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Prolly A Bad Essay By Morgan Ashley

For any teenagers planning on travelling to upstate New York, and stopping in a small town called Troy: beware. There is something fishy going on up there, and you will notice as soon as you arrive. Someone will greet you by saying “Welcome to Troy, your prolly excited to be here. Don’t worry though, were gonna have a bad time.” As an uninformed guest, you might excitedly respond with “Yea, I can’t wait to see everything!” The Troy native (or Troylet) will laugh and respond, “You loooove it!” You have just been fooled by the Troylet’s speech three times. They have a dialogue of their own which sprouted up circa 2009. Don’t be baffled by it. With a little practice, you can learn to speak amongst them flawlessly if you can grasp the three major concepts; “prolly,” sarcasm/opposites, and love vs. hate. The first statement said by the native that may boggle them is “you’re prolly excited to be here.” When the outsider first hears this comment, they think the native genuinely thinks they are excited to be in Troy, NY. Wrong. The word, or slang, that must be focused on is “prolly.” This word stems from the word probably. The difference between the two is the pronunciation (drop the b sounds) and what it connotes. Probably in regular English means “with considerable certainty.” Prolly, on the other hand, means the exact opposite. Keeping this in mind, we can determine that the Troylet actually meant that there is no way in hell you are excited to be in boring old Troy. A response you can give, using your knowledge of the amazing “prolly” is by saying “Yea, prolly gonna enjoy it!” This would mean you are definitely not expecting to have any fun whatsoever. Keep in mind while using prolly, you never precede it with I or I’m. “I’m prolly excited” is incorrect, as well as “I prolly like you.” Now you are almost fully on board with the Troylets. The next statement which may have fooled the outsider is “Don’t worry though, we’re gonna have a bad time.” This may seem very confusing; don’t worry doesn’t seem to match with having a bad time. Here, we must consider sarcasm. Sarcasm is as frequent in Troy as the ever present pot-holes. Nothing can be taken seriously, so watch out. The Troylet’s statement is translated to, “Don’t worry, we’re gonna have a good time.” Notice that all the Troylet did was replace the word good with bad. Using exact opposite word meanings is very common, especially with the word bad. Also keep in mind the tone. Imagine the Troylet as speaking excitedly even though they are saying they are going to have a bad time. To properly respond using sarcasm and Troy language, one could say, “Yea, I’m definitely going to be disappointed with our night.” This would give the meaning that you expect a great night ahead, and

should be said in an enthusiastic tone as well. The word that was used with opposite meaning was both definitely, and disappointed. To review the other skill we learned, one could also use prolly in this case. “Yea, prolly going to be disappointed with our night.” Notice how we dropped the “I’m.” This is prolly easy to understand. The final confusion the outsider may have faced was “You loooove it!” This doesn’t make any sense with what was being discussed. It seems to have come out of nowhere. What do I love, you may find yourself asking, and why are they dragging out the word love? This statement is best described as a way to bust on people, but also keep in mind the Troylet’s sarcasm. For example, if someone you don’t like just tried kissing you, someone might bust on you by saying, “You loooove it!” You obviously hate it. A little more confusing than “you love it” is when using the word hate. Let’s say someone you actually do like just complimented you. You will of course get busted on again, but this time the Troylet will say, “You hate that.” They are calling out your emotions and trying to embarrass you, because you are obviously flattered by your crushes compliment. So, the most common response to “You looove it” is actually a simple “Prolly.” This means you do not love it, let it go. While the Troy language is mind boggling, confusing, and weird at first, it is very easy to catch on to. One should practice the ways of the Troy language before spending time there to avoid awkward situations. You prolly can’t wait to get to Troy now! It is definitely the coolest language trend that’s ever been heard, and we all know you hate that.

Sunset at Dead Duck by Balah Balah

A Walk to Remember by John Doe The whole world is moving as Daddy carries me on his shoulders. Our car was very far away from the boardwalk and all the roller-coasters. We reached the corner, but the entrance was further up the street. As we walked by the attractions, something caught my eye. “Daddy, I want funnel Cake” He looked at me confused, “What?” “Funnel Cake, PLEASE!!!!!!!” He looked at my family, “Okay, who told her there was funnel cake?” he laughed. Nobody answered. I pointed over his head “There! Funnel cake!, Come on Daddy, walk faster.” It hit him; I had read it all by myself. I was just starting to read children’s books, the ones containing all 3 letter words. Yet, somehow, I read this. I think that’s what saved me, if I hadn’t read it myself I doubt I would have gotten any.

Cramming by Ra Bohey

There is a current impression that it is unpleasant to cram for exams. Of course you shouldn’t be cramming for exams in the first place.  You should have learned everything that you needed to know during the duration of the course, but nevertheless, study last minute for exams can be quite fulfilling. When you study for an exam at the last minute you decide what you need to know is important or not important.  You differentiate between the meaningless things that are covered in the text or in your notes and you study, in depth, only the things that you need to know.  Of course you must be good at discriminating between the meaningful and meaningless when you do this, if not, you may find yourself having studied for the whole night and not recognizing anything on said exam. Cramming requires you to stock up on snacks and caffeine, inducing a temporary high that will hopefully last until after your test is completed.  While you’re studying (if this is a subject you actually have some interest in) the time will fly as you enthusiastically learn things that will help your grade in this course and your overall education.  And at five in the morning when you finally finish overloading your brain with this stuff (that might disappear with your high), you’ll feel so incredibly satisfied and happy because you fully developed your knowledge for this assessment.  

