GAUGE F A L L 2 0 1 7 - G LO W
Photo by Sara Barber Model: Adam Ward 2
TABLE OF CONTENTS 4 Letters from the Editors 6 Ode to the Nightlight
by Renee Esteban
POETRY 10 Disaster Under the Night Sky
by Allison Rassmann
11 An Ode to the Boy
by Allison Rassmann
NONFICTION 21 Glowing Up
by Sara Barber
by Callie Bisset
28 A Neon Cityscape
by Bonnie Kwong
31 Toxic Afterglow
by Rachel Cantor
34 A History of Why We Highlight
by Britt Alphson
by Britt Alphson
by Rachel Fucci by Kenna McCafferty
14 Natural Light
by Kenna McCafferty
by Britt Alphson
FICTION 41 Made Possible by the Magic of Radium
16 grotesque festivities
by Magdalena Wierzbowski
17 You Keep a Rifle in Your Closet
by Kyle Labe
18 The Unabridged Stream of My Consciousness
by Magdalena Wierzbowski
by Gabriella Mrozowski
44 The Girls I Know
by Olivia Townsend
46 You Should 48 Etymology
STAFF CO - EDITORS IN CHIEF Sara Barber Renee Esteban
FICTION EDITOR Graham Crolley
FICTION READERS Sally Greene Elle McNamara Erin Sherry
MANAGING EDITORS Rachel Cantor Rachel Fucci
Callie Bisset Bonnie Kwong Kenna McCarfferty
HEAD DESIGNERS Laura King Samantha Stamas
POETRY READERS DESIGN TEAM Enne Goldstein Alessandra Sy Francisco Guglielmino
Lydia Albonesi Melissa Close Melinda Fakuade Andie Taft
MARKETING TEAM Natalie Harper Tess Rauscher Elle Sanchez Apryl Wilson
Audrey Conklin Melinda Fakuade Emily Hillebrand Inbal Kadim Talia Santopadre
PHOTO EDITOR Tarik Thompson
Samantha Branch Fiona Cheng Mana Parker Jed Shiheng Xu Amelia Wright
t’s difficult to glow when we don’t focus on the light—I’ve spent an abundance of my existence concentrating on our gloom and doom. Days sometimes fly by all at once and then drag again, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s that gravity keeps us grounded and capable of looking up. This lesson is especially applicable in our current climate; I think it’s crucial to acknowledge the chaos, as we did in our last issue, in order to revel in the glisten that we have been missing. Since I was a freshman on this campus, Gauge Magazine has given me an outlet to pour my soul and love into. It’s been a way to incorporate timely issues into creative means of expression. There is no filter on our experience and relation to the world around us. I’ve watched this publication grow and glow even brighter with every issue; it has been an honor to work with the many talented creators who make this publication possible. During my first semester in this position, I wanted to convey that this publication can always glow better. We have had the opportunity to collect a varying display of the world as it has been, as it is right now, and how it may be in the future. Regardless of where we end up, I hope we remember that without hope, there is only despair. This issue proves that we are all learning and glowing—one article, one photograph, one story, and one team at a time. Sara Barber Co-Editor-in-Chief
hen I was picturing all of the ways to interpret this issue’s theme, the insistent glow of my laptop at 3 a.m. didn’t really cross my mind. But I’ve been staying up even more than usual, and only part of it has been the result of this new magazine-running responsibility. Everything I do seems to hold more weight than it used to. When I finally do shut my laptop, the red light of my alarm clock pulls my gaze. Minutes tick by, too slowly and too quickly all at once, and I’m not sure that anything I’m doing is worth it. What is the point of all of this? I think that you can probably relate to this sort of anxiety. The point, I think, is one that glows in the distance ahead, urging you to continue, to keep being, no matter how painful it might be at times. For me, the strongest glow has come from the former Co-Editors-in-Chief, Rachel Cantor and Rachel Fucci. They have been the North Star, the streetlights, and everything in between. Without them guiding the path, you would not be holding this issue in your hands. It is their last semester at Emerson; this is the last issue to include the light cast by their words. You should know that the stories between your fingers are especially meaningful. The staff and contributors in this issue confronted the world and – perhaps even more difficult – themselves, in creating the pieces you will see. I hope you will be able to recognize their glow, and their point, and find your own. There is enough light inside of you to drown out the naysayers, or even just your own thoughts at 3 a.m. Renee Esteban Co-Editor-in-Chief
don’t know about you, but I’m scared out of my fucking mind. Most of this semester—this year, even—has been a nerve-wracking one for me and those that I’m closest to. The inauguration was enough to unsettle anyone’s stomach, and the events that followed it were just short of dystopian. Attacks on major news outlets, threats to women’s healthcare, attempts to forcibly remove immigrants from our country, notions of nuclear war, and violent rallies of racist groups have all flown across our collective radar in such quick succession that we are suffering from a national epidemic of whiplash. We’ve witnessed a series of natural disasters— devastating wildfires, historic hurricanes, and epic floods have torn through nearly every region of the United States. And in my own personal bubble of melodrama, I’m about to graduate, which sometimes feels like an undetected natural disaster. Everything that’s happening to me and the world around me feels so unprecedented in the worst way, and I’ve found myself sitting constantly on edge. If this sounds anything like you, I have one simple piece of advice: Find the people in your life that make you glow—you know the ones. They light up every room, and no matter how you’re feeling, every conversation with them is like walking on air. There’s a huge chance they won’t have the answers that you’re looking for, but there’s also a huge chance that after you’ve finished talking to them, you won’t need to ask anymore. In times like these, the only thing we can do is love one another, connect with one another, and give one another validation and support. I know I’ve lost my light at points throughout this semester, and I am filled with so much admiration and appreciation for the friends I’ve had who have sparked it back to life. Keep one another close and work together to keep your embers burning. I hope the next time I’m wandering through the dark, I see your light up ahead. Rachel Fucci Co-Managing Editor
his summer, most of the continental US witnessed a solar eclipse (in case you were literally living under a rock and didn’t know). That afternoon, millions of us paused to consider the star that keeps us alive. I borrowed eclipse glasses from a kind stranger on the Anderson Bridge over the Charles, and watched the shape of the sun behind the moon. To be honest, the east coast’s partial eclipse was nowhere near as spectacular as anything in the path of totality. But for me, the eclipse was about more than just the spectacle itself—it was also about the act of looking up, of turning our faces to a shadowed glow. There’s a lot of dark stuff going on right now. I won’t elaborate on that “stuff ”—I trust that you see it politically, personally, or otherwise. That’s why we’ve all got to keep turning to the glow, even—and perhaps especially—when it is shadowed. And look—you’re holding Gauge: Glow—you’re already glowing! See? It wasn’t that hard to find light. It really can be that simple: reading something, writing something, creating something. Though it’s never simple to put together a student-run magazine in a semester, I think Gauge’s staff has also found light in that difficult task. CoEditors-in-Chief Renee and Sara are stars to infinity and beyond, and all the staff and contributors’ work shines in this issue. It’s my last semester before I graduate Emerson and leave Gauge, and it has all been a challenging but brilliant journey. Wherever you are along your own roads, I’d like to remind you (and remind myself ) to pause for all that glows. Rachel Cantor Co-Managing Editor
e d O
re we scared of you, darkness? Or are we scared of ourselves? What monsters do we invent to lurk inside your embrace? What sinister sense do we inject into the outlines of the branches on the tree beyond our window, or the space shrouded in shadow in the corner of our room? What catches our breath about your stillness? What makes us twist your endless possibility into potential tragedy? What makes us so much more enamored with the light? The light holds the truth of what we can see. It seems that as long as there have been people on Earth—as long as there have been people to look up at the sky—there has been worship of the sun. From the beginning of our lives, there is a division between dark and light. From the gods of ancient times to the smiley faces that children draw on the yellow crayon
