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Cover art by CKL - nerdfighter, lover of cognitive neuroscience, and closet artist.

“Hair” by Vy Lam




“yuna” by CKL “Day of the Dead” by Charlotte Curtis “Untitled” by Sonya Redi “bb” by Cynthia Mar “The Silent” by Charlotte Curtis “mm” by Cynthia Mar

Forbidden Fruit


Owl dish


Photo via

Photos via

by Rosa Cho

When they shoveled away the blackened detritus, they hoisted up what remained of her with their rakes for us to see. Only charred bones remain, eyes shut tight now, burned away. We sigh sadly for we still remember how she was once so fair and so bright. Her wide eyes shocked us, beguiled us as she inspired us to join her crusade to freedom. But now, they’re starting another fire to burn the bones into pure ashes. If they had looked closer, they would have seen a red, bloody mass encased within the ribs, raw as if plucked out from a breathing chest. Some say it is her heart that was miraculously preserved from the flames. If only we could have reached in and carried it away, her red jewel covering our hands in hot blood as if still alive. The flames burn again and the stench of burned meat is overpowered by smoke. The bones glow and cast off their ashy coverings. They shine with a new light, bursting when it has become too intense. We continue to watch more out of obligation as opposed to fascination. Besides, old bones and ash were only just that; just bones and ash. Ash no different from the black stuff in our fireplaces that kept us warm in the night Ashes left over from a bonfire that devoured the weeds from the harvest and roared hungrily for more than just greasy vegetation Ashes that fly away into the air, changing from flying embers glowing bright to flakes of dry powder And then she was finally gone When you are burning in flames, you will know that it is not the fire that would kill you It is the torch that is thrown onto the kindling and the oily straw that bursts so violently for you It is our eyes who watch in bemused silence, do nothing, keep our judgment to ourselves out of fear of damnation The fire keeps us warm at night And keeps your ashes flying through the air to whisper in our memories the story of the embers of your bones

stared at the blank wall across from her. Adina closed her eyes. “Enough,” Adina said aloud, almost succumbing again to the wave of enervation. “Time to get on with it.” In the style of a long-standing routine, she swept herself off the bed, pulled her arms through a robe and tied its sash around her waist, all in one motion. Fixing herself a cup of coffee, Adina’s thoughts blurred over her plan for the day, beginning with her early morning receptionist position at the small firm, then attending three hours of class, followed by a few hours at her internship, studying at the library, and finally her late night waitressing at the restaurant.

by An Dang

Adina jolted awake with a lurch from her phantom sleep, not remembering exactly which moment she slipped from drowsy consciousness to sudden sedation. Feeling as if only a second’s time had lapsed, she knew she must have been asleep for much longer, as the lingering stilted motions of her nightmare resonated within her. She clutched to the starched white sheets in fear, her body stiff with pain, trying to reassemble the scattered images she could recall to piece them together into this nightmare she knew she had before. The room was filled with a light like the eerie luminescence that hits just before dawn and the rhythmic beep beep beep made by the alarm clock she couldn’t work up the courage to find. She caught herself whimpering on her damp, white pillowcase and, ashamed at her own childish weakness, she hid her head under the stiff sheets. And then, with a flash, she saw the eyes. Deer in headlights. The three words just don’t hold the sadness that it implies with the shock. The innocence of the rounded eyes, shaped by fear, unknowing and yet absolutely certain of the life they may never see as they are made aware, head-on, of their fate. The same nightmare played on cue every night at the exact moment her eyes closed. Lately, in a sort of taunting lucidity, she realized she was becoming cognitively aware of when she was in the dream, and tried hard to think herself out of it, or change it. It never worked. Adina was a self-sufficient, twenty-four year old law student at Stanford. Despite the extended trauma of her mother’s death and her father’s disappearance four years prior, it was the never-before-encountered level of stress of maintaining

