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Northwest Boulevard 2011

Eastern Washington University Cheney, Washington


Staff Editor-in-Chief Olivia Croom

Nonfiction Editor Brittney Andrade

Fiction Editor Melissa Pringle

Poetry Editors Trevor Duston Erin Ormsby

Art Editor

Laurel Newnham

Graphics Editor Magali Garcia

Editorial Assistants Brian Bair Kwis Logan

General Staff

Dave Andersen Vanessa Braudrick Jessica Ferry Howard Halcomb Kayla McAllister Cori Smith Joe Tynan Lindsae Williams-Sindalu

Faculty Advisor Rachel Toor

Graduate Student Advisor Liz Rognes

Northwest Boulevard is a nonprofit literary journal run and published by the undergraduates of Eastern Washington University. The journal is available free of charge to all EWU students, faculty and staff. We accept submissions of original, previously unpublished fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, art and photography year round from current and former EWU undergraduates, including accredited alumni. Northwest Boulevard operates using a blind-editing process; personal information is removed from submissions before genre editors and staff receive them. We read all submissions with care and respect, and we choose manuscripts that display fresh language, original style, and intriguing subject matter. We reserve the right to edit manuscripts as we see fit (with approval from the author), and we welcome correspondence in this activity. If you would like to join the staff, apply to be an editor or help design the journal please email us. All EWU undergraduates are welcome to join the club. Special thanks to Kenny Woodruff, Wendy Eager, Dave Andersen, Dr. Flash Gibson, Lindsay Nunnelee, Matt Spencer, Dr. Beth Torgerson, Vance Cooney, Casey Kaelin, Larry Tobin, David Roberts, Valerie Albanese, Jamie Andersen, Greg Leunig, Laura Carlson, Chuck Fuller, Thomas Olesnevich, Erin Day and David Rosetta for their generous support. Northwest Boulevard is brought to you in part by the Associated Students of Eastern Washington University.

www.northwestboulevard.com nwblitmag@gmail.com Cover Art

Cherchez la Femme by Katrina Baker

Design

Olivia Croom. Made in InDesign CS5. Typeface: Herculanum and Garamond Premier Pro. Paper: 60#. Printer: Gray Dog Press.


Contents Poetry: Andrew Bartles

Me + You

7

Marshall D. Cain

The Last Generation

8

Christopher N. Carlson Mikayla Davis

Gerard Dunan Jr.

Sarah Ernenwein

Molly Fitzpatrick

Chris Grim

Courtney Harler

Oceanography

10

As the Angels Sang on High, We Marched

11

Night Music

13

Scalded Memory

14

The End of Summer

15

First in Line at the Box Office for the Eighth Week in a Row

16

Patterson’s Onion:

Based on a Real Meal

17

Lament for Flat Daddy

18


Contents Cody Heilman Paul D. Lee

The Vascular Fault Line

19

The Epiphany of Ulysses

20

2 O’Clock Alarm

(A Word to the Muse)

21

Taken From Before

22

A Coyote in Circle 2

23

Two Youths Parked on the Shoulder After a Night of Stealing Road Signs

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We Knew Those Smiling Boys

26

Fourth of July

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The Fourth Wall Can’t See Me

63

Jill Herrera

Crystal

66

Jill Herrera

Gossip

71

Hannah Heilman

Headstones

74

Kurt Olson David Shuller

Teresa Vanairsdale

Lindsae WilliamsSindalu

Fiction: Molly Fitzpatrick


Contents Nonfiction: An Exploration of Art

30

Kayla McAllister

Paradigm

47

Janice Wright

Life is a Race

58

Since 1492

35

Struggle

36

So単arVerde

37

Capitalist Agenda

38

Leanna Marie Astudillo

A Big World

39

Katrina Baker

Mon Amant

40

Jessica Wren Hill

Skunk Family

41

Alfredo Llamedo

Icy Feet

42

Megan Phillips

Face of Many Facets

43

Juxtapose

44

Juventino Aranda

Visual: Juventino Aranda

Joseph Shilter

Hut Atop Mt. Spokane Speeding Train in Spokane

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Andrew Bartels

Me + You You strain beneath the hulk of an intricate nest and three weightless eggs. I sit rigid as a tower to which a crane lifts small parts it has scavenged from my chest.

Poetry

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Marshall D. Cain

The Last Generation i am wrong about this, The World has changed us and we love every moment of it, Beauty is art, art is poetry, Beauty is no longer forever, it is not safe here, we are not saints, we intend to rape and pillage, our every word to squeeze Beauty’s still beating heart. this is poetry.

Poetry

this is poetry’s revival, not like the phoenix, but as something dead and discarded mutating death away, we are the zombie corpse of poetry, and their only hope is to shoot the head, yet their aim is shaky and we are runners, no romero here,

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this is poetry where yesterday is old last week is ancient and last year requires a wiki link, citation needed, we will ponder the eternities, post it on twitter, and forget it in an hour, this is poetry,

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we want you ugly, we want your skin marred by inhuman scars, we want your innocence spread wide, lips gaping, we want your pessimism to be your happy place, best get there fast, fuck your childhood and the horse it rode in on, this is poetry’s perfection, the aggregate, enjoy us as we last, we are just nobodies in a grinder, drink down our gruel or drown, we are not guy fawkes, or the taliban, we are the last generation, we are the now, i am wrong about this.

Poetry

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Christopher Nickolas Carlson

Oceanography Waves wash over sand, sending our castle to diluvial deeps. You sit and sip Scotch and watch seagulls squawk and circle quarry

Poetry

on the beach.

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Mikayla Davis

As the Angels Sang on High, We Marched We forced our way through gates and the faint thrums of wings, thinking we’d never get caught. Their songs marched over the cloudy hills like righteous cavaliers and made our steps as silent as guarded tombs. The lamb called for us but my hunger drove us to tempt fate. Through my veins hissed a starving need to prove we could fly, even as our wings blackened and fell. I replaced feathers with fangs so that if one of Yours ever strayed from the flock, I could slither out from the abyss and take away the sky.

Northwest Boulevard

Poetry

But I forgot how far Your eyes spanned and even the smallest squeak rang, like a choir in Your ears. You didn’t let Your flock wander, even as You let the darkness

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hide us. If we came too close, You would shepherd them away with a gentle hand and with the other make our shadows longer.

Poetry

What we thought was coincidence was Your way of forgiving us.

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Gerard Duncan Jr.

Night Music Barren hands of trees reach up scratching the blue-gray, cloud-blanketed sky above the dreary town nodding its head to the sway of a passing breeze. Beneath the shifting blanket metal scrapes wax as I place a needle on the record spinning ‘round sound waves filling spaces underneath the looming blanket. Rhythms in the air invade the soul as toes begin to tap the beats— on the street where people gather mingling with the music. Notes take hold as stars begin to peer through the clouded sky, pulling on the arms of strangers while melodies beg for dancers to stay the night.

Poetry

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Gerard Duncan Jr.

Scalded Memory

Poetry

the sound of rain pounds on the window while the refrigerator hums— in the adjacent room a kettle starts to steam—and whistles a tune I used to know by name—but has somehow slipped my memory—years ago when we were still we and the songs inside my head still played along to the rhythm of my blood flow matching the sounds of the sputtering teapot that still sings her name in the mornings when I wake—and fill my cup— full to the brim hoping to recall that same sweet song but manage only to scald my tongue

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Sarah Ernenwein

End of Summer Leave me With this tense moment Just before the branches flake, While the air is still warm, but smells Of a long and moldy winter. Give me that last taste Of the green sunlight through the trees, And mornings full of birds. Leave the long, long day. The world dries out And falls to Earth, Just as this last season leaves.

Poetry

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Molly Fitzpatrick

First in Line at the Box Office for the Eighth Week in a Row It’s a little sad to have two tickets in one hand with my other arm wrapped around an empty chair. Even though I knew you would never really come this invisible date isn’t worth another “admit one.” And I don’t feel like liking you anymore. And this arm is so tired from all the pretending.

Poetry

I only want one ticket.

