MUSE Magazine Issue XVII

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LUCIE QUINLAN Editor-in-Chief

The first time I held a copy of MUSE Magazine in my hands was only 18 months ago. I had just been hired onto the team as the Head of Marketing, and was flipping through the glossy pages in awe. I was so impressed by the writing of my peers, the beautiful photographs, and the professional quality of the magazine. Since that day, whenever I’ve shared an issue of MUSE with someone who is not familiar with the magazine, I’ve felt such a strong sense of pride. My pride isn’t because the magazine is a culmination of my hard work (in fact, this is the first time I’ve directly had a hand in the creation of the print issue), but rather because I’m incredibly proud to be a part of such a talented group of creatives. From our photographers, to our layout team, to our editors, MUSE is comprised of over 100 dedicated individuals, who have chosen to take time out of their studies, their social lives, and their jobs to fill the next 60 pages of this magazine. When I first read through Issue XVII, the word that kept coming to mind was vulnerability. While many of the articles are humorous and informative, others are more serious in nature. Throughout each section it is clear that the authors are not afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves as they delve into deeply personal and introspective topics. As you read through Issue XVII, I ask that you consider opening up, and letting yourself be vulnerable too. Let the writing strike a nerve within you, whether it makes you hurt, laugh, or simply smile. So, allow us to be your MUSE—to be the spark that inspires you to discover the creativity within yourself.





I started using essential oils at age ten. Back in 2001, after dealing with some serious health concerns, my mom wanted to boost her energy levels and was open to using anything natural that could help her become more balanced. For years, I was the kid with lavender instead of Polysporin at baseball games, peppermint instead of Advil at sleepovers, and citronella instead of bug spray on Girl Guide trips. I was conditioned to lean towards natural remedies before turning to drugstore products. Other than treating typical physical pains, essential oils didn’t take up much space in my life until my transition to university. Here, I’ve found myself feeling increasingly stressed, anxious, and confused. After 6

doing some research, essential oils became my way to keep grounded, calm, and focused. Throughout my learning process, I’ve discovered some common myths about essential oils that I feel a duty to debunk. The first myth is that all essential oils are created equally. Companies use terms like “100% pure”, “high grade”, and “certified”, however, many of these terms are self-policing. Only a few companies have the resources to actually verify the quality of their products. To avoid ones like these, start by questioning: Where does this company get their oils? What is their quality control process? How much detail is the company willing to disclose? Does the company do third party testing? You want a brand that is

going to give you the best product to get the best results. I encourage you to ask these questions and be critical of the an effort companies you choose. The second myth is that you have to invest a ton of money right away. The best essential oils cost more, but you may want to start small. Evaluate what you need out of an essential oil, start with a few basics, and see how you can use them in your routine. Whether you want to focus on acne, muscle pain, headaches, or something else, there’s an oil for it. If you want something more all-purpose, I suggest a basic starter kit of Lavender, Peppermint, and Lemon. These are oils that can be used in many ways, so you can try them out in different areas of your life. Think of an essential oil as an aid in your personal journey of wellness– it’s all about listening to your body and finding what works for you. I ended up turning to essential oils because I wanted to maketo live a healthier lifestyle, physically and mentally. Like my mom ten years earlier, staying balanced became my focus. For me, balance means working with and listening to my body, which can mean noticing minor headaches, bloating, or anxious feelings. It means being consciously aware of my stress levels, my environment, and what I’m eating. Since beginning to trust my body and listening to what it’s telling me instead of searching for temporary relief, I’ve never looked back.


The Science of Friendships by Taylor Ball You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. While this saying is quite common, I have questioned how much truth it holds. What makes certain friendships sizzle while others fizzle? According to psychologist Dr. Jack Schafer, the recipe for friendship is pretty simple: Friendship = Proximity + Frequency + Duration + Intensity. Typically, intensity is the factor that we attribute our friendships to: we believe that if we have stimulating conversations, we will develop a close friendship as a result of shared values. In reality, intensity is only a small part of the friendship formula. Take a look at your friendships and you will quickly notice that these factors have played a large role in the formation of your current relationships. Your close friends may be the people who lived on your floor in res (proximity), those you sat beside in class (frequency and duration), or those in your frosh group (intensity). This all makes sense in theory, but how much time do you need to spend with someone to become friends? Professor Jeffrey Hall

found that to move from an acquaintance to a casual friend, you must spent 50 hours together, and another 90 hours in order to move from that stage to “friend” status. Forming a close friendship requires an even more significant time investment: at the friend stage, you should expect to spend more than 200 hours together before you can consider someone a close friend. Evidently, friendships are quite time-consuming but undoubtedly worthwhile, as your health and happiness are closely linked to the number and quality of your relationships. This raises the question: how many friends does a person need? In 1992, Robin Dunbar, arguably the most influential person in the field of friendship study, proposed a theory he called Dunbar’s number. His theory suggests that, due to the average size of the human brain, there is a cognitive limit to how many stable relationships we can maintain: 150 casual friends. Ranging on a spectrum from five to 1500, Dunbar posits that the number of social ties people are able to maintain is surprisingly consis-

tent: five best friends, 50 good friends, 150 casual friends, and 1500 people one could recognize by name. Interestingly, Dunbar’s numbers remain relatively constant but the composition of our friend circle fluctuates. The social networks of young adults can have a yearly turnover rate as high as 40 per cent. Additionally, despite the widespread use of social media and its ability to help us cultivate and maintain friendships, Dunbar’s upper limit still applies. According to Dunbar, Facebook has been so successful because it allows us to keep track of people who would otherwise disappear from our minds. While friendships may develop as a result of seemingly random factors, they still require time and energy to maintain. In fact, investing in friendships is one of the best uses of your time. A 2010 study found that in terms of increasing one’s lifespan, having strong friendships is comparable to quitting smoking and nearly twice as beneficial as regular exercise. So, it’s doctor’s orders: give your friends a call.



I SOLD MY DATA TO THE DEVIL AND ONLY GOT 65 CENTS by Taylor Ball “Think back on every fear, every hope, every desire you’ve confessed to Google’s search box and then ask yourself: Is there any entity you’ve trusted more with your secrets? Does anybody know you better than Google?” In his book The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, author and public speaker Scott Galloway sheds light on how much faith we put in our tech giants. However, this faith is blind and can lead us to underestimate the quantity and cost of the personal information we share. In exchange for convenient products like Google Maps, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat, we’ve willingly shared highly personal information with companies to ensure that we continue receiving their services for free. But how much is our data worth? What’s the going rate for personal privacy? Financial Times developed a calculator that determines how much money you could theoretically get from advertisers if you sold your personal data. General information about a person’s demographics is worth next to nothing—50 cents could buy information on a thousand people. Certain factors can make you more valuable to potential businesses: if you’re interested in foreign travel, your data’s worth 8

increases by a meagre three cents, while disclosing health issues will get you another nickel or two. Typically, the average person’s data sells for less than a dollar. Is it just me, or do you feel you’re getting ripped off? Personal information has become a new type of currency. Unfortunately, it’s one that has a very bad exchange rate. However, the problem may not necessarily be the price at which we are giving away our data but, rather, the quantity. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which is estimated to have affected upwards of 80 million people, users were curious to see what personal information Facebook and Google had and began downloading their own data. When I downloaded my Facebook data, I had 3.2 GB— believe it or not, a file that big is equivalent to roughly 34,000 Word documents. Yikes! This amount is miniscule compared to the quantity of data Google has— given its storage of our search history, emails, YouTube videos, and more, it is estimated that the information they have on an average person could fill millions of Word documents. For the majority of people, sharing this much personal information may sound unsettling, but we do it anyway. This is called the “privacy paradox”: the well-documented tendency for people to

