THANK YOU We dedicate this issue of Jambalaya to our staff. We thank them for their early morning work days, for their resemblance to Ice Age characters, and for their never ending emails/texts/shouts all asking the same question: what else can we do? We thank Ms. Tally for her faith in new beginnings, both of the magazine and the editorial board. She embodies the ethos of Jambalaya, believing in talent and recognition, even for the simplest drawing of a dinosaur. We also thank Dr. Richards, Mr. Humphrey and Ms. Mizzel for their assistance in our production cycle. This trust and support has allowed Jambalaya to grow from just a publication to a movement within the high school. This magazine is an expression of everything we have learned and wanted to share with you. Without your submissions, we would not have anything to publish. So we thank you, dear Reader, for laughing at KTâ€™s awkward jokes, for trading your family photos from Belize for two cookies, and for writing love note after love note. We thank you for your support, whatever form it came in. We ask that you find a special spot on your bookshelf for Jambalaya, a constant reminder of the importance of writing and making art. Never forget that there is a place at ASL for every student, writer, athlete, dancer, actor, poet and artist. And that place may be in this magazine. We hope ASL continues to love Jambalaya as much as we have loved ASL.
Danna, Sophia, KT, and India 2011-2012
CONTRIBUTORS Jon Preddy Margot ThĂŠocharidĂ¨s-Feldman Gabriel Ruimy Elie Shields Katharine Sohn Maria Blesie Danna Elmasry Kamillah Brandes Diedre Ely Spencer Whittaker Holly Carter Gabi Bielsky Sophia Jennings Adam Kelly-Penso Emma Nealis Paige Norris Julian Nebreda Ellie Goldrup
Katie Kennedy Aaron Kelly-Penso Timothy Ryan Elizabeth Robertson Chloe Sappern Clement Gelly Greg Chan Andrew Bai Ian Robertson Kabir Sadarangani Asher Bohmer Caroline Tisdale Walker Thompson Alexandra Morris Jessica Haghani Kt Lee Josh Frydman
cover by Zack Nathan cat by Philippe Holodny
A Stephen Hawking Treadmill Experience Jon Preddy
Christmas Day, 2003. A wonderful day to be me. I was nine years old and had just gotten the fabled Lego Millennium Falcon building set as a present. As soon as I had finished my cheerful and simultaneous skipping, hopping, and yelling, my best friend Allen and I set to work. Our years of experience with Star Wars Lego aided us greatly and our structure’s resemblance to a spaceship could already be seen by the day’s end. Our path to intergalactic space travel was beset by many problems though. Countless times we had to search for that one small, yet essential, piece for hours on end only to find it underneath one of our knees. We also had to deal with frivolous things like sleep and eating, both of which took away precious time from our workstation. To make up for this we had to unfortunately direct all manpower to building the Falcon instead of playing with our usual toys (Beanie Babies, Gamecube, and so forth) that now lay neglected. Blood was spilled at that workstation. For a child’s toy, the corners of the directions manual are surprisingly sharp and in our haste our index fingers fell victim to pages 14 and 67. As the second week of January approached, the craft was spaceworthy and was ready to aid the Rebellion in its attacks against the Empire. Han Solo would be proud to fly her. Allen was already my best friend before the Millennium Falcon, but he became somewhat of a brother (technically, I suppose, a blood brother) with the many hours we spent laboring over the Falcon. Our new craft was ready to join the score of other Star Wars Legos we had already made, and with it we embarked on new adventures together. As we played with the Falcon more and more, Allen began to plead with me to allow him to take the Falcon home with him. He was my friend; of course I would let him. I was a little bit hesitant at first, but that was merely selfishness and Allen had
pieced together just as many bricks as I had. I gave it to him on the condition that he return it immediately the next morning. However, that was more a formality than any serious worry on my part, for the next morning Allen came to my house with it. Over the next week, Allen became more attached to the Falcon. I minded this a bit, but I began to worry as Allen returning with the Falcon missing a chunk in one hand and a baggie with the knocked-out pieces in another hand became a more frequent sighting. Each time we rebuilt it but for such a diligent builder Foreman Allen’s careless playing shocked me. There was a time where he would scold me when I put a piece in the wrong pile. Now no longer. The days of assorted piles were gone. The breaking point came during one of these rebuild sessions. As I was reattaching the left hyperengine to the ship I noticed that one of the essential pieces was missing. I didn’t know where it was. Allen sure as heck didn’t know where it was. In order to preserve the Falcon, I broke it to Allen that his having the Falcon at night would be put on hold for now. In retrospect, it was not the brightest idea to have told him this when he still had it. But alas, I was nine. Unsurprisingly, he refused and kept the Falcon for his own adventures. He boasted how he flew the Kessel Run with it in less than ten parsecs. Impossible! My star fleet is now missing a dear member thanks to this traitor. *** He has over twenty other Star Wars Legos! I guess he can’t see over the heap of Lego that I don’t have any. I didn’t want to steal Falcon but man, he just couldn’t see. He said, “Allen, where’s the Falcon?” Then he said, “Allen, what’s with the carelessness?” He always said, “Allen, where’s this piece man?!”
Sheesh. “Allen!” Shut up man. Then he said, “JAMBALAYA! JAMBALAYA! LET JON PREDDY JOIN JAMBALAYA!”. I don’t know what that was about. He doesn’t even appreciate Falcon. When I play with Falcon, Falcon is happy. You can hear it too! The engines sound much nicer when I play with Falcon. But when that guy plays with her: nothing. The joy is gone. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep Falcon for. His mom and my mom must be planning some joint-operation to reach it now for sure. I never know when they’re going to strike. From ground intel, I can infer that their most likely hours of operation will be at night. Sleeping has sadly been slowly replaced by night watches. During those nights, I lay in my bed, a victim to all the nightly noises that disturbed my room and my mind. In response to each noise I prepare myself for the possible attack. My breathing slows, but the bedsheets tighten around my body. My ears widen, and the noises scratch at my eardrums. My hands move to the top of the sheets – ready to counterstrike, but there is never an opponent to fight. My eyes open ever so slightly. All they are met with is darkness. Never knowing where they are, never knowing when they attack, my guard can never be let down. Well, at least I’m having a happy time right now. Falcon is too. She told me herself.
