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illumination The Undergraduate Journal of Humanities


Mission

The mission of Illumination is to provide the undergraduate student body of the University of Wisconsin-Madison a chance to publish work in the fields of humanities and to display some of the school’s best talent. As an approachable portal for creative writing, art, and scholarly essays, the diverse content in the journal will be a valuable addition to the intellectual community of the university and all of the people it affects.

COVER ART • “PETALS” by Ariel Wood


illumination editor in chief managing editor

Emmett Mottl Raegan Niemela

essay

Shannon Murphy

prose

Cole Meyer

poetry

Suganya Sathiamoorthi

Wisconsin idea

James Holden

assist. Wisconsin idea editor

Micah Roberts

marketing layout

Lauren Boritzke Theda Berry


Digital and Writing Staff digital editor assist. digital editor

Reid Kurkerewicz Madelyn Sundquist

photography

Emily Buck

staff writers

Anna Zabiega

writers/reviewers

Rachel Burnham Irene Burski Brianna Rock

reviewer

Chandler Adams

Publications Committee Director Publications Committee Advisor

l l

Rachel Wanat Jim Rodgers

SPECIAL THANKS Illumination would like to extend a special thank you to Former Chancellor John D. Wiley and to the Lemuel R. and Norma B. Boulware estate for setting up the Boulware fund, which funds Illumination every semester.


Letter from the editor

I

’ve used the word beautiful to describe everything related to Illumination this year, to such an extent that searching my outbox for the word brings up pages of results, and I’m happy to once again present you with something beautiful. I can feel myself blushing as I write this, but I am amazed by how incredibly talented the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus community is. This issue of our print journal features the work of an undergraduate student body that cares deeply about their role in society; their voices carry the notes of people that are troubled with what they see in the world, and yet filled with inspiration from their friends to do something about it. This journal represents the work of many people coming together to share the fantastic creative work of undergraduates in Madison. I am so proud to be a part of the Wisconsin Union Directorate Publications Committee (PubCom), which is staffed by the most intelligent and hard-working people I have ever met. Together we are able to share the stories and lovely things that motivate all of us to do more, be more, and achieve the things that we didn’t dream were possible. I’m excited to say that we’ve continued to grow our organization to engage with art more directly by hosting a biannual WUD Arts Gala, interviewing artists on campus, and supporting other innovative programming. We’ve also removed sections from our journal to allow for a natural reading experience, blending together different branches of creative work for one unified presence. And, as a response to the continued question of the usefulness of this university, we have brought back our Wisconsin Idea section to share just how these lines of legislation actually impact us as a community. Our Layout Editor, the wonderful Theda Berry, made a colorful mosaic of student talents for you to enjoy, and I shake with excitement every time I see it. In your hands, you hold something very special, and I hope that you get as much joy reading it as we had making it for you. Thank you to Alice Walker-Lampani for your continued support and guidance in the design of this publication. My final thoughts in this letter are for Rachel Wanat, whose unwavering support, brilliance, and friendship has made many of our accomplishments possible this semester. Rachel built a community of passionate students and campus members into an organization that inspires many to do the very best that they can. No one has ever inspired me as much as she has. We are all capable of beautiful things, and it is the hope of this organization that you boldly go and share your dreams with the world. Find your passion and pursue it relentlessly. Best wishes,

Emmett Mottl


TABLE OF

CONTENTS 15 26 61 74

A NEW LIFE THROUGH ANCIENT WISDOM• Wenlu Yu

6

FUCK BRADLEY COOPER • Johanna Lepro-Green

34 37 47 48

JESUS CHRIST SIGN-SPINNER • Caleb Weisnicht

50

FLASHPOINT • Lindsay Nigh

11 12

CRACKS IN THE SIDEWALK• Isaac Ama

14 22 23 33

BLACK BREATHS • PF’anique Hill

45 58 60

EAU CLAIRE, WI • Cody Dunn

66 70 73

THE BEAUTY OF BASCOM • Dana Kampa

ESSAY

THE REST OF YOUR LIFE• Samuel Wagner SURVIVOR NATION • Isaac Chesler WISCONSIN IDEA • James Holden, Micah Roberts

PROSE

CENTRALIA • Rebecca Kyser TIMELINE • Melanie Kohls UNTIL OCTOBER • Annie Peretz

JANE DOE • Annie Peretz OTHERWORLD • Sean Avery IN MY DREAMS • Sean Avery V • Max Kasun MARILYN, 1962 • Kayleigh Norgord HERITAGE • John McCracken IRONY • Alexis Rivera THE GREAT DUST BOWL • Megan Kruse

POETRY


FEATURED ARTISTS

7 9

PARIS SES MONUMENTS • Grant Yun

10 13 14 16

SUPERIOR • Natalie Hinahara

18, 43 20 21

ABSTRACT YOUR WORLD (SERIES) • Sally Abrams

24-5 27 28 31

STRANGER TRAVELS (SERIES)• Courtney Kessler

SUMMER SOMEWHERE • Caleb Weisnicht

32

BOZEMAN • Shannon Jones

35 36 39

PETALS • Ariel Wood

40 46 49, 83 52 54 57

MAGPIE IN A SWEATER• Genevieve Anderegg

59 62 65 67

BRIDGE TO NOWHERE • Brittany Fahres

68-9 72

WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A FEMINIST? • Kaitlyn Veto

CHROMIUM • Mike Lind SUNDOWN • Natalie Hinahara LAY DOWN FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T STAND FOR THEIR RIGHTS • Jonah Leurquin UNTITLED • Kimberly Watanabe HIGH HOPES • Su San Yong LOVE LIKE THIS • Su San Yong THE WHITE BEAR• Hallie Funk OUR PITHY • Shannon Jones

THE GLEN • Shannon Jones CIRCUMVENT • Mike Lind SLIP • Shannon Jones FLOWER GIRL (SERIES) • Selia Salzsieder LACE TEAPOT • Rebecca Maurer JAR OF HANDS • Hallie Funk PROPPED NEAR LOUISE, MS • Caleb Weisnicht THE CROSSING• Claire Grummon PRIDE • Hallie Funk YOUR SWEATER IS UNRAVELING • Georgia Black DANCERS AT THE BARRE, DEGAS: MASTER STUDY • Kimberly Watanabe


FUCK BRADLEY COOPER BY JOHANNA LEPRO-GREEN M

y mom is dying, and I find comfort in the following activities: burrowing in someone’s armpit hair and taking a big sniff, reading Gossip Girl books puffy and wrinkled from the bath, and filling up online shopping carts with thousands of dollars’ worth of clothing I never buy. I cry everywhere. I cry in the bathroom stall of three different McDonalds. I cry on the city bus, a crowded lecture hall, a corner of the parking garage near my apartment, at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant, and with strangers in my bed. I spit out various foods and drinks. I have a hard time swallowing. I spend a lot of time on my hands and knees, like a sick cat, hacking up sips of beer and bits of chicken nuggets. My mom is dying, so I stop cleaning my room or wearing underwear. Whenever I take off my jeans at the end of the night, there are big white spots on the crotch and I don’t care. My room smells. It really stinks. I like taking people I meet in bars back to my apartment so that they have to take on the stink for a little while. In the morning they wake up surrounded by my trash and leave as fast as they can. I think about what they tell their friends. I like being the crazy girl with the disgusting room and the wet, sloppy tears and smelly pussy. I like when they fall asleep in my bed and get raisins or pennies stuck to their back. A few weeks ago, I went on a date with a girl whose dad had just died. We went back to her place and I woke up with gum in my hair. Before my mom got sick, I was very concerned with being thin. I’d compulsively check the line

6


Grant Yun Paris Ses Monuments Marker on Paper Map

7


I START TO FEEL A CERTAIN KINSHIP TO THE CRAZY WOMAN IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD WHO WALKS DOWN THE STREET SCREAMING IN A GIANT, RED HAT. I FEEL REALLY CONNECTED TO HER, LIKE WE’RE KINDRED SPIRITS, UNTIL ONE DAY I’M WALKING TO WORK AND SHE’S WALKING TOWARDS ME AND SHE REACHES OUT AND SLAPS ME HARD ACROSS THE FACE. 8

of my collarbone to make sure it was still there. I’d wrap my fingers around my wrist and pull on the skin beneath my chin. Now I feast. I eat family sized bags of potato chips, Oreo shakes, waxy wafer cookies in pink, yellow and brown, pizzas delivered at 2 a.m. I’m getting fat, even if I spit a lot of it out. When I take off my clothes, I am covered in angry red grooves. My breasts are getting heavy. I hold them when walking up stairs, even if there are other people around. My breasts are always sore. I like when a girl takes one of my breasts in her hand and sucks on my nipple like a baby, and I feel a sharp pain surge through them, like I’m about to get my period. I like when they call my breasts “tits.” It makes me feel like a weathered, but beautiful older woman, dreaming of getting her real estate license and her son off drugs. My mom is dying, so I take long naps. I sleep for eighteen, twenty, thirty hours at a time. When I sleep, I have crazy dreams. In my favorite dream, I’m strung from a hook by my back and being twirled around by every girl I’ve ever loved. In my least favorite dream, Bradley Cooper asks me to marry him and puts a yacht up my butt. I tell him, “I didn’t ask for you to put a yacht up my ass!” and he says, “You don’t have to ask, baby. I know what you want.” My mom takes selfies in the hospital. She sends me pictures of her smiling widely with a breathing tube up her nose. She looks like a punctured balloon, or E.T.’s sister. I visit her every couple of weeks for a few days at a time, sitting at her bedside, watching episodes of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and coming up with excuse after excuse to leave the room. I love my mom so much. She’s so special. Her fingers smell like garlic. She listens to a lot of Joni Mitchell, and has made it a point to always kiss

me goodnight because she’d wanted more affection as a kid. When she saw my fourth tattoo, the one on my wrist, she screamed at me. I had promised her I wouldn’t get another until I’d graduated college, but I did it anyway. She screamed and screamed for a solid ten minutes and then suddenly grew calm. “Let me see it.” I gave her my wrist and she took it in her hands. “You know,” she said sheepishly, “I actually love it.” Fuck cancer. That’s what I say to myself every five minutes. Fuck cancer. Fuck cancer. Fuck cancer. Fuck God, fuck capitalism, fuck cancer, fuck Bradley Cooper. I’m desperate to be seen. I “accidentally” bump into people on the street. I fake loud conservations on my phone. I burp loudly in class and don’t cover my mouth. I start to feel a certain kinship to the crazy woman in my neighborhood who walks down the street screaming in a giant, red hat. I feel really connected to her, like we’re kindred spirits, until one day I’m walking to work and she’s walking towards me and she reaches out and slaps me hard across the face. “Fuck off, bitch!” she tells me. I feel betrayed. I start driving to work. My mom and I used to fight a lot in the car. There was something about a Volvo that just got us revved up. No matter how well we’d been getting along that day, ten minutes in a car together and we’d be screaming about something crappy the other one did years before. There were a few times as a kid that my mom kicked me out the car and drove away, only to come back five minutes later, apologizing without looking at me. That’s one nice part about my mom dying. No cars. She can’t drive anymore, and even if she could, she’s always in the hospital. Instead, when I’m home, my dad drives me places. My dad doesn’t talk when he’s driving and doesn’t like when I


Mike Lind Chromium Photography

talk either, although he’s fine with singing. He lets me pick the radio station. When I’m not in the car with him, he listens to NPR at a deafening volume. My sister and I always knew he was home from work when we’d hear “All Things Considered” blasting and then the slam of a car door. My sister doesn’t acknowledge that my mom is dying. She’s at a fancy graduate school studying freshwater fish and living with her boyfriend, who has a sad little ponytail and identifies vocally as a male feminist. When I try to talk to her about it, she changes the sub-

ject, or tells me that it’s too much for her to think about right now. My sister had to drop out of college when she was twenty because she had such a bad case of OCD. My mom took her to countless therapy appointments and took care of her for a year until she was okay again. She made her omelets in bed and bought her beautiful dresses from department stores and held her while she counted each beat of her heart. Now my sister rarely visits. My mom pretends this doesn’t upset her. I kind of want my mom to die before my sister comes home next to spite

her, which sounds fucked up, but I’m just trying to be honest. I miss things. I miss what it felt like to be little. I miss rolling around in the grass and finding fuzzy caterpillars to crawl over my fingers. I miss three-way phone calls with girls whose names I’ve forgotten. I miss sitting on laps and being carried to bed. I miss softball teams and the silly secrets I kept. I’m hungry for other people’s stories. In bed, I ask girls to tell me about their childhood. “Tell me about your second grade teacher,” I beg. “Tell me about your first kiss.” l

9


Natalie Hinahara Superior Screenprint

10


CRACKS THE

IN SIDEWALK BY ISAAC AMA

I saw you the other day. I know you saw me, too, walking on the uneven sidewalk where friends turn to strangers with conveniently timed looks at the ground. Neither of us said a thing, we just glanced down at our feet, counting cracks in the sidewalk. We knew each other long ago; we both think about it now as we pass on opposite sides of the street, but now those days seem far away; a foggy memory that may have been a dream.

11


JANE DOE BY ANNIE PERETZ

No one aside from a well rounded Mrs. in her prized celeste blue scrubs accompanied by the worn eyes of her lone assistant was there to hear it. You know the sound. The one best heard when watching a green line on a black screen. The one where each feeble pulse is rewarded with a single green peak shadowed by a beep. Repeatedly, until the peaks plunge and the beep turns to an unceasing buzz. One that haunts the soul as it echoes through the caves of ears and skewed edges of the mind. The sound made as a fleshy body sprawled out on a hospital table flat-lines.