e h t o t
circles to represent the sun, we equate the light with goodness. But darkness is what lies behind shut eyes. It is the blank canvas that we paint across with our dreams— strokes of bloody red or watercolor pastels. We have to make our peace with it somehow, but the process is not an easy one. A fear of the darkness is almost an instinct; we are animals who curl up and hide when the moon comes out. Stories of things that creep in the night arise during our childhood, taking the form of the Boogeyman or the Big Bad Wolf. These stories never go away. They evolve from Chucky to Freddy to real murderers. This is why there is always a light in our bedrooms, even as we grow. First, it’s a nightlight. A spark that connects us to sun even when it sinks beyond the horizon. A soft glow that reassures a child that there is nothing under
lig ht By Renee Esteban Photography by Mana Parker Model: Charlie Tietjen
the bed, nothing in the closet. Whatever we chose the form to be—our favorite Disney character, cartoon, or dinosaur—we were the same. We were afraid of the dark. We still are. At a certain point—maybe it was eight, maybe sooner, maybe later—we “grew” out of our nightlights. We got too old. We decided, or we were told, that we were big kids. We didn’t need a dumb light bulb encased in brightly colored plastic to fall asleep. But surely, on that first night without it, the absence felt unsettling. So maybe we got glow-in-the-dark stars to stick on our ceiling, or a lava lamp for our desk. The source of light changed, the name “nightlight” was discarded, but the fear remained. We are no longer children, but we aren’t “grown up” by any means. We must painstakingly train ourselves to be without the light. To us, day is a realm of safety, of ease. Or is it? Many terrible things happen under
the sun, and many wonderful things happen under the moon. Why is it that we are able to separate the possible dangers of the day with our enjoyment of it? Why are we unable to think of the night in this way? Why is it that our own homes—our own rooms, our own beds—hold more fear for us than the world outside? We get older. We gain a wider grasp of all of the horrors that could possibly come for us in the dark, but have less means to deal with them than when we were children. Instead, we learn to deal with the unsettling feeling of a pitch-black room. Sure, maybe the red glow of an alarm clock lights a couple of inches of space, but is it the same? Does it ground us, or serve as a reminder of the minutes ticking by as we struggle to banish worries that we worried when we still had our nightlights? Does the glow from our cellphones become our
nightlights? The way they dimly illuminate our faces as we lay in bed can certainly be comforting. Through our phones, we have access to the welcome words of our friends, to the voices of the musicians we admire, to the images we find beautiful. Although this ability to connect us to humanity when we’re all alone can be grounding, it is also a gateway into the grim reality of the world we live in. It’s true that our imaginations only grow wilder. But we all know that we don’t even have to imagine. We have countless reports of crimes committed during the cover of darkness. Some unsolved, some where the criminals were
caught. It doesn’t seem to make a difference to our fear. But we also have countless reports of crimes committed in broad daylight. Is it more terrifying in the light or the dark? Is it more terrifying for your nightmares to stay in their realm, or creep into the place that you think of as safe? Maybe we stop needing nightlights because we grow to realize that even though our fear of the dark never truly dissipates, what we imagine to be in the darkness isn’t scarier than what’s right in front of us in the light. Maybe that thought is the one that makes it easier for us to close our eyes.
P P P P P P
O O O O O O
E E E E E E
T T T T T T
RY RY RY RY RY RY Section
by Allison Rassmann
A ship always sinks in slow motion. Nothing I need to do gets done. My legs ache like theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re fighting against the waves, like timbers about to snap, my tears the bilgewater: it always comes faster than you can bail it out. Heart-wrenching panic. nothing to do but watch and wait. The eye of the storm only exists if you live to see it. As the mast cracks it groans in a ship language no one understands and sings sad ship songs to itself. The last thing it does is split in two halves pointed at the sky, like a person rearing their head back in agony; the last thing they see is the stars. 12
an ode to the boy By Allison Rassmann I am not your mother, boy, no matter how much you want me to be. I will no longer wipe the smack-dab dribble from your chin and wonder how your real mother did it for so long. I won’t tell you to put those eggs back in the fridge, they’ll give you salmonella, because there are some things you should know by now, and when you are awake at night heaving up those bad, bad eggs, you will not blame me for getting you sick. I am not your mother, boy, not here for you ten months later when she still doesn’t love you, because some day you must realize you don’t own her and you don’t own me. Don’t think I’m your mother, boy, when you beg me for answers I don’t know. A drowning man drags everyone with him, and if I glow in the dark, it’s because I stay far back on the shore. If I were kinder I’d call you a fawn, scared and shambling on new feet, just a kiss and a nudge to put you on your wobbly way. You are not a fawn. You are twenty years old, and the only wobble you have is when you outdo yourself trying to acquire a taste for that grown-up whiskey, and if I were to nudge you, you would tip over and smother in a puddle of you. Pick yourself up. Find your own way out. Because when you are lost in the forest and forgot to lay the breadcrumbs on the way, I will leave the light on, but I will not guide you home. POETRY
by britt alphson
and here we are sitting in the quiet serenity of knowing all is said and done Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll love you always but I was taught to never state the obvious so I keep this flame burning hehind closed doors to which you have all the keys
Photo by Rebecca Yu
JEALOUSY by britt alphson illustration by enne goldstein
thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an envious green glow to your eyes and while every other night they assume the color of dirt of dusk of dehabilitation tonight your emeralds shine their green sun on me I feel the heat of you hating to see me feel loved
by Ke n Pushing up daisies and daffodil dust—Baby’s breath smells sweeter when he’s saying he loves me. Pulling petals and plump lips apart, dropping down dew—the rough blade of I love you falls faster than water on roots I wrang dry to the bone—wrapping round teeth and tones drowning out sodden groans of bells somewhere —ringing— taking tolls from the gold of my hand—bleeding cold, thorned thumbs leaf lazily through; blow wishes from dandelion crowns. 16
Phot na McC o by Rene affer ty e Est eban
"Set Me Ablaze" by Cassandra Martinez
by britt alphson we know this mad city will swallow us whole itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s better when we roam the side streets, thin the bottles that make us tell the truth I kiss your mouth like it holds validation we love in a hushed scream POETRY
i. deflated lungs decorate the aftermath of a celebration. chapped lips bleed wine. carpets are stained with the regurgitation of erasure and spilled confessions. we have a liquid breakfast. molars scatter the ground along broken glass. weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re bloated with apprehension. itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cemetery silence. ii. neon signs and twilights. we salivate gasoline and breathe fires after the third shot. ripped fishnets like cobwebs. beasts burrow themselves beneath your rib cage. we inhale ashes and welcome euphoria. we transcend our corporeal forms and have conversations with shadows. iii. morality anchors us down, but we inject ourselves with ichor. we feast on ambrosia and our hollow cheeks look back at us in bathroom stalls. we transform rotten corpses into gods.
"Traveling through Wonderland" by Mana Parker
by magdalena wierzbowski. 18
YOU KEEP A RIFLE IN YOUR CLOSET
You keep a rifle in your closet Amidst all the skeletons, it’s in a box. You said you wanted to go hunting with me; I’ve never shot a bullet But I never deny my God. How a man treats an animal is how He treats a lover, and you shoot for game, Butcher the meat and feed it all to me.
