In this issue... FEB 16 - VOL 19 - ISSUE 14
patriots, pills, and portuguese
upfront features 3 • body tell-all Halley McArn 4 • between light and shadow Lindsey Owen
lifestyle 5 • cecilia Gabriela Naigeborin 5 • nostalgia, guilt and alcohol Nicole Fegan 8• planning ahead Eliza Cain
arts & culture 6 • a master at the met Taylor michael 6 • we need to talk about anastasia Chantaul Marauta 7• the comeback king Josh Wartel
Editor-in-Chief Monica Chin Managing Editor of Arts & Culture Joshua Lu Managing Editor of Features Saanya Jian Managing Editor of Lifestyle Annabelle Woodward Arts & Culture Editors Taylor Michael Joshua Wartel
Features Editors Kathy Luo Claribel Wu Lifestyle Editor Jennifer Osborne Celina Sun Creative Director Grace Yoon Copy Chief Alicia DeVos Head Illustratrix Katie Cafaro
Valentine’s Day has always been something of a loselose for me. When I’m single, I scroll through every social media platform and feel more distinctly alone than I do at any other point in the year. When I’m in a relationship, I stress at the possibility that my gifts and romantic advances won’t match up with those my significant other sends my way, that my romantic social media posts won’t match up to those of my friends. It’s a weird time when relationships paste themselves publicly, and the free market of social media pushes you to make your relationship’s public face out-romantic and out-passion the others. But wait, did you know that in Ancient Rome, Valentine’s Day used to be a day of drunken fighting, where women were whipped with animal hides (this was supposed to make them fertile), and multiple dudes named Valentine were publicly executed? It took a combination of romantic Renaissance poets desperate for something to write about and an industrial revolution that gave us profitable card-making technology to create the Valentine’s Day we have today. Here in the newsroom, we’ve been trying to figure out the least romantic day of the year, the “anti-Valentine’s Day,” so to speak. Among the candidates are: 9/11, eighth grade graduation day, Pearl Harbor Day, Tax Day, Memorial Day, the day after prom, and every day you spend single (since you’re one day closer to dying alone). I guess what I’m saying is, whether you’re dating, married, divorced, or single, it could be worse. Happy Valentine’s Day. Best,
Monica Please send your photos to alicia_devos@brown. edu!
Serif Sheriffs Livia Mucciolo Yamini Mandava Elizabeth Toledano Staff Writers Sara Al-Salem Daniella Balarezo Anne Cheng Pia Ceres Sarah Cooke James Feinberg Anna Harvey Katherine Luo Jennifer Osborne Lindsey Owen Rica Maestas
Ameer Malik Chantal Marauta Isabella Martinez Randi Richardson Spencer Roth-Rose Ananya Shah Celina Sun Alex Walsh Joshua Wartel Annabelle Woodward Xuran You Staff Illustrators Clarisse Angkasa Alice Cao Tom Coute Socorro FernandezGarcia
Ruth Han Diana Hong Jenice Kim Kay Liang Doris Liou Emma Margulies Michelle Ng Tymani Ratchford Natasha Sharpe Maggie Tseng Claribel Wu Yidi Wu Stephanie Zhou
Cover Jenice Kim
body tell-all on IUDs, from the women who know them best
HALLEY MCARN staff writer illustrator KATIE CAFARO
It’s a scary time to have a uterus in America. Yet, the idea of putting a foreign metal thing into your body as a means of resistance is somewhat unsettling. When I first heard about intrauterine devices (IUDs) in the wake of Donald Trump’s election this past November, the idea summoned images of excruciating pain, speculums, and a metal machine being shot into the depths of the body. An intrauterine device is a small, T-shaped device inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. According to Planned Parenthood, there are five brands of IUDs that are FDA approved for use in the United States. These IUDs fall into two camps: copper and hormonal. The copper IUD, known as ParaGard, doesn’t release any hormones into the body and can prevent pregnancy for up to 12 years. The hormonal IUDs, Liletta, Mirena, Skyla, and Kyleena, contain the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy. “They’re almost like stripper names. The next one that will come out is Tiffany,” joked one woman I spoke to who has gotten an IUD. The hormonal IUDs don’t last as long as the copper IUDs; Mirena works for up to six years, Kyleena for five, Skyla and Liletta for three. There are pros and cons to each choice, though the copper IUDs are associated with more side effects, including cramping and heavier periods. Especially after the recent election of Trump and a Republican Congress, people are talking more and more about the wonder of this birth control method. The recent enthusiasm for IUDs is not only based in its utility as a 99.9 percent effective means of contraception but also for its protection against cervical cancer. An IUD can stay in my body, outside of the reach of anyone else, and maybe