12


Natalie Hinahara Sundown Oil on Panel

13


BLACK BREATHS BY PF’ANIQUE HILL They not the kind Of lives Meant to breathe. No human— Too much blood and dirt. drifting ashes. The kind of men who Too much pain for prayer Too Malcolm, not enough Martin— Too black Boy, and too nigga Too Trayvon Too Eric Too constant Too ghost for man— There’s Strange fruit, rotting in the womb, Mommas bleeding out the cores. Watch them perish. Men Whose blood coats the streets And no one cleans it. They the kind of men Who die with their hands empty.

14

Jonah Leurquin Lay Down for Those Who Can’t Stand for Their Rights Photography


BY WENLU YU

A NEW LIFE THROUGH ANCIENT WISDOM

I

n the beginning God created a girl. And the essence of the girl was without form, and void. And her elders said, let her be a shūnǚ (淑女)1. And she was a shūnǚ. They saw that her manners were good, and they sought to keep her from corruptive influences. And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. Then the Church said, let her become one of us. So Christians made a partition to separate the believing from the unchurched, and she was subsumed into their fold. And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day. The night that stretched between that second day and the advancing third felt interminable, but according to biblical tradition, the third day presents the moment of triumph, when hope is resurrected and new meaning is infused into life; so I held on. While it is unequivocal that the two most significant epochs of my youth—two years of accelerated education in Chinese womanhood and four years of fervent participation in my church’s high school branch— worked in tandem to lay the foundations for me to become the person that I am today, it was only in creating distance between the dominant discourses within those institutions and myself that I was able to meaningfully engage with, as well as not lose value for, the ideologies themselves. In that sense, my significant breaks from both my extended family in China as well as the Church marked the dawning of my third day. After having made the U.S. my home, I was sent to China, a country I barely knew, at the

age of nine. Not being used to foreigners—let alone ones that sprung from their midst, my relatives were appalled at my ignorance of Chinese customs, and so my extensive education on Chineseness began almost as soon as I landed. My acculturation happened as quickly as my language skills were mastered: Within a few months, I became indistinguishable from native girls. My aunt often reprimanded me with, “girls don’t do that!” (subtext: proper Chinese girls do not slouch, etc.), but I still did not want to see myself as a Chinese girl, especially as it seemed to be exclusively associated with restrictions. That all changed one day, when I discovered the marathon of “Dream of the Red Chamber” playing on my aunt’s television and was mesmerized. As a child, I was never admired for my looks, which I doubt would have affected my sense of self had my cousin and almost-sister not been consistently praised for possessing immaculate facial features. However, as I entered my preteen years, people began to note that I possessed hints of an old-world loveliness that was no less valued in modern China. Meanwhile, my cousin, with her sharp, almost Anglo features, was excluded from this realm of beauty and excellence that I seemed born to inhabit. Not only was I now comely, I was special—blessed with the physical features with which to enclose those most beautiful of womanly traits which were passed down through generations of great scholars and beauties. Though it was probably only a handful of people, at the age of ten it felt to me like all of China

1 shūnǚ (淑女): the Chinese term for lady

15


Kimberly Watanabe Untitled Oil Painting

16


agreed that I resembled Lin Daiyu 2. Transcending her fictional status, Lin (and the actress who portrayed her perfectly) was held up to be the epitome of Chinese femininity, with beauty that is determined by both the external sexual and internal moral dimensions, for it is said that in ancient China, there was no dichotomy between body and mind, physical attractiveness and inner beauty. The shūnǚ, or classical Chinese lady, is beautiful and possesses a sharp but reserved intelligence. Her outward grace flows naturally from lifelong devotion to the cultivation of virtues and the attainment of knowledge, and is but the physical manifestation of that which lies deep within her. This emphasis on substance and character facilitates depth, authenticity and maturity, and resists imitation. I found myself admiring Lin so much that, while I very much enjoyed my childhood, I nevertheless looked forward to blossoming into something like the beautiful creature who captivated me despite the unintelligibility of much of her show. Through Lin, my view of adulthood, and specifically womanhood, became inextricably tied to being Chinese. I returned to the U.S. upon entering junior high, and even after a far longer period of adjustment and cultural/linguistic catch-up, my resolve to become a shūnǚ was just as firm as it was in China, while, paradoxically, my cousin lost her interest completely. The ceaseless cutthroat competition and consequently fierce goal-chasing of the Chinese educational system left her without any appetite for core identity-formation, whereas the relative leisure of the American public school system allowed

me to continue to unpack this extremely Chinese notion of female identity, exploring and considering it for myself. I have since realized that my aspiration for achieving shūnǚ status was much hoped for by my relatives, as the alignment of my physical, mental and moral attributes to the Chinese ideal signified, in their minds, hope for the survival of national identity in the offspring of the Chinese Diaspora. Memories of the humiliating effects of Western imperialism remained fresh in the collective Chinese consciousness, and in my young body they sought to reclaim what Western imperialism and the fanaticism of China’s Cultural Revolution threatened to destroy. Encouraging my identification with the Chinese feminine ideal was possibly calculated to spur me towards emulation, thus making me my own enforcer of national identity after I left China. My return to the U.S. was preceded by my parents’ insurances of jobs, and quickly followed by a

English-language youth group for the Americanized offspring of main churchgoers. As I had nothing in common with the other teens and preferred not to socialize with them, I mostly listened to and learned from the leaders, whose teachings on God’s emphasis of the heart over outward displays resonated with me. It felt like my incomplete education in becoming a shūnǚ was being extended in a new context. I was ready to respect a deity who could perceive clearly and judge people based on their hearts, and I was moved by teachings of His love and acceptance for all who choose Him. It was a drastic and welcome change from the unforgiving culture from whence I had just come, where severe distinctions existed between “good girl” and “bad girl,” and “lady” and “tramp.” However, not long after my conversion, the emphasis at church was no longer on God’s grace or goodness but on the strict adherence to rules which would separate

I NEVERTHELESS LOOKED FORWARD TO BLOSSOMING INTO SOMETHING LIKE THE BEAUTIFUL CREATURE WHO CAPTIVATED ME. lifestyle upgrade which included moving from an apartment in the city to a house in the suburbs. Now I was not the only one who needed new friends. My family began attending a Chinese American church that had an

me from the unbelieving masses, or “the world.” Personal times of growth in reading and meditating on the Bible were often stressed but I rarely found sufficient freedom for satisfying intellectual engagement with the text. My

2 One of the most famous literary creations in China

17


Sally Abrams Abstract Your World Photography

18

spirituality was thankfully out of reach from the meddlesome “church family,” but in all the visible areas of my life, it was difficult to escape their censure. Quite often, my church leaders saw in my refusal to conform to expectations the realization of their fear: a massive exodus of young people who want nothing to do with the church. Ironically, many, many of my contemporaries—church attendees who in their youth were perfectly obedient and pliable enough—have said goodbye to having religion in their lives, while I have never wavered in my convictions, although I did distance myself from formal gatherings of Christians in an effort to make me a more thoughtful person of faith. I think perhaps previous experiences with control during my China years made me less impressionable than my age suggested, so that I was protected from both the rhetoric of controlling church leaders as well as the defamation of the antireligious. I saw in the church’s insistence on universal observance to a strict set of moral and even political criteria as fundamentally unchristian, however, I was equally uncomfortable with condemnation of Christianity and of religion in general. This same reduction and subsequent dismissal of a complex matter is also prevalent in China—namely, regarding traditional Chinese femininity. From conversations I have had with some Chinese women as well as from information gleaned from the internet, it seems like the New China no longer places importance on the interiority of its women. In fact, in modern China women’s


I THINK PERHAPS PREVIOUS EXPERIENCES WITH CONTROL DURING MY CHINA YEARS MADE ME LESS IMPRESSIONABLE THAN MY AGE SUGGESTED. bodies have become sites of blatant consumerism—surfaces on which the nation’s financial and technological successes may be inscribed. Though most young people refrain from subscribing to old-world notions of femininity, they still admire the aesthetics of it, so a considerable amount of time, care and especially money are spent on achieving the right look—voluminous hair that flows like a jet-black waterfall, shapely eyes that connote innocence, small chins that suggest fragility, and pearly white skin which is indicative of wealth— as well as on displaying the right manners for special occasions, such as job interviews. Eschewing the time-consuming, painstaking cultivation of the interior qualities of the shūnǚ, young women can now expertly mimic the outward shows of traditional Chinese femininity when it suits their needs. This has led to the phenomenon of the Green Tea Bitch: a recently invented Chinese term used to describe women who display a refreshing purity that is like green tea, but are judged to be malicious manipulators at heart. Not unlike critics of America’s selfie culture, Chinese netizens decry this generation of young women as shallow and vapid, but whereas

their American counterparts are accused of sexualization that is too overt or explicit, these women are charged with hiding too much of “what they are really like.” The Green Tea Bitch is known to cultivate an air of innocence and refinement: she is careful to be pretty, but not obviously made-up; flirty, yet still very innocent. Under the vulnerable, pretty surface, she is said to be like a black widow weaving a web of lies, ready to strike at the first gullible male she entraps. Though the disparaging title is problematic in a distinctly antifeminist way, I do not doubt the prevalence of such instances where, in a society that still in many ways favors males, young women would use what tools they have to feel empowered, yet the readiness with which people use this label suggests a deeper problem. Most of the accusers are also young Chinese women, such as my cousin, who first informed me of this new trend, and when I asked her about women who are genuinely like green tea—very reserved despite being beautiful and admired, and refined despite her insistence that Chinese girls are free from those expectations; might they be unfairly judged? She replied that there are so few

young women in China who are truly like that, one can safely bet that those who exhibit signs of reservedness and refinement must certainly be Green Tea Bitches. I was filled with sadness at her casual relegation of traditional femininity to a historical footnote. To her, the shūnǚ phenomenon ended during the Cultural Revolution, with the exception of a few holdouts such as her mom, and considering how it was used for policing women’s sexualities and limiting their movements, she is not sorry to see it die. Rather, she is enthusiastic about the rise of the Manly Lady, another new label and the emancipated Chinese female’s answer to the weak, submissive girls of China’s feudal past. How the tables have turned: the “little foreigner,” as was always my nickname in China, has become the tragically nostalgic defender of traditional Chinese values, while the one who helped her mother baptize the nationless child into that very culture has flushed it down the toilet. I struggled with controlling presences throughout my life, and they were effectively administered through ideologies that I admired and which made up important aspects of who I am. Yet, instead

19


Su San Yong High Hopes Collage

20


Su San Yong Love Like This Collage

of rejecting these things as I inevitably rebelled against those authority figures, I chose to engage with them and to allow them to sit uncomfortably within my mind and body. They are systems fraught with complexity and ambivalence, but are not inherently or wholly evil—though the American popular imagination likes to picture Asian women as enslaved to outdated customs and churches as manufacturers of mindless pulpiteers. For me, the classical Chinese feminine ideal has nothing to do with

nationalism, and my faith in God most definitely has nothing to do with Christendom. I remain the unapologetic product of a traditional Chinese upbringing which was then supplemented with scrupulous religious instruction; and while at various points the attempts at control led to immeasurable pain and confusion, I ultimately benefited enormously from both. However, the systems in place by which these traditions are maintained are such sites of oppression and

contention, I have had to create distance and withdraw into the essence of the things themselves. Growing up in the U.S., away from the expectation of Confucian femininity, I was free to integrate Asian femininity into my identity without dictation of, or dissuasion from, relatives. Similarly, in my spiritual journey, I have been able to depoliticize that which is most important to me. Thus, I have discovered strength in softness, a voice in quietness and maturity through childlike faith. l

21


BY SEAN AVERY

IN MY DREAMS

I can have anything & everything I ever wanted. - Kid Cudi

22

I wanna be like the Silver Surfer, coasting on white-hot solar winds at the expanding universe’s edge. In my dreams I take that form: I project past planets our Sun has claimed, where stars blossom & fade like fresh bruises. The skin of this world names me slave’s great-grandson, touring minstrel, & factory worker. What I would give for my Mom’s hands rubbing oil on my dry scalp, Take care of yourself Sean. But how do I love this body staked & named everything except what I name myself? My day is another day. Classmates either ignore me or study me, like lecture notes. Nightfalls & I become an aura stitching my own name across the black canvas of the night.


OTHERWORLD BY SEAN AVERY

From my roofed box of a home on the outskirts of metropolis, Phoenix is a novel attraction, the interstate, a concrete tongue laid wide & leading downtown where people work & live & die while checking their ticket for the dream lottery. I am suburban outsider, mimicking city dweller slang, copying swag, my speech more dictionary than folk, my clothes more plain than palette. When thinking about my first trip to the city named after myth, I remember sitting in a backseat, watching behind curved glass the golden disk of the Sun setting in waxy blue heavens, clusters of sharp skyscrapers asking, “are we not man’s zenith—” obelisk shadows shading brick buildings & automobiles. I was dreaming sidewalks full of ghosts, at sunset, streets & alleys were trenches carving paths to crypts, “ain’t no love in the heart of the city” upper & lower class passing tombstones beneath billboards pointing towards Charon’s cargo ship.

All I knew of city life was: gunshot, siren, rap song, car horn, plane engine, late breaking news. I saw the interchange as possible routes to otherworld, how could I have known more than industry & poverty, more than metalwork magnum opus, maybe the fire Prometheus stole was not intended for us, maybe we should not have built light rails between rich & poor, one side all chain-link fences & no chance of retirement, the other, 3-car garages & last minute vacations, understanding between both sides, dimming slow like archaic streetlights. From my roofed box of a home on the outskirts of metropolis, I’m not sure if it’s my place to imagine those living in the city of resurrection, or if I can comment on the human condition, inside the greatest human invention, civilization.

