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Winter 2011 Johaina

Crisostomo Damian

Kastil Rachel

Kolb Frank

Rodriguez Emma

Webster

leland QUARTERLY 1

Leland Quarterly Winter 2011


leland

QUARTERLY VOLUME 5, ISSUE 2 Winter 2011

Copyright 2011 by Leland Quarterly, Stanford University All Rights Reserved Giant Horse Printing, San Francisco

Editors-in-Chief: Jaslyn Law and Miles Osgood Managing Editor Graham Todd

Production Manager Jin Yu

Senior Editors Stephanie Caro Johaina Crisostomo Grace DeVoll LiHe Han Kendra Peterson Nathalie Trepagnier Katie Wu

Art Editor Johaina Crisostomo

Associate Editors Raine Hoover Elissa Karasik Max McClure Kara Runsten Samantha Toh

Financial Editor Nathalie Trepagnier Layout Editors Brandon Evans Armine Pilikian Katie Wu Web Editors Alessandra Santiago Jennifer Schaffer

Leland Quarterly: A Statement on Literature, Culture, Art, and Politics is a general interest magazine that showcases the very best in Stanford University undergraduate art and writing.

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Editor’s Note Science Notes Remote Sensing and Leland Quarterly: A Comparative Study Jaslyn Law1 and the editors of Leland Stanford, CA Abstract The technology of remote sensing—the imaging of the Earth’s surface from space—is at the cutting edge, producing data so vast and detailed as to regularly crash computers used for analysis. In this study, we compared (1) the evolution of remote sensing technology and (2) the proliferation of the nebulous, impossibleto-categorize prose poem/short fiction/flash fiction/prosetry/postcard fiction/ short short. Our aim was to understand the dual processes of innovation and interpretation in creating the foundations for a new genre or paradigm in literature. We observed that the imagery obtained from satellites is often so high-resolution that scientists must reduce image quality to the lesser, more digestible sizes of old in order to have a dataset that does not overwhelm existing analysis methods. Similarly, writers of literature continue to push the limits of genre, producing works that confound traditional conceptual frameworks. Interpretation lags: the satellite technician can provide no helpful hints to the scientists attempting to understand the data he produces; the author often has no input on whether the editor should file a short piece under Poetry or Fiction.2 This study concluded that true groundbreaking—the establishment of a new school for interpreting a new genre—is the dual role of the writer and his reader and/or editor. Advances in interpretation follow innovation in order to trailblaze new disciplines in science or literature—often leaving the geographer and the editor running to keep pace. Still, though, the scientist can appreciate the future applications of stunning new satellite images. Likewise, the editors’ obligation is to publish that confounding Short Ungenred Piece, just because they like it, even though they have no idea why they do. Undergraduate at Stanford University, Earth Systems & Creative Writing Departments When questioned on whether his short piece “Of Late” was more fiction or poetry, contributor S. Winger responded frankly: “No idea. It could also be non-fiction.”3 3 Which was to say, effectively: “The issue of categorizing my work is really your problem.” 1 2

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c o n te n t s

editorial statement

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Artist ProfilE Emma Webster

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Damian Kastil

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Collage Learning to Fly Jin Yu

Ascendance Zoe Leavitt

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The Mermaid by the Water-Pump Johaina Crisostomo

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Of Late Seth Winger

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non-fICTION 36

FEATURED

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FICTION

Lipreading Rachel Kolb

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The Chicken Keeper Natalie Cox

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Author Skip Horack Jaslyn Law

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PAINTING Cover

NaNoWriMo Openings

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Postman Emma Webster

Original Winter One Acts

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Shepherd Nabila Abdallah

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Photography

POETRY

Japanese Weaver Natalie Uy

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The Other Side Natalie Uy

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Scarves in Spirit Victoria Yee

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PRINTMAKING

What My Professor Taught Me Frank Rodriguez

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Ephemeral Tina Miller

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Jellyfish Pollock Kevin Chow

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Nest Emma Webster

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David Letterman Frank Rodriguez

Green Nell Van Noppen

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Too Much Zoe Leavitt

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To Be a Pirate Is To Be Alive Frank Rodriguez

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VISUAL POETRY Water Cycle Brandon Evans

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“Nest,� etching, Emma Webster

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What My Professor Taught Me In his office he kept a book no one ever saw— and yet I saw it. In his tiny print was written a hundred names for crack: “yam,” “blotter,” “cran-grape,” “see-saw.” I asked him if he’d ever done it and he said No, it’s strictly academic. My head was spinning as I walked home. Then I did laps around my dorm, high on secret languages from places far away from me.

—Frank Rodriguez

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“Shepherd,” acrylic, Nabila Abdallah

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Ascendance —Zoe Leavitt

I had only taken one step out of the pawnshop when the man on the street, hugging bagpipes like a bunch of ripe bananas, tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I’d found god. I’m not sure, I said, and, Could you describe him please? The man blew a big honking note into his bagpipes and smacked his moistened lips. “Well,” he said, “sometimes he has a big white beard, kind of like mine—” The man stroked his beardless chin, “—and sometimes he wears sandals and usually a robe, or else he’s naked as before you were born. He also has a bellybutton. Fishbowl eyes. No glasses. No bunions or rugburns. He has blood, kinda… kinda not like mine—” He bit down on his thumb and then showed me the red curling out of it. I peered down with interest, our two foreheads close. He smelled like old rain and stale beehives. “—but white; smooth marble. And his ears are sorta funny.” The man pointed to his ears and wiggled them,

grinning as if he wasn’t telling me a joke. I thought about all of this. The man gnawed a circle around the rim of the pipe’s mouthpiece and stepped on a fly with his shoe. It crunched hungrily on the ground. I shook my head. Nope, don’t believe I have, I said. He nodded gravely, as if he’d expected this. The bagpipe let out a low belch. I jerked my head back at the musty pawnshop door, said You might want to check in there, though. Maybe someone picked him up and returned him. You can find all types of things in there, I told him. Anything, fur coats to cowbells. The man gazed into the dark door, looked pleased. “Oh, but I’ve already been. Where do you think I got these?” And he fell into a deep, slow, melodic wail on the bagpipes as I walked off the gum-spotted sidewalk and, holding close what I’d taken from the pawnshop, up a cloudy staircase to the sky.

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ephemeral ephemeral i • ´fem • rəl excerpt from a dictionary of poetry … 3. In the morning we lay to forget. There are the dreams the disasters the dishevelment of our clothes and the way we form our words —an anatomy yet to be illustrated (undiscovered) covered by sheets. It is the moment before our feet touch the ground, our cotton eyes unripe. ...

–TINA MILLER

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“Japanese Weaver,� Natalie Uy

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“Little,� charcoal

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Emma Webster

Major: Studio Art Year: Senior This combination of works is about the eventual distancing between people – the slow separation where the ones we love most become unknowable. It also addresses how we revel in recoiling from others; how selfimposed incubation makes us more ourselves. The figures, cocooned and isolated, reflect how we hold ourselves where we want to be: somewhere safe. Despite their abstractions, the ambiguous forms portray a pervasively human narrative. The subjects, like us, grope for a sense of closeness that perhaps we once had but have since lost.

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“Sketches for Cow Painting,� charcoal

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“Untitled,� charcoal

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Details for “Untitled�

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the flavorful writing of

SKIP HORACK —Jaslyn law Every dish created and plated by a top chef presents signature flavors, distinctive style, and a singular, recognizable personality unique to that chef. The writing of a good author is the same.

1.

Skip Horack is the author of last year’s novel The Eden Hunter as well as the award-winning short story collection The Southern Cross. At Stanford, Horack is a Jones Lecturer in Creative Writing and was a Stegner Fellow from 2006 to 2008.