engage in privacy-compromising behavior, despite also claiming to highly value their privacy. According to a Pew Research poll, 74 per cent of Americans view the right to control who can access their personal data as very important. Yet, we regularly give up our rights to privacy without so much as a second thought. A 2017 Deloitte study found that 97 per cent of people ages 18-34 agree to the terms and conditions without even reading them. In one hilarious study conducted by York University, researchers created Name Drop, a fake social media site with a catch. A whopping 98 per cent of participants agreed to Name Drop’s terms and conditions all while missing one very important clause: to use the platform, users must give away their first born child as payment. While this is a rather ridiculous example, most of us skim the service terms because reading them would be too labour-intensive. If you read the privacy policy of every website you visited, you would have to dedicate 25 days a year to the task. Even reading just one service agreement is time-consuming: consumer advocacy group Choice hired an actor to read aloud the terms for the Amazon Kindle and it took him nine hours. If you are worried about accidently relinquishing the rights to your un-



born child and don’t have a free month to spare, you can visit the site (Terms of Service; Didn’t Read) for the SparkNotes version. Despite some discomfort, we’ve reluctantly accepted the terms and conditions and continue to use the practical and free (in some sense) tools provided to us by tech giants. However, our increasing ambivalence towards personal privacy has large and terrifying societal implications. You may not have anything to hide, but we must safeguard our right to privacy in order to protect vulnerable groups like human rights activists under repressive regimes or corporate whistleblowers. There is no easy or obvious solution to this problem. We’ve created entirely new business models centered around acquisition and sale of personal data. Our legislators are painfully behind: at Facebook’s Congressional hearing, a senator asked how one can sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for the service. Zuckerberg responded, “Senator, we run ads.” For now, as we wait for lawmakers to catch up, we should take ownership of our internet privacy and pray that when companies like Google say they will “do no evil”, they’re telling the truth.



CHICKS IN THE WILD by Lauren Duffy


Every day for the past two summers, I’ve enjoyed my morning cup of tea while looking out at the beautiful views of the Canadian Rockies. In the silence and serenity of the wilderness, my mind never feels more clear. I’ve spent these summers working at The Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse in Lake Louise, Alberta. The Teahouse is a full-service restaurant in the backcountry of the Rockies, and each week a crew of 12 badass women hike up to the teahouse and settle in for a five-day shift. A six-kilometre hike takes us to the steps of a 100-year-old building which has no electricity, no road access, and yes, no cellphone service. Spending my summers immersed in such an isolated environment has without a doubt, made a significant impact on how I interact with people, technology, and myself. At home, an element of social comparison exists in my daily life. This tendency to compare myself to others tends to linger somewhere in the back of my mind, but it is completely absent during my stay at the teahouse. Living in such close proximity to 12 other people means we inevitably get to see the good and bad sides of each other. Being in such a remote location, distant from technology and social media, I feel a unique sense of acceptance in our little circle. We all wear dirty clothes covered in cake batter. We walk around with greasy hair and the smell of homemade hummus. I’ve never been so comfortable being naked around others, and I never even knew this feeling of comfort was missing from my life until I experienced it here. Due to how intertwined many of our

relationships have become with technology, those raw moments we had at the teahouse are virtually impossible to experience at Queen’s. In the wilderness of the Rockies, removed from the ongoing maintenance of our online personas, we were finally able to see each other for who we are, rather than how we sometimes feel pressured to portray ourselves. Getting outside and experiencing nature in its most authentic form is something I think our generation needs to experience more. That being said, you don’t need the backcountry in order to take a moment to re-evaluate your relationship with technology. Nowadays, we often need to make conscious efforts to spend more time being present with both our friends and ourselves. Despite knowing this, upon my return to reality, I have to consciously work on not falling back into the bad habit of engaging with my phone more than I engage with people. In the isolation of the teahouse, distraction in the form of a continuous stream of notifications is gone. When all you have immediately available is nature and a couple of books, you find different, better ways of entertaining yourself. Having actual meaningful conversations for hours after dinner became the norm, as opposed to the exception. Rather than checking our phones after a long day of work, we checked in with each other. After each summer spent at the teahouse, I have left knowing that I’ve built genuine and unique relationships I will truly cherish for the rest of my life.


















SNEAKER RESALE CULTURE by Jeremy Marasigan SELLING US 9 OW CHICAGO 1 / $2300 OBO (DS). This might just look like a coded message, but, to the trained eye, this is one hell of a deal. In the past few years, Kanye’s YEEZY x Adidas and Virgil Abloh’s OFF-WHITE x Nike footwear collaborations have become household names among teens and young adults. Unique sneaker designs combined with celebrity-endorsed marketing campaigns and ridiculously low stock have made these shoes some of the hottest items in fashion. It’s simple economics. Companies like Nike, Jordan, and Adidas manipulate the market to generate hype for their brand by intentionally limiting available supply. With demand so high and supply so low, these limited sneakers sell blindingly fast at their original retail prices. But, after the retail market has sold out, the resale market opens. Resellers camp out at stores, wait on websites until 3am, and even build specialized computer programs just to secure a coveted pair of sneakers at their

retail price upon release. The sneakers are then immediately made available for purchase to people who initially missed the chance to buy them–at a 300% markup. Sneakers originally priced at $250 can balloon to nearly $2000. Crazier still, people will buy them. Resale apps that broker sales between buyers and resellers, like popular application StockX, process thousands of transactions every single day, as do other public platforms, such as Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji, and eBay. The sheer number of marked up, resold sneakers moving through the market speaks to the consumer value of sneaker culture. This is the price for an air of exclusivity. Simply owning a pair of popular sneakers sets you apart in the fashion world by contributing to a covetable sense of personal style, but is this image really worth the excessive markup in price? Ultimately, it depends on the individual. Some people have the disposable income to finance a healthy sneaker habit and are

quite happy to pay resale prices, especially if it means avoiding the wait online or the campout in-store. Other people don’t care about the culture at all, and are satisfied with buying shoes that are affordable and more widely available. Most people, myself included, lie somewhere in the middle. The fact of the matter is that resale culture is a product of the footwear’s limited nature, and with companies profiting from the hype generated by the sneakers, there’s no expectation for the trend to disappear anytime soon. So what can you do? If you really want the next hype sneaker, you can always invest the time and buy at original retail sources. If waiting isn’t your game, try finding a friend who works at a shoe store (“the plug”) or, depending on how much you are willing to invest, find the sneakers at a resale price your wallet can handle. If all else fails, just move on–there’s always another pair of hype sneakers dropping next week.