I’ve become a vegetarian now that There is a grizzly in plain sight. You’ll treat this bear to a round, at a bar, Slip her something and have your way behind the dumpster While I sneak to my alcove under the pine And shed all my skin in favor of fur. She reminded me of childhood, believing herself safe In her own home. I told you to spare the bear But you did no such thing. You cocked and aimed and shot— Who knew you had this bone in you— Did you steal it from one of your closeted cadavers? Later you would say it was a perfect opportunity. Even later you’d say I was overreacting, Too much to handle, as if I were your bloodhound pup Who just wouldn’t shut up, and scared off your quarry. I thought then I would shoot you. Hunt you down, let you see How it feels to be prey. May as well Kill every man I come across while I’m at it. I’ll set you on a meat hook Coated with hot salt to tenderize your tough heart. Do you now regret what you did Pompey, and I as your apprentice. I don’t fret over roadkill as I don’t fall in love: I ascend overtop And conquer. Rise so high To your zen heaven to find I’m not there. No worries, I’m perfectly fine with that: I’d rather be in Hell anyway. Because if Hell doesn’t have you It’ll be Heaven.
"he used to bring me flowers" by Cassandra Martinez
The Unabridged Stream of My Consciousness By Magdalena Wierzbowski
Illustration by Samantha Stamas
Vicious thoughts intrude unwelcomed. They sever blossoms and saturate my head with gasoline. Sounds spark and fires ignite decimation. Guilt vexes every corner and festers into sins. My mind, an elephant graveyard: scattered with bones of past lives and reeking of desolation. And when itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time to heal I will douse my heart in a jar of honey to vanquish the bitterness. I will dip my fingertips in creeks to extinguish the flames. I will soak moonlight into my skin to embrace the beauty of darkness. I will inflate my lungs with seeds for a garden to flourish. I will blacksmith keys so only gentle thoughts pay me visits. And I will glow through my suffering. 20
NONFICTION NONFICTION NONFICTION NONFICTION NONFICTION NONFICTION NONFICTION NONFICTION 22
GLOWING UP GLOWING UP GLOWING UP by Sara Barber Photos by Jed Shiheng Xu
alking down Harvard Avenue in Allston one day following the first year of my college experience, I determined that having been degraded and disappointed by enough men in my life, it was only appropriate that I would return the favor by shaving my head. My lifetime of long hair, lavished by the gaze belonging to any male, was spontaneously snipped short. After a knee-jerk jet into a barber shop, I no longer had a veil to shield myself from how the world saw me. A few days later, I complimented the buzz with a new nose stud, an opal opposite the hoop I had spent years convincing my mom to let me get. Coincidentally or perhaps frolicking in the freedom, this was my first summer living on my own. While my slightly older roommates had already become five-star chefs, I was struggling to serve up anything that took longer than a bowl of cereal to prepare. My part-time job at Starbucks and the 1.5 mile walk to the grocery store did not exactly make eating often easy. Without consistently provided groceries bought and cooked by my mother or the limitless dining hall options that may have incentivized my freshman fifteen, I began to shed the weight I had gained through the stress of my last year in high school and first year in college. When I returned to campus the following semester, many of my peers did not hesitate to voice their surprise with my revamped appearance. NONFICTION
When I returned to my hometown for the summer, the friends I had grown up with were also shocked at my “glow up.” I am not saying I was ugly growing up, but I am saying everyone told me I was ugly. Bright red zits cratered my face, I tweezed off everything but a line of my eyebrows (thin was in), and coated both sides of my eyes in thick black eyeliner. I cringe at mentioning the hot pink skinny jeans, band tees, and front bangs that might have easily hid my entire pimply face during the time my scene phase was at its worst. The friends that were on my Top 8 on MySpace loved me through my ugly, through Photo Booth pictures at the Apple Store and escapades through Hot Topic, and for loving me still I will be forever grateful. I will say I do feel elated knowing there are cherished friends I have made in the time since AOL Instant Messenger and the like that never knew my ugly. My outward appearance was often a direct indication of my mental health and self-regard. When I wasn’t feeling well I could stuff my face or distract the world from my body with some bold, horribly applied eyeliner. I like to think we become wiser with time, so when I started wearing clothes that flattered my shape and makeup that accentuated my natural features, I began to take pride in the way I looked. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and disregard, listening to what the world told me I was, I decided I didn’t have to be ugly. After I shaved my head I became fearless, like I had conquered it all. People were going to see me as I was and they were going to like it, or they weren’t. There was no way for me to change their
minds, and I had convinced myself that I had dealt with enough singeing-hot hate for myself, captured in cringe-worthy photographs from my tween years that it was time for a little love. I had glowed up in the sense that I became someone who enjoyed and appreciated their own existence. My best friend Pamela and I have deliberated the value in respected social treatment of physically attractive people. We have both lost a substantial amount of weight, the number and shape fluctuating around time and treatment of ourselves, and we came to the conclusion that people treat us as people more kindly, eagerly, and flirtatiously when we are slimmer and dedicate more attention towards our appearance. She says boys would hit on her at shows, men would catcall her on the street far more frequently, and her strut down the street recoiled with the onlooking stares. All of my experiences had been validated knowing the attention I received wasn’t always warranted. While I don’t particularly like the way people regard women in general, particularly when they appear “prettier,” I know what I have to gain from it. In a professional setting, I will prove myself more valuable by looking more attractive. I learn this in
my marketing class with advertisements that work, that capture everyone’s attention and prove an end result. If I think of my career like selling myself, my product is only as good as the packaging. I find this mindset slightly disturbing in the sense that I am not an object but a person despite what I am trained to think, but inadvertently or perhaps in spite of this condition, I put an abundance of effort into how I look, especially when I enter the office setting. My shortly snipped hair leaves no shield for me to disguise myself under; instead, it presents me exactly as I am. Overanalyzation has lead me to realize that when I look bad, it reflects on myself and it reflects on my work environment. No matter the dress code, I work to make it work. I have fermented into a blossoming adult that recognizes what will make me look good, feel good, and exert good charisma. When I was in my tweens, I was more anxious than I am nowadays and felt nowhere to channel my internal
chaos. It felt like a physical relief to fake looking good until I actually felt good. Appearance is nowhere near everything, but I consider it to be indicative of the way we carry ourselves. I now enjoy putting productive effort into my appearance because I don’t mind looking in the mirror or having people treat me with more respect. While I don’t get dressed up everyday per se, the days I’m not able to are typically because I am in a rush. Those days I feel frazzled because I wasn’t able to take the time to dedicate to myself and what makes me feel good. I have found that society perceives individuals in a certain way based on preconceived notions towards someone’s visual presentation. Knowing this, I aim to cater how I look into accomplishing the most that it can for me. In turn, I’ve taught myself to appreciate the way that I look and dedicate the time towards ensuring my appearance is something I can take pride in. NONFICTION
s I circled my way through the Mystic Connecticut Aquarium, taking in all the sights and colors, I found myself constantly drawn back to the jellyfish exhibit. As a child, my granddaddy called me his “little jellyfish.” At the time, I wasn’t quite sure why. Jellyfish didn’t appear cute or snuggly like sea otters, or even cool and dangerous like sharks. Instead, they were just the slimy creatures I tried to avoid walking on with my barefoot beach feet. Jellyfish stung. But, as a twenty year old staring at the light radiating from the jellies, I began to understand my childhood nickname in a new way. Though some associate jellyfish with being weak or docile, they are also known for their ability to survive. As I watched the jellies float around their circular tanks, I became most enchanted by their magnificent glow. This glow is described in scientific terms as bioluminescence, which refers to the light produced by a chemical reaction in an organism. This chemical, luciferin, is generated in different species and allows them to produce this luminosity. In Attola, a type of deep sea jellyfish, this means that they can ward off predators with their bright light. This light can shine over 300 feet away. While many creatures use bioluminescence as this sort of a defense mechanism, it has several purposes in nature and scientists still don’t fully understand it. Some creatures even use their bioluminescence to attract