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After publishing his award-winning short story collection The Southern Cross, Skip Horack was ready to tackle a novel. “I had no ideas percolating, so I looked at the stories I’d written to see what was in my comfort zone.” His writing is organic—locally grown, traditionally cultivated, and fresh. Key ingredient number one: self-knowledge. “I wanted to identify what came somewhat naturally to me, since I knew that I would be spending a lot of time with whatever subject matter I chose to explore.” Skip’s manner belies one subject that comes naturally to him: the South. He deflects my offer to treat with that His writing is organic— casual ease and grace locally grown, traditionally particular to Southerners, orders a beer cultivated, and fresh. at the campus staple known for its coffee, and considers my interview questions only after he has asked and listened about my life since we last chatted. The deflating admonishment to “Write what you know” has always said to me that only a born and raised Southerner like Skip can ever imagine and write the South. It also suggests that a born and raised Southerner has no business writing about, say, nineteenthcentury indigenous tribes of African pygmies—which is exactly what Skip did in his debut novel The Eden Hunter. “Self-knowledge”, though, is not precisely “Write what you know.” Skip had never been to Africa when he drafted The Eden Hunter, but the novel treats themes that he knows well and deeply. The stories of The Southern Cross are set two hundred years and thousands of miles from The Eden Hunter, but the flavors and ingredients in both are unmistakably a product of Skip’s kitchen. The Southern Cross is a direct flight to the essence of today’s Gulf Coast. Skip introduces the people and their desires, walks the land-


← “That’s me with some members of the Mbuti pygmy tribe. The guys with the machine guns aren’t Mbuti, but the rest of them are.”

scapes, and points out what is salient, what is human—or what is simply beautiful. The level of detail in Skip’s writing demonstrates that when Skip does not know—that is, when Skip has not experienced—he researches. A lesson in ecology: “A queen bobcat lives in the hollow base of a dead cypress; every spring a male finds her and they become a pair, then she bears a litter that the tom picks off one by one because he is always hungry and because the thin city swamp could never support more than two bobcats.” The Southern Cross is home cooking and comfort food, with some unexpected piquant spices. It is character-driven with an attention to setting that suffuses each story with flavor. The Eden Hunter, while seemingly exotic, was also born at home. “I realized that pretty much all of the stories in my collection had something to do with nature and man’s relationship with nature,” Skip recalled, reflecting on the genesis of The Eden Hunter. “I was contemplating that theme in my writing around the same time that I first heard about the Negro Fort—a fort controlled by escaped slaves recruited by the British to fight against the Americans during the War of 1812—and so the idea of writing from the point of view of an African tribesman whose culture was so closely tied to nature really captured my imagination.” The Eden Hunter follows its diminutive protagonist out of Africa, into the chains of the American slave trade, through a bloody escape, and amidst the folklore of the South to the fort in Spanish Florida and beyond. “I never thought, ‘I’m writing historical fiction,’” Skip averred. “If you really look closely at this story set

two hundred years ago, it’s mostly about a single man moving alone through nature. There’s something sort of timeless about that.”

2.

The Eden hunter is Kau—“Leopard”—so named because at the hour of his birth, his people distinguished a leopard’s cough out of all the forest’s chatterings. Born to a forest tribe, he notices the movements of one driver ant on the rib of a kill, the slant of the sun in the sky; he anticipates the fluctuations of Floridian currents with as much facility as if they were eddies in African waters. The working title of the novel was simple—it was The Pygmy. “It reminded me that the story was about him, first and foremost,” Skip explained. Kau’s new world is dictated by gunpowder, knife blows, and flight. For all the firearms and adventure, however, The Eden Hunter is driven by the pygmy’s tireless search for a piece of untamed, unspoiled nature he can make his own. Having a working title at all times is a second key ingredient in Skip’s process. He believes that a title helps draw a thematic line that runs unbroken through all the windings of plot. A title focuses the reader and—perhaps more importantly—it focuses the author throughout the writing process. Indeed, thematic focus informed Skip’s solo sojourn to Africa: he had already sold The Eden Hunter, and was in Africa to forage for details to enrich his final draft. “I wasn’t going there with any Hemingway-like desire to risk my life or anything.” His litany of travel immunizations attest. “Going there after the whole book was already written was actually a great thing. If I’d have

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3.

In The Southern Cross, you make the acquaintance of a creosote worker, shipmen, a biologist, a professor of poetry, a rabbit farmer, a stripper, nurses, a beekeeper, a hotel worker, fishermen. Skip Horack respects hard work and practices hard work. The third ingredient to Skip’s writing: momentum. “It’s really important to write almost every day because when you lose your momentum, you have to start fresh again. And it’s no fun to have to start fresh again.” He published The Southern Cross in August 2009, The Eden Hunter in August 2010, and has just finished drafting his next novel, about a man who travels to San Francisco after suffering an injury while working on a Gulf of Mexico oilrig. He knows how he works best, setting himself a daily word count target rather than chaining himself to his chair for two hours each morning—“or else I might just stay on the Internet for those two hours.” He knows how to keep himself on task even when there are many concurrent projects, making explicit, clear goals for himself. And he is a journeyman of craft; a disciple of discipline— he always keeps new material percolating. Self-knowledge, a title, and momentum: some of the necessary ingredients. Then, “knowing when you’re done is like cooking—I really like to cook. You can mess around in the kitchen for ages, adding different things, but at some point you have to eat it.” The results are plated beautifully, carry earthy aromas, and taste bright, crisp, and balanced to the palate. Order an Abita Amber—Skip’s beer of choice— from the drink menu and enjoy.

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COUNTERPOINT HOUGHTON MIFFLIN

gone before, I think I would have been overwhelmed. Since I’d already written the book, the trip was focused, rather than exploratory.” The Pygmy became The Eden Hunter as a nod to the duality of the pygmy’s journey from the Eden of his native homeland to a new Eden in free Florida. It was Skip’s journey in reverse. Searching for his protagonist’s place of origin— which for Skip had existed only in the pictures and text of his research materials—he boarded a plane to the Uganda, transferred to a Cessna that eventually took him to the small village of Epulu in the Democratic Re“I wasn’t going to Africa with public of the Congo, and then followed park rangers deep any Hemingway-like desire into the Ituri Forest, home to to risk my life or anything.” the two indigenous pygmy tribes on which Kau’s people are based. The Ituri Forest is not the stagnant, disease-ridden jungle of Victorian-era accounts—it is rainforest. Water there runs clear and drinkable. The trees are reminiscent of the Southern woodlands of Skip’s youth—“very fecund, very verdant dense forest… Lush, green, amazing light refracting everywhere.” Skip hiked and camped in the forest for eight days, absorbing the details, fact checking his own assumptions, proving and disproving the descriptions he had imagined in the novel. “It was the most pleasant forest I’ve ever been in,” he remembered. “It was like getting dropped into my imagination—into my own novel. I felt like I was meeting my protagonists. After all my research, I felt like I’d earned the right to go there and see it.” When Skip sat at his home in California, first imagining his pen into the Ituri Forest, he knew exactly what he was writing, even though he hadn’t yet seen Africa for himself. He was writing The Pygmy, “a love letter to nature,” about a man who would pause to observe an ant.

“It was the most pleasant forest I’ve even been in. It was like getting dropped into my imagination—into my own novel. I felt like I was meeting my protagonists.”


jellyfish pollock At times, it feels as though I am a jellyfish that is slowly banging its head / round translucent portion into the reinforced glass of an existentially crippling aquarium with brown debris and too little / poorly oxygenated water and fluorescent orange gravel and artificial kelp and a treasure chest that swings open when the bubbles come out and a filter that filters slightly too loudly and unsightly green stains in the corners.

窶適EVIN CHOW

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The Mermaid by the Water-Pump —Johaina Crisostomo

A little girl found herself awake at the hour of siesta. She stumbled out of her family’s shack in an abandoned corner of their Quiapo slum, and found her mother laughing among the women on the street. They were sitting on little stools around a water-pump that rusted in the sun, with half-drunk bottles of orange soda around their ankles, and knees bent in such a way that made their skirts smile a lopsided V. Her mother, Aling Juanita, was laughing at a friend’s impersonation of the old fish vendor known for his lusty grin. Mang Oskar owned the largest stall in the market and sold the most expensive fish. Yet all the women knew that all you had to do—if you were hungry enough— was swing your hips a certain way, and you could find yourself the lucky owner of several pieces of unwanted fish. Juanita felt triumphant when she could come home with a bag of stale galunggong tucked safely in the crook of her arm. In days like these, with the kitchen sounding the delicious crackle of hot-oil fish, the sun seemed brighter, her husband’s footsteps more eager, the clasp of his arm around her waist more sincere. Sometimes, she would become so happy watching her family eat, she would insist on having only the usual supper of rice and broth, trying to convince them that she was having a bad stomach. Ricky would then break the last piece of mackerel in his hands, keeping the head for himself, while giving their daughter, Tala, the tail.