provide me with something I and others have been looking for: freedom, peace of mind, and agency over our own bodies. As I was considering the pros and cons, I interviewed 24 women, mostly students at Brown. Some women approached me with their stories from elsewhere, including a student at Johns Hopkins and alumnae from Brown and Sarah Lawrence. *** I first talked to Haley Clark and Lilith Todd, two juniors at Brown who both sought out IUDs during the recent winter break with varying success. Haley went home to Needham, Mass., for a consultation at her gynecologist’s practice. The cost of the procedure was fully covered by her parent’s insurance. Haley says, “[The gynecologist] was super pleasant and really good at making me feel better about wanting to talk about the options.” Haley came in a week later for the procedure, and has had the IUD for two weeks now. “All in all, everything to do with it was super quick,” Haley said. Meanwhile, when Lilith went home to Springfield, Ohio, and scheduled an appointment with her gynecologist, she had a different experience. Recently Mercy Health, a Catholic healthcare ministry, bought the hospital that Lilith was used to going to. The changes in care were apparent to Lilith when she asked her gynecologist about getting an IUD. “Her immediate reaction was ‘Why do you want that?’” Lilith said. When she said she wanted the IUD as a means of contraception, her doctor responded with further questions. “It seemed really odd to me that [I kept] having to say that I wanted it only for [contraception], but I felt inappropriate lying to my doctor.” Lilith’s doctor ended up referring her to a different gynecologist for the IUD. When this practice contacted Lilith, they asked if she was interested in an IUD removal. When
she instead asked for an insertion, they said they would be unable to do it and would refer her to another hospital. The practice never called her. Finally, Lilith made an appointment with the Planned Parenthood in Springfield. “At Planned Parenthood there was a tone shift, no questions asked.” Instead, she heard, “‘Absolutely,’ and ‘what type do you want?’” However, when she came in for her procedure, coincidently on the morning of Donald Trump’s inauguration, she was told they couldn’t go through with the IUD. Her father’s health insurance, provided through a local Catholic university where he is employed, had told Planned Parenthood that they didn’t cover the cost of contraceptive measures. Lilith knew this to be false, as they had covered the cost of her oral contraception for years. “My dad was on the phone with them outside the Planned Parenthood as the inauguration was playing on the TV. It was so surreal.” Lilith left Planned Parenthood that day without the ability to go through with the procedure. She’s still trying to get an IUD through a provider in Providence. After this experience, Lilith has questioned if an IUD is even worth the trouble. “Should I just not do it? I didn’t expect it to be this hard.” Another layer of difficulty arises when parents aren’t supportive of the decision to get an IUD. I spoke to Kish, a Brown sophomore who went to the Providence Planned Parenthood for her IUD in the fall of 2016. She was worried that she would have to pay a large amount out of pocket for the procedure, as it wasn’t covered by her parents’ plan. At Planned Parenthood she learned that based on her income and age, the cost of her procedure was completely covered by a federal grant. Another Brown student I spoke with, Irene, also had access to similar benefits in her home state of Massachusetts. “I told them that I was 17, and they told me I could get it free.” Other women trying to get an IUD without the support of their parents navigated channels created by their insurance companies in order to maintain confidentiality. I spoke with a Brown junior named Sharanya who contacted her parents’ insurance company so that they would mail all receipts from her IUD insertion procedure to her personal address rather than notifying her parents. Some women, like Jane*, have medical conditions that prevent them from getting an IUD. Jane suffers from a condition that makes her prone to fainting, and her gynecologist told her that they couldn’t risk her fainting during the procedure of inserting an IUD. She is on oral contraceptives now. Though the pain of the actual procedure is hard to quantify, the overall response was that the insertion itself created a quick, intense, and severe pain in the lower abdomen. “It was just a super intimate ear piercing that was just like wrong. It’s an intense spark,” said Kitty, a Brown sophomore I talked to who got ParaGard last semester. “It’s just weird because it’s intimate. Someone’s in your stomach.” Another woman, Bree*, who got Liletta, felt the same way. “You’re just open, and it doesn’t hurt it, it just feels really weird. It felt like pushing a tampon in too far.” “It’s the pain of giving birth but like a little bit,” another woman told me. “Mostly it was psychological.” But all of the women I spoke to who had successful procedures remarked that they could not tell the IUD was in their body now. A Brown sophomore I spoke with, Abby, said that she has never noticed the short, metal strings that hang from her Skyla IUD. “I have never felt the strings nor have any of my partners said they have.” But it is true that the idea of an IUD is something that takes getting used to. A woman I talked to, Car-