her high class ranking and keeping up with the tuition that led her to believe and pray to God, an act which would cause her five-years-prior self to make a face as if she was smelling decaying fish. She didn’t have time to evaluate what silly dreams – reoccurring, terrorizing, or otherwise – meant, or what latent content Freud would assume her unconscious mind was disguising. With every living action she made – showering, driving from class to one of her three jobs, piercing the plastic lining on her Marie Calendar’s frozen chicken parmesan dinner – she recited in her head the significance of Gideon vs. Wainwright, Miranda vs. Arizona, the outcome of the Oklahoma City bombing trial. She memorized penal codes to the songs on the top 40’s radio station and created mnemonics to various court cases daily (if you don’t believe in Roe vs. Wade, then use a condom if you’re going to get laid). Her life revolved around the knowledge that if she did not take these three years seriously, the slim chances of her receiving a job post-graduation would be narrowed down to a thin slit between a legal clerk and a law firm secretary, to be eternally dubbed as the big man’s bitch. Upon this particular awakening, however, she was left with such a strong resonance fro m her night terror that she lingered in bed instead of immediately awakening to study. She turned her pillow over so that her cheek no longer lied on the damp cotton. It gave her an instant of comfort. The raised prickles on her arms subsided. She never felt as if she truly received the standard “good night’s sleep,” and so in allowing herself to remain in bed for this moment, she was made too aware of the accumulative fatigue her life brought her. The beep beep beep continued, though she no longer heard it. She

Adina stepped into the shower, her brain flow never ceasing (Because of UC Regents vs. Bakke, it doesn’t always matter if you’re black). Always moving, always thinking. She drove to her first place of work and she thanked God under her breath when she found street parking, remembering she had misplaced her parking permit for the garage that week and didn’t have any cash on her for the fee. In the employee breakroom, she peered shyly over the coffee maker as Mr. Remar (of Harrolds, Remar & Reisner) entered. Recalling the chicken salad sandwiches with tomato basil soup (her favorite) he had routinely bought for her lunch last month and the many advances she could have easily taken advantage of, she merely nodded at him when he glanced at her. She turned away, having decidedly to cut off all personal contact with him that week. She poured two scoops of ground coffee into the crisp paper filter and pressed its “on” button. The hours she spent in this mediocre law firm of honest repute didn’t seem to facilitate her learning of the legal system, but it paid well and looked good on her résumé. The morning wore on, and Adina relied on her coffee to stay resilient until she realized there was half an hour until her first class started. She rushed to her car. The ’99 Corolla sped through side streets to make it on time, its radio faintly playing 60’s oldies tunes (the penal codes for homicide, 187 to 199). It wasn’t until she reached the last of three stoplights on her route that she realized she would make it with at least fifteen minutes to spare. She sighed with relief, and in this moment, she noticed a blue flyer tucked under her windshield wiper. CLUB ILLUSIONS PALO ALTO FREE DRINKS for girls on THURSDAYS between 8 and 9pm Adina suppressed a snort of disgust and thought of the Equal Rights Amendment yet to be ratified as part of the constitution. She contemplated the reach to grab the flyer.

With the persistence of the red light ticking away at the time, she checked her rearview mirror and noticed the woman in the car behind her. She was a plump, middle-aged woman, dressed professionally - from the collared shirt and blazer that Adina could see. Likely on her way to a lunch date. Then, Adina saw the woman turn her own rearview mirror to face herself and check her face, wiping the bags under her eyes carefully with her index finger. People actually do that? Adina thought to herself. She stretched her neck up to look in her own rearview mirror and tucked her brown hair behind her ear. The light turned green, finally, and Adina sped off to make up for lost time. In a surprisingly gentle sweep, the flyer on her windshield flew across her view, off to the side of the car, and behind her. Strangely mesmerized by its flight, Adina followed its path through the air from her rearview mirror. Just as it was about to fall to the ground, another gush of wind whisked it up again over the cars behind her. TURN AROUND, LOOK AHEAD! A voice in her head startled her. Adina turned her eyes to the road before her. She was in the middle of an intersection, running a red light. Crossing in front of her were a young man and woman; the woman was pushing a stroller. The couple’s heads turned simultaneously in her direction, and their eyes, stretched wider than a deer in headlights, met hers with the look of pure fear. Adina dug her foot as hard into the break pedal and with as much force as her leg would allow her, not breaking eye contact with the man. The car was still moving with great momentum. As her leg felt like it was being pulled out of its socket, she cranked the steering wheel as hard as she could, sending the car into a spiral. RUN, PLEASE RUN TO THE SIDEWALK THIS TIME! OH GOD, PLEASE LET THEM RUN THIS TIME! The screaming voice dominated her swirling world, layered over the screeching of the breaks. As the car spun, she saw the man push the stroller to the sidewalk. She saw his eyes, and they met hers in a rounded gape of fear. She closed her eyes.

