Letter from the Editor I started off as a contributor in Spring 2021. At the end of the semester, it felt right for me to be a part of the team. The previous staff was graduating, so I could have any position I wanted. I picked Editor in Chief, and I have been incredibly blessed. This semester has gone by so fast, but every moment was filled with excitement and love into creating the perfect Untold Magazine. Though my team and I loved the old issues of Untold, we wanted to do something completely different. We decided on having a central theme of Identity; who are the people of Hamline? Untold Magazine, to my team and I, is all about the underground, under-discussed, and chaotic. I feel like this was the perfect theme to get people’s authentic selves to come out. Our entire team has put their whole heart and soul into this magazine. I could not have asked for a better group of people to work with me. From the team of Untold, we hope this magazine makes you see the under-discovered and chaotic parts of Hamline; I hope you all love it as much as I do!
- Kimia Kowsari
Taking Steps: My Wheelchair and I Don’t Live on the Same Campus as You Do by Max Lakso a Semester Abroad becomes a Journey of Self-Discovery 12 When by Julia Mayer is Crucial, but Why is It so Difficult? 22Caring by Liam Schwartz
My Chapel 10 Enter by Haley Klahsen
Patchwork Identities by Ella Swiston
of a Butch 18 Self-Portrait by Phoenix Muchowski Culture 19 Beauty by Tjessa Arradondo
Interesting Burden and Modern Day Atlas 20 An by Nayeli Pallais
27 psychopomp by Livy Dhein 9
musings Untitled by Lucy Le
scissors 14 craft by Cathryn Salis you identify as Hispanic/Latino? YES or NO 16 Do by Aubrey Chavarria
21 Scales by Alison Pasbrig Sea. 25 The by Emiliano Garcia Fisher
26 Fumes by Kivi Weeks 28 Forgetting Yourself
by Elena Laskowski
Content Warnings: The poem on Page 21 pertains to eating disorders, and suicide is briefly mentioned in the piece on Page 22. FALL 2021 | 3
g n i k : : a s s T tte p p e SS LIFESTYLE
I stare up from the bottom of the stairs, hungry. It is 10:19 pm, and precious minutes tick away, the only sounds left in my fatigued brain. The dining hall closes at 10:30. My hands grip the wheels of my chair, and I roll back and forth, as if shifting my weight. I am far too tired, and far too calorie-deprived for this puzzle. I can’t take the wheelchair lift tonight; the doors are locked. I learned that on the way down to retrieve my chair. In a shaky glass box, I’d descended into a tiny, cobwebbed pit surrounded by looming rock walls. I exited, tried the door handle—and the elevator door automatically swung shut behind me. It was just me, a locked door, and my desperate hope that this decrepit box would open again. It opened. And I ascended, right back where I had started. I can’t carry my wheelchair up the stairs. Taking the stairs is hard enough on its own; lugging my chair with me would be a struggle on a good day. Today is not a good day. I could put my wheelchair away and walk the three flights of stairs up to my second-floor dorm room, then collapse into bed for an unsatisfactory dinner of sleep. But my hands shake, and my stomach shudders at the thought of spending twelve more hours empty. 4 | UNTOLD
My Wheelchair and I Don’t Live on the Same Campus as You Do
words by max lakso
This isn’t much of a choice. Putting my wheelchair away and using the last dregs of my energy to wobble over to Anderson is a terrible option, yet the only way forward is on foot. Even when I finally got a mobility aid—after years of medical neglect, immobilizing pain, and desperate begging— everything comes back to this: no one cares how much you suffer from this. If you can do it like the rest of us, then you have to do it our way. Never mind that that philosophy is the only reason my pain became chronic in the first place… I’m about to slip back into the dreary basement halls when a figure appears at the top of the stairs. Although my face burns, I flag them down. And as I hover around them, pointing out what bits of the chair fold away and which ones are good handles, I am reminded that mobility aids are no match for unfriendly terrain. The burning pain in my feet pales in comparison to the pain of existing on a campus that is not built for me, and the sharp twinges in my spine sting less than the insult of becoming a selling point to the very same institution that physically rejects me.
The burning pain in my feet pales in comparison to the pain of existing on a campus that is not built for me, and the sharp twinges in my spine sting less than the insult of becoming a selling point to the very same instution that physically rejects me.