rie*, said that the thought of putting something foreign in her body was a hard concept for her at the time. “I wish I had been told that that feeling would go away. You stop feeling like you’re being invaded.” The side effects, too, varied from person to person. Most cases included painful cramping the day of the procedure, spotting, and a disruption to period cycles. Some women’s periods stopped entirely, like in the case of Ruth M. Sharanya, who after getting Liletta, reported on and off spotting for the six months after the procedure. Some haven’t been so lucky. Ruth F., a Brown sophomore who got a Mirena, told me that her periods are a bit heavier now, though not unmanageable. “I feel like I’ve been cheated by this IUD, but,” she said, “in the interest of full disclosure, masturbation helps with cramps a lot.” I also spoke with Allie, a Brown senior who got ParaGard. She says her periods are much heavier now, as is usually the case with the copper IUD. “The cramps were so bad that I could barely move. I almost went to the emergency room at one point.” Allie has had to switch from regular to super tampons and pay attention to the clock on her heaviest days. “Still, I have no regrets. I love that I don’t have to worry about hormones affecting my health and I don’t have to think about birth control for another 10 years! I think that the week of inconvenience was absolutely worth all the positives.” There are cases of getting the device that proved to be less positive. A few women reported side effects that greatly inconvenienced them. A Brown sophomore I spoke with, Zoe, suffered from a reaction to the numbing cream applied to her cervix prior to insertion. “As I was sitting there, I started to feel a little dizzy and sick and next thing I know I wake up because I [had] passed out,” said Zoe. Her doctor had left her with a cup of water and went to see another patient. Zoe started throwing up. “I was writhing on the table screaming for help.” Eventually a nurse came and stayed with Zoe until she felt ready to leave. Another Brown student, Bree, said her procedure went well, but her side effects have been less than desirable. She’s been consis-
tently bleeding for the past four months since her IUD insertion. After a month of bleeding she made a follow-up appointment at Planned Parenthood to get an ultrasound to see if the IUD was out of place. The ultrasound showed the device to be inserted properly, and the practitioner told Bree to call back if the bleeding persisted past six months after the insertion. “Your period is supposed to be out of whack for the first three to six months,” says Bree. “I can either take it out now and we can figure out another kind of birth control, [or] wait until 6 months and then take it out if it doesn’t stop.” I talked to only one woman whose placement was ultimately unsuccessful. Olivia, a junior at Brown, chose to have ParaGard inserted. “The next day I was walking down the street and feel a weird little pinch went to the bathroom and it [the IUD] just came out my cervix. It was way less painful than getting it in,” Olivia said. “It sort of just felt like a little pinch.” Olivia hasn’t yet gotten the IUD re-inserted. Throughout my conversations with these women, the theme of accessibility presented itself over and over again. The stories of Haley and Lilith in particular, and the differences in treatment each woman received based on their location in the United States, still strike me as disappointing. There are countless hoops to jump through for women seeking reproductive health, even with the Affordable Care Act still in place (for now). And while a Republican Congress threatens to defund institutions like Planned Parenthood and restrict access to affordable contraception, the prospects can be daunting for people who want to be able to make decisions about their own bodies. These next four years prompt a world of questions, confusion, and fear. We need to resist and march and call out injustice when we see it (and we’ve been seeing it since before the beginning of this country). But we can place a similar emphasis on being there, in the most human way, for others. Friend to friend, doctor to patient, woman to woman. *name has been changed.
