NOSTRA: The 21st Century Feminine

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HOW TO BE A FEMINIST - Ainsley Anderson

“Nostra” means “ours” in Latin. That is what we, the editors of NOSTRA Literary Magazine, want it to be, ours. A place of collaboration, elevation, and celebration of creative feminist works.


Emma Allen (’23)

Liv Tanaka-Kekai (’24)

Mika Nijhawan (’25)

Graphic Designer

Rebecca O'Malley Gipson (’21)


Ainsley Anderson

Catarina Vazquez

Lillian Milgram

Liv Tanaka-Kekai

Khira Hickbottom

Mika Nijhawan

Carlotta Harold

Catarina Vazquez

Ella Jeffries

Winna Xia

Kelsey Stankard

Sydney Soganich

Zoe Seibert

Emma Allen

Emilia Long

Nakia Fofana

NEWCOMB is published by Newcomb Institute of Tulane University. NOSTRA is an annual production of the Newcomb Institute.

Address all inquiries to NOSTRA

Newcomb Institute | Tulane University The Commons, Suite 301 | 43 Newcomb Place New Orleans, LA 70118 | Phone: 1-800-504-5565

Contents The cover features a collage of watercolored Live Oaks. Design by Rebecca Gipson. 2 Letter From the Editors Pieces We’re Proud Of Litany of Agency A Brief History of Pockets Time Geodesic Dome Snedgar & Snella The Red Swing Hot Cement Wave Welcome to Party City Gratitude Second Hand Plan B Musings Minor Flavors Learning To Be A Daughter Of Two On Queerness Fragile Resiliency Twenty-Two Final Words Staff Bios 3
To learn more about the Newcomb Scholars visit or use the QR code to the left. NOSTRA 4 5 7 9 10 12 13 14 16 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 26 27 28

Letter from the Editors

Dear NOSTRA Readers,

The Newcomb Scholars Program is a feminist research and leadership program that selects 20 intellectually curious and deeply motivated individuals to be scholars every year. Throughout our four years in our cohort, we develop our writing skills, deepen our scholarship, and ultimately learn in an environment forged in the spirit of gender equity. Each spring semester, we take one class with our cohort. We begin by studying the history of women in higher education, moving then to case study writing, and ending with learning about feminist epistemologies in the hope that they will prepare us for the academic culmination of our Newcomb Scholars involvement: an Honors Thesis.

Besides the academic enrichment it provides, this program allows us to develop as people, as feminists, and as creators. The Newcomb Scholars Program has undoubtedly impacted our time at Tulane beyond just academic work, so what about the projects we create outside of the classroom? Does art not also have a place in feminist scholarship? Short stories? Essays?

NOSTRA: The Newcomb Scholars Literary Magazine aims to provide an answer to those questions and a place for our community to celebrate the things we create.

This magazine is a collaboration between editors, authors, artists, and poets. From gathering submissions to designing the final layout, we have strived to work with our authors, craft the vision for our debut issue together, and reflect our feminist research in a multitude of ways.

Though we are young, the last 20-some years of our lives have made us witnesses to changes in what it means to be a woman and feminist. Hence, this issue’s theme: The 21st Century Feminine. From art about nature to musings on Roe v. Wade’s overturning to poetry about aging, motherhood, and identity, this magazine is meant to show our readers how young, creative, brilliant young women think about their identity and place in the world.

We are proud to present the very first issue of NOSTRA: The Newcomb Scholars Literary Magazine

-NOSTRA Editors Emma, Liv, and Mika

Pieces We're Proud Of Physician-Assisted Death Does Not Undermine Human Morality

Physician-assisted death is a procedure that allows terminally ill patients to legally end their lives with the assistance and supervision of a medical professional. Advances in medical technology and medicine prolong life for many Americans, but do not guarantee a quality of life. This essay provides a brief history of physician-assisted death, its political polarization, and makes the argument that allowing people to choose physician-assisted death does not undermine a generally accepted view of human morality.

Gladwell’s Flawed Logic: The True “Story of Success”

This essay provides an analysis of Gladwell’s Theory of Sucess and a criticism on his recipe for success using Malcom Gladwell’s book, The Outliers. Finally, it makes the case that the recipe for success is a person’s objective recognition of their innate strengths and weaknesses, conceptualization of their dreams, and procurement of the needed traits they are lacking. Without introspection, paired with a rational worldview, ultimate success cannot be reached.

Girl Online

Comic book fan communities are primarily composed of white, heterosexual men. As these communities have migrated online, the spaces where they discuss comic books have become increasingly dangerous to women. Even so, the early Internet also provided a forum for women to realize their opinions and disseminate information like never before, as is the case of Gail Simone, creator of the landmark blog Women in Refrigerators. In the decades since the original publication of the blog, many changes have happened within the industry that are reflective of the role the Internet plays in modern-day fandom as well as the proliferation of violence towards women even as they make representational gains.