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Chris Grim

Patterson’s Onion: Based on a Real Meal “These hallowed halls” never before were so literal, I took a bite from my French onion sandwich, And I thought of the millions of students, Man, my sandwich needs cheese, The hopes and dreams that were built there, gained there, Who puts onion on a sandwich and in the dip? The rebuilding is magnificent, millions more will enjoy, On the side was onion rings, God, more onions! I was privileged to have classes there, The joke, I told the cook to “hold the onions.” He didn’t get it, The next generation doesn’t care about the past, The cook handed me a different bun to the sandwich, I wonder if the new model will look like the other buildings, I pointed out to the cook it was an onion bun, Construction workers have no sympathy for the corpse, I asked if I could get some cheese, They, like Frankenstein, know not what they build, The cook said the cheese was in the dip.

Poetry

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Courtney Harler

Lament for Flat Daddy

Poetry

The base made us a Flat Daddy It is your exact likeness Cropped hair, head, neck, torso Only you’re flat, cardboard, lifeless Still it’s a good smile, though fixed The children want you to stop smiling They want you to shout or scowl Anything but that laughing grin It’s your eyes that unnerve me Always watching, never reacting I put Flat Daddy in the kitchen He sits in your usual seat at the table He can be light and jovial there In the bedroom, only darkly demon

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When you go to work, I go to bed Thirteen hours of time divide us Though I should sleep, I often don’t The days are over too quickly Yet the nights are alone and endless I sleep on your side of the bed I try to fill the void you’ve left But then my spot is empty too So I stretch out diagonally My feet at the opposite cold corner I want to be both of us at once There’s really only one or the other Northwest Boulevard


Cody Heilman

The Vascular Fault Line Pain manifested into a single drop of salted water secreted from an ocular bypass. This hairline fracture living on my atrioventricular valve almost healed. Almost.

Poetry

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Paul D. Lee

The Epiphany of Ulysses

Poetry

Mariners who have braved The Ithacan fields: Stay on Lotos. Zeus’ lightning bolt was found as cardboard markered yellow. The report received: the sons of the gods strike with missiles. Helen is wearing a suit (her annulment just approved) going to lunch from her executive position in a penthouse. She enjoys a drink at a bar where Paris takes her order “keep the change.” Mariners make for yourself social commentating cartoons. Form reality while at sea, Ithaca lives in your commentary. Your hand can trace mayhem, peace, Helen naked in bed. Careful not to speak Aphrodite, Apollo, Poseidon did and ruined your world. Silence! Don’t ruin theirs.

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Paul D. Lee

2 O’Clock Alarm I pulled the alarm, the only non-art student in the artists’ dorm just to watch them run. The painter with a bowl of fruit and a lamp, running with care, not to disturb the perfectly placed fruit and the lamp casting light at the perfect angle. Another carrying a nude under his arm like a manikin, so as not to lose the esoteric curve, while Van Gogh pays no attention as a maid tucked in the sheets The composer was running with a sheet of music stapled to her face. Beethoven did not cover his ears; Harmonies hammering the strings in his head. My friend said, while strumming his harp, the real artists stay while fires blaze.

Poetry

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Kurt Olson

Taken From Before

Poetry

There is a train, salivating at the chance to be worth more than scrap metal. There is a heaven, waiting for the self-righteous to turn the other way. There is a reason to laugh, held underneath the floorboards with cedar shims. There is a chance at love, no bigger than a gnawed fingernail, whose existence is doubted by the likes of you. But dear pessimist, I know how you hate to be wrong.

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David Schuller

A Coyote in Circle 2 He walks high, lifting his paws and jamming them into the snow. He thinks he sees a mouse, freezing for a minute, then diving into the powder. The coyote returns in my crosshairs and I see snow piled on the bridge of his nose and the grass shuddering around him as he shakes. I stay my breathing and squeeze the trigger. The snow swallows most of the sound, but the grain bins echo. A crow jumps from the roof of the lean-to and joins a cloud of blackbirds, circling away from me as I cycle the bolt. Poetry

I walk duck-footed and knee-deep, Northwest Boulevard

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pushing my legs through the snow along the rusty irrigation towers, the rifle strap sagging into my shoulder while brass casings ring in my pocket. He dug himself into the drift when the bullet hit home. Most of him fanned out against the snow now, blood starting to crust in his fur. His tongue is frozen in a loll. I push my barrel into his eye And wait for his teeth to move but all I see is steam curling from the entry wound, the shit under his tail, the yellow snow between his haunches. He smells wet, old.

Poetry

I grab his leg, not stiff yet, and drag him. He spots and streaks through the snow as we move through the empty field. The birds have long since gone home.

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David Schuller

Two Youths Parked on the Shoulder After a Night of Stealing Road Signs The lighter in the dashboard pops and they ignite but can’t remember if you inhale or puff cigars. Embers bounce in the dark as they talk about fishing and the Dark Ages and knowing it all. One cranks a window down and taps his ashes over a patch of wild alfalfa, brushing the wind off his hand, ignoring the purple flowers.

Poetry

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Teresea Vanairsdale

We Knew Those Smiling Boys We knew those smiling boys—heroes of basketball, football, and senior prom. They shoveled sidewalks and mowed grass, their rustic bedrooms were festooned with hunting paraphernalia— rifles, bullets, bullseyes. Crimson stop signs from the corner, harvested under a benign vanilla moon adorned the walls. Playboys swiped from Mrs. Wagner’s News & Gift were hidden beneath the mattress, away from the eyes of adoring mothers whose sons were holy.

Poetry

White socks ringed with blood-red stripes mingled with dust under a barren bed, still alive with the singular scent of boy. Not yet memorized copy of the Bill of Rights hopefully consigned to the bookshelf, gilt-edged promise of a crisp ten dollar bill from the Old National and a lingering Grandpa. We didn’t know when they stopped smiling.

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Was it during a scorching march in boot camp? On a day of multiple immunizations, searing machine blasts of poison protection against indiscriminate backwater bugs? The oval nest of their smiles flapped and flew away like knowing birds. Was it on the cramped and surreal flight of boys from Ft. Lewis to Da Nang?

Poetry

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Lindsae Williams-Sindalu

Fourth of July for M. You’ve answered too many questions in the past hour Mostly about whether you eat barbecued pork And what sort of food everyone likes at a luau. You don’t bother telling them you visited Hawaii only once, at age five. They ask you all the questions they can fit around The potato salad in their mouths and then eat more quickly As if they can escape your embarrassment and their ignorance Through the bottom of their plates. You are eventually left alone,

Poetry

The rough grain of the wooden picnic bench Pressing tenuously against the back of your thin shorts Until somebody’s uncle joins you and winks too heartily And says he’s heard lots about full-body South Pacific tattooing. Your people didn’t wear tattoos. Their skin held flowers

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Of scar tissue, blossoming at their wrists, their necks. Your people stained their teeth red, then carved Stark patterns into the enamel. They sharpened their teeth against transience So that when the Spaniards arrived in their molding ships They declared that the natives ate nothing but human flesh. You think of this now, crushing a paper cup between your palms Wondering what a flint knife could do to your incisors What scars you could inflict. The uncle is asking about grass skirts And you don’t know how to tell him that your people wore only their own pain Their own endurance in their skin and teeth.

