rays, were it not for the aftershocks of the invasion reflected in the faces around her and mirrored in her own. Suddenly the phone rang. She answered it. It was her husband. The visas they had gotten before the invasion were still valid. They could still get on the train, cross the border to Vienna, and take a plane to New York. They needed to leave in four hours. When driving home to pack, she had to take a circuitous route, because of the tanks that were now strategically located to block the bridges. As she drove, she thought about the future. It would be such an easy departure. Her husband had a one-year visiting position as physicist at Princeton. They would come back in a year. Would they come back in a year? Her mother opened the door and came in with her daughter. Mom and kid were both in good spirits. They had been shoe shopping. Her kid was wearing the new shoes, showing them off. “We have to leave in three hours, maminko. We’re catching the train to Vienna.” Her mom just stared at her without a word, then stared at the child with the new shoes that would now get worn out in a foreign country. Her mind flew back to her past and to her three kids who had died in childhood, leaving her with only one daughter. Now her daughter and granddaughter were leaving her too. There wasn’t much time for conversation. Vladana had to finish with the suitcase. Adding things. Taking things out. What would the weather be like in Princeton? Did she have enough sweaters for the fall and winter? What would they read? Maybe a book or two. Thomas Mann? Čapek? There was no time to fold the clothes right. Her mom was pretending that she wasn’t starting to cry. Her father was ill following several strokes, and was sleeping in his bedroom. She had to wake him up to tell him the news that they were leaving for the United States. He just nodded and wished her luck, saying he would bid them goodbye in the courtyard. He got dressed and came down as her husband rang the bell downstairs. As he said goodbye to her husband, it was the first time they had spoken in weeks due to an argument about a matter of no importance. Then her husband’s uncle Tonda drove them to the train station where her father-in-law was waiting to say goodbye to them. They boarded the train with apprehension, but there were no police, only a customs officer. They had to declare what they were bringing out, so it
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could be checked if the items would be returned again. She wrote that she had a gold necklace. The officer stamped the document saying, “Here it is, but you won’t be needing that again.” She felt the tears coming to her eyes at this comment. The crossing of the border was almost eerie in its lack of friction or opposition. Usually, there would be police with guns inspecting for illegal border crossings at the towers that hovered over the barbed wire fences. Usually, police would enter the train and inspect the hollow spaces below the roof where potential fugitives might hide. Usually, there would be men with flashlights checking both the top and bottom of the train to verify that nobody was clinging there. But today there was just the customs officer, an unusually friendly man. She wrote a short letter to her parents confirming that they had safely crossed the border, and she asked the officer if he could mail it for them. They didn’t have a stamp. He agreed, put his own stamp on it, and dropped it in the mailbox from which it quickly reached its destination. It was only much later that they found out the reason for the strangely easy border crossing. They learned that the government wanted potential troublemakers to depart, thus leaving the border open for almost three months before cracking down again. If only she had realized that in the frenzied rush of her packing. Before they knew it, they were in Vienna. Having only been able to obtain her husband’s plane ticket, they had arranged for their parents to send an acquaintance with money withdrawn from the bank. Vienna was responding to the invasion, since so many Czechs were stranded there. Like them, some were fleeing. Others had been on vacation when the invasion happened, and didn’t know if they could get back. Free items and services for Czechs included frankfurters in street booths, food at restaurants, and even haircuts in some of the salons. They didn’t make use of any of this, since they felt other Czechs were worse off and needed it more. They now had a week. A week in Vienna. Might as well make the best of it. They spent a day in the Schönbrunn Palace and another at the Belvedere Palace Museum. It was almost like a vacation. Their passion for travel was of an intensity found only in those enclosed by walls. They had spent their youth with a closely watched seamless border wrapped around their country, the police with machine guns patrolling the towers. And now here they were in Vienna perusing the menus and wondering where to eat. Their three-year-
old didn’t share their excitement for Viennese food. Sensing that something was wrong, even beneath the veneer of an unexpected vacation, she refused to eat except in the hotel room. Finally, the acquaintance arrived, and the money for the plane tickets was obtained. The plane propelled itself into the air with what seemed an inexorable finality. The old world was left behind. Ten hours later, as the plane emerged from a cloudy sky to nighttime in New York, a new scene revealed itself. “Vánoční stromeček! Vánoční stromeček!” her kid exclaimed. It did indeed look like a Christmas tree with the profusion of lights over the Big Apple. Once they arrived in Princeton, it was time to start a new life. Švandova 18 was replaced by Hibbon 7B. The three stories of steps with that broken one where you sometimes tripped were replaced by an elevator where her daughter couldn’t reach the 7th floor button without jumping. The walks she had once made with her daughter to the gardens of Kinská Zahrada and Petřín, which at that time didn’t yet have its memorial to the victims of Communism, were replaced by walks through the dense forest that connected their apartment building to the town. Accompanied by her daughter, she now walked through that forest carrying heavy bags of groceries, all because they first didn’t have a car and then crashed the old junker they could finally afford on a patch of slippery black ice. The alarm at five in the morning to get her to work on time was replaced by sleeping in late and then fixing up the house with some makeshift bricks and boards and a newly arranged ikebana. “Dobrý den, paní doktorko Kuchařová” was replaced by “Hi, Vladaaana.” Fear was replaced by nostalgia. The seasons went by. Fall gave way to winter. She bought a Christmas tree on sale. Her husband decorated it with origami birds. Origami was his time off from the intensity of Princeton. The Christmas tree was in a corner and her daughter would hide behind it and draw. Then one day a letter arrived from her mother. Her father was very ill. He had had another stroke. A week later she was in the kitchen making lunch for her daughter and her friend Nicole. The phone rang. It was Prague. Her father had died. She went to the living room and sank onto the couch. She tried to control her emotions around the kids, but tears were in her eyes. Nicole saw her and asked what was wrong. Her daughter was preoccupied inventing a puppet show and seemed oblivious to her surroundings. It would be another six months
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before her three-year-old startled her by asking out of the blue: “Mámo, if grandpa is dead, does that mean we won’t see him anymore?” But now she was so deeply absorbed in her game that she made no sign of recognition. Christmas was a week away. Winter gave way to spring. The magnolias were in full bloom. She was able to wear her spring clothes. Today, she was wearing a white suit and shoes with low heels. Her husband took a picture as she walked with her daughter on the Princeton campus, her daughter balancing on her tiptoes on top of a brick wall to see the world from a higher vantage point. White as newly fallen snow, that suit stood out among the pink magnolias, a strangely incongruous emblem of European elegance on a campus filled with hippie students lounging on the grass with tangled long hair and torn jeans. Eventually she changed her own appearance too. With time on her hands that she wasn’t used to having, she bought sewing kits. It was quite a contrast from having a seamstress in Prague. Now she bought some cloth and spread it over the apartment floor, pinning it onto the pattern. She made herself a jumpsuit out of brown cloth with a circle pattern, and her husband bought her a leather clasp for her growing hair. Without enough money for haircuts, her flowing thick black hair now fit in more closely with the hippie era. She dreaded the time when they would need to inform the Czech government of their decision. A one-year extension was granted and the months rolled by, but they knew that a second extension was not possible. While it had felt twenty months ago as if they were fleeing in a state of disarray, they had technically left legally. The permission for a sojourn in the United States had been granted before the invasion. If the deadline to return were passed, they would await the judgment of their country. What would happen if they then returned after missing that fatal date? Prison? Worse? Would they ever see their families again? Her husband was thriving in the Princeton physics department. His one-year contract had been extended to two and then to five. Prague had seemed like a prison to him, with the closed borders, the inability to travel, the insular and enclosed physics community that could make so little contact with the outside world. Since the invasion, the situation had worsened in Prague. Dubček had been ousted from power, and the reforms of the Prague Spring seemed a hazy dream from the distant past. They didn’t talk about making a decision. They both knew that the deci-
sion had already been made, had already been anticipated with the original departure. Her mother didn’t know though, or only suspected. It was necessary to let her know. Their friends Vláďa and Zuzana stopped by to visit them when returning to Prague from Canada. They had also left after the invasion, and had spent two years in Vancouver. Zuzana wanted to stay, but Vláďa insisted on returning to help the elderly parents and relatives they had left behind. They talked about their experiences and about the future. She asked them to visit her parents to break the news that their family would not be returning. It would be better for them to hear it from friends before reading it in her letter. She now had to let them know in her own words. As she sat down to write her weekly letter, she started with the usual report of the happenings of the week. They had gone to the campus art museum twice. Her daughter, mesmerized by Picasso’s “Head of a Woman,” had spent two hours lying on the floor and replicating it line by line. Her husband was preparing a conference paper. He was in the middle of a project with John Wheeler, and they had been invited to visit him and his wife in Maine, on their private island. She could have gone on indefinitely with the list of the newest happenings and plans. But the letter had to get finished. She planned to give it to the postman in less than an hour. Her pen suspended in midair, she was mustering up the courage to write what had to be written. Had she been able to see into the future, she would have known that her mother would be visiting them regularly. She would have known that the government had no motive for paying pensions to the retired, rather wishing to let the elderly leave. She would have realized that their sentence would be five years in prison, but that, by a propitious agreement dating back to World War I, U.S. citizenship would cancel Czech citizenship and allow them to visit again. She would have seen the trips back, the sense of disorientation, the changing slang in the capitol city that made them feel like strangers in both lands. She would have intuited her feelings when encountering the children’s hospital in Prague against the backdrop of her American experiences—where her foreign medical degree didn’t count, where it wasn’t feasible to redo medical school after eleven years in a specialized profession, where her one fleeting job with artificial hearts research was a dead end. She would then have seen herself returning to empty the
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houses of the dead, of her mother, her mother-in-law, her husband’s aunts. She would have seen herself and her husband in the Sisyphean effort to save the fragmented emblems of their past. What should be kept? What sold or given away? The material residue of memory having been emptied out, she would have seen herself returning to her beloved homeland not as the talented young doctor she used to be, but as an occasional tourist. First still under Communism and later after the Velvet Revolution, she would go back to show her daughter the places they had once inhabited—the path where they would take strolls through the Kampa in Prague, the spot on the Vltava where the canoe had tipped over, Konopiště by the hospital where she had once worked, the site of the luxury villa her father had built only to have the Communists confiscate it after the war. She would return, and again she would return until the time when her own failing health would prevent it. Had she been able to see the future, she would have anticipated these things, but as she suspended her pen in the air, accidentally knocking down a cup of half-drunk coffee, the future was about as clear as the fog that had swallowed up San Francisco on their recent trip. She ran to the kitchen for a towel to clean up the spilled coffee, and then, procrastinating no longer, she put the pen on paper to write those fated words to her mother: “We won’t be coming back.”