Illustrations of Resistance: My Body My Business x Andres Garzon MUSE MAGAZINE

by The My Body My Business Collective





n collaboration with London-based artist and illustrator Andres Garzon, the Queen’s feminist collective My Body My Business (MBMB) designed an empowering line of merchandise in support of the Ban Righ Women’s Centre. The two-piece collection features a range of buttons and a white canvas tote bag printed with original graphics. To celebrate the official launch this semester, the MBMB team sat down with Garzon to discuss the characters featured in the collection. The collaboration was a natural fit with themes Garzon explores in his own life. He said that after coming out, he noticed that there was more of himself he needed to get “in tune” with, specifically his sense of femininity. While art has previously allowed Garzon to explore the femininities he possesses, this collaboration gave him an opportunity to engage in feminist activism. Working with the team of female activists was a way for him to support women who experience situations

that he, even as a femme gay man, admitted he would never endure. Through his art, he can contribute his experiences to conversations and movements happening in the age of postmodern activism. The medium of fashion was a natural choice for the collaboration because it is wearable art that contributes to something people can relate to, in a visual way. Garzon revealed that the illustrations were inspired by members of MBMB who demonstrate the overarching idea of women supporting women. He illustrated four characters walking arm in arm as though they were gathering to fight for something, because movements need solidarity in order to make an impact. In regards to his personal connection to the female-centric theme, Garzon explained that his artistic lens is based on an interest in “expressing femininity in its original form, or through the experience of gay men [and] trans women– playing with any unconventional form of feminism that you see.” In a sphere that is incredibly gen-

der-focused, he has made space for himself respectfully, tangibly, and productively. He encourages all other non-self-identifying females to do the same: “You shouldn’t downplay the way you can contribute. How you can contribute can be limited in so many ways because you limit yourself. There are no rules. You’re just supporting other people who are going through things.” He emphasized that figuring out why you’re attached to social justice movements, how you can help support them respectfully, and what is possible for you in your capacity and positionality can carve out your space in a way that is meaningful to the movement. The empowering collection of totes and buttons is a celebration of grassroots activism on campus, designed to serve as a platform for people to express their support for gender equality. Fashion is an important medium for communication, and these totes speak volumes.

To see more of Garzon’s work, find him at or on Instagram at @andresillustrate. For more information on My Body My Business, please email




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Surrounded by students in Goodes Hall, I stopped to ponder: if there is a relatively equal gender ratio in Queen’s Commerce–48 per cent of undergrads identify as female–why do women hold less than a quarter of senior executive roles across the world? In fact, The New York Times reported that there are more companies run by men with the name John than by women at all, proving that the glass ceiling effect remains present in the workforce. Women are equally as qualified as men in the job market, however, they are held to a higher standard of physical appearance in the workplace. First impressions are important, and clothes play a large role in this impression. I am rallying for the pantsuit: a simple, well-tailored power suit that will give women the edge they need to compete in this male-dominated industry. As female Commerce graduates enter the workforce, it is critical that we present ourselves with the same degree of professionalism as our male counterparts. One major obstacle is sizing. The historical presence

of men in business settings has led to an expansive male suiting industry. Male suits are available in a range of specific sizes cut according to an elaborate combination of measurements, but the options for female suits are plagued by a disregard for fit and a lack of femininity. Faced with the issue of finding a well-fitted suit, 23year old professional Kevwe Mowarin launched Koviem. A custom suiting brand for women, they offer a range of suit styles made at commission, alongside a bespoke suiting option that uses Artificial Intelligence technology to uniquely fit customers’ bodies. According to Mowarin, “Never in history have women been so in control of their destiny…. Once reserved for wealthy businessmen, the power suit is now the uniform for the female of the future.” In situations in which an outfit is an afterthought, clothing becomes a tool that allows the wearer to complete her work without any obstacles. Discussing her first time wearing a custom suit, Mowarin said, “It was one worry out the door…. I

could focus on what I was actually there to do. And when you don’t have that worry, it’s so much easier to just lift your head and be more confident.” A well-fitted, stylish suit that celebrates the female body can give women the confidence boost needed to perform at their highest calibre. Women are equally qualified for the job, and it is time we walk into work with our best foot—or heel— forward. Mowarin should be applauded for acknowledging the gender gap in the world of power clothing. Koviem exemplifies the rise of female entrepreneurs helping other women feel confident and in control of their work lives. In business culture, people are taken more seriously when they are well-dressed, and it’s time that women have the tools to compete with men, not only in qualifications and intellect, but in fashion. Changing gender stigmas in the workplace is a long road, but for now we can begin to break barriers with a perfectly fit power suit.

by Elizabeth Gaudet











The Future of Fashion Technology LEVI’S X GOOGLE JACQUARD by Claudia Rupnik Double tap, change the song. Swipe left, answer a call. Forget smartphones—in collaboration with denim magnate Levi’s, Google is redefining twenty-first century fashion with smart clothing. The Levi’s Commuter Trucker x Jacquard jacket is the first-ever garment designed with Google’s groundbreaking smart clothing technology, Project Jacquard. As a subsidiary of Google, Project Jacquard strives to ease the processes of communication, navigation, and entertainment for commuters. Manufactured and sold by Levi’s, the smart jacket allows wearers to control music, screen calls, get directions, and receive Rideshare alerts, among other functions. Woven into the jacket as a seamless patch of fabric on the left sleeve, the technology is touch sensitive and works with Bluetooth and the Jacquard App to send signals between smart devices. The patch operates using a system of conductive metal threads interwoven with regular fibres to produce a new type of fabric that retains the traditional look of denim, while providing heightened functionality. Project Jacquard has no plans 26

to open their own factories, preferring instead to collaborate on product design with brands that are already established clothing retailers. Their goal is not to enter into the fashion industry as a competitor, but rather to create technology that brands can use to update “wearables” for the twenty-first century consumer. Although the Levi’s jacket remains an anomaly in the fashion tech industry, Google is not the only corporation to identify the market potential for smart clothing. Under Armour created the HOVR Sonic Sneaker to track performance statistics during a workout, and fashion tech company Wearable X designed the Nadi X Yoga Pants to identify when the wearer slips out of proper yoga form during practice. Although this type of smart technology remains limited in scope, the Levi’s collaboration indicates that the innovation will soon be accessible to the masses. Smart clothing is changing the way we interact with our surroundings by allowing us to be less distracted by our phones, while still receiving important information on the go.

Still, the system increases the consumer’s connection to technology because it is literally woven into the fabric of our everyday lives. With smart clothing, there is no barrier between the wearer and the constant stream of information coming through smart devices. Project Jacquard has the lofty goal of integrating conductive thread into every item of clothing on the market. As they move in that direction through the expansion of their technology, it is important to consider the impact smart clothing will have on the way people experience the world around them. Consumers have grown accustomed to the presence of technological accessories in the form of smart watches and Fitbits, however, smart clothing remains a rarity in the marketplace. The expansion of fashion technology, including Google’s Project Jacquard, will further cement technology’s grip on communication. Google believes smart clothing to be the cutting edge of the fashion industry and, while innovation is inevitable, their conviction begs the question: how connected do we really want to be?