23


24


STRANGER TRAVELS

BY COURTNEY KESSLER

25


THE REST S

OF YOUR

LIFE

BY SAMUEL WAGNER

ometimes, when I find myself in one of those introspective, big-picture type moods we all find ourselves in every once in a while, I think about the phrase, “For the rest of your life.” To be honest, those moods most often appear after I return home from a night of drinking at the bars with my friends, staying up late with my thoughts, my roommates all long asleep or perhaps sick in our bathroom. Don’t ask me why this is the opportune time to be having such grandiose thoughts. Now is not the time to answer that question. “For the rest of your life.” It seems a hard idea to pin down, really. It seems to me that it requires some time of event, some trauma, to make you realize what it actually means. Sure, you can just say “rest of your life” and people put together some half-formed idea of a quasi-future 50+ years from now, with flying cars and soylent green. Soylent cars? The point is, there are so many unknowns that it can be hard to make any sense of what to physically expect as a person. Where I will be, what my

26


Hallie Funk The White Bear Oil Painting

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Shannon Jones Our Pithy Screen Print

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job will consist of, what I will enjoy, if I’ll be six feet underground or thousands of miles above Earth. I truly do not know which of my thoughts will turn out to be true, as does everyone. Although, I believe that for me specifically, I have pinned down one thing that will remain consistent “for the rest of my life.” That is, I will either be living with, or be affected by, type 1 diabetes. At the time, diabetes was something I hadn’t known much about. I knew my father had it. I didn’t know, but learned later, that my father’s uncle died from complications due to it at around age 35. As it turned out, my father had gotten it at around age 12, and knew the signs and symptoms easily enough, which led to him noticing the same symptoms in me. I can picture him asking me to check my blood sugar, seemingly at random, before eating lunch some weekend day. I poked my finger with a needle for the first time ever, and pressed it to the tiny machine and waited. The number came back 300-something. I had no idea what it meant. I pushed the machine back to my father, grabbed my food, and went back

downstairs to my television. It didn’t take long for him to follow me down, mute the television, and sit next to me. At this point, it needs to be said that my father is a lot like me. Not in the obvious, same-disease way we are now, although that is true also, but in the way that we are both rather quiet and are more likely to solve a problem for ourselves than wait for someone else to finish it. Basically, my father wanting a quiet moment of just us two was something that I knew was important. “Sam, I need to talk to you about something. Now, I’m not sure, and we need to go to the hospital to check, but right now it looks like you may have diabetes.” “…Oh.” That’s actually what I said. “Get your shoes on, and let’s go to the doctor’s office right now.” It was a simple request, made a lot of sense, but I was 12, and it didn’t compute. “Can’t we wait until tomorrow?” “No, we need to go now.” Can’t we wait until tomorrow? Up until this point in my life, all 12 years of it, there had been little need for urgency. With everything I had experienced, I had

been able to wait until tomorrow, as a general rule. Looking back, it was so incredibly foolish, but my “rest of my life” didn’t extend very far beyond the next day or maybe the next week. If I can get back to my big-picture thoughts, I notice quite a lot of people acting this way even as they grow older. Sure, high schoolers are looking towards college, and college students are looking towards jobs or grad school, but the scope is always so limited. We think of the next few weeks, months, or years, but our plans never go too much farther. Maybe it has to be like this, to keep our sanity. The ride, the hospital, and the doctor’s office are all mostly a blur. I remembered something about the doctor confirming the diagnosis that I had type 1 diabetes and stating my pancreatic function had already started to decrease, and would continue to do so until it became useless. That wasn’t important to me at the time. I didn’t understand it well enough. From there, I proceeded to spend one night in the hospital being monitored by a few nurses, along with whichever doctors that had a tenuous connection to

WE THINK OF THE NEXT FEW WEEKS, MONTHS, OR YEARS, BUT OUR PLANS NEVER GO TOO MUCH FARTHER. MAYBE IT HAS TO BE LIKE THIS, TO KEEP OUR SANITY. 29


my case. A flurry of white coats, friendly faces who smiled too much, and strangers telling me how I am going to have to live the rest of my life. Each one of them adjusted the lights of my room, moved the blankets of the bed I was in, and gave a glance to the television in the corner, turned on to some random station. Highlights of my day included my mother arguing with the doctor and convincing him to only make me stay one night in the hospital instead of the standard three, as well as my mother arguing with the doctor so that I wasn’t placed on an IV and only had to drink some kind of sports drink as part of my “treatment.” There was a pattern starting to emerge from where I was sitting. All this time, I stayed mostly silent and alternately watched the television and the setting sun slowly paint the walls and my family’s tired faces. As night fell, a routine set in. As part of monitoring me, nurses were required to check my blood sugar every hour, on the hour, throughout the night. They all said that they would try to be quiet and not wake me up. Of course, they always said this after waking me up each time. I didn’t sleep much that night. Not factoring in the hourly disruptions, my mind was starting to comprehend the implications of having to do this for the rest of my life, which is all I knew at the time. Keeping track of what I ate, avoiding certain things, monitoring myself, and seeing the looks on my family’s face, sympathy mixed with fear mixed with sadness. Above all, my mind wanted to get back to my life. Not even the rest of it, just the next day or so would be good enough. A day or two where I could pretend this was a dream. At least tell myself, this can wait until tomorrow.

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So, I guess you could say that my story has a happy ending. Of course, you could say a lot of things. As it turned out, I was able to get back to my life. You see, I went in to the hospital and was diagnosed with diabetes on the afternoon of October 30th, 2005. I spent the night wondering if I could get back to my life, and then left the hospital on Halloween and was able to join my friends and go trick-or-treating, even as a 12-year-old. 12-year-olds still go trick-or-treating, right? Well, I did. I ran around and laughed with friends that day, and got to wait, not until tomorrow, but at least a couple hours before having to deal with the events of the night prior. I didn’t tell my friends what had happened, of course. I still wasn’t fully aware of it myself. The only thing that mattered to me was that I was having fun today, never mind what happened the day before. This October 30th, 2015, is 10 years since I have been diagnosed. I try not to draw too much attention to my diabetes anymore. My mind is always thinking about it, of course, the way a song sticks in your brain, or a sliver gets under your skin and stays there. What I’ve learned in these last 10 year, though, is that the “rest of your life” can be hard to deal with. And that is okay. Whether you are completely unsure of where or what you will be, or if something is always going to be a part of you for the rest of your life, understand that worrying about it will not change the outcome. Instead, take each day and make it as positive as can be. Having diabetes put the rest of my life put in perspective, at least a small amount, and has made me realize that as long as I have the “rest of my life” in front of me, the least I can do is try to make today the best day possible. l

ABOVE ALL, MY MIND WANTED TO GET BACK TO MY LIFE. NOT EVEN THE REST OF IT, JUST THE NEXT DAY OR SO WOULD BE GOOD ENOUGH. A DAY OR TWO WHERE I COULD PRETEND THIS WAS A DREAM. AT LEAST TELL MYSELF, THIS CAN WAIT UNTIL TOMORROW.


Caleb Weisnicht Summer Somewhere Photography, Cut Paper and Bristol

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Shannon Jones Bozeman Screen Print

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V It was very long after winter: the song and the steps were crumbling: were being washed away: it was very

bright and the clouds conducted a uniform glare: the buzzing and moving going sturdier, moving inwards and taller: and we had lost the tendency to discern, underneath them: and some babies separately shrieked: off over the

lake the sky resolved birds, stretching wings, trying to dissemble: the vernix about them: trying out being very related to their moment: but being only

collateral: because the steps were gone, or at least too bright in the heat: so that everything was perfectly in front of us and out of sight: and we do not care where those pieces have gone, do you? it is long after winter.

BY MAX KASUN

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JESUS CHRIST

I

SIGN-SPINNER

n the beginning (June, 1999), he spun that sign at just under 10 revolutions per minute. “Spanky’s Car Wash: Suds & Scrubs” set in a slanting blue script that bubbled all over itself. He spun it out on the corner of 3rd and Carlisle, but no one came. Out there in the sticks with the gutted white warehouses flaking and the bummed out awnings all sun faded and sagging like spandex hand­-me-downs. He kept spinning, but no one ever came to get clean. And by the end of August, he spun right into a slump. His RPMs were down drastically (6.7 from 8.9 in July), his hands were severely blistered and bleeding, and Spanky’s CPD (customers per day) hung right around zero. From a window above the double-­doored garage that housed the car conveyor, friction and high pressure washers, and red row of fixed nozzle Buff ’n’ Dry™ air dryers, the eponymous Spanky cupped his hands and called down to his human advertisement below, “Keep spinnin’ that sign, boy!” Spanky’s birth name was Douglas. “That’s the ticket!” He was an old 76 years old, and he inhabited the two tiny rooms above the squat, whitewashed garage. He’d lived through the golden days of the auto wash industry, and he wasn’t letting go. “There’s something to that boy,” Spanky would mutter as he

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BY CALEB WEISNICHT

watched with a frightening intensity. “I know there is.” By October, the boy was back on track. Not only were his spins quicker (now topping out at 22 RPMs), but he was incorporating subtle dips, turns, and dives that crescendoed into graceful little tosses of the sign up into the air and back down again. His hands, once fleshy, were now sure and strong, the pads of his palms and fingertips capped with little red coins of callous. Spanky’s CPD climbed to 2. “This is the beginning,” Spanky whispered into the window pane, his breath hot and wet against the clouded glass. “This is only the beginning.” By November’s first snow, the boy was spinning at 52 RPMs. Salt­-stained vehicles rolled in and out of Spanky’s at a rate of 34 per day, and the boy spun faster. A new top­- to-­b ottom brush pendulum combo was installed, and the boy spun faster still. Though it could hardly be sprung for, Spanky crunched some numbers, observed a fairly encouraging upward trend, and had a pivoting rain arch attachment trucked in and equipped by the beginning of December. And the boy spun even faster.

“Yes.” Now it was a hiss. Spanky stood shaking at the window, his sweating hands moving in and out like a clap, his breaths coming quick and clipped. “By God, keep spinning.” By mid­-December, lines of minivans, SUVs, and station wagons pregnant with Christmas­-crazed shoppers and their purchases wound out down Spanky’s driveway and along a good three-­mile stretch of Carlisle. With the boy’s continued increase in speed (now 90 RPMs) and stamina (seven 12­-hour shifts per week) came a resurrection of the long­-despondent retail, residential, industrial, and even agricultural districts situated in and around Spanky’s neighborhood. The boy was a drop in the pond, and his ripples radiated for miles. “Yes, yes, yes!” Spanky’s screams were muffled by the recently installed Proto­Vest® T260 Touch­-Free Tunnel Dryer blasting below him. Though it operated at a decibel level that violated OSHA’s occupational noise exposure standards, he opted out of the Silencer Package because he wanted to “feel the blow.” The boy, becoming increasingly concerned by the one-dimensionality of his sign-­spinning program (his was an art of athletic heroism, one that relied too heavily on physical feats of speed and stamina alone), began dabbling in the more expressive crafts of dance, musical theatre, and


miracle-working. Though he could average 175 RPMs for a good 16 to 18 hours uninterrupted, he now insisted (as he did before the Christmas Eve performance of his own script, Jesus Christ Sign­Spinner) on being flanked by phalanxes of shirtless male dancers singing songs like Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” while he threw the sign hundreds of feet up into the air— “Oh, my!” From his window Spanky watched, his nose flattened against and greasing the glass as he traced the sign up through the night.

—and caught it again in his teeth. Fireworks fractured the northern sky, and the crowd of 50,000 crammed up and down 3rd and Carlisle began cheering wildly and chanting Revelations 19:12­-6. “That boy’s the Second Coming.” Spanky’s voice was low and soupy with something like reverence. He moved two quaking hands up to palm the glass and touched the face reflected there— his face, old and jowled against a backdrop of exploding light. But I am the creator, he thought. I am the architect. Reds and blues tessellated through the glass before

him. It’s time. He then took an hour­l ong bath in a tub of tepid Nestlé® Holy Water, dried himself off with a blood­- stained cloth (embroidered), and donned his A1200 God the Father™ Robe w/ Heavenly Sash (white Poly­- cotton blend, $666 off at shopholy. com). He admired himself for a few minutes before removing the robe, climbing into bed, and falling asleep to the sound of 25 male voices singing, “You can’t start a fire without a spark. This gun’s for hire, even if we’re just dancing in the dark.” l

Ariel Wood Petals Vinyl and Acrylic Painting

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Shannon Jones The Glen Screen Print

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T

hey left for Centralia early Saturday morning. It had been Carver’s idea, as were most of their more dangerous day trips. Carver had always been a thrill seeker. Ever since he’d jumped into the deep end of the swimming pool just to prove he could back in first grade he’d been tethered to the addiction of adrenaline. From riding his bike without a helmet to taking two stairs at a time, Carver went out of his way to experience little thrills in his everyday existence. Big thrills, on the other hand, were rare for the lanky teen who had broken more bones in non-contact sports than any of his classmates. So when Carver learned that there was a ghost town less than a few hours away when they were still in middle school, it was clear a trip was going to be required. And when Marvin got sick they ran out of reasons for putting it off. Danni took care of the logistics. She was good at those types of things. She commandeered her cousin’s van for the event, a white monstrous thing that had been purchased from the bad side of town. It was the ideal vehicle for such a trip. Sure, it smelled like weed, and sure, there

were a few stains on the upholstery that looked questionable, but it had space, and for any trip that included Marvin, space was required. Ever since Marvin had gotten sick, real sick, their bi-weekly Saturday trips began to require more and more planning. They couldn’t

a wheelchair in case Marvin was having an off day, or if he needed to bring an IV bag with, if he was still nauseous from a round of chemo. And some days, they needed to prepare themselves for giving up a trip all together. Marvin hated all the fuss but he understood the root cause of it: concern. While his type of cancer had a high survival rate and Marvin was showing marked improvement, no one wanted to take risks. So Marvin didn’t complain when his friends pulled up to his house in one of the ugliest vans he had ever seen. Sneaking out was easy. His parents could sleep through anything, so they didn’t stir when Marvin trudged through the house at six in the morning getting ready. He’d dressed for the occasion, placing an oversized sweatshirt over his skinny frame. It used to fit well back when he played soccer, but chemo had sucked all the muscle mass out of him. The googly eyes on his knitted frog beanie bounced as he pilfered snacks from the kitchen cabinet. Danni had made it for him, a present for when his hair started falling out. It looked pretty stupid,