Poetry

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Juventino Aranda

An Exploration of Art

NonFiction

Since 1492 (see photo on page 35)

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The land of milk and honey, sour yet sweet with vast opportunities to exploit or be exploited. Life is not what it seems on television and in print media. It is the pretty pictures that we are inundated with on a daily basis of suburbia, where everything seems to run so flawlessly from laundry smelling like a spring afternoon, dinner hot and ready by five o’clock, and no one ever stops smiling. It is this nostalgic Americana that I bring into reality through my artwork. Five hundred and twenty years. Five hundred and twenty years since contact was made with open arms to visitors from a distant, far-off land. That year was 1492, and may as well be considered one of the most coordinated invasions in history. To this day, Native Americans of this continent, which spans from pole to pole, are living with this Spanish invasion. No longer colonized or under Spanish rule, yet living with the residue of this conquest. The riches of precious stones and metal are depleted or gone along with an ancient way of life. I am speaking from the standpoint of a Mexican born in the United States of America. Spanish is the language that growing up I had come to believe as our own. It is the unifying language that Northwest Boulevard


most people from south of the United States speak and find a connection to. It is actually a language left behind by the invaders and most recent modern day crusaders. It is this most recent modern day crusade that also brought and forced its belief in Catholicism upon the indigenous. This is reflected in the wood kneeling stands, which are widely seen on the altars in Catholic churches. It is growing up Mexican in the United States of America that has me seeing and living this struggle for self-identity within this corrupt, modern American system. We are resisting, yet trapped or kept right where the affluent want us. It is Since 1492 where I depict this resistance to submit-or-die that I feel still plagues a modern day indigenous warrior; a warrior that is very much alive on the street today, demonstrating for the widespread injustices affecting or encroaching upon our already cornered community. The uses of megaphones are modern day swords or spears to pierce the eardrums of the oppressors and rattle the minds of the powers to be in high decisionmaking positions. No longer are we going to stay silent and submit to persecution.

Nonfiction

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Struggle (see photo on page 36)

NonFiction

The Struggle for freedom is not only on the street but also in a journey to come back to an invaded homeland. A land once forcibly surrendered to the United States and now pushed back with a militarized front guarded by both officers of the United States military and lawless American mercenaries. The trek through this front is a difficult, long distance dash of life or death. It is a dash like that of the long distance hurdles and the steeplechase in track and field competitions. The resemblance is in the 42-inch height and an added obstacle in the barbed wire. Through the desert, over hills and sometimes rivers are the obstacles faced on this exodus back to the homeland. These are just a few examples of struggle taken from stories of many different yet similar immigrant experiences all in the name of the American dream.

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Soñar Verde (see photo on page 37)

To dream American is to know that whatever you want can become reality. The house, the cars and perfectly manicured green grass all contained within your own border behind a fence. Not necessarily the white-picket fence, just an enclosure of security and status to let everyone know, “This is all mine.” This may seem greedy, but this is what we have portrayed as success and have subjected ourselves to continue striving for. Soñar Verde, to dream of green, is this feeling of successfully making it and the pain and perseverance taken to get there. After all this, was it actually worth it? Am I actually happy being rich, or was I happier where I was before setting out to strive for my dreams? Finally making it through this circus called “life,” you can actually smell and feel the lush green grass of the other side and reflect, “Is it truly greener?”

Nonfiction

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Capitalist Agenda (see photo on page 38)

NonFiction

More green is what the affluent want. They reached their current status through hard work but seem to strive to keep these upper echelons of wealth and power for a select few. A sort of Capitalist Agenda is the way I see it. The security of having investments, future savings or a pension are inaccessible to the working class in these days of the Great Recession, yet it is the formation of conglomerates that are protecting this wealth and gaining on the failures from toxic assets of once eagerly naive working-class investors. I get a sense of fear, uncertainty and a need from the affluent to put up barriers in order to secure a future in their interest, for this greed that plagues a now fractured American dream. The long-standing run of Western decadence is on the cusp of the fifth sunset, the last in the cycle of the four previous creation and destruction periods of the Aztec people. Many see this as the end of times, but instead it should be viewed as more of a rebirth and a changing of the earth back to simpler times. It is in these new times that I see my work as a codex to a new world.

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Wood, steel, megaphones, gold paint, Early American wood stain 108in x 36in x 24in

Juventino Aranda

Since 1492

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Struggle

Juventino Aranda

Galvanized steel, chain-link fence, vinyl privacy slats, barbed wire 20in x 24in x 42in

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228in x 30in x 72 in

Steel, doormat, live grass

Juventino Aranda

So単ar Verde

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Capitalist Agenda Juventino Aranda Chain-link fence, black umbrella 36in x 36in x 36in

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A Big World Leanna Marie Astudillo 7.2 mega pixel Exilim Casio 540 x 720 pixels

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Mon Amant

Katrina Baker

Acrylic paint 14in x 11in

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Sony DSLR A330 Digital Image

Jessica Wren Hill

Skunk Family

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Icy Feet Alfredo Llamedo Canon 20D 4900 x 4532 pixels

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Face of Many Facets Megan Phillips Acrylic paint 12in x 24in 43


Juxtapose Megan Phillips

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Acrylic paint 12in x 24in


Hut Atop Mt. Spokane Joseph Shilter

400 ISO speed film, 28mm Minolta Celtic lens at f16 for 16 minutes 1215 x 1800 pixels

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Speeding Train In Spokane

Joseph Shilter

200 ISO speed film 28mm Minolta Celtic lens at f8 for nine seconds. 1734 x 1109 pixels.

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Kayla McAllister

Paradigm I thought being a feminist meant that you were a hippie. Even until I was twenty-one, when my ideas had been challenged and changed, the image remained. If you were a feminist, you didn’t wear a bra or shave, and probably you were a lesbian. I thought that to be a feminist you had to be jaded and often come across as bitter, particularly at dinner parties when someone made the mistake of inviting you. You would have your hair short and wear little makeup. Your pantsuit would fit all right but bunch up around your thighs unattractively when you sat. You would handle your wine with a strong hand, better suited for walking your two dogs, the stem of the glass awkwardly poised between your stubby fingers. Your loud voice would penetrate the room with your opinions, wanted or not, regardless of the apathy level of the ears it hit, especially when the ears were apathetic, because apathy is not tolerable. All of that had filtered through my head for twenty-two years, but I still found myself sitting on the bathroom counter contemplating how I was going to shave my head.

Northwest Boulevard

Nonfiction

“Oh, you’re a feminist?” Carmen sounded so surprised. She had a curious look on her face like the first time she was viewing a crossbreed at the zoo. Detached. Without understanding. It was late winter and Carmen and I were both twenty, living on our

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NonFiction

own for the first time. We were still wrapped up in the idea of an adventure, and our apartment was our very own, very real beginning of life. We were in the kitchen as she fried chicken on the stove and I waited for my water to boil so I could make tea. “Well, yeah. I mean, aren’t you?” What else could I ask? She was a young woman trying to sever ties to her father and control her own life, more or less. Her father had brought her up traditionally, and Carmen reflected it in every action. She hated to disappoint anyone and made every effort to succeed in school and be the feminine young lady she ought to be. It had only been a month since she had called her father and informed him that she would not be majoring in business like he wanted her to. The battle had left its marks. “Uh, I don’t know. Doesn’t that mean you don’t like men?” She was earnest. Carmen was lucky to have large, blue eyes that people wear contacts to imitate, and their lightness gave her a wholesome look. When turned to me full of questions, they had the tendency to appear as though they were unable to take in their surroundings, unable to read my smaller, less strikingly blue eyes. “No, not at all. Most of our friends are guys, Carmen. I mean, sometimes feminists don’t like men, but that’s not what feminism is. It’s for equal rights.” It was a simplistic answer, but I then felt as confused as Carmen looked. Did she not know? Had I ever thought like her? “Oh, I didn’t know that. I thought it meant you really hated men or something.” She stirred the chicken contemplatively, pausing before adding spices to the pan.

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Northwest Boulevard

Nonfiction

“No,” I told her firmly. Then, “Well, the crazy ones do but they’re like Muslim suicide bombers—there are radicals, but that’s not how everyone feels. Hating men goes against the basic feminist ideals, I think. I don’t want men to be below women, I just think women should be on the same level as men.” Carmen blinked, and her eyebrows lowered a millimeter. “Like, be able to make the same money and be treated equally.” “Oh, yeah. Me, too.” Something was dawning on her. She looked worried by it, still unsure of the new definition. “Don’t we have equal rights?” Her voice was tentative. “Kind of. In the constitution and stuff, but let’s be honest, do our friends always treat us equally? They act like we should be pretty and small and stupid. They don’t think girls will ever be as smart as them.” “Oh, yeah,” came her small voice. “And I mean, do you not want equal rights?” “No, I want to be equal.” “Then you’re a feminist.” It was the kind of logic I hated, but I felt that if I kept it up, she would turn her head and see the fire, and perhaps the sun just outside of the cave. “Huh.” “That doesn’t mean anything, really, except that you don’t want to be submissive to any guy just because he’s a guy. And you can do things like take care of yourself.” I wondered how prepared she was to take care of herself. She was successfully preparing her own meal, of course, but Carmen had the habit of looking vulnerable. Her friends had intervened more than once to help her escape the chivalry of young men.