NOSTALGIA MARKETING: LOOKING INTO THE HUJI CAM by Lauchland Lee At Queen’s, any brand, accessory, or aesthetic is seen ten times over on our Instagram feeds and Snapchat story reels. Social media has come to act–now more than ever–as an indication of what everyone recognizes as ‘in’. We, as active users of these platforms, endorse what we deem to be cool by liking, commenting, and sharing. It seems this cool factor often stems from a deviation from the norm. We wish to distance ourselves from the waves of I.AM.GIA jackets, which are now seen as frequently as boat shoes on University Avenue. It seems that something previously edgy and statement-worthy ironically becomes a trend of its own, especially in the social bubble that is Queen’s. Off trend becomes on trend, and on trend quickly becomes off—who would’ve seen that coming? Enter Huji. Nothing screams nostalgia like a digitized copy of a disposable photo. Once the image is produced, it is ready to be uploaded to a feed full of other pictures that once fit your Instagram aesthetic, but you are now too cool for. If you’re yearning for a subtle tinge of edginess on your feed, look no further—nowadays it takes only a finger tap and a free download. Sit back, relax, and look back on your glory days the same way your parents did at their own printed off Polaroids and disposables. There is no more convenient way to actively attempt to be retro and off-brand than to form your own relic. Here’s a digitally constructed means of bringing us back to the cherished days of the ’90s—in our case, back to our terrible twos. What a glorious time. In the same way white borders and cranked up saturation have become passé, we’ll likely grow tired of the orange-tinged “98” time stamp that is a marker of this latest fad, stuck on the right-hand corner of each Huji-produced photo. Scrolling through my own feed, I’ve noticed a new trend. People are adding hints of character to their profiles, seeking to differentiate their vibe from the others. A nostalgia marketing movement is cashing in on our inclinations to relish in the past and

in the unique. As a result, our feeds are flooded with snapshots painted by identical brushstrokes. By no means do I think it’s a poorly thought-out app or concept. It comes down to how we as millennials are fully willing to hand over praise to this new wave of nostalgia marketing. We are promoting the idea of taking a walk down memory lane without financially investing in a Pentax lens. As these trends come and go, I’m curious to see if we’ll continue to find charm in our Huji-snapped pics. I wonder if this app is a snapshot of the future: we’ll sit our families down, pull out our iPhone 84s, and scroll through our Instagram feeds—the modern equivalent to the photo albums our parents showed us once upon a time. PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEREMY MARASIGAN



Art in the Digital Age by Léa Lotey-Goodman “Zeitgeist: the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.” When the word zeitgeist is mentioned in reference to the world of contemporary art, ARTUNER is the first thing to come to mind. I have rarely witnessed a company define itself so effectively. It seems to be rewriting the canon of Art History. Many lessons can be drawn from how ARTUNER operates. As a university student, the platform has taught me the value of embracing technological change. From my perspective, it provides the opportunity to enhance oneself. As smaller galleries continue to shut down at exponential rates, it is those within the art world, PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEREMY MARASIGAN



like the members of the ARTUNER team, who continue to find success by choosing to embrace change. When I started interning for ARTUNER in London following my exchange, I knew that their unconventional business model was a game changer in terms of reinventing how we view, appreciate, and acquire art. This relatively small company is an online platform that intends to fulfill collectors’ needs and provide them access to exhibitions. Their online exhibits, artist interviews, and magazine insights provide collectors with the necessary tools for art acquisition. They also expose the internet, art lovers, and average readers to artists’ work. My experience working in ARTUNER’s office completely altered my perspective on the importance of supporting contemporary artists. As the founder and owner of ARTUNER Eugenio de Rebaudengo explained, “What’s really rewarding is knowing that you are supporting what is, in a way, the next generation of art: encouraging artists to explore new terrain outside the traditional boundaries.” In his opinion, for a collection of art to be complete, it must exceed boundaries and make dents in shaping Art History. At the moment, it is often only museums who acquire these radical artists, but in ARTUNER’s vision,

collectors will be able to collect revolutionary pieces at affordable prices. Rebaudengo’s outlook demonstrates the significance of encouraging the artists of our time. What better way to do so than by exhibiting their work with modern tools? ARTUNER leverages their online platforms—their website, Instagram, and Facebook pages—reaching the contemporaries of the artists they represent. If not for ARTUNER, I would never have discovered the enticing stories of talented international artists Paul Kneale (Canadian), Ana Elisa Egreja (Brazilian), and Patrizio Di Massimo (Italian). Born in 1986 in Toronto, Paul Kneale is an artist who focuses on how the world translates into digital language. He explores how digital facets of our existence are manifested and reimagined tangibly. The way he uses technology to generate new forms of art is awe-inspiring. It is amazing to see a Canadian artist succeed in the European market. Born in 1983, Brazilian artist Ana Elisa Egreja’s practice consists of painting and architecture. She has constructed unexpected settings to subvert different surroundings. Her art incorporates a variety of mediums to create a unique outcome, echoing Brazilian Tropicália and resonating with magical realism. ARTUNER exposes Egreja’s distinctive artistic prac-

tices. Patrizio Di Massimo was born in 1983 in Jesi, Italy. He is said to be a historiographer in terms of his art, as his early work analyzes the “politics of modernist European conflict and the failure of the continental utopia.” He heavily challenges the male gaze narrative by giving women agency, making them protagonists within his oeuvre. Di Massimo’s creations are unlike anything I’ve ever experienced–a fusion of the modern and historical, positively singular. ARTUNER’s business model supports these and other emerging artists and provides them with a vehicle to reach today’s collectors. With carefully curated online and live exhibits as well as events, ARTUNER’s reach results in increased worldwide exposure for artists. ARTUNER’s seamless combination of the digital with an ambitious programme of physical exhibitions is one that can teach us all to find a happy medium between the conventional and the avant-garde. ARTUNER’s unique, hybrid approach has, most importantly, taught me valuable lessons in embracing these changing times and supporting our contemporaries. Working with them was a unique and memorable experience that I will carry with me into my future, as we are inevitably presented with more technological and artistic changes.




by Jonah Prousky



I often think we know absolutely nothing about art. We understand the basic concept of art, but it seems impossibly foolish to attempt to justify, say, a fresco by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel or Bob Dylan’s, “Tomorrow is a Long Time”. Works like these, whose beauty send the most distinguished scholars running for their thesauruses, seem perfect, infallible, and completely enigmatic. But I think there is an equal struggle in attempting to define much simpler art. New Zealand poet, Fleur Adcock, poignantly says, “Art is whatever you choose to frame.” Should the artist decide to exhibit her shoe, a sandwich, or her pet dog, those objects somehow become art–the very idea of creating art is enough to qualify the end product as such. I decided to put Adcock’s theory to test. If art truly is whatever the artist chooses to frame, then how difficult could it be to become an artist? A couple months ago, I sent a poem entitled “Eating Congress” to The Blank Page, an up-andcoming student journal based out of University of Toronto. The poem I submitted is completely nonsensical. It’s just random words, some of which I don’t know the meaning of, arbitrarily thumbtacked together.

I think I had been listening to Bob Dylan’s, “Mama, You Been on My Mind” and decided to address ‘Mama’ in the opening lines. But I don’t know who ‘Mama’ is, or where I’m going, or why I’m bothering to return by winter’s end. What happens next is more or less undecipherable. I use the word hubris at one point, though I’m not entirely sure what it means. I allude to big issues like capitalism and consumerism when at some point, Christmas happens, and the mood turns festive. The poem ends: “The careful man with the elevator shoes Knows nothing of the sort He’s blue-green, sea bream Ancient desperate hollow And by tomorrow I’m afraid, I’ll be completely homeless.”