by Callie Bisset their prey to the light. Bioluminescent creatures are also the primary source of light in the ocean, and sailors often use the illumination from these creatures to see their way in the dark.Through the years, sailors have always been drawn towards bioluminescent creatures and the usefulness of their glow. Foxfire has been used to illuminate the barometers on submarines. During World War II, the Japanese military even harvested bioluminescent creatures to use their luminosity. The luminosity acted as a light, but due to its dim nature it did not give away the soldiers’ location. Thankfully the war ended before the application was ever used on a large scale, and no similar attempts have been made in the modern world. Today, bioluminescent creatures can be observed in aquariums, as well as their natural settings. Many scuba divers go out with the intention of seeing the wondrous glow. But they aren’t seeing as many of these glowing species as they once did. In fact, scientists have growing concerns about the future of bioluminescent creatures, particularly dinoflagellates, the bacteria responsible for illuminating many bioluminescent waters. In 2014, Puerto Rico’s Mosquito Bay, noted for its bioluminescent water and described as a “wonder of the world,” grew dim, and it was uncertain if it would ever glow again. Slowly but surely, the light returned. However, this served as a wake
Photos by Sam Branch Model: Anna Edwards
up call about the fragility of these creatures and their ecosystems. Now, tourists are advised not to spray bug spray near the water or wear it when swimming in the bay, due to concerns about possible damage. As climate change worsens, I can’t help but wonder if the next generations will be able to experience the wonder of this glow in the same way we have the opportunity to. What will happen to the wonder of the world and the magic? Will there by jellyfish to marvel at, or lightning bugs to catch? I do hope so. There are places outside of water where the phenomenon can actually be found. The most famous example is the firefly. The firefly, chased after by children, often serves as many people’s first interaction with a glowing creature. While most bioluminescent creatures glow a blue shade, lightning bugs glow a gentle yellow that works better for their environment. This leaves us with mason jars full of yellow creatures to illuminate the summer nights of childhood. If you dare to venture into the dark of the woods, you may stumble upon another sort of natural glow sprouting from downed trees. Bioluminescent fungi found on decaying wood are called foxfire or even “fairy fire.” These fungi present a distinctive blue green glow, appearing almost magical. Descriptions of foxfire can be traced back to the times
of Aristotle. But the scientific explanation for its glow was not discovered until the 1800s, meaning that for generations, these fungi were unexplainable. Similarly, a fantastical ocean phenomenon of bioluminescence also perplexed many for years. When groups of bioluminescent species gather, it can produce an almost overwhelming glow. There have even been reports of a milky sea caused by bioluminescent bacteria, which can be found a far back as the book “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” published in 1870. In the book, it is said that during the “milk sea” in the Indian Ocean, “The whole sky, though lit by the sidereal rays, seemed black by contrasts with the whiteness of the waters.” However, it was not until 2005 that scientists actually discovered evidence of one of the most bioluminescent areas of the world. Scientist Steven Miller and his colleagues published a paper entitled “Detection of a bioluminescent milky sea from space” for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, after using “satellite remote-sensing technology” to produce evidence of the glowing sea phenomenon in the Somali area of the Indian Ocean. But even the paper notes that mariners as early as the 17th century had some awareness of the bioluminescent sea’s effect.
A Neon Cityscape
Photos by Rebecca Yu
By Bonnie Kwong
mber streetlights float before my eyes as I walk down the streets of Chinatown in Boston. They are hazy, dim in the crisp night air, and they serve nothing but their purpose—to illuminate the streets and keep me safe. Their job is one that’s simple and easy to complete, and I’m glad they’re here. But it’s still a far cry from Hong Kong, the city I call home. Hong Kong, Pearl of the Orient, with her skyscrapers, constant buzz of noise, and neon
lights. There used to be no escaping neon signs in the narrow streets of Hong Kong. The commercial districts were packed full of them, the ratio of signs to people nearly one to eighty. It sounds less impressive that way, but consider the 7,428,887 people living there and you will have a better idea of how many neon signs there were. Brightly colored and luridly lit, they advertised all kinds of economic activities. In the district of Mong Kok, a name that literally
means “Busy Corner,” my eyes used to be captured by the warm glow of neon billboards no matter where I went. People would brush up against me, pushing and shoving, but the neon guided my way. Red, white, yellow, blue, and green— the colors of the rainbow were all represented in Chinese characters as they competed for attention across the tops of our heads. Today, the eye is accosted by low-slung LED billboards instead. My generation came too late to witness the usage of neon billboards
for movie theaters and department stores. If the government has its way, the generation after us won’t even get a chance to see neon signs lighting up the fronts of restaurants, nightclubs, and saunas. Neon signs and the technology used to making them were introduced to Hong Kong in the early 1930s. Their usage boomed after the Second World War, when Hong Kong entered a period of rapid economic regeneration. With an emerging customer base that had a larger disposable income and more leisure time, neon signs became a way for businesses to step up their advertising games. They also became part of Hong Kong’s charm as a trade city and tourist destination, and millions of people would flock to her hills each year just to get a glimpse of the city from below. Hong Kongers made neon signs essentially “theirs” by using the long Chinese tradition of incorporating the art of calligraphy into architecture. Keith Tam talks about this in his essay, “The Architecture of Communication: The Visual Language of Hong Kong’s Neon Signs.” Vertically arranged couplets, horizontal banners, or inscriptions have adorned the entrances and interiors of Chinese ancestral halls, temples, residences, and institutions. Calligraphy was used for identification, as well as artistic purposes, and was often inscribed by learned masters and calligraphers. Although neon signs were a foreign import, Hong Kongers inherited and appropriated
the Chinese signage tradition for use in the vocabulary of contemporary signs in Hong Kong. Neon signs also came to be established in Hong Kong’s cultural scene, lending themselves to different representations in our film, literature, and music. Lawrence Pun points out the different symbols of neon in his essay, “The Urban and Cultural Imagery of Neon,” such as its function as a representation of loneliness and desire. In Cao Juren’s 1952 novel, The Hotel, the setting of a fictional hotel takes place on Nathan Road, previously a hotbed
sign makers could barely handle the number of orders that poured in are gone due to government crackdowns on building regulations. The Hong Kong Buildings Department has since removed hundreds of signs every year for failure to meet code, or when they are abandoned or unauthorized. One particular crackdown in 2009 led to the removal of about five thousand signboards, many of them neon. Lawrence Yau of Hong Kong’s Urban Renewal Authority also points out that neon signs weren’t removed only because of safety reasons. In fact, many signs removed in the districts of Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei were related to prostitution. Another reasons for the decline of neon is the preference for LED lights. Neon lights are notoriously expensive and tricky to make, requiring neon-tubebending technicians that are hard to find these days when the craft isn’t passed down. While LED lights may be cheaper and more energy-efficient, its light is harsher than neon’s, which worsens Hong Kong’s light pollution problem. All hope may not be lost. With people such as of neon signs. The Hotel prompts Aric Chen, curator of design and the reader to reflect on capitalism architecture at the futuristic M+ through the hotel’s call girls and museum, and Rui de Brito, founder its function as a bordello. It also of The Hong Kong Neon Heritage, utilizes neon signage as a symbol traces of Hong Kong’s neon past of lust and desire, and through that, may still be saved. The Hong Kong consumption and capitalism. Neon Heritage has volunteers After the 1990s, neon rapidly taking photos of still-remaining declined. Today, many of those signs neon signs and posting them on have been removed, and buildings the organization’s Facebook page. stand bare-faced or adorned with They also hope to create a nonneon’s younger, brighter, and cheaper profit platform dedicated to the rival—LED. The days when neon- maintenance of neon signs, and have
People would brush up against me, pushing and shoving, but the neon guided my way.