About Kamila Kinyon
Kamila Kinyon was three when her family immigrated
to the United States from Czechoslovakia following the Soviet Invasion of 1968. Because of her family upbringing, Kamila maintained close ties to Czech culture. This motivated her decision to focus her dissertation on Slavic immigrant literature. Kamila received a PhD from the University of Chicagoâ€™s Department of Comparative Literature in 2000, after which she taught literature and writing at Indiana University South Bend. Since 2006, Kamila has been part of DUâ€™s Writing Program, where she is now a Teaching Associate Professor.
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Cosmos in the Calm by Blake Harris
The recycling bin rumbled in the darkness, the noise reverberating down the neighborhood streets while I rolled it to the curb. As I stared wearily ahead, it served only to join the cacophony of sounds and stressors that had consumed my mind for the past several months. Never before had I felt so much at odds: at one end of a chasm that had formed between me and the life I had led these 16 years prior. Never before had I understood the implications of belief, of coming to my own conclusions about the nature of reality. As a salient principle, ideology, when contrary to that held by everyone around you, divides and isolates completely. My stomach clenchedâ€”it seemed as if a weight was pressing harder and harder upon it over the course of this week. I winced, my breath condensing in the frigid air. I am entirely alone. The bin crashed to a stop, and as I stood motionless in the cold December evening, an uncanny sensation came upon me. It startled me and I felt my heart begin to drum within my chest as the sensation became ever more palpable. I realized that, for the first time during this sophomore year of high school, silence had jolted me awake. I was stuck, frozen, but of my own volition. The scene was strangely calming: The stars above blanketed me, warming me in their glow. In that moment I felt compelled to look up. As I did, my eyes were caught in the beam of Earthâ€™s perennial shadow: the Moon. I had thought little about it before, but for now it transfixed me. The light had travelled an incredible distance to reach me, and yet, in the grand picture, it
was no length at all. I felt my expression soften. I am but a speck in the schema of the universe. If an asteroid were headed towards Earth, we would not notice. If we did, it would shock us: The existence of an object outside our lives and our planet. Indeed, there is a sense in which we live oblivious to the universe that surrounds us and in which we exist. It would thus be an alien experience to find yourself not grounded to Earth, but instead floating completely alone in the midst of space. Silently drifting, your thoughts would be filled only with an awareness of the infinite machinations surrounding youâ€”a tiny, conscious speck. You would probably feel a penetrating loneliness, that familiar aching void; it comes upon us in times of transition, it is there at the end of conversations leaving us wishing more was said, and it consumes us when a loved one leaves through death or otherwise. In so many ways, loneliness is something that afflicts us all; experienced over the course of a lifetime, it becomes something of a familiar friend. However, it also holds great opportunity. I find that the most endearing figures of history are those who, in doing extraordinary things, were completely alone and later forgotten, whose stories, forgotten by us, are filled with threads of doubt and faith, of fear and loneliness, all coalescing into something of tremendous beauty. We have all heard of the Apollo 11 mission, and we can probably recite Neil Armstrongâ€™s famous line upon taking his first step on the Moon. We might even be able to recall fuzzy, black and white images of two astronauts (Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin) bouncing on the lunar surface. However, what if I were to tell you that the Apollo 11 mission was not comprised of just two astronauts, but instead that there was a third? Someone for whom the experience of floating completely alone in the reaches of space was a reality. Someone whose experience of loneliness and doubt (though we can sympathize with it) was vastly different from our own. The story of the forgotten astronaut of the Apollo 11 mission is one that leads us to consider reality at a macrocosmic level, to think not only of the beauty of the universe, but also of our place in it. This is the story of a man whose isolation in the midst of space led to a profound and enviable awareness of the expansive reality of which we are all a part. â€Ś
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The Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) detached, leaving Michael Collins as the sole astronaut left inside the Command Module. As he peered out from the small window, the LEM stalked silently behind. It seemed rigid and lifeless, but Collins knew better. He knew, at least he hoped, that underneath the copper-colored foil were two human beings: astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Hopefully still breathing. Object permanence (or a lack thereof) was a familiar mental state for Collins, best described as vengeful doubt, one that preyed on his worried mind in times of debilitating loneliness. It shadowed him back on Earth, where he would spend hours each day training apart from the two human beings who would accompany him into space. During those times, he consoled himself that his partners were surely there, though not immediately visible. This moment was no different. As Collins’s mind began to frantically wander, he felt that familiar question arise: Could it be that I am completely alone in this universe? Could it be that, this very second, the LEM lies without passenger? He shook his head and quietly laughed. These were not the most helpful of thoughts for the time being. How could I be alone with Houston buzzing in my ear? No, the mission of Apollo 11 will culminate in Neil and Buzz landing on the Moon. I will orbit and watch from above. His sole responsibility was to consider the lives of his fellow astronauts and ensure their safe return to Earth. In the words of Jethro Tull, “I’m with you LEM / Though it’s a shame that it had to be you. / The mother ship is just a blip / From your trip made for two.” As he sat in near silence, his view was made up of three objects: the LEM, the surface of the Moon, and the Earth. Three objects and yet a billion more. Collins reached to take a picture of the scene. Contained in one image was every person who had ever lived; that is, except for the one behind the camera. He saw from 238,900 miles away the stage of human history, filled with the sounds of newborn cries and dying breaths. The cradle of the human race was wrapped in a white-blue bow. The air-to-ground voice transmission crackled in his ears: Neil and Buzz were preparing to descend. Collins watched as the LEM sulked directly below the Command Module. Then, like a bomb in slow-motion, it fell towards the lunar surface. Michael Collins was now entirely alone.
… The bird’s chirp became fainter as it flew away from my bedroom window. In its place, the scent of morning dew drifted in to reach me. Sitting silently at the edge of my bed, I watched with tired eyes as the sun began to poke across the horizon and morning fog, rest having evaded me throughout the night. Fatigued, I dropped my head into my hands and sighed over the sleep deprivation that had come to characterize my daily life. I sat for a couple of minutes, listening as I did. Not a single car was on the road, nor was any sound to be heard. For all I knew, I was the only human being left on this planet. What a forlorn thing that would be. Yet, in so many ways, such had become the nature of my existence. I shuddered as a cool draft of wind blew into the room. In that moment, the stillness of a dreary morning was witnessed only by me: a symphony with an audience of one. A faint smile crept across my face. Lord, you are good. … Collins was a dot of chrome over a grey landscape. In his earpiece, he heard instructions from Houston and relayed them back to Neil and Buzz. From one side of the Command Module, he passed over the pocked and wrinkled surface of the Moon. As he looked into the sextant, he saw that the terrain was marked with dark circles of varying sizes and depths, each one a scar left by the impact of a comet or asteroid. On the other side, the darkness of space was smattered with white stars. Unlike on Earth, the stars did not twinkle, since the Moon has very little by way of an atmosphere. Instead, the stars punctured through the thick gloom of space. From lightyears away, they were motionless; if he looked away and turned back, they were still there. If Buzz and Neil were unable to make it back to him, the stars would continue to shine. No matter how hard he tried to direct his thoughts toward the mission, these distant bodies remained permanent. In the past, people tried to make the stars personal—configuring them into the shape of beasts and men. Collins sighed; from his vantage point within the cramped space of the Command Module, they were balls of burning hydrogen, nothing more. What could be wrong with that? What is wrong with stripping away the dross of human arrogance to reveal plain reality? The universe was not created to reflect Earth, or worse, to reflect humanity.