between light and shadow twilight zone-inspired hope for the new year
LINDSEY OWEN staff writer illustrator MICHELLE NG
I’m not much of a New Year’s person. I don’t typically go out or make resolutions. Most of my New Years of the past have been spent in the basements of high school friends’ houses playing Apples to Apples. This year I went out to a Hibachi place/ Chinese buffet with my parents and their neighborhood friends, which I thought would be incredibly depressing until they plied me with Blue Hawaiians. (In case you’re wondering: it was still moderately depressing, even with the free drinks.) But one thing I have always enjoyed about New Year’s, religiously, is the SyFy channel’s Twilight Zone marathon. This thing is undeniably magnificent: three full days of aliens, wormholes, and anthropomorphic objects that will 100 percent kill at least one person by the end of the episode. I wait all year for it, for the pageantry, the twist endings. I even look forward to the ritual shunning of “The Bewitchin’ Pool,” the series’ controversial last episode, and the chorus of my family’s, “Boooo, this one suuuuucks, change it!” To be clear, we never change the channel. We watch the entirety of those stupid kids swimming in the magic pool and relish our complaining as we do. While watching one of my favorite episodes, “To Serve Man,” (spoiler alert: “To Serve Man” is a cookbook), I started wondering what it is about The Twilight Zone that makes it so appropriate for the New Year. Is the timing just a coincidence, just an excuse to hold a marathon? I’m starting to think that it’s a bit more significant than that. Rod Serling, the creator of the show, tells us that it “lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge.” (Side note: what a line, right? I unironically love everything Serling ever says in
this series.) I think this line sums up the tension that I, at least, feel at the beginning of every year. Here we are, standing and reflecting on the height of everything we’ve achieved in the past year, with an entire new one stretched out in front of us. But, this year especially, the summit of this achievement has been occluded by a lot of pain and a lot of fear. As 2016 drew to a close, I saw GIFs online of John Oliver making 2016 explode. I saw the memes comparing the beginning of 2016 to Britney Spears in her prime, performing “Oops, I Did it Again,” and the end of 2016 to bald, post-breakdown Britney. There was a deep need for New Year’s to feel like the destruction of the past in order to build something better with the future. As someone who cried for two days straight after Trump’s election, I completely understood this mentality. I, too, wanted to see the past year obliterated behind me. In The Twilight Zone, that obliteration concretely manifested itself. It’s not uncommon for episodes to show the earth rendered to dust and rubble and the spores of a new and better society rising up from it. In one instance, two astronauts from separate planets, each the sole survivor of his/her kind, crash-land on an abandoned world. Their names are Adam and Eve. It’s a narrative that’s been appealing for all of human history: one of rebirth and hope in a time of destruction. I took solace in it this New Year. The thing is, here on the earth we know, in the America we know, we can’t start rebuilding yet. In 2017 thus far, if one thing has been made clear, it’s that the end of 2016 was not rock bottom. With Trump’s travel ban instituted mere days after he took office, I was hit with the realization
that things could get much worse, and very quickly. I think most would agree that, right now, it doesn’t feel like we’re living in a Twilight Zone world. Rather, it feels like the different, and more desolate, sci-fi universe presented in a more current show: Black Mirror. In Black Mirror, there is no right and wrong, no higher power, no justice. It is a dystopia where the seeds of our actions have already been so deeply sown that there’s no escape. I remember trying to recommend Black Mirror to my dad, the person wholly responsible for my Twilight Zone love. I tried to explain it as the George Orwell counterpart to The Twilight Zone’s Ray Bradbury: a sci-fi show for the current generation— and a genuinely terrifying one. I expected him to be excited at the prospect of this new show, one that would carry on the Twilight Zone legacy, but he was incredibly reluctant to watch even one episode. He said it would go against everything he enjoys about The Twilight Zone. “It’s not the creepiness I like, or even the sci-fi. It’s the weird justice,” he said. It is this “weird justice” that makes The Twilight Zone so comforting to me and so appropriate for New Year’s, when we all want our slates wiped clean. Sure, in the Rod Serling universe, people are cruel, both intentionally and unintentionally. There is undisputable evil. But the difference is that it’s not a world without integrity. It is not a world where human avarice eclipses our aptitude for kindness or creativity. Each episode functions under the premise that humanity’s default setting is good. We can be brought to do bad things because of our environment or because of extreme circumstance, but the world will always right itself by the end of the 22 minutes, resolved in a way that is just and swift and immediate. A possessed doll