These lines certainly resemble poetry. They attempt, superficially, to poke at the same emotions as real poetry. But the only thing qualifying these lines as poetry is the group that chose to publish them. Sure, the editing process at The The poem begins: Blank Page likely isn’t as scrupulous “Mama please don’t hunt me down, as The New York Times, but I’ll be back by winter’s end.” someone (or some people) read this poem and decided it was art; ergo, I became an artist/ poet. After my poem was published, it was hard to resist indulging in the luxuries that, in my mind, accompany a moniker as fancy as “poet”. I spent money like an aristocrat, donned a fur coat, carried a

tobacco pipe, advocated passionately for world peace, and argued with my contemporaries over Twain’s use of the Oxford Comma–the whole gamut. That aside, there is one aspect of this case study I find particularly disturbing. I can’t help but feel a poem like this would be capable of penetrating the precincts of a high school literature course. Surely, you could write a few thousand words on the images and themes the author depicts in this poem. What does it mean to be completely homeless? What point do you think the author is making about unfettered North American capitalism? How is the author’s rather pessimistic tone similar to George Orwell’s in 1984? I recognize this case study is likely incapable of accepting or refuting Adcock’s theory. But it does shed light on an artistic phenomenon largely ignored in the classroom: the utterly unintellectual notion that an artist’s motives might be totally arbitrary. In fact, there’s something particularly satisfying about having your peers quibble over the meaning of a poem, a bad poem, that was intended to be meaningless. I reckon some of our favourite artists, poets, and musicians must, at times, feel the same way. Perhaps, like beauty, art is in the eye of the beholder, and it is through our appreciation of creative works that art comes to exist.













by Julian Fraser

The popularity of the Digital Revolution has changed how we as consumers interact with media and culture. While it has provided the opportunity to connect and share content between users, it presents complications in its difficulty to limit the same access it affords. Internet piracy truly began to pervade consumer culture through the inception of Napster-Era mp3 sharing in 1999. It posed a radically disruptive market force to multiple industries. If you provided a good or service that was accessible digitally, you were vulnerable. 36

No sense of brand loyalty or savings competes against pro gratis. Revenue streams tightened as physical media formats declined, and products essentially became free thanks to peer-to-peer services like LimeWire and Torrent websites. Any person with a basic understanding of computers could download and access software, music, or films under the relatively anonymous veil of the internet at no cost. This revolution occurred in the backdrop of a gravely inadequate and uninformed response by public policy makers, hopelessly watching

the evolution and emergence of new technologies, which rapidly outpaced their ability to enforce, legislate, and contain them. The film industry scrambled to roll out counter measures in the form of inescapable Public Service Announcements tied to DVDs, likening the abominable act of downloading movies to that of car theft—see YouTube video “You Wouldn’t Steal A Car.” A plethora of severely out of touch and cringe-inducing propaganda campaigns followed, including hip slogans such as ‘Don’t Copy That


Floppy’ by MC Double Def DP. These advertisements failed to reach the moral conscious of youth, and did not prevent the tide of piracy that chewed away at companies’ profits. On the brink of collapse for many of the marginalized, to sink or swim became the question. So as profits shrank, the actors within these markets adjusted. The twilight of the linear, pipeline business models neared, spelling the widespread adoption of platform-based models. This shift has shaped the way we live today. For years, we lived in a bygone era of manually downloading and organizing our music through cumbersome, inefficient processes. Streaming services have since remedied the issues of accessibility and inefficiency by unionizing and consolidating music media, and upselling the former points of sale. Even in the face of competitor savings, consumers identify brand loyalty with the convenience they have when they remain subscribed. If pop culture history has proven anything, it is that people ultimately value accessibility over ownership. While this piece appears to be an aggregate pro-consumer push, it is important to consider the ramifications on

the supply side. The price of “free” has meant the gradual shrinking of ground beneath the feet of artists and relative industry firms alike. Wealth is considerably concentrated in the hands of top artists, whereas newer and less successful ones see only trickles of rewards from their labours. While the Internet Age has allowed artists greater liberty in connecting users to their products, many still face the traditional problems of undercapitalization in lieu of concrete revenue streams. Therefore, when labels offer to facilitate their growth, some artists may engage, but often at the expense of their creative direction, intellectual property, or long-term monetary compensation. In such a vulnerable occupation, many artists cannot afford to wait for mainstream traction in the long run, so they sign the dotted line in favour of the short. Ultimately, the artist’s deal determines how they can make a livelihood. This is not a problem which exclusively hinders the music industry, but it serves as a more present example in this shifting technological and economic landscape. It is important to consider what is practical and what is normative in all industries, considering these transformative changes.

Is it naïve to believe that ‘freemium’ platforms like Facebook can support their considerably expansive cost structure without ad revenue? We often forget that we live in an age of constraint and scarcity, but would society be willing to pay for a service such as Instagram or Twitter? If conditions for artists are truly this problematic, then society’s willingness to support the services which exploit our idols and muses is advocating against their success. As consumers, do we owe some sense of responsibility in embracing piracy, only to transition to newer models that are only marginally less exploitative than before? Bearing the consequences in mind, we should not be so readily accepting of people attaining something for nothing while preaching ethical consumerism. I don’t think I’ll ever catch myself nostalgically reminiscing over LimeWire viruses, Walkmans, and hiding pornographic magazines from my mom. But there is something to be said regarding the agency we once afforded ourselves in both creating and digesting content. Free is but an abstract naivety—someone always pays the price.



facebook is irrelevant by Johnathan Karr From Farmville to Vines to invites to next weekend’s biggest parties, Facebook has served as social media’s most prominent platform since its birth in 2004. While it dominated the drastic spike in technology and social media’s dictation over our lives, the recent rise of various other platforms has diminished its significance. There was a time when Facebook could be directly tied to millennials’ addiction to social media, and as it spread to older generations, it seemed it would remain at the forefront forever. The star burned so bright that in 2010 a movie was made about its origin story, hailing Facebook as not just a social network, but The Social Network, going on to win three Oscars. But of course, success only means competition will arise. While Facebook occupied the minds of anyone with a computer, other companies began producing their own social media platforms which quietly grew in popularity. We commonly heard complaints about these new platforms, such as 38

Twitter (“Why do people need to always know what I’m doing?”), Snapchat (“So I only have ten seconds to look at this before it disappears?”), and Instagram—for which I have no critiques. Somehow these networks overcame society’s initial trepidation, and while Facebook has dwindled in popularity, these platforms only continue to gain users. In October 2018, Snapchat began releasing original televised content, while Twitter has become crucial for remaining up to date with American politics. Meanwhile, Facebook joined the trend of offering stories significantly after the concept was popularized by Snapchat and Instagram, and its success with the fad was lackluster at best. It is widely reported that along with the rise of technology in our lives, the average person’s attention span is decreasing, which is both a cause and an outcome of Facebook’s collapse. I can refresh my Twitter feed every minute knowing I’ll have brand new tweets to occupy my mind, and I can scroll

through Instagram to see a perfect combination of my friends’ lives, celebrity updates, and the latest memes. With each of these new networks, I can interact with the celebrities of my choosing, while staying up to date with my peers; with Facebook, I can see that someone I haven’t spoken to since Grade 7 just got in an argument in the comment section of a post about gun control. As a university student, I am far more likely to follow someone I meet at a party on Instagram than add them on Facebook, and would much rather send a mass snapchat to a select group of my friends than make a Facebook status. While I appreciate my professors’ attempts to be relatable by announcing at the start of a lecture that they know we’re on Facebook, I can’t help but feel that they’re around five years too late to that joke. I will admit, if someone is willing to send me lecture notes I will happily join as many Facebook group chats as required; but I’ll only need those extra notes because I was scrolling through Instagram in class.