Hamster in a Washing Machine by Tanglewood Silhoutte

The Hotline Scene by Tanglewood Silhoutte As of this writing, I have been asked for my phone number a grand total of three times. Many girls find such occasions flattering—exhilarating, even—but to someone who spent four years at an all-girls high school, a strange male asking for something so personal can feel unfamiliar, even terrifying. Prank numbers like the Rejection Hotline—an automated message listing reasons why a caller may be undesirable to the intended callee—are saviors for girls like me who panic at the first sign that someone is planning to follow up on any flirtatious conversation. My experiences might have traumatized me less had I simply taken the time to memorize this number well enough to give it out as my own. My first prospective suitor appeared out of the crowd at the Starlight Parade, an annual evening event held in Portland each year as part of the Rose Festival. The summer air drifted through the streets, pleasantly warm; I had been home from my first year of college for only a few weeks. I had never been to the parade before, as my practical parents despised fighting for parking downtown, so the throngs of people and subsequent chaos were new to me. The friends that had dragged me there, Emily and Margot, were pushing their way through the lawn chairs and picnic baskets on the sidewalk, conveniently clearing a path for me as they searched for Margot’s family. We planned to watch the parade through then slip away to the local all-ages gay club a few blocks away. As such, I was almost certainly overdressed for such a casual event—my clinging black top glittered with sequins, I was wearing heels for the first time in ages, and I had ditched my glasses in favor of contacts and eyeliner. Margot, the effortless dresser, wore her shoes much better than I did, despite her ample height. Her make-up looked natural, while mine vaguely resembled a drag queen—somewhat appropriate, I suppose, considering our next destination. Emily, however, was a completely different story. A hippie at heart, she preferred quirk to convention and eccentricity to beauty. Her distinctive, squeaky laughter ricocheted off the buildings around us, annoying everyone else, but helping me pinpoint her . The marching band music rumbled loud around us as we continued to weave through the people focused on the extravagant floats and dancing cowboys. Finally, we came to the curb and the crosswalk, with the last obstacle we had to cross the parade itself. Thus began the long wait for a gap in the performers—all we needed was one tiny spot that we could dash through. The scene played out like this:

From behind me, someone taps on my shoulder. I turn to see a boy, definitely no older than thirteen or fourteen. He’s dressed like a typical teenage boy on a typical summer evening—khaki shorts, plain T-shirt, sandals, a baseball cap pulled hastily over his messy brown hair. “Hey, can I have your number?” he asks, smooth as a button. I have to give him credit—the kid’s got balls—but it’s hard to keep the smirk from flitting across my face. “How old are you?” I ask, putting a hand on my hip. “Twenty-three,” he says automatically—a planned response, for sure. Again, I’m impressed by his quick thinking and confidence, but again, it’s almost impossible to keep from laughing. “Uh huh. I don’t think so.” For the first time, he looks embarrassed and I almost feel bad. What if he’s only asking on a dare from his friends? Will they laugh at him as soon as I’m out of sight? Before I can react to this new train of thought, however, Emily grabs me by the arm and pulls. “Come on, we have to go now!” I turn back to look for the boy, but he has already disappeared from whence he came. Relieved that I can avoid letting him down, but also disappointed in a way, I follow Emily and Margot across the street. I spent the rest of the evening recounting the experience and laughing about it with my friends. For months I retold the story to everyone I knew, despite the constant teasing about my “pedophilic tendencies,” because it was, after all, the first time anyone had ever asked for my number. The second time, I was a little more prepared, though not by much. After a long day of pretending to program computers at my IBM internship, I had returned to my apartment complex ready for some food and a nap. Upon entering through the front gates, however, I was greeted with the sounds of terrible pop music and children laughing as they splashed about in water, and I realized that today was the day the complex had decided to throw its apparently-annual “fun in the sun” pool party. Yes, it was exactly as lame as it sounded. Lame, however, did not mutually exclude useful. The smell of hot dogs and fries mingled with the scent of chlorine as I passed by the pool, and a quick glance into the area confirmed my suspicions: there was free food to be had, one benefit at least to having my ears invaded by Ke$ha for the next few hours. After dropping off my laptop and purse at my apartment, I returned to the festivities with my roommate Lucy. I grabbed some junk food and lemonade and looked around for a table. As luck would have it, the only empty

