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I N T E R N AT I O N A L W O M X N ’ S W E E K 2018


A literary magazine to celebrate the voices of all womxn at UCSD.



I was raised by women who told me my greatest strength was my voice. Despite the influence of strong women, I spent my life being interrupted. People who were frustrated with my opinions, infuriated by my words, insecure from my truths, they all used everything they had to render me into a defenseless silence. No more. Whether it’s the written word, the stroke of a paintbrush, or a scream from the top of my lungs, I will speak. I will speak until my body gives out. I cannot survive without my honest, unrestrained voice any longer. I have been forced into silence for too long. WE have been forced into silence for too long. They have pushed us down for endless centuries it seems, and now it’s time WE PRESS BACK. They are afraid, as they should be. We are intense and unstoppable together. When we combine our voices, the vibrations are catastrophic enough to shatter the superficially peaceful world they’ve constructed without our consent or participation. So here’s to us. For keeping ourselves above the undertow with broken and freshly polished claws. For screaming above the chaos or whispering into the silence. For holding our breath until inhalation stopped hurting, and exhaling when the suffocation seemed inevitable. For being everything but just “pretty” by crying, arguing, running, hitting, asking, scratching, existing. We are chaotic and overwhelmingly beautiful. What we create is a testimony to this complicated, awe-inspiring, breathtaking universe of us. Keep creating. Keep existing. Keep speaking. Thank you to each and every single person who submitted to this magazine. It has truly been an honor holding these pieces of your hearts. My gratitude and love go out to all of you. I hope you all know the power you hold within you.

~Eliana Kontokanis


Table of Contents “wom=n” Brontee Cintron......................................................................................4 “STRENGTH IN NUMBERS”..............................................................................5 “5 February 2018” Katherine Camille....................................................................7 “A Sonnet For Marching” Cate Wilborn.................................................................9 “Seam-sirs” Grace Lee.........................................................................................10 “which one will it be today?” stjy.........................................................................12 “So You Want to be Soft” Paige Harris................................................................13 “3 May 2017” Katherine Camille.........................................................................14 “connecting features” Brontee Cintron.................................................................16 “Abuela” Armonie Mendez....................................................................................17 “Brown Eyed Warrior” Aylin Cedillo....................................................................19 “Representation” Leira Mae Digma......................................................................21 “my mother is” Cate Wilborn................................................................................23 “watercolor” Cate Wilborn...................................................................................26 “BATED BREATH” Sam Deges...........................................................................27 “30 January 2018” Katherine Camilla..................................................................28 “Trigger Warning” Armonie Mendez.....................................................................29 “FAULT(S)” Sam Deges.......................................................................................30 “Untitled” Katherine Camille................................................................................33 “THE BODY;APOLOGY” Sam Deges.................................................................34 “She Fooled Us All” Zsuzsanna Lynch.................................................................36 “Untitled” Simone Froley......................................................................................37 “FOR HIM” Sam Deges........................................................................................38 “She Was Never Yours” Aylin Cedillo...................................................................40 “The Troublemaker” Armonie Mendez..................................................................41 “puppy love” stjy..................................................................................................45 “Her Story” Aylin Cedillo......................................................................................46 “I Fell In Love Once” Zsuzsanna Lynch...............................................................48 “no hard feelings” stjy...........................................................................................51 “WICK ME NOT” Elizabeth Pang......................................................................52 “Untitled” Aidan Ryan..........................................................................................54 “Fix Myself” Zsuzsanna Lynch.............................................................................55 “healing” Leira Mae Digma..................................................................................56 “The Heart of a Girl” Rhiannon Koh....................................................................57 “Live” Leira Mae Digma......................................................................................60 “Untitled” Brianna Chandra.................................................................................61 “We Are All Mothers” Jacqueline Brinkmann......................................................62 “Womxn Compound” Brontee Cintron.................................................................64 ii

CONTENT WARNINGS Suicide “FAULT(S)” Mental Illness (i.e. Depression) “Untitled (Katherine Camille)” Abuse “FAULT(S)” “She Was Never Yours” “The Troublemaker” Rape “FAULT(S)” “Her Story” “The Troublemaker” Body Image/Dysmorphia “BATED BREATH” “THE BODY;APOLOGY” “Untitled (Katherine Camille)” General Note This magazine serves as a safespace for the voices of all womxn on campus, and, as a result, contains explicit material. These were the pieces that stood out enough to warrant a notice of the content; however, this does not guarantee that all of the unlisted pieces do not contain things of this nature. Please read with caution!






“STRENGTH IN NUMBERS” Testimonies of Circuit’s Editors

We are told that women do not support each other. The young girls of my generation were told that to be fiercely independent, vocally opinionated, and strong-willed were all factors detrimental to team ethic and dynamic. We were told to scrutinize these traits in women, and to vilify them for wanting and striving for more. Recognizing the value of a woman’s individual and positive impact within a team structure has always been inverted by a male-dominated cultural narrative that negates these positives and converts these marks of character and courage into an otherness that stimulates prejudice, jealousy, and hurt. This then, is why community camaraderie among women is so valuable. It is an act of reclamation of self and a reclamation of power to stand with each other, and to claim that we wish for others, especially other women, to succeed. This reclamation was something which I found through Circuit. As an all-inclusive academic undergraduate research journal, Circuit is a publication that thrives off of a spirit of generosity; its editors, for these three years that I’ve had the honor of watching it grow, acknowledge that success is only true if it is attained together. Publishing around two editions a year, the Circuit staff continues to grow through its process and mission: to contribute to a global community of perspective and to encourage the cultivation of a global citizenship by publishing articles that focus on international issues. The realization of this process is, in Circuit’s pages, literally powered by women. Chezy and myself have the honor of working alongside an entire board comprised of women who constantly remind us that the key to an effective printing season is to emphasize the necessity of each body’s strength to our staff. Circuit believes that strong girls should support each other because it is strong girls that make, and print, history together. ~Mikaela Barreno 5

One of the harsher truths about feminism emphasized by one of my writing professors is the concept of sisterhood. What this implies is an underlying togetherness between all women, whether or not you think “white feminism” is a real and problematic thing, or if a particular “feminist” bears contradicting biases against transwomen, for example (i.e. TERF’s, or trans-exclusionary radical feminists). It is not our mission to silence nor shun these people. It is our mission to correct those within our community--and especially our sisterhood--if their views or logic of thinking impedes the progression of the feminist movement and other interrelated movements. Feminism has and always will be (in retrospect) considered radical. We push for equal rights, equal treatments, and equal perceptions of us that have been delegated to our male counterparts by default virtually since the beginning of history. The aim to disrupt this status quo is radical, but so are the methods of facilitating tangible change. When I joined Circuit as a student writer as a college freshman, I wasn’t joining explicitly for feminism. But throughout my experience as ERC’s first undergraduate-run research journal’s pioneering head writer, and now as the co-editor-in-chief with Ela, I’m more aware and am continuing to learn how print media has always been a weapon of vocalization for those who have been historically marginalized. People of color, women and women of color, LBGTQIA, low-income, those with disabilities--all of these communities and their intersectional nuances can narrate and represent their own experiences through myriad forms. Circuit, and research journals in general, therefore creates a space for UCSD students who identify with one or more of these communities. The academic world has always been brimming with white, abled, and middle to upper middle class men who have had the privilege of furthering their education and retaining access to publishers for their research.  History does not always repeat itself. There are an infinity of brilliant and gifted historically underrepresented researchers in the world, and many come from our very own campus. What people have to offer to the world should not be blocked by those who bear more privilege medals over the other. Ela and I’s intention with Circuit, then, is to not only publish refreshing papers written by undergraduates but also for this journal to symbolize a reminder to those feeling hopeless about their own works. That is, you’re not alone in this struggle, and you have people supporting your backs to help you get the representation you deserve.