leads to the death of a neglectful parent. The faces of the evil are molded into monsters by magic Mardi Gras masks. Sometimes an episode leaves you unsettled but pleasantly so. In the Twilight Zone world, you are not forced to confront any evil you can’t handle. That’s not true of Black Mirror, and it’s not true of the real world. But maybe The Twilight Zone can help us remember something that I believe to be true: People are alike all over. It’s the name of an episode as well as a central theme of the show. On earth, across the galaxy, and throughout time, humans can always find themselves reflected in others of their kind. Trump may want to divide us and turn us against each other, but if people truly are alike all over, we will overcome. I know that this year isn’t off to a good start. But we can hope that we’re in the middle of the episode. We can be the ones who resist together, who find and enforce that “weird justice,” who make this place we live The Twilight Zone and not Black Mirror. I’m still hoping that this year humanity will show me that we do, in fact, live in a Serling world.
cecilia “i was writing the monster out”
GABRIELA NAIGEBORN contributing writer illustrator KATIE CAFARO
i. WRITE On Saturday morning, I woke up with a certainty: There is a monster inside of me that spills out through my handwriting. When I started learning Japanese, I thought, for a page or two, that my cryptic handwriting was language-specific. My very first scribbles in Japanese foreshadowed the later revelation that to write in Japanese is still to write, but I chose to ignore the omen in thought (not think about it; not think that it meant) and in sensuality (not tear the paper, a warm reminder of myself, but fold it twice and leave it someplace I’d naturally forget about). For a couple weeks after that, my scribbles turned out not to be scribbles. The characters, despite being in Japanese, were still detectable by others: This is a character, this is another, this is another, and so on. Their limits were universally clear, defined horizontally by the lines on the notebook and vertically by the characters’ own precision of character, a precision that I struggled to impinge on each of them, from core to extremity: an inhuman precision to constrain what was naturally big (so big as to overflow lines, page, and precision) into the rules of minimalism and respect, as if ugly handwriting was disrespectful not only to the language I was learning, but to learning itself; a precision that was inhuman because the character’s apparent humanity concealed, underneath its (paradoxically) non-cryptic design, the monstrosity that insinuated itself to me on that Saturday morning. In Portuguese, the word for letter (as in “A,” “B,” “C,” not as in “love letter”) is the same as the word for handwriting, so that while still lying (eyes closed) on my bed, I was hit by a monstrous realization that was not: There is a monster inside of me that spills out through my handwriting, but rather: Tem um monstro em mim escorrendo pela minha letra, letra meaning letter in my mother
tongue, so that the overall gist of the sentence (of the thought) was: There is a monster inside of me that spills out through my letter. I translated it quickly from Portuguese into ENGLISH, and handwriting took the place of letra and letter all at once, but letra and letter lingered there, out of place but not out of the monster’s sight, quivering from the fear that the blind beast might smell their meaning and, in this way, guess their intention: I was writing the monster out. The truth they contained in each of their letters was: l, e, t, r, a, and the fact that, originally (although not exclusively) the monster was spilling through my letter, and not handwriting. Both motions, the spilling-through my letter and the spillingthrough my handwriting, share me, the creator of the letter and of the handwriting, as the subject of the clause. So there was no doubt, in either translation, that I was the one who contained it, and that its release required me as a passageway. I tried not to delude myself: I was the mediator between the monster