I’ve heard an awful lot of evasive complaints from staff about how terribly difficult it is for the school to install elevators: how expensive it would be, how old the buildings are. And while I could spend hours directly addressing that problem, (To summarize, Hamline is the oldest college in the state, with one of the highest tuitions and collections of showy architecture. Time and resources are clearly not the issue here.) I feel it’s crucial to note the inextricable role of social and bureaucratic influence in campus (in)accessibility. Which is to say, this is systemic. You can put an elevator in every dorm building, and a ramp at every entrance (and you should!) but at the core of inaccessibility lies the broken, ableist system, and the bureaucrats that have exonerated themselves from taking initiative and fixing it.
“There is no place in Manor Hall for your wheelchair.’ No follow up, no research, no redirection to an appropriate staff member— no help at all. This same response came from two separate staff members, in two separate conversations. The second even asked me not to call them directly again. They preferred a game of telephone with my RA as the middleman. In fact, they were confident enough in their complacency to chastise me. Apparently, it was irresponsible and risking theft for me to store my wheelchair (bike locked and with no valuables or battery) in a rarely-used lounge off in the corner, despite being denied any other method of storage. It was hard to decide whether the victimblaming was more or less disrespectful than my first response; the first staffer had simply ended the conversation entirely, as if to suggest I refrain from being disabled so as not to inconvenience the school.
To summarize, Hamline is the oldest college in the state, with one of the highest tuitions and collections of showy architecture. Time and resources are clearly not the issue here. FALL 2021 | 5
This is not an inspiring story of able-bodied saviors. (Though I truly appreciate the support of each of the students described here.) This is a horror story of crippling neglect that infantilizes me and clips my wings. Despite the pain and fatigue it causes me, my disability is not the problem that brings me to write this. The problem is the physical and social architecture that is built for Abled People Only. I’ve had people express sympathy towards me for being “confined” to my chair. I’m about as confined to my chair as you are confined to your glasses, your clothes, or your shoes. My chair is a tool. If I don’t use my tool, I will end up confined—to my bed. To you, my chair may appear to be synonymous with injury and suffering. But to me, my chair is a symbol of my freedom, my agency, and my ability for self-care. 6 | UNTOLD
In this manner, my stifled agency is misattributed to my disability, rather than being identified as a symptom of the ableist system in which I live. This is partly an innocent misunderstanding of how disabilities and accommodations work. But the reason this misattribution became systemic is because it serves a purpose: to deflect responsibility from those in power.
It was a student—a first-year, who doesn’t live in Manor, but who saw me struggling to carry my chair up the front steps—who passed on the tale of a storage room in the basement. The Bike Room. The only reason I am able to store my medical necessity anywhere safe is due to the kindness and chance knowledge of the Bike Room student. The only reason I managed to lug my chair to ground level those first days was because students, friends and strangers alike, stepped up to carry an unwieldy metal object up and down the steps like the world’s strangest new CrossFit craze. I’ve even been carried up the stairs myself, by an acquaintance I’d met less than a month prior; after a long day, my chronic pain is bad enough that I would sacrifice dignity and independence to avoid facing the climb.
The reason this misattribution became systemic is because it serves a purpose: to deflect responsibility from those in power. This misattribution shows itself in many ways. Some are patronizing: I am not allowed out past 8 pm. That’s when they lock the doors leading from the wheelchair lift (semi-affectionately dubbed “the Hellevator” by the author) to the basement. Disabled people don’t get keycard access, unlike the walking entrances to the basement. Other people with keys make our decisions for us. And I won’t be doing any partying (or socializing, or eating at Anderson) anytime past Friday, because the doors are locked all weekend. Disabled people, the system assumes, don’t need social lives. Of course, I technically am not completely unable to go through; I simply must call public safety every time I want out, like I’m a pet scratching at the door.
Sometimes, I see the misattribution in compliments: I am mature, strong, a good self-advocate. All traits forcefully awarded to me like a leaden crown. I don’t get the privilege of being rebellious or lazy or delicate or quiet or broken-down. Hell, I don’t even get the privilege of being late! I once skipped a class because I couldn’t get in. The door had neither an automatic opener button nor a doorstop.
My options to get into class were:
A) struggle to open a door while on wheels, with terrible leverage, and disrupt class in the process, or B) find a random person in the area to walk over to my classroom just to open the door for a grown adult.