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Buzz was now chanting over the transmission, relaying data points as Neil lowered the LEM toward the surface. Collins peered below, trying desperately to imagine the scene, but, like the morning after a vivid dream, he could not seem to conjure an image. His hands gripped the inside of the Command Module and a bead of sweat ran down his face. Every possible outcome ran through his mind. More than anything else, he feared that Neil and Buzz would not be making the trip back to Earth. Suddenly, the transmission crackled and Neil shouted “Program alarm!” Collins pressed against the window, gripped with worry. Houston quickly dismissed the alarm, but Collins stayed where he was, uneasily clenching the cold metal. Minutes went by. Houston and the two in the LEM shot numbers back and forth to each other. One minute, two minutes, three minutes, four minutes. He heard Houston come through. “Eagle, Houston. You’re go for landing. Over.” Five minutes, six minutes. Buzz was chanting again. Seven minutes, eight minutes. Neil shouted, “Contact light.” The LEM had touched the surface. Collins exhaled slightly. Twenty-four seconds later, Neil came through the transmission, bringing a smile to Collins’s face. “The Eagle has landed.” In his excitement, Collins caught a glimpse of the mission insignia on the arm of his suit. He had designed the image. It was an eagle descending onto the Moon. In its talons was an olive branch, a symbol that their arrival was in peace. He had decided not to place any of the astronaut’s names on the patch, thinking instead that Neil and Buzz were to be representatives of all humanity. Collins’s role, on the other hand, was far from lunar diplomacy: He was collateral. Imprisoned in orbit, he would be returned if Neil and Buzz pointed the world to recognize the sky above them, even if only for a moment. It was a job assigned to them seven years earlier, when President Kennedy had thundered, “There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many [sic.] never come again.” The quarters inside the Command Module were growing dim as the sun flattened across the edge of the Moon, creating a bronze glow. It looked like fire spreading across the surface. The air-to-ground voice transmission was fading into a dull static; he could hardly make out the voices on the other
end. The dark side of the Moon was approaching. He would be completely cut off from human contact for 47 minutes. He watched as the flames receded, dragging a sheet of darkness over the surface. They jumped behind the Moon with a flicker, leaving Collins entirely alone in a dark, motionless sea. At a later time, a member of Mission Control remarked, “Not since Adam has any human known such solitude as Mike Collins is experiencing during this 47 minutes of each lunar revolution.” Yet, as Collins sat in relative darkness, he felt his shoulders relax and his mind blissfully drift. He was 47 minutes alone, alongside everything in existence; 47 minutes left to his own thoughts, while witnessing the thoughts of the Creator all around him. Having been granted reprieve from the distractions of human life, Collins floated in silence, and rightfully so: The words of Earth could not be stretched to describe the immensity of the scene. It was a state of perfect awareness. For Collins, each revolution around the Moon was two hours long, with a 47-minute loss of signal. During one of these periods of silence, Neil took the historic step off of the LEM. Upon regaining signal, Mission Control informed Collins that Neil and Buzz were setting up the U.S. flag. They crackled into Collins’s earpiece: “I guess you’re about the only person around that doesn’t have TV coverage of the scene.” Collins smiled at this. “That’s all right. I don’t mind a bit.” Earth was beginning to peek out from behind the Moon. Collins thought of Neil and Buzz, still feeling slightly anxious—the mission was far from over. In a matter of hours, the LEM would lift from off of the lunar surface to rendezvous with the Command Module. If it has enough fuel and nothing goes wrong, they would be regarded as heroes. If not, Michael Collins would have a smear across his name for the rest of his life. He felt his heartrate begin to rise, and as he did, he realized that his own life, as well as the lives of Neil and Buzz, would leave no real impact on the Moon either way. After all, a single tear or more cannot extinguish the sun. In this realization of time and space, Collins felt a strange calmness set in, comforted by the fact that he could never, by willpower alone, ensure the safety of Neil and Buzz. He strained again to picture the two astronauts in his mind, but the image was still beyond his grasp. In contrast to the dominating scene before him, the memories of human existence seemed insignificant. Collins closed
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his eyes. If the worst were to happen to the mission, then nothing of importance would have changed within the universe. … With the completion of the Apollo 11 mission, of which Michael Collins’s successful rendezvous with the LEM was a crucial part, the United States became the first country in the world to place human beings on the Moon, consequently winning the “Space Race.” After returning to Earth, Michael Collins repeatedly denied feeling any sense of loneliness while orbiting the Moon. This is understandable. The distinction between loneliness and being alone is an ancient one. It is not so much the sum of individuals around us that coaxes the loneliness to steal in, but the perceived efficacy of our personhood and the solidity of our relation to a higher cause or reality. For those on Earth, it is the natural tendency to ignore the asteroid, an object that conflicts with our standard, microcosmic perception. I suppose this is the comfortable thing to do: to delude ourselves into believing that we are something more than mere specks on a solitary cosmic oasis. But then this might also presume that the universe was created solely for us, or even that the physical realm alone is the deaf stage of human accomplishment, however ultimately meaningless. Maybe so, but I suspect that such is not the case; there is something much more grand at play. In moments of silence, we are reminded of the larger picture of reality and of our human responsibility to inquire of it. It is this perspective which assuages our experience of loneliness, doubt, and fear. Indeed, in a crowd gazing at their own shadow, ignoring the roar of the universe, there is freedom in simply looking up.
About Blake A. Harris
Blake A. Harris is a junior at the University of
Denver. He was born and raised not far from campus, just 20 minutes away in Lakewood, Colorado. Currently, Blake is pursuing a double major in Philosophy and Communication Studies in the hopes of one day becoming a Philosophy professor. It should be noted that he is a transfer student, having come to DU a year ago from Colorado Christian University.
Class of 2019
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Icarus by Micala Khavari
Some little boys run away to the circus, others down rafts along the Mississippi. Still, others run away to New York City, or to islands of pleasure. However, there was only one who took flight, his dreams reality for what seemed a few moments—a dreamer who was inevitably pulled down to earth. Blocks of white towers and winding corridors sprawl just to the edge of the near forest. To a young boy’s imagination, the buildings are a pristine labyrinth that he wishes he could escape into. Yet, his imagination goes further, onto the airplanes that are a conduit of dreams. Young Cyrous presses his small frame into the metal fence that separates him from Mehrabad International Airport. By now he’s a common fixture, and no one questions why he’s there. They don’t have to because they can see it in his eyes; they widen as he drinks in the sight of people, at the airplane’s graceful maneuvering. A smile alights his face as he hears the thunderous engine above the din of crowds. At age eleven, the airport is the only place he feels peace, even freedom. It’s unexplainable as to why, even to him; it even eludes him when his parents interrogate him as to why he sneaks out. And it’s a mystery when his father later beats him in punishment. But this is a familiar routine to Cyrous, and he doesn’t regret the price he pays for his dream. It’s the next year when fortune turns in his favor; he’ll be on an airplane to England, then on to America. He hears whisperings from his younger
brother that it’s specifically to get Cyrous out of his father’s sight. Cyrous couldn’t be more overjoyed. Time rushes into later summer, sweeping over Cyrous and suddenly up to the airport that he can finally go into. His eldest brother holds his bag; it’s a sweet and quiet gesture he’s known for. The rest of his family, including aunts and uncles, ring around him, but their faces become a blur in memory, as he memorizes the shining insides of the airport. He’ll be traveling with a widow and her three sons. They’re all warm to him, energetic in a way that he feels his family is lacking. Goodbye is not sad. His family has only joy for him and his new adventure. The reasons for the expedition do not matter. The plane is a stylish and elite Boeing, with colorful, beautiful flight attendants. Cyrous is euphoric as the plane takes off. He’s escaped a suffocating prison. The plane ride is uneventful, yet every nerve of his body feels seeped and burning in undiluted happiness. It transcends every thought through the six-hour plane ride to England. He knows that flying in a plane is his destiny and that someday he’ll be the one flying. They reach England. There are no mountains like omnipresent waves waiting to crush him. There are only hills and the mists that veil them. Nevertheless, Cyrous jitters with excitement. That’s when he hears his name in English for the first time. “Sigh-rus Kavari?” The attendant is confident that this is how his name is pronounced, so he doesn’t correct her. Yet, he can’t help feeling taken aback; it’s not the “see-roos” of his mother, who says it like honey on her tongue and happiness in her eyes as she speaks to him. It is not the “Khavari” of his father, who says the ‘kh’ together, from the back of his throat like he is about to breathe fire. No, his name is now a flat shadow, it doesn’t hold music or the authority that it used to. Cyrous looks around. The widow looks tired, he starts to worry whether he’s a burden to her, he decides he must be. The airport is larger and dirtier than the Mehrabad airport. English swirls around him, restricting him from everyone besides the people he traveled with. And for the first time, Cyrous wonders what the full price must be for him to live his dreams, even if it’s only a little while. Time goes by. He starts to look like the man that years later will be photographed by Vogue in a Paris coffee shop: the wide cheekbones of pride, thick dark hair, and eyebrows like caterpillars (the equivalent of a good handshake in Iran). But before he can go to Paris, Venice, and Rome, he
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sits in a boarding school classroom. When he first came to the school, he would walk around like some ancient Hero, skin of bronze. His new classmates quickly remind him that he is still a dark-skinned teenager in 1960’s Alabama. He pretends that others don’t notice the dents that accumulate on his body and mind. Most of the time he is flippant about them himself. However, he does feel the years since he’s seen written Persian when he reads that his gentle older brother has committed suicide. He remembers his brother’s notes and secrets in the margins of books, poems written on candy wrappers. He hunts in his mind to remember what his brother’s hands felt like as they handed Cyrous his suitcase. He lies in his little dorm room, contemplating whether the soul of an artist perhaps was just too wide for the dark catacombs of life. Does the soul of a Dreamer belong in the body of a Khavari? The questions about his brother’s death are never-ending and they tumble around in his head. Time trickles by for some. They cry about leaving high school. But for Cyrous it’s a wind that rips and coerces him on and on in a place that looks too little like the life he’s imagined. He has to repeat grades because English refuses to cooperate. His nose gets broken more times than he remembers. And if he could just memorize the scent of saffron water and pomegranate again, then maybe he could know peace. Still, he pushes forward and then on one fine day, not unlike the ones in his childhood, he receives his pilot’s license. And the sky! The sky he had longed to be lost in! It is more than his twelve-year old self conceived. More than his teenage confusion hoped to find clarity in. The sky is no longer blue and unchanging; no, the truth of it is that moving through the sky is like observing the insides of a jewelry box. When he is in the air and in control he can finally see where his life is going, the plan that some power has laid out for him. It’s as orderly and understandable as the star charts he pores over. Here, where time has lulled and thunder purrs, happiness is a word in English he fully understands. Decades later, hands shaking and soft, like molded wax, he tells his children of flying. He tells them that he’s going to get back to the sky, to touch the face of God. Unlike the days of his youth, you can tell the wings that made him feel untouchable have diminished. Now his bronze façade has folded. When he moves it seems his bones crunch and shift to keep him up-
right. Perhaps he is being solidified into a statue, to be recognized as a myth to his children. For now, when one of his youngest daughters is still young enough to believe in such faded glory, he’ll put a hand against her cheek where it still thrums with wind-swept exuberance. He’ll whisper promises of flying and joy unknown. She’ll look at him wondering just how close her Icarus flew to the sun. Still he’ll insist, urgently going on about the secret to making great Halvah. This younger daughter will look back at him with his eyes and mouth and cheekbones. This younger daughter will see her father smaller than he ever has been in her memory. Finally, this younger daughter will understand why Icarus flew so high, and she’ll take the world in one giant gulp, just as her father did before her.