Rue St. Sulpice
Margot Théocharidès-Feldman I like living in Paris because the city understands me. It isn’t loud where I like to go and the boulevards are wide. I don’t like feeling cramped, I like the freedom of a certain silence and of large spaces. I never walk on the right bank of the Seine on Sundays because I don’t like seeing people coming out of the church. It angers me, so I walk on the left side where the vendors sell books in wooden shops and where I can smell the coffeed scent of writers hard at work, on terraces. All of the writers work on the terraces of la Rue St Sulpice. “Jean-François! Eh-oh! Viens, je lis quelque chose qui vas t’interresser.”1 I like walking down the left bank of the Seine because many writers know my name; writers like to share their thoughts and I like to listen. “Je suis en train de lire ce livre, “The Sound and the Fury’, d’un Americain. Tu connais toi?”2 “Oui, bien sur, je connais Faulkner.”3 “Oui voila Faulkner, c’est ça. C’est de la merde ce qu’il raconte, tu le savais?”4 Whenever I run into a writer he is either upset or overjoyed or angry or confused. Writers live in the extremes and pretend to write with subtleties. This writer was confused, but he didn’t know that, so he told me he was angry. “Euh, tu parles de son existentialism? C’est une idée c’est tout.”5 “C’est de la connerie.”6 It was too thought provoking and maybe too forward for Bernard to grasp, but he was a man so he had an opinion and he shared it because he was a writer. He didn’t like the book. I left Bernard with his questions because I was heading somewhere this Sunday morning. I had time to spare but not to waste. Philosophy never interested me, which is maybe why I never became a writer. I continued walking down St Sulpice. I passively scanned the books I passed on the shelves of the wooden boxes until something caught my eye. It was a small book with a blue cover and brown pages and an interesting title. I picked it up and looked
through the pages, for any grasping chapter title or a better indication of what this little book could tell me about how I lived my life. I put down “La Moralite: Etes-vous une bonne personne?”7 and walked down St Sulpice. Suis-je une bonne personne? I wonder if Baptiste Moravieu could have answered that question, but I didn’t want to pay 4 Euros 49 Centimes for a question I should be able to answer myself. Oui is the answer. I give money to the firemen when they come selling calendars. I give up of my seats and I toss coins into shrivelled hats. My morals conform to society’s, so oui, je suis une bonne personne. “(…) donnez, donnez, donnez. Pas seulement des choses ou de l’argent, mais des moments de bonheur, des moment de plaisir. Evitez de prendre et donnez tous ce que vous pouvez. Une bonne personne s’occupe de tous et s’occupe de soi meme.”8 I turned around and bought the book just to make sure I was right. I walked past the line of cafés and left the writers behind. I knew I would turn left after the 3rd stop sign because an old gallery stood there, and I had been down that road before. I knew there was a bakery with a missing ‘S’ on the name, so it sounded like “patizerie”, which was silly really. I knew I would see the butcher’s shop followed by the florist followed by that cheap gadget shop followed by a crosswalk. I knew because I had been down that road, and because it made sense. I was only at the expected second stop sign when I saw an old man with a dark brown wood cane. He limped slowly to the corner of the road where I was standing, and his face looked strained with effort as he was staring at the ground. I would become this man, strained, tired, and old. I too would become bones and skin and muscle and thought, surely, although dwindling, accessorised with clothing and a cane. And then those too would be gone, and I would be nothing but bones and skin and muscle and thought in a bed. And then after that, just bones and skin and muscle. And in a little while, not that it mattered, I would be nothing at all. How much did I matter? I didn’t. I took one step then another between the two stop signs but these steps meant nothing. Just like two steps my lifetime meant nothing, from birth to death and all in between I meant nothing in the realm of the uni-
verse. I turned left after the third stop sign. Why ponder upon such things if we are meaningless? Why live, then, if we are meaningless? Are we an experiment, a toy? God’s puppets, dolls manoeuvred under the fingers of fate and anything or everything else intangible and too great to comprehend? Why bother go through hardship when at the end of the day we are placed back into boxes and stored, placed into coffins? I walked past the patizerie. I am confused like Bernard but at least I know I am confused. I don’t like the questions but the confusion makes me real. No, I don’t know everything, and I doubt anyone out there does. I passed the butcher’s shop and the florist. I knew deep down that a God couldn’t exist because if he did I wouldn’t have these questions. He’d have told us by now, why keep the secret? There was a secret, but the secret was that he didn’t exist and never did, the secret was the hope people had of seeing their loved ones after death. Of being rewarded for being good people. Of having an answer, an explanation. Of having a purpose, where as truly we didn’t have one. I passed the kitsch gadget shop. I don’t know why I thought of such philosophical things. I preferred being simple to being confused. I walked down that street for a little longer until I arrived at my appointment. I had to see the ophthamologist because sometimes from far away things were clear, but when I got closer they became blurred. His name was Dr. Dantonne and he wore only blue ties. He didn’t wear glasses. “Bonjour. Asseyez-vous.”9 “Merci.” “Donc, racontez-moi un peu quel est ce problème? Vous n’avez pas eu de problème avant… certes? Vous ne portez pas de lunettes encore?”10 “ Non. Non. En fait, Mr. Dantonne, le problème c’est que de loin tout va bien. Enfin, ça c’est pas le problème, de loin c’est plutôt clair et je suis heureux. Le problème, c’est quand je m’avance, tout devient très confus. On dirait qu’il y un brouillard au dessus de ma vue, je n’arrive plus à comprendre ce que vois. Je préfère rester à distance, c’est plus facile.”11 “Oh, c’est un simple problème de hypermetropie.”12