FALL 2021 | 7
Abled kids get the privilege of slipping in late, unnoticed. Abled kids wouldn’t even be so late in the first place! Retrieving my wheelchair from Manor basement, then doing a lap of West Hall looking for the only ramp (passing two staircase entrances on the way) was at least a 30 minute trip. Walking, this journey takes me 3 minutes from dorm to classroom. If this class had been in any other building, I may have been screwed right there, but serendipitously, right down the hall was the disability services office. I rolled over and asked the student worker if they would open the door for me. Then, once I was inside the disability services office, I asked if they would come with me to open the door to my class. But by then, only 15 minutes remained of the 90 minute class. I hesitated—then, abashed, I left for lunch, never having entered the classroom. Later that day, I received an email. Before informing me of the classroom’s newly-issued doorstop, the email began with a swift shifting of blame. By the second sentence, I was being chastised for “decid[ing] not to go in [to class],” when the student worker had “offered” to let me in… “which is totally your choice.” But what choice was left for me to make? Truly, I could suffer the indignities of the school’s physical design with some acceptance if only I had the support of a staff that was ready and willing to “do all the good we can.” But the flippant microaggressions that I’ve endured ensure that the school would stay inaccessible no matter how many renovations take place. I believe in the kindness of individuals. I even believe that people will go out of their way to help each other just because it’s right. I believe Hamline’s greatest asset is its students, professors, and all the individual kind souls who believe, as I do, that we have the potential to live up to our motto. 8 | UNTOLD
But here’s the terrible irony of writing on inaccessibility: the truer it is, the harder it is to write. While others are able to use their 100ish waking hours per week to their full advantage, I sink countless hours into unheard pleas to administration; hours waiting by the basement doors for some guy with a key ring and a bulletproof vest; hours of slowly hiking the steps to my dorm; hours spent taking the long way around buildings to find a ramp; hours of watching my peers walk past me, chattering merrily amongst themselves, as I wait for the elevator; hours of writing apologetic emails and praying that my professors don’t think I’m just lazy; hours replaying the ableist rants or snide comments of authority figures, and hours sleeping off the flashbacks that the yelling triggered; hours of forms and emails and calls all to get one single key; lonely, shame-drenched hours of invisible obstacles. When am I supposed to write? When do I even have time to try and fix any of this? When will the powerful ones care with their actions, not just their words? When will you break the bureaucratic status quo? How long until you include me in more than your sales pitch, Hamline?
When will will the the When powerful ones ones powerful care with with their their care actions, actions, not just their words? I don’t ask for much. I don’t need construction to begin tonight. I don’t want special treatment, and I don’t want to have to design the improvements myself in order for anything meaningful to get done. All I want is steady progress. All I ask is for you to take the first step.
I do not like her She restricts me Pours her kettle of poison into my brain Shoving me back Tampering with my soul
And out she shines Poking the mind with insecure thoughts While she laughs at the crumbling Weak Little old me And now the Fatty Duck Skin The Red and White ao dai dress The Slanted eye And yellow skin All things you used to love Are tampered A reminder that you are a foreigner Little land on the cool water, Slushing against the ricketing dock Calms the mind Smell of crackling fire Burns the sins Blows the ashes away
And out you shine Glistening in the sun Your culture Your skin You. You are finally free
FALL 2021 | 9
Enter My Chapel
No part of me is original. I am a mosaic of everyone I have loved, their favorite states, foods, songs, and stores, even if they were only with me for a heartbeat. I am a unique cumulation. The cracks between each piece of glass, where the experience meets my hearts desire, I have learned to embrace. For they are not flaws, they allow space for the glue that holds me together. My window shines lights on others. I enjoy being in control of my piece and a stroke in others’ too; I work to make it yellow by adding green to the blue.
words and artwork by ella swiston 10 | UNTOLD
s FALL 2021 | 11
When a Semester It’s always the same: You’re new somewhere, whether it’s at a new school or in a new club, and you have to introduce yourself to others—Usually in the context of unpleasant icebreaker games. There are certainly people out there who like these games, but I’m not one of them. And I’m pretty sure the majority of people share my distaste in this matter. Is it about these games that makes it so unpleasant? Is it the fact that you tell random facts to these people who you may never see again? Or is it because all the other people have so many interesting things to tell and you just feel too basic, too normal, too average? For me I think it’s more of a problem that I often don’t know what to say at all. The disruptive factor is that it often goes beyond information such as name, age and origin. I am actually already overstrained by the question of what I do in my spare time. Would my honest answer be exciting and interesting enough? This struggle reached its new peak when I decided to study abroad for a year in the USA here at Hamline University. The question “Tell me something interesting about yourself” overstrained me beyond measure. But it got even more complicated when it was not only about my interests and character, but also about my cultural identity. I was born and raised in Germany but how German am I and what does it even mean to be German? I have to admit that I never questioned this before in my life. But at such a point, thousands of miles away from my home, I inevitably had to deal with who I actually am. 12 | UNTOLD
At such a point, thousands of miles away from my home, I inevitably had to deal with who I actually am. What is it about a person that makes her unique? In order to be prepared for all the questions people would ask me about myself and my home country, I prepared a set of answers in my head so that I wouldn’t have nothing to say in those situations. Do I really identify as a German person? Well, I have some character traits that are stereotypically German, but I don’t think that they actually apply to the majority of the German population. With that I mean being ambitious and organized, usually on time and self-critical. Of course, since you meet a lot of new people—starting in every class and ending with the working people in the cafeteria—I actually made use of my prepared answers. Interestingly, the more I talked to others about their interests and their culture, the more clarity I gained about my personal answers. When you are in a foreign country, you often find yourself in situations in which you compare the behavior of others to your expectations and the probable outcome of the situation in your home country. My conversations with other students from Japan and Vietnam made me especially aware of the great cultural differences between the western and eastern world.