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About Micala Khavari
Micala Khavari is a first-generation college stu-
dent and is first-generation Persian-American. She is also a first-year International Studies student from Arvada, Colorado. She has a heart for Jesus, storytelling, and immigration reform. This is her first published piece and, hopefully, the first of many more.
Class of 2021
The University of Denver
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Knitting a Friendship by Rebecca Macey
When I departed from the small village in Morocco, I gave my knitting needles to my friend Najima. Although prized possessions in many Moroccan communities, they had no great value to the woman in this particular village. They do not simmer cumin and lentils nor sickle bushels of barley. They do not wash weeks of soiled clothes nor raise children. The other women preferred to prod me for pots, pans, a sofa, or a fan. These village women were specialists in families not crafts. But, to Najima, the twin twelve-inch objects were her most intimate companions. I had arrived in this mountain village as a Peace Corps volunteer packing an adventurous spirit, do-gooder attitude, and a tailwind of independence. Morocco beckoned enchantment and even danger to a college graduate of Midwestern wholesomeness. The Peace Corps gave me a purpose. I remember the phone conversation with my Jewish grandmother before I left the U.S. She sent blessings of courage and safe passage, but the incredulity of my mission punctuated each remark. She concluded the call with a personal broadcast, “Don’t come back married to a Muslim.” A four passenger Peugeot, a cast-off from the mid-80s, discarded me in a sparse summer resort clinging to the affluence of French occupation. Azure-peaked white houses stood out against a mountainous backdrop blanketed with cork trees, green oaks, and goats. I began the three-mile trek to the village rising and falling with the curves of the hills. As the path crested, the village appeared nestled in the mountain’s womb. Trepidation palpitated in my own belly, but ambition persuaded my feet forward.
I interrupted the afternoon chores upon my arrival at my host family’s home. Four women crouched on stools, chatted and considered me, this foreigner, an unescorted woman of childbearing age. In attempts to redirect the gossip rumblings, I spat out conventional introductory Arabic phrases. Bewilderment befell the three women, but the fourth woman’s body chuckled at the garble trembling from my lips. She poised her body on a stool and her fingers deftly knitted. A scarf framed the strong, dark features of her face. Her coal-black, lined eyes softened, and sympathy wrinkled the corners of her mouth as “GR. Mahgrib” reverberated from her throat to her tongue. An apt pupil, I followed the teacher’s corrections, earning a nod of approval. At the dusk call to prayer, Najima did not follow the other women down well-worn paths to famished families. She remained with us that evening. I naively viewed myself as a community member, but the Moroccan villagers accepted me as a permanent guest. The Peace Corps requires volunteers to live with a host family to accelerate integration. This warm and hospitable family cooked my meals, washed my clothing, and toted me from house to house to meet relatives. They fed me tea, bread, even lupin—goat milk boiled with semolina—ignoring my pallid complexion and frequent bouts to the bathroom. Refusing to eat, especially for a guest, was unmentionable. Complaints of illness only fueled their desires to nourish. My frustrations fumed. Their friendly gestures were misinterpreted as commandments of gluttony and sloth. My repetitions of gratitude transformed into pleas to stop. I wore a veil of cultural (in)sensitivity over a desperate humanitarian heart. Most villagers overlooked it or mistook it for ignorance. They called me poor thing. I was supposed to be a Community Development Agent, but it was only a Peace Corps designation; it did not have meaning in this Moroccan village. I was an independent woman on a mission to find my worth. I felt trapped and useless. Najima sensed my aggravation. A commanding voice would call me over to sit beside her, and she would sweetly jest to bring forth a smile. I would search for her, my Moroccan anti-anxiety drug, at community events. A hand and a quiet whisper would guide me to a corner of the room where my heavy head would fall upon her shoulder as the events unfolded into the late hours of the night.
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Najima was a migrant in her own country. Her husband had uprooted her from fields far away and planted her in an unfamiliar habitat. He left her with his parents who circulated her from relative to relative. She had no land, no home, and no children. She would pass the hours knitting—her fingers effortlessly weaving its stories stitch by stitch. She learned this craft in her childhood. I imagined a modest but sharp young girl disregarding her mother’s instructions, knit, purl, knit, purl, and daydreaming about a distant life—a small home to shelter a husband, a son to marshal the goats, and a daughter to teach to knit. I never did inquire about her past—partly because I could not configure the correct questions and partly because I did not want to awaken dormant desires—but I sensed the disappointment of her circumstances in the quiet moments that we shared. We passed the afternoons, the long hours of summer sunlight, sunbathing our faces within loosened headscarves and absorbing serenity. Najima would knit, and I would practice language with her. She would disclose, in simple sentences, the latest editions of town talk. Abdullah’s wife died five days ago, and he will marry the widow Fatima tomorrow. Does she want to marry him? Will she be happy? Will his children call her mother? Naima will have a child soon. She wants a boy. Does she go to the hospital or does she have it at home? No drugs! Her third child! The big festival is coming soon. People go up the mountain and listen to music all night. Do women go? Will you go? Will you go with me if your husband’s family will not go? She would respond “maybe” or “I don’t know” or “not yet” to my questions. A no-nonsense reporter, she would stick to the facts, offering no opinion. Such sentiments were buried deep inside her cool character. It was at her arbitrary discretion when she would peel off a hide and unexpectedly unleash herself to me. On one afternoon she raised her head, halted the knitting needles, and confided, “I cannot have children.” I did not know
if I heard her correctly, but she continued without my insistence. “I had three but each died. My husband took me to the city, then he took me to the hospital, then he took me to a doctor. The doctor did not do anything. The doctor did not say anything.” A long pregnant pause. Two dark holes of emptiness dotted my friend’s face. A desire to comfort overwhelmed my own shadow of isolation. “These pants are for the neighbor’s daughter,” she finished and resumed her knitting. She knitted for the boy, the girl, and perhaps for the life she did not have. I fought day after day for this village to consider me a functioning member. Progress was slow, but Najima’s gestures would remind me that someone appreciated me. On a humid afternoon when heavy heat made the villagers languid, Najima invited me to tea. She had relocated again to an apartment connected to her in-law’s compound. She had three empty rooms and ushered me to one resembling a kitchen. There were three timber slabs balancing on long iron nails protruding from the wall and a butane gas burner boiling a pot of water on the ground. Najima introduced me to the bags of spices—salt, ginger, cumin, paprika, mustard, anise, pepper, and cinnamon—and the various jugs filled with liquids. She presented the ceremonial tea set embellished in faux gold, the porcelain serving plates and the metal stockpots, all wedding gifts, memories of friends and family from her village. The Moroccan wife’s acclaimed pressure cooker needed no introduction; it smirked at its admirers from the top shelf. Our voices echoed in the empty rooms, so different from other women’s houses filled with dissonant noise of children, husbands, and relatives. Her rooms seemed peaceful in the absence. I relished the silence, but it could gnaw at one’s spirit if left uninterrupted. We moved from the house to her patio for tea. We saw a mother wearing a baby swaddled against her back and her son hauling water jugs down the mud road trodden by foot traffic. Every ten paces they stopped to restore disjointed fingers. Women would make three trips to the spring per day to collect water for household chores. We watched women plucking peppers and unearthing potatoes for supper. Their husbands were away from the village working manual labor jobs. When they returned home for holidays, they would take a taxi down the narrow road and step out wearing leather jackets and smoking cigarettes. Big city men.