and the outside. But in translation, some things remain unshareable. The thought in Portuguese did not share all of its truth with the thought in ENGLISH. In ENGLISH, the monster shows its face in the act of (hand)writing and goes away, satisfied enough with the disturbance it causes by merely hinting and tinting (and hunting and tainting) a piece of paper. The monster is more demanding in Portuguese: It asks for more, expects more, remembers more. It endures in what’s written. What this truth (the spilling-through my letter) implied was that the monster survives on the outside, it’s already begun its escape. The spilling-though marks the action, whereas letter locates not only the action of the spilling-though, but the state of staying-out. The monster spilled out through my letter, and my letter was still out in the world, in every surface I had ever set my pen to. The monster inside of me survived not just inside of me,
but also outside, quiescent, on the verge of bursting forth from any of my letters to anyone who reads them. What I said after translating it from Portuguese to ENGLISH was: I have to put it under control, a resolution that would not have worked, but would have made sense in the translation, since it meant “monster” and “handwriting”, and my overflowing and screechy handwriting was something I could try to tame. But to want to put it under control when it means “monster” and “letter” is not only impossible, but also nonsensical as well, for letter is twofold: the writing of the letter and the letter that is written. And although I could control the writing, I would never control the written. When I left home, ENGLISH initiated its takeover. At first, it seemed like it would only take control of my body, of my tongue, but it soon revealed its imperialistic intents: All words, spoken or written, were to be subdued. But the monster wouldn’t take it, and so it reacted—at times aggressively, at others, insidiously. The translation I escaped to posed no solution and ended up being another thing that I couldn’t have control over. It hid the original thought, displacing it rather than replacing it, and it brought into life a second reality, one that wanted to exist but hadn’t found the strength or means or will (or whatever it is a thing needs to come into existence in language) to do so in Portuguese. From the spilling-through of my handwriting sprang a second entity that was, from its birth, a being of its own: my hand. By rethinking the terrible thing I had thought in ENGLISH, the language in which it was not meant to be, I interrupted my own (terrible) agency over the act of leaking the monster with that of my hand. The monster was let out through my handwriting, yes I was at fault for bearing the monster, but its escape from my guts was my hand’s fault. What’s sad and scares us is that there is no relief in this transference of guilt. What you did when you thought
what you thought, and then re-did when you wrote what you wrote, was bestow, unwillingly and unknowingly, your hand with supernatural powers. The power to be, which grows paler and paler as you let yourself think, and the power to write, the one you possessed so long ago, are now in your hand’s hands, and at your hand’s feet. It is it that is, it is it that writes. It is it that possesses. ii. FEED The night before Cecilia had been asked by the monster to lie next to it in bed. There it was, and as she dozed off she found peace in its sweaty, comfortable embrace. It smelled of rotten sheets and dead skin, and she let her head sink aggressively into the folds of its flesh. It had been with her even before that; it had invited her for dinner. Eleven minutes had gone by since Cecilia poured the pasta into the boiling water. She spiked a penne with a fork—not hers, but one she’d found lying there, a flaked off fork with an old-fashioned engraving that tried to look older than it was— and didn’t pay attention to the hot steam condensing on the palm of her hand. She brought it to her lips, her lips that had always been quite sensitive (not to warmth, but to boil), rolled her tongue precociously around it and swallowed it. Was it the right consistency? Was it the right amount of salt? She didn’t know; she cared. Nonetheless, the monster yearned for its food two minutes before hers was done, so she set herself to nourish it. Mechanically, unreasonably, Cecilia swallowed one burning penne after the other. Is the salt good? Is the consistency acceptable? It tastes like nothing. There’s no salt and it’s pasty in the outside, but hard as shell out. She’d pour some more salt: tastes like nothing, like burning. Like filth: The penne started rotting as soon as it drowned in the depths of Cecilia’s pharynx.