Journey of Self-Discovery words by Julia Mayer
I know that I might be a completely different person as we as humans constantly change and develop.
Students are often highly encouraged to study one or two semesters abroad because it expands one’s cultural horizon and leads to personal growth. When I decided to study abroad, the significant factor for me was that I wanted to improve my English language skills in order to survive in a globalized world. The aspect of cultural exchange was initially rather marginal, and if I’m being honest, also a rather abstract concept. I guess you have to experience it yourself to understand what it really means. By now, I feel like having heard the other students talking about their cultural background has really shaped the way I perceive myself and the world around me. However, Even though I might know better now who I am, I will still hate all icebreaker games. Next time, when I have to face them, I know that I might be a completely different person as we as humans constantly change and develop. So in the end, the journey of self-exploration never ends no matter what country you travel to.
FALL 2021 | 13
poetry by cathryn salis
I wouldn’t call this a breakdown but more of a break out of the confines of society’s beauty standards I worked so hard to squish into to fit into to squeeze into to mold into no matter how you put it I just didn’t fit comfortably. I have privilege I didn’t have to work too hard but as a not-so-woman in this not-so-accepting world “beauty is pain” meant a lot of pain on my end a lot of uncomfortable assumptions dealing with emotions, feelings I didn’t know the names of. Pressure of conformity to a T. The bright light at the end of the tunnel was choice and education. I couldn’t see it for a long time but as soon as I could I ran full-speed towards it and found answers I found my people I found a world without boxes I found labels that fit and stuck I found acceptance north, south, east, west and then I found the hate. I turned around to face where I had come from but I wasn’t accepted back in there were slurs and violence and ignorance and oppression being thrown at me from the most unusual angles “I thought you were my friend!” “I was. Not anymore.”
I learned my name the same way I learned who I am. Someone told me and taught me how to spell it, how to act it. I was handed a nametag and with it, a script The rules to being. I never deviated. Then, I lost my script and forgot all my cues. Why am I dancing right now? My feet hurt. My hair is in my face, I can’t see. I cut my hair with craft scissors and now it’s an uneven mop, barely touching my ears. I don’t recognize myself but I hate myself less I’m no longer performing. The rules are but a faint memory and the only evidence I ever followed them are my tap shoes in the corner of the room.
14 | UNTOLD
To survive, I found a way to pretend. I could cover up my labels squish back into my old box, their box, then I could go back through the tunnel I came from, live in a society made for people who look like me. Sometimes in this world I have to choose between safety and authenticity but I have privilege I get a choice where many others don’t I hate myself for squishing into their box It hurts so I cut my hair with craft scissors and the box gets harder to fit into but I don’t recognize myself. I don’t see the one I don’t like so I smile to this new person in the mirror and when they smile back, I feel better and I go back into the light at the end of the tunnel. I found my acceptance and people and inner peace. Sometimes I still have to choose safety or authenticity, but not often because this society was made for people who look adjacent to me and even on my worst days, I can never let myself forget that.
While I like my home in the light at the end of the tunnel, with the peace and acceptance and shields from the hate, when I watch my friends get slaughtered because of labels they don’t get to cover up I can’t help but feel responsible. I go back into the battlefield. It’s my job to help fight ignorance. My privilege has purpose. I can’t be free until everyone else is. I can’t remember the last time I was honest to myself, like how badly my feet hurt from dancing all the time so I cut my hair off with craft scissors and I hate myself less. FALL 2021 | 15
Do you identify as Hispanic/Latino?