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Neither Ricky nor Tala knew about Mang Oskar; he belonged to another world that didn’t need sharing. A world Juanita, alone, had to revisit after all the pots had been washed, and the last grains were picked out of the cracks on the table. Washing herself in the lavatory next to their kitchen, she would rub her cheeks with coarse soap till all memory of his fingers was chafed out of her skin, and watch in breathless silence as the lather disappeared down the slimy navel of the sink. Aling Juanita was laughing so hard, she had to clutch at her sides to keep them from hurting. Her friend, Teresa, tweaked just the right features to transform her face into the perfect caricature. No woman looking at her could avoid recalling the exact droop of Mang Oskar’s lips as he ogled a woman’s rump. Juanita, too, owned a stall at the market, though it wasn’t so much a stall as a patch of ground on which to squat and lay down a basket of plantains. These she peeled and skewered on a stick, padded with brown sugar, and offered to every passing customer—conscious, all the while, of the pair of eyes staring at her from across the dirt aisle. As a child, Juanita discovered that this word, “pretty,” that people kept throwing around was something of a curse. On Easter Sundays of her childhood, the benevolent nuns of the Immaculate Virgin would get the most charming girls in town to lead the procession of the risen Christ. “Head Angel,” they would call her—


the pretty pendant to their celestial chain. Always the one and find the ocean hiding behind an unassuming wrinkle, leading without a partner flanking her side, she was first engulfing her in its waves, shocking her with the warmth to encounter the stares of leering men. Laughing like this of a tight embrace. There was something in the smell that now, at thirty-five, in the company of other women who spoke of another world—until one night, she came across knew Mang Oskar the way she did, laughing so hard tears the answer in the tattered pages of an old storybook. were streaming from her eyes, so loud she was almost There, staring at her from the yellow surface of the page, bent over on the ground—laughing like this was the was a woman whose skin was covered by a smattering of only way to purge the repulsion. It was her one scales—a shiny, fishy kind of skin that blurred victory, and she relished it with noise, with the edges of her fingertips, and concealed vengeance, and with gusto. the parting of her hips. She was seated There was Amidst this revelry, she suddenly holding a conch shell to her something in the smell onear,a rock saw the figure of a young girl and as she smiled, Tala could tell coming towards her from one of the that she possessed all the secrets that spoke of another shacks. For a second she thought its deepest, most unfathomable world—until one night, she to she was seeing a phantom of her music. own imagination—the girl Juanita It was then that Tala began came across the answer in stepping out of the blurry haze of to understand her mother. Being a the tattered pages of an mermaid would explain everything her childhood, still clad in white, still leaving the scent of rose petals peculiar about her, from the fishiness old storybook. wherever she placed her foot on the of her scent, to the irresistible charm of ground. Only after squinting did she realize her singing. She started to think about all the this youthful apparition was her own daughter. times she had caught Mama singing, how it seemed “Tala! What are you doing here? You’re to be a part of her everyday bustle, as casual as supposed to be asleep.” Tala put her arms it was for her to wave an arm or furrow her There, around her mother’s neck and leaned brows. Mama would sing to everything— a tired head against her shoulders. to the droplets that fell when she staring at her from Juanita began rubbing the squeezed her hair after rinsing, to the the yellow surface of bubbles gurgling on her soup, to the the page, was a woman languid rhythm of the last flickering candle in the nights she had to stay whose skin was covered up sewing, pausing only to bite off the extra bit of thread. Throughout by a smattering of these recollections, Tala would scales. be reminded of tales about mermaids beguiling fishermen through song, how they captured their hearts with a sweet, silvery kind of sorrow that made them child’s back, feeling row closer and closer to the suddenly the sharp protrusion of a whirlpool that engulfed them in wasted spine and the hollow of an emaciated shoulder. one quick swallow. She furrowed her brows, overwhelmed by a tight knotting There was only one thing that bothered Tala about of guilt. But the child’s grasp was becoming unbearable. Mama’s singing, and that was that Aling Juanita sang Juanita tried to pry off the bony fingers that were tugging in her native Cebuano, a dialect Tala was never taught. at her throat. She mistook it for a mysterious oceanic tongue, and Tala buried her face in her mother’s neck and caught spent nights trying to decipher its code, thinking it had a whiff of Juanita’s skin. This fishy fragrance seemed something to do with the secret to her mother’s past—why to linger on everything Mama touched. It was on the it was that she chose to live on land. The storybooks said clothes she wore, the pins that kept her hair from falling it was as simple as falling in love, but Tala wasn’t sure she across her forehead, the cream-colored comb she used to understood their answer. She would try to picture Mama untangle her knots. Sometimes, when Mama was at the spiraling into a man’s gaping heart, losing the protection market, she would go to her parent’s room and try to find of her scales in exchange for a pair of legs that became traces of her scent in the housedress she kept hanging on sturdier the longer she walked on ground. After all, Tala the wall. Her nose would furrow through creases of cloth thought, not all mermaids were successful in beguiling

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fishermen from the shore. Sometimes, it was they who she noticed Enrique staring, she was playing tag with her had to succumb. And when they did, instead of capsizing friends outside. They were chasing each other over the boats, they lost their fins. makeshift ramps that hung precipitously above the sewage Clinging onto Mama’s neck now, Tala got an canals snaking beneath the overwhelming urge to scratch the surface of her skin; slums. Tala was wearing maybe—just maybe—she could scrape away enough of the summer dress Tita the dust to uncover the scales glistening from within. Ernesa gave her for “Tala why are you acting this way?” Her Christmas, the one mother’s growing irritation caught the she liked so much attention of the other women. All chatter because it reminded ceased, and everyone turned to see what her of the trumpet Tala was doing—this girl with the flowers growing in the gardens of pointed chin and the curtain of bangs the rich. She had the bloom of the Juanita began cutting straight across her forehead. skirt tucked safely between her rubbing the child’s “What do you want, anak?” The legs and above her knees so she child murmured something wouldn’t have to worry about back, feeling suddenly unintelligible, something she slipping. They were running the sharp protrusion of a everywhere, these children expected her mother to understand. “Speak up!” of potholed streets. The wasted spine and the “I said I’m hot and I can’t fall asleep. wooden boards were creaking, hollow of an emaciated bouncing at the thump of their Come sleep next to me.” “But Papa’s already lying on the cot. Why nimble feet. Benji was “it,” chasing shoulder. don’t you sleep next to him?” after her with a boyish grin—watch “Because I can’t fall asleep. Not when you’re not out, watch out! Belinda screamed, her there.” tongue a lollipop-red in the bright sunlight. “Stop it, Tala. Look, Tita Teresa is staring at you. Do Tala quickened her pace, and started running in another you want her thinking you’re a little baby who can’t sleep direction, when she came across a pair of eyes that shot without her mama?” cold electricity down her spine. Tag—you’re it! Benji was The girl gave her mother’s friend a long, defeated triumphant. The thudding in Tala’s chest beat even louder, stare. “Come now, Tala,” cooed Aling Teresa. “Be a good though her heart was already out of the game. You’re it, girl and sleep next to your Papa. You need to take your Tala! You’re it! siesta, otherwise you’ll be too tired later when all your “Change into that dress, Tala. Everyone’s staring at friends come out to play.” you. Come now, don’t embarrass Mama like that.” But she didn’t want to play outside. “I can’t sleep The day Enrique approached her, she was squatting without Mama there to fan me.” next to the water-pump, looking for broken bits of clay. So all she wants is a little breeze, Aling Juanita Colored chalk was getting too expensive to buy, and they thought, and breathed a sigh of relief. “Papa has the fan needed to make the lines for hopscotch. Enrique was the on. If you sleep next to him, you won’t be so hot. Come lanky orphan who moved into the Manzanilla’s shack on, child, stop being so difficult.” And with that, she gave when he was nineteen. Some say Mrs. Manzanilla took the girl a parting kiss on the forehead. pity on him, took him under her wing after his mother died But Tala wouldn’t bulge. “No. Not without you,” she and his father lost his wages to drinking. Others say she said through clenched teeth. What Mama did not know, just wanted his company, her husband having been dead and what she didn’t want to tell her, was that she had had for five years and she, left alone and childless. Spending a dream. It was the same dream she had been having for her afternoons smoking on an upturned bin, she would several days now—Enrique standing there, next to the smile when she saw him turning around the corner, and water-pump, waiting for her to come outside with the thrust the burning end of her cigarette in one of the potted red plastic bucket she used to gather water. She would see plants withering on her doorstep. She would take him by him from afar, dark and solid against the blazing sky, and the crook of his arm. Enrique would answer with a curt her feet would start to betray her, one defiant step after nod, and let himself be led into the darkness beneath her another. roof. Tala used to watch the two of them disappear behind Juanita noticed her daughter sweating profusely. “Sus, the rusty swinging of the screen, and wonder what it must Tala, is it really that hot inside? Why don’t you change be like to have her as a mother. your shirt and wear something a little more airy? Wear Tala was prodding the soil with the fat end of a that dress Ernesta gave you.” Tala shuddered; the first time stick when she found herself suddenly encapsulated