nostalgia, guilt and alcohol making amends
NICOLE FEGAN staff writer illustrator NATASHA SHARPE
Allow me to paint the picture: I am four shots of vodka into an October night, on the stage in Zete’s fraternity house, seemingly soaring through the evening, when suddenly, the incessant desire to text everyone I have ever loved sets in. I know very clearly that the boy from last year hates me, but I figure maybe despite our argument last week, I can convince him otherwise. Somewhere in my mind, I know every horror story of drunk texting gone wrong; yet, in that moment, nothing could feel more right than sending a harmless message. Of course I know he doesn’t want to hear from me, but right now, that reality eludes me. Hours later, I am left wondering why the hell I thought it would be a good idea. The answer, I believe, lies in two concepts: nostalgia and guilt. In my five years as a poet, nostalgia is the most recurring theme I write about. My intense inclination toward missing people has been woven into my writing, and every relationship I have ever had becomes painted in a positive light by my flowery words—no matter how dark the truth may have been. When checking someone’s Facebook, scrolling through Twitter, or rereading someone’s old messages no longer satisfies my nostalgic need, I turn to poetry. That is, until I get drunk. Everything about the past seems even
more beautiful in drunken hindsight. There were good times, surely. Songs that were ours, television shows we watched, little inside jokes. Life was riddled with joy, and I thought there must be a way to reignite even some of that light. I can tell him our favorite composer tweeted something funny, or I can text her about how proud I am that she is living her dream. There are good things we can still share, my intoxicated state believes. Something about my clouded judgement heightens the idea that maybe, just maybe, the people from my past actually want to hear from me. And even if they don’t, I sure as hell have things to say, so I ought to say them in the veil of being transparent. The reality that my drunken state has yet to realize is that due to the countless faults of my younger self, I am the villain in most narratives of my past. This is where the guilt sets in. I have created levels of hurt that still exist in people even though I cannot feel them any longer. I know that I have shattered people in my misguided tracks, never quite realizing that I was capable of so much damage. Now I live with constant unease knowing that I may be able to make amends, but I’m too afraid to even text them. Leaving things on a wrong note never
feels right to me—sober or drunk. When things are broken, I fix them. If I know someone in the world exists who thinks poorly of me, my mind stays fixated on that for days. I like to live with the least resistance possible, patching up holes whenever I come across or create them. In my mind, forgiveness is attainable and attractive in every situation. I have yet to learn that this is not the case for everyone. When life gets messy, not everyone prefers closure. In my case, people do not want to allow an antagonist back in, no matter how much I have changed. If I break and I hurt and I destroy, people are not so quick to gravitate towards rectification, and I am still attempting to wrap my brain around this. I spent my formative high school years blessed with forgiveness from every facet of my life. I spent these years battling mental illness, hurting everyone who entered my orbit. When I embodied manipulation, my friends were empathy. When I was selfishness, my friends were compassion. Being mentally ill was never a hollow excuse, but the people who I hurt were the ones who loved and helped me through those years. Forgiveness was the best option for our strong—albeit messy—friendships. But beyond those years of poor judgement, there is no obligation of forgiveness. And now, years later, I am a Friday-
night machine gun of apologies toward people who want nothing to do with me. I am four shots of vodka into the night, and the party music seems to have been replaced with a hyper-nostalgic version of Sufjan Stevens’s “To Be Alone with You” in my mind. My entire history plays out in front of me. He and I ended messily this summer. She and I have not talked in nearly two years, and we are no longer friends on Facebook. The boy I destroyed years ago is back in my life. The new boy disappeared from my life because I caused too much pain. I have left behind jagged pieces, and in a drunken haze, I believe I can fix all of them.