one stood right in front of the exuberant disc jockey. I sat down with a sigh, hoping I wouldn’t sustain any serious ear damage from the booming speakers. While I waited for Lucy to finish getting her food, I watched the kids paddling around on inflatable crocodiles and hitting each other with foam noodles. A part of me wanted to join them; the oppressive Texas sun pushed in at me from all sides, and I was already sweating effortlessly. The scene played out like this: Without any warning or introduction, someone sits down across from me. I glance up from shooing away the flies congregating around my hot dog to see my worst nightmare: a young man wearing baggy shorts, a dirty wifebeater tank top, and the type of gaudy gold jewelry that can only be described as “bling.” I groan internally. I thought that horrible trend had gone out years ago. I swear to God, if his first word to me is— “‘Sup,” he says, in perfect rapper imitation, and I begin looking for the nearest escape route. Almost shouting to be heard, he introduces himself as Carlos, “one hundred percent Mexican,” from the complex across the street. His dark hair is cropped short and his eyes have a beady, rat-like shiftiness to them. I can tell he’s trying to act cool, but he keeps glancing around, eyes darting everywhere, and honestly, I’m a little unnerved. Oblivious to my discomfort, he picks a conversation topic out of the Lady Gaga song currently playing and starts to ramble about how she should have won American Idol. I just nod and try to keep from correcting his factual errors (namely, that Lady Gaga never competed on American Idol), the whole time wondering where the hell Lucy has gotten to. When she finally makes it to the table, Carlos seems put off but continues to spout complete bullshit for another ten minutes while she eats. Lucy finishes her food quickly and pushes back the cheap plastic chair, raising an eyebrow at me to indicate I can explain my new friend to her back at our apartment. Seeing an opportunity to flee, I follow suit. “So, uh, I’ve got to go work out,” I say, grabbing my paper plate and napkin with a little more force than necessary. I’ve managed to avoid catastrophe. I’m almost out. And then… “Hey, you got a number?” “Uhh, like a phone number?” I ask stupidly. “Yeah, a number I can call you at.” I have absolutely no idea what to do. Common sense says that I should make up some lie about my phone being broken, or else just flat-out refuse, but

I don’t know if I can bring myself to reject someone—even someone I’m not interested in—so obviously. Confused and conflicted, I do the first and easiest thing I can think of: I spit out my phone number as quickly as possible and practically sprint back to my apartment. I spent an extra-long time at the gym that afternoon trying to figure out how exactly I could have avoided giving him my real number and wondering if he would actually follow up on our brief, one-sided conversation. I doubted I had made the right choice by delaying my inevitable reaction; wouldn’t it have been kinder and politer to explain right then and there that I had a boyfriend and wasn’t available? I discovered quickly that, yes, I should have just withheld my number, for he did call me and, Christ, was it a nightmare. For weeks my phone rang at odd hours of the morning, and I constantly received misspelled, grammatically incorrect text messages, written in ALL CAPZ CHATZPEAK with Z’s everywhere there should have been an S. Well, another life lesson learned. The third and final attempt made upon my phone number occurred here at RPI. The sky was whitewashed with clouds as I trudged through the brown, slushy remnants of snow, trying to reach the DCC without slipping, but my objective was disrupted by someone coming up behind me. “I like your hair,” he said. “It’s pretty.” Had I been a little more awake and a little less freezing, I might have had the properly witty response to such a mundane statement. However, this was one of the many occasions when I had overslept and thus forgotten both my scarf and hat on a day that promised heavy winds and below-zero temperatures. I was almost ten minutes late to a class I had no interest in attending, and the mile-long walk from my apartment to campus had not helped my mood at all. Best to give a simple answer and walk away, I thought, lest I subject this poor creature to my pre-coffee self. The rest of the scene played out like this: “…thanks.” He looks pleased with himself as he comes into view. “What’s your name?” His face seems familiar. I think we might be Facebook friends or something else meaningless like that. “Aileen,” I reply, hoping that if my short responses don’t reveal my irritation, my unyielding pace will. I hike my backpack higher up my shoulder and keep moving. He follows me. “Oh, with an EI?” “AI, actually.”

“Oh, like the band. You know A.I.?” “Uhhh… sure. Yeah, right,” I say, unimpressed. I can see where this is going already. He says his name is Alex, and by this point, I’m pretty sure I have seen him pop up on Facebook occasionally. We reach the heavy glass doors of the building and, surprisingly, he holds the door for me. Brownie points for chivalry, I guess. “Are you going to calc?” he asks. “Ha. I haven’t taken calc in, like, two years.” He seems unphased by—or perhaps unaware of—the subtle insult in my tone, so I admit that I’m on my way to operating systems, before saying, “You know, you look familiar. I think we lived in the same hall freshman year.” “Oh, were we freshman together?” he asks, but there’s something about the way he says it that tells me he really could care less. He doesn’t give a damn about how we may have been connected in the past—all he’s interested in is the present. We’re almost down the length of the building’s long hallway by now. I can see the door to my classroom, open, tantalizing. I speed up a little bit, trying not to be obvious about it. “Well, this is where I’m going,” I say when we get there. And then, once again, that dreaded question… “So, you got a number?” (Seriously, is that the newfangled way to ask someone out? Not even, “Can I have your number?” but “Do you have a number?” Of course I have a number. Maybe if you asked the appropriate question, I’d give it to you.) “Look,” I say, stifling my annoyance in an attempt to be polite, “I’ve got a boyfriend, so if that’s what you’re looking for—” “Oh no,” he says quickly, though his facial expression makes it clear I’ve thrown off his game. “I mean, I just want to take you out for a friendly coffee or something. My class is right next door, so how ‘bout I catch up to you in a month or so, and if you’re still dating him, we can just be friends.” A hint of the implied but-only-if-we-have-to lingers in the air. “Yeah, sure,” I say, stifling a laugh as I enter my lecture hall. The boyfriend and I have been together for over a year; I don’t think that’s going to change any time in the next month. As soon as I sat down at one of the creaky desks, I logged on to Facebook to satisfy my curiosity. A search and a few clicks later, I’d confirmed it—not only were we “friends,” but he had lived just down the hall. And the guy hadn’t even recognized me at all. But then again, from what I remembered of

freshman year, he had been too busy harassing our RA and having raucous sex with his girlfriend to notice anyone besides himself. It took all my selfcontrol not to post a status about the encounter, tagging him by name so it would show up on his profile, because, damn, would he have been in for an embarrassing surprise. Each of these three encounters happened, as if by clockwork, once every calendar year, with the most recent taking place just a few weeks ago. By that logic, I should be safe from any more unwanted number solicitations until 2012. On the other hand, looking at the situation mathematically, the encounters are increasing at a rapid rate. With fourteen months between the first and the second, but only seven separating the second from the third, should I be expecting the next potentially awkward yet hilarious meeting by May? Maybe I should memorize the Rejection Hotline number, just in case.