~Chezyrome David 6

“5 February 2018”

KATHERINE CAMILLE I’ve been called a man hater. I wasn’t supposed to be called a man-hater. I was supposed to get a laugh. Instead, I got a defense. Here’s the rundown. Thea is my friend. We’ve been really good friends since junior year of high school. Her boyfriend is Israel(who also went to our high school). They came over to my apartment and we talked for a very long time. We talked aimably political for awhile ya know it happens, we’re all students of the UC system… and then… well… well, he said something. He said that all of the girls from our high school top ten were only in top ten because they got a leg up for being females. Apparently, they all got extra special attention and encouragement from the teachers, so they wound up in top ten. And you know who his audience was for this arguement? Two of the nine females in top ten. Yeah, I know. Anyways. Stepping aside from that conversation from a few months ago, Thea and I were making plans for the weekend to do a particular activity that I said would end up in a heated political debate. She told me not to. I told her that I am not the culprit. I may be a political science major, but I make it a personal thing not to start any political discourse. It was Israel who started it last time with the top ten spiel. Ha ha Thea, remember that? Remember that mysogynistic shit he was spewing? Ha ha. “Excuse me? What are you talking about? That’s not very fair. He’s had some real intersectional obstacles, and I owe it to him to be understanding. You’re not aware of the countless arguments we’ve had. And you have double the biases.” You’re saying I have double the biases? “Yes. You’re angry at men. It’s no reason to go off into an abyss of hypocrisy. You complain countlessly about people being assholes and mistreating women when you take it too far. You lack empathy for the people you’re criticizing. You’re at an extreme. I’m sick of it.” I lack empathy? “Yeah. I know you try to do what is ‘right’ but you’re so wrong. When Israel opened up his worst experiences that all include women, you said, ‘Yeah so? I have 7


too and, I don’t hate them. Your attitude doesn’t get a pass for that.’” I was referring to the fact that female peers of mine brutally unfriended me every year since I was 4 years old. So many females fall into this trap saying that they hate other females for qualities possessed by virtue of being female, and I never did that. Okay. So you think I’m a “I hate men” feminist? “I don’t think that. I just know what I see. You tweeted that mijito should always be condescending and mija is always endearing? Really?” I was actually gonna add how mijita is also pretty damn condescending… “You’re unwilling to empathize and relate to them.” Okay so you’re saying I hate men but I’m not an “I hate men” feminist? “Yes you are. I thought I said yes before.” Look, let’s not continue this. He’s your boyfriend, so you just have blinds on for him, and that’s fine. And it went on, but it stepped away from Israel’s mysogynist arguement and toward’s my best friend’s immaturity (??, because that’s totally what this was about). This left our plans up in the air. After a bit of contemplation, I realized, THERE IS NO SUCH THING. In 2050, when “man-hater” shows up as a vocab word in a social studies classroom, it’s definition will be the counter-attack against the 21st century feminist movement from a group of self-identifying Meninists. This person who I have known and been great friends with for quite a time in these critical years of our youth just adopted a term used by meninists and directed it at me. ME. Her. Her at me. She said that. She actually. When we met up later in the week, I told her this. I told her, how could you call me this?? This literally does not exist beyond online males mocking women and claiming a cancer in their efforts for equality. Wanna know her response? Wait for it, okay? Ready? She gave me a look-and I will never forget this look. She gave me a look like she was about to witness a horific event before her eyes, the look right before it actually happens, but the second when you know it’ll happen. Her brows came together and curled up with concern. Her eyes were glossed over like she was crouched down and looking at a kid who was showing her a papercut on their finger. Her mouth was softly hanging with a disbelief that I was owed. How dare she. I think I decided then that any possibility of reconciliation was too far gone. Magazine Title


“A Sonnet For Marching” CATE WILBORN

How will this moment be remembered? Progress and equality are repealed. In a nation broken and dismembered A continental divide not soon healed. The barbarians have crashed through the gates, A new regime built on acknowledged lies, Bringing with them intolerance and hate. The warriors of social justice rise. A sign of the times or time of the signs; Demanding our liberties be restored. With marches and protests and picket lines There is nothing civil about this war. Morality becomes a battle crySo do you heed the call, or will you just stand by?



“Seam-sirs” GRACE LEE

Three men are sitting circled in a room eased back in upholstered leather chairs. Three pairs of hands are each holding a needle and a spool of thread the color of doves. With lust and glee, they sew-spire appealing bodies to populate the world. They wear their Grinch-like grins like boy scout badges. The fire behind them causes their faces to darken. The constant breath of their giggles makes the shadows over them quiver. A surplus of identical looking body parts is strewn on the walnut coffee table in between them. Long and slender legs. Plump, round breasts. Cherry red, bee-stung lips. One man’s darkly tufted hand picks up one of the legs and hands it to the second man, who attaches it to a waspy waist and heart-shaped ass with his thread. Once the stitches are pulled tight and the excess cut off the string becomes invisible. It blends seamlessly into the color-matching flesh. The second man is pleased and he waves the figure in the air like a trophy. Saliva drips down the corner of his chin, but it escapes him. The first man now hands the second man another body part. This time it’s a pair of double-D breasts. The second man takes the breasts and he aligns it with the waist. Without hesitation, he begins stitching the body parts together. He picks up a head from the coffee table, opens the crown, and empties the contents onto the floor. He then sews the head back up and attaches it to the body’s neck. Soon the figure is complete. Head, shoulders, knees, and toes. The final product is placed on a pile next to the coffee table made up of other finished products all identical to this one. If the second man were to reach down into the pile to retrieve the figure he had just finished, he would have been unable to distinguish it from the rest. The third man has just finished the figure he was working on, and it is identical to the ones made by his partners. He puppets the figure so that it is strutting down the edge of the coffee table. Suddenly, he makes it trip and fall, so that the figure is in doggy position with its ass in the air. The second man giggles so hard that he knocks over his glass of 1806 Solera Bourbon. The brownish-reddish liquid spills all over the third man’s porcelain, upended figure. Looking at the doll’s now blotchy, colored complexion, the third man throws it into the fire with disgust. But the doll was carelessly thrown and has landed on an area where the Magazine Title


fire has not yet traveled. A finger twitches. Then, a hand clenches around a chunk of dry wood. The mottled doll begins to move. She drags herself out of the fireplace and away from the flames. She struggles for control over her new, fawn-like muscles and bones. But, fire is mercurial. The flames travel to where the lower half of her body lies and licks at her calves and ankles. Not all of the girl manages to make it out of the fireplace. She has lost her left foot and a chunk of her right calf. Lying on her stomach, she lifts herself up onto her elbows to look at the three men huddled in their circle still sew-spiring other bodies together. She looks down the length of her own body and with a heaviness thinks, bodies that used to look like mine. At that moment, she notices a pile of peculiar looking things on the floor nearby the circle of seam-sirs. She crawls towards it and hesitantly picks one up. As soon as she touches it, she feels an electrical hum spread all throughout her body. The feeling is so pleasant and wonderful, and immediately, she feels weightless and light. She decides to carry this with her everywhere, and so she searches for a place to put it. She pats up and down her body, and when she reaches her head she notices some of the stitches have come loose due to her fall. She pries open the crown of her head and places the object inside, and, instantly, she feels a thousand times more. The men have taken no notice of the girl this whole time. They cluck and titter to themselves as they sew-spire bodies. She realizes she is enraged by the way she was thrown into the fire without any concern and by the way she was rudely puppeteered. Without wasting a single second more, the girl pulls herself up onto her crippled legs and leaves.