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Najima positioned the formal tea set on the low table. I lifted the trunk of the teapot and poured the tea to froth the top of the glasses. I brought out my knitting needles. Najima laughed and watched my fingers fumble. She gestured to the room behind us and suggested that the room could be mine. “Can I paint it blue?” She nodded. We smelled and sipped the mint nectar of overly sweetened Moroccan tea. I could not rent the room without approval from her husband. He would not return for months and, by then, personal depression and professional idleness would ruin me. I abandoned Najima after only ten months to return to the U.S. Although it was my dream to experience and serve in Morocco, the sadness bottled up inside me began to bubble over. My closest support system (my best friend in the Peace Corps) was a two-day train ride away, and other coping mechanisms did not relieve my distress and disappointment. When I was packing up to leave, I recalled when, that summer, a village girl got married to a boy from a distant town. Her mother cried—no, howled—as the car taking her daughter drove away. It was different when I said goodbye to Najima. I avoided eye contact and tried to hold back tears. We embraced and then she slowly pushed me away. I don’t recall the exact words exchanged—only her dark, intense, empathetic eyes. I don’t knit anymore. I retired from knitting the day I left the village, really the day I left Najima. It was never about the craft; it was about the intermeshing of two young women who stitched together a friendship in an unfamiliar place and time. Almost ten years have passed, and our lives are miles and years apart. I’ve moved out west, got married, and adopted two dogs. And several months ago, my husband and I got another life surprise; I peed on a stick and the double pink line confirmed our hopes—I was pregnant. The first eight weeks of pregnancy were a whirlwind of excitement and transformation with a dash of discomfort. As newbie parents, my husband and I walked into the first prenatal appointment full of awe. The nurse showered us with medical information and then left the room, only to return pulling an ultrasound machine behind her. I felt my husband’s fingers curl into mine and then our eyes fixated on the screen as the machine flickered on. A grayscale image emerged and then a black oval in the center. “A blighted ovum,” the nurse said. Okay. What does that mean? There is no
baby, yet? The nurse started taking measurements of the black emptiness and then said, “It means a miscarriage.” For the remainder of the visit, we heard about the commonality of miscarriage in the early months of pregnancy, words like “chromosomal abnormalities,” statements like “stress, exercise, or sex does not cause a miscarriage,” and then the various treatment options. Deep down we knew a miscarriage was possible, but it was difficult to process and then make decisions on top of everything. After completing more paperwork and more tests, my husband and I finally walked out of the hospital. I held him close and he murmured words of love and support into my ear. On the ride home, I settled into the seat and watched the outside world wander away. I heard a woman’s giggle and then my dear friend appeared. Najima poured me a cup of tea, and then we sat on the patio basking in the calm and beauty of a Moroccan countryside at dusk. A huge smile brightened Najima’s face, then we both picked up our needles and resumed knitting.
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About Rebecca Macey
Rebecca Macey is the manager of exhibitions at the
University of Denver Libraries. She came to DU to study anthropology after several years working in urban planning and real estate development. She received her undergraduate education from Cornell University and spent her kid years in the suburbs of Chicago. The last time she was published was in first grade for the thriller â€œMurder in the Shed.â€? Her parents still own the only two copies ever produced.
The University of Denver
Many Voices, One DU
Grist’s Cat Ranch by Kate Petty
The first day of school I had huge expectations for Mr. Grist’s AP Physics class. Having had two siblings already put through the tumults of Grist’s teaching, I had heard all the stories. The menagerie of gossip inspired terror, intrigue, excitement, and anxiety: He has an obsession with cats. His ex-students would chatter about his “cat ranch.” Correspondingly, many of his physics explanations involved cats hanging from ropes, cats falling off buildings, cats going on roller coasters, and cats spinning in mid-air. He throws things. Supposedly, he hurls dry-erase markers at the whiteboard when they run out of ink, and he’s got an arm. Later, when I got to know Grist, I could corroborate this. During one class he threw a tuning fork into the plaster wall to show us how the doppler effect worked. That same academic year he threw a student’s computer in the trash as a punitive response to disrespecting personal property. He makes crude jokes. During the circuitry unit, Grist notoriously relies on an extended metaphor in which a “supermarket” represents a circuit. The resistors (i.e. the “checkout ladies”) and other characters are transparent references to prostitutes and a penis. He kicks trash cans across the room to model action-reaction pairs, he pours buckets of water on students during centripetal-force-gone-wrong demonstrations, he curses, he disrespects the school codes. I could go on.
Before I had even set foot in the physics classroom I was prepared for the worst learning environment I’d ever had. I was prepared for an insolent, disruptive, and potentially dangerous instructor wreaking havoc and blathering on about cats while students wept in the corner. How could anyone say that they had actually enjoyed this teacher? How was I supposed to learn anything in this class, let alone score well on the AP exam? However, when I stepped into the physics room on that first day of class, Mr. Grist was not there. Instead, an unfamiliar woman stood at the front: “I know most of you were expecting Mr. Grist” she said, “and if that’s why you signed up for AP physics, I’m really truly sorry. I’m going to be his replacement.” There was visible confusion in the room. “He got in an accident over the summer and is in Denver recovering from a brain injury. It might be for the whole year or he might come back later this year; we’ll just see.” I did a double-take at this information, feeling confusion, concern, and, admittedly, relief. Was I actually relieved by another person’s misfortune? Did I let all those rumors worry me so much that I had become hard-hearted? Should I feel ashamed that I felt safer with a stranger that first day of class than I thought I would’ve felt if Grist had been there? Gossip had subconsciously distorted my expectations. In lieu of Mr. Grist, Ms. Craft taught us well. By October, Mr. Grist had returned home and came in to “co-teach” classes once a week or so with Ms. Craft. He began teaching us more and more, and taught Ms. Craft a lot, too. She would come to use many of his metaphors and “Grist-isms” to explain physics concepts. It turns out, watching objects get heaved across the room modeled the laws of physics more memorably than any computer simulation could, and cats falling off cliffs made physics concepts a lot easier to understand. Maybe my apprehensions were misguided. The more I got to know Grist, the more I realized that all those rumors seemed unfair misrepresentations of a decent instructor who was simply a little divergent from the norm. By December, Grist and Craft were both teaching us full-time. We had two teachers in the classroom every day, and I don’t think I could have ever asked for better instructors. One thing I’ll never forget about the months they taught together didn’t actually happen during class time. Being such a social hot-shot, I often ate lunch in the physics room and listened to the science teachers’ conversations
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while studying. If the entire science department wasn’t all grouped around one lab table munching away at their communal taco bar, I could at least bet on Craft and Grist sharing a vivacious dialogue during lunch. During these lunchtime get-togethers, I learned quite a bit about Grist, and realized just how little most of his students knew him. To the regular Durango high schooler, Grist was the solitary cat rancher with a bad temper, but that wasn’t even the tip of the iceberg. I learned that Grist had grown up in a very divided community. His family was “dirt poor hillbillies,” as he put it, and he and his siblings experienced extreme bigotry because of that. Getting spit in the face was a common childhood experience for him. “If you weren’t in the country club, you were shit,” he once related to Ms. Craft. When I overheard these things, I couldn’t help but feel pain and empathy for him, but also guilt at initially not wanting him as my teacher. I caught myself thinking, “Why does everyone endorse such an unjust image of Grist as some maniacal physics teacher without taking into consideration that he was a human, too!” But in that moment, I realized I had been a perpetrator too. I was more than willing to believe his kicking, throwing, cursing, and shouting without acknowledging that I knew nothing about this man. The more I listened, the more I understood. Grist admitted that he was a very introverted teenager and that he was “awkward in school” and “didn’t really care if he had friends.” “I only ever went to one school dance,” he once said, “and it was a Christmas ball with a girl I didn’t really even like.” He sounded proud, but I wonder if it was more defensive than bragging. Maybe that’s what his reckless remarks were, too: a defense, an announcement to the world that he didn’t care what others thought, no matter how many people spit in his face. His defiantly unique mannerisms may have seemed like crazy quirks to most students, but maybe they were much more. Along with his past, Grist’s brain injury and recovery were frequent subjects of the lunchtime discussions. His slurred speech had rapidly improved over the few months as a co-teacher, and the mobility of his left side had also strengthened to the point where he could throw dry erase markers at the board again. Grist was self-assured and humorous about his trauma. But sometimes during lunch, the conversation took a sorrowful turn. Once Craft and Mrs. Downs, the chemistry teacher, were telling Grist about what
it was like to visit him in the hospital after the accident. He didn’t remember any of it, but all the science teachers—and many of his other coworkers, friends, and family—had come to see him during what they thought were his last hours. “I sincerely thought you were going to die,” Ms. Craft said one day over lunch. He looked at her in self-effacing disbelief that she had even visited. “Yeah, I seriously did not think you were going to make it. I cried.” I watched as Grist froze in what seemed like the unfamiliar realization that others cared about him. I watched as Craft and Downs nodded with reassuring smiles. I watched as the years of callous rumors melted away to reveal a courageous, resilient, self-reliant human being with a heart that, just like anyone else’s, could be hurt or comforted. I saw the disadvantaged economy that his trash-can kicks were aimed at, and the bullies’ spit that his insensitive semblance was braced against. I saw his cat jokes bolstering an independent identity that knew what bias meant. Through all his destructive missile-launching, offensive jokes, and antisocial dissidence against the administration, Grist’s sincerity towards himself and his beliefs had harbored sincere friends. It was hasty of me to believe what students babbled and quick of them to repeat it. It will never be possible to catch myself every time I follow a preconception or every time I allow a prejudice to float by uncensored, but I can try. I can be deliberate with my thoughts and where they come from. I can look at people not by what I’ve heard, but by what I’ve learned from them. I can see each person as a whole human being, shaped by millions of past experiences.
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About Kate Petty
Kate Petty is a freshman undergraduate at the University of Denver studying molecular biology as a premed and honors student. She is originally from Durango, Colorado, and enjoys painting, hiking, math, flute, and CrossFit.