Why is No One Talking About King Princess? by Sam Turnbull

So, tell me why my gods look like you. And tell me why it’s wrong. Born into the music industry, Mikaela Straus was raised in her father’s recording studio in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout her childhood she provided background vocals for her dad’s clients, and by age 11, she was offered a record deal. Although she turned it down to opt for a more conventional childhood, Straus was merely getting ready for something bigger. Fast forward to age 18, Straus begins her freshman year at the University of Southern California. While attending school, her persona King Princess is born out of the song-writing studio formed in her dorm room. Pairing melody with her shower-thoughts became the song– and ultimately her debut single–‘1950’. From the opening line, King Princess makes a statement to her audience. With every lyric attributed to personal struggles of romance and heartbreak, King Princess shows the world that in 2018, the LGBTQ+ community needs love songs too. When asked about the origins of her song, she stated: “Queer love was only able to exist privately for a long time, expressed in society through coded art forms. I wrote this song as a story of unrequited love in my own life, doing my best to acknowledge and pay homage to that part of history.” Released in February 2018, the song reached new heights the following month, when Harry Styles tweeted: “I love it when we play ‘1950’.” King Princess went on to sign with Mark Ronson’s new label, Zelig Records, and

begin her journey as an unstoppable musical force. Now with an EP in the mix, the young artist is in the heart of an explosive career. The five-song piece, Make My Bed, showcases her incredible vocal range and confidence in her sexual identity. Songs alluding to her femininity but also her sexual interests give rise to soft, yet powerful lyrics. King Princess is genderqueer, meaning she identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders, but opts to use she/her pronouns. Today, this advocate for LGBTQ+ people immerses herself in both her music and beliefs. Participating in anti-gun violence protests and standing up for human rights, King Princess is a face that others who feel marginalized can admire, especially those struggling with expressing their sexuality. One of the most impressive things about this musical prodigy is what she’s been able to accomplish at such a young age. Born in 1998, King Princess could easily be sitting in a third-year lecture with me as we prepare to enter the workforce. The way she brings life to her passion for equality shows us that anyone, no matter how old, can make a difference. Still, the message of her music– that anyone is allowed to be in love and it’s time for everyone to accept it– is one that speaks volumes in today’s contentious climate. This artist is exactly who we needed, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

















I like to consider myself an environmentalist. I spend a ton of time outdoors, and I participate in countless sustainability initiatives. I rarely eat meat and I actively promote reusable products. I believe that climate change is the most important issue we face today and I strive to live my life in a way that will lighten my footprint on our earth. However, I am not perfect. On weekends, I still buy packs of beer with plastic rings around each can. I order takeout food, and


BRAND by Maggie Tuer

while I inwardly cringe at the disposable packaging that comes with it, I enjoy my sushi. Sometimes I forget my reusable cup and I still get that iced coffee; occasionally I even take a straw. Does this mean I am a fake environmentalist? A fraud? I don’t think it should. As we grow up, whether it be intentional or subconscious, we assign each other and ourselves different labels. From classifications as specific as the horse girl, to ones as simple as the hipster, the


stoner, or the comic, we have all come to be identified to some degree by our own brands. These personal labels are reinforced by our constant use of social media apps like Instagram, Facebook, and even Tinder. We are constantly creating profiles for ourselves, sharing photos and links that reflect the things most important to us, and what we believe to be our best attributes. Every post we make tells a story to others about the kind of person we are, allowing us to be easily slotted into different categories. This categorization is not necessarily a problem in and of itself. In fact, most of us want to be recognized for our own passions, values, and interests. The issue arises when your label suddenly feels like a name you have to live up to, and your own personal brand begins to feel like your own personal prison. I used to love being referred to as the outdoorsy one or the nature lover because I believe these attributes accurately describe me. But as I continue to evolve as a person, I have come to feel that I have less and less control over the labels that define who I am. I feel an increasing pressure to match my identity that has been seemingly hijacked by other people’s definitions. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. When the funny friend is feeling anxious or down, she makes an excuse for her uncharacteristic behaviour and laughs it off rather than exposing her friends to her darker side. When the vegetarian animal lover decides to have chicken instead of tofu for dinner one night, he spends the next hour facing questions from his

friends about where his true values lie. And when the nature lover wants to stay inside and binge watch Netflix instead of going on the hike, she feels an overwhelming sense of betrayal. But why is it that we feel we are disappointing others when we go off-brand? More importantly, why do we feel like we are disappointing ourselves? My identity is much more complex than simply an environmentalist, and I do not deserve to have it discredited when I waver from someone else’s definition of this term. The hipster should not have to hide the fact that he actually likes the latest pop song; the funny girl should not feel like a lesser version of herself on days when she just needs a good cry. What I find most concerning about personality branding is that this simplification and categorization of individuals’ identities has the potential to deter us from embracing new passions, or exploring opportunities that may not fit perfectly with our existing brands. I have witnessed children and adults choose not to pursue their interests for fear of not satisfying the expectations of others regarding who they are. As someone who is still navigating my own identity, I want to start a conversation on this topic, and further explore how we can break free from and bring attention to these constraints. Each one of us is unique and complex, and we should not let our lives be dictated by the expectations and definitions of others. Different brands will come in and out of style and trends will change—it is crucial to remember that it’s okay if we change too.



Laughing with the Grim Reaper: Coping with Death the Only Way I Know How by Joanne Katherine Gall




When my mother was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2009, I didn’t know how to respond. When my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012, still, I didn’t know how to respond. When my mother died of cancer in 2014, I just didn’t respond. Fortunately, everyone around me seemed to have words to share for how I should act and for how I should feel. Unfortunately, most of those words did not help me understand or process my grief. When my mother died, I realized how incredibly awkward people get about death. The topic of death can make the most well-spoken person become a fumbling mess of incoherent ‘support’. It’s understandable too. Death is taboo, and most of us don’t like talking about it. It’s sad. It’s depressing. It’s unknown. It’s what we have all been taught to fear. Death. But as someone who has seen her dearest one die, who’s held the hand of her dead mother, who’s felt the ashes of that person, I want to tell people—it’s okay to laugh about and be comfortable with death. I often make jokes at my mother’s expense. She was a traffic engineer who couldn’t parallel park and got giddy at the sight of a round-about. She was an immigrant who had lived for 40+ years in this country and couldn’t pronounce the word “salmon.” She was fucking hilarious. I was walking along with a friend who commented, “I don’t know what to get my mom for Mother’s Day.”