“which one will it be today?” stjy

i am feminine but i act too “manly” sometimes i have a slim figure but i also need to watch my weight you tell me i need to build my own worth but the idea of marrying rich isn’t so bad school and edifying myself are my life’s main focus right now so dating is out of the question yet you want me married by, at most, 30 i need to stand up for myself when others hurt me but when i am on the line of defense i am told to watch my tongue even if they deserve the harshest words of the language after all, i am whatever you tell me to be and am to do whatever you wish


“So You Want to be Soft” PAIGE HARRIS

floating on my back in warm water, looking at the moon steam curling off of the swimming pool in the blackness reading my own tarot, naked, on my floor The Hermit, The Revolution, The Stars walking back to the house dripping in the night air, passing cars and homes and quiet things deep green leaves turning their faces towards me as I glide past the scent of loamy rich soil good growing things that you could almost eat the daughters of the night the descendants of witches you could not burn i’m all alone in the universe right now just me and this playlist drinking Mexican Coke, drinking Mexican beer. i’m singing Pilaf, Presley, Jackson 5 the bones of my cheeks emerging after twenty one years of very happy childhood my face is contemplating womanhood at last i realize I would have waited a lifetime walking barefoot across grass and stone any womxn who recognizes that her words and her thoughts have an effect on the world around her who uses her intuition, who trusts her own mind who seeks out her roots She is a witch 13


“3 May 2017”

KATHERINE CAMILLE It is 2:30am, and I am having a shitfest of a conversation with Lis and Camille about how absolutely shitty it is to be a woman. I was at an antique store in Temecula, whose commercial demographic is of the old, wealthy and white. There was a sign next to the register that read, ”My husband called. He said I can buy whatever I want.” My ASL teacher was giving possible reasons why we may need to be absent one day. You know, maybe you’re sick or maybe you overslept or maybe your boyfriend broke up with you and you’re crying about it. I was seated in front of two white frat boys giving a detailed description of a “hoe”. If you didn’t know, she tries to return a shirt she borrowed at night, because she’s obviously trying to get it in. If you didn’t know, a hoe is nameless. You do not save the name of a hoe in your phone; she does not get a contact name, because you do not wish to contact her after you are done with her. She’s no one’s friend, sister, daughter, or even a person. I am ashamed to report that I said nothing to those two boys. In my mind, I saw myself turning around and starring, squinty-eyed, stating, “I want to remember what disrespect towards women looks like.” But in real life, I just resented them for being ignorant college boys and making bird sounds during lecture. A suitemate on my floor, a self-proclaimed feminist, said she believes boys are easier to raise than girls. I took to Twitter to call out this blatant, bullshit sexism in said statement, and three different males haaaaad to leave their commentary. And the females were the ones backing me up. This was when Camille stopped by to tell me that I’m amazing. Why? Because she gets it. I’m tired of it. I will never need my husband’s permision to buy anything as if he is the only one of a sound mind to make financial Magazine Title


decisions. I will never let a breakup keep me from class. I will never have a child and believe raising them will be easier/harder on the sole factor of gender or sex. Children are rowdy, male and female. Children are also reserved, male and female. All children need love and affection and protection, male and female and neither male nore female. And people don’t even get it. People don’t realize how alive sexism is. It’s over. It’s a thing of the past. No, buddy, it’s just something that will never concern you until you decide to care. So for any man who sticks his voice where it is not warranted, do not try to tell me what my experience is as a woman when you will never be affected by or even notice everyday injustices. Do you notice? Can you tell? Do you remember in elementary school when the teachers always asked for the strong boys to help move something? Do you hear the same voices in your lectures with the same deepness as yours? Do you doubt what you’re wearing in regards to how others will perceive you in a professional manner or in regards to your safety? Do you get it now?


“connecting features” BRONTEE CINTRON 16


ARMONIE MENDEZ Hard working to the bone with scrapes and scars depicting the story of how you built a family ALL on your own from a country tainted by blood to another proclaiming the false promise of freedom by a badly made sim who thinks we still need him I’m sorry about this man who thinks he’s such a stud but with that TV personality and those orange locks he’s just another Washington, D.C. White House Presidential dud making his money off of immigrants like you who for years have dragged the privileged out of the mud I apologize for what you’ve been through watching your child deteriorate then lose a battle against a sickness with such an unkind fate is something I can never pull through


Seventy-two years and still standing is something I can’t quite come down to understanding I grew up lucky while you were born no stranger to heartache I’m prone to falling to the snake while you grab it by the head stare it in the eye making known who’s the one that’s really unlucky you are strong you are independent you are never wrong more than happy I am to be your descendant a salute to you is more than deserved it is required especially by the man sitting in office who does nothing but uninspire


“Brown Eyed Warrior� AYLIN CEDILLO

I cannot hide my brown eyes that tell the sorrows of my people that have to cross borders made by the society that took their lands from them I cannot hide the dark hairs on my arms a proclamation that I am more than just the pale skin you see but a descendant of 19

color I cannot hide my Spanish that comes out in the best and worst of times when I need comfort when I need to unleash my rage I cannot hide my thick curly hair that clogs the drain with questions of exactly who are my ancestors because I’ll never be able to know I cannot hide my curvy hips that I use to make a point one hand on my hip and a scowl on my face that slips away with the sound of cumbia I cannot hide my frustration of being told to assimilate into a society that calls me “wet-back” or “job stealer” but relies on the labor of my father because he’s cheaper than a gringo I will not hide who I am because my brown eyes, all the way down to the very way I carry myself all they say is Warrior 20

“Representation� LEIRA MAE DIGMA

I hung the print up that next morning, sun rising shining on the paint. It was a gift from you not one I expected or wanted really. It was just a painting we walked across on an early Sunday morning. Early morning rays washed out the colors and lines of the woman shown. Her hair long. Her eyes closed. She wore a loud red dress and even louder hoop earrings. They look like the gold ones you always wear, I remember you saying that first time we saw it. She looked calm and kind. Sunlight found her smile but left her body in shadows. Golden, golden, golden hour. 21

It is in this light I finally see why we frame works of art. To set it apart from the plain, white wall it hides To capture one’s gaze. The moonlight shines on brown skin that looks much like mine and my father’s too. Perhaps that’s why I hung it for all to see. I never saw brown in art, in books, on screens I never saw me. So thank you for art that engulfed reflected empowered brown-skinned me.