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NonFiction

“Hmm. I guess I am a feminist then.” Briefly she looked empowered, and then she went back to cooking her dinner. The first time I really read Adrienne Rich it was fall, I was twenty-one, and I had just photographed the first frost. I was assigned to write an essay on “Diving Into the Wreck,” and I was completely stuck. I took the half-hour walk to my class from my new apartment, thinking almost continuously about the poem, often pausing at Rich’s androgynous images with a wavering understanding—is it a ship or a woman that’s trapped under the water? Sitting at my desk with the browning bushes outside the window, I slowly came to understand her images. I hadn’t been able to see them before because they weren’t what I had expected. Adrienne Rich was not angry or boisterous but quietly firm. She was a little bitter, but not unbearably so. She felt the wounds of her sex, but she didn’t want to inflict them on others. She didn’t even seem to wish they hadn’t been given, but rather she wanted to learn from them and move on. I began to think of Adrienne Rich as a heroine. I felt that “Diving Into the Wreck” had brought me out of the depths and I was finally able to look at myself as a human, not in terms of male or female. I went to one of Rich’s poetry readings, and though I felt I couldn’t keep up, everything she read seemed so brilliant to me. But it washed over me too quickly. I wanted her to read her poems again and again so I could soak them up and understand her message. I wanted to watch how she broke the binary of male and female so I could do the same. Her poetry did

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more than that, though. Rich created a space where expectations were unimportant and one could live how he or she wanted. I wanted to learn about the beauty of not being solidly feminine or masculine, but being indefinable and unfixed.

Northwest Boulevard

Nonfiction

I was quite awkward at seventeen. I worried that I didn’t fit into a category, not being athletic, particularly pretty, or interesting. I had a hard time picking up on social cues, and even if they were rather obvious, I was too unsure of myself to understand the subtleties of flirtation. I couldn’t read the air of any situation, and talking to boys, especially to David, always confused me into a state of annoyance. At twenty-one or so, David’s appearance suited the early days of Seattle’s grunge scene, his dirty flannel shirts and matted hair strongly giving off a Cobain impression. In my Republican town, his short beard contrasted greatly with the clean-cut young men wearing polo shirts. My friend Katie, called David pompous, as he liked to “discuss sociology and shit,” the topics progress, the content over my head. For these habits and his flannel, Katie and I secretly referred to him as “Lumberjack-off David.” He wasn’t very attractive and I understood well that his qualities of overconfidence and elitism were not appealing in a friendship, but he started talking to me. So I responded. The second time we talked, he told me he would make me a mix CD to “expand my musical horizons” and “re-educate” me. I asked my friends what it meant when a boy you had met only once wanted to make you a CD. Katie shrugged. Lumberjack-off David bored her; she may as well have quoted Holden Caulfield: “He’s a phony.” My

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nonchalant shrug was less convincing than hers with rouge glowing on my cheeks, but the subject was dropped. David and I continued talking about sociology and psychology, and though I often struggled to remain attentive, I told myself how interesting he was. I tried to convince myself that he was worth my time, not so much to be kind, but because he was a boy—a boy whose maturity towered above my peers the way only a college dropout’s could, with the combination of study and world experience. Eventually, Lumberjack-off David moved to Seattle, leaving me no CD. I tried to remember him fondly, to stir up the nostalgia of our short-lived friendship. All that was stirred up was confusion and discontent. I thought I might have a problem—why hadn’t I been fully engaged in his conversations? But he was boring, and he needed to bathe more often. He used confusing sentences to hide that his knowledge only covered 200-level community college courses. But he had wanted to talk with me, the silly and naive high school girl, and I thought that because he was a guy, he deserved my time. At sixteen-years-old I learned about Ani DiFranco while reading Hard Love, a novel about students who wrote zines and hated high school and couldn’t quite fit into the mainstream—and it was my culture. Hard Love defined who I wanted to be as a sixteen-yearold writer, as a young person trying to survive and understand my surroundings. In the book, the main character spoke about his writing projects and struggling relationships and he loved Salinger’s “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” so why wasn’t I listening to Ani

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DiFranco, too? I hadn’t heard her music, but she was so clearly the definition of my situation. I actually listened to DiFranco first in Delaney Craven’s car. Delaney had just cut off all her hair and looked more like a boy. We were seniors in high school, and she was getting tattoos and dating a girl. She was more herself than I was me, or so I thought at the time. Delaney was standing up to society and telling them, yelling to them, “I may not be who you want me to be, but I am myself; I am strong and ready for the fight; I will not back down no matter what you throw at me.” It was all so poetic to an eighteenyear-old that I was ready to climb up onto that soapbox, too, more than willing to fight for my identity, wanting to throw my banner in the air and yell good riddance to tradition! Let’s redefine what beauty is and let’s decide our own roles! But I didn’t know what that role was, the new one, or how much overlap it had with the role I was used to. I may not have had a cause, but I was willing to take down opponents, had there been any to my misguided, undefined state. But no one fought against my stance; no one was ready to denounce my wild claims of “freedom to do stuff and have a job or whatever.” In college, in my new apartment with Carmen, however, I finally downloaded Ani DiFranco. By this time she had become my epitome of self-assuredness, so it was natural that I began to listen to her while doing homework, while napping, while playing on the computer, while cooking. I listened quietly, unsure of what my new roommate would think of feminist folk rock. Yet I listened to Ani DiFranco all the time and her music soaked into me and I could feel it, I could understand “Studying Stones,” and she somehow put

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me into her songs. And at that time in my life, I was that person; I felt those lyrics. Ani DiFranco understood my resentment and confusion towards society, but she gently talked me into calmness. I was going to find my dad’s beard trimmer and use it to remove the hair from my head. Now twenty-two, I had tired of my ties to an arbitrary feminine image. I sat many times on the edge of the bathroom counter, one foot resting on the left side of the sink for balance. I tried to picture myself with no hair. I could see all of the actions taking place but no results. I could imagine my hair in a braid, then sending a razor back in a straight line right down the middle. I could watch the hair fall onto the sink and into my hands, and I would look at it with detached feelings because I am not my hair. I would look in the mirror and try to adjust to my new image. I would feel my head almost constantly for the next few days and be surprised every morning when I woke up. I would feel lighter and spend less money on shampoo. I would deal with my friends’ reactions and perhaps, hopefully, not feel stupid about my choice. I might even learn to love other parts of me, like my nose; I could notice that sometimes my eyelashes are okay, and my personality isn’t so bad. People I met could notice, too, and they would think I was an okay person. They’d still want to hang out with me and they’d be interested in why I shaved my head. I could say it was a drastic reaction to getting gum stuck in my hair if they wanted to judge me. If they were nice, I could tell them the truth: my hair represented my vanity and the best way to dispose of vanity was to get rid of the source. I could tell them

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how my curls weighed down my head and that every time I bowed to write, the locks would fall in front of my eyes and block my view of the world, distorting it with strands of auburn red. Without a clear view of what’s around me, how can I expect to understand the world or who I am in it? The loss of my hair could be the catalyst for purification—I could feel cleansed and new and fresh, and I could start over again. All that my hair held onto would be gone, the way poison can be seen at the roots or how a traumatic event can turn hair gray. All my vanity and past mistakes would fall off, leaving only my roots, which I could strengthen. I didn’t want to disregard femininity; I wanted to redefine it. Like Ani DiFranco’s “Not a Pretty Girl,” I wanted to tell myself that being pretty was not the important factor in a successful or meaningful life. “Imagine you’re a girl just trying to finally come clean knowing full well they’d prefer you were dirty and smiling,” she had sung. And that was what this act was about. I could be honest with myself without my hair to hide behind; without it shielding me from others; without it shielding others from my truth. I thought the loss of my hair would be an anchor on my feet, pulling me through Rich’s dive into feminism, to self-actualization, to enlightenment. I would like to say I realized that feminism is not an anchor. I could claim that I saw vanity, tradition, and insecurity wrapped around my wrists, so I freed myself from those ties instead. I saw that I don’t need another anchor to hold me to an ideal or concept. I can’t force myself to the bottom of the ocean, but instead I have to practice diving, building up resistance to the water’s pressure and growing accustomed to the new world I’m finding.