Puppy by Ben Gold

Will you be my Friend? by Liz Pepper

Cell Phone By Eh Eh The typical cancer causing, DNA intercalating, gene mutating, vibrating piece of communication technology affectionately known as the cell or mobile. It sends forth from its deepest pits, government regulated doses of radiation primarily to my left thigh. It’s a second brain of sorts--reminding me that I have to remind someone about some reminder. It likes to update me with pointless text messages. Every once in a while, if I forget to silence it like a bad child or put it on vibration with a probation, it haunts me in class with one of its assembly of techniques--perhaps the latest pop song or an annoying buzz, maybe an ancient telephone call--sometimes just a plain old ring. Next time I should write a letter or take a walk. Who knows....everything could be different face to face?

Treasure by Leslie Warren

I stopped walking. What was that, there on the ground? I crouched, knelt. I moved aside the jagged-edged leaf, the short blades of grass. A treasure lay before me. It was fire-engine red, a bold color, the opposite of camouflage. How was I the first to find it? Fragile: handle with care. The sign from envelopes and cardboard boxes flashed into my mind. I gently grasped the treasure between my thumb and forefinger. I twisted slightly, freeing it from its constraint. I unbent my knees, stood up, the treasure resting in my palm. I marveled. It was so unexpected, so tiny. It was the size of a pencil tipnot just the lead, but the whole shaved, wooden tip. It was not smooth though. It had deep pits with jutting-out edges, so different from its relatives in stores. A curiosity took hold. I just had to know. I raised my palm, higher and higher, dropping the treasure into my mouth. It broke at the slightest pressure. I tasted summer, intense, a miniature atom bomb of flavor. It was sweet and warm from the sun. Like a wine connoisseur, I savored. Yet only memory lasts forever. I continued my walk, recalling, pondering. The ambrosia of the gods could not be finer than a wild strawberry in June.

Ode of Carnation Instant Breakfast: by Balah Balah Carnation Instant Breakfast is the choice meal of kings. The sweet elixir, a calm stomach it brings. No bacon to fry, no eggs to crack after one swig, you’ll never go back. It’s so sweet and creamy, a treat I assert. perhaps they should call it Carnation Dessert.

The Baby Was Coming by Veronique Lafluer The baby was coming. I don’t really remember a change in my mother’s figure, but I had absolutely no doubt that he was on his way, because it was all anyone ever talked about. I also never had any doubt that it was a boy, because I had wanted a little sister more than anything and I never got what I wanted. Still, though, when Mamma and Papa would ask what I wanted to name the baby, I pretended to think about it for a moment, stared calmly at them, and then said, “Veronique,” as though it was the most obvious choice. They stopped asking for my opinion after about the third incident. When he was born, I loved him just as much as I feared him. He was strange and new; I had no clue where he’d come from or how long he was staying. But Mamma put him in my little arms and said, “Veronique, this is your baby brother. Your job is to take care of him always.” I didn’t want to take care of him; I was afraid of his squishy pink face. But then I felt his tiny hands and the soft, dark down on his head and I knew that he was mine to take care of because there was no one else who could do a better job than me.

“Haircut” by Tanglewood Silhouette Snip snip snip, go the scissors. I can feel the soft handfuls of hair separating from my body, the release of tension as the blades slice through each blonde-brown strand. The sides done now, I move on to the front, lopping my straight-cut bangs off with exuberance and replacing them with jagged clumps. There, that looks about right. But what to do with all the evidence? I am not supposed to be using big-kid scissors, not even the bright green ones with the rounded ends. If I could only find a place to hide the piles of hair, surely no one will notice it’s gone missing from my head. Ah-ha! The puffy brown armchair in the playroom, the one with the scratchy between the cushions. Perfect. I can never find the Cheerios I drop down there, thus logic holds — no one will ever find my hair, and my secret will be safe. The scissors put back on the shelf, I trot upstairs to find Mommy, who is sitting at the kitchen table, reading some papers out loud into a little machine. She takes one look at me and stops talking. I smile proudly.