“my mother is” CATE WILBORN

A petit wrist encased in large, heavy bangles Bright rompers and ensembles with thick soled fabric sandals Coming to visit when my baby brother was born Staying longer when he almost didn’t make it Cabbage Patch Dolls piled on an electric organ Short, quiet visits holding hands after the strokes A box of recipes of no value other than love A basket of sewing tools older than me with name-labeled sheers A black and white wedding portrait A turban pinned with a crescent moon A green on green afghan bearing an unidentifiable but comforting vitamin smell thirty years later Bathroom etiquette taught to a curious four-year-old A knitted red and white ball Haunting my birthday A bangle bracelet and emerald ring I’ve worn for twenty years Creaky, old stairs on overnight visits Loads of sugar poured in Rice Crispies Piles of things that I never took for junk—just cluttered treasure A copper dessert mold One photo Sweaters every Christmas The first family trip to Maine Stopping to explain and describe anything no matter how small or insignificant it might seem Bent over to my level and with hand gestures—and always making it interesting A small stuffed toy with a rolled up five dollar bills every Easter The beginning of Thanksgiving A closed casket on a cold day 23

Second hand books read on a swinging porch bench Colorful kaftans and singing at the Fourth of July party Honey child Always time to sit and visit My favorite home-away-from-home Taking care of the hives on my legs that itched in the middle of the night from wearing a bathing suit for too long Old packs of Trident gum in the three original minty flavors The overnight visit to go to the company carnival Buttercup The excitement of unwrapping a birthday present Knowing ahead of time it was the new Disney VHS Being spoken to like I was special and loved, but also intelligent and reasonable Over long, wonderful, honest talks Laughing Moments where my older brother and I enjoyed each other’s company Affection Teaching me how to cook A haven to escape to with no questions asked My first make-over and hairstyling for freshman formal An instant cousin to love Kindness and fun Smiles that always started in the eyes Generosity Photos of every family stop over Belief of goodness and the ability to overcome any falling out A thick accent and ready laugh A warden My first time on a horse 24

It stopped to pee mid-ride The scent of acrylic nail chemical by home appointment A delightful appreciation of gossip Mountains of grass clipping shoveled in the hot sun A waterpark Summer An old Ford truck with two gas tanks An invitation to dinner when I needed family Neon colors, wrap around glasses, tanning oil, and blond perm Drive-in movies A landing pad at just the right moment of failed romance Shared struggles and understanding A snowball fight in the streets of London Pregnant together in yet another moment of lives on common paths My childhood hero The first baby I got to hold—under our grandmother’s supervision The highlights of my holidays and trips home Two Facebook accounts that grew up without me Absence Another November Missing pieces My mother is a tessellation Women who took the time Memories Daughters Me We are mother


“watercolor” CATE WILBORN 26



“30 January 2018”

KATHERINE CAMILLE These children have entered my space in front of my eyes. They’re mesmerizing. My classmates and I didn’t look like they look. Maybe it’s my adult eyes that are adjusting to the times. This girl locks eyes on me. I look away. I glance again and she has her hands cupped to her mouth to project, “You’re really pretty!” in my direction. The corners of my mouth turn upwards in a knee-jerk reaction. Later, I thought, would she have said that to me if I wasn’t wearing a full face of makeup? Afterall, children say the funniest things.


“Trigger Warning” ARMONIE MENDEZ

Dancing lights which trigger epilepsy; Alcohol poisonous to take a life; Girls fought over like they were property; A party is where we see subtle strife. Overconfident boys looking to catch; Freshmen experiencing all the drugs; What is safe is just another bad batch ; They’re friends bestowing you party plugs. Hazing to signify the brotherhood; Letters telling the story how you died; The superficial barbie sisterhood; No hint of color, not diversified. Pick your poison, we just want to forget That we are young adults filled with regret In this room filled with much humidity We pick our poison. Side effects? Stupidity.



The first time I told my parents I wanted to kill myself I was five. I got slapped, sent back to bed, told never to say that again— I never said it again. I asked my mom why it was okay for dad to hit me, she said he was right because what I said upset him. In third grade, when a kid cornered me on the playground, and choked me until the edges of my vision gave way to darkness— I came home and told my parents.

They asked why I didn’t fight back. Asked why we were friends in the first place. Asked why I didn’t tell someone sooner. Asked what I did to make him so angry. Asked why I didn’t scream.

I told them:

I couldn’t even talk. 30

Couldn’t even ask him to stop. He had taken my voice— but he hadn’t been the first to do so, wouldn’t be the last. When I was sexually assaulted, I was nine— but thank goodness, I had learned my lesson by then: This was my fault. Telling someone would just make it worse, would just let them know my shame. I’d deserved this, somehow. Surely I’d invited it, my “No” must not have been loud enough, my choice in friends should have been better, I should have screamed, should have fought back— this was, my fault. Before it even happened I was told, it would always be my fault. Now, when a man tells me I better not walk away from him —my feet stop. I hate myself for the smile I turn around with to greet his greedy eyes. When a strange man twice my age 31

reaches for a hug, (right after telling me about how great my ass looks in bluejeans) I silently comply. I still remember my lessons. I don’t have enough earthquake to break apart these fault lies, shake off the charm school quiet. I have never been in control of my own body— “Autonomy” is an alien concept —from a planet where my gender and my place and my guilt are not decided for me, not assigned at birth with a name and the check of a box. This is why I park under street lights. Carry mace. Walk to my car with my keys between my fingers like prayers— I don’t want to be a victim again. But if I’m going to be, I want to find as few reasons as possible— for it to be my fault. 32



“I’m sorry.” “I’m sorry.” We say this to each other over and over again. After sex. As we wake up. As we fall asleep. For no reason at all. Sometimes ‘I’m sorry,’ means ‘thank you,’ or it means ‘I love you,’ or it means ‘I know I don’t have to be sorry,’ or it means ‘I’m sorry I’m still sorry anyway.’ ii. What ‘I’m sorry’ really means, as it can only be said in a parenthetical: (I’m sorry I pull my body into condolence after you spend so much time loving it.) iii. You look at my body like a shrine, candles lit for your favorite god, prayers on holy ground beneath my feet. I know I look at you the same way. Full of worship; holy. I told you once that you reminded me of a renaissance painting. Every time I talk about myself my chest hurts. It took me years to put the words “my body” into a poem. 34

Sometimes distance is an art. Like when you let the ones you love call you a name that doesn’t belong to you, easier not to face the possibility that it is something still attached to you a toe tag to that thing called— iv. “my body”

seems assigned less something to be claimed, more something to be negotiated, or explained.

v. This year at Halloween I dressed as a “formal apology.” Full suit, “I’m sorry” pinned to my chest, while my chest was pinned into itself.

I walked to work apologizing: Sorry for my body in a suit, for the way my body wears itself, for the way I wouldn’t let it wear me.

My favorite poets say that the body is not an apology, but mine knows how to be. I know how to apologize with it, for it, to it. vi. I find myself loving things that start out as one thing and end as another. Maybe in this way I love myself. Maybe this is how I’m fluent in your apologies. Maybe this is the way I love you. And my body. And all the ways it can betray me, and all the ways it can come true. 35


I had a crush on a girl Who had her nails painted Robin’s Egg blue And she wore a floral dress, With big red and pink roses That fanned out at her knees And had a sweetheart neckline. Her flats were pastel yellow And her eyes were caramel brown And her smile outshone the sun. She had straight hair and styled bangs And wore sparkly silvery eyeshadow And fuchsia lipstick. She listened to the Backstreet Boys And One Direction. I had a crush on her because she was So feminine And so different from me. With my oversized grunge tee shirt And my ripped jeans And my doc martens. With my untamed crazy hair, cropped short And my bare nails And my crooked teeth. I looked like everyone expected A bi girl to look. But she, she didn’t. She fooled us all. 36



The man I fell in love with did want me (for a while) but only as a woman. He had only dated men, but I could be an odd exception. He Never said that he needed me to be ‘straight’ but he didn’t seem to like my relationship history (Women only); Didn’t seem to like the way I blended into him some days unrecognizable as a “Woman” only. As a woman, I wanted him as a man. As a man, I wanted him as a gay man. I wanted him (Maybe) so I could affirm myself; Affirm all the parts of me that did (do) not make sense. 38

—Remains of a gender that is taught to look to men for validation.