Learn More Learn More Learn More 3

Litany of Agency (Lost & Found)

my body belongs to a second hand mattress, blood-stained fitted sheet in a room interrupted by my imposition to star and stripe and stagnation silent smothers while i sleep but never find a way to rest

my body belongs to boys who quantify reduce for the sake of their surveys and make a simple thing of me to boys who take, boys in blue, boys in bars whose hands wander up backs inverted in avoidance

my body belongs to a mother who dreams better of me, believes in the impossibility of our suburban perfection to a father’s whose nation i’ve never seen, its splitting and rage, insatiable and reverberating since before the thought of me

my body belongs to her who holds only what I give, reminds me that home is here, happening, haunting to blue januarys and trash day and breathing green on the porch at night to forget, for a moment, that i am not my own

A Brief History of Women's Pockets

The first thing a woman will say –with unabashed glee on her face –when you compliment her dress is that it has pockets. This seemingly simple act of joy actually has a long history that demonstrates how women have constantly been put at a disadvantage through subtle means. This mundane aspect of life is one of the myriad forms of everyday sexism that affects the 21st century woman, as well as all feminine-presenting people.

Throughout history, the emphasis has been on men’s pockets. Starting in the 16th century, pockets became more common, quickly becoming so important that some people described not having pockets as similar to losing a limb (Unsworth 2017, 150-158). During this period, men’s pockets were made out of fabrics such as silk, lace, and cotton, and were made by other people (Unsworth 2017, 151). However, women’s pockets were usually made by their own wearers, and they were made out of scrap fabric (Fennetaux 2008, 313-14). In 17th century England, women’s pockets were tie-ons, which meant that they were essentially purses with strings attached to them that were tied around the wearer’s waist. These were harder to access and use than men’s pockets, which had already been inset (Lubitz 2016). They would get extremely heavy, causing the ties to come undone, rendering the pockets useless (Fennetaux 2008, 316). There has always been less of an emphasis placed on the importance of women’s belongings, and fewer precautions taken to protect them.

During the 1600’s, women carried all sorts of household items in their pockets, such as

needles, scissors, and thimbles. (Fennetaux 2018, 311). These items demonstrate the strong confinement that women had to the home and to domestic lives. However, women’s pockets also contained items like pocket snuff boxes, smelling bottles, pocket books, and almanacs (Fennetaux 2018, 315). According to Rebecca Unsworth, based on how close pockets were to the body, the items put into them were usually important to the wearer (Fennetaux 2018, 15960), illustrating the emotional connections that women had to pockets, or at least the items inside them. Therefore, a limitation of women’s pockets was a limitation of their freedom to express what held emotional value to them.

Pockets were also associated with female sexuality and intimacy, due to their proximity to the female genital area and because they were hidden under clothes (Fennetaux 2018, 318-323). Women’s pockets were often subject to criticism and questions about what they were hiding (Fennetaux 324). Women were expected to remain pure and innocent, and eventually become housewives—standards that persist today. Pockets seemed to represent the opposite of these ideals, as they exemplified a need to leave the house, to hide things, and to carry money.

In 19th century England, women’s pockets went through a huge change. The silhouette of dresses became form-fitting and slim, which left less space for pockets. This is the reason that the purse (or “reticule”, as it was called) was created (Lubitz 2016). During this time, women’s fashion paid less attention to the practical aspects


of dress, especially pockets. Again, the focus on quality and usefulness in women’s garments was thrown aside in favor of aesthetics. Since larger reticules displayed a need to carry money, they carried a stigma associated with the working class (Lubitz). At the same time, since reticules were becoming popular, pockets fell out of use, and the pockets that remained lost their embroidery and decoration. Pockets lost their personal nature and the emotional connection weakened, since all pockets looked similar.

During the 20th century in England, another major shift occurred. In the early 1900’s, women began to wear pants instead of skirts, and pockets started to reappear in women’s clothing. Additionally, due to the high demand for women in the workplace that stemmed from the World Wars, practical, utilitarian clothing with pockets became pervasive (Lubitz 2016). In the late 20th century, women’s clothing, especially pants, became form-fitting and slim, and therefore pockets were either reduced, or completely removed (Lubitz 2016). Finally, in the 1990’s, the designer purse was born, and the fashion industry’s focus shifted to making purses instead of pockets for women (Lubitz 2016). In the 21st century, pockets have become so small women cannot fit even their phones into them (Lubitz 2016), again signaling a lack of focus on

practicality for women’s clothing. Additionally, fake pockets have become a trend in modern fashion, creating the appearance of pockets without actually adding them on (Shamsian 2018). Fashion companies tend to prioritize practicality for clothing aimed at men, while prioritizing aesthetics for clothing aimed at women.

Although it seems like a small, insignificant aspect of life, a lack of sufficient pockets negatively affects daily life for women in many ways. It creates the need for external ways of carrying things, like purses, which means more money spent on outfits. The pervasive use of purses reinforces the maternal role that is imposed on women. A lack of pockets also makes it easier to lose belongings, which implies the lower value of women’s personal items. Pockets also represent freedom and mobility for women. The limitations of women’s pockets are an infringement on women’s freedom. It reinforces the idea that women are not meant to work, but to stay in the home and participate in domestic labors. Women’s pockets are one of the many ways in which sexism subtly yet powerfully affects the everyday lives of women. By reinforcing gender stereotypes and placing non-male people at a disadvantage, pockets sustain a need for feminism and feminist activism.