“Chaw-, Chav-, Sh-”
“ I am hispanic, This was my normal, I had never questioned my identity before. I was just another white girl with an “exotic” last name. But I wasn’t just another white girl. I’m hispanic and white, my dad is Nicaraguan, immigrated to the US at age 12. Grew up in LA from age 12, met my mom at 23 and the rest comes to now. He didn’t talk about it much with me growing up, and people brushed it off because I grew up in a small isolated part of suburbia. They knew my dad, thus they knew my story, and that was the end of it. I would just brush it off.
From 5 to 18, all I ever answered about being Hispanic were superficial questions. Diversity boxes on surveys or for school information, “Do you identify as Hispanic/Latino?” A check mark always placed in the “Yes” box. “Oh my god you’re so tan! Is it natural?”, yeah it is, I’m half hispanic. “Do you speak Mexican?”, and with the biggest eye roll I could produce I would say “It’s Spanish, but no.”
16 | UNTOLD
The questions I have received in the last 2 years here at Hamline from my friends, teammates, coaches, classmates, and professors have challenged me to look at those answers I gave in high school and go, why did I ever answer it that way? I met people and when I said my last name, it wasn’t a laugh and saying that they’ll just say Aubrey. People asked how to pronounce it, where it came from, where my parents were from. Questions galore. Questions that after 18 years made me really look into my identity below the surface level. Why did I ever say, half hispanic? I am hispanic, no ratio or percentage takes that away from you. What did being hispanic mean to me? What does my heritage mean to me? Why did I ever push it away?
“Here, I’m here, Aubrey, just you don’t have to try.” I spent the first 12 years of my education living that moment every first day of school, substitute teacher, school assembly, and orientation. It doesn’t make me special, and it doesn’t make me different. But it did make me feel self conscious, about who I am for 12 years of my life.
no ratio or percentage takes that away from you. I turned to finally confronting the reason, it wasn’t shame, it was fear. Fear of not being accepted for who I was. Fear that I wasn’t enough, enough for this identity I was coming to realize is me. That I was too white washed for the hispanic community. A girl from Arizona with an immigrant father, who could not speak a lick of spanish. Too basic white girl to express my interest in Spanish music, art, and culture. That I was too hispanic for the white part of my identity, that I stick out like a sore thumb. The tan, the eyes, the obviously dyed blonde hair.
My application was simple, I spoke my truth. Even though I was a science major, I loved swimming and had a passion for athletics. That in swimming I saw myself under-represented as a young hispanic woman. That I wanted to see change, and see myself on the deck in an administrative role. They accepted me. I got to represent my team, the university, and the MIAC conference at the national level.
I can fill the diversity boxes, but it only adds to what I have already done. Due to COVID, the conference was moved from DC to zoom. That did not stop one of the biggest lessons I ever learned. I met with 30 other student athletes from around the country also representing their school as an ethnic or racial minority who had a passion for collegiate athletics. I have never met a group of more authentic and genuine people. I owe these people more than they will ever know. They were my realization examples of what it looks like to be authentically yourself and secure in their ethnical identity. I learned to talk about my experiences as a hispanic woman, and how in the past I glossed over both the good and the bad. In 3 days, I had become more secure in my identity than I had been in 20 years. I got my spot at a national convention, went through a line of multiple rounds of application reviews, and got picked because of me. Not because I filled the diversity boxes for someone or their benefit, for being the athlete and student that I am. I can fill the diversity boxes, but it only adds to what I have already done. I walked with a new confidence after that, a confidence in talking about myself, my dad, and my heritage. That being a hispanic/latinx woman was an integral part of me and that I would take nothing for being who I am.
My journey comes from my drive, from my dad. At 15 years old, a child in high school, began to apply for citizenship by himself. Being in a new country living in one of the largest cities in the world with his extended family, and doing that on his own. One of the most competitive and driven people I have ever met. Always wants to be at the top and does it on his own accord, does it by giving 110% and possibly being a little too much of a workaholic that he passed down to me. That my dad did all that to provide the best life that he could to his family and give me the opportunities he never had. That drives me everyday to work harder, to chase my dreams, and that realization made me do it not only as Aubrey the hispanic girl on paper, but in my everyday life living authentically. My identity is still changing and forming, but with no fear in who I am. It has become a lot easier to know who I am. It’s not easy and your identity constantly evolves with you, but here I have had the opportunities and questions that finally got me to overcome the fear I placed on myself.