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by Enrique’s shadow. She looked up. He was asking for child by the crook of her armpits, but the girl refused to her name. She pretended not to hear and called out to let her mother make a crutch out of her arms. “Why are her friends—Anita! Isabel! Maria! Susanna! They had you doing this to me?” She could feel the veins straining already left the water-pump and were running through on her neck, the pulsating rivers, green and gushing, the streets. She threw her stick in a calm, unhurried ready to explode. Come on, baby. Don’t do this to me. manner, not wanting to let him know that she was afraid. By this time the other women had been sitting in a From a distance, the many voices sounded the familiar silent ring. They looked out of solemn, rock-hard faces, tinkling of a chime, promising nothing, yet warning the the wrinkle of laughter gone from their cheeks. They knew onset of wind. Rubbing her dirty fingers on her skirt, Juanita would eventually exhaust her strength, would sit she started to make her way towards her friends. Relax, with collapsed shoulders and notice, for the first time, the beautiful. I’m only asking for a name, boomed the voice throbbing in her fingertips. They knew that somewhere above her shoulder. There was something about it that in her chest, she would discover a more painful aching, reverberated like an echo, as if it didn’t belong to him, and pitied her for it. Tala’s cries had softened to a toneless but from something else not familiar with its sound. Tala whimper punctured by quick spasms of breath. Her black continued to walk towards the girls. When she was close eyes looked suddenly old under the creases of her brow. enough, Maria spotted her and held up a nice big piece of Juanita peered into them; she saw herself glistening on clay. “Tala, look! I found a good one!” The moment Maria their surface. The child was tired, there was no question shouted her name, she sensed Enrique’s mouth widening about it. She was crying because she needed sleep. into a victorious grin. Ah, so it’s Tala—Tala as in star. The Juanita took the edge of her blouse and began wiping brightest star in this godforsaken slum. She felt his hand her daughter’s tear-stained cheeks. She brushed the hair brush up against her wrist, and she started running. away from her forehead, and tucked them neatly Come back with me now. Aling Juanita behind her ears. Using both arms for Ah, did not want to leave the circle of women support, she draped Tala’s frame so it’s Tala—Tala who had sacrificed their siestas for an over one shoulder. afternoon of laughter. But Tala had Tala held on, looking like a as in star. The brightest already begun crying. Juanita stared rag doll, arms wrapped tightly star in this godforsaken slum. around her mother’s neck. She at the black hole of her daughter’s mouth and felt paralyzed by anger. was relieved that she got her She felt his hand brush up She began hitting the child—first, mother to come—this halfagainst her wrist, and she slightly, on the rump, then with fish beauty who could sing increasing vehemence as the girl began Enrique away, whose voice had started running. to kick and punch and throw a tantrum the power to fling him into the most on the floor. She hated the sight of Tala there, treacherous part of the ocean. Mama her face about to burst from the noise of her crying, may have fallen once, like the storybooks say, salivating all over her dirt-stained shirt. Her buttocks were somewhere a long, long time ago. But something in the flattened by gravel, and out of a red, wrinkled skirt stuck way she held Tala now made the girl believe she had long two ungainly legs, skinny as sticks. How many more nights been immune to falling. Now, Tala felt the strength of a in front of Mang Oskar’s stall, Juanita thought, how many mermaid’s grasp, felt that in this simple enfolding of arms, more catcalls, disapproving faces—the shaking heads that all of Enrique’s plans to touch her, to invade the serenity send her feeling small, so small. And still, skinny as sticks! of her dreams, would be cast away. And as she drew Too bad a young woman like you is already married, Mang herself closer to Juanita’s body, watching her mother’s Oskar’s smile would show nothing but a pair of rotten slippers tread on dusty ground, she thought she could molars. And to a poor man, nonetheless. She hit the child see a procession of scales following them, winking and harder, this time lashing at her thighs, as if doing so exultant, in the light of the sun. will miraculously force the skin to swell and the muscle to round up. Tala shrieked. Juanita yelled even louder: get up! She tried to haul the

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David Letterman David Letterman is my homeboy. We watch Colts games and westerns together. Sometimes we eat chocolate backstage. Sometimes we laugh at how unfunny his jokes were.

窶認rank Rodriguez

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“Green,” woodcut, Nell Van Noppen

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1

Lesson

ONE

INTRODUCTIONS

Look your companion in the eye and lay out the ground rules. Slow down. Look at me. Speak clearly. Stop covering your mouth with your hands. Say these things while trying not to feel embarrassed that your mode of communication is so different. Realize how often you have neglected saying them at all. Silently, wish you could establish more rules within the parameters of politeness. Shave your facial hair. Make your lips less like sphincters or sausages. Stop lisping. Stop rambling. Be expressive! Make yourself totally, unmistakably clear. Realize that, if your companion is unaccustomed to talking with a deaf person,

Lip he (or she) will be likely to do one of two things: nod assent and then proceed to forget these guidelines completely, or take them a bit too seriously. Symptoms of the latter include wide buggy eyes, a stilted air, and overenunciation. Resist the temptation to snort and remark that, if your companion says “Ooookaayy, eeeezz theeiiss eh-nyy beh-tehrr?� it does not help, it only makes him look like a clown. Remember, in seventh grade, a teacher who did not understand these things, who patted you on the back and pointed and looked anxious and stretched his lips almost to bursting, all in efforts to make you

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2 Lesson

Two Logistics understand. Recall how this teacher’s antics made you uncomfortable before finally they made you laugh. One day surfaces in your memory, a class field trip to the river to collect bugs, when he sloshed up and warned you not to driiiiink the wahhh-tehrrr, despite the fact that you were thirteen years old and intelligent and this wasn’t water, it was mud. You stared after him in astonishment for a moment, suspended in doubt before your inner self spoke up and saw the absurdity of it and you and your best friend tumbled into giggles.

Let’s start with the cocktail party effect. First described by Colin Cherry in 1953, this selective hearing skill allows people to converse in noisy places by focusing their auditory attention on a single speaker or sound within an excessive amount of background noise. You do not have this skill, since your cochlear implant magnifies all environmental sounds, sometimes to the brink of physical nausea. But stop thinking about that. Try to get your companion somewhere quiet, since you find the white noise of

overlapping conversations horribly distracting. Resist the temptation to fingerspell your name or sign certain things if your companion doesn’t understand you. You’re trying to have a normal conversation, remember. Inevitably, you will think about how much easier this would be in sign. But recall the instances where you’ve gone out with other deaf people who did not lipread as well as you do, even for minor things like ordering food at a restaurant, and how you’ve felt astonished at your ability to shift between two languages and two

Reading Watch your companion as he begins to speak. Evaluate how much you like his face, decide how challenging this is going to be. Often such judgments take only a moment, but define how comfortable you feel. If more than a dozen words wisp by like smoke, save that you can sense their particular rhythm like a train clacking over metal rails, take a deep breath and refocus your eyes. Estimate how essential it is for you to understand. Think about your surroundings.