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But I didn’t. I climbed off the counter with less conviction than I had climbed up with. I chickened out, still believing that a shaved head was my new start. I thought I had failed my efforts to redefine definitions and myself simultaneously. What I was really after was a forced attempt at self-exploration and understanding, something a haircut could never give me. I was still just as silly and young as the girl who thought a tattooed lesbian meant a self-actualized young woman. Delaney, however, has grown past the idea of definition through sexuality and body art. Her hair touches her shoulders now. The only visible tattoo on her is a phoenix resting on the inside of her left wrist, above a particularly distracting wedding ring. She goes by her husband’s last name now and doesn’t talk to me anymore. I hear about her now and then, though, and the life she’s built up around herself, and I can hardly see her through her surroundings. And yet, my hair touches my shoulders, too, or very nearly. The ends are fresh; there’s almost a year’s worth of growth represented in the mass. Katie tells me my haircut suits me: curly and unmanageable one day, straight and smooth the next. I own no pantsuits or dogs, yet I claim to be a feminist, in some senses of the word. The growth of my awareness of women’s attempts to broaden the ridged roles we’ve been assigned has softened my view of the women around me. I once laughed at women’s emotional connections, their illogical thinking, and their need for children. I tried to convince myself that uninteresting boys were worth my time. But the voices of strong women around me have broken through. I am able to feel comfortable with my logic and reason, viewing it

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as a gift and not as something that sets me apart from other women, making me more masculine, better, than them. My cycles of confusion and empowerment continue. I glimpse the essence of myself more often now before it tucks around a corner again, always leading me forward. I can’t fully grasp who I am, but I know a few things: I prefer dresses to pants, and I hate wearing shoes. I sometimes like to talk about sociology with my sister. I’m too loud at times, but my opinion is generally kept to myself. If anyone talks down to me, I will raise myself up and fight with everything I have. My stubbornness requires that I am treated as an equal, if not a peer, as someone with the same amount of say because we are all in this together, trying to survive. And I’m letting my hair grow long.

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Janice Wright

NonFiction

Life is A Race

58

Around the corner and now I can see the black box, red numbers ticking by: 08. 09. 10. 11. The red lights seem to speed up, yet I am moving in slow-motion. The crowd fades in and out, pulsating to the beat of my heart, loud and strong in my head. I am no longer breathing, thinking, acting—only running. My legs seem to go without being told, and the closer I get to the ever-receding finish line, the faster they move. Leaning forward, I bring my knees up and let my arms down, willing myself to stride longer, to move faster. 13. 14. 15. I hear myself breathe. Breathing? I almost forgot I knew how. 16. And I’m across the line. Suddenly the world becomes very real, yet somehow blurred. Faces and voices move in and out of focus, hands seem to come out of nowhere, pushing me along. Someone takes the number I don’t remember removing, and amid the hustle of a finish chute, I am left standing alone in the grass, waiting for my body to remember how to function. I am acutely aware of a hot pain along the soles of my feet, and my heart seems to still be running ahead of me. Hair plastered to my face and neck, my chest burns and my legs feel akin to buffetstyle Jell-O cubes. A slight wetness around my ankle alerts me to the trickle of blood coming from an apparent spike wound. But I don’t mind. I finished. I competed. I raced. Before I step foot on the course, however, I must prepare. Months before I pull on a uniform, I trek on the streets and on the trails, over hills and through valleys. I run in the sweltering sun and in the cool, dark nights. Lacing my shoes tight around my already Northwest Boulevard


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damp socks, day after day after day, fighting off the soreness and lack of desire—I run. I sweat through what feels like a slow, painful death—hour by hour. Many call it insanity, but I do it. I do not do it because I yearn for pain, or because I enjoy getting car honks and catcalls from the ignorant drivers I share my path with. I do this because from the sound of that starting gun, every painful step comes together, running becomes a subconscious motion, and a race transforms from a dreaded task to a glorious event. A race is not merely a collection of spandex and timers; rather, a race is composed of the steps that have fallen before. A race is fueled by the preceding aches and pains and sweat and blood, and sometimes tears, boiling together beneath the surface, and out of pure misery raises euphoria. All my life, adults have told me, “It is not a race.” Growing up—it’s not a race. Taking a test—it’s not a race. Eating lunch—it’s not a race. Completing an assignment—it’s not a race. Racing to them seems to signify carelessness and irrational actions. To race is to set oneself up for failure. They are wrong. To race is to advance. Waiting on the line, sweats off, spikes on. Noise all around as runners cheer, pray, warm up and stretch out. Eventually, the bystanders move away, and my focus zeroes in on the gun. Toeing the line, we lean forward, a mass of bodies, all tense and ready to run. The gun fires with a loud crack, and we are off. Every runner knows that you have to get off the line, so that you don’t get stuck in the back. Line up, lean forward, and go for it. No one wins without beginning. To race is to overcome. Even the most talented, well-qualified individuals have off-days, blind corners come along in our path, trials pop up out of nowhere

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and everyone stumbles sometimes. What proves an individual’s strength is the willingness to get back up. Big Bertha is known in our league to be the toughest course and for a reason—that hill is a beast. Three hundred meters to the top, and just when you think you are done, she turns a corner and there is more hill to run. The course traces up the side of Big Bertha twice each race, once in the first mile and once in the second, and as I am about to trudge up for the second time, I begin to analyze my race. Exhausted from the heat of my 12:30 start time, I am determined to make it to the top in less than 50 seconds, so I began to lunge my way sideways up the slope. Step, step, step. About 30 meters up the hill, the girl in front of me stumbles. I awkwardly waltz around her and just before my right foot lands on the rough earth, I notice an unusual grayish green stripe across the trail, and it’s moving. Without time to think, my spiked racing shoe plants right into the flesh of a small snake. Subconsciously, a gasp escapes my lips and I continue to run, wondering if I really just stepped on what I think I stepped on, and sure enough, a shockingly loud squeal comes from the racer behind me, and I know, that not only did I spike a snake, but it ended up all over the girl behind me. A few more long steps and I am flying down the back side, with snake blood on my foot and one more runner added to my pass list. To race is to climb. Every good race has a hill, or two or three, and learning to appreciate the struggle is a long, hard task. Coming around a corner, I can see through the leafy trees a large grassy hill. Looming ahead, it fills the sky, and my first thoughts are of ways to get out of the race before the hill: “Trip yourself!” “Pretend to faint!” But I know that taking on the hill is the best way to prove myself, and that passing people on the hill is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world. I shift into work-mode, my thoughts changing to, “Focus, you can do this, it’s a baby!” and my arms

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pumping strong, as my legs stride out and I lean into the hill. Arms down, I am determined to push myself up the steep incline. My quads and calves are searing, but step, step, step, step I am a little closer. Step, step, step, step, and I burst over the crest of the hill. Flat land before me now, I can hear other runners struggle up the slope. I am here, on top, free! And it’s all downhill from here! Some days, I just can’t seem to get in the mode. My legs refuse to stride out and my arms stay glued to my sides. Some days my time is so bad I feel like strangling the well-wishers who congratulate me merely to extinguish some frustration. But in the end, I know they are right; just going out there and pushing through to the end is a display of determination and perseverance. I know that just by finishing I am stronger than I was before; it’s empowering to reflect upon when, even in my worst moments, nothing could stop me. It should be the same way everyday in life as well; don’t let anything win over you, just keep going all the way to the end, and you will be stronger. Those adults who advised me not to race don’t see racing as I do. To them, racing is an example of careless speed, a lack of precision. To me, racing means to excel, to exceed all boundaries and preconceived ideas. To race is to dig deeper then you think you can and to push harder than you know how. Racing doesn’t stop at the line; rather, it is a way of life. Race, in all that you do, and you become a better you. You find who you are meant to be. “Race pace” does not refer to a speed or time but a level of exertion, and each time you toe that line, your race pace is higher, harder, and you are stronger. To race is to perform to your upmost. Flying down the hill, I know I have less than six hundred meters left. Six

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hundred meters. To stretch your abilities and discover new talents. Seconds away from the finish and I WILL finish strong. Change your weaknesses and transform your strengths. Lengthen your stride. Pull your arms up. Faster. Faster. Pass that girl she is right there. Good! Now pass the next one. And her. You are almost there. The din of the crowd along the chute is deafening and voices are no longer distinguishable, no longer important. On the flashing clock, I can see I’m just seconds under my last finish time. I’m not going to make it. Faster, Janice, faster. To race is to find a new you, and to expand your horizons. You still have ten seconds…9. A little closer…8. Almost there…7. Digging deep, I thrust my body across the line with energy I didn’t know I had. It is never easy, but it is worth it, every time. I finished. I competed. I raced.