Fennetaux, Ariane. 2008. “Women’s Pockets and the Construction of Privacy in the Long Eighteenth Century.” Eighteenth Century Fiction 20(3): 307 - 334. Lubitz, Rachel. 2016. “The Weird, Complicated, Sexist History of Pockets.” Mic Shamsian, Jacob. 2018. “Your Dress's 'Fake Pockets' Might Actually Be Real - Here's How to Open Them.” Insider. Unsworth, Rebecca. 2017. “Hands Deep in History: Pockets in Men and Women’s Dress in Western Europe, c. 1480 - 1630.” Costume 51(2): 148 - 170. Drawing of Reticule by David Ring, commissioned by Europeana Fashion, scanned by team of MoMu – Fashion Museum Province of Antwerp

The grains slide through the cracks between their fingers

As if they are scoffing at the meekness of humankind

Time will not dignify them with the honor of facing her

But no one appreciates that she spans beyond them


They think of life as a bridge in which she lays the tiles Endpoints on either side Endpoints that are the equivalent of a grain of sand In the hourglass of the century A relative nothingness in the hourglass of life

But people have their own ends Blinded by the visions of endpoints They wish to trap Time in a cage Restrain her Use her A divine grab of power

Their wish will not be realized Her throne too high Defense too strong

She surveys it all Composed as ever But with the hintings of a sigh As if attempting to release The weight placed on her misty shoulders Of the scapegoating and the dread

Yet through all of this Her pulse stays steady Each beat sending Grains of sand down the hourglass Uniting the universe In a sharp Tick-tick

Geodesic Dome

I wanted to create a versatile workspace/classroom design based on the emotions, creativity, and happiness of the user while incorporating sustainable practices. This is neuroarchitecture: "designing efficient environments based not only on technical parameters of legislation, ergonomics and environmental comfort, but also on subjective indices such as emotion, happiness and well-being, (Matoso 2022)."

I designed this 3D-printed geodesic dome using a computer program

In the dome, I envision a space that fosters creativity, reduces anxiety, and improves cognitive performance. Biophilia, or plants (see Seattle Spheres) is a great way of doing this while also improving air quality. The plants would primarily grow vertically along the walls of the dome. Specific plants would include low-maintenance and hypoallergenic species, such as tiny begonias, orchids, tree ferns, and aloes.

In addition to being weather resistant, dome spaces are efficient and sustainable. Due to their spherical nature, dome homes provide a large amount of living space, while taking up very little surface area. They also have a lower area-to-volume ratio and require less energy for heating and cooling and provide great air circulation. They are wind and storm-resistant - a

With this project, I wanted to break down barriers of what we typically think of as architecture - and subsequently consider the way we are systematically held to certain expectations of performance. As a student, I primarily study in a small desk space in a silent and dimly-lit library, with literal barriers on three sides of the desk. This is where most students go when overwhelmed with work - they need to hole up and isolate in order to finish their assignments. For me, this ultimately leads to more stress and discontent, and my peers agree. My idea, the dome as an alternative workspace,

to create. With this project, I hope to break down barriers of what we consider necessary for productivity and use rest as a form of resistance.

Left: Anderson's Geodesic Dome from above Below: The Seattle Spheres Your Brain Responds to Different Spaces.”

Snedgar & Snella

The greatest love story ever known began and ended on the sidewalk. There had once been a time when the big concrete slab known as the sidewalk was a place of joy and worship. During the rainy season, members of the community used to gather in the pools of raindrops that appeared to thank the rain god for his gift. Celebrating had become a safety hazard – the influx of humans on the sidewalk posed an imminent threat to snail livelihood.Too many villagers had been crushed underfoot by students too busy looking at their cell phone screens to worry about their uncouth steps. The village chiefs banned all villagers from traveling on the sidewalk.

For years, Snedgar and Snella would simply gaze at each other from across the sidewalk as they lived on separate sides. One day Snedgar decided he just wanted to see her from a distance of less than five feet. He was determined to accomplish this goal even if it meant breaking the community’s most important rule.

For weeks Snedgar stayed up late into the night trying to figure out how to get across the sidewalk. During this time, Snella and Snedgar would venture to their respective edges of the sidewalk every evening to

watch the sunset together. Snedgar treasured this time they shared, and on one of these outings he explained his plan to Snella by etching a message on an acorn and catapulting it over to her side. The acorn explained that he was going to dig a tunnel under the sidewalk. Snella was beyond shocked, but she urged him against this as she was to be married off to Snadam, the son of her village chief, in a few months. This snail was known for being cruel to the other villagers, especially those in his household. Snedgar knew he wouldn't be able to live with himself if he didn't save her. This only encouraged to expedite his plans.