CENTRALIA BY REBECCA KYSER

go to places that were too populated in case Marvin’s immune system wasn’t up to par. Activities that required intense physical fitness were out of the question. They needed to have a car big enough for

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a green monstrosity with giant felt eyes attached to the top, but Danni put effort into it, so Marvin wore it all the same. They managed to leave his house with no problems, and while Marvin was sure he’d get hell for sneaking out later, the cool air that brushed against his face as they soared down the highway was more than worth the future hassle. “What do you think of the theme music?” Carver asked from the front seat. He’d put in his AC/ DC tape into the cassette player (which was one of the many reasons Marvin considered the van as utter shit) and it was currently playing “Highway to Hell.” He wasn’t blasting it, the cassette player couldn’t go that loud, but it could be heard in the backseat. Marvin poked his head back into the car. “Not a huge fan, but it’s fitting. What do you think, Danni?” Carver reached up to adjust the rearview mirror so he could make

regarded him as the coolest weirdo to grace their class in a decade. “I think you’re an idiot to even consider dumping on such a classic,” Danni said. She was seated in the front as well, her feet up on the dashboard. She was in her normal weekend getup, contacts forgone for glasses, jeans abandoned for sweats, straightened hair discarded for messy braids. Her varsity cheerleading sweatshirt was far too big on her, though Marvin knew she preferred it that way. She always complained that tight fitting clothes were too uncomfortable. She grabbed the edge of her seat so she could push herself up enough to look at Marvin. The light shone through the windows onto her brown, freckled face. The markings had always reminded Marvin of paint splatter, the type that they sold on blank canvases in indie art museums for thousands of dollars. Danni was often a terror in the morning even with coffee, but when it came to their Saturday morning

MARVIN CHEWED ON THE BOTTOM OF HIS CHAPPED LIPS, RELISHING THE COMMENT. SMART ASS. HE RARELY GOT CALLED THAT ANYMORE. weird faces at Marvin without taking his eyes off the road. The gesture forced his shirt sleeve up his arm, revealing his tattoo sleeve, which featured a plethora of band names, a skull and a snail playing a saxophone. Carver was the tallest of the gang, a good two inches taller than Marvin. He tended to loom over people, which was unsettling to some given his multiple piercings and arm tattoos, but in reality he was a huge softie, a true pacifist. The school

38

trips, she did her best to be in a good mood. Well, at least since Marvin was diagnosed, which, to be honest, bothered him a little. He missed her bitter commentary. “You ready to embrace the fires of hell?” Oh, he was. Carver had explained the place when they were still at his house. Once a thriving small town, Centralia had been abandoned entirely in the 80s when residents became aware of the underground fire that simmered

underneath the place. Since then, it’d become an inspiration to horror writers and a tourist destination for the less wary. Most people called it: “The Entrance to Hell.” “I’m pretty pumped,” Marvin said. “I’ve never been to Hell before. Think they’ll have a free buffet?” “Probably not, smart ass,” Carver said. Marvin chewed on the bottom of his chapped lips, relishing the comment. Smart ass. He rarely got called that anymore. Back when he was in school (back when he was normal), he’d been one of the prominent comedians on campus, the popular witty kid who could make girls laugh and teachers steam. Now, he was lucky if he could get an authentic chuckle. His mere presence seemed to make people depressed. It hadn’t done wonders on Marvin’s mood, being a waking reminder of how fucked up the world was. At the hospital, there was a sign in the oncology ward that had six cartoon faces on it. At the bottom of the scale there was a young boy grinning from ear to ear, the number zero drawn underneath. The picture in the middle was one of the same boy, except he looked unfocused, his face a fine shade of grey. As the faces progressed closer to the face with the six underneath, the child’s expression grew more and more bothered right until it hit dejected. The nurses pointed it out a lot during his appointments, gesturing to the slogan at the top: “Feeling blue? Let a nurse know if you feel worse than a four.” Marvin didn’t feel worse than a four (he hadn’t since he’d been bed-bound during a too-harsh week of chemo), but since school had started up, he felt himself settling into a mood that was best described by the picture on three. The world was too cold, his house was too empty, he was far too pale and he found himself unable to really care. It was the start of the school year and the absence of his friends had sucked all the energy out of his body. It was like some metallic


Mike Lind Circumvent Photography

mosquito had come and sucked out his bone marrow leaving a hollow skeleton, functional but lacking substance. His mother was worried he was depressed. Marvin disagreed. He was just bored. And maybe the slightest bit lonely. He felt better seeing his friends. Carver reached into his backpack, ruffling around through the contents before pulling out a large manila envelope. He passed them to Danni, who in turned passed them to Marvin. “Here’s your newest round of fanmail, man,” Carver said. Marvin’s nose crinkled in distaste and he ran his thumb across his name that was scrawled across the top of the envelope. The ink didn’t even smear.

Back when he first started receiving cards from his classmates, they’d been a relief, a way of knowing that everyone still remembered him. But when none of his supposed fans ever visited, he picked up on how much anyone actually cared. There was one in the first batch he received he remembered in particular. Instead of being addressed to Marvin, it was addressed to “the cancer kid.” Marvin had no idea how his teachers hadn’t caught that screw up, but he thought it was oddly fitting. That was who he was now to the junior class of his high school. Not Marvin the soccer player. Not Marvin the popular kid. Not Marvin the funny guy. Just “the cancer kid.” Marvin threw the envelope to the

side. It fell off the bench and slipped underneath the passenger seat. He had no intention of retrieving it. Danni watched the scene with mild concern, the corners of her mouth turning down. Marvin tapped Carver on the shoulder. “I can hear from my adoring fans later,” Marvin said. “You got pictures of this place? I’d look them up but my phone is crap.” Carver shuffled in his seat, trying to access his back pocket. Soon enough, he pulled out his phone. He tossed it back to Marvin. “Yep. Saved ’em on here. Take a gander at Centralia, Entrance to Hell.” Marvin knew the passcode, all of them did, and typed in Ferris when the lock screen appeared. The screen

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Genevieve Anderegg Magpie In A Sweater Copic Markers and Microns on Bristol

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THE WHOLE EXPANSE OF CEMENT WAS COVERED IN DRAWINGS AND SLOGANS, ALL IN DIFFERENT LANGUAGES AND COLORS. lit up and Ferris himself, a small pit bull puppy, appeared as the background image. He found the pictures easily enough. It didn’t look like the entrance to Hell to Marvin, unless Hell was unmanaged infrastructure. The first picture was of a road with the biggest cracks he had ever seen. Miniature ravines ran through the concrete, snaking across the pavement like veins. The next photo was of a similar looking road except it was covered in graffiti. It wasn’t the best quality, but Marvin could make out some of the graffiti clichés of a peace sign or a swear word. The next photo was a side-by-side comparison of a street, though Marvin could only tell they were the same location by the caption. On the left, the street was heavily populated, small stores and houses lingering on the side. On the right, the street was the only attraction, the yellow dying grass the only sign of life in the picture. “What do you think?” Marvin didn’t answer. He flipped over to another photo, this one of

the church itself. It looked like every other church in the area, white paneling, hand-crafted glass windows. If he didn’t know better, he would have sworn it was still running. “Marvin? Marvin you okay?” Danni asked. She was kneeling in her seat so she could look at Marvin. Her seatbelt dug into her side, creasing her sweatshirt. “We don’t have to go, if you don’t want to. I’m up for a movie marathon, too. If we try hard enough, we can probably find something that Carver hasn’t seen.” Marvin looked up at his two friends. They had only been back in school for two weeks but Marvin felt they had already started to change. Carver seemed taller, Danni seemed more confident, and they both had probably started thinking about college tours. Marvin hadn’t even bothered to start looking. They’d been friends since first grade, every step perfectly in sync. Until Leukemia had come along and chained Marvin to hospital beds and his house. He turned back to glance at his front door, and thought briefly about how many times in the last week he had spent watching television in the basement. Alone. Was he really willing to do it again? He turned back to his friends and put on the widest smile he could manage. It felt like he were a fish and hooks were stuck in each corner of his mouth, tugging at the corners. “Hell it is.” *** Marvin had to hand it to Carver: This was the best idea he’d had in a long time. Centralia turned out to be one of the coolest places Marvin had ever visited. Their first stop was near the roads that had been closed off after the town was officially abandoned. While the graffiti looked par for the course on Carver’s phone, in person it was entirely different story. The whole expanse of cement was covered in drawings and slogans, all in different languages and

colors. Hiding within the depths of peace signs and swears was a lot of originality. Carver demanded that Danni took a photo of him standing in front of a particular piece of graffiti that said “Welcome to Hell.” Danni went around taking snapshots of the more intricate drawings such as Pac-Man chewing his way down one of the cracks or one of a worm popping out of a larger gash. Marvin almost fell over laughing when he stumbled upon a section of road dubbed “The Penis Trail,” which featured crude drawings of dicks leading the way forward. After less than an hour of walking, they had used up most of the memory on Danni’s camera. “Can I find the genius behind the penis road and give him an award?” Carver asked. His knees were covered in dirt from kneeling on the pavement so much. He insisted on getting a better look at some of the doodles. “You think I’m joking, man, but I’m dead serious. That man deserves recognition.” “As does any boy under the age of fifteen by that logic,” Danni said. Her camera hung around her neck and she walked forward, kicking one of the loose pieces of concrete. It bounced forward before landing in one of the cracks. “Do you guys want to keep going or should we head back to the van to check out the church?” “Don’t know,” Carver said. “You good, Marvin?” The teen was still pale, but the walking had brought some color into his face. He breathed in the chill air and smiled. “I feel fine, actually. I’m down for walking some more.” He wasn’t lying. The fresh air actually felt great, and while his legs burned, it wasn’t a bad feeling. He’d been going on walks in his neighborhood as of late when he felt the pressing need to get out of his house, but the empty streets usually ended up making him feel like he was still inside. Danni

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HE POINTED UP THE ROAD WHERE THE CRACKS IN THE ROAD GOT WIDER, ALMOST

raised an eyebrow. “You sure?” Marvin walked past the two, spreading his arms wide. He twirled around in a circle, the movement lazy. “Positive.” He pointed up the road where the cracks in the road got wider, almost splitting the road into fragments. “I mean, we can’t leave without checking that out, can we?” “Right as always, Marv,” Carver said, rushing forward. He clapped Marvin on the back as he did so, and it almost tripped the smaller teen up. Carver jumped over each of the cracks, like he was playing a game of hopscotch. Danni walked up so she was standing next to Marvin. She was the smallest of their gang, but she carried a presence that made Marvin feel like she loomed over him. She was playing with her bracelet. Marvin didn’t recognize it. “Where’d you get that?” It was a nice bracelet, made with polished black beads, each of them hand painted. The paint was an amateur job; Marvin could tell with how it cracked off some of the beads, but it looked nice enough. Danni blushed. She pulled at the bracelet, twirling it around her finger. “Travis Park gave it to me. He

asked me to Homecoming last Tuesday.” Marvin hoped that his surprise wasn’t entirely obvious on his face. “Travis Park? The skinny, shy guy?” Marvin didn’t know Travis well, but then again, no one did. He did his homework, and answered some questions when called on in class like everyone else. Marvin didn’t know he could paint. “Not so shy anymore. He grew out his shell over the summer, apparently. He’s a big guy on campus, now.” Marvin blinked. Travis Park, big guy on campus? Could things really change that fast? No, of course they could. Marvin knew that. He looked down at his wrists, with their pale skin and blue veins. He could barely remember when they looked healthy and it had only been four months since his diagnosis. If he could fall into the pit of the forgotten in that time, it only made sense that Travis could climb up into his place to make a claim. “We’re just going as friends,” Danni said, not noticing Marvin’s distraction. “Carver has his eye on another guy in his art class, but personally, I think he’s an ass. He’s a transfer kid so you wouldn’t know

him, but trust me, you’d hate his guts. When you get back to school, you’ll see. He thinks he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.” “You’re so judgey!” Carver called from down the road. He was perched on top of a rock off the road. Danni rolled her eyes, and grinned in a way that reminded Marvin of a lion ready to pounce. She darted towards Carver. “I’m judgey? I’ll show you judgey, you—” Marvin wasn’t listening. Danni’s words echoed in his head. When you get back to school. She said it like it would be so soon, like he was out for a cold. Like he’d come waltzing into school a week later, good as ever, ready to make fun of Carver’s newest crush. Like when (if) he did come back, he’d slot back into his old place the same as before, like the world froze while his body waged war on itself. Danni and Carver were chasing each other now, jumping and bounding across crevices and fissures. And here he was, frozen in place. For the first time since Marvin left his house that morning, he felt tired. He kicked some of the pebbles underneath him out of the way and sat down on the pavement. It was a spot