plans to work to with urban artists and old craftsmen to create new signs and continue the art of neon. “Neon signs are not just something that illuminate,” says Cardin Chan of The Hong Kong Neon Heritage in an interview published by the Associated Press. “They should be considered as art. And it is very unique to Hong Kong.” Aric Chen, on the other hand, is working to collect Hong Kong’s neon signs for M+, a museum for visual culture located in the city’s West Kowloon Cultural District. The museum also launched its first online exhibition, NEONSIGNS.HK, in March 2014. The exhibition showcases photographs of neon signs from multiple perspectives and invites the public to crowd-map the rapidly disappearing signboards. One iconic sign in M+’s collection is the giant blue-and-white cow from Sammy’s Kitchen, an old-school restaurant that serves traditional and high-end steakhouse fare at affordable prices. Although Sammy’s Kitchen closed this past September due to increasing rent prices, the memory lives on in the neon cow still waiting to be displayed when the M+ museum announces its grand opening in 2019. The darkening streets of Chinatown grow lonely as people start to retreat for the night. A lone neon sign or two blinks behind storefronts like My Thai Vegan Café and Kiki Beauty Place, and the chatter of Cantonese or Mandarin dies down as I leave and head toward the T station. All of this reminds me of home, especially the crowded Asian supermarket where I buy my groceries from, its shelves stocked full of Japanese snacks and Chinese dried produce. But the warm glow of the streetlights can never hold a candle to Hong Kong’s neon cityscape. And after the rapid disappearance of her neon signboards, I’m not sure anything ever will. 32
TOXIC AFTERGLOW TOXIC AFTERGLOW TOXIC AFTERGLOW
onsider the future. One hundred thousand years from now, to be more specific. What do you see? You’re long dead, of course, so you won’t actually see this far-off future. But what would you envision as humanity’s most lasting impact? What is today’s gift to tomorrow? Perhaps your mind’s eye conjures up visions of famous structures like the Great Pyramids of Giza, or a less tangible invention like the Internet. Maybe these
human innovations will remain on Earth in 100,000 years, but that’s a very long time from now. Human creations are precarious things—like humanity itself. There is, however, a human creation in the world today that will withstand the next 100,000 years. There’s no question about it. What is this future-ready thing? It’s our radioactive waste. Yes, that’s right. On one hand, consider the awesome power of making something that will so far NONFICTION
outlive everyone alive when it was made, a vestige of human creation that cannot be destroyed for millennia upon millennia. Something new that is guaranteed to become ancient. On the other hand, well, it sucks that our lasting gift to posterity will be our toxic trash. According to the World Nuclear Association, “High Level Waste” is comprised primarily of spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors. This waste is generated as a post-product of nuclear fission, otherwise known as atom-splitting. This reaction produces truly massive amounts of energy—its uncontrolled version is the atomic bomb. When carefully planned and controlled, nuclear fission can be a good thing. It can erase much of the need for the harmful carbon emissions that come from traditional power plants. Nuclear plants also produce more power than other clean sources, such as wind turbines or solar panels. But nuclear power is not 100% clean. While it generates a very small volume of waste in comparison with traditional carbon emissions, the radioactive isotopes in leftover High Level Waste have half-lives that might outlive everything on the planet. Such radioactive waste can seriously sicken and kill most living things that come into close proximity, and the danger lingers. For a bit of context and perspective on this next 100,000 years of radiation: modern humans first appeared on Earth about 200,000 years ago. Nuclear fission was discovered in 1938. In the past eighty years, we’ve managed to make something that will last half as long as we’ve been on this planet. It’s here, and we can’t change that. The question becomes: how do we take out the trash? The World Nuclear Association considers the best disposal option a “deep geological repository.” These sites are cavernous tunnel systems dug into thick ground rock. Nuclear waste is placed inside. Essentially, we bury it.
But it’s politically and logistically difficult to build such repositories; who wants to live near or pay for a giant, perpetually-toxic underground dump? There are only a handful of operational deep geological repositories worldwide. A few more are under construction or consideration, but one site stands out for its size and magnitude: Onkalo. Right now, 400 meters below ground in icy northern Finland, a spiraling maze of tunnels is being blasted into thick bedrock. In 2100, at the base of these man-made caves, spent nuclear fuel will be wrapped in copper and other anti-radiation protections, and left to decay. The tunnels will be filled with clay, and the opening of the Onkalo Spent Nuclear Fuel Repository will be sealed off. Forever. In Finnish, “Onkalo” means “hiding place.” The United States had plans to build a similar site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, around the same area where atomic bombs were tested in the 1940s. Local and political pressures resulted in the cancellation of the Yucca Mountain repository project in 2010. But in 1981, in planning for the site, a group of concerned scientists and academics formed the Human Interference Task Force. They concluded that nuclear waste sites need markers to last the 100,000 years, so that future generations don’t try to uncover still-dangerous radioactive material as part of a future archaeological dig, or try to examine it if it is uncovered by future catastrophe. In the 2010 documentary “Into Eternity,” Danish filmmaker Michael Madsen questioned Onkalo’s architects about this issue of “human intrusion” at the site. Once the repository is sealed, Onkalo’s planners hope that 100,000 years of people will be able to pass right over a radioactive mausoleum in the Arctic, without realizing what lies beneath their snowshoes. They aren’t going to post a sign saying “don’t drill here, dangerous trash below,” because they don’t think anyone will be able to unearth it.
Timo Aikas, Onkalo’s Executive Vice President of Engineering, said on camera that “[Future people] should have some sort of measuring tools to measure the radiation… if they cannot do that, they have to make a chemical analysis. If they cannot do that, then they cannot do the drilling, either.” But Madsen lends a skeptical eye to these responses in his film, framing the documentary with mantras of simple warnings addressed to faroff humans, shown over shots of the tunnels’ construction: “You are now in a place where we have buried something from you. To protect you. We have taken great pain to be sure that you are protected. We need you to know that this place should not be disturbed. You should stay away from this place. Then you will be safe.” But what good will any warning be, voiced or filmed or posted, if the future does not know our languages? The United States-based Human Interference Task Force concluded that pictographs would be the most useful warning signs—a red pointed sign, skull and crossbones, and a stick figure running away. Is it utopian of us to think that there will be intelligent human society around in 100,000 years that could unearth these waste sites? Or is it dystopian to think that there won’t be sufficient records kept over the millennia to warn future generations of these sites in the first place? That we won’t be able to read anything more than a drawing that says “human, run?” Perhaps it is a little of both. But if geological repositories succeed, our toxic matter will not pollute the far future. These tunnels, though cold and barren, might live on, might challenge radioactivity for modernity’s longest-lasting innovation. A legacy of protection, not just waste. A tomb for humanity’s horrors—if we can remember what lies beneath.
Photos by Sam Branch
A Brief History on Why We Highlight A Brief History on Why We Highlight A Brief History on Why We Highlight A Brief History on Why We Highlight A Brief History on Why We Highlight
ezebel painted her eyelids. There is black liner on Nefertiti’s bust, and the rice powder on the faces of geishas still pop out at us from their worn and weathered paintings. There has always been makeup, ever since there was vanity, one might argue, or self-awareness. It’s comforting, in a strange way, to be able to look back at the evidence of times past and see elements that we recognize, commonalities that forge conversation between decades. Ah, yes, we might say to a photo of a woman from the 1940s, you with the powdered rouge--how is the weather where you are? How are you making out in the war? We can look into a face of a person who seems so different from us, and find familiarity in her curled lashes or lined lips. It might be more difficult, though, to find women of the past who share our current affinity for glittering cheekbones. Highlighter— as we know it—the effect of glowing skin at the high points of the face, under the brow, and above the cupid’s bow on the upper lip, was not always a staple of the common beauty routine. Its origins and its development spring largely from the world of acting and performance. Highlighting was, first and foremost, a way of tricking the eye. A method to manipulate the audience into perceiving a more dynamic and expressive face. And although the platforms on which our painted bodies parade themselves has changed from decade to decade, the highlight, as an accessory to acting, serves very much the same purpose.