My identity is still changing and forming, but with no fear in who I am.
I had been and still am running away from this fear. Feeling awkward when announced that I was a National Hispanic Scholar and standing at high school graduation. When I wanted to join HALO as a freshman, but was too scared to show up. Now it was time to face this fear, and I got a ripe opportunity when my former coach submitted my name to represent Hamline at the NCAA convention.
FALL 2021 | 17
Self Portrait of a Butch artist statement: This painting is called “Self Portrait of a Butch” and it’s about my personal exploration of my butch identity and how I keep discovering new things about it every day. I specifically painted myself getting a tattoo of a quote from The Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg because hir book was one of the biggest influences on my journey to discovering I’m butch and because tattoos are incredibly gender affirming for me.
gouache painting by
18 | UNTOLD
tjessa arradondo FALL 2021 | 19
I simply could not be fixed Despite all my efforts to hold myself together. I learned quickly in this life that Cursed be the optimist, Burdened be the empath, And doomed who are neither For feeling everything is far better than feeling Absolutely nothing.
Modern Day Atlas
Maybe this is all there is for me All I may ever amount to be, Time built of long moments of sorrow and Even more swift periods of joy that can never quite be contained by words no matter how elegantly written Or loudly spoken.
a poems by
Just another spectacle for the world to shred with its bare teeth, Not a drop of blood on their gloved hands They tell me this mess is my own My fingers strain as I hold all that I am together But I slip through my own grasp back into their view. Doomed by my own gravity, It is there that my soul wavers with the weight of the heavens and hell.
20 | UNTOLD
CONTENT This poem discusses an eating disorder. Please keep WARNING: this in mind and take care of yourself as you read.
I was young when I lost control in my life At 13 I realized I had something I could control now One meal a day, eat only half The hunger pains will subside, ignore them You have to be small to be pretty That’s what society says That’s what she says
Two feet on a scale Three numbers that will define my day Too high and I’ll starve more Too low and I’ll continue to starve to stay here. To stay pretty To preserve youth To be loved by her
s c a l e
The woman who was supposed to love me The comments she made about other bodies What did she think about mine She was a twig but detested herself Should I detest myself as well If she thinks her small frame is atrocious, is mine too?
alison pasbrig FALL 2021 | 21
Caring is Crucial, but Why is it so Difficult?
words by liam schwartz
Here are some sickening statistics that most people cannot fathom: The population of those in prison and jail would be the fourth largest city in America; over two-thirds of people who leave prison will return; the United States makes up about 5% of the world’s population but holds 21% of the world’s prisoners; and a massive drop in the crime rate did not slow the pace of mass incarceration. America is truly an incarceration nation, and yet many people go about their day-to-day lives unaware of the catastrophic problems that occur in our prisons and jails every day. Why is this? Why have we left this enormous issue out of the common discourse? When one in four Americans have a criminal record, how can so many individuals choose to ignore this glaring issue until the system directly affects them? And why should I care? Hopefully, one day in the future, I will know the answer to that question.
As a heterosexual, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied Christian male in the upper-middle class with a “traditional” family, I arguably have one of the most privileged positions in society. I grew up in a largely white suburb in Wisconsin and never really had to think about race on a critical level. I just knew that for a career, I wanted to move closer to eliminating mass incarceration in the US and improving the lives of those incarcerated. I did not know what this meant or how it would play out. I just wanted to focus on a solution to a problem that I saw for no sound reason.
22 | UNTOLD
America is tr
I wasn’t always aware of the problems with our criminal justice system. It wasn’t until I had to do a poetry presentation in Mrs. Behrend’s Advanced Placement Literature class during my senior year of high school when I was 18 years old. In this assignment, we chose a poem and had to analyze it and connect it to other works of literature that we covered in the class. My initial thought was to focus on a soccer poem. However, after further insight, I based my topic on racial injustice using the poem “If We Must Die”, by Claude McKay. Although this poem doesn’t have a direct connection to the criminal justice system, the Black author examines what it means to be Black in a society where there is a clear advantage to being White. This disparity, of course, is painfully clear when inspecting the criminal justice system. Eventually, after much work, I thought I was ready for a conference with Mrs. Behrend to look for ways to improve it and ultimately get the okay to sign up for a presentation date. I couldn’t have been more naïve. In our conference, Mrs. Behrend asked me, “Why do you care so much about this problem that will probably never affect you?” I panicked because I did not know how to answer. It was at that moment that I realized I didn’t have an answer to the question that I had so hypocritically asked of others from my self-righteous high horse.