SPLITTING THE ROAD INTO FRAGMENTS. 42


Sally Abrams Abstract Your World Photography

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THEY SPREAD ACROSS THE EXPANSE OF THE ISOLATED ROAD, TWISTING AND TURNING ON ONE ANOTHER, ALL SPREADING THE HEAT THAT HUMMED BELOW THE SURFACE. with as much graffiti as the others, though this patch wasn’t particularly original. Marvin placed his pointer finger on top of a peace sign and traced over it. The pavement was cold to the touch. The place looked full of life, yet at the moment, Marvin saw nothing but an abandoned road that people visited to gawk at. Like a graveyard. Pathetic. He traced another line, than another, until he reached one that skirted near one of the cracks. Marvin stopped, jerking his hand away. The pavement near the crack was hotter than he expected, the same heat that could be felt on blacktop during the summer months. He held his hand close to the crack to make sure he wasn’t imagining it. He wasn’t. Warmth pressed through the crack like breath of air. He moved closer to the crack, getting on all fours to get a good look. He had to bend his head at an odd angle, but soon enough he was able to see down the crevice. It wasn’t a great view, not by a long shot, but hiding in the hollow darkness were the smallest of embers. It was like they were small red suns that heated the cold universe they lived in. Marvin held his hand over the crack for a second, then spread his fingers wide. The hot air

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pressed against his palm, sliding between his fingers into the air. Carver’s words from earlier sunk in. An underground fire. Marvin couldn’t really believe it. The fact that such a large thing could keep on living under so many layers of dirt and concrete seemed almost foreign. He sat back, and held his hand over the crack again. This time he moved his hand across the crevice, crawling so he could keep moving. The warmth was strong no matter where he went. He made it a couple feet before he was forced to stop, confronted with the crevice separating into five smaller ones. It was then Marvin noticed that each crack connected to one another, red embers flowing through them all like a network of veins in the dirt. They spread across the expanse of the isolated road, twisting and turning on one another, all spreading the heat that hummed below the surface. And they would keep doing so for 250 years, whether Centralia was remembered or not. “Marvin!” Marvin looked up to find Danni rushing towards him, Carver close behind. Her eyes were wide, and she grabbed his arm with unnecessary force. “Marvin, are you okay?” Marvin looked at his friends, his

friends who had dragged him to the middle of nowhere and back at the cracks. They looked less sinister now, like they were natural to the road itself. He placed his arm over Danni’s and squeezed it. “I’m fine, I’m fine. Just wanted to get a better look at the cracks. You can see embers in them.” “Seriously?” Carver dropped to the ground and stuck his face right into the pavement. He moved his head a little before letting out a small gasp. “Holy shit, you totally can! Danni, you gotta see this.” Danni glanced at Carver but it was fleeting. She turned back to Marvin and stared at him. Marvin looked at her eyes, her smile, her ears, and decided no matter how much Danni changed, he’d always be able to recognize how her freckled face creased when she was concerned. “Are you sure you’re okay, Marvin? You’ve been crying.” Marvin reached up to swipe at his cheek. Sure enough there were tears. He hadn’t even realized. He smiled and this time, it felt natural. The feeling of phantom fish hooks were gone. “Honestly,” Marvin said, placing his hand back over one of the cracks. “I’m great.” The fire that burned under Centralia breathed into his palm. l


EAU CLAIRE, WI BY CODY DUNN

the food here will kill you, the locals always eating, their possessions a dead split of fried fish and the sturdiest lace ever made, the stuff of workglove lining & when you leave here, remember the town where the river bent to cradle its own name, foreign and wieldy, &-or broke at the back, yoked by the countless outfits of the past: the ninety-odd swimsuits of summer, winter and her hemless dresses

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Shannon Jones Slip Screen Print

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TIMELINE BY MELANIE KOHLS

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ne year and four hours ago we kissed behind a grocery store. We kissed in my car (we didn’t kiss in his car). We kissed in his older sister’s bedroom. She is my age. It was not technically illegal. When I asked him if he liked me, he lied, because he thought I’d be appalled if he said yes. I lied too, and told him good, I wouldn’t want to lead him on. One hour later we told each other the truth and we kissed in his older sister’s bedroom. The next morning I told him I liked his dog. He told me he liked my dress. We watched TV in his basement and he put his arm around me. But I was his older sister’s age, and I was getting into my car in four hours to drive to my apartment three hours away. We watched TV in his basement and three and a half hours later we kissed behind a grocery store. Thirty minutes after that we kissed in my car. We never

kissed in his car because when we had been in his car, yesterday, we were pretending to be friends. We kissed in my car four hours after we watched TV in his basement, twelve hours after we stopped pretending, and then I drove home. I drove home and two weeks later he admitted that he had lied again, that he didn’t want to visit me the way we had planned two weeks ago, that he actually didn’t know how he felt about the whole thing and didn’t really want to talk about it. Three weeks earlier, we had planned my trip to his house. One week after that, we ate pizza and pasta at an Italian place where the waitress told me, “Have a nice date.” Eight hours after that, we admitted the truth and I asked him if he had heard the waitress–he said yes and laughed, and then we kissed in his older sister’s bedroom. I told him nothing like this had ever happened to me. I told

him I wasn’t convinced that it wasn’t a movie. He told me he’d liked me for years. He told me he never thought I’d return the feeling. I told him I didn’t understand it, but what can you do? I was done pretending. Two weeks later he told me it wasn’t anything I did, that it was just reality not matching what he had dreamed about for years. I told him I knew I had made a mistake. I told him it was okay if he lost respect for me. I didn’t mention how much respect I had lost for myself. Secretly I still wonder what it was about the real me that didn’t match closely enough with the girl of his dreams. I still wonder if I’ll fall in love again. I still wonder if he was even in love, or if he just liked kissing someone his older sister’s age. One year and four hours later, I wonder if I’ll ever get a better kiss. I’m not convinced that it wasn’t a movie. l

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UNTIL OCTOBER BY ANNIE PERETZ

The yellow glowing post lamp on a no name cul-de-sac in East Tennessee hid your expression in a silhouette. I clung to you and let your warmth fill me through every pore. Your muscles tightened around my shoulders like a child’s favorite blanket. I clutched your frame as an atom would an electron before the two are perpetually bonded. Thirty minutes felt like thirty milliseconds. Then with one deep breath, I let you go, leaving nothing but the itch of your beard on my nose and the taste of your strawberry milkshake on my lips. My bones went rigid as I stood in the driveway watching your tail lights fade into a dark obscurity of pine trees. Tears welled in my eyes like drops from a ceiling full of water just before it caves in.

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Selia Salzsieder Flower Girl Collage

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FLASHPOINT BY LYNDSAY NIGH

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t’s been three days since the temperature last dipped below 95 degrees when the only working fan in the apartment stutters to a defeated stop. Julian doesn’t even notice right away. The windows have been open since the heat wave hit, tasking the fan to push the hot, swampy air around in a pathetic attempt to abate some of the stifling heat. Up until its sudden and untimely death, the fan had only succeeded in directing faster-moving 95 degree air at Julian’s spot on the floor. The distinct lack of clicking from the fan’s motor catches Julian’s attention after a minute and he cracks open a sweaty eyelid. He debates the merits of getting up and trying to fix the fan, but decides to lie in a puddle of his own sweat instead. That’s how Alex finds him half an hour later. “Hey Jules,” Alex calls out the second he’s through the door, already making a beeline for the fridge. Despite the heat and Julian’s vocal disapproval, Alex has kept up with the unofficial pre-boot camp Marines training guide. He drains two bottles of water before scanning the apartment for Julian. “Jules?” “Mmm,” Julian grunts back from the floor. Alex walks into the den, stopping with one foot on either side of Julian’s head and smirking down at him. “Hey. Why are you on the floor?” “Because hot air rises and this is as low as I can go,” Julian replies, grey eyes slitting open to glare up at Alex, nose scrunching up. “I hope your run was worth it. You reek.” Alex pokes Julian’s cheek with the tip of his athletic shoe. “You’re not really in a position to criticize, babe. Why don’t you have the fan on?” “The fan has fallen in battle against the Great Summer San Diego Heat Wave, as this bullshit weather is

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THERE’S A FAINT DUSTING OF PINK ACROSS THE TOPS OF HIS TANNED SHOULDERS, AND HIS NOSE AND CHEEKS HAVE ALREADY DARKENED TO A ROSY FLUSH. apparently being called. The fan has kicked the bucket. The fan is no more.” “Shit, really?” Alex steps carefully over Julian’s prone body to inspect the fan. “Damn. Looks like the motor gave out.” “Looks like we need a new fan, more like. Or, y’know. Functional air conditioning.” “Ooh.” Alex chuckles, sitting down next to Julian. “Dreaming big today.” Julian sighs, rubbing his forehead against the fabric of Alex’s shorts. They’re soaked through with sweat from his run, though in this weather, nothing stays dry for long anyway. The humidity has gotten so bad that Alex’s Iron Man posters have all given up the fight against gravity, sliding limply off the sticky walls and curling in on themselves, circlets of duct tape on their backs coating with sand and dust from the floor. The only reprieve Julian can get from the heat is at work, but even the pet store doesn’t have an A/C unit quite cut out for these kinds of hellish temperatures. Today, he doesn’t even have that. Days off from work are usually something Julian treasures, but not when his apartment feels like a sauna and he has to spend it on the floor in a pair of ratty boxers to feel even the slightest bit of relief. “It’s cooled off a little now that the sun’s gone down. You should’ve come running with me,” Alex says. “Why the hell would I do that?” Julian glances up at Alex. “I’m not the one who’s training to be a god-

damn Marine. That’s all on you.” Alex stiffens. Julian can taste the sudden tension in the air like a physical thing, a metallic tang at the back of his throat. They’ve been having this fight for months now—ever since Alex’s twenty-second birthday, when his father had sent a card containing twenty-two dollars and a Marines recruitment pamphlet, as well as a post script that instructed Alex to “tell your friend Julian hello from me.” Alex’s father had made it to Captain in the Marines before he’d retired, and Julian is pretty sure Alex’s grandfather had been at least a Lieutenant. It’s a family tradition, apparently, and Captain Williams is not a subtle man. “I know you’re tired of hearing me say this, but I think you’re making a huge mistake.” “That’s your opinion.” Alex’s legs shift away, thigh pulling back from Julian’s forehead. “Just because it’s my opinion doesn’t mean I’m not right.” Alex sighs, running a hand through his dirty blonde hair. “It’s my decision, Jules.” “I know it is.” Julian levers himself up onto his elbows. “I just really don’t want you to go. I mean, this isn’t something you can get out of if it doesn’t work out. This is the Marines, Alex. You’re signing your life over to them, or at least the next eight years of it.” “I’m well aware.” Alex pulls at his shoelaces. Instead of untying, the laces tighten. “I don’t want us to fight again,” Julian says.

“Then please.” Alex gives up on the laces with an annoyed huff, toeing his shoes off by the heels. “Don’t try and fight me on this. This is what I want, Julian.” “Fine.” Alex cocks an eyebrow at him. “That wasn’t very convincing.” “I don’t know what you want me to say.” Julian picks at a loose thread on the waistband of his boxers. “I don’t want to lose you. Especially not to something you don’t have to do.” “I don’t want to be a bartender for the rest of my life. Most people like a man in uniform, y’know. “I like you just fine without a uniform, Alex.” Julian pushes himself off the floor and pads towards their bedroom. “I’m going to bed. It’s too hot to fight about this shit again.” “Hey,” Alex says suddenly. “I love you.” Julian pauses in the doorway. Alex is still sitting cross-legged in his old basketball shorts and ratty tank top, looking at Julian expectantly, blue eyes earnest. He forgot sunscreen today. There’s a faint dusting of pink across the tops of his tanned shoulders, and his nose and cheeks have already darkened to a rosy flush. He’ll have new freckles within the next few weeks and Julian will have new constellations to map out on his skin. “You can come to bed after you’ve showered.” The bedroom is no better temperature-wise than the den, so Julian just flops tiredly on top of

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Rebecca Maurer Lace Teapot Pewter

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HE KNOWS ALEX WANTS MORE OUT OF HIS LIFE THAN WHAT BARTENDING IS OFFERING HIM, the sheets. He hears Alex starting up the shower in the bathroom—he knows he won’t be long; between the drought mandates and his determined preparation for military life, Alex has gotten his showers down to about ninety seconds. Julian closes his eyes, trying to block out the world for a moment, but Alex’s words keep running circles in his head. He knows Alex wants more out of his life than what bartending is offering him, and Julian can’t blame him. Alex’s career has always been a sore spot. He’d taken a gap year after high school, moved from Lakeside to San Diego with a friend, and gotten a job at one of the local bars, The Ugly Dog. That’s where Julian met him, on his nineteenth birthday. That, in and of itself, had probably not been too surprising, considering the fact that The Ugly Dog had been a pretty common hangout for San Diego State students, but the fake ID Julian’s roommate had gotten for him was particularly egregious, and Alex hadn’t been able to ignore that. The only reason Julian hadn’t ended up talking to the police that night was because Alex had taken

mercy on him. Alex had promised that instead of handing the fake over to the cops, he’d just toss it. He’d also mentioned that if Julian wanted, Alex had some booze back at his place and his roommate was out of town so, if, you know, Julian was interested, well, Alex was offering. So Julian had contented himself with sipping a Coke until Alex’s shift had ended and he’d woken up the next morning with a hangover and a boyfriend. They’d moved in with each other six months later. For a while, it had been great. Julian had changed his major from psychology to art before settling on nonprofit leadership and Alex had worked his way through some of the other bars around campus, but they’d always had each other to come home to after a long day of studying or drunk customers. Then Julian had graduated, and Alex had seemed to realize that one gap year had turned into four. Which is why now, one epiphany and one meddling birthday card later, the US Marine Corps is suddenly a thing Julian has to worry about. The sound of the bathroom door opening startles Julian from his

thoughts, and a few moments later, Alex walks in, scrubbing a towel over his hair before dropping it next to the bed and climbing in. “What did I tell you about wet towels and our floors?” Julian rolls over to face Alex, eyebrows raised. “To not put them there?” Alex smiles like he already knows Julian’s going to let him get away with this. “Does it really matter though? In this humidity, it’s not gonna dry any faster in the bathroom.” “Just this once, Alex.” “Mhm.” Alex loops his arm over Julian’s waist. “Sure thing, babe.” Julian pokes Alex’s arm. “I’m blaming you if I die of heat exhaustion during the night.” “I don’t run that warm, Jules.” “Yes, you do. Also, we need to talk about some stuff tomorrow.” “I know. But sleep first.” Despite the heat, Julian tangles their fingers together and pulls Alex’s arm tighter around his torso. Alex responds with a soft kiss against the back of his neck, and Julian lets sleep find them. *** They don’t talk in the morning. Julian wakes to find Alex

AND JULIAN CAN’T BLAME HIM.