“Hypermetropie?” “Oui, quand vous ne voyez pas bien de près et vous préfèrez rester à distance. On peut changer ça, vous pourriez vous approcher et voire clairement, et apprecier! Oui, vous approcher et apprecier.”13 “Jean-François! Hey! Come, I’m reading something that’ll interest you.” 2 “I’m reading this book, “The Sound and the Fury”, by this American author. Do you know this guy?” 3 “Yeah, of course, I know of Faulkner” 4 “Yeah, Faulkner, that’s right. What he writes is crap, did you know?” 5 “Hum, you’re talking about his existentialism? It’s just an idea.” 6 “It’s bullshit.” 7 Morality: are you a good person? 8 “(…) give, give, give. Not only objects or money, but moments of joy, moments of pleasure. Avoid taking and give all that you can without hurting yourself. A good person takes care of all and takes care of himself.” 9 “Hi, please sit down” 10 “So, explain to me a little bit what the problem is? You haven’t had any problems before… right? You haven’t worn glasses before?” 11 “No. No. Actually, Mr. Dantonne, the problem is that from far away everyone is alright. Well, that’s not the problem. From far away all is good, I can see from a distance, it’s pretty clear and I’m happy. The problem is when I get closer, everything becomes very confusing. It’s like there is a fog over my vision, and I don’t understand what I’m seeing. It frustrates me. I prefer staying at a distance, it’s easier.” 12 “Oh, it’s a simple problem of short-sightedness.” 13 “Yes, when you can’t see very well from up close and you prefer staying at a distance. Don’t worry, we can change that. You will be able to get closer and see clearly, and appreciate it! Yes, get closer and appreciate.” 1
Special Place: Window Sill Gabriel Ruimy Every child has a dream. It could be flying, it could be having super-strength, it could be shooting lasers out of one’s eyes. Mine was to be all of those: my dream was to become Superman. Yes, the hero who wore red underwear over a blue tight suit had mesmerized me and, in turn, created this unquenchable desire to become him - minus the tight suit, of course! Day by day, I’d sit on the windowsill, looking at the cloud-streaked azure sky, and think to myself, “Who the hell created the sky for humans to gaze at without the wings to fly? Who would think of tantalizing human beings in this way? A rather complex train of thought for a boy whose voice still sounded like Justin Bieber’s “Baby”, not to mention his life was at the will of the wind. Standing on the windowsill, I remember thinking to myself that I would fly! And that the first time I would fly I would be wearing a skintight jumpsuit, adorned with a bright red S and the signature underpant-overpants. The wind that was caressing my face with its comfortingly frigid hands would be witness to this historic occasion. The sun, sparing its last rays of the day, would testify for years to come that it had in fact seen a boy fly! Yet under me, in our small garden, shrouded in green foliage, a circular glass table seemed to taunt me. I chose to ignore it. Although the new spring in Paris brought with it strong gusts of wind, I knew that these offered no danger to an aviary creature like me. The sun was starting to retreat to the
other side of the world, ostentatiously splashing the sky with shades of orange, purple and pink. The wind was starting to make itself even more present, as if Aeolus himself had come to witness this moment. And even though the cold was starting to bite my bones, and it was amply evident to me that it was time to fly. The only sound I heard as I gingerly lifted my left foot off the windowsill was the rustle of my cape in the wind. But, what if ? And then it happened: a gust of wind caught my foot, sending me lumbering like a drunkard into an obsidian-black sky. And, as I was about to end up as Gabriel-flatbread, or the first Superman since Superman, a hand yanked me back inside. “What the hell is wrong with you!” screamed my brother Alex, “And why the hell are you wearing a Superman costume!” “I’m going to fly, Alex,” I said, rattled but unwilling to show it. “And the Superman costume is gonna help.” “No. You’re about to die, and you’re going to die wearing a tightsuit.” With that he stormed off, without even claiming I was in his debt for saving my life. And though I had evaded the agony of being lacerated by sneering shards of glass, I felt I had lived through something even more painful: the irreparable horror of a child’s dream shattering.
Maria Blesie Maria Blesie
Swipe on some chapstick, Watermelon Lip Smackers.
7:00am. Wake up. The alarm rang fifteen minutes ago but you kept slapping the snooze button in fury. Slide out of bed with eyes still closed, walk into the bathroom and turn the shower on. Stand in the shower and allow the steam and scorching hot water to envelope your body. Shampoo, rinse and repeat.
7:30am. Go to the cupboard and pull out Frosted Flakes. Douse it in milk and begin to eat. Stare at the clock on the wall frozen at 3:45. Decide it is too soggy to be edible and leave it in the sink, barely touched. Grab your backpack and wait for the school bus.
7:15am. Stand in front of your closet examining your clothes. Water drips from your body and creates a blot on the floor. There are plenty of things to wear, but it’s all boring. Whatever. Throw on jeans and a sweatshirt. Swing your hair into a messy bun and let it rest there. Stare at your reflection in the mirror. Use cover-up to hide the volcano-like cystic acne on your face.
8:00am. Arrive at school. Carefully get your books from your bottom locker as you dodge the rude shoving people and whacking backpacks. Avoid the girls who have sarcasm plastered on their faces. Smile at that kid whose name you don’t know but who says “Hi” to you every morning. Make your way through the network of hallways, carving through the mass of bodies. Go to class. 11:15am. In class. Take notes meticulously. Dare yourself to not stare at the clock for as long as you can. Take off your shoes and swing your feet under the chair. Receive a weird look
from one of the sarcastic girls when she sees the doodles and poems in the margins of your notes. Smile back. Receive a completely fake one in return. 12:45pm. Lunch. Stand in line at the over-crowded cafeteria. Watch as the people ahead of you receive unidentified mush that is supposedly “Saturday Surprise.” Wonder: if they didn’t know what it was on Saturday, why would they serve the same mysterious glop two days expired. Cringe as the toxic-looking grey substance is shoveled onto your tray. Smile in thanks, remind yourself to bring a lunch next time. Enter the seating area, and scan the tables to find somewhere to sit. Feel as if a thousand condescending pairs of eyes are penetrating you. Stomach churns with uneasiness. Watch and listen as the web of high school gossip is woven from table to table. Think you’re going to throw up. Decide eat your lunch in a nearby abandoned hallway. Take a few bites of the glop and feel it congeal to the roof of your mouth. Spit it out and throw away the grey goop and scrunch your nose as it desperately clings onto the tray before falling into the garbage. Do your homework that was assigned today. Go to class. 3:05pm. Class is dismissed. Grab your books and once again brave the swamp of people. Take a deep breath as you finally exit the sliding glass doors. Get on the school bus. Put in earphones to drown out the annoying lower school students. Your iPod is out of battery. Keep the earphones in anyway. 3:45pm. Arrive home. Eat the apples and peanut butter Mom prepared. Answer her habitual questions unenthused. Start your homework. Laugh at the fact that you do homework due several days in advance.