We decided We should be friends instead. We are. Yet, every time I dream of him, I’m in his arms: As a woman, Or a man, but never anything in between. Never too much Or not enough Of anything—


“She Was Never Yours” AYLIN CEDILLO

how could you? she offered you a piece of paper full of good intentions and friendship and you manipulated it into the image you wanted cut it up strung across your room for your viewing pleasure and made a song out of her snuffing out the true melody she was instead you made a love poem out of her that you’d love to fuck because the only person for her you decided was you and of course you want your fingers dripped in her sweet tears that you wrongly coaxed from her always wanting more from her when she never wanted you at all 40

“The Troublemaker” ARMONIE MENDEZ

Dark red eyeshadow and overdrawn lips. Taking pictures with one foot on the bathroom sink.Alcohol for the underaged. A baby wipe ridding her of her makeup, and her face. An elegant walk in platform boots. A different wig for a different mood. This is what was all over Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, etc., pictures depicting the person she wanted to be, but not the person she was. Well into our interview over a low-quality Facetime, supported by low quality WiFi, I could still be able to see that the darkness of red on her eyelids had sunk into her eyes, with tears ready to be shed, but a willingness hesitant to let them flow. Nadine Nicole Baer is 20 going on 21, an age were being an adult seems completely real, but the only real thing she seemed to come to terms with during our interview was the fact that at 20, she had already been verbally abused, physically abused, and raped. When I FaceTimed Nadine, she was taking her lunch break at work. She works at a Historical Restoration Company in Pasadena, California, and is eager to quit as the commute from the San Fernando Valley to Pasadena only adds onto her fatigue, which is already at an all-time high because of the endless rollercoaster that is her emotions. She left the room full of white where front desk was, to a shit-brown compact space which seemed like a basement from what I could see in the small rectangle that took up the corner of my screen. The change in scenery made me realize how dark this interview was going to get, and although we both knew what it was going to be about, we were still just as unprepared. Nadine was hurting, and she was vulnerable to the public seeing her pain. Cluttered with items, the room was away from her coworkers, or people she knew for lack of a better word, just like her emotions were confined to only her; all bottled up, and cluttered like a hoarder unable to let go of everything. But it’s not like she wanted to confine her feelings; it’s not like she was hiding her feelings. All someone needed to do was ask. Asking was something no one did. WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A GUY? “Number one he has to be nice….haha, that one worked out great….,” She had a point. No matter what list of qualities people have preselected in 41

their heads for potential partners, the qualities they expect are usually not present in the partner they end up choosing. Some girls have a natural tendency to be attracted to an asshole while some guys tend to be attracted to a girl, who in all ways possible, is a straight up bitch. This was the case for Nadine. She had recently come out of a one year relationship, and for the purposes of this interview, and Nadine’s safety, her ex-boyfriend will be identified under the surname, Trevor MontClair. Trevor MontClair is not a nice man, unless you happen to think that his repetitive banging of his girlfriend’s skull against a concrete so cold is a sign of a true man. It was as if he wanted the coolness of the concrete to make her feel the coolness of his icy heart with each hit. That was not the first time Trevor MontClair laid a hand on Nadine Baer. “Fourth of July, yeah, that was the first time it happened.” HOW DID IT HAPPEN? “I don’t remember what the fight was about. It didn’t start out as physical. You know, he was yelling at me. I was in trouble for something.” “I was in trouble for something.” Hearing those words was like imagining a child get in trouble for stealing a piece of gum with a retail value of five cents. I had gotten to know Nadine more in this interview than I ever did in high school, a place we’d both like to forget. If there’s anything I know about Nadine at this point in time, it’s that she didn’t give herself enough credit. No matter how horrific the pain she experienced at the hands of Trevor MontClair was, Nadine understood the pain and its source to be an underlying problem on her side. She did not feel goodenough, and all the makeup, the wigs, the fashion choice, was a sign of the multitude of people hoped to be. “I wore makeup almost all the time, even to sleep, because I was insecure about the way that I looked, because he made it seem like not everyone wanted him, that everyone else was better than me​.” There’s a concept behind bad people. They’re not necessarily bad because of the things they do, but rather the things they are capable of making you believe; their ability to bring you down so low when you thought you couldn’t go any lower. Trevor MontClair, was, no, is, an egotistical maniac who found validation of his masculinity in the verbal abuse, physical abuse, and manipulation of Nadine. He is a man, but feeling like one was to him, a whole different idea. I continue to talk to Nadine about her relationship with Trevor MontClair, paired with other things, such as the lack of support from her family, consisting of a father who didn’t believe she was raped, and a mother who constantly 42

brings up the amount she has done for her child, when a lack of support proves that she’s only made things worse. Together, they were parents who had kicked their child out of their home for the sole fact that she wanted to be different. She had no one. Her family was gone, and the relationships she had built with friends deteriorated because of a relationship deteriorating her. So, she went back. Even amongst all the chaos, she believed there was a part of Trevor MontClair that still loved her. ‘The thing the people don’t get sometimes is that it wasn’t all bad all the time. It really does confuse you.” I can see the shine in her eyes from the tears forming. In between breaths I hear one or two sniffles and that’s when I realized: There was a part of Nadine that still loved him too. “When it was good it was really good, when it was bad it was really bad. There was really no ever middle ground.” One tear escapes the corner of her eye, and she wipes it before it can even reach her cheek. While that one part of Nadine still loved him, the rest of her knew the pain Trevor MontClair had inflicted, and that brings us to November 10, 2017. “And I gave chance after chance...because he’s good at making you believe that he is good, and he meant well, and that it wouldn’t happen again. Until it did. And for almost a year I was under the impression that despite how horrific my life was becoming, that he still loved me and wanted the best for me. I underwent months of pain and sadness as his hands. And believe it or not, the psychological abuse was far worse than the physical. It got to a point where I was convinced that I shouldn’t see my family or friends. Or that I acted in a way that was suggestive or rude or whatever he wanted me to think I was acting like to be honest, and eventually I wasn’t sure of any of my own actions. I second guessed myself, triple guessed even. I couldn’t decide what was right or wrong for me anymore. I wasn’t my own person anymore.” November 10, 2017 was the day Nadine publicly outed Trevor MontClair as her abuser to the internet. Her self-proclaimed “savior” from her former life, a life “at the apartment where [she] was raped by an ex-friend,” was vulnerable, but somehow, he still maintained friendships with those who were well aware of the damage he was doing at the time he was doing it, and only lost friends who did not condone his actions, but never spoke a word against them. Throughout the interview, there were periodical laughs made by Nadine during times when no laugh would be socially acceptable under the circumstances being talked about. Although, I could tell. There was the casual chuckle when talking about her parents kicking her out, the occasional laugh when explaining how Trevor MontClair had dewigged her amidst the fighting, and the all too fa43