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Hallie Funk Jar of Hands Oil Painting

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already gone, presumably on his morning training run and really, Julian thinks, fuck the Marines. The heat hasn’t abated at all, which means the shorts and t-shirt he puts on are soaked through by the time he finishes breakfast. Julian is just starting to consider slogging down to the local Walmart to pick up a new fan when Alex’s phone starts ringing in the bedroom. Julian jogs into the room and fishes Alex’s phone out from under the bed by the last ring. The caller ID is simply an emoji of a lit grenade, so Julian decides to take his chances and hit “accept.” “Hello?” It’s not even nine o’clock yet, which means someone really wants to talk to Alex, and Julian is curious. “Alex?” a deep voice asks, and Julian stills. He knows that voice. “Captain Williams. Alex isn’t here right now.” “Ah.” Captain Williams clears his throat. “Julian.” “That’s my name.” “Well.” Captain Williams’ voice takes on an odd, strained quality. “Where is Alex? I need to speak with him.” “He’s out running. You can tell me whatever you need him to know. I’ll be sure to pass the message along.” All Julian hears is static, and for a moment, he thinks Alex’s father has hung up on him. Then—“Fine. I wanted to let him know that when he goes to the recruitment office today, he should ask for Sergeant Daniels—he’s an old buddy of mine. He’ll get Alex set up.” Julian’s grip on the phone tightens. “Who says Alex is going to a recruitment office?” “He notified me yesterday.” The damp heat in the apartment suddenly becomes cloying, suffocating Julian where he stands.

There’s a faint ringing in his ears. “I—” Julian swallows, throat dry despite the humidity. “I didn’t know that. I’ll be sure to tell him.” “See that you do.” The line disconnects with an abrupt click. Julian slumps onto the bed, dropping Alex’s phone onto his rumpled towel from the night before. It seems as though the world has been sharpened, and Julian is emerging from a blur and feeling its edges for the first time. It’s not as though he hadn’t seen this coming—Alex has been talking about this for months now— but it had never felt real. Julian had hoped that it was all just talk, that Alex would change his mind, or that Julian would change it for him. The idea of Alex actually joining the Marines had been like a mirage to him—visible, but far off, and never reachable. He hadn’t let himself consider the possibility that one day it wouldn’t be an illusion anymore. A part of Julian can understand why Alex didn’t tell him about whatever conversation had transpired with his father the day before. Julian and Captain Williams aren’t on the best of terms. Alex isn’t exactly on great terms with his father either, but they’re civil to each other. And now, well. Julian imagines Captain Williams is his own repressed version of ecstatic at the idea of his son following in his footsteps. He’s sure Alex knows it. Even with their disagreements over Alex’s “choice of roommate”—as Captain Williams ever-so-tactfully phrased it—Alex’s deference for his father runs deep. News of his plans to join up would rebuild at least a few bridges between them. Julian flops back against the unmade sheets just as the door to their apartment opens and closes. He can barely hear Alex’s footfalls, and for a brief moment, Julian is delivered to the cool memory of nine

weeks ago; Alex curled at his back, reading out of the Marines training guide about the importance of learning to sprint quietly on all terrains, one of his hands trailing up and down Julian’s bare side. “Hey,” Alex says from the doorway, pulling Julian back to the present. “I thought you might’ve still been asleep.” Julian surveys the long, thin crack on their bedroom ceiling. “Your dad called.” “Oh.” Alex’s posture shifts from relaxed slouch to something like parade rest. “What did he say?” “That you’d talked to him yesterday.” “I did.” Alex is one long line of tension. “Did he say anything else?” “To ask for Sergeant Daniels at the recruiter’s. Apparently he’s a buddy.” “Okay,” Alex says, “thanks.” He opens his mouth to say something else, but whatever it is dies on his

IT SEEMS AS THOUGH THE WORLD HAS BEEN SHARPENED, AND JULIAN IS EMERGING FROM A BLUR AND FEELING ITS EDGES FOR THE FIRST TIME. 55


JULIAN TURNS AWAY, LOOKING PAST THE BROKEN FAN IN THE WINDOW AT THE PEOPLE ON THE STREET, GOING ABOUT THEIR LIVES LIKE EVERYTHING ISN’T BREAKING. tongue and he pulls an about face, heading for the door again. “Wait!” Julian scrambles off the bed, stumbling after him. “Don’t do this, Alex, please.” “Jules.” Alex sounds weary, as if he’s already gone off to war. “We’ve been over this.” “I don’t want to lose you,” Julian grits out, throat tight. “You won’t.” “You can’t promise that.” Julian steps into Alex’s space, cups Alex’s jaw in his hands. “What if you get killed? Do you have any idea what that would do to me?” Alex’s expression softens, and his hands come up to cover Julian’s. “I’m not going to die, Julian. The Marines are the best for a reason, y’know.” “And do you know where they send the best? The hardest places. You can’t guarantee me your safety, Alex. And even if you could, you’re

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still leaving.” “It’s not forever.” Alex’s hands slide down to encircle Julian’s wrists, drawing them down to hang between them. “It might as well be.” Julian breaks Alex’s grip on his wrists, pulling back. “You’ll be in basic for twelve weeks, then you get, what, ten days off? Then you’re back for more training and, eventually, deployment. That’s how it’s gonna be for the next eight years of your life. The only time I’ll ever see you is between assignments. And that’s just on my end—I know Don’t Ask has been repealed for a while now but you’re still gonna get shit. How well do you think the guys in your unit are gonna take it that when they find out you’ve got a fucking boyfriend?” Alex’s gaze slides down and away and what he isn’t saying hits Julian square in the chest. “Oh my god,” Julian manages. “You weren’t going to tell them.” “I thought maybe that would be… best.” A dark, poisonous thought insinuates itself into Julian’s mind and he has to know, has to know now—“Are you ashamed of me?” “What?” Alex’s head jerks up. “No, of course not, how could you even think that?” “How could I not?” Julian replies. “You just told me you want to keep me a secret from everyone you will ever work with.” “That’s not because I’m ashamed of you, or us. It’s just a matter of efficiency. It’s just… easier.” “Yeah,” Julian says, “because lying about who you are sounds like a walk in the park.” “I’m not lying, I’m just omitting.” “Jesus Christ.” Julian rakes a hand through his hair, eyes clenching shut. “Why are you even doing this?”

“Because,” Alex’s voice cuts through the air like a whip. “I feel like I’m stagnating—like if I don’t do something with my life soon, I never will.” “So your first instinct is to join the fucking Marines?” “Is that really so bad?” Alex isn’t backing down. His hands have curled into fists at his sides and his chin is tilted up, defiant. “It’s an honorable profession. I’d be making a difference, serving a greater purpose.” “Yeah, toeing the party line and doing what your dad wants. How revolutionary.” Julian regrets the words as soon as they’re out. “This isn’t just because of my dad, Julian,” Alex snaps. “This is about me. I want purpose in my life. I need to be a part of something greater than the San Diego bar scene, for fuck’s sake.” Julian swallows. “You can’t find purpose here?” “I don’t know,” Alex shrugs, “maybe I could. But I have the opportunity to be a third generation Marine and that feels like a hell of a lot more of a calling than tech school or an office job.” “What about me?” Julian asks, putting forth his last line of defense. Alex’s brow furrows, mouth curving up into a sad proximity of a smile. “I love you, Jules. I do. But I need to do this. You can’t be my everything. Not for this.” Julian feels empty, hollowed. He’s out of ammunition. “So that’s it, then.” “I’m sorry,” Alex says. He sounds it. “I know it’s hard, but I’m willing to make this work if you are.” “You’re willing to make me a secret, you mean.” Alex doesn’t deny it. Julian turns away, looking past the broken fan in the window at the people on the street, going about their lives like everything isn’t breaking.


Caleb Weisnicht Propped Near Louise, MS Cut Paper, Toothpicks, Wire and Thread

“I—” Alex sounds hesitant behind him. “I gotta go.” Julian knows. Alex has to go meet Sergeant Daniels. Sergeant Daniels is going to set Alex up with a new life. Julian understands. “I’ll see you later, Jules.” Alex retreats with too-quiet footsteps, slips through the door, and closes it with a deafening carefulness.

Julian wonders if this is what people who walk tightropes feel like—standing above a chasm of empty space on a thin, trembling cable, tempting oblivion to swallow them up with one wrong step. But then, tightrope walkers train for that. They choose that life. Julian doesn’t know the first thing about keeping your balance. He yearns for

the solid ground of yesterday, when he could still let himself believe that Alex would never even walk into a recruitment office, would never go to war, would never leave him. Outside, the sky is clear — bright and blue and painful. Julian squints into the morning sun, draws the hot, airless atmosphere into his lungs, and tries to breathe. l

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MARILYN, 1962 BY KAYLEIGH NORGORD

I feel very wan, bleached like dough. My insides have cracked and crumbled, They have fallen into the heels of my shoes. I am crumbs, I am stepping on myself. Darling. DiMaggio. 36D. I have many labels, but only one fits the girl Fixed across the mattress. Someone call an ambulance, she’s leaking. She’s twisted up like a garden hose. There are children standing at the gates, calling to me. I wave. I am the smiling doll, lounging on the sofa. I sip through a straw. The severance of being many women—I wish I knew how. Other women are much better at it. I am photographed reading, smart blonde. I am photographed eating, fat blonde. Write this down: I would like to say the papers got it wrong. I shower naked, I sleep in pajamas. It feels like driving alone, in the dark, When a cat skitters into the road. It feels like I am the car. It feels like I am the cat.

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Brittany Fahres Title Oil Painting

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HERITAGE BY JOHN MCCRACKEN

Is it too much to think that we’re too much? Is it too hard to admit our fathers lied to each other? If we sleep on the soil of graves, are we held accountable? Yes, I told you. Yes, I am from another world. A time of remorse and a language of drawls. I am told there is a secret in the mountains. But darling, there is a syrup in my soul. Blood that’s bittersweet. Our truth is gritty, and your teeth are soft. We sleep on the flesh of the forgotten and I feel everlasting responsibility. Did you know we drew a line in our country? A border to mark the ones who killed. Did you know they were all killers? Sleeping between the bones of the bodies stolen Stolen from their space Stolen from what matters. Did you know that if you dig deep enough, you’ll touch the other side of the world? Where you’ll find beds of skeletons with marrow like molasses. My kin have a sweet tooth, but they’ve lost their toils. My kind have an agenda, but they holstered their flags. My blood is bittersweet, but it can’t help but boil. We were born to commit hate, praying for body bags.

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SURVIVOR NATION BY ISAAC CHESLER

WRITER’S MEMO: This essay is a very important topic for me, and would most likely be important and resonate with many Jews across the world. I wanted to show the reader how a Jew feels about Israel, because it is a hard to understand topic for an outsider. Israel is a safe haven for Jews where Jews can live freely, and if needed, Jews can defend themselves. I wanted to show the reader the purpose and the need for Israel to exist, and why we care about it so much. Sean Carmeli for example, gave up his easy American life, and died in an Israeli war. He is an example to illustrate how important Israel is to a Jew, and the sacrifice that most Jews would make to defend Israel. In addition, my purpose is to show how an anti-Semitic event during my stay in Israel can cause such emotions, cause me to feel so strongly about Israel and remember so vividly my heritage. Using a real life example that sparked my emotions, reflecting on it, and also drawing on family heritage helped me the most to explain my stance and feelings. Throughout the essay there are also subtle metaphors that allude to The Holocaust, that are placed to affect the readers’ subconscious thoughts. It is also important to remember that having a bomb shelter in every establishment is mandatory throughout Israel due to threat of rocket attacks. My family has always been Zionist, and Oscar was himself. My mother tells me that Oscar always had a slight sadness that he never moved to Israel. I do wonder how a reader reacts to the idea of a second home, the fact that I feel as though I have more than one birthplace, and that Jews can feel truly safe in Israel. There will never be another Holocaust because Jews now have their own home. How effectively do I portray the importance of Israel, both to accept and defend Jews, and the importance of Israel to an individual person?