In Favor of Good Hygiene by Ra Bohey What is “bad hygiene”? Do you like to smell badly? Do you like having oily hair/skin? Do you like unnecessary acne? Do you not like water? Do you like being able to stick your hair straight up without product? Do you have an affinity for dirt? Are you allergic to water? Are you trying to build your immune system up? Is your bad hygiene a challenge to germs? Do you want to die a virgin? Good hygiene.  Unfortunately its not possible for some.  Perhaps you prefer sitting in your mother’s basement all day to taking a shower and braving the outdoors. Perhaps you feel that sitting in the same place with your sheaded skin cells and hair strands will form a protection against the demonous germs that haunt you.  Perhaps you’re allergic to water.  Aquagenic urticaria.  It does happen to some people… but I doubt you’re one of them.  Since you are clearly the type to prefer your personal stench to a friend or a lover, perhaps you’ve discovered a new age way of keeping the opposite sex away from you. Oh, wait. Not showering is the oldest trick in the book. Keep up the good work if you want to die a virgin. Like a man would ever date anyone dirtier than him, or a woman would ever want to kiss a mouth with teeth covered in plaque, a tongue where bacteria grows like a forest, on a face where bumps sprout hourly from more and more coatings of dirt.   This is a challenge isn’t it? You want those big bad germs to come after you, waving their pili and flagella, and you’re convinced that your matchless aroma and subtle coating of grime and oil will drive them away, off to someone who showers daily and smells of juniper and purity.  Do you suppose that the less clean you are, the stronger it will make your immune system? You might be right, but you’re probably wrong.  Your skin and orifices have probably become a playground for bacteria with swings, and slides, and perhaps a nice warm cesspool to frolic in.  If you don’t die from bad hygiene, your mother will probably poison you for still living off of her and/or never giving her grandkids. 

That really tickles me by Scotty Drighton You know, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be a standup comedian. I wonder what I would wonder: think what I would think I would think, I think. But I would always be curious more about whether my thinkings and their thoughts were funny. Would I be laughing to myself day after day? Or would I be the least funny of them all? Would everything be funny or would there be a gem every now and again I would have to frantically write down? Would I be frantic, or do the gems come soon enough that I can let one slip by? Are they then gems; or semi-precious stones? And what If I’m only funny to myself? I guess I’m not cut out to be a comedian in that case then. And when is funny enough, funny enough? Is there a number of jokes I need for me to be funny? Or can I tell one good one I’ve practiced a lot? I’ve thought a lot about this you see, because funnily enough, funny is fun to think about.

Darkness by Peanut Butter

I was startled awake by a noise or a dream and the empty bedroom brought no comfort. Afraid, I looked around, only to find shadows on every wall. I know I didn’t just see a witch outside my window. Oh hell no. I got up, holding my beloved blanky, and quickly turned on the light. Seeing nothing unusual but still fearful, I ran the long stretch to my parents’ room at the other end of the apartment. I saw dark shapes everywhere but I knew where my solace was. I ran past my brothers’ room where they’d surely be of no help. Every sound was too loud and scary but I knew where my peace was. Finding the door [to my refuge] unlocked, I sneaked in and approached daddy’s side of the bed. It was still dark but seeing him there in his mighty yet peaceful slumber, I found myself feeling safer. Hugging my blanky tightly, I poked daddy several times till he noticed my tiny self standing there, staring at him expectantly. He reached over for me and I lay on the bed beside him, mommy on the other side. I smiled and found rest shortly, reassured in this guaranteed protection.

Untitled by Vivian Banks One night, my roommate (and fellow architecture student and studio-mate … we’ll call her Olive) and I went to one of the lectures sponsored by the School of Architecture. This one was held in the fourth-floor theater at EMPAC and Vito Acconci was the featured speaker. Interesting character. Think of a cross between Woody Allen, Vinny Gambini, and an eccentric conceptual artist who wears nothing but black and makes sculptures of human genitalia and sex acts that belong in “A Clockwork Orange”. A deep drawling voice and an occasional stutter. He started off his career as a visual, performance, and installation artist and then gradually fell into architecture and his lecture followed the same pattern. If you could have ventured inside my head while he was describing his art, you would have found nothing but a ‘dot dot dot question mark’. In one piece, he followed around a random stranger for a day. In another, he tried to give himself womanly breasts using the heat of a lit candle. In another, he confines himself to the space underneath a walking ramp and uses the sound of footsteps as a stimulant for masturbation. I fell asleep after he recounted that one. When I woke up, he had already moved on to talking about architecture, which I, of course, found to be a lot more interesting, insightful, and easier to digest. After the lecture came the standard segment for queries from the audience and considering that our dean tends to make these long and drawn out with his wordy novel-length comment-question hybrids, Olive and I opted to leave early. We originally wanted to wait until we got home to eat dinner, but Olive is a huge fan of cheese so we detoured to the refreshment table directly on our right. We almost didn’t notice what was on the floor : a baby girl. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes and had to do a double-take. Olive and I started laughing. She seemed positively tickled to see all these new faces. She was so adorable … and SMALL. She couldn’t have been any longer than, say, fifteen inches. She had thin and silky light brown hair and big happy blue eyes and she was wearing a purple shirt and pink pants. I wanted to melt. “What is a baby girl doing crawling around the EMPAC hallways,” I thought to myself. I got my answer when one of the EMPAC employees setting up the refreshment table quickly sauntered over and apologetically scooped her up as more people shuffled out of the theater. It was one of those cute and unexpected moments to make your day. Olive and I kept giggling about it on our way out.