I didn’t have an answer to the question that I had so hypocritically asked of others from my self-righteous high horse.
CONTENT WARNING: this in mind and take care of yourself as you read.
This piece briefly mentions suicide. Please keep
s truly an
For most of my life, I wrestled with an issue that plagues so many people. W hen I was a child, my mom would describe my emotions as extreme. She would express to people, “When Liam is happy, he is the happiest person alive and when Liam is sad, no one can be sadder.” My mother’s affirmation delineated my entire childhood accurately, but it was not until fifth grade that I truly started showing significant signs of mental illness. I would try to be, and was, defiant in any way I knew how. Psychiatrists tried repeatedly to diagnose me, with guesses ranging from bipolar disorder to oppositional defiant disorder. With each new diagnosis came a new medication, and although they tried to balance my brain chemistry, it took years to get to a place of stability.
During those tough times, I was an absolute mess, living a miserable existence. Life seemed so bleak during those stretches of desperation that I questioned whether I wanted to live anymore. This inability to commit to keeping myself safe got me admitted to an inpatient psychiatric ward on five separate occasions. Psych wards have a very distinct smell that is a mixture of sweat, bleach-based disinfectant, and sorrow. Once back in the outside world, I catch whiffs of this scent now and then, which transports me back to those places. It was on one of these “trips” that I found the answer I was looking for. This answer to a question that nagged at me relentlessly is best summed up by the lyrics of an Elton John song: “I’m still standing better than I ever did / Looking like a true survivor.”
Essentially, I believe I care so deeply about this issue that I will probably never fully experience because I’m still alive—I didn’t commit suicide all those times the thought latched onto me. I’ve been to the depths of despair and experienced the human condition of suffering on a multitude of occasions. I’ve felt completely alone and viewed my future outlook as extremely stark. Then I emerged on the other side of that episode, a stronger and better version of myself time and time again without fail. This has instilled a responsibility in me to use my inherent privilege in productive ways. I cannot imagine what my life would be like now if I didn’t have the substantial support structure that believed in me when I deemed myself so worthless. I only hope that I can help even one individual recognize their value and help open doors that had been closed because they were labeled a criminal.
Psych wards have a very distinct smell that is a mixture of
swe a t , -
s o r r ow. FALL 2021 | 23
The fact of the matter is that having so many individuals behind bars is harming society. This points to the idea of community incarceration, which is the concept that when someone is locked up the entire community suffers, not just them. Not only is an employee lost, but all of us also lose spouses, parents, breadwinners, siblings, caretakers, and innovators. Sometimes when I’m walking down the street, I wonder how the United States would be vastly different if we focused on mutually beneficial rehabilitation rather than punitive retribution. If we attempted to return folks who broke the law back into being productive members of society, I believe we could solve many problems and make the world a better place. However, instead, we take away their right to vote, diminish their opportunities for employment and reliable housing, and exclude them from public assistance. The copious amounts of money we spend on our prison-industrial complex are resources that don’t go towards schools, parks, libraries, and universities. None of us are getting a good deal out of this. We are all affected by it, so why don’t more people care? How can we unite with a common commitment to change? I wish I knew the answers to these questions.
This is a human rights issue that affects the over 2.3 million people incarcerated and the 4.5 million under community supervision in the United States, but it does not seem to be at the forefront of policymakers’ minds. Our fellow citizens need so many of us to speak up about this issue and bring its ugly face to the light. Only then, will we see progress. This structural-based change will be far from a walk in the park. It will be full of setbacks and people invested in keeping the power and resources in the hands of those who have historically held it—the people in my demographic. Because of this, I need to do mypart in dismantling the many oppressive systems in the United States.Through practicing radical self-care, I must continue to have hope and persevere, especially when the going gets tough. I will keep challenging my implicit biases and ensure to have patience. I understand that progress takes time and that these systems are complex, deeply entrenched, and took hundreds of years and millions of laws and policies to create.