That evening, he began surveying the land, looking for the least rocky place to begin digging the tunnel. He worked all night and in the morning his mother sent his sister, Snarice, to find him. Snarice’s confusion was obvious as she looked at her brother caked in mucus and dirt. Snedgar had always been the odd one out, but now his sister was sure he was losing it. He had explained to her why he was doing this, and surely she had seen Snedgar on his way to visit Snella. Snedgar felt that he was not understood by his family or the rest of the community and knew in his heart that Snella was the only one who could ever truly accept him. He spent the next few weeks digging the tunnel, making slow progress.

One evening after a long day of digging, he crept up to the edge of the sidewalk to see Snella. She was not there waiting for him like every day before. He knew this could only mean one thing: she had been married. Discouraged, defeated, and in tears, Snedgar trudged home knowing he was not able to save his beloved in time. On the other side of the sidewalk, Snella had been forced to marry Snadam against her will. That night, Snedgar had a dream of a despondent Snella, locked in Snadam’s house. At that moment, Snedgar knew he had to continue the tunnel.

The next morning he climbed up the trellises draped along the sides of his house and watched as the rising sun reflected its golden warmth onto the surrounding dwellings. He wanted Snella to see this breathtaking view as well. For the next few months Snedgar worked harder than ever, digging incessantly. At last, his tunnel reached the other side of the sidewalk. The world at the end of this tunnel was extremely different from his, he thought as he breathed in the acrid smell of dead grass and smoke. He couldn't believe this world was all Snella had ever known.

After an hour of searching, he finally found her against a well under a grove of trees. Snella rushed over to him, in disbelief that he was actually there in front of her. It only took one look at Snella’s saccharine smile for Snedgar to know everything was worth it for this moment. Antennae entwined, they crawled back to the entrance of the tunnel, only to find it blocked by a large group of snail guards investigating its sudden appearance. Behind them, Snadam called out for Snella. They knew there was only one way out, but to escape in this manner meant breaking the most sacred rule. Hesitantly, they both slimed to the edge of the sidewalk and took one last look at each other, just in case. Together, they stepped out onto the cold concrete and moved as fast as they could toward the other side. They were mere inches away from reaching the edge when a clumsy human, not looking where he was going, stepped toward them. Snedgar rolled out of the way and into the grass. As he was rolling, he heard a definite crunch: the sound of a snail’s life coming to an end. He quickly crawled back to the sidewalk’s edge, terrified of what he might see. His eyes confirmed what he already knew: Snella had been crushed underfoot. Snedgar could never forgive himself for bringing her out onto the sidewalk.

Every day from there on out, he ventured onto the sidewalk and hoped that some human would come along and crush him so he could be with Snella. No one ever did.


The Red Swing

Most people enjoy the ocean while the world is awake, while gulls argue and waves race towards the shore. Crowds come and fill the air with the smell of sunscreen as blazing rays warm the sand. Even so, Luna has always believed that the shore’s beauty only fully shines through in the later hours of the day, just before the moon casts an opalescent glisten on the water, slicing through a dark abyss. She spends most evenings sitting silently on her porch swing, picking at the chipped and fading red paint, and patiently waiting for that perfect moment when the horizon lights up with shades of apricot and amber. When the skyline holds the weight of the setting sun. It's quite peculiar. After a childhood spent living by the sea, you would think she’d have lost interest in the suspended reality that occurs when the rushing of water alone disturbs the beach’s silence. You would assume she’d get tired of the hours when the world is still and sleeping.

Luna is an anomaly in this coastal town we call home, where few people value walks along the beach at eventide because we are all accustomed to the shore’s presence. Sure, when days become balmy and nights become longer people go out to the beach, right at summer’s noon, in hopes of seeing it packed to the brim with human lobster mutants to mock, or sunburned tourists as you may know them, but Luna never comes. That humorous display of snowbirds’ blatant ignorance is really the extent of the shore’s appeal to locals, I can’t imagine enjoying the stillness of the beach at night like Luna… I find it eerie.

This particular summer though, Luna wanted to walk along the seafoam at night and well, our

mother made me take her. It was a lovely evening; we could feel the sand exfoliating our soles and taste the salty, crisp air. We walked for miles, just me and little Luna, discussing everything under the sun. It’s too bad she’s shy and quiet around most people, she has a lot to say about the world and the world would benefit from hearing it. It's amazing how much she learns from listening without responding… I suppose there is a reason why God gave us two ears and one mouth. As her older sister, it's pretty nice to have someone with such keen listening and observation skills; she is good at solving conflicts and practicing de-escalation.

We lost track of time as we talked over what Luna –ever comfortable being the family oddity– liked about the creepy environment we stood in. The blue vanished from the stippled sky, replaced entirely by orange as we noticed how far we had drifted from our home boardwalk. Then, as if ink had spilled in the heavens, darkness. Hours away from shelter. Cold. Alone.

“Is this supposed to happen?