Try not to let the patheticness of it get to you. 6:00pm. Eat dinner. Push the food around on your plate and spell profanities with your peas. Brothers fight for your mom’s attention. Brothers fight with each other. Excuse yourself from the table and retire to your room. Do more homework. Watch videos on YouTube of people falling off things and funny cats. Read that book you put off reading. Reorganize your sock drawer. Go on Facebook and stalk that person that you haven’t talked to in months. Quickly scroll past posts from kids at school. 10:00pm. Change into a camisole and flannel pants. Pack your bag for tomorrow. Wash your face and brush your teeth. Take acne pills, slather a thick white cream on your face. Crawl into bed and box yourself in with pillows. Shift position. Think about what you have to do tomorrow. Flip over pillow. Fight back tears from an unknown cause. Seal your eyes shut. Try not to think. Stay awake for hours until you can’t hold onto consciousness any longer. Go to sleep. Repeat.
The Uprooting Deirdre Ely
The road once stretched out for miles snaking its way across the sun-blown landscape while this town hung from it like a grape off of a vine sweetly waiting in the shimmering desert for the guests that never returned. Its products now sit withered, devoid of the forgotten life that once existed. Our small life. An old man used to sit there in a mahogany rocking chair watching us run over that infinite tarmac covered in moon dust and music daring each other to run farther out of sight to break the bonds that held us so close. We never went far, the man acting sentry to our innocence protecting us from the worldâ€™s raking hands. A lot of the time we would wait trying to spot the dust trails of cars in the distance like mirages in the now wrinkled road. Only once did I ever spot that twirling dust. I sat for hours there willing it to come closer to take me away from this closed existence, not knowing the consequences of leaving that shanty-town of ours. I did leave
kicking up the dust in my dirt painted Ford through that splintering town and finally past the old man watching while I drove past. I thought I almost saw him raise an arm willing me to stop, to stay. When I looked back he was gone only the mahogany rocking chair remaining. I shouldâ€™ve stopped then gone back to that drying oasis. But I kept driving along that cracked road while the dust and glimmer of the desert ate that town whole, leaving only a memory and my torn roots.
The Milk Maid Holly Carter
Nobody believes that I’m a prophet! I’ve written to all the farmers, pleading for them to take God into their lives. I went through town with a bell, trying to save the residents from their damnation. I go to the Father constantly. I think he is pleased to see me. from Gogol’s Diary: Of a Madman. Adam Kelly-Penso
Title by Someone Lastname
Secret Garden Anonymous
Throwing Rocks Julian Nebreda
When I was ten years old me and 3 friends destroyed a car. I invited them over to my house to play. At the edge of our garden, a cliff went to the street, and a black convertible stood there, untouched. The edge cut the green grass and turned it into red rubble. A fall almost vertical, with only a line of meager bushes to stop us from reaching the edge. Under the fall there was a road, and a car, and the rest of the city in the distance. Buildings spotted between the green hills, some close and some far, but we only saw the car. We grabbed rocks and threw them at it. Itâ€™s hard to remember who threw a rock first, I can only remember silence. We somehow made a quiet yet meaningful agreement. The kind that becomes less and less common with age. After standing looking at the cliff, and the red rocks, and the road, and the car for 3 minutes we started panning the
ground carefully and dusting off the good rocks, examining them like archaeologists, some too big, some too small. The whole ordeal was very experimental, the impartial laws of the universe continually astounding us as we tried throwing at different angles, different strengths; sometimes straight up, with a delay and a final crash leaving deep dent on the top of the car, sometimes throwing directly at the car window or door which slowly dented and cracked. We spent two hours there, slowly turning a black car sitting on the side of the road into something that looked alien, almost malleable, soft. We worked with a sort of cold precision, the only noise was of the rocks hitting the car and the pavement, soft thuds and metallic clinks even taking on their own rhythm. We stood at the edge of a cliff. We threw red rocks carefully picked from the ground. We didnâ€™t talk to each other. We
could feel a pull from the hillside, an immensity in the landscape that made us want to jump. We couldn’t fly, so we threw rocks and we destroyed a car. After two hours the car looked like it could never be used again. The road, once a strong black, was now unevenly covered with red dirt and rocks, whose shapes and outlines told stories of explosions almost volcanic. The force of our violence could be measured precisely in those marks, in the dents in the car, in the speed of those rocks. However the second we stopped it all looked distant, like a picture of oneself as a baby. We knew it was us, but it was hard to believe we had existed and were captured, obliviously, in the frames of a photo or in the cracks of a car window. It was all there, and we knew that somehow it had all made sense before. We walked away from the cliff and went off to play another game.
In a few days blame would reach us for the car and we would all be severely punished. We all repented and said we were sorry. When my parents asked me later what I was trying to do I could only say, “I don’t know, I guess I wasn’t thinking.” As comfortable as that might feel, I know its a lie. I was thinking about the hill, I was thinking about how high I felt and how red the rocks seemed, I was thinking how the car looked, I was thinking how the car could look. I was thinking about destruction. The same sort of sick curiosity I felt when I melted plastic spoons on birthday candles, the same satisfaction of watching the plastic dance and bend over the flame before becoming liquid and slowly evaporating.