With no hesitation, I replied, “I don’t have that problem.” I laughed. But my friend didn’t. Death jokes make people uncomfortable, so I’ve learned to hold back the dark humour for a select few. When we run away from death, we run away from reality. And reality will always catch up. I tried to run away for two years. I left the city, the country, the continent to “study and travel”, but really it was to escape. To leave the mess of sadness behind for some time. And when I finally came back, reality knocked me down and left bruises. The one shared experience we will all have, no matter our background, our family, our health, will be death. It’s a simple fact that death is a natural part of the life cycle. We all die. And I think it’s wise for us to stop running away from death and the difficult conversations around death—but rather, to run into them and embrace them. Be open, honest, and genuine—and listen. It’s only when I began allowing myself to laugh at death, to be happy and comfortable talking about my dead mom, then I was able to address my grief and move forward with my life. My mom is gone. It sucks. But it’s also reality. And I accept death. I accept my own death will come, and the deaths of those around me. So, when I make death jokes I invite you to laugh with me.



It’s Not a Phase, Mom by Anonymous I’m sure you’ve heard it: “I’m totally addicted to getting tattoos” or “Wow, piercings are so addictive.” Well, those people are right—but when I say it, I mean something different. I’m not here to talk about how every baby-boomer hates tattoos or how nose rings should be more accepted in the workplace. I’m here to talk about my very real and very dangerous addiction to body modification. Throughout high school I struggled with something I called The Numb: an emotional and physical absence. I found that my pain tolerance was through the roof and I couldn’t even feel myself laughing. It was like moving into a new body but forgetting to install your emotions. I got my first piercing with a friend just after we turned 16. I remember the rush of doing it behind our parents’ backs and how cool we thought we looked with little studs in the tops of our ears. Not only was this a way to express how pop-punk we were, I discovered it was a way to relieve myself of how I’d been feeling—or rather not feeling. I realized I’d found something better than what I was already doing. It was a new alternative to self-harm. I was afraid people were going to notice my recent affinity 48

for long sleeves, anyway. Instead of taking a blade to my skin I now chose to put needles through parts of my body. How trendy, right? I would get to fight the Numb in a more private way and my friends would think all my piercings were cool. A win/win. But, before I was 19, I would have over 15 piercings and nine tattoos. Now, these may seem like lo numbers to some, but factor in that you need to be at least 16 for most piercings and 18 for a tattoo, and you will realize this was a lot to do in under two years. There was even a time where I got three piercings in under two weeks, which is not good for the immune system. On top of this, each piercing was anywhere from $70-$125 and the tattoos were a minimum of $80. This addiction was now a health concern and a financial burden—and I was running out of places to hide them. Only after coming to Queen’s did I decide I needed help with my mental health. I made an appointment to see a counsellor and I ended up going regularly for my entire first year. In my very last session before the year ended, I revealed all the very permanent things I had done to myself. For the first time, someone understood. I was told that people often turn to body modification as

a form of self-harm. If you think about it, it was the outcome I cared about, not the process. It was comforting to know I wasn’t alone. I even got to take home a new pamphlet about the validity of my problem—I wasn’t crazy, after all. Two years later, I have removed a few of the metal pieces from my body and it’s been over a year and a half since my last tattoo. I’m at a point in my life where I’m less afraid of The Numb and I can handle it in a more constructive and less expensive manner. I’d like to say that I’m completely over it. I’m not. As ridiculous as it might sound, I feel like I’m having withdrawal. It really is like a drug. I think about it a lot and I have to be very strong about not running to a tattoo parlour every time I feel vulnerable. If someone else out there shares this problem, I want them to know they’re not alone. In a society where tattoos and piercings are the latest trends, they became an easy shadow to a serious problem. No matter how strange you think your own addiction is I can guarantee asking for help will make a difference. I am proud of how far I’ve come and I now confidently wear my scars in the forms of jewelry and ink on my skin.




photography by Mohammed Khan

Pieces of me


an article by Lauchland Lee


The relationships we come to engage and invest in over a lifetime are countless. Each significant for how they guide us in shaping the boundaries we will go on to test. There exists no filter or trailer to peer into what’s to come and in all honesty, what benefits could be reaped of being able to fast forward to the best and worst parts of the people we’ve let in. To whichever depth of intimacy or investment we commit to others, whether it be as voluntary and conscious of a decision as a friendship or as fixed as a complicated dynamic with a parent, the risk of giving your energy to others is something we all take a gamble on. Every person we invest in, calls to be unpackaged. Understood for their many complex parts. Though this in itself is not inherently dangerous, it’s a gamble that for people alike myself who tend to take on a more caretaking role pose greater risk. Something I recently came to tackle was where my tendency to becoming intertwined into justifiably toxic relationships was rooted in. A narrative much more common among people around me than given credit. What began as my perhaps involuntary inclination to provide a support network for people in my family, social circle and love life, came to take on a life of its own. While those around me delved into the complexities of navigating their own growth, this came to be something I involuntarily adopted as my job to travel along side. A human

safety net of sorts. At the sight of an issue, it took unprecedented priority, all else paling in comparison. A form of self-sacrifice that became so intensely intertwined into my personality, it warped my understanding of what it meant to be kind, generous, giving. It came to be a game of “If I don’ts”. If I don’t offer my companionship, my help and my time who will? With that came the tendency to excuse losing my initial role as an equal. The bad days, sacrificed nights and inconsistency was validated and excused based on the relationship’s pretext I had on file in my brain. A mental logging of why this apparent unbalanced relationship was swaying in favour of the one deemed wounded and why “this time” it could be excused. With an identity fully propped up on being a nurturer, all other spaces in life were flooded with irrelevance. At the root of it all, it comes to be a game of accommodation and tolerance. You come to recognize that as you increasingly become unequal, there remains little room for redemption. As you accept the dynamic lacking its balance, the scales tip further and thus limit the room left for the relationship. As histories lengthen and emotions increase, these experiences of bringing people in and letting others out is but one element of the several components serving to form the human experience that molds us all. An experience that is an ongoing ebb and flow of how life seems to work with and for us. 51













I don’t remember exactly what I was thinking while sitting across from the doctor at the clinic last Christmas. An hour earlier I had tearfully asked my mother to take me to the doctor because I thought something was very wrong with me. I had severe migraines, nausea, body pain and sores, all of which had appeared overnight and with terrifying ferocity. As I sat in front of the doctor explaining my symptoms—ones I had previously Googled that led me to self-diagnose—I hoped she would tell me that I was wrong. She didn’t. The doctor confirmed what I dreaded to be true. I did, in fact, have HSV2. That first week after my initial diagnosis saw me at my lowest point both in physical strength and emotional capacity. The pain from the first outbreak is always the most intense, so they say, but the emotional toll that came with it was much worse. My mind was full of thoughts 24/7. I would beat myself up about how I’d let this happen. I thought constantly about how it would affect my life and how I would have to adjust. How would I tell people? Would I even tell people? How do I tell the man I’m seeing that I have this infection? How do I tell him that he might 56

have it, too? How do you even begin to have those conversations? I would go over every person I had ever been with and wonder if they gave this to me. Thinking that people who I had once shared an intimate connection with had given this to me infuriated me. I tried not to dwell on those thoughts, but they quickly created a rabbit hole that sucked me in. My own mother would feed into my descent down that rabbit hole, asking me how I could have possibly done this to myself, telling me how I should have been more careful. Not having my own mother in my corner at a time like this was horrible. The only person who brought me out of that rabbit hole was the man I was seeing. When I first told him about what happened, his first instinct was to hug me and tell me it changed nothing. He said it changed nothing about who I was as a person, and that dealing with it would make me stronger. In that moment my outlook changed. I had gone through a short but horrible period of self-loathing, thinking I was less than I was, thinking I was somehow dirty and no longer myself. For


him to speak those words to me was incredible. In a sense it made me feel like who I was before this diagnosis, or at least human again. It allowed me to come back from my sadness and reclaim my identity. It led me to the place that I am at now. I’ve learned how to deal with not only my emotions but also the infection’s outbreaks—what triggers them and how to treat them. Each time they come back, that huge wave of emotions does too. Each time, I have to remind myself that this problem doesn’t define me, that it is not who I am and will never be what makes me, me.