Too late now, guess I’ll take it off later, she thought, annoyed.

She was in class. She was learning the penal codes. Vehicular manslaughter on two counts is under penal code section 192.C.1. If the defendant is insane and not competent to stand trial, she may be sent to a mental institution until she is deemed competent under penal code section 136.8. Or was it 138.6? What about the baby? The thought popped into her head, and she heard screams resonate behind it, WHAT ABOUT THE BABY? WHAT ABOUT THE BABY!

by Charlotte Curtis Spicy Spinach-stuffed Mushrooms,

If you ever need some recipe inspiration or just want to confirm how long to boil eggs, this list of cooking blogs and websites should help get you started.

“There now, no need to yell, it’s alright,” a motherly voice cooed above her. Adina was in bed. The white sheets were damp with sweat. A woman in white stood above her. She hadn’t seen her there. “Just relax, please. Don’t worry about the baby right now.” Adina softened her crying to a whimper and lied on her side, disregarding the pain it caused her stiff body. She let the strange woman wipe her wet hair from her forehead. Beep beep beep. The alarm was going off, but Adina was too shaken to care. She felt the prickling goose bumps on her arm dominated by a sudden, single prick.

Chedder, Beer and Mustard Pull-apart Bread,

She stared at the blank wall across from her, and felt a strong wave of fatigue fall over her. She closed her eyes.

Smitten Kitchen

Without fail, everything I’ve ever made from Deb’s kitchen has been a delicious success. She tests and retests each recipe, thoroughly before sharing with her online readers, so you can be sure you’re in good hands. When in doubt, I turn to Smitten Kitchen. Bonus content: unobtrusive links to her Flickr account let us glimpse life in New York and her ohso adorable curly-headed toddler.

Joy The Baker

This Los Angeles gal shares her baking passion with readers and is just so darned chipper while doing it that you can’t help but smile and nod in agreement; Joy was properly named. Her recipes lean towards sweets (cupcakes, cookies, scones) but she tosses in the occasional savory dish or salad for good measure.

The Pioneer Woman

Looking for an All-American fare? Your search is over! Ree has a multi-layered website about life in the country. It’s broken into blogging, cooking, home and garden, homeschooling, and photography sections. I turn to Ree for Thanksgiving advice and comfort food recipes. Chicken noodle soup should always be made from scratch, and Ree has the recipe for you.


In the words of the blog’s creators, “TasteSpotting is our obsessive, compulsive collection of eye-catching images that link to something deliciously interesting on the other side. Think of TasteSpotting as a highly visual potluck of recipes, references, experiences, stories, articles, products, and anything else that inspires exquisite taste.” In short, food porn.


One of the earliest foodie websites on the WWW, Epicurious today is a great resource for recipes pulled from Bon Appétit and the now defunct Gourmet magazine. They also accept reader contributions. Handy tool: you can print recipes with or without photos, peer reviews (of your choosing), and even shopping lists.

All Recipes

It’s a community-sustained cooking network, and users contribute recipes and reviews. The website is great for comparing a variety of recipes to find one that suits your needs. I like to read through user reviews before committing to any dish; I often find great tips and suggestions.

Beep beep beep.

Pink Raised Doughnuts with Coconut, joythebaker,.com

Garlic and Wine Porkchop Ingredients,

by Charlotte Curtis

by Charlotte Curtis

When it comes to cooking and baking I almost always deviate from the printed recipe, though I can’t cook without them! Kind of like an obsessive film editor, I search for the best script and then add my own plot twists and a surprise ending to make it my own creation. That’s a little weird, right? And I don’t mean the whole mixing of film and food metaphors thing.