The man in front of me in the line for security at O’Hare airport was not shy to share his feelings about airport security. “Being forced to take off my shoes so a wackjob pervert can feel me up is totally un-American.” I’ve always viewed the process of putting my Chapstick in a Ziploc bag as a mere inconvenience. In fact, having to chug a Gatorade at Security in front of a hundred-odd strangers while barefoot is kind of a thrilling experience. My feelings were altered a bit when security precautions grounded my flight from Chicago to London stretching the manageable three-hour layover to a mammoth 27. I was alone, 15 years old and in one of the worlds most interesting cities. Naturally, my expectations for the day in Chicago involved catching fly-balls at Wrigley, driving a beautiful sports car and singing “Twist and Shout” on a parade float. I ended up pretending to be asleep on my Grandpa’s couch, just so I didn’t have to talk to his crazy girlfriend. The reality of the situation was that I was only 15 and the logical thing to do would be to spend the night at my Grandpa’s house just 30 minutes away from the airport. Logic, however, was blind to a few family quirks. No one had stayed the night at my Grandpa’s house for over 12 years – my mother speculates this is down to the decline in the mental health of Abigail, my Grandpa’s girlfriend. The hesitancy in my mother’s voice when the idea of me staying with my Grandpa came up was a shock to me. Abigail’s alcoholism and loosening grip on reality were largely hidden from me. Nevertheless, after waiting an hour browsing through the issues of Sports Illustrated in Hudson News, a beige sports sedan rolled up to the curb of O’Hare Terminal 3 with a familiar face in the driver’s seat. After placing my bags in the trunk, I gave my grandpa a hug. He smelled of shaving cream and wood polish. The ride back to the house was fruitful; my Grandpa is a very
honest man and sometimes if I’m not paying attention I will confuse him for my father. He asked a lot about my time at school and always had a sports opinion he was willing to share. It wasn’t until the car gently came to a stop that I realised I was uncomfortable. The last time I stepped foot in my Grandpa’s house I was six and left crying after breaking a vase during a game of hide-and-go-seek. The house is full of priceless trinkets and kind of resembles what it would look like if the History Museum had to pack up and move into a house. It was dense and stuffy and had a particular distaste for natural light. As I lifted my bags from the trunk, Abigail’s voice screeched a hello from across the lawn. I went up to hug her; her face was weak and tired. Flesh was clinging to bone in the shade of her sunhat. “Welcome,” she said. “It’s been way too long.” Her hand was shaking while she stroked through my hair. She pointed upstairs as I walked in the door. “You’ll be staying in the study,” she said. I knew there had to be more than one bedroom in this monstrous suburban home, but I would be staying in the study. The rest of the house was very much as I remembered it, however this was the first time I ever noticed the oppressive maroon colour scheme. As I came back down the stairs, I saw my Grandpa’s beige sedan roll back out of the driveway. “Another meeting,” Abigail said. Grandpa had been involved in local politics and for the five years he has held the position of the district’s treasurer. “I bet you’re starving,” Abigail said. I nodded. She then suggested a local restaurant down the street named Alfred’s: an offer that I enthusiastically accepted. The restaurant had been a bargaining chip my parents would use to get my brother’s and I to hop in the minivan to visit our grandparents. “Just think, we can go to Alfred’s afterwards” was always the pep-talk By the time we had left the house, the sun was straddling the
Ellie Goldrup horizon and shot out a pink glow in all directions. The summer air was sweet with the smell of flowers; the sound of sprinklers on dry lawns whispered in the early evening silence. Abigail posed questions that she had never been able to ask me before. This was our first adult conversation so her attention was clearly focused on school, what I want to be when I grow up and most importantly for her, my love life. I think I was going to have the cheeseburger, or maybe the chilli dog. We took a few minutes to mull over our decisions in line before we ordered. While I was explaining the difference between a milkshake and a malt, Abigail’s face tensed. Two African-American teenagers walked in sporting their Northwestern sweatshirts and a matching set of flip-flops. “I don’t like this,” Abigail said. She grabbed my arm, tighter than I would have liked. “What are you talking about?” I said. She stuffed her wallet back into her purse. “I just don’t feel comfortable with those, those people over there. They’re going to rob us I just know it.” I guess I was too confused to convince her otherwise in time. Maybe I
didn’t know what she was talking about, or maybe I was just too shocked to fully register what was going on. “We have to go,” she said. Her grip on my arm was bordering on painful as we left the restaurant without ordering. The only words she could say on the way home were: “bad idea, bad idea.” She paid no attention to her neighbours’ sprinklers as we walked straight through them. I had to change shirts when I got back. The next morning my Grandpa drove me to the airport, I said I had to be there four hours earlier than I actually did. I sat and had a meal at the A&W restaurant and ordered a Chilli Dog.
Christmastime Katie Kennedy
December 25th, 2008. He had just turned five, and the universe was not heliocentric, but Sean-centric. To him, the Good Guys and Bad Guys game he played in the hotel pool that day in his bulletproof vest (his neon orange lifejacket) should have been the front-page story of the New York Times. JAMES BOND KILLS ALL THE BAD GUYS, the headline would say in his exact words. These “bad guys” that Sean was shooting in his James Bond alter ego were actually just strangers at the resort trying to enjoy the tingly cool water under the blazing Singaporean sun. The new Mario Nintendo DS game, Pokemon picture book, and Lego Star Wars 7877 star fighter that he got that morning from Santa Claus should have been on the second, third, and fourth page. The following pages should have included the food he ate for breakfast, an editorial about banning the use of sunscreen on children due to it being “icky, sticky white stuff that makes me have to wait to go in the pool,” and anything else he mindlessly chatters about. If there were any room left in the paper, maybe he would put in an article about how his seven-year-old brother Patrick nearly got hit by a car while crossing the street. Only if there was a page to spare. No matter how narrow his perception of the world, the brilliant glow ever present on his face made me want to keep it that way. It was as if the gleaming solar system lived inside his crooked, milk-white teeth, and the stars winked whenever he grinned. That special grin. Sean’s rare mountains were only molehills to the rest of the world and could always be solved with a yell to Mom or Dad and a glue stick or a reprimand directed at me or one of my older brothers. (“You know how he gets when you eat his favorite cookies and ice cream!” and “If you knock his spaceship off the table, then fix it!” being only about 1/100 of the total number of remarks.) The hum from the TV about the latest events in Afghanistan only ever acted as background music to his intergalactic alien battles, which could always be dropped and resolved at the call for dinner.