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Molly Fitzpatrick

The Fourth Wall Can’t See Me -lights up

Man: George, don’t be a baby.

I was five. So it doesn’t make sense that in that scene my father says this. All the lighting was correct. The blocking was brilliant but this dialogue is so out of place. I don’t understand why the story panned out this way. But still there is nothing I can do but watch the play. Boy: I’m sorry. [Lights fall but not all the way, in order to set the stage for the next scene.]

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I’m seven, but I’m not crying. The background music compliments the playfulness. I play with my sister’s Barbie dolls, making them get married and making Ken kick the dog, which was actually a dinosaur. But that’s what seven-year-olds do, so it’s fine in the scene to play pretend. My mother enters from stage left. She cries because my best friend is dead. That may look like plot, but it’s not because it doesn’t make sense. When you’re seven, best friends don’t die. Dad slaps me for crying.

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[The lights stay up, the man freezes as Boy grabs his bike.] I’m ten, and my training wheels just disappeared. I tied up the dog to my bike so he could pull me. I wanted the sunshine girl next door to see how fast I could go—that I was impressive. The dog was hit by a car and my arm broke because the bike was killed, too. But you see, this scene is really terrible because none of these things really happen, and fathers like this don’t actually exist. [The lights fall to half-mass to respect the dead dog and the injuries to come.] When the lights rise again, I’m awkward. People tell me my body is changing and to keep my hands above the covers. I don’t because no thirteen-year-old does. But I should have, because my other arm was broken then. This is terribly written because no one in real life breaks both their arms, and so no one could relate to this script.

Fiction

[The lights fade nearly black because when the sound of a breaking glass bottle and a woman’s scream erupts past the wings, the audience is mystified. The full effect of my mother’s death can only ever be achieved through near-darkness and so this is extremely important and can never change on any stage.] No music is in this scene because my mouth is sewn shut and the truth is silenced. The police don’t ask questions, even though the police always ask questions, especially the ones that don’t matter, like ones about doughnuts or anarchists. But she’s gone and that’s ridiculous because no one ever loses a best

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friend and a mother, and no one has a father who gets away with this. [Everything on stage is shifted two feet to the left because that jars the audience and they need to feel uncomfortable.] But now I’m fifteen in the last scene you see. This is important because when you’re fifteen you can’t drive yet, and so that makes the character angsty. That part is perfectly logical. What isn’t logical is that at the beginning of this scene a gun is placed on the table. But it’s never used. It’s just there to scare and intimidate me. I wonder if I’m supposed to make this scene logical. I could shoot my father, or shoot myself. But now I realize that since nothing else in this really makes sense or exists in actual life then the only logical end could be— -black out-

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65


Jill Herrera

Fiction

Crystal

66

We met Ted the same day we pierced Rosie’s ears. Mindy held her, twisting her head so that her ear faced upward. Auntie Tita struck her fleshy lobe with a sterilized safety pin, poking it into an apple slice held behind her ear. It was my job to coo and make silly faces to distract her. The first ear was easy. She smiled at me with all her baby trust, but soon she let out a siren cry like only infants can, her entire body pulsating with the rhythm of her screams. Her mouth was as wide as her head and her eyes disappeared. Tita popped the shining earring into her ear with a surgeon’s surety. When it was over Mindy held her close and sang into her little body of her epic beauty and her sparkling ears, her lips brushing the top of her head. People began showing up at the house like they did every Saturday. Auntie Tita’s friends, with their sour-smelling tumblers in hand made tortillas and green pork chili and sopapillas in the kitchen. Uncle Manny and his buddies were in the backyard or in the garage under the hood of a car. Mindy was carrying Rosie all around showing off her ears. She had Rosie dressed up in a poofy pink dress with a matching bow taped to her head. Her cheeks were still puffy and tear stained, and her ear lobes were red underneath the sparkling cubic zirconium. Rosie looked at me like I had betrayed her, her little eyebrows scrunched in disapproval. I looked away. Despite her grumpy mood, Rosie did look particularly beautiful with her ears shining. All that crying had colored her cheeks to match her dress. Mindy had grown tired of showing her off, though, and passed her off to me. This always happened as the crowd collectively grew more wobbly. The smell of cheap beer, liquor and cigarette smoke Northwest Boulevard


would hover in the backyard. Uncle Manny would drag the speakers out back, turn up the stereo: Canned Heat or Los Lobos. I wore Rosie on my hip and we danced. Ted was out back, he had brought his motorcycle for Uncle Manny to inspect. They were staring at it while smoking what Uncle Manny called a “doobie.” Ted was short and thick. He was wearing a wife beater, and long baggy shorts. His neck was squashed, I assumed by the weight of his massive bald head, into small folds that I tried not to look at. He had a tattoo across the back of his head, fancy letters that cemented his devotion to the “619,” San Diego. He had many more down his arms and legs. In my neighborhood it meant he had been to prison. “Ted is a real man,” Mindy said to me in the kitchen. “He works hard, he’s smart and he doesn’t take shit from nobody.” “He’s been to jail,” I said. She ignored the comment and continued yapping on about how he couldn’t take his eyes off her, and that he had grabbed her butt and how cute he was holding Rosie. “He’s too old for you,” I said while bouncing Rosie on my knee. She was getting tired, and it was becoming less of a bounce and she slumped over while I rocked her on my lap. “He’s not that old, he’s just experienced. He’s had a hard life...” I knew this guy was trouble. The next morning Mindy had huge red blotches on her neck. “Eww,” I told her at breakfast. “You’ll understand when you’re older,” she said, and she ate her eggs and beans.

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Fiction

Mindy and I came to live here when I was three. Auntie Tita says we should be grateful, that our mom was a donothing drunk. Once when I wanted Auntie Tita to pay attention to me while she was watching The Maury Povich Show, I called her a do-nothing drunk. She slapped me.

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Mindy had Rosie when she was sixteen. She had been sneaking out with Ray. She would climb through her little window at night to get drunk. She’d be back in before dawn. She quit school when she got pregnant. She was always so lucky. After that Auntie Tita and Uncle Manny told me that I had to be the good girl. Ray took off. I thought maybe we should find him and bring him on Maury Povich, along with my mom. “Where have you been all our lives?” we would ask. “Drunk,” they would say.