By Rachel Fucci Photos by Amelia Wright Model: Charlie Carr
Actors take the stage in Elizabethan England, knowing that their expressions will be hard to read for audience members. They apply chalk to the high points of their faces and soot to the natural shadows so that those in the crowd can read their expressions clearly. Here, in its earliest form, the act of highlighting and contouring is a means of translating and communicating one’s art.
With the invention of electricity, stage actors now have access to artificial lighting. But the actors must find alternatives to the soot and chalk of the past in the face of this new technology. Instead, actors use “pancake makeup,” a compact of cosmetic powder that often contained large amounts of lead, to brighten up the high points of their faces. Meanwhile, grease paint does the trick for hollowing out the cheekbones. This dangerous highlighting and contouring duo is designed to trick the eye into observing a more lively face, and a more three-dimensional character. And perhaps it is not a coincidence that Queen Victoria denounces all makeup as something vulgar, to be scorned by the everyday person. It becomes a secret for actors alone, to be purchased at costume shops that might as well have been speakeasies.
We meet the silent film, and in turn, the actor who is unable to deliver her lines to her audience. She must speak only with her body and her expressions, so she takes on the harsh overhead lighting as her costar. Starlets accentuate their natural features with light makeup to remain eye-catching on camera, and although it’s still matte, the white powder highlight on the cheeks is noticeable enough to break up the grayscale and add depth and dimension to the face.
Max Factor, a Polish cosmetician, launches a line of thinned out, easy to apply, and properly packaged grease paints that revolutionizes the world of makeup for stage and screen actors. Hollywood now has more access than ever to foundations, eye shadows, and lip colors that suit them, especially since Factor boasts a customizable makeup lab. The makeup mastermind also establishes a school that releases the first stepby-step guide for the public on how to contour and highlight the face according to its shape. This tutorial brings the everyday woman in contact with the mystifying world of makeup. It allows them to practice these techniques of creating dimension on their faces, and to inspire one another to imitate and experiment with their own looks for generations to come.
Kevin Aucoin, a celebrity makeup artist, makes a name for himself by creating chiseled jawlines and wet, glowy skin in the fallout of the exceedingly dramatic goth movement. He often works with models and famous musicians who are equally edgy and accessible, such as Kate Moss and Courtney Love. His daring looks are revered by a culture of young adults cultivating an interest in makeup, and a deep love of minimalism in fashion.His talent for playing with subtle lights and shadows is reflected on thousands of young faces during this decade.
Kim Kardashian, a media mogul that needs no formal introduction, is the subject of fascination for makeup blogs and publications all over the world, due to her dramatically sculpted face. Many of her followers are puzzled as to how she creates her signature look, and wonder how they can create the same effect. In 2012 she gives the public her longawaited answer with a single Instagram photo of light and dark cream stripes all across her face— her unblended highlight
and contour. In an unintended nod to Max Factor, she provides the world with a modern how-to for manipulating the shape and tone of the face. From there, the trend explodes, and people all over the globe test out highlight and contour techniques, posting their results and tagging brands for their own personal take on Kim K’s iconic mug. But with social media as the makeup’s newest stage, there is unparalleled room for competition. New methods of highlighting and contouring emerge on a near-daily basis as beauty brands begin to catch on to consumers’ obsession with the trend. Cream products, pressed powders, loose powders, holographic sticks, and color enhancing drops all grace the market with the promise of catching the light and dazzling the eye. Makeup fanatics are eager to try out all of these formulas. So eager, in fact, that in 2016 beauty gurus coin the term “strobing” for a newfound technique— applying layers of highlight without the contrast of an equally dramatic contour.
In the present, where the urge to glow has taken over many of the traditions surrounding a conventional makeup routine, one can’t help but wonder why we seek out the shimmer now more than ever. Many speculate that it comes from a fixation with clear and healthy skin, but could that be connected to something larger? Sure, a glowing cheekbone is impossible to ignore, so it makes sense as a desirable trait for a generation consistently accused of being obsessed with itself. But if we appear to be glowing from the inside out, are we not making ourselves look as though we have a light within us, pushing us forward? Perhaps, in this time of great anxiety and uncertainty, we are still acting in order to keep our composure. Maybe we are still using our highlighter to manipulate the gaze of those watching us perform in order to maintain a fantasy, and maybe we are our most attentive audience.
By Kenna McCafferty
he night my mother dropped me off at college, she sat down on my awkwardly high dorm bed, legs swinging off the edges and looked almost childlike. She reached into her purse and drew out a can of mace and a keychain flashlight. She set them next to her. We held eye contact for a couple seconds before she spoke.
“Take these with you. To every party, walk down the street, late night study session. I know you think I’m crazy—” I did. “—but I’m just asking you to look out.” Mothers across the nation hand out flashlights and mace to their daughters on the cusp of womanhood, as self-protection has become the only immediate way for women to feel safe in a culture that hands out their bodies as haphazardly as glow sticks at rave. But to prevent rape, we must target rape culture, we must hold rapists accountable, we must accommodate survivors. Until that culture changes, we carry mace, flashlights and our duty to protect ourselves and others with us. I put the flashlight on my keychain and the mace in my desk drawer. “Mace is a bit much, Mom.” At the time it did seem excessive. I was only just embarking on the journey that has become a rite of passage for women—the realization that we must deliberately and unequivocally invest in the safety and wellbeing of ourselves and other women, because we have been overlooked by government, institutions and industry. I had written my mom off as paranoid, and then found myself calling her in a frenzy after my first party. “I didn’t feel safe.” In the national context, I do not feel safe. From Title IX reform to Harvey Weinstein, it has become evident that
I am not safe—though somehow safer still than women of color and transwomen: a thought that’s only solace lies in its assertion of my ability to support others. On Friday, September 22, 2017, the Education Department announced that it would formally be repealing the Title IX guidelines proposed under President Obama in the “Dear Colleague” letters of 2011. The statistics we’ve been repeating have barely changed over the years. The one in four statistic has been around since the 1980s, and somehow, the federal response has softened. This toxic system is not specific to institutions, but has permeated popular culture as well. On October 5th, The New York Times issued a report which uncovered the decades of sexual assault and harassment enacted by Harvey Weinstein, who used his power, influence and notoriety as bargaining chips for sexual favors from countless women including actors Ashley Judd and Emily Nestor, and employees like Lauren O’Connor. Since the publication of this article, icons of the Entertainment Industry such as Cara Delevingne, Lady Gaga, and Molly Ringwald have spoken out against Weinstein himself 40
and against the prevalence of rape culture in Hollywood in general. This news is particularly impactful on a campus like Emerson College, where the majority of the student population aspire to be a part of the Entertainment world. In terms of Title IX, Emerson has posted a response affirming that Title IX and its proposed guidelines remain in effect, along with the Violence Against Women Act, Clery Act, and the college’s Sexual Misconduct Policy. They aim to provide informed, prompt and fair resources and responses for survivors; however, I have felt and continue to feel that rape culture is deeply embedded in Emerson—both in administration and student life. The Title IX Office itself has remained quiet on the issue—refusing to offer comment to the student newspaper, the Berkeley Beacon. The committee of administrators and staff members formed to review the Sexual Misconduct Policy has met five times over the course of six months. Two Title IX cases have been dismissed. Emerson is currently under investigation by the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights for its handling of sexual assault cases.