Please tell me you've been out here THIS late before!” Unfortunately, at this time, Luna was usually back on her fading red swing so she was as helpless as I was. Lights are not allowed along the ocean at night in the summer because they confuse hatching marine turtles who use the moon’s light as a guide, directing them to the ocean. We had no option but to turn around and begin walking through the vast void in the direction we came. “This is it,” I thought, “This is when I die.” Even for Luna, the majestic coast had suddenly turned quite ominous. The full moon no longer glistened and welcomed

us to where the sea meets the sand. Now, it watched us from behind clouds with unfamiliar matte tones, a reminder that us humans know little of the beach at this hour. The choppy waves of the day had eased and now the ocean was a smooth mirror of the pitch black sky. Luna and I linked arms so that we wouldn't separate, since we couldn't even see our hands in front of our faces. Time melted away and the temperature dropped. 10:00, 11:30, Midnight. All of the beach exits looked identical and the houses’ silhouettes blended into the clouds. We were hopelessly lost and completely vulnerable to nature.

The angry wind threw my hair into my face and pierced through my clothing. We were about to find a spot amongst the reeds and grass to rest until morning when we heard a muffled sound. The noise seemed out of place in the silence of the early hours of the day. It grew from odd bells to screaming, shrill, aggressive whistles. The aggravating sound, suddenly familiar, was a ringtone coming from the back pocket of Luna’s shorts. As she pulled out her cell phone, we exchanged a disappointed glance. We’d had the phone, and the GPS application on it, the entire time. Our mother’s worried rapid fire of questions, “Where are you? Do you know what time it is? You can’t scare me like that,” were drowned out by my and Luna’s laughter. A digital map led us back to our home where we practically collapsed.

As I stand with Luna in her kitchen flipping through the yellowed pages of our Mama’s old cooking book in search of her signature key lime pie, I remember what it was like growing up here

years ago. Luna’s timid children remind me of her; I can see them through the window on the recently repainted cherry red porch swing, watching the sun go down in the distance. The gulls once again gossip and bicker, and I finally realize the midnight ocean’s appeal: the water has been here for generations, welcoming outcasts and watching them bloom, coaxing them away from the comfort of their red swing.

Hot Cement

monsoon come on wednesday clouds told me that can’t hold it anymore, can’t keep from getting so lost in my mud they disappear

when it rains i start the turn table and cry with the sax, reminds me that the earth, the brass, the tunearm’s armed with my same sadness

the showers burns like the back of throats filled with fire and liquor and rain from tributary eyes, my frame in the mirror clouded and held by steam

i’m sorry i didn’t leave my room today, i’m sorry i left before i was ready to be seen, i’m sorry that all i have for you are

apologies don’t dissipate on hot cement, just dry on the inside of my bitten cheeks, i’ll be better when i brush my teeth, scrape them out


WAVE - Ainsley Anderson

I originally submitted this piece for the Dean’s Honor Scholarship when I applied to Tulane. The prompt was simple - to do a project about a box or a square. So, I recreated the iconic “Great Wave” done originally by Hokusai and I added my own twist to it - Fibonacci, or the golden ratio.

I’ve known about Fibonacci since seventh grade. My dad was my math teacher that year, and he was really into it at the time. I was actually wearing my dad’s old Fibonacci shirt when I read the prompt for the Dean’s Honor Scholarship. I knew it was what I wanted to focus on.

Fibonacci can answer a lot of nature’s unanswered questions and give insight into what we consider “beautiful.” Seashells, flower patterns, the layout of the galaxy, and even stock market fluctuations all come back to the golden ratio. Fibonacci is a combination of math, nature, and balance. The representation of Fibonacci that I painted on top of the wave is a series of squares organized where each length and width of the square can be divided by the golden ratio to find the length and width of the next box. Pairing it with the Great Wave represents the intersection of math, nature, and what we find beautiful.

I used to paint a lot, but I stay busy with school and work. I love it because it relaxes me. So I was really excited to paint a picture to represent Fibonacci and the golden ratio. It gave me an opportunity to remind myself to keep doing the things I enjoy and learn about the things that interest me.


Welcome to Party City

I had to remain at the store for extra hours that night to clean up the mess. I wasn’t even the one who let go of the balloon. Apparently, the culprit was “busy” and couldn’t possibly take on extra time. It was as if everyone assumed that I wouldn’t have any unchangeable plans, not even asking if it would be an inconvenience. I didn’t really mind, though. It was something different than the routine.

As I swept up pieces of balloon, a shudder of fear rippled through me. I couldn’t imagine floating around, just living my life, and suddenly being torn to shreds by an innocentseeming fan. The fear felt sharp. It was electric, almost refreshing. It was the one night out of many I didn’t feel numb.

The next day, I tied together a bunch of balloons and helped a woman pay for them, gathering the change in my hand and hearing the satisfying clink of the coins. Once she was gone, I stood awhile, leaning against the counter lined with air pumps and spools of ribbon, awaiting my next task.

I heard the bell at the door ring. A man entered, walking briskly into the store. I couldn’t help but stare at his feet. He wore tan sandals two sizes too small, his gnarly toes hanging over the edges.

He walked over to me and asked if he could come behind the counter. I stared at him for a second, puzzled. This wasn’t a normal request, yet I was struck by the coarse scratch of his voice. It sounded like rain against the window of an empty house and the creak of wooden stairs. Unsure as to why I was doing so, I nodded my head. The man walked over and stood behind my right shoulder. His mere presence made the air feel heavier, like it was sticky with sweat

As more customers shuffled through and asked for this balloon or that, he followed me back and forth between the two counters, tracking each of my movements. I became almost self-conscious of him as I went about my job, like he was somehow attached to me, a piece of my soul displayed in human form.