or

What to Do When the Speed of Sound Exceeds the Speed of Light —Rachel Kolb

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3 Lesson

three strategy

worlds simply because you could scrutinize a hearing person’s face. The first time you realized this, you were twelve years old in an ice cream shop at a summer camp for the deaf. Now, as you did then, recall the immense power that you possess to bridge gaps with your eyes.

doesn’t have a foreign accent, or it’s all over. People from other countries, or even other parts of the United States, don’t just sound different; they move their mouths differently. Your brain will do headstands if you find yourself conversing with someone from, say, Singapore. You never felt completely comfortable conversing with the interHope in advance that she (or he) national students in your college freshman dorm, doesn’t have a foreign accent, except for that one perceptive guy who typed to or it’s all over. you on his smartphone. You remember despairSpeaking of eyes, be sure to take ing over the accents while studying care of them. They are your most valu- abroad in the UK, where even asking able tools. Give them a rest from time for eggs at the store could be an orto time, recognize when the muscles deal. If faced with an accent, prepare wear out and the edge dulls from the to assess, reassess, adjust, secondocular nerves, ceaselessly firing ac- guess, and finally run with what you tion potentials to your brain. Pay at- think you saw. Even if that resembles tention to the lighting in your envi- a cryptoquip cipher puzzle. ronment. Good lighting is essential; Try to avoid certain situations without it your eyes flounder and you like driving, when you wish you feel swept out to sea. Glaring indoor could tear one eye out to watch the fluorescents are bright enough, but road while the other strains to blink leave you staggering in near-blind- at the passenger seat, all while visualness. Romantic dinner restaurants izing a crash with an oncoming semiwith low light may have good food truck. Recall how afraid you were and ambiance, but the conversation to start driving for this reason, how often takes a nosedive. Spotlights or frustrated you got when your passenlamps are helpful, but shroud the far ger tried to give you directions. But, side of a person’s face in shadow. You for conversational purposes, even hate it when the sun dips and glares worse is sitting in the back seat, when into your face, reducing everything to you can just feel the dialogue floatsilhouette. But soft or muted outdoor ing to the front of the car, away from light, on the contrary, is perfect. you, as if you’ve been shut in a box. Start settling into your com- Even after years, this kind of isolapanion’s distinctive spoken nuances. tion is something you cannot stand. Hope in advance that she (or he)

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Smile courteously at the questions your companion asks about lipreading, once he realizes that’s what you’re doing. You learned through practice, because you had to. More vocabulary: the McGurk effect, a 1970s experiment in which participants viewed a video of human lips pronouncing the sound “g,” at the same time as they heard the sound “b” – yet reported not hearing either “g” or “b,” but the intermediate sound “d.” To you, this example of multimodal processing is evidence that hearing people do lipread, even if they do not realize it. Thank your companion when he tells you that your lipreading is impressive, even while privately thinking that hearing people could do it too. Rub your eyes when they start to blur, look away for a moment. When you get too tired of asking your companion to repeat a question, resort to your usual cop-out response of “Oh, I don’t know.” Recall one moment in first grade when you answered a classmate’s question this way after she had asked what your name was. Remember how mortified you felt afterwards, and think of how frightening incomprehension is for a child without a grounded sense of self. Pretended ignorance has its dangers, but ignorance is a line that you must toe. If your companion tells a joke and you miss the punch line – as you inevitably will, because it’ll snap by too fast for you to see – paste on a smile and chuckle appreciatively. Try to keep the conversation constrained. Steer your companion


3

toward a closed set in which you will be more able to anticipate his or her responses. Even if you despise small talk, rest knowing that this predetermined category will help the conver-

One last thing. When your internal batteries start to wear down, when your companion seems more and more unintelligible, resort to guesswork. In the end, that’s what lipreading is. You’ve read a statistic that says even Engage in the quickstep, the most skilled lipreaders, take a gamble, and inhale in across a range of people exhilaration when you succeed. and situations, only understand thirty percent of what is being said. You besation flow better, will help keep you lieve this figure to be accurate, as you from second-guessing yourself. An piece together the array of minute open set, in which anything is pos- facial motions, never quite catching sible, frightens as well as fascinates everything, puzzling over routine diyou with the unpredictability of other lemmas like identical-looking consopeople’s minds. nants, “b” and “p,” “t” and “d.” Which If there is something you must is it? Fill in a missing word, or a missdo at all costs, it is this: keep the con- ing phrase, based on context. Gauge, versation one-on-one. Avoid inter- calculate, follow your instincts, make actions with a larger group, because split-second decisions and backthat’s where your ability to converse track when they come out wrong. breaks down. Anticipate how it will Plow your way through. Engage in be: at first like watching a ball volley the quickstep, take a gamble, and inacross a net, but hale in exhilaration more and more when you succeed. Marvel at what a like attempting to to relax, delicate thing human Attempt grasp every detail even when you know of a world champithat you’re clinging understanding is. onship ping-pong to communication match involving ten people and a while flirting with meaninglessness. dozen balls, in which you stagger Marvel at what a delicate thing huaway feeling nauseous and obliged man understanding is. to acknowledge that, in this case, the Sigh in relief when a familiar speed of sound does exceed the speed face appears before you. Recognize of light. In such situations, you gape the way its planes move, the shapes and detach and end up walking away. its lips make. Stop strategizing. Talk. You hate this, but it is not a matter of Smile and let the words flow over you. being fickle, shy, or snobbish. It is a matter of knowing yourself, and it has taken you years to realize this.

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Na

National Novel Writing Month Topics in Intermediate FictionWriting: NaNoWriMo Taught by Scott Hutchins and Tom Kealey, Fall 2010

Presented here are first paragraphs of novels written by students this November.

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Saving Sense

In this dream, you must connect the dots. They’re not normal dots on paper, though. They’re actually more like snapshots. They’re the pictures that the camera in your eyes takes. Somebody finds those pictures, now. They’re not laid down nicely on a table, though, or handed in a stack. They’re floating, in the air, right where they were taken. They frame the vision that you had at that moment, the scene you saw, on a winter’s day in December of 1969 when the roads were empty and you wondered how you would be getting home. Or that summer evening in August of 1982, when you looked under the table and saw your son, grinning with his brand new missing tooth, kissing the booth at which he was about to get his birthday cake. Or the blackness when you closed your eyes that September morning, when the planes hit below you and you fell to the ground, imagining your whole life sweep by in the blink of an eye. Now somebody else connects that whole life for you after you are gone, the trail your eyes made since you were born. They walk in your footsteps, put their faces in the spaces at the places where your own had been, and they nod in understanding. They see the next image, and the one right before, and they nod in understanding. They walk through your whole life, connecting cause to effect and making to breaking, and destiny to fate, and they nod in understanding.  

—Derek Ouyang, sophomore from Arcadia, CA


aNo Egypt

Hopin’ for Christ

Everything flows into the Nile. All rivers, all life, all hope, despair, joy, sorrow, order, and tumult collide and cascade down rocky mountains, through red lands raged by Sekhmet and black valleys blessed by Min, rushing madly in a rising flood, or drifting slowly down the stream of a million years. Each brooklet runs into a brook, each streamlet into a stream; each tiny tributary flows onward, driven by the indomitable destiny of nature into something larger. Paths intertwine, and sometimes paths diverge, but always collect into one great stream. Onward the great river flows, a strip of black amidst the red, sown upon the firm foundation of Ma’at. Through the deserts and hills and mountains of the sedge, to the wide, fertile marsh of the bee, Hapi ceaselessly flows. He rises and falls, breathes in the air of the coming and going of Sothis, measured by Khnemu at the cataract from which all life begins.

Shades of everlasting reddish brown coated the landscape of Welsley’s Crossing with a soothing afterglow as a graceful calm silenced the shimmer of autumn leaves chained to a fall in accordance with the bustle of the wind’s urging. Their songs were met with waxed ears.   From the outs, most eyes cast an effigy of holy’s manifestations through green; God’s, gods’, and goddesses’ offerings to quell zeal.  Trees: the silent companion of the creators.  They are true watchmen at post from the beginning, chipped and rung with age, but authoritative in their stance, watchful of everything and everyone until uprooted.  Their stations overlook and disperse what tends to be viewed as beautiful under the shiniest star.  Sunlight’s attacks bounced off the creases of surrounding and connecting leaves of watchmen hand in hand.  The shooting glow of warmth swam across the ridges of their bark not without splashing specs to the grass for a collaborative painting of green and orange pastels that dots fresh eyes and permeate hope—supposed beauty; some know better.