Though the message is one of support and dedication, the practice seems to be one of evasion and bareminimum compliance. Out of all of this pseudo-sympathy, where can we turn for legitimate support? The first place I was drawn to was the Office of Violence Prevention and Response. Having spoken with its Director, Dr. Melanie O. Matson, it is clear to me that VPR is a reliable source. She affirmed: “I will not change the way I am doing my work. I am here not because of Emerson. I am here because of students… That is who we are here for and that is who we will always be here for.” Dr. Matson is focused on positivity and empowerment. Despite the turbulent national context, I, like Dr. Matson, find “glimmers of hope” in how “communities have come together and said no.” An example of such a community can be seen through the emergence of #MeToo, a movement started in 2007 by Tarana Burke and popularized by Alyssa Milano after the Harvey Weinstein scandal. #MeToo asks sexual assault or harassment survivors to post #MeToo on social media. Survivors are encouraged to share their stories, opinions, hopes and fears or simply
Photos by Sam Branch Model: Kayleigh Waters
the #MeToo tag itself to shed light on the magnitude of sexual assault and harassment. The movement has become a testament to the pervasiveness of powerbased narratives. #MeToo empowers survivors who share their stories and emboldens those who stay quiet, by acknowledging the tragically quasi-universal experience of sexual harassment and assault. #MeToo founder, Burke spoke to the power of #MeToo as “somebody had said it to me, and it changed the trajectory of my healing process.” Dr. Matson believes #MeToo “shows that power-based violence is deeply rooted, beyond any one individual and there are many ways that our society condones and even supports power-based violence. Each and every one of us can and needs to play a role to transform our culture.” In this way, #MeToo illuminates the ways in which almost all of us are affected by sexual assault and harassment and how absolutely all of us are needed to eliminate these systemic issues. These issues are systemic, they are decisive, and they are deeply engrained in our cultural fabric. The burden to solve such issues does not lie with survivors alone. The burden of eradicating sexual assault lies with all of us (survivors, bystanders and more than anyone: perpetrators) can give hope to those struggling now and ease the burden for those to come. Afterward: Writing this piece has been both cathartic and rejuvenating amidst national turmoil. The night that I finished this piece, I found myself riding the T from Mass Ave to Chinatown. Over the course of that ride, under the flickering lights of the Orange Line, I was harassed by a drunk and belligerent man who accosted me about where I lived, touched my leg, and tried to follow me home. I had told him what stop we were at, and thereby opened myself up to what he considered “friendly conversation.” On this train, I was surrounded by silent men who said nothing when my personal space was grossly invaded, but offered a lackluster “Hey man don’t yell,” when my harasser raised his voice at a male passenger. There was no source of safety in the people around me. Instead, I found comfort in a shared location, the vibrations of my phone with my best friend on the other line, and an almost forgotten can of mace in the bottom of my backpack. I wish I could say this was the first time, I wish I could say it will be the last. All I can say is that the responsibility to change these toxic mentalities and eliminate power-based interpersonal violence lies with #MeToo. It lies with #AllofUs. NONFICTION
F F F F F F F F 42
I I I I I I I I
C C C C C C C C
T T T T T T T T
I I I I I I I I
O O O O O O O O
N N N N N N N N
Made Possible by the Magic of Radium
by Gabriella Mrozowski “I Louvre You” by Cassandra Martinez
t was a factory setting, just like any other. Grim and gritty, dusty and drab. One by one, the girls filed in through the heavy-set doors. Heels clicked against the linoleum floor, and red-tipped fingers swept back and forth against pleated skirts. There was a formality to this setting. A heavy request fell upon them to stay silent. And like in every other aspect of their lives, the women complied. Dorothy, two seats away, fell behind in line. Her composure was fallen, a few strands divergent from her messy fingerwaves. Her station, however, was pristine as can be. The metal gleamed in the low light, and her tools sat like sardines on her desk. “I’m just a mess,” Dorothy said to herself. Distraction. She’s just a distraction. One task lay ahead of each woman taking a seat on the hard stool provided by the company. The watches stood at attention in the wooden crates on the ground, but the tin paint cans for the day glistened at the ready. It was the best part of the day to open up the tin paint cans, Ruth, in the corner, gossiped. The luminous color, oh, the luminous color. It was like the stuff of dreams, she would whisper to the other girls as she sneaked off with an almost empty paint can. Ruth enjoyed the little things in life. Everyday, she wore the same pin from her mother. A crane, a swooping crane. “It represents babies, you know,” Ruth would say. “And babies are what I want.” Nowadays, Ruth wore the pin, but it lazily hung from her cotton shirts. Where it used to be a badge of honor, it was now a drooping bird ready to fall. There was no more talks about babies from Ruth, and no more mentioning of cranes. Those days were over. Dorothy used to roll her eyes at Ruth’s banters about childrearing and the female’s duty. She didn’t have any boyfriend waiting for her outside the factory after a hard day’s work. Her fingers were a barren desert, devoid of rings. The girls pitied Dorothy, but Dorothy didn’t carry any pity with her. Everyone sat down, skirts spilling over the stool. Silence walked hand in hand with obedience in this part of town, and especially in this factory. All stations faced the front, where the shift supervisor would observe the painted faces of his workers FICTION 43
diligently painting the faces of their watches.
“For the war,” he would boom for morale. “For the boys across seas, fighting for what’s right.” In fact, Dorothy didn’t know if that was what was right. But the job paid well, and for that, she shut her mouth and continued to paint. Or so she said on their smoke breaks outside, by the doors. All heads were angled at the supervisor at this time. He walked back and forth, looking at the faces that stared blankly back at him. They were all under his command. Submission also liked to tag along with silence and obedience. Margaret was one of those at the front. She didn’t interact much with the rest after work or during lunch. She kept to herself, dedicated to the job. Her eyes were the widest amongst the sea of female, the most willing of all of them. 7:59 am, the supervisor’s pocket watch read. He cleared his throat and began to instruct. It was the same speech the women heard day in and day out. For the boys, paint the watches, make sure to keep those brushes sharp. Margaret mouthed the words along with the supervisor, in awe at the consistency of his delivery. “Ladies,” he added an additional piece to his routine speech. “Each day at war is a reminder of the small sacrifices we must all make. Your presence here is a sacrifice to your husbands and children.” Dorothy rolled her eyes. “But your effort and our boys’ efforts to win the war is made possible by the magic of radium!” His voice boomed, and the crowd ate it up. All it took was “get to work,” and the women scrambled. It was an orchestra of music in those initial moments. The deep bass rang out when hundreds of petite hands dove for the metal watches. Tin covers torn off and the clink of falling to the ground, accompanied the echo. Brushes tinkled against the tin can, tapping the excess paint off. And finally, the sweet sound of the brush tips rolling against plush rose lips cannot be
forgotten. That deadly kiss, the final peck of poison. The almost impossibly quiet sound was the melody that rang the loudest for these women after the war. It sang in their jaws, in their teeth, in the
rosy cheeks that smiled at the exact killer they held in their hand. This noise was decidedly the sweetest of them all. The paint would slowly spread by the hour. At first, it would drip around the women’s fingers. Slowly, slowly, it would lighten up the process. From fingers, to hands. From hands, to elbow. From elbow to table. And by the end of the day, the women glowed. And glow they wanted to. Contained in the same space for numerous hours, the secret pleasure of sneaking off to a dark room and playing with the paints consolidated the numbness they endured. The stuff of dreams, Ruth said. Where they couldn’t feel satisfied with the progress of their lives, the women felt stronger with the paint on. War paint, they muttered to one another in awe, war paint. They would draw moustaches and beards, eyebrows and blush. These features essentially stood out in the dark, and jumped around the room when the women laughed. They were finally in control of what they showed to this dark, closed off world, and they were the things of happiness and beauty. Of course, less and less did the seasoned employees want to divert in these trivialities. Ruth would brush off anyone hopeful of having a good time. “My head hurts,” she would say, and the crane pin would fall lower and lower. Dorothy prefered to smoke on any breaks offered to them. She lazily watched out of the corner of her eye the crowd of girls crossing the parking lot into an abandoned warehouse. With every exhale of smoke, she blew them farther away from herself. This was the second time this week Dorothy had limped into her second-row seat, clutching her cheek on the right side, after finishing up her pack. The grimace of pain couldn’t be concealed this time. “My jaw’s killing me,” she finally admitted after the girls around her did not stop staring. “Been hurtin’ since last month.” “Did ya check it out with the dentist yet?” Margaret asked, piping in from in front Dorothy. “No,” the woman responded, eying her peer. “But I’ve seen you holdin’ ya jaw too.” “Me?” squeaked Margaret. “No, I’m fine.” “If both of us got this pain, is it sumthin’ with this watch business we’ve been doin’?” “Don’t be foolish, Dorothy,” Margaret said. “Of course it’s not.” Both women turned to look at the incoming supervisor, ready to make his announcement at the beginning of the next shift. He stood tall, erect, with his nose high in the air.