Lentil soup is cheap, easy to make, and oh so yummy when done right. Start with the soup basics and add whatever veggies you have on hand to customize it to your own taste. Try adding canned tomatoes, chopped spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, corn, or other beans. Whatever you like, maybe even some diced ham or bacon! • • • •

Now that you know my weird little secret let’s get down to business. Food business. Take four very ripe bananas (so ripe the flies are just about to start buzzing) and some pantry staples and you too can make a surprisingly awesome treat with very little effort. • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

2 1/2 cups Flour 2 tsp. Baking Powder 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda 1/2 tsp. Salt 4 very ripe Bananas (about 2 cups mashed) 1/2 cup Butter, melted 1/2 cup Canola Oil (not quite a full 1/2 cup) with a dash of milk to round it out 1 cup Brown Sugar 2 Eggs 2 cups Sweetened Coconut Flakes 2 tbs. Vanilla Extract 3/4 cup White Chocolate Chips 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg Plus: 1/4 c. coconut flakes for sprinkling on top of muffins

Photo by Charlotte Curtis

In the first bowl gather your dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and whisk together. Set aside. In a second bowl mash the bananas, add eggs, melted butter, oil, milk, sugar, vanilla, and coconut flakes. (Basically, everything left except the white chocolate chips). Mix until well combined although it will be lumpy from the bananas. Fold the wet mixture into dry mixture until almost completely combined, then fold in the white chocolate chips. Spoon batter into a lined 12 cup muffin pan, fill each cup about 2/3 full, and top with coconut flakes. Bake at 375°F for approximately 20 minutes. Test by poking a muffin with a toothpick. They are done when it comes out clean and the coconut has turned golden brown. Makes 2 dozen muffins

• • •

2 tablespoons Olive Oil 1 large Onion, chopped 3 cloves Garlic, minced 1 lbs. Green Lentils 4 to 6 cups water or chicken broth 1 lbs. Carrots. diced 3 ribs Celery, diced 1 to 2 cups additional veggies as desired

• • • • • • • •

Seasonings: 2” piece, Ginger, peeled and minced (fine grater works well) 2 Bay Leaves 1 tsp Salt 1/2 tsp Black Pepper 1/4 tsp Red Pepper flakes 1 Tbs Lemon juice ½ tsp Cumin, ground Optional: ½ tsp each: Onion Powder & Garlic Powder

Photo by Charlotte Curtis

Heat olive oil over medium heat, sauté onion and garlic until golden and fragrant. Add water/chicken stock, lentils and seasonings: ginger, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, lemon juice, cumin and onion/garlic powders. Stir to combine, bring to boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer on low approximately 20 minutes. This will allow the soup stock to blend flavors and make the lentils tender. After 20 minutes on low it should resemble a thick bean stew, don’t worry, you can add more water/broth as desired for souplike consistency. Remove the bay leaves, then add the carrots, celery and any other veggies you have planned to add. Taste for seasoning adjustments and simmer on low another 20 minutes. Serve with toasted, buttered bread and enjoy.

by Charlotte Curtis

by Michael Chang

by Steve Bass

These chewy drop coo kies are perfect for special occasions, picnics, or long days at work when you need a little sugar rush. Even staunch oatmeal haters love these cookies. Essentially, I take a basic chewy, oatmeal cookie and add anything I have in the cupboard that would go well in cookies. Sometimes I use raisins and dried apples, but my favorites are cherries and cranberries. Feel free to pick your own extra ingredients! You can also add ½ cup of white chocolate chips for extra sweetness, but you should reduce the brown sugar to only ¾ cup to compensate.