December 27th, 2010. He crunches through the dense layer of snow covering the frostbitten grass of our old backyard in Massachusetts. The same icy white cloak covers the bare spindly arms of the oaks and the invincible leaves of the evergreens. Nothing else is stirring. Sitting down alone in the vast field of ice crystals, he starts to robotically fill the mold with his mittened hands to make his igloo. He’s playing silently. Again. Last week, the fiery stars abruptly abandoned their home and the usual babbling that constantly escaped Sean’s lips ceased all together. It was when the security guard at Heathrow Airport took Sean’s James Bond water gun. It’s not the loss of the plastic pistol that drained the seemingly permanent joy from his face (he got a new one for Christmas), but the reason why. Now, he censors out words like “kill” and “war”, knowing how they make Mom jump, and takes care not to pester Dad when he’s staring at his congested computer screen of scribbled lines and tiny digits, his hands clutching the top of his head as if to keep its contents in. Though his imaginative games continue, they’re not the same. Instead of yelling out the incomprehensible victory cries of the Jedi Knights when they defeat Darth Vader, he thinks about Dad’s explanation to him from the day he lost his water gun. Whenever one of these showdowns ends, I can hear him whisper, “Everyone is happy. Darth Vader made everyone sad, and the Jedis could only kill him to make everyone happy again. Now there’s some jusplice,” he mispronounces. “But it might be gone soon. Darth Vader’s friends can make everyone sad again. Then the Jedis have to fight again.” Still alone and silent, he continues to pack snow into his mold. He cringes as the sharp winter wind smacks his exposed pearly cheeks. His pain hammers off a little piece of my heart. He’s starting to feel the cold.
‘“How far do you think I’m looking?” “Not as far as you think.” “How can you tell?” “Because I know you. You think that because there’s no indication of depth that there’s nothing to stop you from looking right to the end of the sky.” “Well, what’s to stop me?” “Well?”’ Aaron Kelly-Penso
From “Sun” . Danna Elmasry
The Porcelain Well
She got up, tucked her stool under the dining table and without a word, stumbled towards the staircase. With the little strength she had, she lifted her spindly legs to conquer the steps, one by one. As she reached the top, she stared ahead to the lonely white door at the end of the hallway, determined yet fearful. She crept along the wooden floor like a spider, her uncoordinated limbs flailing by her sides as her skeletal knees painfully banged against each other. As she reached the end of the corridor, she outstretched a shriveled arm and grasped the brass knob, but her numb and lifeless fingers could no longer feel the cold of the metal. As she summoned the last of her strength to twist the knob, she fell onto the tile floor, once again locked up in the stronghold of her shame. From then, she repeated her terrifying ritual.
Adjusting the little weight of her body onto her knees, she faced the toilet. Leaning over, she saw the reflection of her face in the water, dissatisfied. Her hair fell right into the liquid, but she had stopped caring a long time ago. She remembered the first time she had started this vicious cycle, coming late one night, after someone she barely knew had said something about exercise. She thought it ridiculous, even impossible, that a strangerâ€™s words were so powerful. How an audible thought, a mere sound wave, could damage her with such force, both physically and emotionally. Now, once again, she was on the floor grasping the sides of the porcelain well. With one hand, she reached up to her face, her fingertips taunting her lips. She slid her emaciated fingers into her mouth, like eels slithering into their caves, and tickled the back of her throat. Suddenly, a volcano erupted inside her.
The familiar noise invaded her ear-buds, the recognizable pain tormented her knotted gut, her body rattled and shook against the marble floor, and the bitter, acid taste, not long-forgotten, returned to her mouth and tortured her taste-buds. She collapsed, weak, yet disturbingly pleased. Pleased with herself for having undergone suffering in order to better herself. Pleased with the little amount of food she forced herself to swallow, which ended in the right destination, yet out the wrong exit. Pleased yet absolutely crippled. She now lay dazed, weak, hearing nothing but an eerie silence, not even the secretly desired sound of her so-called loving parents, rushing up the stairs to save her.
eN or ris Pa ig
Halations Clement Gelly
I remember I rode a bus once at around eleven at night. I remember there was a woman several seats away. I remember wondering what she’d thought of what I’d done, and then trying to convince myself I didn’t care, but I did. I do. I remember that I felt a dirty, grating anger, like trying to light a spent match. And when my anger passed, that was all I was, a spent match, fragile and without substance. A husk of thin emotions. I remember a ball of gum flew past me and hit the wall next to my right ear, and I could see it and hear it so clearly, and I don’t know why. The bus was slowing down. His arm blocked the bus aisle. “‘Scuse me,” the boy said. The man looked up at him, grinned, and left his arm there. The boy said, “Fuck off,” and brushed past.
Something Clement Gelly
The whole cavalcade of Greek tourists, adorned to the teeth with cheap London tourist paraphernalia, started yelling at him. It was a chorus of “OHH”s and “‘AAY”s, a mixture of genuine anger, and amusement. As the bus came to a full stopped, he hooked his elbow around the stairwell pole, letting his own forward inertia swing him around the poll and down the stairs. Mid stair flight he stopped, panning around his upraised middle finger for all of them. His eye caught mine for a second, like the reflection of a stop light in the window of a passing car at night, that hangs on for just a little bit longer than it should, before sliding off forever. A piece of gum flew past his ear, from one of the tourists, and his face sort of twitched as it went by. He got off the bus. I looked out the window as the bus pulled away, and I saw him walk off, with his shoulders hunched and his hands in his pockets. He glanced back for half a second, and his eyes glinted in the street lamp.
Do I feel sorry for him? Do I think he was just another volatile youth? Did I see the masquerade of firmness on his face as our eyes met, or did I see the child inside of him gasping, clutching for something to hold onto, but everything coming off in his hands and tumbling down with him? Do I care? Do I even remember? They were big, greasy-haired tourists, singing loudly and “EEY”ing and “OHH”ing and catcalling to female bus riders for the duration of the bus ride I took with them. When I was getting off the bus, one of them had his arm across the aisle, and wouldn’t move it so I pushed past and told him to fuck off. On the stairs going down, I slowed down enough to give them all the finger, provoking a louder chorus of yells and insults. Someone spit a piece of gum at me, and missed by inches. I could see its many sulci and gyri, and the tiny dot of spit it left on the plastic wall of the bus stairwell. I stepped out of the door. The chorus faded away. When the bus pulled out, I glanced back to see if any of them had got off, or were looking at me from the window, but no one was. The street seemed so silent. I walked up Baker Street, and turned west onto Dorset. I sat down on a concrete bench. I leaned my chin on my palms, and my elbows on my knees. My knee was shaking. I rubbed my eyes, and then sat there for several aminutes. I pressed my palms against my cheeks, and breathed in through my nose as I slid my hands and fingers up my face and through my hair, and then I got up and walked home, the halations of street lamps undulating in my vision. I don’t care in the slightest what those tourists thought of me. I do care, for some reason, about what that woman thought of me. Maybe I don’t want to be another dismissible vulgarity, bulked in with the rest of the occupants of that bus. Maybe I can’t allow that, because that is not what represents me. Maybe the only impression I left on her was a tiny dot of spit on the plastic wall of her mind; for all my ruminations, I realize I had only this one shot of proving to her or myself that I wasn’t just like them, but all I did was make a little tick noise and fall to the ground.