Fiction

Ted started coming around all the time, all week long. He sat on the couch, and Mindy would run to the kitchen to fetch him a Miller Lite or a plate of chili and tortillas. He would work out back with Uncle Manny, and stay over in Mindy’s room. Rosie moved in with me. “Why do I have to share a room with the baby?” “Mindy is a woman and needs her privacy, it wouldn’t be right to have the baby in with them,” Auntie Tita said. Her eyes drooped and she looked away, she slapped the tortilla extra hard onto the table. It split apart. “I don’t think Maury would approve,” I was out of the kitchen before her glare could catch me. It wasn’t long before Mindy and Ted were having some serious fights. They would start on the couch, or in the bedroom, and always eventually end up out in the yard, Ted’s cigarette glowing into the night. Mindy was a tiny woman with long, bleached hair to her waist. She had cedar green eyes that bore into you when she was mad, and her face would twist up like a tornado when she yelled. She wanted more attention, she wanted him to get a real job, she wanted him to help with the baby. Ted would call her a whore or a slut or a cunt. The whole neighborhood could hear them. Saturday night would begin like nothing was wrong, she would sit on his lap, bring him his beers, and he would

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pinch her butt. Once the booze started to flow, though, it would always be the same. She looked at Paulo or Jose. He was spending too much time drinking and smoking. We were shocked when they announced that they were moving into their own place. Even Auntie Tita and Uncle Manny were surprised. “Who’s going to play with Rosie?” Auntie Tita asked. “But all you do is fight with that man,” said Uncle Manny. And with that she took Rosie from me and left me alone with Tita and Manny to live her own life on the second floor of an apartment complex in The Valley. “There is a pool, and you can come and visit anytime. Rosie and me are going to miss you so much,” Mindy said leaning out the truck window, “Be good, okay?” Uncle Manny’s old Ford was stacked high with their furniture, and they pulled away.

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Fiction

Mindy got skinny, real skinny, and real mean. She would be lost in her tiny bikini oiling her skin from a dark bottle guaranteeing a deep tan. She’d lean back on her towel, untie her straps and read from a Dean Koontz paperback. Rosie would be swimming around, squeezed inside of her floaty. I would jump in, my eyes wide searching for her fat little legs to tickle. Then I would lie back, weightless. I could see the sun from behind my closed eyes, and the water would lap against my face. Sometimes it wasn’t fun. Ted would be there. He would walk around the apartment, bong in hand. Mindy would be furious. “Where’s the money? We need money to fucking live.” She would bounce around the room all buzzed on her second Big Gulp. “He said he would have it tomorrow babe, relax,” Ted said while taking a gigantic bong hit, holding it in, illustrating his point.

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“Stop fronting shit to those kids. They’re ripping you off. In fact, why don’t you just get a Goddamned real job?” Rosie and I would sit outside the front door in our swimsuits, towels in hand. “I wish they’d shut the fuck up,” I would say to Rosie, holding her tight.

Fiction

The last time I saw Mindy, I was sixteen. She and Ted had discovered the joys of crystal, the cubic zirconium of drugs: the invented intellect, the fun diet with stellar results, the money to be made slinging it on the beach. They would leave Rosie with me for hours, sometimes days without a phone call. Auntie Tita fretted and cursed Mindy. She medicated herself with a mix of daytime television, cheap vodka and hot tamales. When Mindy did make it over, Auntie Tita would be quiet, and Uncle Manny avoided her. Even I would only scowl, not saying the words in my head, like, where have you been? You look like shit. And, you are neglecting your child, you good-for-nothing tweaker. Mindy’s long hair was greasy and filled with sand. She pulled it all back into a bun, let it out; put it back up; let it down again. Rosie was enraptured by an episode of Dragontales. “Ted got caught, those fucking pigs. He took off. He called, I’m leaving,” she said all of this not looking at me. She looked out the window. “You don’t have to go anywhere,” I said, looking hard at her. “Fuck Ted, come back to Tita’s. You don’t want to get caught up in whatever shit he’s involved in.” I grabbed her shoulders forcing her to look at me. Her eyes were a desert. “I want Rosie to stay with you,” she said.

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Rosie and I walked out of the apartment. Her tiny brown hand was enclosed in mine. I looked into the sky and sighed, a sigh big enough for all my relatives, all the women in the world. “Let’s go see what Auntie Tita’s got cooking up.” And we didn’t look back. Northwest Boulevard


Jill Herrera

Gossip She is a strong woman. Have you seen her thighs? Her straight back and swimmers shoulders. And that hair. So big and blonde. All those curls fighting to get away from her head. Don’t get too close. One could get caught up, like in a cyclone spinning around next to cows and houses and witches. Who knows where you might end up: Oz or Iowa City.

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Fiction

She has no patience for incompetence or slackers. She walks fast and looks straight ahead; she has perfect posture. She uses Excel. I hear she’s living in a yurt with her cat amongst madrone trees and mistletoe. She’s lived in Spain and Costa Rica and Croatia and Ecuador and Mexico and Nicaragua and speaks Spanish fluently and she weaves baskets and spins wool into yarn, and throws clay into mugs, and plates, and vases, and bowls, and things; and she makes puppets and eats fresh figs, sprouted sunflower seeds, jicama, Greek yogurt and kale. I heard she dated that guy from that band and that he drew pictures of her running through the forest as a mountain lion, golden hair and sunlight shining. Once, she kissed me hard in the back of my van, our breasts softly touching. That was the week we drove high into the mountains outside of Vancouver, our bellies filled with sa-

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mosas and honey beer. We hiked up the trail alongside cedar and fir, and devils club and dripping moss and I told her that I loved her and she hiked ahead of me. Her long legs stretched the length of the switchbacks and I could not keep up. She works out every morning, runs up her dirt road, her breath in thick clouds, or else performs rigid movements in front of a screen, just eight more crunches, eight more squats or breathes salutations, greeting the sun, bowing to the east. Did you know when she pulls her shirt up there is a deep scar in the soft tissue of her belly, a perfect vertical fold? She is obsessed with her body. Isn’t everyone? She dreams in Catholic and Atheism and five star pentacles. Golden crosses, sarcasm and moonlit forest canopies. I hear she’s growing pot on the ridge and that she gathers her power with panels pointed toward the center of our galaxy. One night, when she was nine years old, her brother snuck into her room and crawled into her bed. I heard he kept doing it until she was twelve. And that she got quiet and she swam every morning at five am, her mouth and nose were gills and the chlorine bleached every inch of her. A wet, blonde butterfly. And her hair grew bigger, the better for her to hide behind. She ran away when she was seventeen, to National Forests and beaches and foreign countries, and to Rainbow Gatherings and art museums and rest stops. I saw her dancing at that show. I saw her wandering through town.

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And she shunned men. She is scared to death of them. I heard the first boy she trusted gave her warts. I heard she is in love with her father. In her orchard, she grafts slivers of fruit trees onto root stocks, and plants the babies in raised beds and builds fences around them and feeds them compost tea and prunes their branches and harvests their fruits and makes jams and pies and dried fruit leather that she pulls out for children when they are over. And she rarely goes out. After work she sits alone in her house. She listens to Tom Waits and to The Stooges in the woods smoking lavender-laced spliffs and working on her puppets. With soapy hands she felts their heads as big as mine out of wool: forming eye sockets, noses and ears. She adds hair, short and soft or long and flowing angora and mohair. She attaches strings and bells. She dresses them in gowns and overalls and pantsuits and loin cloths. And she is afraid of being alone. Aren’t we all?

Fiction

Northwest Boulevard

73


Hannah Heilman

Fiction

Headstones

74

I’m standing at my father’s headstone. It’s been months since I was here last, and the grass is no longer disturbed. The sunlight hurts my eyes. It says he was a beloved brother, son, husband, father and friend. People who love and respect their parents shouldn’t have to see them dead at twenty. My father was one of my best friends, and the last thing I said to him was that I loved him. That I’d see him in a few weeks. He told me he was excited to see me, and that he missed me every single day. It’s like someone wants me to kill myself. It’s like they went straight for the throat but handed me the blade. I’m standing at my bathroom sink. There’s blood everywhere. People say exsanguination is supposed to hurt. It’s been five minutes now, and my neck is starting to hurt because my body has been crammed into the bathtub for too long. I’m starting to get cold. My wrists are starting to congeal and suddenly, shooting pain, like needles, is inside my veins. Tears roll down my cheeks as I close my eyes for what I want to be the final time. I apologize to my mother. I’m standing at my father’s headstone. It’s the same bright, offensive day. All of my friends are standing around me. Past loves and future ones stand Northwest Boulevard


Northwest Boulevard

Fiction

apart, extra unsure of how to react. I look away from them, see my friend Kale. He’s looking me in the eye, something a lot of others aren’t doing. I walk towards him, shoulders held as straight as I can make them. I reach out, try to hug him. He disappears and my heart stings. I turn around, look at Ashton. He’s crying, and I walk rapidly over to him, arms outstretched, and he pushes me down in the grass, starts yelling at me about why I don’t love him, and disappears. I turn and look at William, who saw the whole thing. I’m bawling with my whole body. He looks at me with no expression, glances at the headstone, and is gone. Panicked, I look around, and they’re gone. All of my friends are gone. Except for the ones made out of stone, standing like angels, I’m alone. I start pulling grass out of the ground. I open my eyes and realize it’s my hair. I’m standing at the bathroom sink, holding a huge kitchen knife. I don’t think we ever used it once. Not until now. I’m standing at my father’s gravesite, watching his casket being lowered into the ground. I’m wearing white. Everyone else is in black. I think I look like an angel. I’m standing in my room, touching the sheetrock because my dad touched it once. I’m standing at my bathroom sink, looking at that huge knife. Jesus. I’m sitting in the hospital, head in my hands, elbows propped on my knees, crying. My fingers are in my hair. The nurse is hugging me. There’s a nun standing behind her. My mom and brother are crying silently.