I wonder how the United States would be vastly different if we focused on
mutually mutually beneficial beneficial rehabilitation rehabilitation rather than
punitive punitive retribution. retribution. 24 | UNTOLD
Maybe once I am involved with a movement that is greater than myself, I will find continuous meaning in my life, and with that purpose, I can finally maintain consistent mental stability. But in the meantime, I will keep fighting for what I hold dear:
THE SEA. poetry by emiliano garcia fisher
The tears that have been shed are enough to fill a sea Each drop filled with the bitter salt from his mundane eyes. No Fisherman will dare part on this void sea. The sea is desolate and inert. This sea is only full of hollow wishes, This sea is intimate with the departed bloom from the unfledged. This sea is stocked with melancholy. The only thing that floats atop this sea is heartbreak The waves crash with treachery night after night In spite of this, the Fisher sets sail. He knows that the night can not stay forever. He knows this journey is not quick. This is a voyage that lasts throughout the course of time. The rain comes only to exacerbate the sea. The Fisher is obedient to what the rain demands. The rain will only drive his resolve. The more the rain comes the more the Fisher is uplifted One day the rain will stop. The Sun will rise again. The Fisher will see the land that he came from. Stepping off the boat and see the land that has bloomed from the rain. The Fisher is indebted to the rain. Grateful for the sun to have been gone so the land can mature. The fisherman knows that he can not be a fisherman without the sea. And the Sea can not be without the days of rain.
FALL 2021 | 25
fresh air in the city is never truly fresh. there’s always a hint of diesel to remind you of home. to remind you of gas station hangouts with the neon light shining over your tanned friends the moon swollen large in the sky like a water balloon you were too old to throw but young enough to miss. the heavy air reminds you of hot nights and gatorades bummed from the only friend with a job of smacking the shit of your own legs at the pinch of a phantom mosquito of not partaking in your friends’ first cigarettes but enjoying being near their rebellion. it reminds you of the desperation of your “First Time” lying in the grass looking up at the stars you’d come to miss one day listening to the cars rush past on the highway and thinking about how his kiss tastes of tobacco and how you probably taste like a sour mix of gas station candy and cheap vodka. his hands pawing at you feel like that of a bear that doesn’t know he’s not human and you are not enjoying it for the act of love you are enjoying imagining telling this story one day when you’ve left the gas station long behind. and you will leave it all behind, won’t you? won’t you cast off the shackles of your upbringing like manikles of gold? or will you be haunted by your vaunted truckstop existence, misfit now, paying the price for popularity as not much more than a child. because you can’t seem to ditch the taste of Y’all on your tongue. it can’t be healthy, making the waystation your final destination. 26 | UNTOLD
psychopomp psychopomp artwork by
FALL 2021 | 27
Sometimes I remember that I am a person in a body who exists. I’m surprised at the skin I’m in, Like I’ve forgotten what I look like That I’m a brain and something of a soul in a vessel of flesh and blood, And I’m supposed to do something with myself. Things get confused when I’m wrapped in my brain, When I look in the mirror and remember my mind has a face. Have you ever seen yourself before? The pictures don’t match, and the words are wrong. There are so many parts of a whole. You were supposed to know all this already, but you forgot Or maybe that’s just not you anymore, The way you changed your answers to get-to-know-you questions And when they asked you what you wanted to be When You Grow Up. Now we’re all grown up and supposed to do something about it Do you know who you are? Don’t think about it too hard. I’m still confused by the what A heart or gut or suit of flesh that doesn’t change Not the way a mind does.
28 | UNTOLD
The pieces of a person don’t have to align; Now why would you remain unchanged When nothing else stays the same? There’s so much time to see who you are If you forget yourself, restart.
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Identity Book Reviews by Alison Pasbrig Witch Daughter - short story by Kivi Weeks Type Yes to AffirmAffirm- an interview with Hamline Affirmations by Lydia Hansen FALL 2021 | 29
staff profiles below, from left to right:
EDITOR IN CHIEF Kimia Kowsari
Manisha Ram, Kimia Kowsari, Coby Aloi
MANAGING EDITOR Joanna Johnson CHIEF OF DESIGN Max Ridenour SECTION EDITORS Manisha Ram - Lifestyle Alex Magozzi - Art Michael Horton - Musings COPY EDITOR Coby Aloi ART DIRECTOR Sena Ross SOCIAL MEDIA & WEB MANAGER Austin Mahlberg above, from left to right: Max Ridenour, Michael Horton, Joanna Johnson
30 | UNTOLD
PHOTOGRAPHER Allison Stanke FACULTY ADVISOR Jen England
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List of Contributors Max Lakso Lucy Le Haley Klahsen Ella Swiston Julia Mayer Cathryn Salis Aubrey Chavarria Phoenix Muchowski Tjessa Arradondo
Nayeli Pallais Alison Pasbrig Liam Schwartz Emiliano Garcia Fisher Kivi Weeks Livy Dhein Elena Laskowski Lydia Hansen
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FALL 2021 ISSUE - ‘IDENTITY’