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Claire Grummon The Crossing Photography

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A

s the rubber screeched onto the hot tarmac I knew that I was home. A deep sigh of relief escaped my lungs, and there was static in the air of the 777 jet. There is something that everyone feels every time that they walk into their own home. A sense of satisfaction overcame me, and as the 777, with its hundreds of passengers, rolled up to the terminal, I peeked out the window. Heat waves shimmered off the black skin of the tarmac, and the sun beat down on the plane turning it into an oven. Sweating, I exited the plane and tried to interpret the alienlike, ancient scripture that marked all of the directional signs. I thought to myself, “It’s odd not knowing the language of my people.” Touching down in Israel means so much to a Jew, it’s hard to explain to anyone else. In the moments after we landed, thoughts of my grandfather Oscar flooded my mind. The father of my mother, Oscar was born in Czechoslovakia. In 1943, he was able to hide from the Nazis in Hungary with the help of my great uncle Bernard and his wife. Bernard, his wife, Oscar, and Oscar’s sister Alice, were eventually turned in by the Hungarians. After the Hungarians betrayed them, the Nazi SS separated them

all. Oscar then found himself in the worst death camp, Auschwitz. With perseverance, and luck, Oscar survived. When he was rescued by U.S. Army soldiers, the soldiers began to cry just looking at him. Thoughts like these enter the minds of all Jews lucky enough to breathe in the tropical Mediterranean air of Israel. Lumbering under all of my luggage in the scorching heat, I spotted Ze’ev, my long-time family friend. He quickly took my luggage, tossed it into the trunk, and embraced me. He was different since the last time that I saw him, his eyes no longer sparkled, the shine they once had was gone. Standing before me was no longer the kid I knew, instead I saw a warrior. In this moment I recalled the previous summer, a year, a month and three days before. I remembered the vibration of the phone in my pocket while I stood playing drinking games with my friends. Excited to see what news Ze’ev had for me about the war in Gaza, I read the one line WhatsApp message. I remember how my heart sank as Ze’ev told me Sean, a fellow Texan and Ze’evs best friend, was dead. As Sean Carmeli attempted to fix a jeep-mounted machine gun, a sniper shot him in the head. 20,000 people attended the

funeral, and he made the ultimate sacrifice for them. As I looked at Ze’ev for the first time in years, I felt as if my phone was vibrating in my pocket once again. This is the reality of the Jewish Nation, while I was drinking with my friends, he was losing his. As we drove north through Israel, I gazed at the farms that stretched out of view, and my heart beat faster. I could glimpse the ocean shimmering in the distance; but my eyes were drawn to the garbage blowing in the wind. At first glance Israel did not seem like the shining, glimmering country I had always fantasized about. As we drove on I wondered if we were really in Israel. Mounds of red dirt were piled stories high on the side of the road, a landfill just a kilometer away from a city. I couldn’t help but imagine that I was driving on a paved road somewhere in Africa, but here in the Jewish Nation the reality is that we fight for survival, not appearance. Despite my troubled thirty-minute drive from Ben Gurion Airport to Ra’anana, I quickly realized that I was in a first world country. In Ra’anana I could see bars, shopping centers, and people walking about tending to their duties for the day. Most people were bus-

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WE NO LONGER NEED TO TOLERATE, ENDURE, AND SUBMIT OURSELVES TO HATE. ily shopping, preparing for Friday night dinners, or for us: Shabbat. On Shabbat most people do not drive, the two-lane and three-lane streets emptied of their hurried Israeli drivers by nightfall. City buses are shut down, and all of Israel celebrates its weekly day of rest. The whole state becomes quiet in a matter of hours. Turning onto a side street, Ze’ev pointed his index finger up at three very tall apartment buildings, “That is where we will be,” he said. The three white apartment buildings stood like three bayonets shining in the hot sun. They stood high above every other building in the vicinity, their long glass windows reflecting light in all directions. Ze’ev helped move me into my new home, a seven-foot by ten-foot concrete bomb shelter without ventilation. I plopped down onto the small bed and flipped the switch of a small table fan. Instead of thinking about how bad it would be to live in this box, I felt as though G-d had blessed me with this room. The apartment itself was far better than the standard living area for an Israeli. It was equipped with three bedrooms, two beautiful bathrooms, a living room, kitchen and a balcony overlooking Israel, all the way until the ocean. Ze’ev is the son of a wealthy Israeli businessman in Texas. He moved to Israel to escape his wealthy family name, and to become his own person when he was fifteen years old. Everyone knew about their wealth, so no one understood why he chose the hard life of an Israeli. All Israelis have mandatory military service at the age of eighteen. Men serve for three years and women for two years. Now, Ze’ev is an Israeli Special Forces Sniper in the Golani Brigade. His mission of becoming his own man—a clear success. He is the hero of our small Jewish community in San Antonio, Texas. Days passed quickly, my Hebrew

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studies consumed my days the way a starving body devours itself to survive. People passed, school days passed, but as I was studying the night before a midterm my phone buzzed in my pocket. I slid my finger across the screen, excited to talk to my mom, but her voice revealed anything but excitement. “Somebody, we believe KKK, vandalized the Shull,” she said in a dejected tone, “They got some cars, broke some windows, and sprayed fences. The police are searching. We just can’t believe it.” The moment the sounds of my mothers’ voice reached my ears from over 6,744 miles away, my blood started to boil. My body started pacing the room, my mind sprinting across the world. Who would do this to us? What did we ever do? My phone buzzed for the next thirty minutes, with pictures of “JEW!!!” spray-painted on cars with broken windows. KKK painted over the fences of my peoples’ walls, hate hissing at them from the darkness of the night, devoid of any courage. I wanted to grab my gun, and hunt them down. We Jews know that this is exactly how it started many times before, from hundreds of years of repeated history. Storefronts and synagogues were attacked the same way just before the start of the Holocaust. This is how the worst moment in human history began. Oscars image drifted into my mind, a handsome blonde young man with blue eyes, his family stolen from him by ruthless hate. Oscar and Alice were plunged into the world as orphans seventy years ago because of the same reckless hatred that I was shown that night in Israel. Now my community and I were being subjected to the same hatred that he was subjected to. Oscar never let what happened hold him back. He succeeded at

everything he did in his life; he embodied what Israel is today. I know that within my family we all ask ourselves, “What would Oscar do?” But at that time I couldn’t help but become angry. I realized at that moment that the Jewish Nation is Oscar. The Jewish Nation doesn’t let hateful, evil cowards, and banes on the earth stop it from succeeding. Israel was founded in 1948 so that no Jewish boy and his sister would ever have to be orphans in a foreign country again. I walked slowly to the balcony and peered out at the twinkling city lights. My anger slowly slipped away with the gentle breeze, and the cool night air wicked away the remaining rage. My gaze fell on an Israeli flag flying strongly. It was snapping at the powerful gusts of wind, presenting the symbol of peace and hope to me alone. The flag stood alone in the darkness, as Israel does, the one symbol of hope on an entire continent of darkness. I stood staring at my surroundings, the air, the sea, the trees, and I understood why I was there. All of the rage that I felt returned, but in the form of pride and righteousness. We no longer need to tolerate, endure, and submit ourselves to hate. Here, at home, we make our own fate, and here we fight our own battles, and here we don’t tolerate offense and injustice. Here in Israel we do fight back when attacked. My desire to grab my gun and find these evil people is the duty of the Israeli Defense Forces. The Mossad hunted down Nazis decades after World War Two, to bring evil men to justice. As I looked on that flag blowing strongly in the wind, I knew deep in my heart that this was my home, that this is why we were there and that we are the most resilient people. This is the reality of the Jewish Nation. l


Hallie Funk Pride Ink and Watercolor

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THE BEAUTY OF BASCOM BY DANA KAMPA

O Bascom Hill, redress the hateful crimes contrived by you against us learned fools; For only fools repeat, too many times, erroneous adherence to the rules; When standing at your base in a storm’s throes, admiring water torrents, flowing jewels, one cannot but admire your gaudy clothes: the rain-soaked leaves of autumn swirl in pools; your beauty, grand and fearsome, both entices, rebuffs, and I am left alone, distraught unfit to discern your difficult devises; O, I am doubtful it is all for naught; And yet, though I reject the scheduled trudge, a rest your peak, I do not begrudge.

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Georgia Black Your Sweater Is Unraveling Charcoal, yarn, thread, acrylic paint, paper

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WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A FEMINIST? BY KAITLYN VETO

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IRONY

BY ALEXIS RIVERA I am six years old Sitting cross-legged on a rainbow carpet, face pouting There will be no show-and-tell today My peers and I have our eyes on our guest The navy blue costume compliments a shiny gold badge Stranger danger He tells us not to trust dark, hooded figures He tells us policemen are our heroes He tells us they will keep us safe And I believe him I am ten years old Fiddling with toys at my desk and inattentive The teacher’s lesson is on the meaning of x Weeks ahead of the other math programs I sit in a Talent Development Program class I don’t realize the sea of white surrounding me My eyes wander to a poster on the wall The Golden Rule It teaches us that we should treat others the way we want to be treated It teaches us that we are all equal And I believe it I am twelve years old Hanging from the monkey bars The boys chase the girls around the playground But they do not chase me I try to remember my parents’ pride in our Puerto Rican culture When the pale-skinned and knee-scraped boys taunt me They say I’m dirty They say I should go back to my country They say I am poor And I believe them But they are all wrong I am seventeen years old Admiring Brent’s highlights under the fluorescent lights of the cafeteria We gossip about the cute new student in our class As Brent shows off his fuzzy, leopard pants I can sense them sneering from the table behind me Tall, white, and clad in camouflage jackets They whisper he’s a faggot They whisper condemnation of his sinful ways They whisper same-sex marriage is a joke

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This is not equality I am eighteen years old Strutting down State St. arm linked with his All stores we pass are vacant and display similar signs We’re Closed My feet ache and my ears still ring with rhythmic base But I am satisfied with the night Suddenly, five of them appear Clones of one another, greek letters etched into their chests The drunken cat-calling begins They holler disapproval They holler profanity They holler at my shame This is not respect I am nineteen years old Cooking arroz con gandules My white friends laughing as I dance to salsa around the kitchen I describe the injustices I learn about in Chican@ and Latin@ studies They are shaking their heads when I mention immigration laws Eyes roll and I can almost read their minds There’s too many of them, why don’t they speak English, they’re stealing our jobs Sensing my discomfort, they try to ease the tension They claim I am not one of them They claim I don’t speak Spanish They claim I am “white-washed” This is not my land I am twenty years old Watching CNN from the living room of my apartment Images of black faces crowd the screen Glimpses of the lives of those whose hearts will never beat again Are these the hooded figures they warned me about? Hands up, don’t shoot The anchormen lay out all the facts Still, our protectors get away with murder They state he deserved it They state it is not a war on race They state we are overreacting This is not justice Today I am as old as I have ever been Writing in anger, fear, and disbelief I have been betrayed by those put in power Mentirosos We suffer daily from those sworn to give us strength I was promised rights as a child We demand our privileges now I am not a tragedy We don’t want sympathy Yo soy Boricua And we want change

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Kimberly Watanabe Dancers at the Barre, Degas: Master Study Oil Painting


THE GREAT DUST BOWL BY MEGAN KRUSE

The day that I returned to the speck of land that held my poor childhood in its green hands, I found that the earth had sucked up the old bloody-painted barn through a straw. Those sometimes-smiling windows were gone; the floorboards that groaned loudest when silence was needed the door that didn’t quite close, and Mother, too, with her apron and her pale rosy fingers— all gone. I turned to the old sycamore, standing so still. What do you know of disappearances? I said with my feet rooted and rooting deeper as we spoke. What do you know of the bloody barn where Father knifed cow-throats? What do you know of Mother and her apron? But that old bastard didn’t say a word. Always, his only fruit, the fruit of bitterness. I sunk to my already scuffed knees, ran my fingers over hard, unforgiving earth, redder now, I think, than before. If I’d had a shovel, I’d have dug until I found it there beneath the world— the windows, the floorboards, and that door still open, until I pulled Mother by pale fingers up and out, with red dirt still in her hair and spitting from her mouth, and I’d forgive that sycamore for not saving them, for standing passive like he always had, even when I was bruised and still getting bruised. But I had no shovel; I never did. I could not unbury the past.

“THE GREAT DUST BOWL” IS THE WINNER OF THE ILLUMINATION JOURNAL AND UW FLASH FICTION WRITING CONTEST WITH THE THEME OF “HOME, LOVE, HIDE.”

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W If it started with an idea, what is it? What do you make of it? What do you think of it? Do you even think of it? It, of course, is the Wisconsin Idea. The Wisconsin Idea provides a foundational bedrock for the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, supposedly guiding a student’s existence and education. Look around where you are today—where you sit right now, in fact—and notice where you actually see the Wisconsin Idea.

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What do you see? How would you define it? Considering current events as well as a paradoxical lack of exposure surrounding the Wisconsin Idea and what it actually means, Illumination sought to explore whether or not the idea is still relevant to students and citizens in Madison today. On tours of Madison’s campus, you hear the Wisconsin Idea mentioned, and perhaps even defined, if you pay attention. If you are a student, you heard it at SOAR, even if registering for classes prevented you from noticing. If you have graduated, you heard the Wisconsin Idea hailed at commencement as a hallmark that guides distinguished alumni in creating a better tomorrow for everyone. But will the Wisconsin Idea survive another graduation, and be mentioned next year? In ten years? Or in another hundred? For an idea that allegedly defines Wisconsin’s premiere university’s educational philosophy, we certainly cannot define it. If you asked us at the beginning of August where the Wisconsin Idea came from, we couldn’t tell you; furthermore, we knew we could not be the only ones who felt this way. So we asked classmates, and got confused responses as well as perplexed glances. The Wisconsin Idea, an idea so integral to the very fiber of our University, had slipped away unnoticed. It has become a hollow exposition punctuating the University’s great accomplishments, which then slips quietly beneath Bascom’s floorboards awaiting its next mock performance. But, is that really it? Just because this campus does not discuss the Wisconsin Idea does not mean we cannot define it for ourselves. Just because we do not know what the textbook definition is does not mean we cannot see what it does. Just because we do not debate its merit does not mean we cannot act out the idea in our daily lives. We began to wonder what would happen if we went out and asked people, “What is the Wisconsin Idea?” So, we did. From four members of the University of Wisconsin Madison community—a campus tour guide like the one who probably first told you about the Wisconsin Idea, a first generation college student from small-town Wisconsin, a University Housing facilities supervisor, and an alumnus turned Odyssey Project assistant director—we got results, and we learned a little something, too. We hope to share their stories with Wisconsin, and get more people thinking about what the Wisconsin Idea means. Here’s what we heard...