—Dave Struthers, sophomore from Sacramento, CA

—James Flint, senior from Bronx, NY

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WriM Tangled Waters

Never a fan of waiting, she was already thinking about the seats at the ten-minute mark. Thinking about how sixteen hours before, her fiancé had spooned her on a 200-count sheet and reached between her legs, and she had asked instead, “The seats at breakfast places. You think they’re brown?” “I don’t know,” he said. —Samantha Toh, senior from Singapore

Mycelium A piercing bird call resounded through the artic night; even the smallest of sounds carried between the snow-burdened trees. I inhaled the frozen air as I ran my hands over the smooth propeller for the third time, wiping off snowflakes that peppered its surface. Glancing at my broken watch, I prayed that my passengers would show up soon. This was a gravel strip; even under the best conditions, it would be difficult to make the airspeed necessary for takeoff. The unkind wind carried the scent of pines and bergamot as my eyes searched for headlights. —Shaughnessy Brown, freshman from Idaho Falls, ID

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Bordeaux Born Anew

No matter what Warren did, his mind kept replaying the worst events in his life over and over again. Events like his first breakup, for instance. Or the time his father disappeared and never came back. He’d tried lots of things to get it to stop—humming was first. He’d sense one of those feelings coming along, one of those bad feelings, like his mind was drifting dangerously far into the past. Then he’d start humming. “Hey Jude” by The Beatles worked best, but even then it didn’t work all that well. He’d still have those awful events replaying in his mind, he’d still feel like he was slowly sinking underwater, down and down. And who wants to kick the bucket while humming “Hey Jude”?

—Lucas Loredo, junior from Austin, TX


Mo The Loveliest Euphemism

Pershing Avenue, being a street for only the most respectable of citizens, is a quiet street except at the hour when mothers bring their sons and their carpools home from sports practice, and fathers come home from work and take off or loosen their ties for a cocktail or a glass of red wine before family dinners or congenial recreating with the neighbors. An exceptionally ugly house once stood on the corner of Pershing Avenue and Dreary Street, one story and a basement, lonely and detached and haunted with dirt. The other houses of the street, conscious of a certain requirement or standard among them, seemed to stare at the corner house, blowing through their upholstered curtains the winds of high-minded resentment. A seventy-something woman owned the place. Having divorced her husband and retired from her generic office-job, she packed up her cubicle, taking her World’s Best Mom mugs and framed family photos home, clear-headed and ready to confront her midlife crisis. She went for the trusty mid-life remodel in the early nineties and then the kitchen appliances and furniture all glowed a pretty piglet pink and the psychedelic floral wallpaper with rose and pumpkin hues gave the place a nostalgic feel, reminiscent of Northern California’s glorious 1960’s, whose memories refused to fade,

unlike the wallpaper. By the time Penelope and the rest of them moved in, the psychedelic swirls had faded to a dull salmon and school bus yellow, appliances had long since rusted themselves out of commission, and the pool behind the house was drained, littered with leaves and the corpses of bugs that had perished in its yellow waters years ago. —Grace DeVoll, senior from Pasadena, CA

The Monsters of Antler Outpost The front door to Henry Waters’ house was open. The warm Indian summer evening sat on the verge of blue stars and stirring breezes, so it did not bother him as he shut off the engine of his 4-wheeler. —Chris Rurik, senior from Gig Harbor, WA

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“Learning to Fly,� collage, Jin Yu

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Too Much Thirst masks the meaning of water.

In this way, you are never really thirsty. How Could you be? You would be like the moa bird, wingless, wandering Through grounded time into dark winds. Can you believe The way whole species go Extinct before learning how to fly? They must have seen—the sky is full of water And I wake up on the sharpest thirsty morning of my Life. I grasp for clouds as cups, I climb Dusty hills and stare into the sea. I am Seven and lake-filled, Algae limp through my hair, falling backwards off of Docks, trusting ripples. I am fourteen and floating, river rocks Stealing flecks of my fingers and thighs. I am Twenty at the sea and water flips the sky and Swallows. Both are bursting, both suns tip and I worry that my Falling and my Floating Are my Moa. I dive headfirst into the backwards sea. The sandcastles I build dribble away Out of my grasp. I build too many, I see.

–ZOE LEAVITT

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The Chicken Keeper 窶年atalie Cox

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Chickens are always dying. I realized this rabbits, combing their fur coats and dressing them after a neighborhood dog ate our family’s third in doll’s clothes. And so, of course, he was also the batch of pet poultry, and my parents decided to one who dealt with their deaths. start buying chicks, in bulk by the dozen like Upon hearing my frantic entry to the house grocery store eggs. These birds seem to die of and cries of suspected sickness, Dad would everything, in the most grotesquely creative calmly rouse himself from the table. He would ways. I’ve rarely seen a chicken die of old age; swing on his thick, plaid jacket, and listen to never witnessed one curl up comfortably in me spill forth the symptoms and preliminary the corner of the coop after a full life of eating diagnosis as we walked together back down to the cracked corn and kitchen scraps and succumb, coop. Peering through the chicken wire walls of the finally, to a peaceful, lasting sleep. A sudden loss of backyard observation ward, he’d silently watch the feathers – now that’s more typical: a dragging wing, a patient stumble and peck about, nodding occasionally at growing lump, a blocked intestine or crop. my running commentary. He’d decide when to extricate In the hours I spent playing with the chickens, I the ones who seemed exceptionally contagious, and place always saw the early signs of illness, and watched as the them in the small wooden cage we had built together sickly worsened into states of decrepitude. The slightest for the specific purpose of solitary confinement. And, indication of a missing feather or lopsided lope would when it was silently understood that the sickness was send me running inside to tell my father, the Guardian terminal, he’d give me a day or two to play Nurse Natalie, of the Birds, the Keeper of the Coop, the one who to suckle the sickly with a bottle of warm porridge and knew about these sorts of things. We weep empathetically for those nearing always spoke of the chickens life’s end. as being “mine”— Eventually, though, Dad The slightest indication I chose the most fancily would sternly approach of a missing feather or lopsided lope feathered breeds from me about “putting them the catalogue when would send me running inside to tell my out of their misery.” we ordered them at the A passionate argument father, the Guardian of the Birds, the would commence until feed store, christened them with names like the creature either passed on Keeper of the Coop. “Rowdy” and “Ritz,” baked them independently, or we reached the little plum-stuffed cakes out of oat and uneasy truce of euthanasia. The veterinarian alfalfa pellets. But Dad was the one who silently kept must have puzzled at the stream of ailing Rhode Island things running, the one with enough strength to haul Reds and Buff Orphingtons that came through his 50-pound bags of poultry feed down the hill, who scooped door, but I couldn’t stand the thought of an execution putrid, muddy shovelfuls of manure out of the coop when on our property, especially at my father’s hands. I’d cry it began to reek, and who consistently remembered to inconsolably as he gathered the infirm for their final refill the water – all while I was off playing with the pet journey to Dr. Bohn’s, yelling ardent, accusatory words