I wrote this piece to share my experience with others who might be dealing with similar things. I want those people to know that an STI doesn’t define who you are. You are so many other wonderful things. An STI is one thing that happened to you that you now have to live with. It creates challenges, but learning from them will make you so much wiser. It makes all of your relationships that much sweeter and that much deeper. Just take life one day at a time and know that this thing won’t kill you—it will make you stronger.




THE POWER OF DECAF by Maddy Wintermute I’ve been trying to pinpoint why I started to drink coffee. I can’t remember if I actually liked the taste or if I just wanted to feel the effects of caffeine. What I do remember is the ironic timeline: shortly after the addition of coffee to my life was when we first spoke, prompting another habit I let into my life too quickly and too carelessly. In the aftermath of our many experiences that followed that first conversation, we met over coffee to discuss our past. Bitter broth permeated my apprehensive words, which after a while became redundant; each additional cup began to taste the same but I continued to want more. We spoke two different languages and tried miserably to use a hot beverage as a mediator to understand one another. Despite all the burning liquid I drank, so many things were still lost in translation that morning. Post-café, I evaluated what the commitment of getting coffee with someone entails in our generation’s socialized caffeine-culture. It is a middle ground of consumption between starvation and sustenance, inexplicably allowing us to express feelings we would not express upon eating takeout side by side. While I was training as a barista at work, I made espresso drinks for Table 3 who then proceeded to break up. It was the first time I felt powerful since that coffee date of my own. I had become the vehicle for those conversations to take place. I felt sure the couple wouldn’t have broken up without the cappuccinos they were holding. I tried my best to compartmentalize my caffeine-saturated heartache, but I quickly realized it wasn’t confined to the four corners of that coffee shop—it was everywhere around me. Its thick aroma pervaded every street as coffee was capitalized on, modified, and served in different sizes and sweetnesses. I tricked myself into thinking I could leave it in the past but, in my cardboard 58


to-go cup, I held that conversation in the palms of my hands as I walked to class, to work, or to meet friends. The more the caffeine soaked into my bloodstream, the more I understood that I had been drinking what could kill me all along. Slowly, I emerged from this dark-roasted hole. The longer I worked as a barista, the more I saw the drink for all it really was: wet paper filters, espresso grounds, clanking machines, and granules of sugar fallen on the floor. The power it once had to redirect my trains of thought dissolved. I enjoy cappuccinos the same way I hope the non-couple from Table 3 can now enjoy them as well. Certain rare sips remind me of that distinct acerbity of the past but mostly I just enjoy the taste. Still, I can’t quite remember why I started drinking coffee in the first place. I’m grateful for the bitter habit now—without it, I wouldn’t be able to detect when things are sweet in comparison.


LOST IN TRANSLATION: THE UNIVERSALITY OF FEELINGS by Samantha Fink Our thoughts are a product of our individual realities, acting as a reflection of our upbringings, our languages, our positionalities, and our cultures. They may be similar to those of our friends and families, but they are ultimately unique because we are each offered a distinct range of perspectives specific to our experiences. While thoughts are formed by the guidelines of a learned language, feelings must be awkwardly forced into this format in order to be expressed. Feelings do not match up perfectly with words. They are made to be felt, not spoken. They are a natural and uncontrollable force, whereas thoughts are entirely constructed and manmade. This critical misalignment forces us to leave gaps in discussions of what we feel most intensely, succumbing to phrases like, “There are no words to describe this feeling.” Words are the only tool we have to make descriptions, but they are unable to do feelings complete justice. As a result, we often feel that ‘no one understands’; that even when our

friends say they understand, they cannot possibly grasp the true breadth of the unique feeling we are grappling with at the moment. But why do we attribute this gap in understanding to a lack of connection in our relationships, as opposed to the limits of our language? It constantly seems like everyone feels that no one truly understands them. This knowledge alone demonstrates the universality of our emotions. The feeling that we are alone, and that no one understands us, is itself what connects us all most—we are all restrained and frustrated by the limits language exerts on our ability to articulate our innermost sentiments. Language is an oppressive government to our feelings, restricting free expression and limiting our ability to rebel against it. We thus have trouble seeing what should be so obvious: that all feelings are felt by most people, even if they are described differently. Thoughts are slaves to words, and exist only in the space that words allow. We spend our

lives trying to make our feelings fit into this word-dominated space, but they rarely fit perfectly and thus we are rarely in a state of perfect harmony with our feelings or those of the people around us. Feelings occupy a different space, one for which the language has not yet been fully created. This other language is formed more subtly through eye contact, memories, dreams, pictures, and gifts, however, much of its dictionary remains unwritten. It is in the attempt to translate our feelings into spoken language that the meaning is often lost. For the time being, I think all we can do is remind ourselves that feelings are universal. Though our emotional vocabulary is stifled and skim, other people subconsciously hold greater understandings of our own feelings than we often realize. In this line of thought, it becomes clear that inferring others’ feelings is a mightier cause than we give it credit for, and claiming “I didn’t know you would feel that way” is a weaker excuse. 59


THE TRANSITION // Sometimes it’s fun to throw yourself hopelessly into a storm. I’m guilty of it. As a lover of the uncertain, being with someone risky was the fire that kept me up at night. But at some point you must ask yourself—at what cost? These are three different poems written throughout last year, during three different phases of my relationship with someone I thought I could change. We were two people who would have never worked, and while I tried to get out of it, I kept finding myself right back in the storm. We must learn to forgive ourselves. I wanted to chase an illusion, and that catches up with you. Don’t stay in something that makes you happy one per cent of the time, then leaves you sad and drowning in your thoughts the rest of it. There are other people that will make you laugh, friends who can make you laugh even louder. Don’t waste your time with someone who makes you feel lost. You’re not lost—you’re just using a broken compass. //



by Nika Elmi


“He wants me” We gotta get away from here, you say to those other pastures where thoughts bloom in the spring filling gardens of prose with a mint tea in your hand you will not drown in your worries or run circles around where your heart will lay or who’s eyes have shackled you in dust and lust you’ll do those things they do in the movies run through fields, a slow-motion montage so many things you will do but for now, we will lay right here and I will wonder if I like the way your hand swallows mine “Time to go” Winds lift the heavy fogs of empty conversations and your touch a faded, distant tune you seem to have forgotten there are diamonds beneath this skin return when you’ve learned to stop time for me unlike the way the moon rises and falls or the way the tide will always find the shore I will not wait for you the way the sand awaits the sea “I can’t let him go” Don’t you let me go tonight spin me until our heads are too heavy and everyone stands in twos where every song is our song and suddenly country music is like warm coffee on Sunday mornings my hands kind and soft on your chest thoughts wander to music that demands to be heard and my heart flutters and my eyes wander, too and then, when I am ready, you can let me go, but don’t you let me go tonight 61
















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