“No, they would never put us to work with something dangerous,” Margaret said, her eyes lingering at the supervisor looming above them all.
Dangerous or not, Dorothy knew the reality of her situation. Of all their situations. The women’s lives had changed in a silent way. But how? They did not know yet. And so Dorothy ploughed through the pain, picking up the brush and opening her tin can of paint. Looking down into the vivid green color, she saw the silence. Dorothy saw the pain and hunger and suffering. There was the unspeakable and the unfathomable. The unexpected and unsolicited. But what was she to do if her thoughts were so intangible? She licked the paintbrush point to sharpen it and began painting. FICTION 45
the girls by Olivia Townsend
“Traveling Through Wonderland” by Mana Parker The girls I know have swollen bellies they can’t hide anymore. Sometimes, they have swollen eyes, too. They have legs that weren’t ready to be opened and cheap Kay Jewelers rings with diamonds the size of specks. The girls I know come to class with babies on their laps and tired eyes they have to peel open during American History, all for a textbook they’re told they’ll never be in. I would have been one of the girls I know, but I was the one who could afford a four-hundreddollar vacuum. The teachers look down on them while they write recommendations for me because they don’t see a slut when they see my belly. We’re the sluts the boys run their hands across with heavy breathing—the sluts they sink their teeth into. They run away from us but still brag about it. We’re the ones with good parents, bad parents, afraid parents. We can blame it all on the parents if they don’t give us four hundred dollars and the cold shoulder for a month. The girls I know are dragged across dirt because someone decided they are trash because their boyfriends bruise them. They’re supposed to feel lucky to be living. The difference between me and the girls I know is that I can afford 46
Band-Aids. They’re supposed to feel lucky that Planned Parenthood opens before school starts. I am supposed to feel lucky that I am not them. I am told that I am better than the girls I know that couldn’t afford college. I am told that I am better than the girls I know because my sexual assault didn’t get printed in the newspaper. People only want to hear about crimes that take place in parking garages, not childhood bedrooms. The girls I know have to change their names if they ever want a job. I just have to change my hair color. The girls I know are smart, strong, and valuable. They shine so bright they’ll blind you. Their fists are made of gold, and their tongues will light your mouth on fire. The girls I know have flesh that will never tear. They dig their fingernails into the sun and climb inside when Earth’s gravity can’t hold them anymore. You can tie the moon to their ankles and they will still make it off the ground. They can take your eyes out with their teeth and spit them back out on the pavement. I am told that the girls I know are better fighters than me. I never had to fight the way the girls I know do. So do not tell me I am better than the girls I know.
Photo by Fiona Cheng Model: Miranda Yu
by Sara Barber
You should revel in some beauty sleep. Set aside a few days to hibernate if it is something you desire. Sometimes it takes a couple clicks on the refresh button to feel renewed. Have you tried turning yourself on and off ? You should take a selfie. Probably more than just one. Ensure you get every possible angle; you never know which one might be your angle until you have mastered the skill. Put it on a self-timer. Put a filter on it. Post it on Instagram. Include a witty caption. Rake in the likes and relish in that countable sense of validity. You should treat yourself to a thing or two. Take yourself to the mall, on a date like we did in middle school, but for once with only yourself. Find what makes you feel good, even if it takes twenty tries, even if itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a jewel on your wrist or a cloak coating the rest of your body. Wait until the way you feel about yourself regenerates in the reflection. You should slip love notes underneath your pillowcase. Instead of reminding yourself of all the things you dislike, brainstorm five things you appreciate. Make it up if you have to, and then work to make yourself love those things. It could take some time, but turn on the lights and reset the shine. You should try something new. Or a few things new. If something isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t working, do better. Know better. Gauge the way you feel about yourself and glow better.
Photo by Brittney Eisnor
E t y m o l o g y by Renee Esteban
The point in the sky that’s directly me, on top of me. Across two years, you drifted
closer and closer, possessing me. Making me simple, They say that if you look up at the sky three times a closing me off to anyone but you. You would hold my day, you’re living a relaxed life. But what if the patch face in your cold hands, and I would believe that the above my head always looks the same, whether blue utter darkness inside me was love. or black or grey? What if sometimes I look up and think of you, and the way you used to make me feel? I know that you were not worthy of me. But what if I Constellation: a group of stars forming still feel closed off to a version of myself: the person I a recognizable pattern that is traditionally was around you? The one that thought love was warm named after its apparent form or identified with a mythological figure. – or real. You may have constellations printed upon you, tiptoeing across the skin of your shoulders, forming a path Totality: the moment or duration of total across your body that I used to feel fortunate to travel, obscuration of the sun or moon during an to press my mouth against. But you are no Hercules. You might be stamped across my sky, but it is only as a eclipse. I spent so long being snuffed out by you. My light was reminder of what was. Only as something that is dead – suffocated slowly but surely as you carved a path over and deserves to be. You are outside my solar system; you are something that cannot, and should not, be reached.
Photos by Jed Shiheng Xu // Models: Awing Yayong Huang and Jolin Cheng
not the sun. What I appeared to be when you thought you owned me was a sad excuse for the person that I have become. When you raked your eyes across my body, when they lit up with lust, you reduced me to a pretty thing, a quiet thing, a thing made only for you to I remember thinking that we were the same – the perfect touch. But I am not a fraction, and you are not the sun. amount of day and night, of light and dark. A slow fade into each other, a melting together. An outpouring of color, of reds and purples like the bruises you left on my Light-Year: The distance that light (moving neck. But we weren’t. Love – if it even was love – is fickle. at about 186,000 miles per second) travels in The way it flowed between us could not be measured one year, or about 6 trillion miles. so carefully. You loved me and then stopped, and I kept You text me a year after things ended to tell me you want on as if I did love you. If I did love you. In the end the to be friends. But you can’t be friends with someone you don’t know, and you don’t know me. I have traveled equinox passes, and we are not equal in any way. millions, trillions of miles beyond the body that you used Phase: The fraction of the moon or other body for your own pleasure. I am so much more than the mind that would spin around and around trying to justify your that we see illuminated by sunlight. The pieces of me that showed up under the dim light of words, your actions. I cannot describe how far I have your attention are not the ones that define me. You are come; there is too much that you would simply not be able to understand.
The two times each year when the sun is directly overhead at noon, as seen from Earth’s equator. On an equinox date, day and night are of equal length.
Photo by Sara Barber
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SF Movie Poster
Front and back covers: Photographer: Tarik Thompson Models: Julianna Sy, Malachi McDonald, and Ndeem Whomst Special thanks to Joe Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Brien at Shawmut and Gauge Advisor Lise Haines. Want to know better and glow better? Follow us on Twitter @ GaugeMagazine, Instagram at Gauge_Magazine, or visit issuu.com/ knowgaugebetter. Section