Class of 2021
The University of Denver
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Voyeurism Schism by Lauren Salvador
“I was a victim of Cooch Cam 2016,” I tell guests at my aunt’s sixtieth birthday party after three Jack and Cokes. My tight green dress rides up, as I slur and stumble around the Botanic Gardens. Mom takes me by the elbow and leads me away from the party grotto to the Zen garden. She’s probably hoping I’ll find some Zen. All I want to find is another Jack and Coke. Recently, I’d learned of a profound betrayal. A friend, someone I’d known and respected for years; someone whose house I’ve visited; someone I’d seen at church every Sunday; someone short and geeky, kind and respectable; someone who listened closely and laughed easily; someone who doted on and supported his wife—Evan—fooled around with his wife’s best friend. Ashen-faced and crying, he told us the story while sitting next to his wife, Sarah. I didn’t sleep with her, he said, not that it made anything better, but he wanted us to know the truth. They asked for our help and support to work through it. My husband and I agreed. We’d be there, no matter what they needed. When I left their house, I told my husband I’d never seen anyone look as broken as Evan. But Evan had slept with her. And a few other women. And a sex worker in Spain. The story dribbled out, bit by bit, over the coming weeks. Each new revelation was more profoundly horrifying than the last. The person we’d known and loved was a stranger. A sinner in need of grace, some part of me said. Totally fucked up, crowed the less churchy part. Then, Evan stopped confessing his sins and started admitting his crimes.
For the last decade, he’d been putting cameras in women’s bathrooms and locker rooms. He installed a hidden camera in the guest bathroom of his own house, where he had hosted our bible study group over a dozen times. He said he didn’t have footage of any of us, thankfully, that the camera had mysteriously not been working that day, God had protected us, or some such. But Evan is a liar. A terrifyingly good one. Footage of my ablutions was probably circulating in some seedy corner of the Internet. That’s what was on my mind when I cornered my aunt’s sexagenarian elementary school teacher colleagues and relayed the Cooch Cam saga to looks of discomfited horror. Our group contacted the police, but he’d wiped everything, cleansed his conscience and his hard drive. I tried my best to support Sarah. But when it became clear that she wasn’t going to leave him, I couldn’t contain my fury. How could she stay after all that he’d done? How could I tell her anything, knowing it would get right back to Evan? I stopped reaching out and ignored her texts—ghosting a years-long friendship like a bad Tinder date. My husband and I cut off all contact and changed churches, and that’s where the story ends. In some ways it’s only a story. We never found the cameras; we never saw the footage. But we believed Evan, and his story changed our lives and made us part of it. Such is the power of stories—to reveal, to transform, to make you an unwilling participant in a Jerry Springer-style drama and leave you wondering about the role you played. I wonder if I acted justly, in accordance with my values of love, compassion, and forgiveness. When Sarah tells the story, am I the villain? The friend who abandoned her when she needed friends the most. The friend who called the police when she called for help. Am I the Pharisee? Judgmental and unforgiving to the repentant sinner. It’s hard to put myself in Evan’s shoes and imagine the story that he and Sarah see. Like Clarice in Silence of the Lambs, I’m struggling to understand this man-shaped monster. I say that I have forgiven him, because that’s what good Christians are supposed to say. But I haven’t. I don’t know how. How do I tell his story with a compassion that I don’t feel? How do I find empathy for a person who violated my privacy and trust? Maybe the answer is in the Book of Genesis, right there at the beginning. Adam and Eve wrecked their lives for wanting to know things only God
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should know. Stealing knowledge from the gods is the oldest crime: Prometheus and Pandora, Eve and Evan. His is a pathology, but a human one. I guess that’s something: seeing him as human, not monster. When I’m in the bathtub looking up at the shower-head, Evan often comes to mind. I wonder if a camera could fit in there, or in the heating vent next to the toilet. Is he watching? Can he see me making breakfast in my underwear, having sex with my husband, breastfeeding my daughter? Almost certainly not. But I still wonder. And that’s maybe the most damaging of all. Everything is suspicious. Not just shower-heads and vents, but people too. Now when I look at my friends and family, I wonder what they’re hiding. That day at the Botanic Gardens, I understood the God of Genesis—the one who went around smiting people and burning down cities and flooding the world. I wanted Evan smote. Part of me still does. It’s galling that he still has his job, his wife, and his church, that he can pretend none of this happened. Maybe a reckoning will come, but for now he’s gotten away with it. It’s hard to sit with that, to wait and believe, “‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay,’ says the Lord…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:19, 21). I guess that’s the power of story too—believing that good will triumph over evil, even when no lightning bolts fall from the sky.
About Lauren Salvador
Lauren Salvador is the Office Manager of the
University of Denver Writing Program. A bit of a nomad growing up, she claims Denver as home. She earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her proudest accolade is winning Denver Roller Derby’s “Most Feared Skater” award three years in a row.
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Against All Odds by David Perez
Some of you reading this might be surprised by the tone I use; you might think that my attitude toward this very serious subject is inappropriate. Well, you need to know something about Chileans. My father has always offered this observation of how Chileans, compared to Americans, socially interact: “Americans, they tease, they poke fun, and it’s all in good taste…Chileans, however, they attack your soul and your spirit, and then everybody laughs.” Our Chilean ideology believes either everything is funny or else nothing is funny. An insult is only an insult if taken as one. Myself, I tend to take a more lighthearted approach to life. I don’t get this from my father, who takes himself seriously. Perhaps I get this from my grandfather, but it’s hard to say. He makes jokes, but they are only for him to laugh at. Given everything that he’s gone through—and much of it by himself, on his own terms—it makes sense that he’s not too interested in humoring everyone else. My grandfather’s story begins in Viña Del Mar, Chile. The city smells perpetually of the Pacific Ocean’s salty aromas, with restaurants full of fresh oysters, crabs, and fish. At night, loud music keeps everyone awake. There he lived in a 2-bedroom apartment with his 3 siblings and his parents, who never hid their disappointment in him. As a young man, Eduardo was a trouble maker and a provocateur. He loved to get a rise out of adults. I wonder if this is why his parents looked down upon him, or if their clear
and vocal preference for his three siblings made him develop this rebellious exterior. From the very beginning, Eduardo learned not to care what other people thought of him. Describing him in this way, I see a lot of myself in his nature. I have a much closer relationship to my family than he did, but I still find myself teasing and aggravating the people closest to me. It’s all in good jest, but it might also be a protective measure, a way to detach and maintain independence. I think that’s why I’m so attached to his story. I understand why he is the way he is. I visited my grandfather’s old apartment last summer and smiled at its lack of square footage; it was much too small for any 6-person family, let alone the combative Perez family. I imagined how dysfunctional they must have been, always fighting over space in that small home. I imagined Eduardo doing then what he does now—getting a rise out of people only to stay calm and smirk while they get more and more frustrated. Maybe fighting over that cramped and hostile space is what provoked the long and painful conflict that split my family into two sides. On one side, there was Eduardo’s father, Tata, two sisters, Rosa and Isabel, and a brother, Thomas. On the other side was only my grandfather, Eduardo Perez. His journey for independence began in 1963, when my disobedient grandfather fooled around with a decorated admiral’s daughter out of wedlock and, at the age of 16, found himself suddenly engaged. I do not have all the information—I was never given it. It’s a story that my family doesn’t like to discuss, so I can only imagine the depth of their disappointment as a traditionally religious family. All I do know is that he was married to her for a year until he left for Miami, Florida, in search of a better life. Eduardo might’ve chosen Miami because it has a very similar climate and culture to Chile, or maybe it was the only ride available at the time. All that matters is he found himself in a country that would provide him with an unprecedented amount of economic opportunity. His plan was to serve in the US military in exchange for his citizenship. He only had a few dollars in his pocket when he stepped off the boat, so he found a job washing dishes to make do during the three months he spent talking to recruitment officers. Getting into the military meant passing a test that was given in English, as well as being over the age of 17; both obstacles required bending some rules
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to overcome. It took Eduardo two attempts to complete what he now calls “the moron test.” This exam consisted of general knowledge questions, such as “what kind of screw requires a Philips head?” He failed the first time because he thought everything on the test was a trick question. This is who my grandfather is in a nutshell—he truly believes that everyone and everything is against him. And when he gets this suspicion, he doesn’t get flustered. He stays calm and wears an unforgettable smirk. The only comparison is to the infamous Grinch smile. However, this assumption that everyone is out to get him actually serves him well. He learned that they often are. After a year of training, he was sent to Berlin to guard the wall separating Western and Eastern Germany. Eduardo manned the turret on top of an M60 tank. He was told that in the event of a war, his unit would have 100% causalities and their mission was merely to buy the US time. He was told that the casualty rate was just a numbers thing—they were simply outmanned by the Russians and the Germans. One can’t help but notice, however, that his unit happened to contain mostly people of color. After 5 years of serving active duty, the GI Bill gave him the opportunity to attend college in Youngstown, Ohio, to become a teacher. Though now an official citizen, Eduardo found himself caught between two cultures. You see, Eduardo looked like a white American, but as soon as he opened his mouth, his Latin accent marked him as an outsider. On a cross-country road trip with two men of color, Eduardo stopped at a restaurant in Georgia. He wasn’t questioned when he walked in, but when the manager saw the two men he was with, she said (in what he’s described as the most disgusting voice he’s ever heard), “Get them out of here.” This happened to him a lot. He noticed an immediate change in the way people treated him as soon as he opened his mouth or aligned himself with other minorities. But even when he wasn’t American enough for America, he also was stereotyped as American when he left. He once took a group of students to Chile on a field trip. At a gas station in southern Mexico, he overheard two employees scheming to steal the RV, assuming that he was another naïve American who didn’t speak Spanish. Rather than get flustered, he calmly retrieved a 9mm from the RV and asked, with his standard smirk, “¿Hay algún problema?” It was during this time as a teacher in Ohio that he met my grandmother (his second wife) and had two kids, my father and my uncle. He taught for