What you need: - Some fancy-ass bread (like a baguette) – under $2 - Tomatoes (as wide as the baguette) – On sale, you can find them at $.99 a pound - A few cloves of chopped garlic, as fine as you can get them to be – $1 or cheaper - Butter (or olive oil if you’re worried) – Hopefully you have some left over from whatever, otherwise it’ll be around $3-4 - Optional - Grated Parmesan Cheese (the real kind, not that Kraft powder-like trash) - $5 if not on sale. - Your favorite type of Mozzarella Cheese - $3-5 - Basil (fresh or dried) – Fresh: $4. Dried: $1 at the 99 cent store - Dried Oregano - $1 at the 99 cent store

When your stomach is empty, your meal points are out, and you need to eat for a week, make some of these enchiladas. They’re prepared in layers, like lasagna, so it’s real easy to throw together.

What up need: - 1 ½ cups Flour - 1 tsp Baking Soda - 1 tsp Cinnamon - ½ tsp Salt - 1 cup Butter, softened - 1 cup Brown Sugar - 2 Eggs - 1 tsp Vanilla extract - 1 tsp Almond extract - 3 cups Old Fashioned Oatmeal (instant is okay) - 1 cup Coconut – sweetened, shredded, flakes - ½ cup Walnuts – chopped - 2 cups Dried Fruit of your choice (Recommended: Cranberries, Cherries) 1. Heat oven to 350°F and line baking sheet with parchment paper 2. In a bowl, whisk dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. 3. In another bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy, then add egg and vanilla. 4. Pour wet mixture into the dry and stir until just combined. Add oats and remaining ingredients: dried berries, nuts, coconut, white chocolate chips. 5. Scoop dough with generous spoonfuls: press and form into disks approx. 2” diameter and ½” tall. (Small, fat little cookies, lightly pressed flat) Cookies will not spread much because they are dense, so you can place them close together. 6. Bake 12-14 minutes, outer edges should be firm to the touch. 7. Let stand for 2 minutes on baking sheets then move to wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Total cost: $18 if you go all the way in fanciness or lack some ingredients, makes roughly 30 pieces 1. Don’t fret over the lack of measuring utensils. Only beginners worry about that. You’re not a beginner, are you?

What you need: - Two cans of enchilada sauce. Check out the ingredients on the labels; I was surprised to see how many of them have high fructose corn syrup as the second or third ingredient. - A pound of shredded chicken. It’s easiest to buy a whole cooked chicken and pull the meat off . You can also cook chicken yourself, but buying it already cooked is a lot faster and not that much more expensive. - A pack of corn tortillas. - A big glass pan. - A pound of shredded Monterey Jack cheese, Extras: - Zucchini and bell peppers. Cook them almost all the way before putting them in the enchiladas. - Cotija cheese to sprinkle on top. It’s yummy. Oven: 350 degrees Fahrenheit

2. Cut the baguette into thin slices. Use a serrated knife (as in it has teeth – think sharks), as they’re designed for cutting into things with a crust. A normal knife will do, but it won’t do a great job. The sharky-er, the better 3. Spread butter, parmesan cheese, and chopped garlic on top of baguette slices. You do know what garlic is, right? 4. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Congratulations, you just made garlic bread! But if you’re not lazy you’ll go on and make the rest of it. But garlic bread is pretty darn nice too. Friends will be impressed when you tell them you made it yourself (friends that don’t know how to make it, at least). 5. While the bread is baking, begin to slice the tomatoes. Make sure that the slices are about as wide as the bread. Eat the other pieces that are too big or small. EAT THEM. 6. When the bread is done, take it out and put one slice on each piece. Then top with mozzarella, oregano, and basil. Be careful to not put too much oregano. You don’t want to bite into something that looks like a pizza but tastes like spaghetti. 7. Bake again at 350 degrees for five minutes. Remove, let cool for a moment, then serve.

1. Dump a can of enchilada sauce into the bottom of the pan. 2. Lay down a layer of corn tortillas. 3. Sprinkle chicken, cheese, and a thin layer of sauce over the tortillas. 4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you’ve reached the top of the pan. Put the pan in the oven for twenty minutes. After that, let it cool, then cut it into squares. Makes enough to feed six or seven really hungry college students at once, or one hungry college student for about a week.

Mania Magazine Winter 2012