None of the customers seemed unsettled by him. I didn’t think much of it since they were all engrossed in planning for this party or that. Yet, I eventually began to question if they could see him at all.

“Don’t worry about them not seeing me,” I heard the man whisper in my ear, “they probably don’t really notice you either.”

That’s when I realized who he was. Why he seemed so achingly familiar like one’s own eyes in a mirror. It was Loneliness.

He went and sat down. Right on the carpeted floor. He grabbed a zip tie from a container on the bottom shelf and began picking his toenails with it. Scraping out guck and grime and shoving it into the carpet, burying it in folds of wool.

After he finished his nails, Loneliness continued to sit on the floor and began to hum. A gentle melody, somber and pitiable. I felt an overwhelming sadness, a longing for something unattainable. Then my usual numbness returned. I felt a sudden urge to grab a spool of ribbon from the counter and tie it tighter and tighter around my wrist until I finally felt something.

Loneliness stopped humming. The feeling passed and I returned to work, filling empty balloons with metallic confetti. After a few minutes, Loneliness tired of the floor and I watched him set the zip tie he had used for his nails back in its container. I turned away, allowing

my brain to settle on how I’d have to clean those later.

All of a sudden he was at my shoulder again. I hadn’t even heard him stand up. But he was there. I could feel him in the air—could see his shadow on the counter in front of me.

I shifted to look at him and we made eye contact for the first time. I looked away and began turning to watch the glass doors. Just then he grabbed my cheek and roughly moved my head back to face him. His hand felt clammy and humid on my skin and my breathing quickened. He didn’t let go. I was about to try and squirm away when a glimmer of something in his pupils caught my attention. Then, with a flash, a scene unfolded right in the dark of his eyes. It was a scrapbook of experiences—my experiences.

I was at my fifth birthday party. My parents cutting a cake for me while trying to sneak concerned looks at one another. They were wondering why no one in my kindergarten class had wanted to come to my party. Their minds were racing with a cocktail of confusion mixed with guilt. They didn’t know the truth. I had merely been too nervous to invite anyone.

It flashed again and I was at a family Thanksgiving. I was twenty. My aunt was making her usual passiveaggressive comments about my love life to my mother. Why doesn’t she have a boyfriend? Couldn’t she just look for someone? Surely there’s someone out there who wouldn’t mind dating her. I mean, she’s pretty enough... her words started to pile up. They tasted coarse and bitter.

Then I was in the store again, but it was one year ago and the customers were asking me whether most parties had regular balloons or confettifilled ones. I had to admit I had no clue, but as far as I could remember, more people purchased the confetti ones?

The scene melted away and I was back in the present. Loneliness retreated, breaking the connection. A sense of regret weighed down on my shoulders, squashing me. Then I felt something new. Something so clear and crisp it was almost delectable.

“Get the hell out!” I yelled at Loneliness. “Get out of this store!”

He looked frightened, as if Confrontation had been his enemy all along. He gazed down at his shoes before nodding his head and slipping out the door.

In an instant, the air felt lighter and cooler. I breathed it in and sighed, feeling oddly at ease. I heard the familiar chime of the bell and refocused on my job. There was a new customer to attend to, more balloons to fill and prepare.

“Welcome to Party City!” I said brightly when they came over to my counter. “How may I help you?”


GRATITUDE - Nakia Fofana

I like lists because they are easy to read and remind me of writing notes for school, which makes me feel organized and productive. I began a gratitude list after realizing that there were so many small things I was thankful for in my day that I missed out on appreciating because I simply forgot. Reading my list always makes me happy, knowing that these things continue to exist in the world even when I am unhappy or upset. Most of the things on the list are attached to my own memories and experiences, so I tried to add things that were specific enough to speak to some of my niche interests. Though it can feel silly, it's a nice thing to look back on knowing that they are tailored to me and it brings me genuine happiness on rainy days.

Second Hand

i get all my clothes second hand because i like to carry ghosts on my back, spin tales on their behalf denim wash elastic waist and moth eaten cardigan worn in memory of who they used to be, to remind them of the flesh and bone of being alive when i was little i grew as fast as the reeds around the excuse for a pond out back, got on the bus in my mom’s browned sneakers until the reeds frosted over now i pillage through her closet creak around the death of our attic searching for a way to wear her shadow— remind myself of a time before she sacrificed person for the loneliness of motherhood, climb into her skin and wonder:

how did you love before the imposition of me, what hands had the privilege of breaking you, do you still think of her?


Plan B Musings

I named her Plan B.

I named her in protest of the US Supreme Court overrule of Roe v. Wade. I named her in hopes of Plan B continuing to exist despite trigger bans. I named her Plan B when everything was shattering into pieces around me, the personal and public, and I just needed, needed something to hold it together.

Yes, I quite literally banked my existence on a tiny, caramel calico-printed, leg-chomping dwarf Holland Lop bunny.