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PROFILE: KEVIN MULLEN

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF THE ODYSSEY PROJECT WHO ARE YOU?

“I grew up in Evanston which is just north of Chicago, and I did my undergrad at Michigan. Then [I] spent most of my twenties living and teaching in other countries, so I taught in Bulgaria for a bit; that is the one I go to the most. And, then Japan for a year, and Turkey for two years: one year in Istanbul and one year in the southeast. And, I had studied in Italy. Anyways, for the next step in my education, I wanted to kind of go out into the world and see how other people see the world. Literature is about seeing the world through another person’s perspective. I had finished my undergrad and thought well, I want to do that but with cultures and groups of people and get immersed in each place so that I could start to see how other groups of people see life and what they find to be important. [ ... ] And along the way I found that I loved teaching.”

HOW DID YOU WIND UP IN MADISON?

“I first came to the UW to do my Ph.D. in English, and I came here in 2007. I studied 20th Century American Trans-Atlantic Literature, and finished up my Ph.D. a little over a year ago. I started working with Odyssey my last year of my PhD just doing a few hours through the Writing Center, and really fell in love with the course, connected a lot with the students, and was really drawn to what they are doing.”

PHOTO BY RAEGAN NIEMELA

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PROFILE: CAT PHOUYBANHDYT

PHOTO BY EMILY BUCK

UW-MADISON TOUR GUIDE WHY CHOOSE MADISON?

“I actually didn’t want to come here, which is an interesting thing. But then within a week—just getting to SOAR, within two hours of being at SOAR—I thought, “This is the best place ever. I’ve found home.”

WHAT DO CAMPUS TOUR GUIDES DO?

“Anyone can call in and get a tour. [...] For the most part, it is going around to different locations on campus and describing buildings, describing the history of the university, some traditions, talking a lot about academics, and the student life here. Especially on the prospective student tours.”

WHY DO YOU LIKE BEING ON CAMPUS?

“Coming here and experiencing the atmosphere as a student, as opposed to a visitor. Because when you are a visitor you feel like a little bit of an outsider, but then once you are actually part of campus you feel like, ‘I’m a student, I’m here with 28,000 other undergraduate students along with graduate students.’”

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PROFILE: GAVIN GARRETT

FIRST-GENERATION COLLEGE STUDENT

PHOTO BY EMILY BUCK

WHO ARE YOU?

“I’m a fifth year instrumental music education major, and I’m in the middle of my student teaching semester. So right now I’m teaching band at a high school and middle school. Hopefully I’ll go into subbing after. I’m from the small town of Brodhead, Wisconsin. It’s a metropolis; it’s actually a city, has over three thousand people.”

HOW IS BEING A FIRST-GENERATION COLLEGE STUDENT?

“The first generation thing, for me, doesn’t seem to line up with other first generation students’ experiences. First of all, I’m a first generation college student, but my sister went to college and she’s eighteen years older than me. I have always had this person in my life who went to college eighteen years before I did. So, honestly, it wasn’t like college was something that I really had as an option. I just had to go to college.”

WHAT IS IT LIKE BEING A MUSIC MAJOR?

“Being a music major was fun. There were a lot of different expectations going into it that I didn’t necessarily realize, [...] that I wasn’t prepared for. Like I said, three thousand people in my small town. We had one band director for one hundred people in band.”

WHAT WAS BRODHEAD LIKE?

“In Brodhead I was the only tuba player, and I remember going to my first master class [at Madison], and listening to Tim Morris actually play the euphonium, and he just plays the shit out of this solo, and I was like, “Oh man, I suck!” I didn’t realize how much you could do on the tuba compared to what I had actually done on the tuba.”

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PROFILE: LAZARO GARZA

UW HOUSING FACILITIES SUPERVISOR WHO ARE YOU?

“My name is Lazaro Garza and I am a custodial service supervisor for Chadbourne and Barnard so I am working on their Housing Division in the Res-Hall facilities.”

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

“Well, I am going to say that I’m not from here and I’m not from over there. The reason I’ll say it is because I’m born in Texas but that’s the only thing I can remember—just born… So basically, my parents take me down states, and raise me in Mexico.”

WHEN DID YOU COME TO MADISON?

“I came here to Wisconsin—straight to Madison—in 1992, never moved back, never moved to another state, so I consider Madison, Wisconsin my hometown.”

HOW WAS MOVING TO MADISON?

“When I came here to Madison there was a handful of Hispanic, but in the last ten years, as I see it, the Hispanic and the Hmong community has grown so fast. But when I came here it was just Caucasian, African Americans… You feel like a fish out of the water because first of all language; my language was not that good, and still not that good, it’s still in progress but at least I can communicate now. When I was 23 years it was hard for me because not a lot of Hispanic people were living here.”

PHOTO BY RAEGAN NIEMELA

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WHAT IS THE WISCONSIN IDEA? CAT: “So, actually, on every single tour we are supposed to mention the Wisconsin Idea and tie it into our tour. We

usually express the Wisconsin Idea as the idea that what we learn in the classroom is not just applicable to that class, that paper, that semester, but using that knowledge and applying it outside the walls of the classroom— whether it is on a local level, a community level, or a national or international level—but using that knowledge we learned at the University of Wisconsin-Madison or any university in the state, and using that knowledge to better those around us.”

GARZA: “I can’t hardly remember exactly the whole content. But, you know, the Wisconsin Idea has so much of

a variety of people here—the diversity. So, sometimes it’s good to know how other people are and how you can interact with other people. Because sometimes the language can be a little bit difficult. Or simply the way they do things in their country, and the way we do things over here in the United States [...] sometimes it’s a lot different. So morals and culture, it’s way different and people need to adapt and adjust to where they are actually living at the moment, but also respect others and the way you can be more socialized, I want to say. You know, like interacting with other people without being offended, and understand their culture. But also people need to understand your culture.”

KEVIN: “The Wisconsin Idea is exactly what I’ve been talking about in terms of that responsibility, in terms of that

feeling as though this is not, this should not be, a bubble campus. There should not be a boundary here that says, ‘Well, you didn’t pay the tuition so you aren’t privileged to the ideas.’ There should be a sense that we are all in this together. There should be a sense for everybody that is lucky enough to be a part of this campus that they then should be spreading this out.[...] There should be this feeling that there is a circulation, and that it doesn’t stop at the end of Park Street, or it doesn’t stop in terms of the borders of campus. It should be something that everyone feels like they’re a part of it.”

GAVIN: “I don’t know what the exact words are, but—and this is actually kinda the gist I had before—for me, from

my point of view as a music educator, the Wisconsin Idea is about providing for people within the state, sometimes out of the state, almost giving back, kind of, this experience, and using it to help other. [...] Something about how it was taking what we do at Wisconsin and UW and spreading it to the borders of the state and beyond and expanding knowledge, and blah blah blah blah blah. That’s the technical terms.”

HOW DO YOU DO THE WISCONSIN IDEA? CAT: “When we’re tour guides, we not only give tours, but can also be ambassadors to the University. So, sometimes we’ll have skype calls with different elementary and middle schools around the nation, and talk to them about what college is like, what the University of Wisconsin-Madison is like, and those are all outreach events where we get to put that idea into play that we are giving back to these communities without necessarily having to physically be there, but being able to educate people about what we are doing here over a computer screen, and give back.

GAVIN: “I’ve always tried to [give back] a little bit. When I was in high school, I decided I wanted to do music seriously between my sophomore and junior year. So I started going over to the elementary school and the middle school and doing lessons with the kids; I probably ruined some young tuba players. Hopefully I didn’t, but being involved, even if I wasn’t giving them the most sound musical instruction at the time, it was a way for them to see a role model.”

KEVIN: “I’ve changed in terms of my relationship to it. I now understand a lot more. It’s not just the rhetoric behind the words, it’s actually happening. You can see examples of it all over the place, where the university does reach out and touch people outside of its walls, outside of this campus. I think I see it a lot more clearly now, and I see the benefit of it, and I see that it is a very unique thing. It is not something you hear about in other states.”

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WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? CAT: “I think it is important to remember where things come from, and remember their origins. Knowing where it comes from helps you maintain that or change that as you want to in the future. Especially as it is over 100 years old, it is bound to change somewhere or other, and students will tweak it to how it fits their needs to this day, and how it pertains to their life as a student, and what they can do as a student right now.”

GAVIN: “For me, it’s really great that while I’ve been at Wisconsin I’ve learned all this great music, and different ways

that we can teach music, or relate to music, and what music really is. What’s neat is that as an educator I have the opportunity to now go out and share that and expand that horizon of what music is in our schools and what it means to us.”

GARZA: “23 years ago, ok there was not a lot of Hispanic people, but I was not feel discriminated against. I always

feel like maybe they see a brown person, or a color, or Hispanic, but they don’t see you different. [...] They always say ‘How are you doing?’ Questions that make you feel home, not like a stranger. But the difference I have seen now, especially more Hispanic people, a lot more Mexican restaurants, a lot more places that speak Spanish. [...] But the city actually, the people here, welcome you with open arms. That is the only thing that do not change for those many years. You feel like—like home when you come over here. You don’t feel like stranger.”

KEVIN: “It strikes me as one of the coolest ways of thinking about what the University should be doing. It’s taking all of the expertise, and all of the knowledges, and all of the intelligence, and cleverness that is on campus and finding ways to export some of that out into the wider state. But even within the city. When I first got here I felt like there was a bubble, and now I am seeing that the Wisconsin Idea is one way to break that bubble [...] to make it feel as though this is something that benefits the whole community, and then the state.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE WISCONSIN IDEA, AND HOW WILL IT CHANGE OUR FUTURE? CAT: “If you want it, and you want it badly enough, [...] you can make your own Wisconsin Experience. And, it will

be nothing like mine, and it won’t be anything like the person next to you either, and that is kind of the beauty of each Wisconsin Experience. [...] It is something that will [...] resonate past my four years. It is something that will stick with you as an alumni as wanting to continue to give back whether it is to the university, to your community, and in your profession as well. [...] You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give. It sounds horribly cheesy, and it is horribly cheesy, but it is something that I very much put in my own life.”

GAVIN: “I don’t know. Hopefully just keep on giving back. Obviously I’m in teaching for the money, but in addition to that, just giving back.”

GARZA: “Personally, I am not going to say it affects me or not affect me, but once I know more about the Wisconsin

Idea. You can understand that the concept of what the Wisconsin Idea is trying to do. At that point, once you know all the basics, [...] yeah for some people it might not be effective, but other people might look at it different and many people might say ‘You know what, this is what I was waiting for’ like this is the thing that’s going make this city, or that’s going make this University, or that’s going to make this place we live in a whole lot better than what we are now.”

KEVIN: “What I would love to see is a larger understanding amongst undergrads, as well as faculty and grad

students, how much they owe the state. The state of Wisconsin. People are taking taxes on their paychecks, take home less money because they are contributing to this larger force for this state. You can see in the realm of job creation, but also the Wisconsin Idea shows us this public thing that by educating our young, bright people of the state that that will filter back. I think people should understand that a little more clearly, they are beholden to the people around them. […] If you are conscious of that, it changes the way you do things. You start to think to yourself, ‘Maybe I should do more in my community.’”

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WHAT WILL YOU DO?

W

e have the Wisconsin Idea; we have testimonials. Cat, Garza, Kevin, and Gavin have given us perspective and insight, but can their ideas outlast the ink? Can they live beyond this page? That is our question. Even if they could not explicitly state the origin of the Wisconsin Idea, or cite an exact definition, each person we interviewed sees the Wisconsin Idea influencing their community, their lives, and their actions. You have read this far, and you might be the only one to do so. So what will you do? Will you ask yourself today, “What is the Wisconsin Idea?” Will you ask yourself tomorrow, “What will I do with it?” For Gavin and Cat, current students, the Wisconsin Idea seems deeply entangled with serving the community. Both want to give back, and take what they have learned on campus to positively affect wherever they wind up next. Garza, who has lived in Madison since 1992, calls “Madison, Wisconsin [his] hometown.” He calls it this because he experienced the community the Wisconsin Idea facilitates in Madison, a place where “the city actually, the people here, welcome you with open arms.” Kevin believes that each student has an obligation to ensure that as the university benefits from the state, the state benefits from the university; that the “bubble” separating campus from community is broken. But, what is the Wisconsin Idea for you? After all, it’s your idea. As Wisconsin is comprised of us— the people who make a home here—the Wisconsin Idea is derived from us: me and you, student and professor, maintenance crew and research assistants, alumni and tour guide. You can give it a life and meaning. It is anyone and any two who determine that by working together, we can all ensure that hidden knowledge does not go undiscovered; that discovered knowledge does not go unspoken; and that when spoken knowledge cries forth, it does not go unheard. The Wisconsin Idea lives when we choose to take action, to collaborate, to spread knowledge, and to seek truth. The Wisconsin Idea lives when with great purpose we choose to impact our fellow students, our community, and our state—On Wisconsin. So, what will you do?

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Selia Salzsieder Flower Girl Collage

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Final Thoughts

THANK YOU to all of the professors, teaching assistants, advisors, and professional staff members that have supported all of us during our time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Our success as students is dependent on the dedicated talent of many employees of the university that inspire us with new ideas and encourage us to develop our own. This publication is made possible through the generous support of the Wisconsin Union and University Marketing. Thank you to both of these organizations for helping Illumination share undergraduate work on campus, and providing us with valuable assistance and encouragement. Thank you to Stephanie Webendorfer, Jenny Klaila, Kelli Hughes, Karen Redfield, Kate Lochner, Heather Good, Anais Reyes, Barb Kautz, and Austin Wellens. Your guidance has meant much to all of us.

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Fall 2015 | Illumination: The Undergraduate Journal of Humanities  

Fall 2015 | Illumination: The Undergraduate Journal of Humanities  

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