Rain By Toasty Toast It’s raining again. I know it is because I can feel the drops softly shattering against my skin and clothes, dampening and chilling me. I’m relieved, as I always am, that I can feel them. They wet my cheeks, hollow replacements for the tears that will not come. Hmm, nice, intriguing I open my eyes, staring upward at the expanse of thunderheads from which comes this particular downpour. I watch them slowly drift along, driving the rain ahead of them. One does not normally notice the movement of the clouds—they simply hang there in the sky, at times obscuring the sun as they do now—but move they do, ambling across the heavens with their unique, billowy grace, playing havoc with the lighting of the world far below, shifting through a limitless spectrum of shapes and sizes, and portending rain or shine with their hues of grey, the same hues of grey that paint the world around me. I’ve always thought the park looks beautiful like this. I’m sure most people would give me the same incredulous looks they give me when they see me lying on my bench, enjoying the rain, if I were to express this to them. “How can it be beautiful?” they would ask. “Everything looks drenched and muddy and miserable!” Take, for example, the bench upon which I lay. I have come to call it my bench, though I know I am not the only one who makes use of it. When the skies open up and the rain falls upon it, my bench’s deep green hue fades, lost with every other color in the park to the enveloping grey. Its surface becomes damp and slick with water, my fingers gliding easily over it, and yet my clothes, soaked themselves, become stuck to it. The wooden planks of which it is constructed grow cold to the touch, leeching the warmth from my limbs. And yet as I feel the heat slowly leaving my body, I can follow it deep into the bench, joining with the heat of others who have sat here in the past. This heat is not stolen, but given freely, and I feel it connects me in some subconscious way with those others. The trees, too, are enlivened in a torrent. Their leaves and branches do not quiver in fear that they may be torn from the trunk; rather, they tremble with excitement, reveling in the sustenance given to them from the sky like manna. I sense their joy in the scent of earth and foliage that the rain draws forth into the air. The leaves hold onto as much water as they can, savoring what to them is the rarest delicacy. Sometimes, people attempt to talk to me. “Hello,” they say, or “Why are you laying there?” Some are more perceptive or more direct, and ask me what’s

wrong. I ignore them all. I have nothing to say to them, and they wouldn’t understand if I did. I would say that I love the rain, but that would be a lie. I cannot love. Neither, however, can I hate. I have no emotions. That’s why I come here, why I lie in the rain, why I impede its progress in its never-ending mission to find the ground. I come here to feel, even if all I can feel is the wetness of the rain, the coldness of the air, the bench drawing the warmth from my body. It’s raining again. I know it is because what else could make that distinctive, continuous tapping sound on the roof of the funeral home? What else could darken the skies outside so that noon looks like evening? What else could possibly make up for my lack of tears? The very heavens mourn his passing, and yet my face is a parched wasteland. Is there something wrong with me? In the open coffin, surrounded in velvet, the thing that is not my brother seems accusatory. “Why?” I can imagine it asking. “Why aren’t you distraught? Don’t you feel anything for me?” “I don’t know,” I whisper. I know there should be pain, sorrow, perhaps even anger, inside me. But instead there is nothing. Intellectually, I recognize what I have lost, but emotionally, I am numb. It’s not just as if he hadn’t died— it’s as if nothing has ever happened to me, as if nothing will ever happen to me. Disturbed, I try to explain this to my father. “It’s perfectly normal,” he says. “You just haven’t actually registered this loss yet. Give yourself a few days and you’ll feel it. Trust me.” But that’s not it. I have registered the loss of my brother--it’s like losing an arm or a leg. No, it’s more than that. It’s like losing my entire body, losing my capability to do anything. I know this, but I cannot feel it. My father does not understand. Then again, I’m not entirely sure I understand, either. I have to get away. I have to get away from the thing in the coffin, from its mockery of the person I loved most. I walk swiftly from the room, but I can still see the motionless form. My pace increases until I’m running as if for my life down the main hall of the funeral home. Finally, I burst out the front doors, into the pouring rain. Heaven’s tears wash the image of the body from my mind, soothing me. Gasping from my exertion, I stare upward with closed eyes, feeling the cool rain upon my skin. The water wells up above my cheekbones like teardrops. That’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to sorrow, I think. Even in my head, the

thought lacks the bitter tone it would normally convey. The wind picks up, whipping fiercely through me as I attempt to rage. I throw my arms into the air and scream, raw and loud. However, there is no emotion in the scream; it’s just a noise, nearly lost in the howling of the wind and the splattering of suddenlyhuge raindrops against the ground. It’s raining again. I know it is because I’ve been thinking about my brother. It always rains when I remember him—or perhaps I always remember him when it rains. It’s no longer clear which causes the other. The cemetery is deserted in this weather. It’s ironic, really, that I’m the only one who seems to care enough about the deceased to brave the gentle storm and visit them, considering I don’t really care at all. My brother’s grave is exactly as I remember it. Time has not yet begun to ravage the gray slate of his tombstone; it is much too recent for that. The rain has washed away the dust and dirt that had accumulated since the last time it rained—my last visit. The wet slate shines dully in the wan light filtering through the clouds above. “Liam Pace,” the headstone reads. “Beloved son and brother.” Below that are listed the dates of his birth and death. I am sad, I tell myself. Those three lines are all anyone who visits this place will ever know about my brother, if they even care to read his particular grave, one among thousands. Those three lines are all anyone will ever know about anyone buried here. Three lines.Such a halfhearted epitaph. People who don’t like cemeteries because of their creepiness or “haunted”-ness don’t realize that what they sense are not ghosts of those laid to rest. Cemeteries are haunted by forgotten memories, not by specters of the dead. Those memories are as dead as the people they center on. “Hey, Liam,” I whisper so softly my voice barely reaches my ears through the pattering rain. “It’s me again. You probably guessed I’d be coming from the rain.” I am amused, I tell myself. “I don’t know what to do,” I continue. “This lack of emotions, it’s killing me. People joke about being dead inside, but I really am. How long until I’m dead outside, too? I can’t go on like this!” I am afraid, I tell myself. I don’t want to die. I stare down at the tombstone by my feet. Above it, the air waves, hazy as if shimmering in the heat of a summer day. The shimmering is a curtain