75


Fiction

I’m standing at my father’s headstone. It’s raining and I’m wearing black head to toe. My face is heavily pierced, I’m drunk, and I walked here after my boyfriend beat me. I don’t know his name. I’m standing in Ashton’s dorm room, pressing down on his throat with my hands. I’m standing at my father’s headstone, looking at the sky with reverence. I’m standing in my dorm room, cell phone jammed to the side of my head so hard my hand is shaking. Like if I only listen hard enough the words will change. I’m standing outside a restaurant, by a young man whose face I cannot see. I’m smiling. Really smiling. I’m standing at my bathroom sink, watching with little more than mild curiosity as the tip of that fucking huge knife disappears into the skin on the inside of my arm. The left arm is way harder to cut open. I inherited being left-handed from my father. Maybe he’s trying to tell me something. I’m standing in my dorm room. I’m crying because I don’t know how many pairs of underwear to bring with me. I’m standing at my father’s headstone, pulling my hair out. There’s dirt and mud on my face and I’m screaming. Just screaming. My stone angels have bowed heads. I’m lying in the bathtub. My veins don’t hurt anymore and, logically, I know I’m dead. I bled out. I remember watching it not five minutes ago. But I open my eyes, turn on the shower, and rinse off anyway. There are no scars. Just intricately woven flower tattoos. I’m standing at my father’s headstone, wrists

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Northwest Boulevard


Northwest Boulevard

Fiction

wrapped, just staring at the stone. It’s a bunch of different shades of gray and it’s rough to the touch. I turn around and see my dad standing there, wearing battered oven mitts like he always does. Except they’re white this time and he’s smiling at me. We sit down and talk like nothing happened. I’m standing at my father’s casket. Except it’s not him in there. It’s me. Me and my brother. I’m standing in my room, naked. I didn’t die. I felt myself bleed out. My hair drips warm rivulets down my neck, sliding over my shoulders and back. I’m standing at my father’s headstone, his hand in mine, staring at the name. It’s my name. I’m standing at my father’s funeral, giving a eulogy. I’m smiling, telling his family and friends that he’s not gone at all. He’s right here with us. He’ll always be with us. I’m standing at my father’s funeral, giving a eulogy. He’s the only one in the pews. I’m leaned over on the podium, telling him about the dumb shit this guy did on my last date. He’s laughing, and that makes his white hospital gown crinkle a little. I’m standing at my father’s funeral, giving a eulogy. He’s standing right beside me, his hand in mine. He’s right here with us. He’ll always be with us. I’m standing in my dorm room. I’m doing nothing at all. I’m sitting in a stranger’s car. They’re talking about football. I’m in the back seat, wishing there was enough light to read by. I’m standing in my philosophy class, looking at my chair. I’m laying in my bathtub, staring at the ceiling. I can feel my pulse beat out blood, and it sloshes against my

77


Fiction

thighs. I think about my first love, wonder if he still loves me back. I’m standing in the hospital, watching my father be a vegetable. He’s so far under, they say, that he won’t remember anything. But that’s okay with me. We have lots of memories to relive together. I’m sitting at a Japanese restaurant with my father. We’re laughing about something, I don’t remember what. I’m standing in my living room, crying into my dad’s chest. Michael broke up with me. I had to drive four hours to get home. I’m sitting in my living room, talking to my mom’s sister like nothing happened. I’m sitting in the grass, watching Ashton scream at me. My father’s casket is right beside me. For some reason there’s grass in my dorm room now. I’m standing in my philosophy class, pulling my hair out. I’m standing in the hospital, at his funeral, at his headstone, slitting my wrists. I’m laying in the bathtub, naked, right in the middle of the cemetery. I’m standing at my bathroom sink, trying to cut my wrists. But they’re made of stone and I just royally fuck up the blade. I’m standing at my father’s headstone, pulling my stone angels down on top of me. Their weight makes me fall asleep. I’m standing in the hospital, staring at the machines. So many machines. I’m standing in the hospital, knowing my mother has lost all will to live. I’m standing in the hospital, a stone fox. My mom’s

78

Northwest Boulevard


Northwest Boulevard

Fiction

hugging me and I’m just looking at my dad over her shoulder, one hand begrudgingly on my mom’s back. I’m standing in the hospital, a family friend by my side. He knows everything. He’s been there, too. I’m standing in front of my mirror. There are bruises on my face. I don’t know where they came from. I’m standing in the hospital. I just got there with my Aunt not minutes ago. I see my dad before I see the rest of my family. I am horrified but my face seems to be frozen. My aunt is carrying my duffel bag, making sure not to touch me. My backpack, full of homework, is the only thing keeping me here. I can feel myself dying inside my ribs, leaving a newer, stronger, galvanized me. I’m standing in front of all of my friends. I’ve locked them in a house. I’m holding a book of matches, and almost decide to kill them all. My stone angels have their hands on my shoulders. They’re crying. I’m not. I’m standing at my college graduation, giving the valedictorian speech. Dad’s in the audience, standing with his hand on Mom’s shoulder. I nod my head politely at him and he gives me a thumbs up. I’m accepting my PhD from MIT. Dad’s wearing a white suit, making faces at the stuffy asshole who’s congratulating me. I’m sitting in a coffee shop, reading with my father. He was never a big reader before. I’m standing in my garage, at my house. My dad is holding my punching bag, coaching me. He was never interested in boxing before. I’m standing at my wedding, raising a glass to him. The man beside me is the shadowy man from the restaurant.

79


I’m standing in the Italian countryside. My husband is holding one hand, my father is holding the other. I’m teaching my child how to ride a bike. Dad’s laughing at me because I never learned to ride one. I give him the finger on the sly and he laughs at me again. I’m standing in my first class, teaching. Dad’s one of the students. He takes thorough notes. I’m standing in my child’s room. My father is holding his grandson. I’m standing in the hospital, head in my hands, elbows propped on my knees, crying. My fingers are in my hair. The nurse is hugging me. There’s a nun standing behind her. My mom and brother are crying silently. I’m standing in the hospital. I’m waiting for Dad to be finished with his physical therapy so I can eat lunch with him. He’s coming home next week. They call him the miracle man.

Fiction

I’m standing at my father’s headstone. It’s not my father’s headstone.

80

Northwest Boulevard


Juventino Aranda

Hannah Heilman

Leanna Marie Astudillo

Jill Herrera

Katrina Baker

Jessica Wren Hill

Andrew Bartels

Paul D. Lee

Marshall D. Cain

Alfredo Llamedo

ChristoPher N. Carlson

Kayla McAllister

Mikayla Davis

KurT Olson

Gerard Duncan Jr.

Megan Phillips

Sarah Ernenwein

Joseph Shilter

Molly Fitzpatrick

David Shuller

Chris Grim

Teresa Vanairsdale

COurTney Harler

Lindsae Williams-Sindalu

Cody Heilman

Janice Wright

Northwest Boulevard 2011  

2011 edition of Northwest Boulevard, Eastern Washington University's undergraduate literary journal.

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