miliar laugh, when she explained how she had met him on social media. It pained me. As a writer and interviewer, I have spent years perfecting the art of making sure no one knows you’re hurting, of making sure no one can see your pain. I did this with Nadine, and little did she know, I felt her pain. Her laughs were euphemisms for her experience in order to make them sound normal for any relationship; but inside I knew she was broken, and that’s what made me feel broken. I screen recorded the interview on my laptop, and every time I needed an extra couple seconds to type something she said, I would pause on her face, and one particular time, I paused at just the right time. During this pause, Nadine was looking down, almost ready to cry, with a frown attempting to rise at the edges of her lips, trying to save the smile the was once there. If there was anything that could describe how she looked or felt, it would be her own words: “I was in trouble for something.” Like I mentioned, Nadine doesn’t give herself enough credit. The interview consisted of the occasional “I wasn’t good enough,” which was not the case. Maybe it was in the case of Trevor MontClair but in my book she was. While she may have thought she wasn’t enough for Trevor MontClair, it seems to me that it was the complete opposite way. Trevor MontClair was aware Nadine was more than enough, and tried suppressing her as much as possible because he was well aware that he was the one not good enough. He was worried he would lose her. So he didn’t want her to wear the full face of makeup, he didn’t want her to look nice, he didn’t want her to go out without him knowing where she was every second. And he still doesn’t want these things. Trevor MontClair is what I’d like to call obsessed. He stalks Nadine Baer’s social media, calls her at four in the morning, and rebounds with girls he wishes was her. All because Nadine Baer was too good for him. She’s good enough because despite being alone, she was better off on her own, despite having her head banged on the concrete, repeatedly, she got back up, and with her head held even higher. Instead of mourning over lost friends, she rebuilt the relationships, and despite the response it might get, she spoke about the injustice done to her, and served as a voice for those who don’t have one. “Please don’t believe abusers. Please don’t give into his tears and 100s of apologies. It will kill you. I bled and bruised because I thought I was being loved. Don’t do the same. Listen to your instincts. Pay attention to red flags.” Nadine, this one’s for you.


“puppy love” stjy

i think you’re cuter than any puppy i’ve ever seen when you recommend a song to me i listen to it like it’s a new favorite and i hope you do the same with the ones i share with you hair swept to the side makes my heart beat in another language something like ドキドキ the fake frown in your selfie puts a smile on my face i stop when walking down the street just to see what you’re up to a daily “good morning” and “good night” without fail must mean we’re standing on a two-way street always thinking of each other ... right?


“Her Story”


But I didn’t cry I refused to cry when I listen to the story of a million objections thousands of no’s that were lost in lustful battles to get her damn jeans off I refused to cry when her fear spiked in the pit of her stomach when a man called out his intentions at her of “baby come here” I didn’t cry when she had to hold onto her life with the handle of a small knife hidden in her jacket as she walked down the shadowy side of town hoping and praying she didn’t have to use it 46

Or the fact that her brother begged her to buy pepper spray not knowing it was too late because she trusted her friend I cried when I went to bed to scream into a pillow because the thousand of stories she tells is my story And I did cry I refuse to lay down quiet my voice and most importantly of all watch her story repeat again



I fell in love once In the country. It was slow going, Like a lazy two-step, Lagging and heavy like The summer air at night When the fireflies would Come out and I would Almost Grasp his hand But never got up the courage. He spoke to me And told stories That all weaved into each other Like those baskets I’d weave When I would miss him And want him, Weaving in the salt of my own tears As well as straw. Years went by Before finally, in my bedroom When my mother was downstairs Reading her romance novels, He turned away from the Pictures on the walls And kissed me. His heartbeat underneath My hand, 48

Thudding like the big brass band And his lips, Warm as the thick summer nights Where I would stare at him endlessly And he would stare into space. And his hands On my hips And on my cheeks Making me feel bright As bright as those fireflies That made me want to be brave And just as electric. I fell in love once In the city. It was an immediate romance Like the lighting of a match, Burning down swiftly like A countdown And sometimes we’d just wait In the darkness, Wanting To make love But too entranced by the flickering. She, too, told stories With her lullaby voice, The kinds of stories Like the ones my mother read When she missed my father, And cried, So I cried too, for her and for me As well as for the life I’d left behind. 49

Months went by Before finally, in my bedroom When the moonlight streamed in Through a crack in the drapes, She turned away from the Paintings on the walls And left me. My heartbeat underneath My own hand, Flaming like the tip of the match That I forgot would go out for us As swiftly as it began. And my lips, Parted with shock That once would kiss her madly While she would count down. And her hands On the doorknob And on the handrail of the stairs Making me feel stiff As stiff as she was as she watched The flame she wanted to go out And just as dark.


“no hard feelings” stjy

you uncover my soul; you peek inside a window to my heart. you wish to satiate your curiosity so i hold open the door for you. you make yourself at home for a bit. the kettle is done boiling so i set the mugs and tell you that the tea is done. but you tell me you can no longer stay. you tell me that it’s not the tea, nor the kettle, nor the door, nor the window, nor the fact that we are in my heart. you run off with the same speed that you came in with. except it was all of it and probably more. it was the fact that we were in my heart. it was the window, door, kettle, and even the tea. i am angered and saddened because i really thought i could set you apart. but no hard feelings, … right?



Fire serves as alabaster tomb, fire bites skin with the frolic of lip. Fire neither dirty orange nor tyrant-red for fire is the pure crucifix. Orange I must say bears no presence, red is the stench of dried flesh, red is corpulent cheeks billowing out in duress, swathes of algae made for a cormorant’s nest The fire that I speak of is only the spark of ceaseless adoration— the jest of a toothless smile limbs belonging to a caressing swoon Yet why must heat be the radiance of passion senseless furor, hellfire that dawdles by the tip of my fingers and upon the crescent of my lashes For if I could cherish all the ladies in the world, I dare say my love is more like ice than wicked, wicking flame. Women, you are matadors in disguise, the night sky your cape which you sweep from beneath the stars Women, you who crease linen into miniature mouths the little language they speak to be found in the rustle of bodies upon cotton crowns WO-MEN shearing moonlight to the peplum-fluke 52

of a mermaid’s tail WO-MEN tying ocean waves to horizon like hair tangled in a sunhat’s belt My love for these women is unlike the ninth circle of hell nor is it the air of a winter’s eve nestled within a snowdrop’s shell The coldness of my love is the way words freeze to the palate of my mouth The coldness of my love wedlocks silence to dimples deep enough to holster the end of cattails To love with only entropic desire is to love cheaply, and for you women, titanesses of wind-locked earth and sky-barred sea, I know no better way to love than with my womanly self. Because women the love we are expected to bear must radiate twice fold Because women you deserve more than a world that looks you in the breast rather than in the soul Because WO-MEN we have too long loved others first before loving ourselves So when I am asked how I love women; it does not matter that I love them or why I should, But that I do. And I love women as a woman could. 53


“Fix Myself”

ZSUZSANNA LYNCH So you left me. That’s ok. I pick my self up I need no one else. I make my own breakfast And I kiss myself And I put my smile Back on my own face. I don’t look left or right I don’t try to find someone else To fill my lonely heart. My lonely heart is full up And needs no one else, Thank you very much. I love me And I smile because I am alive And I get to feel the sun. And maybe my bed is empty But an empty bed is not An empty life.