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down the driveway as he took them away, alone, in our swirling, in bed, inventing in my mind’s eye an image of big black van. Yet despite his mutterings in those final their unseen nocturnal murderer: a dark, hybrid vermin moments (“This is ridiculous, it’s – part fox, part weasel, part raccoon – who killed a chicken! I should do this for entertainment, not out of a true need for myself.”), I knew he never food. I lost track of whom could. Dad never buried the chickens or what was buried where, and Eventually that had been massacred; they just a graveyard got thrown over the fence, quickly, eventually, one fall during high emerged in the one before I could ever see them. The school, Mom turned the undeveloped corner same shovel that dug graves became of our garden, a catapult, and it hurled the victim’s sacred grounds into a a place my alliteration— torn bodies deep into the woods and pumpkin patch. prone self deemed brush below our backyard. I would sneak “Pet Purgatory” because it sounded down to the yard’s border later in the day, and catchy and I remember thinking “purgatory” perched on the top of a fence post I would scan every inch was synonymous with heaven anyhow. We buried the of the forest with morbid curiosity, hoping to glimpse ones that had died of natural causes there, the ones found at least a bloody feather. I suppose I wasn’t quite sure fallen with scrawny wings splayed, or the ones that came what to look for, since, despite my probing questions, home stiff and cloudy-eyed from the vet’s office, neatly Dad wouldn’t describe the carcasses or injuries he had contained in a plastic-bag coffin. Sometimes I’d try to witnessed. Instead he left me with a police report: grab the shovel from Dad and dig the hole myself, but a body count, the names of those who had died, in my hands the tool simply bounced off the layers of a few factual details about the time and place. I clay soil and redwood roots with a sharp metallic ting. remember the first time a chicken died. I was six, So instead I’d stand back, silently entranced by the and some predator, perhaps a raccoon, maybe a carcass that lay in waiting beside its growing hole. It badger, had discovered a hole in the wire coop. The was amazing how quickly the mounds of fresh dirt victims were my first three chickens, my first three blended in with the natural contours of the yard, pets – a trio of rust-colored hens that I constantly how soon my makeshift headstones (names traipsed about with, one tucked under my arm or written in Sharpie on shards of flat patio teetering on my shoulder. Dad was frantic that day. He tile) were accidentally kicked or washed spent the morning outside fortifying the coop, erecting away. I lost track of whom or what was a concrete barricade around its base, wrapping the walls buried where, and eventually, one in extra layers of barbed wire, and adding double, triple fall during high school, Mom turned layers of locks and latches to every door. That afternoon the sacred grounds into a pumpkin he disappeared for four hours and finally returned with patch, each scoop of dirt flung a cardboard box holding five new baby chicks. But to the side christening it while their sweet peeps and chirps calmed with crumbles of amber. me momentarily, my face stayed solemn I wondered I wondered why Dad had and tear-stained for days, my steps never let me see a murdered repeatedly returning me to the how this deflated mess chicken. I had watched countless newly buttressed coop outside. We of feathers had once stood learned that with death there came birds die of sickness, seen their lifeless bodies laid to rest, but as a bird – within this heap a sadness, one not even Dad could there was something different entirely patch. I couldn’t tell wing from about the slaughtered – perhaps The chicken fortress still stands it was the blood, the violence, the in our backyard. A few straggling thigh from neck. terror—things the Keeper didn’t want birds, those lucky enough to escape a child to see. My father was always the illness or the jaws of some cruel creature, first to happen upon the scene of the crime, continue to peck and scratch about in the dirt. early in the morning as he watered the garden I’m no longer there to bake them strange delicacies, before work. He would always clean the whole mess up or carry them through the garden paths, but every day, my (fresh hay, birds flung, holes patched) before coming in father still hauls their bags of grain, changes the hay, and my bedroom to wake me up and gently tell me: “Nat, I’m keeps the water clean. And every once in a while I get a sorry hon, I think some mean animal got into the chicken phone call from the Keeper of the Coop—Dad calling to coop last night.” After he left I’d lie horrified, thoughts tell me, gently, that a chicken has died.

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“The Other Side,” Natalie Uy

T

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“Scarves in Spirit,” Victoria Yee

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Leland Quarterly Winter 2011


Of Late

I finally read that book you gave me. The one you handed me that afternoon, in the park, the one I dropped and got dirt in the pages. I’m sorry I dropped it, that was a stupid thing to do, and I didn’t mean to and I wish I could undo it but I can’t. And I’m sorry I didn’t read it sooner, I don’t know why I didn’t, I meant to, but you know, things got in the way, I was really busy at work, it’s not an excuse, I know, but there it is. I meant to read the book sooner, I really did, so that we could talk about it, about the plot, the language, the metaphors—but now I can only talk about endings. I liked the ending by the way, of the book, that is, and I feel like you probably knew I would, that’s why you gave it to me, because the writing was beautiful and the ending was happy or at least not sad and you knew I liked happy endings and you knew how if I could I’d make everyone live their lives backwards so that endings were beginnings and so that everyone’s grandparents and their parents and their friends are all born into the world out of little pine boxes to tears of joy and grow younger and happier and healthier and there’d be no disease, only cures, and no death, only a last hello. There’d especially be no car accidents, only cars driving away from each other, big sheets of aluminum unfolding like backwards origami, airbags being sucked in, glass flying up from the ground into a mosaic and then fusing together again. But that’s not in the book, I know, and I really came here to talk about the book, because you gave it to me and you obviously wanted me to read it and talk about it with you and instead I dropped it. I thought I’d have all the time in the world to read it, all the time in my life, in your life, in our lives, to read it, I thought I’d have time to put it aside and put it off, but I was wrong and I’m sorry. I’ve read the book now, I know I’ve said that, but I want to say it again, I’ve read the book now, and it was really good, really good, and I wish, well, I wish for a lot of things. I really liked the ending, by the way, did I say that? I really liked the ending, finally, like you knew I would, and now, more than anything, I just want you to say you liked the ending too, I want you to hear me say that I read that book you gave me, I want you to be happy, to smile, to share that book with me, to share something with me again, one more time, and I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry but I finally read that book you gave me. —SETH WINGER

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Damian Kastil

Major: Economics Minor: Physics Year: Senior Photography offers a way to journal the scene of an experience. In any image, it is often the things I couldn’t control that speak to me most: spontaneous movement, textural richness, untold stories.

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“Wild Fallow Deer, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany�

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“Talking Trees, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany�

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“Bedouin Man, Petra, Jordan”

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“Street Corner, Seattle, U.S.A.”

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To Be A Pirate Is To Be Alive To be a pirate is to be alive. To fight, to sail, and to dive into the deep, blue sea. That’s what it is to me.

—Frank Rodriguez

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Original Winter One Acts What makes Original Winter One Acts special is that each play, from its script to its production to its direction to its enactment, is entirely student-designed. At Leland Quarterly, we’re familiar with the rewards and difficulties of this process: we too select work by fellow undergraduates, edit it, change it, and give it the best presentation we can. This is the story behind the following scene from Samantha Toh’s Fix It: nothing is so simple as putting raw text on a stage. Just as much as editors and designers affect the fiction writer’s or the poet’s work, directors and actors affect the playwright’s.

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Scene from the Script of Fix It MOLLY. You can hate it if you want. But who’s right, who’s wrong, how we decide, it’s fascinating. Same for Law, later, but backward. We decide who’s right and who’s wrong first, then we fight. BUCK. You liked it? MOLLY. … I like it. (BUCK takes a script from his back pocket. Flirtatiously—) BUCK. I like you. MOLLY. I told you not to start yet. BUCK. … but I do. MOLLY. You like... me. BUCK. What I said. MOLLY. Oh. BUCK. I really do. MOLLY. That’s nice… yes. (She looks at BUCK.) That’s nice. BUCK. Molly… it’s not ten yet. There’s still plenty of time. MOLLY. I’m working on a tight schedule.

we’re buying take-out meals. BUCK. We? MOLLY. … my husband and I. He wants me to work, and I need to start. I need to start somewhere. It’ll make things better and I have to. BUCK. … but how about Scott? MOLLY. (Shocked.) Excuse me? BUCK. Scott. How does the story end? MOLLY. I… I don’t know, Buck. BUCK. Scott. MOLLY. What are you talking— BUCK. I’ll be Scott. (Playacting mode.) I am Scott. (He begins kissing her all over her face, her neck, her hands, her fingers.) I love you. I need you. I want you. I think you’re like no other woman I’ve been with before. I think you’re funny. I think you make life interesting. I think you’re beautiful. (By this time, MOLLY is frozen. BUCK leans in.) MOLLY. Scott…

(BUCK reaches up suddenly, strokes her cheek.)

(BUCK kisses her. A moment.)

MOLLY. Buck. BUCK. I don’t need a script. MOLLY. Buck. BUCK. I want you. MOLLY. Buck — BUCK. I do. MOLLY. I’m starting work again in a week.

BUCK. There’s still time. MOLLY. No. BUCK. Make time. MOLLY. I can’t.

(Beat.) BUCK. What does that mean? MOLLY. I don’t have evenings free. I’m not cooking,

(Silence. BUCK looks at her.) MOLLY. Your cheque’s on the dresser. BUCK. Don’t. MOLLY. It’s time. (BUCK still looks at her. Lights fade.)