10 years until he was offered a job managing a mushroom farm in California. Unfortunately, that new opportunity didn’t last long. My grandfather recently told me the story of how he lost the mushroom farm job while we were riding in a car on our way to Arby’s. We were listening to his favorite artist, Adele, whom Eduardo became very fond of after his latest divorce. We passed a large Jack in The Box sign and my grandfather mumbled, “fucking Jack in The Box,” as he often does. But this time I asked, “What on earth could Jack in The Box have done to you, Papi?” Well, evidently the offense involved a historical figure by the name of Cesar Chavez, but my grandfather’s story didn’t match what my history teachers told me. In 1974, Eduardo was hired by Ralston Purina to manage a mushroom farm located in California. During this point in time, Cesar Chavez had established the United Farm Workers Union that was very prominent in California. Chavez would visit every farm and ask the immigrant farm workers if they wanted to join for a fee. When my grandfather and his employees did not want to support the UFW and pay the expensive dues, Cesar Chavez became violent. The Union attacked Eduardo’s house and shot out the windows. They threw welded-together nails on the road leading to the farm to blow out tires. A bounty was placed on Eduardo’s head. This was all very surprising to me. Every record of the UFW states that Chavez stressed non-violent methods of protest, like hunger-strikes and boycotts. However, I’ve come to realize that history is a tool that can be manipulated to alter the morals of society in hopes of a better future. And as the UFW represented the start of immigrant workers gaining freedom from their abusive employers, I believe it was best to leave out any stories that might encourage more racism towards immigrants. Hearing this story made me first doubt history books, but it also gave me a bizarre sense of pride. I told all of my friends that the great Cesar Chavez had it out for my grandfather. After the violent threats, my grandfather lost a good number of his employees. So, my father and a large group of newly immigrated Samoan women picked up the slack. Every morning, Eduardo would drive a bus to pick them up and take them to his farm. One day, as they were on the road to the farm, a car full of Union members blocked and attacked the bus. The large
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Samoan women grabbed their knives and picked up rocks. Needless to say, they scared off the goons. But Cesar Chavez was a powerful man with lots of connections, so he started to investigate the company that owned Eduardo’s farm, Ralston Purina. Purina owned many restaurants and businesses, like Jack in The Box. Chavez received word that Jack in The Box was selling kangaroo and horse meat in their burgers. He blackmailed Ralston Purina, threatening to blow the whistle on the horse burger operation. Chavez requested that the farm join the Union, and that my grandfather leave. Jack in The Box caved and met the demands. My grandfather did what he thought was right, but his company hung him out to dry. Now every time we pass the chain restaurant, my family mumbles “fucking Jack in The Box.” It seems to me that my grandfather needs a war to get out of bed in the morning. This comfort with chaos could have started from the constant wars that were fought between his siblings in an environment with scarce resources. Perhaps it started when he was put in the middle of an actual war. Or maybe it was from the years living in the US during a time when Latinos were treated poorly. After the war with Cesar Chavez ended, another began between my grandparents. This ended with a lawsuit and two very unhappy children. It wouldn’t be the last time Eduardo found himself battling his family in court. I find it very ironic—or at least very funny—that my dad became a lawyer after how much of my grandfather’s salary eventually went into a lawyer’s pocket—and with how much he condemned them as con men. I’m beginning to think my father did it out of spite. After the divorce ended, Eduardo married a woman named Rose. I’m told that he adored her greatly and spent a few years with her. However, she eventually became sick with cancer, and for their last few months together he became depressed. During this time, my grandfather bought a ranch in Olmue, Chile. It had a beautiful house, a vineyard, and an orchard where my brother and I would shoot each other with paper bullets called “hornets.” Unfortunately, on the same day that Rose died in 1994, Eduardo found out that his father, Tata, had taken 50% of his beloved ranch. While it was significantly more spacious than a 2-bedroom apartment, the Perez family found themselves fighting over land again. And remember, my grandfather was suspicious that the United States army was trying to fool him with their entrance exam, so he is truly suspicious of everyone. But he never expected
to be betrayed by his own father. Eduardo became enraged and sued Tata. For the next 15 years, the long and expensive lawsuit raged on due to the competitive, arrogant, and prideful nature every Perez is born with. Eventually, my grandfather’s case was brought in front of the Supreme Court where he successfully proved that his father had committed fraud, and he was awarded his land back. It took getting to the highest court in the country, but he finally received the only external validation he’s sought—he was right. Growing up with my grandfather’s stories caused me to idolize him as my hero. At first because I thought these stories were cool—I mean, he stood up against a historical figure and fought in a war. As I’ve gotten older, my appreciation of these stories has changed. No matter how often life has been unfair to him, he never wasted time complaining about his obstacles; he just took control and overcame them. He never let others dictate the terms of his life. Though some might call him stubborn, prideful, and somewhat delusional, I see a man with the demeanor necessary to do great things.
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About David Perez
As the middle son of three boys, David Perez understands both leadership and humiliation. He was born in Texas with his Chilean grandfather being an ever-present part of his life. Even though he was born in Dallas in 1998, David’s upbringing was not “typical.” His family traveled all over Europe in an RV. He spent time going to an elementary school in a small town of “huasos” in the Chilean wine country. His family lived in Amsterdam for several years. Throughout this time, his grandfather inspired him with the stories of his immigration to the United States, and how he carved out a place for his family in a country that was often hostile to Latinos. He is pleased to now share some of these stories and is honored to have been recognized during his freshman year in the Daniels School of Business.
Class of 2021
The University of Denver
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A Gift of Magic by Nai’a Perkins
I don’t think my mother was made for this world. I am a firm believer in worlds and an even firmer believer that not everyone was made for this one. I never believed calling her “Mom” or “Mother” was right; she was never those things to me in the stereotypical sense. She never baked cookies or gave me the things mothers were supposed to give their children. The word “fairy” or “psychic”—or simply her name, “Keahe”—more accurately describe my mother. Looking back, I thank the universe every day because she chose to be her and not “Mom.” As far as I knew, I was the only kid who was sent to school with all sorts of crystals shoved into my pockets, along with lucky feathers and a bag full of dried herbs, to keep other kids from stealing my energy. I have a nose that will forever be filled with the sweet scent of oil, dried flowers, and incense. I have a mind doused with vibrant images of artfully crafted tarot cards, elaborate tapestries, and the smiling faces of people dancing at full moon parties. Most importantly, I have a heart filled with all the things that filled my mother’s room: a colorful array of things she deemed necessary in life. There were shelves of books on the sacred art of astrology, on Hawaiian mythology. There were horror novels and a million different fantasy novels, where princesses slay dragons and build a castle to celebrate. Many saw my mother as strange, a bit crazy. I have to agree. My mother wasn’t a rational person. She never gave me rational advice—she still doesn’t. What she gave me was something far better.
Ho’okalakupua. Magic. Keahe grew up on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, which is fitting, as most fairy tales begin in such a way. I loved asking her about her childhood because it made me believe anything was possible. My bedtime stories were her lifetime stories, and her life was magic mixed with a generous spoonful of near-death experiences. (She called them “near-life experiences.”) I remember her telling me once that at seventeen she traveled from her little Hawaiian island all the way to Indonesia. “Sometimes you just need a boat,” she exclaimed, describing the decisions of her teenage self. Renting a broken-down boat was apparently the only acceptable way to treasure-hunt for life experiences. Later, she would survive three days stranded in the ocean with nothing but a sinking boat and a few storms for company. Among all the lines she weaved together, my favorite always came at the end. She’d tilt her head, smile a little, and whisper two words—two words I fell asleep thinking about. Two words I’d hold onto, forcing them into the shallow pockets of my heart for rainy days to come: …but then. Like a hand coming out of the sky. Like finding a smile in the clouds. Like a wish being granted. …but then A small boy in a Madonna t-shirt and a log canoe came paddling by Keahe’s broken boat and took her to shore. Safe at last. Whether she was stranded in the ocean or climbing a coconut tree, the world worked in her favor simply because she believed it would. She never sugar coated the stories she shared about herself. Her stories, in their barest form, were coated with enough sugar to give me a mouth and heart full of cavities. Even my mother’s full name, Keahehi’ilei’ikeala’okamailei, was magical in the way that all traditional Hawaiian names are magical. Her name was a story. The gentle breeze that lovingly caresses the scent of the Maile, is the English translation of Keahe’s story. The Maile is incredibly hard to find; it is a fragrant flower hidden deep within a forest of scentless vines. She used to say, “You don’t go looking for it with your eyes, but with your essence.” A person who can find the Maile can find the essence of something without having to see it. They can feel their way through life, never needing physical guidance.