LEIRA MAE DIGMA healing is both violent and beautiful. pain then mending frustration then acceptance heavy rain then luscious bloom bloom even after being uprooted from the soil you once knew. a rosebud blooms wherever it is filled with sun’s light and water’s blue blue like the ocean of emotions that washed through me during the first wave of healing nothing compared to the current that would follow and finally bring me home home where i dance freely and my sleep runs deep where i find comfort, warmth, and safety and continue healing


“The Heart of a Girl” RHIANNON KOH

i. The glass ballerina pivots in timeless harmony to the soft twinkle of the music box. Her face sparkles in the afternoon sunlight and her frozen stare looks eerily beautiful. Spinning round and round, she only has her moment in the sun when someone thinks to wind up her box. As the song chimes to a close, the glass girl gently folds in upon her fragile wires and curls up under the lid of her case. A stray sunbeam enters the box right before it closes. It hits the ballerina’s face and gently slides down her cold face as a tear might. In the gloom of cogs and springs, the dancer stares blankly at the slats of her wooden prison. There she rests, hidden away until someone thinks to bring her out into the shine of the stars. She is dreaming. Dreaming of a day when she might decide to pull back the covers of her box and go for a stroll in the rose garden. Maybe she would like to walk down the streets that blare so loudly in the distance. Or perhaps, she would fancy a run outside and twirl about the grass—not a care in the world that her body might shatter and splinter. She would like that very much. Not waiting in anxious anticipation of when she might flaunt her wisdom and grace to the world. Not worrying about the next time she will be seen or heard. No, the ballerina desires the freedom to be anything. But the hands that have crafted her have decided as much: she has one purpose only. She will dance when the crowd demands. She will spin this way and that, her life dictated to a twinkling song wound up on a mechanical string. There will be no spontaneity, no creative derision. Like a horse locked by its blinders, she will only see where her box has been set, move as slow and as prim as her creator has seen fit. Year after year, owner after owner, the glass ballerina supposes that she is safe where she stands. But she would like to taste the wind for herself, see more than just the sun through a glass pane. To see the earth in its entirety—beauty, depravity, all of it. She knows that some prefer this life, prefer this asked-for direction. B But they chose this. The girl still dreams, waiting for a day when she might have that chance. ii.

Said we could do it Said we could fight when the age of youth came crashing down When souls shattered When castles crumbled Said we’d hold fast to the bitter end As the sun set on our years As the nights swallowed us whole Said there would be no pretend


promised/swore/vowed said that we’d say it all do it all but what good is it was it when those were your dreams— not mine iii. If I were to tell you a story about a little a girl, one who grew up too fast, would you believe me if I told you she was happy? Or somehow, deep down, you already know how this tale ends. That there is no true joy without some sorrow, no innocence free from the taint of guilt. Between black and white, the line blurs, the gradients chalked out—hues of ivory fade into darkness, and onyx mellows out to pewter, suddenly highlighted by a blinding white. Purity doesn’t exist in this world. Purity is a luxury: easily sold, impossible to regain. I want to tell you everything—how her heart grew so big that her bones could not hold its weight, how the fullness of her life was only eclipsed by the rising and the setting of the sun. But that was before, not so long ago now. Walking in the shadows of a sheltered life, she only understood what she suffered. Under eaves of boundless freedom, she grew wings, fins, scales. There was no stopping her from what she dreamt could be. But I tell you now, she was naive. Sweet but not simple, careful but too trusting. That is what comes when love cannot conquer all. You grow up foolishly believing that everyone has your best interests at heart. No tricks or deceit. Only goodwill and camaraderie. Despite the tenderness that has raised you, that, too, will decay. For there is no purity in worldly love—it corrupts, degrades into jealousy, fear, infantilization. Like an elephant shackled to the circus, she will never know her true power, never feel the rush of grass against her titan body. But you cannot keep hiding the real world from her, you cannot always stop the hurt that will rend her heart. You think you are saving her, sparing her from the truth, but you don’t even know the hoarded tears, the scars, and the nightmares she has struggled to hide away from you. She has walked a mountain in those shoes, and she will tear them down. There are no real heroes in this story, only survivors. Survivors who will continue to stumble, rise, fall, and return. The world is colder, sharper, and faster than any of us could possibly imagine. Life isn’t the fairytale we believed it to be. You think anyone can be rescued, you think problems go away


by not thinking about them. You’re wrong. So wrong, a million times over. She is a tsunami, she is an avalanche. Weakness and disappointment have wreathed the paths of her life like the thousands of flowers she drew over and over again on her paper. There is strength, more than you know—more than you care to realize. How can you tame the sea? How can you cage the falcon? We treat things to be docile, expect them to stay as we want them. But that would be denying nature, that would be denying the truth. We are ugly, pretty things. A violent masterpiece of softness and grace. Hatred and passion. None can contain us—none ever will. I want you to see her. To see past the mess, the rage, the worry, and the heartbreak that she already knows. Look at her. She is still whole: the shattered glass painstakingly glued back together, stronger than before—the mosaic of shards welded by molten steel and celestial gold. She is already everything she will ever be. I want you to let her go. They broke her. They deceived her. They hurt her. But she’s still here, so much more braver and kinder. She grew up as all children do, maybe a little faster, but look into her eyes. Do you see yourself in them—budding, toiling, reaching to prove that you can and always have been able to survive? That you taste this world to its core: suffering, sanity, and everything in between? Titanium already crowns her brow, silver shields lining the seams of her heart. She’s ready for this, she always has been. You turned around, didn’t you? Didn’t watch as she took on the challenge, bruised and bloodied, cut after violet cut. Didn’t see her sitting in the corner, the crimson tears running down her cheeks as she hammered away at the suit that would mask her soul. Didn’t understand that she had been her own knight all along. She’s waiting. For you. You need to let her go. You need to let me go. ¶ And it seems that many forget that the heart of a girl is still a heart, nonetheless.



LEIRA MAE DIGMA Let me run through an open meadow, cleared by fire and awoken by rain Let me rest for just a second, a moment, until my Fall has passed. Let yet another day pass without your frigid cold burning me at the stake Let me go. Listen closely to my silence, my loudest call to action Listen not only to speak volumes louder than loud, but to listen Listen to the Winter wind, whirling then whispering a warning Please listen. Leave me alone with my thoughts, my words, my power Leave now before yet another canvas is tainted, ruined, destroyed Leave through the door that once welcomed you like soil does water Leave me where you found me, where I am rooted, where I will bloom Leave.



“We Are All Mothers”

JACQUELINE BRINKMANN We are all mothers in some shape or form, because we are women. Not every mother has a child, but every child has a mother. A teacher, a coach, a nurse, a supervisor, a friend. The mothers in our lives are masters at the gift of giving. But as a mother and as a woman, I am familiar with this cycle of giving, The cycle that leaves us with little but the satisfaction of knowing we gave to others, But as mothers, we feel that satisfaction is more than enough. The acts that are expected of mothers are the kindest and most selfless. The gratitude that mothers receive is not. Still, we continue to prepare nourishment, wash mistakes off our loved ones’ clothes, Bathe the young, work for a less valuable dollar, but never ask for more, like those who are not mothers do. The expectations are heavy responsibilities, But we fulfill them because we know the weight of these responsibilities, And we would never wish this weight upon anyone else, So we do it ourselves and expect nothing in return, Not because nothing is generally what we would receive (either way), But because knowing relieving our kin from this burden is the best reward we could receive.


Although I do not have a child, nor do I feel the desire to carry one, I still feel the fire that ignites the flame of motherhood. The most heartbreaking thing that I have come to realize as my mother’s child, Is that no matter how much I do for my mother, how many times I call her, how often I think of her or how much I claim to love her, The love that my mother has for me could never be matched by anything in this universe. The combination of this ceaseless struggle and the perpetual will to give is the meaning of motherhood. The current mission that we should all seek to complete is the perpetual opportunity to give as our mothers have given to us. Because no matter how persistently we try, we cannot give to our mothers the way they have given. What they have taught us is how we can all be mothers and care for others the way that they have cared for us. Being a mother can be a thankless job, however this frustration, as we have learned from our own mothers, pales in comparison to the amount of love we can give and all the lives we can touch. We can all be mothers.