veiling the forgotten memories of my brother. I can sense them just beyond, each a portal into a happy past, a past when I could feel. I reach out, and pull back the curtain. It’s raining again. I know it is because Liam and I are stuck indoors. Mom won’t let us outside to play, even though romping around in the rain is one of our favorite things to do. “You’ll get the house all wet and dirty when you come back in,” she says. She’s probably right, but we don’t care. “What are we going to do instead?” I ask my brother dejectedly. “Nothing else seems fun right now.” “Aw, don’t be like that!” he replies. “We’ll think of something! You want to play a board game?” “No.” “Watch a movie?” “No.” “You could help me with dinner,” my mother adds sarcastically from the next room. “NOOO!AHHHH!” Liam and I scream in unison, laughing and running away. We stop when we get to the front door, still chuckling. “No, Mom, anything but dinner!” I joke to my brother. When he doesn’t respond, I look over at him. He’s staring out the window next to the door, pushing the blinds out of the way with one hand. “What is it, Liam?” I ask him. He simply answers, “Look.” I join him at the window. Through the droplets of water covering the surface of the glass, I can see our suburban street, darkened from the clouds overhead. Cars are parked in rows along the curbs, the lights are on in every visible house, but no one is outside. Then I see it. On the sidewalk in front of our house, a stray kitten huddles, looking miserable and soaked. It stares back at us, as if it knows we can see it and is begging us for shelter. “I’m going to save him,” Liam says. `“You can’t!” I protest. “You’ll get in so much trouble!” “Look at him!” Liam argues. “I can’t just leave him out there!” With that, he puts on his shoes and dashes out the door before I can say another word. yay The door slams closed, and my mother yells, “What was that?”

“Liam went outside to rescue a cat,” I call back dutifully. “What?!” A series of quick, stomping footsteps heralds my mother’s approach as she rushes over. “What does he think he’s doing?” We watch through the window as Liam runs over to the kitten, picks it up, and runs back to the house. The instant he’s inside, Mom beings to yell at him. “Liam! You can’t bring that thing inside; it’s wet and dirty! What were you thinking, running up to it like that? What if it had been angry or feral? Take it back out this instant!” “But Mom,” Liam pleads. “Look at him! He’s so lonely and miserable; I can’t put him back outside in this weather!” Then a funny thing happens. Mom stops and actually looks at the kitten. It seems small and insignificant in Liam’s arms; it’s barely bigger than his fist. It’s drenched, and has already dampened Liam’s shirt and sleeves where he clutches it to his chest. Its short fur, all black except for a white front paw, glistens wetly. It does indeed look pitiful as it mews softly at my mother. It’s clearly a stray; it’s not wearing a collar or tag of any kind. “All right, Liam,” my mother sighs. “Put it on a blanket in the garage. We’ll make it some food and keep it warm until the rain stops, but then I want you to put it back outside. Understand?” “Yes, mother,” Liam groans. I find a blanket and help him dry the poor kitten off. We feed it and keep it company, petting it occasionally. It mews and purrs contentedly. By the time the rain stops, the kitten has won over even my mother, who remarks, “I guess it is kind of cute.” But she’s adamant on not keeping it— Liam and I aren’t responsible enough yet, she says. We let it go, and it breaks our hearts. It’s not raining. I can tell because the sudden ceasing of the drops impacting my skin startles me from my recollection. I look up. The clouds are still thick in the sky, but the rain has stopped. A sudden motion by Liam’s headstone draws my attention. Walking slowly around from behind it is a black cat with one white paw—the front left. He gazes up at me, then saunters over and rubs himself against my leg, purring contentedly. I am stunned. It couldn’t possibly be the same cat Liam had taken in for a day all those years ago. It couldn’t! And yet the cat clearly seems to recognize me, to remember me. I squat down and pet him hesitantly. He meows and licks my hand. It is the same cat.

I am surprised, I tell myself. I am amazed. And then I stop, stunned again. I really am surprised and amazed. The emotions feel foreign to me after so long without them, but they are there again, and I know it. A smile breaks over my face. I grab the cat, heedless of its wet fur and muddy paws, and twirl in a circle, laughing giddily. “I’m going to do what I should have done so long ago,” I tell the cat. “You’re coming home with me!” The clouds begin to thin out in the sky above, the sun peeking over the horizon. I think it’s the first time I’ve really seen it since Liam died. I make good on my promise to the cat and take him home with me. I tell him stories about my brother, reliving the forgotten memories haunting the graveyard. I never feel the need to give the cat a name—the only one that seems to fit is my brother’s, and somehow I think that the cat would say no to that. Sometimes, when it rains, we go out to the park, and sit on my bench. But now, instead of lying there, caring about nothing, I pet the cat, who never seems to mind the rain, and talk with passersby. There’s still something more beautiful than I can describe about the park during a rainstorm. We occasionally visit Liam’s grave, as well. It no longer seems haunted. The memories of him and the others who are buried there are still present, but they are not forgotten. They are there for those who care to see, supplements to the three-line epitaphs on every stone, when the rain falls and clears the mind.