Kamillah Brandes Promise me You’ll plant flowers Over my grave That you won’t miss me too much Just right Just enough
Keep me close But not too close
Just the way I would like And remember me But not completely So I can blur and diffuse Into the soft autumn light
Think of me in the blue hour And when you touch soft cold silk When you smell roses Or when you’re about to Lose yourself
Title by Someone Lastname
Her Little Girl
2011. She’s busier than ever before. She departs for work before you wake up, and comes home late at night. You are now buried deep in your four-equation system. “Knock knock.” You involuntarily glance at the clock and then at your door. “Come in,” you call casually. She opens the door and her face lights up when she sees you. “Hi,” you say. Hurry; get back to your system of equations. Try not to forget the number you had just calculated. Jot it down quickly. She asks how your day was and sits on your bed. “Good,” you say, your eyes never leaving your math problem. You wonder if you’ll fail the test tomorrow. She wants more details about your day. You don’t give them to her. You don’t have the time or the energy to recall your day. Her Blackberry vibrates. You look up from your paper, cluttered with numbers and look at her. She’s still
sitting on your bed, her fingers punching her phone furiously. She puts down her phone and meets your gaze. You flash each other a small grin. You tell her that you have to study and that you’ll tell her about your day later. “Okay,” she smiles. She gets up. She walks to the door. She closes it. “Click.” 2009. There is an earthquake in Southern China and 50,000 were killed. Your mom was in China the week before. You thank the Lord. They call you to the living room. You and your sister sit down; you on the recliner, her on the couch. This can’t be good. You tap your heal impatiently and bite your nails. So much for trying to stop that habit. You look at your sister. She’s glued to her new phone, and she couldn’t care less about these family meetings. Look at your mom. “What is it?” you
ask. “We’re moving to London,” she says. Look at your Dad. Stop biting your nails. You shake your head. “What? When?” Your sister drops her phone. 2008. You beg and plead for a Facebook. She gives in. You friend everyone you know; school friends, camp friends, neighbors, and most importantly Sophie and Janine, your two best friends from England. You have no idea what they look like now, but you search for their names and find them. They’re excited to hear from you too. You feel closer to them now, like they don’t live across the ocean. You talk to your friends all day. She walks in and closes your computer. “No more for today. Go read a book,” she says. You obey. 2007. Rest your feet on the dashboard. She will tap your legs and tell you to put them down. She will say, “I missed you so much this week. The house felt empty with you away at camp.” Don’t say anything. She will ask if you are okay. “Sweetie?” Don’t say anything. Stare out the car window, at the Michigan Pines, thinking about climbing them and never coming down. Try not to think about Courtney. Try not to think about the hour-long conversations and the sleepovers. Just try. “Holly? What’s wrong, sweetie?” Try to stay composed. You can’t. You start to cry. You tell her everything about camp. You tell her how excluded you felt. You tell her about how your best friend ditched you. She pulls the car over, and holds you close. Your tears leave a dark spot on her shirt, but she doesn’t mind. She kisses your head, and you never talk to Courtney again. 2005. It’s the first day of 4th grade. Shake Mrs. Cucinella’s hand. Introduce yourself. She scares you for the rest of the year. You search diligently for your best friend’s name on the homeroom roster, but you can’t find Michelle Vander Lugt anywhere. Crap. Tell your mom that this year is going to be terrible without Michelle in your class. She helps you unpack your colored pencils, and your notebooks. “Look, Holly,” she says and points to the nametag on the neighboring desk, “Try to make friends with this girl Courtney. Try to branch out.” A girl walks in with her mom and sits at Courtney’s desk. She asks your name. You are instantly friends and your moms make small talk. Your mom wishes you a successful day and kisses you goodbye.
2001. It’s the end of July and you’re moving to England with your mom and your sister. Your dad’s company is still in Michigan, and he can’t come. You’re at the airport and it’s time to say goodbye. He picks you up and holds you amidst the crowd of travelers. Your five-year-old arms are wrapped around his neck so tight that you almost choke him and your head is slung over his shoulder. Tell him directly in his ear to come with you. Though it kills him to say so, he tells you that he can’t. Beg this time. “I’ll be there to visit you in no time,” he reassures. “It’s time to go, Holly,” your mom says. Never let go. They pry you off of him. Kick and scream. Don’t give up. It’s only a nine-month assignment, with frequent visits, but you can’t even fathom a week without him. Your mom drags you away. You reach for him, but all you grasp is air. The space between you and him grows and you notice that he is crying too. “I’ll be there in a month, pumpkin. I love you.” Terrorist attacks hit the United States. No one flies. Anywhere. You don’t see him until the following March. 2000. Throw a Blue’s Clues Birthday Party. You’re way too shy. Sit in your mother’s lap and force her to wear your birthday crown. Bury your face in her chest to hide yourself from the fiery candles and the mob of guests singing around you. 1999. It’s Christmas Eve. You make jiaotze with Grandma Ping for the first time and your dumplings look disastrous in comparison to her perfectly pleated bundles. “If you put too much filling in, they’ll burst!” she warns you. Mom is prepping a roast for tomorrow, and tells you stories about how your grandparents met during the Korean War. You don’t understand much of it. Then, you will make sugar cookies for Santa. Steel one and remember to put out carrots for the reindeer. 1998. Start pre-school. Cling to your mom’s leg every morning. Make it hard for her to leave. 1997. Mom gets a job at Ford Motor Company. Dad moves his company too. Goodbye Ohio, hello Michigan. 1996. Sleep, eat, cry. 1995. The wait is over, and you arrive. You are alive, you are healthy, and she can’t put you down.