“Womxn Compound” BRONTEE CINTRON

The independency of a wo(man) was taken, When “man” was inserted into our name. Believing our influence was small, they were mistaken. Now our social and economic status takes blame. Our wallets cannot be compared in weight, When our wages are not equalized. Our sexuality, thrown out as bait And when expressed freely—chastised. Through years of being beaten down, Of being called unruly names; Strip the sexualized ball gowns, And set this motion into flames. We are womyn, females, equal. Our gender is not our defiant. We can vote on our freewill, And own property without men as a reliant. Us womyn have come a long way; Fighting for our rights, our equal treatment. But there’s still many areas of gray And it will take all of our commitment. Demand equality in all spheres: Socially, economically, and domestically. Take this world of womyn, our volunteers, And listen to their experiences attentively.


All of these beautiful creatures, are completely independent beings, With distinct and miraculous features; expressing their true meanings. Us womyn are shamelessly inspired, To make a difference in our lives. And we will get what we desire, Whether we are single or are wives. We are made in all shapes and sizes, Are of different colors and backgrounds, But none of this symbolizes, A specific “womxn compound.� Womyn, we are beautiful and capable. Keep fueling our success. Our power is unbreakable, #PressforProgress.


THE WOMXN THEMSELVES Aidan Ryan (ERC) This piece is based on a powerful, lesbian character from one of my favorite novels. The opportunity to elevate and promote empowering concepts through art has always been important to me. Art is how I support the movements I find inspiring and worthwhile. Armonie Mendez (ERC) Hi! My name is Armonie Mendez! I’m a second-year Psychology major and Literature/Writing minor. I really enjoy writing random pieces of writing whether it be poetry, fiction, non-fiction, etc. When it comes to writing, I like to write emotionally heavy pieces just because I am the type of person very focused on their emotions. I tend to write pieces on topics people tend to stray away from for the sole fact that I believe some things just need to be talked about. *All the pieces submitted are based on non-fictional events. Aylin Cedillo (ERC) I have a trademark of keeping a highly emotional tone that conveys a personal and storytelling atmosphere. I convey raw and uncensored emotions about themes of love, heartbreak, and loss. Art empowers me because it captivates my essence and tells my story that is the story of others, and displays a wave of unity. Brianna Chandra (ERC) It’s so important for us women to remember our worth and our identity, which are not found in other people’s approvals. You ARE beautiful. You ARE worth it. You ARE more amazing and incredible than you’ll ever think. So cheers to us, ladies! We freakin’ rock. Brontee Cintron (Muir) My name is Brontee Cintron and I am majoring in Literature and Writing. Visual art as well as literary art empowers me to express my beliefs without worry of being judged or criticized. Cate Wilborn (Sixth) Winner of the 2017 Saier Award in Fiction, Cate Wilborn is an active member of the San Diego writing and editorial community. Cate is currently enrolled as a Literature/Writing major at the University of California, San Diego. When not in class, writing or freelance editing, she works as an editorial assistant at Cognella Academic Publishing and is mom to two great kids, two fantastic dogs, two okay cats, and a couple of birds. EP (ERC) Elizabeth Pang is a third year ERC student in Literature/Writing. Only ugly minds find ugly meaning in anything. To live beautifully is to not only find beauty but to create it. Grace Lee (Warren) Grace Lee is a Korean American, writer, poet, zinester, bookworm, and Netflix-loving fashionista. The topics of her works range from women’s rights to body image to infinity and beyond. She is currently a senior at the University of California San Diego getting her bachelor’s in Creative Writing.


Katherine Camille (ERC) I’m not quite sure who I’m addressing when I write, but I like pretending someone will read my words. I love love love finding the right words in a way where it’s transferable into the minds of others, because I can’t trust my mind to come up with the words in real time, so I try to find them here. Leira Mae Digma (ERC) My name is Leira Mae Digma. I am an ERC student in my third year of studying Economics and Management Science. I love intersectional feminism, mangoes, peonies, and my golden retriever puppy, Beaux. Art empowers me to be vulnerable with myself and express ideas that would otherwise be lost or silenced. Paige Harris (ERC) I’m a fourth-year Biological Anthropology major from ERC, with a minor in Literature Writing. I’ve always been into creative writing, but I started writing poetry more deliberately in 2016 when I developed a life-changing chronic illness. Poetry helps me express and work through the cognitive dissonance that I frequently experience, and allows me to share that experience with others. I also love writing sci-fi, psychological thrillers, and general spooky stuff. Rhiannon Koh (ERC) My name is Rhiannon (pron. rye-nun) Koh and I’m a second year Urban Studies and Planning major. Art is an extension of me: it’s my third-eye. Writing helps me articulate my feelings more than speaking ever could. In my stories, I can create characters and ideas that personify and symbolize my passions, fears, hopes, and dreams. I can give myself the strength, the armor I will only ever wear through words. It gives me the heart to face tomorrow and all the tomorrows to come. Sam Deges (Marshall) Sam is a genderqueer Literature/cultural studies major (Critical Gender Studies minor) currently trying to pass Latin and run away to the trees. They use art as a means of expression and experimentation to love themselves and those around them. Simone Froley (ERC) I’m from NorCal and this is my second year at UCSD. I’m curious about the ways in which melancholy can coexist with our superficial, success-driven values as a society, and I think my art reflects my need as an individual to express more than what my social image is able to convey. stjy (ERC) I’m an ERC student and an economics major! Poetry is always something that I’ve read and appreciated but it is only recently that I have started writing it. Poetry and other forms of art empowers me because it allows me to express myself in whichever way I (emphasis on “I”) choose. It inspires me to talk about aspects of my life (and life in general) that I like, love, detest, and wish to criticize as well. Zsuzsanna Lynch (Revelle) I’ve been making up stories since I was 5 years old. One day I hope to share my stories with the whole world. Poetry makes me feel like I have a voice. Every time I sit down and create something, seeing my own emotions reflected back to me in words makes them feel real and valid, and it helps me feel like other people can understand what I’m going through. Art makes me feel like I’m not alone.


“Origins of Eleanor Roosevelt College’s International Women’s Week Celebration”

ERC International Women’s Week Committee Members, Past and Present

The Eleanor Roosevelt College (ERC) International Women’s Week (IWW) Committee was established in January 2015. Student Council of ERC’s Diversity Advocate, Blake Erhardt, spearheaded the effort. She recognized that ERC is the only college named after a woman within UC San Diego and that there are many more women to be named and celebrated, including everyone in ERC. Blake and members of that very first IWW Committee aspired to combat the notion that women are inferior to men, empower students to take charge of their education, and elevate marginalized voices within the feminist movement. The inaugural IWW Committee accomplished this through a week of programming that culminated in an International Women’s Day Banquet. While some traditions have changed, the spirit remains the same. We have been honored to host many prominent women--scientists, educators, entrepreneurs, writers, activists, and poets. Programs like Open Mic Nights, Movie Nights, Photo Campaigns, and Workshops have revealed the ERC community’s rich stories and uplifted their unique voices. The ERC International Women’s Week Committee is always looking to innovate, collaborate, and evolve to better serve ERC and UC San Diego and will hopefully continue to do so long into the future.



Eleanor Roosevelt College's International Women's Week première literary magazine, a platform to support the voices of all womxn on campus.