I named her Plan B as a joke too, relishing my friends’ groans as they lament over the name of an otherwise cute bunny who had no idea what was going on. Yet, from this joke, I learned about how the name Plan B makes people uncomfortable. I learned to watch for people’s recoil from the fluffball with the slight mention of a preventative measure for unwanted pregnancy.

I remembered what my high school sex-ed teacher once said: how words are just words, how there is a negative societal connotation with penetrative sex-insinuated words, and how it is important to say those words over and over again to destigmatize them.


B! Plan B! Plan B!

Though, am I really helping destigmatize the $50 levonorgestrel morning-after pill when I beg the little monster to stop chewing on my clothes?

When I exclaim in frustration as a loving pet owner that gets awoken by a 2-pound fluffball knocking over a Jenga tower of textbooks?

Is the only time that my Plan B! counts when it is in the presence of other people?

No, I do not think so. Isn’t there the saying “progress starts with oneself?”

Plan B. One of the few undo buttons in life. Taken within 72 hours of penetrative sex, the pill stops the release of eggs and the attachment of a fertilized egg to the uterine lining. When used correctly, Plan B prevents pregnancies before they happen-no fetus terminated here.

I guess that’s also why Plan B’s name makes sense. Her previous caretaker told me how she chomped off a male bunny’s tail when he tried to hump her. I was told that “she was ferocious.” I remember being skeptical of that ‘fact.’ The little snowball in my arms did not seem capable of fighting, much less, biting a tail off.

Then again, I could also apply that image to humans, and in particular women. How many times has history tried to corner people with uteri into altering their personalities to be submissive and breedable?

Susan B. Anthony; Elizabeth Candy Stanton; Norma McCorvey; Patsy Takemoto Mink;

Were these women not a part of the conforming society? Didn’t they fit into the conventional standards of womanhood to some extent? Submissive. Inferior (technically).

Plan B the bunny. Also submissive and breedable (technically). Chomp. Ah yes, there goes my ankle. Lovely.

Is that how American politicians view feminists? A nibble on the stout leg that is patriarchy?

Chomp, Chomp.

Ah, but it is an annoying, constant nibble. For as long as the patriarchy has stood, feminism has responded, widdling down the tall, incessant white, male ankle. As the famous saying goes, “well-behaved women seldom make history.”

Plan B is not a magical animal. She cannot fly (nor really hop, if I am being honest, she just kind of scooches her butt along the tiled floor). She does not sprinkle magical pixie dust that can solve world peace or any of my homework issues. She is also probably not the best allegory to the millions of feminists that have fought for rights over the centuries. And yet, by some miraculous choice of despair, hope, and humor, Plan B is that allegory. She is a reminder of the feminist past, present, and future. Her name strikes discomfort in the daunting wall of toxic masculinity and societally acceptable language. Her nibbling is an (annoying, but loving) reminder of how change is achieved through constant rebuttal. If I want to have a grade change, I need to ask for it first. If I want to fight against the trigger bans, I have to go to the state capital building or send a letter about it.

Whittling it down, one chomp at a time.

Learning to be a Daughter of Two

My father’s eyes were green

But neither were mine

I spent my days

In his gaze

But him not in mine.

In his “house” Or Legs on the couch

Trying to divert the green From the screen

Where he stared at more green

Atop more green

Atop anything

Any color But green.

“The good guys were green”

He told me why But to me, The best guy was his green

I wrestled around in the pouch

On the couch As he shouted “Come on!”

And I considered hopping along

Like the kangaroo joey I had been For so long

But instead I stayed, Slouched

On the marsupial couch

Until one day I left.

If I decided to leave or He forced me to go, I don’t know.

Perhaps it was neither, Perhaps it was both.

Like a lame cliché

Or a fairy tale trope, I washed away the green With a flimsy bar of soap And scurried away.

His green did not follow me, If you can believe.

When I look back And reflect

Upon the peaceful attack, I’d like to say it was because the pouch

On the couch Shrank.

To my dismay, I’ll say That’s not true. I think I grew Or was replaced by the blue. But I loved the blue! And I wasn’t mad She consumed my pouch On the couch

Because the green wouldn’t look her way either until One day

To my pain

The green On the screen

Changed to a mesmerizing array Of green-blue-gray.

I heard from above and awaited the doom Of the girl with blue To grow too soon And be forced to leave the pouch

On the couch

But she only shrank, I’d like to say, But to my dismay, I’ll say that’s not true She’s not the one who shrank. It’s the pouch Who grew. And while I still love The blue

And the green, It’s not me on the screen.

My eyes are brown.

On Queerness

I have fallen in love with a pair of blue mittens, needle to yarn, with the way I learned love stitch by weathered stitch; love was the first secret I ever learned to keep.

I have fallen in love with grief, with a child’s world split in two. I have fallen in love with my mother’s arms around me on a cherry-red couch; at nine years old I learned that to fall in love with pain was to be something beautiful.

I have fallen in love over a dinner table, over news dropped like nothing while holding my breath, while staring into wide eyes, forks frozen over plates. I have fallen in love with my brother, his joyous finally! and demand we pass the potatoes.