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In many ways, my mother is both the seeker and the flower. She grew up surrounded by vines, wanting nothing more than to be plucked out of her valley and caressed by a breeze. She found her way out of the vines after realizing she had the power to fly. The story of her freedom always started with wings. “Wings are necessary when dropping off the side of a cliff,” she’d declare. She dropped out of school, ran away from home, and started working at a quaint little bikini shop at fifteen. When I asked her why she left, she said, “It was too small, Nai’a. I couldn’t even fit through the door!” I used to think she meant the literal size of the school and her home, but, as I got older, I realized that she meant the size of the minds and hearts around you and how they can sometimes make you feel smaller than you really are. I never imagined doing what she did, but she told me that an adventure was coming. I often asked her how she knew these things, and she replied with a little, knowing grin. That particular grin meant that she was conspiring with something I couldn’t see. It was a look that said that she just knew. When she had that grin, my stomach filled with butterflies. I would stare up at her and smile in awe because I knew I was in the presence of a woman who had one foot in another world. I thought to myself, Maybe, just maybe, I will grow up and travel to that other world with her. A few weeks later, her adventure came. A family friend who owned the bikini store Keahe worked at had secretly submitted photos of Keahe for a local modeling competition. My mom, on a lazy tropical weekday, came into work as happy and hopeful as usual. She held a green tea, had a Plumeria in her hair, and was draped in beads and crystals as bright as a rainbow. I imagine she looked as if she had fallen right out of the clouds. That day she walked in prepared to sell bikinis because, as she liked to say, “Why not sell bikinis?” She left work with a year-long modeling contract that would take her around the world. The breeze had come. She finally had a door big enough to fit through. This day was a catalyst that would launch her into a life of adventure, a life that took her to Japan, where she met my father. I like to think that my father was also a Maile seeker and that, by what my mom likes to call “non-coincidence,” they stumbled upon the same door together. I would stumble upon a door later in her life—that is, if being born can
be compared to walking through one. My mother’s habit of turning situations into adventures rubbed off on me at a very young age. At nine years old, my mom took me on a spontaneous trip to an old Japanese temple set deep in the valley of two mountains. This temple was beautiful—alive with a sort of elegance only be attained through age. Neither of us planned on getting locked in, but we were so enthralled in exploring the koi ponds behind the ancient piece of architecture that we didn’t bother to keep track of time. We visited the temple on a holiday, and the temple grounds closed early (for everyone else). In her usual fashion, my mother brushed of the dilemma effortlessly and turned our unfortunate predicament into a game. She told me that our powers of invisibility had turned on. Up until this point in my life, I had not known I had the power of invisibility. This new discovery was thrilling. For the rest of the afternoon I pretended to be a supernatural tour guide. I made up stories about invisible people who, like my mother and me, secretly roamed the temple grounds. After our adventure was over, we hopped the fence and went to the nearest shop to find ice cream. This is just part of her story. My mother is someone who is hard to put into words. Even after years of reading about all sorts of magical people, I have yet to find the right way to describe her. Every story she told me was like a Maile lei gently placed around my neck. She gave me magic—not the kind that sends you to Narnia or Wonderland, but the kind that brings those places to you. So, if you ever find yourself on an island in the middle of the ocean and you see a woman that looks anything but rational, say “Hi.” She’s probably not completely in this world, and she’s most definitely my mom.
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About Nai’a Perkins
Nai’a Perkins was raised on the small island of Oah’u,
Hawaii. Growing up with the sun above her head and the sand beneath her feet, she learned quickly that magic is very real. Coming from a Hawaiian family, she was taught to laugh often and share stories even more frequently. She made it her life’s mission to tell as many stories as possible, spinning every tale to end with a hero rising above the ashes. She quickly discovered books were filled with all sorts of magic, and has since spent any and all free time reading and writing, hoping to one day inspire others with her own stories, in the same way many authors have inspired her.
Class of 2021
The University of Denver
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About the Cover
In continuing the theme of this collection—a portrait of DU created by a diverse collection of voices—we’ve invited current students to submit snapshots for a mosaic of campus. We specifically targeted the cohorts of students who have participated in the One Book shared reading and writing project. We felt the cover should reflect their perspectives of the university. Photographs on front, back, & inside covers taken by: Jiemiao Duan, Emily Elsey, Breanne Harkins, Alec Hurst, Minzheng Jiang, Woody Kelly, Qianyu Li, Tahlia Lucero, Aili Makela, Amanda Martinez, Annie Miller, Maxwell Potter, JJ Rossman, Alana Rubinski, Michael Smith, & Song Zhang.
Send us your images for Many Voices, One DU (volume 3)! We’d like to invite all members of the DU community—students, staff, faculty, and alumni—to submit images for the next volume of Many Voices, One DU. Please send high-resolution jpegs (up to five) as attachments to OneBook@du.edu by January 1st, 2019. We are looking for images of campus and campus life; crowd shots are fine, as long as there are no recognizable faces in the frame. Images must be original work.
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Submit to Volume 3
The University is pleased to announce the 2018–19 One Book, One DU selection: Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way by Molly Birnbaum. Season to Taste is an aspiring chef ’s moving account of finding her way—in the kitchen and beyond—after a tragic accident destroys her sense of smell. Not just a recovery memoir, Birnbaum researches the mechanics of smell and its connection to taste, memory, attraction, and more, which invites readers to view intellectual inquiry as a personal endeavor. Inspired by this common reading, we invite all members of the DU community to write a story in response to the following prompt:
As an aspiring chef, Molly Birnbaum paid particular attention to the scents of the kitchen, trusting smells to signal when a dish was perfectly cooked or seasoned just right. The neurological process of smell itself, however, never seemed to cross her mind: “It was a movement too complicated, too miniscule, and entirely too invisible for me to notice, let alone to care about.” When a tragic accident severs the neural connections between her nose and the area of her brain responsible for scent perception, she struggles to understand and articulate the extent of her loss: I suddenly lived in an unimaginable world. One where my memories of scent were impossible to bring back. One where my loss was almost impossible to describe. I struggled with it. I avoided it. I didn’t know who I was without my sense of smell. This sudden loss prompts a journey of investigation, reflection, and recovery. Immersing herself in olfactory research—and its connections to taste, memory,
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security, and romance—Birnbaum develops a deeper appreciation for what she had once taken for granted. We invite you to begin a similar process of investigation and reflection. Consider something you take for granted and what it might mean to lose it. It can be physical or metaphorical, concrete or abstract, tangible or intangible, personal or cultural, weighty or whimsical. Tell a story that illustrates your connection to what you fear losing and considers the implications of this potential loss. Alternatively, what is something you’ve already lost and what has that loss meant to you? Tips: •
It can be physical (like smell) or metaphorical (like “voice”), concrete (a physical feature) or abstract (a defining personality trait), tangible (a favorite article of clothing or lucky trinket) or intangible (a connection to a person), personal (a pet or ability to participate in an activity) or cultural (a local monument or group visibility). This doesn’t need to be a “profound” loss; in fact, something “small” or whimsical might well yield a more interesting story. The tone doesn’t need to match Birnbaum’s, either. This story is an opportunity to play with and establish your unique voice. You can use any number of narrative devices to render this story—characterization, dialogue, imagery, figurative language, scene setting, exposition, etc. One pleasure of Birnbaum’s writing is her use of rich detail. We tend to emphasize visual cues in narrative writing, but be inspired by Season to Taste: try to include a range of sensory details.
Submission Deadline: E-mail submissions as Word Doc or Docx files to OneBook@du.edu by December 1st (though submissions will be accepted throughout the summer and fall—please feel free to submit early). As stories come to us in many shapes and forms, you can render this as a photo essay, graphic story, poem, linear narrative, comic book, etc. The only requirement is that it can be rendered in print.
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When we began this project, our goal was to celebrate the vibrant voices that combine to form our community. These thirteen stories reflect the diverse experiences and perspectives of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The collection also represents the collaborative spirit of DU. I’d like to thank the people whose dedication and passion made this book possible. I am deeply grateful to Jennifer Karas, Sarah Hoffman, and Leah O’Grady, whose roles in shaping, funding, and championing this project were fundamental. Juli Parrish, Sarah Hart Micke, and Doug Hesse helped turn a whim into a fully formed idea—without their insight, enthusiasm, and support, Many Voices, One DU would have remained a passing fancy. Throughout the entire process, Brad Cochi offered me feedback and encouragement. My colleagues in the Writing Program—Russell Brakefield, Libby Catchings, April Chapman-Ludwig, Heather Martin, Keith Rhodes, David Riche, Aubrey Schiavone, and Zoe Tobier—read submissions, selected our final essays, worked one-on-one with our published authors, and edited the stories collected here. Words cannot express how invaluable their efforts have been. John Tiedemann, whose early work shaped the initial One Book, One DU project, offered valuable insight on the prompt and the design of the collection. He and Daniel Singer encouraged students to submit the wonderful photographs featured in this volume.
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Thank you also to Rebecca Chopp, Gregg Kvistad, and Ed Rowe for their ongoing support. And finally, thanks to all of the faculty, staff, and student groups around campus who helped spread the word about this project.
LP Picard, Editor
Teaching Assistant Professor University Writing Program
For a digital version of this collection, please visit: www.issuu.com/DU_Writing_Program/docs/MVOD2018
UNIVERSITY OF DENVER UNIVERSITY WRITING PROGRAM 2150 E. EVANS AVE. | DENVER, CO 80210 | W W W.DU.EDU/ WRITING
A collection of thirteen stories--by DU students, alumni, faculty, and staff--in connection with DU IMPACT 2025's One Book, One DU program.
Published on May 17, 2018
A collection of thirteen stories--by DU students, alumni, faculty, and staff--in connection with DU IMPACT 2025's One Book, One DU program.