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Original Winter One Acts: Fix It Samantha Toh Writer

Paraphrasing the flyers for Fix It sums the play up quite well: Molly longs for a life of happiness she once had with her husband, Scott. Yet she can only find solace through reenacting these memories with another man, Buck, a student looking for some extra money on the side. This second-last scene speaks to much of what the play is all about. It shifts the plot because Molly now has the option to leave the only two possibilities she had—a life of an abusive reality and a life of a fantasy. As I tried to end the play, I had to figure out if Molly could take a chance with Buck and move forward with her life. I felt shocked when I realised that she couldn’t. Because Molly for me represents a woman with an unfailing loyalty to the past. It’s a loyalty that can be at once admirable in its steadfastness, but can also be puzzling and irrational. It springs from a hope that an unfulfilling relationship can change, and maybe also from a fear of the what now if she left. Molly, I believe, is a character I empathise with and yet dread ever becoming, because I think much of the greatness in life comes from action and risktaking. People you can love can be hard to come by. More frequently, people you can love who can love back are even scarcer. But what this scene hopes to show is that there will always be a Buck. There will always be someone who will treat you right—a person whom Molly could not fathom existing. She was blind or hopeful or scared, and that is why Fix

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It is her small tragedy. “Make time,” said Buck. I wish she could have said yes. I wish she could have dived right in.

Morielle Stroethoff Director

This was the most difficult scene in Fix It to direct. Coming into it, I knew I wanted to bring Buck and Molly as close as possible to a real romantic relationship, so its failure would become all the more painful and provoking to watch. We spent hours hammering out each character’s intentions and trying different strategies to get them to read believably and elegantly on stage. All the elements finally came together on the night before our final dress rehearsal. While everyone else worked on Cue-to-Cue for The Safety, Kerry, Alex, and I rehearsed on the MemAud stage. After we made a few changes in movement and ramped up the physicality of Buck’s initial pursuit of Molly to help her confusion and inner turmoil, the scene finally looked good. Then Kerry had an idea: What if they kissed? We ran the scene, adding a kiss after Molly’s line, “Scott....”, even though it wasn’t in the script. (One of the unexpected advantages of working on an original play was taking liberties with the stage directions. I knew that if I strayed too far from the original play, I could count on Sam to reign me in.  But she approved of the kiss and all our other changes, and even added several of them to the latest version of the script.) For us, that kiss catapulted the scene. Not only was

it agonizing to watch Molly get so close to breaking out of the desperate cycle of her life and proving unable to do so, but the motives for her kiss remained elusively ambiguous. Was she seduced by the fantasy for a moment even after deciding to return to reality and fix things? Or did she see Buck as offering an escape from her abusive marriage? Is Buck really just “the best actor I’ve had”? The tragedy of the kiss came from the fact that whatever it was, whether a last grasp for fantasy or escape, she ultimately fails to break out of that cycle.

Kerry Mahuron Actress (Molly)

It was more tender in the script, like Morielle said. In the original script, Buck and Molly don’t kiss in the final scene. Instead they sit apart from each other on the couch, tingling with sexual energy. Then Buck reaches up and gently touches Molly’s face. His touch is a gesture of such purity and innocence—a moment when all of the costumes and masks and scripts and Legoman legs are finally stripped away, when someone is looking at Molly, really seeing her, for the first time—that of course she breaks. Of course she cannot allow Buck to stay, because people who hate themselves as much as Molly hates herself, blames herself, generally don’t allow anyone to love them. Instead they cling to partners like Scott, who direct outwardly all of the abuse they already inflict on themselves inwardly. The strength and beauty of Sam’s final scene is Sam’s ability to show us that, for Molly, the most


Images courtesy Michael Rooney

dangerous form of intimacy is not sex but eye contact. If Buck really looks at Molly, soon he’ll stop seeing the perfect law school, the perfect job, the table set perfectly with the chairs tucked in—the pretty perfect character she performs for everyone else. Instead, what if he sees the ugly Molly she believes herself to be? What if he sees the Molly who screws up, who unintentionally but maybe subconsciously destroys everything, the Molly not worthy of love, the Molly who can’t keep pretending forever, whose ugliness has always been there but was kept hidden until the accident… What if Buck’s love is really Scott’s love, a love felt for a woman who doesn’t exist, the same heartbreak doomed to replay itself out over and over again in an inescapable cycle? Well, we changed it to a kiss. Mostly because I really wanted to make out with Alex Garrett. (Kidding. Sort of.) Partly because, as an actor, ending the play with a passionate,

Hollywood-worthy liplock is a hell of a lot of fun to play. This role was my one role at Stanford, and if I am going to get just one shot at the stage, then hell yes I am going out with fireworks. But mostly we changed it because in the script, the moment is almost too realistic. In real life, hearts break with just a word, just a touch. We keep our costumes on, recite our lines. What’s really felt is never spoken. But what needed to be communicated on the stage with this scene were the stakes of Buck’s invitation, which were not just the possibility of intimacy but also Molly’s very survival. Our struggle as actors and director was to find a way to show both, to balance the smallness and quietness of the moment with the grand terror raging inside its participants. The way the play turned out was perfect, in my mind. But part of me wishes we could have performed the scene the way it was originally written—hot kiss with Alex notwithstanding.

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“Water Cycle” Brandon Evans

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Contributors

NABILA ABDALLAH is a sophomore from Tanzania Kevin Chow is a sophomore from Baltimore, MD Natalie Cox is a junior from Gualala, CA Johaina Katinka Crisostomo is a senior from Valencia, CA BRANDON EVANS is a sophomore from Portland, OR DAMIAN KASTIL is a senior from Munich, Germany Rachel Kolb is a junior from Albuquerque, NM JASLYN LAW is a senior from San Rafael, CA Zoe Leavitt is a junior from Wayland, MA KERRY MAHURON is a senior from Fremont, CA Tina Hanae Miller is a freshman from Coconut Grove, FL Frank Rodriguez is a junior from Bronx, NY MORIELLE STROETHOFF is a junior from Missoula, MT SAMANTHA TOH is a senior from Singapore NATALIE UY is a junior from San Antonia, TX NELL VON NOPPEN is a senior from Providence, RI EMMA WEBSTER is a senior from San Diego, CA Seth Winger is a senior from Santa Clarita, CA VICTORIA YEE is a sophomore from Westminster, CA JIN YU is a senior from Jeonju, Korea

How can I submit to Leland? •

Leland publishes three times per year. We accept submissions on a rolling basis throughout the year.

All submissions to Leland must be original, unpublished work.

Leland accepts and encourages submissions in a wide range of disciplines, including fiction, poetry, art, creative nonfiction (e.g., memoir, campus culture, student life), reviews (books, movies, music) and political essays (fulllength investigative pieces).

The editors of Leland are concerned first and foremost with the quality of expression exhibited in a work, and not in the genre of work itself. Our goal is to have quality content across a breadth of disciplines, so please do not be afraid to innovate in your submissions.

There is no expectation in terms of length of essays, poems, or fiction. We request, however, that you send in no more than six poems at a time and a maximum of four longer pieces.

Leland accepts submissions exclusively from current Stanford undergraduates.

All submissions are judged anonymously by the editors.

Ready to submit? In your e-mail, include: “Name, Genre” as the subject, Your full name as you want it published, Your class year, and Your hometown. Please submit all written work as Word documents (.doc or .docx files) unless there is a compelling reason for sending your piece as a PDF file. Submissions can be sent to

lelandquarterly@gmail.com For more information, visit www.lelandquarterly.com. Leland Quarterly Winter 2011

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Q Volume 5, Issue 2 Copyright Š 2011 by Leland Quarterly Stanford University lelandquarterly.com

Profile for Leland Quarterly

Leland Quarterly, Vol. 5 Issue 2 Winter 2011  

Featuring Johaina Crisostomo, Damian Kastil, Rachel Kolb, Frank Rodriguez, Emma Webster, and many more talented Stanford contributors.

Leland Quarterly, Vol. 5 Issue 2 Winter 2011  

Featuring Johaina Crisostomo, Damian Kastil, Rachel Kolb, Frank Rodriguez, Emma Webster, and many more talented Stanford contributors.

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