this city is cold though not in the way the last city was, where the cold moved and icy winds would slip through what when you left home you were sure would be warm enough but somehow had several gaps in it by your tender unguarded neck wrists waist in this city the cold settles in and stays for a while and walking quickly to the bus stop you might be just fine but after days weeks months in it the spring begins to look like a headlamp running low on power at the end of a ventilation shaft several miles long there the cold was the foam of a fire extinguisher it descended with a rush from up north and enveloped all signs of warmth except a small amount of smoke that still rose from the chimneys barely peeking out through the thick white layer. it sat in drifts three feet deep that could barely be moved by the best modern technology had to offer in the field of spinning blades. here the cold is like gas from a fire extinguisher. it can stay in the air for a while and dampen the mood and signs of widespread human activity often found in cities (namely that there are people willing to walk around) but in the end it wonâ€™t leave a permanent mark, it wont make roves or branches collapse under its weight, and it wont last more than half the year it has been long since we last spoke longer yet since I saw your face and longest of all since while joking with you I was able to reach out and punch your shoulder or while sharing secrets that your boyfriend mustnâ€™t know I know leaning in closer would have more of an effect than leaning over my desk, the distance through the phone lines in no way diminished on another side of the world in a new place that I may never see I wonder what the cold is like for you
I walked along a path mid meadows gold That led me through the rustic countryside When I observed a piece of days of old A patchwork quilt of fields rock walls divide So I traversed the pastures long and wide Until I came upon a country lane With turning trees and stone walls at its sides Yet soon the dayâ€™s dim light began to wane And with the ancient sun thus falling fast I leapt into the quiet autumn wood And ran among the trees till at long last I found a ruin where a house once stood And peering from behind its chimney tall I gazed at my own home just oâ€™er the wall
Plate of Peas Alex Morris
Mom had let us stay up late that night. I could hear the faint buzz of our static TV playing cartoons for my sisters stolen off our neighbour’s satellite as I curled up on my father’s lap in our cramped kitchen. Grandpa was leaving early the next morning, travelling back through fierce winds and horizontal sheets of rain in order to board up the windows of his Pepto-Bismol pink one-story retirement house and store away his precious sleek new golf cart. My mom had begged him to stay in the comfort of Connecticut’s temperate weather, but he was stubborn that way. Yet he had seemed happy these past few days, playing kickball in the yard with us, tickling my sister’s delicate newborn belly, and I think I had even heard him laugh. But tonight he was quiet. As my mom and his second wife Rosetta exchanged recipes for apple crumbles and gossiped about that woman, you know, with the roots that could be seen a mile away, he sat without saying a word, pushing peas around his plate. When he excused himself, Rosetta urged him to spend a little more time with his family he hardly ever saw, but he just shrugged and said he was tired, may be he’d be back later. The wine kept flowing, but Grandpa never came back up. Men in uniforms rushed in and out of our house like waves, speaking furiously into their walkie-talkies. One smiled at me weakly, and ruffled my hair. Mom cried softly while my sister wailed, probably because of the need of a changed diaper rather than the circumstances. When they carried him up on a stretcher, mom lined us up to say what would be our last words to him: I love you. As the flashing red and blue lights reflected off our damp, pale faces, his plate of peas, now cold, remained untouched on the dining room table.
Social Jew Josh Frydman
Being Jewish is not something that I’ve ever thought of as being one of my defining features. I’ve never been a particularly religious person, despite going to Hebrew school for nine years and being bar mitzvahed. I’ve always felt a distance, and I don’t think that distance relates at all to an early-developed atheism, or a complete rejection of religion as a whole. I think it has everything to do with my environment growing up. My parents are not particularly religious people, and sending to me to Hebrew School was as much an obligation for them as it was a chore for me. Religion was basically nonexistent in the home. It only came into my life once a week when I had to get up on a Sunday morning, and trudge reluctantly to the West London Synagogue, to hear stories I didn’t understand and learn lessons I didn’t care about. I didn’t hate religion. I had no ill will towards Judaism or religious practices. I just had no connection to religion because I had no reason to. Going to synagogue each week was like another day of school that I was forced to go to, and as I continued to go, I learned to increasingly hate Sunday mornings. With that being my only exposure to Judaism growing up, I haven’t found myself in need of much religious fulfillment since. However, religion, it seems, is only a part of Judaism. To some, indentifying oneself as “Jewish” implies a deep devotion to the Old Testament and its teachings, and to God Himself. Though, to many others, someone who is “Jewish” is basically Woody Allen: brainy, introverted, fumbling, yet ultimately witty and charming. A Jew can say funny words like “tuchus” and “meshugana” and has retained the right to say “oy vey” whenever frustrated. A Jew is self aware, and selfdeprecating, and is fully conscious of all of his “foibles”. A Jew can make you laugh. This kind of Jewish person is what I’ve come to call the “Social Jew,” and though it may seem stereotypical, I know full well through family members and friends that this kind of person exists, and in large numbers. The Social Jew is a Jewish person that is noticeably Jewish through their personality
and demeanor, rather than their religious devotion. Social Judaism is a culture unto itself, and is proudly celebrated within the Jewish community. This is a kind of personality that I love, but with which I again feel a distance. A couple of years ago I tried to emulate the kind of Jewish characters I saw in movies and within my extended family, and I felt as if I was playing an over top caricature of what a Jewish kid was supposed to be. I realized that acting in that faux “Seinfeldian” manner felt as forced as going to synagogue and praying to hashem. While the Social Jews had developed their personalities naturally, through to their upbringing and surroundings, I was betraying my true self to try to be something I was not. And I found I didn’t have anything amusing to say about the petty annoyances of everyday life. I realized that I didn’t have witty comments to make about how I couldn’t talk to women. And I came to the conclusion that I didn’t have the right to make jokes about being Jewish, because I didn’t feel Jewish. Judaism didn’t have any bearing on my life in a religious or social sense, so what was I? I felt like an imposter. Recently, I’ve overcome this problem by realizing that a lot of my concerns were rather silly. For me, being Jewish doesn’t quite mean anything. It doesn’t have any religious bearing on my life (except for the annual Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur synagogue visit), and, as I’ve discovered, it hasn’t affected me socially. Being Jewish doesn’t imply something else about my personality, or beliefs. It is just something that I am, just as I am white or have brown hair. I feel slightly sad that it doesn’t have a larger significance in my life, but I don’t think that that’s really my fault. Were I to have grown up in a different time or part of the world, perhaps I would be more directly affected by my religion. But as it stands, I am a Jew, and there’s really not much more to it.