The Color Green Anthea Rady It reminds me of spring and summer. During the winter, you hardly ever get to see the color green.  I miss that rich green of the grass outside; laying down on it on a sunny day - I’d prefer that over a bed any day, although it does fall second to hammocks.  It makes me feel peaceful.  Not so much in a hippie way, but just as that when I see it my mind becomes more tranquil and at ease.  I think the world could use a little more green (both of the color and metaphoric variety).   Maybe if people saw it more on an every day basis they too would feel more at ease as they shuttle their kids to and from school, soccer practice, recitals, birthday parties, the toy store, ballet, and clarinet practice.  Maybe if cubicles were green instead of gray productivity would increase when employees no longer feel like they are in a three star jail cell with a desktop and printer.  Don’t get me wrong, it all depends on the shade of green.  On the one side of the spectrum there’s that neon/lime green - that sometimes actually makes me feel physically ill.  The only time I’ve ever had a pleasant/tolerable experience with it was in regards to glow sticks, black light painting, and on construction workers vests.  What all of those have in commons is that I did not have prolonged exposure to them in those instances I experienced them in; a few nights in a year, a few times on the way to work and classes, that is totally acceptable.  If I was to walk into my room and discover that it has been painted that atrocious color I think I might have to grab the nearest sharp object and… well, I’m sure your imagination can guess what would happen next. In short, I don’t much care for neon lime green.   In the middle there’s the nice median of grass green, that lovely color I mentioned earlier.  I don’t need to elaborate on the pleasantness of that shade of green,  I think it speaks for itself.  On the farther end of the spectrum is hunter green, a dark manly color.  It’s a solid dark color.  I find that this color is most appealing to the older gentlemen.  The only time I’ve seen this color outside of a Crayola 64 pack is in the apparel of older men, and in their homes.  Going to see my mom’s friends, they or their husbands love to throw that color around the place. It reminds

them of the forest, where being the manly men that they are get to be even more masculine because they are out to hunt, fish, or do some other activity of a masculine variety outdoors. I suppose there’s just something about the color that resonates with them, much like grass green does for me.  I find winter makes me appreciate this color more.  When every day has been white, gray, brown, black, and depressing for four months it’s that first patch of grass that peaks out from underneath the snow that makes you so happy inside, if only for a moment, because you know spring is coming - the time when you get out of your winter depression and release all that pent up energy that got frost bite from the winters ice cold winds.  How I long for the color green…

Superworms by Albus Dumbledore

Ode to my TI-84 Plus, Silver Edition by Balah Balah I thought I’d lost you, those weeks you were absent. How could I have known it wasn’t with bad intentent? That it was a simple mistake which took you from me, and not someone wanting a calculator for free. But I’m so glad you’re back, and not a moment later. With finals week looming, the workload’s much greater. We’ll work together through tests of math and science. Together we form a strong alliance. The numbers you’ll crunch, The buttons I’ll punch, You’re truly my favorite appliance.

Jungle Feet by Veronique Lafluer

Jellyfish by Selsdon Mowbray

Have you ever thought how much you like seafood? Or maybe the beach? Or just the ocean in general? Or how about being part of the dominant species? I guess you’ve never thought about Jellyfish. Jellyfish are gelatinous sacs of cruelty and poison, which survive by just kind of floating around and catching other, more deserving creatures in their venomous tentacles. Moreover, there has been about 1000% increase in the jellyfish population. Oh, and they’re invincible. You know, whatever. You think I’m kidding, or pitching a movie idea to the Sci Fi channel? Well, here’re some facts, in case you’re into those. Jellyfish can reproduce in two ways – normal sexual reproduction (if you consider these hell spawn to be ‘normal’), and fragmentation. Fragmentation is when you rip apart a jellyfish with your bare hands, and then each piece of the original jellyfish becomes a whole new one. And then you die because it was poisoning you the whole time you were touching it. Humans -1, Jellyfish +35. “Well, I’ll just stay out of the water, then.” Wrong. Almost 100% of the human population gets some of it’s food from the ocean. We need the other crap in it to survive. Furthermore, if a fisherman catches even 1 jellyfish in his nets, then he has to throw out most of what was in his net, which usually consists of edible fish to feed people so they don’t die. Seriously, they’re going to kill us with attrition. “But Selsdon, I don’t want to die!” Too bad! That whiney attitude won’t save you in the face of Jelly-gedon. You can put your whining to good use though – complain to your national officials to take a harder stance on ocean dumping and green-house gas laws. That’s right, Jellyfish feed on pollution like Hexus from Fern Gully (which is a reference you should seek to understand). “But Jellyfish are mindless!” - So is groupthink, which is how humanity acts as a whole. And we aren’t invincible venom monsters that feed on the broken dreams of our victims. Jellyfish kind of have the advantage there. “But you’re just cherry-picking facts to support your argument!” - I totally am, but doesn’t it bother you at all that these things are even being mentioned? Like, what else should I mention? That some jellyfish are bigger than a person? Yup, some can grow over 6 feet in diameter. Or how about the poison? Some is too diluted to hurt humans, some causes extreme pain, some kills you. Oh, and some builds up 2,000lbs/sq in of pressure in your cells, making them just explode. Jellyfish have exploding-death venom. Oh, and some are edible. Have fun distinguishing them. Unless we wisen up, we’ll probably all explode to death, or less spectacularly starve to death. Those that scrounge enough food to stave off starvation will probably die of iodine deficiency later (think goiters). Those that survive the goiters will probably just finish catching up to where humanity left off by the time jellyfish develop a method of flight. And they were so close, too.


The first issue of Mantel Magazine - a lighthearted humor literary rag

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