I have fallen in love with a girl on a stage, hands shaking, the final act, professing that her love was holy. I have fallen in love with my scabbed knees on a coarse closet floor, with fingernails dug into carpet, with the way that I have always prayed to women.

I have fallen in love and held my own broken heart in my hands, holding tight to the shattered pieces like a promise, like proof. we were here, we loved, we hurt. this came from something beautiful.



The vase-like sculpture piece allowed me to experiment with form through a heavier base contrasted with a more delicate, open center. The other piece has a base that lifts up from the ground and has a glass swirl around the center. For this piece, I experimented with the idea of weight by making a more solid piece. I really enjoyed creating these pieces and working with glass, but this process also helped me realize how working in the studio caters to male artists, even if this is in subtle ways. For instance, the tools are designed for larger hands, so I hope more female glass artists, like myself, bring attention to making art a more inclusive process.


Twenty Two

it is my best friend’s birthday and i am 941 miles away from home and who i thought i'd be by now. online they are all buying rings and settling into suburban symmetry, building the nuclearity this life sub-planted in our collective dreams at five.

meanwhile i melt into my bed-frame and stare at a grease-stained syllabi. i am making a poor return on my father’s investment. his trip across the ocean i haven’t taken calculus or written the word economy with any degree of sincerity since senior year when i still sat in the safety net of my own delusion: medical school, marriage, maternity. you will save their lives, you will save yourself.

at twelve my mother moved from mobile to the midwest. a new cradle where there was still no time to cry or mourn impossible girlhood. birthed me with a tear duct sitting outside my right eye, nestled in the curve of my nose, an anatomical reminder of a patchwork heart sewed to a sleeve that i can’t shake. absolve. unstitch. blood is not currency and this debt can’t be paid by a body all blackened knees and poor posture, spine curved beneath the weight of paternity and passion and responsibility, on someone else’s twenty-second lap around the sun you will find a way you will save their lives, you will save yourself

Final Words

Newcomb Scholars is one of the main reasons I came to Tulane. I wanted to be in a program dedicated to training the next generation of feminists, to highlighting the work of undergraduate women, and giving prestige to feminist scholarship; I was right to idolize the program.

I remember how hard my heart pounded during my interview, and how my entire suite cheered with me when I got the email of my acceptance. I remember doubting whether I could keep up with the nineteen intelligent, ambitious, and incredibly impressive fellow scholars in my cohort. I remember being equally nervous and exhilarated during my first seminar. Terrified but eager to become a better writer. Better feminist. Better scholar.

My sophomore year I remember the stress of researching and writing my own case study. The task seemed impossible, and yet, now it is one of my greatest achievements. I look back at the work and the stress and then at the place it holds in the Women Leading Change Journal, and I do not feel anxiety or doubt, I feel pride.

That pride towards seeing my work published spurred me to look for more opportunities my junior year. Not just in the scholars program, but university wide. Not just academically, but creatively. I came up with a very short list. Through conversations with my fellow scholars, retreats and trips, dinners and late night talks, I knew first hand how brilliant, creative, and innovative Newcomb Scholars are. All they needed –all I needed–was a place for that strength to shine.

Developing NOSTRA: The Newcomb Scholars Literary Magazine, is another source of great pride. It is one of my greatest achievements, to see this magazine finally take shape. The thrill of reading submissions mirrored my thrill of meeting my cohort. Designing the magazine (with my amazing editors Liv and Mika) mirrored the pure excitement I had in crafting my case study. I see NOSTRA as a culmination of the skills I have


Emma Allen (‘23) - Co-Editor-in-Chief and Content Manager

Emma Allen is a senior from Batesville, Indiana majoring in Political Economy & English with a SLAM minor. In addition to developing the NOSTRA Literary Magazine, Emma is a resident advisor, an editor for the Tulane Review, a tour guide with Green Wave Ambassadors, and a research assistant with the New Orleans Maternal & Child Health Coalition.

Liv (‘24) - Co-Editor-in-Chief and Production Manager

Liv Tanaka-Kekai is a junior from St. Paul, Minnesota majoring in Linguistics with a minor in Music. Forever a former English major, she loves to write and currently acts as an editor for the College Contemporary alongside NOSTRA. She spends her free time working in the library, interning for Dr. Howard and the Asian Studies department, playing bass, hanging out with her cat (Chuck) and going on walks around Uptown New Orleans.

Mika (‘25) - Co-Editor-in-Chief and Creative Director

Mika Nijhawan is a sophomore from Boulder, Colorado; she is majoring in Economics with a minor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. During her collegiate career, Mika has dedicated her time to pursuing her interest in American politics by interning at her Governor’s Office in Colorado and her Congressman’s Office on Capitol Hill. She also worked as a Research Assistant with Dr. Mahoney in the Newcomb Institute researching women’s participation in American politics. You can find her on LinkedIn or in Audubon Park reading The New Yorker

29 A special thanks to Newcomb Institute, Dr. Aidan Smith, and Rebecca Gipson for all their support in making H. Sophie Ne wcom b Memorial College Institute
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