arts & culture
a master at the met reflections on diversity in fine arts
TAYLOR MICHAEL staff writer illustrator SOCO FERNANDEZ GARCIA
I am a museum junkie. It is the cheapest thing to do in any city and a way to kill time. In the summer when internships do not pan out the way I want to, or on breaks from school where I need to occupy my time, museums are an escape from staring at my computer screen. All I need is train fare and whatever cash that is in my pocket. If the museum is funded by the Bloomberg Foundation, admission is a suggested donation. Even at school I have at times taken a break from the boredom of classes by visiting exhibits on campus or at RISD. Appreciating art and knowing what I like are cheap hobbies to have. I don’t think of myself as an art expert. I have never taken an art history class, nor do I create visual art. However, I grew up learning about African American artists and was introduced to many by my family. While I have never studied cubism and its meaning in the 20th century, I can point out the themes derived from African Diasporic history that are represented in Romare Bearden’s interpretation of The Odyssey. I know Jamaican fine artist Michael Escoffery personally and I have met the wife of Harlem Renaissance photographer James Van Der Zee. Faith Ringgold’s illustrations were an important part of my childhood.
Art museums and other accessible, low cost public services have power. Services like Public Broadcasting or Public Radio or nationally funded arts programs, museums, and archives are important in a democratic society, because they dictate national discourse. What makes its way into public knowledge is decided by what the public has access to and what remains in the shadows. It is why those in the Congressional Black Caucus fought for so long to have a National Smithsonian Museum dedicated to Black history and culture: Representation in public discourse matters. So when I heard that an African American artist was having an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Breuer building I thought, here is the chance for art that is often tokenized to get its fair due. Then I saw the exhibit was called Mastery and I became giddy. Here was a Black fine artist claiming a title that was almost exclusively used by white men. I know that this is not the first exhibit of an African American museum and that other museums, affordable and open to the public, have been amazing about including diverse content in their repertoire for years. A few years ago the Brooklyn museum had an exhibit about sneaker culture in the United States. This exhibit combined topics of race, American history, pop culture, gender, and class in ways that were informative, creative, and interesting. The opening night of the exhibit the museum was filled with Black fathers and sons looking to see up close the first pair of Jordans and understand sneaker culture from a different perspective. Even though museums like the Brooklyn Museum and the Studio Museum of Harlem have always made diversity and inclusion a part of their mission, something about the Met’s Kerry James Marshall: Mastery ex-
hibit that makes me feel like something is different in the art industry. Kerry James Marshall was born in 1855 in Birmingham, Alabama, but grew up in South Central Los Angeles. Although he is best known for his largescale murals narrating history, politics, and daily life of Black people in the United States, his work varies in terms of medium from painting to sculpture to comic book strips, as well as incorporating a multitude of artistic forms like abstraction, landscape, figurative, or narrative painting. A profile in Art News writes that Marshall had been interested in art since he was in kindergarten, and in elementary school he fostered his skill and gained more inspiration from teachers, TV shows, comic books, and the Black Panther meetings several blocks away from the housing project he lived in with his family in the late 1960s. While attending Otis College of Arts and Design in 1978, where he would graduate with a BFA, Marshall was concerned with thoughts of representation, diversity, and inclusion within the art world. At the time this concern manifested in one of his first works (featured in the exhibit), A Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of His Former Self, a small portrait of a black man dressed in all black with a black hat. The man almost blends into the background with his eyes, teeth, and shirt collar as defining features in the portrait. Marshall shares that the portrait was inspired at the time by the novel Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison and the ways in which black artists are not visible to the mainstream art world. This work was displayed at the exhibition Mastery, which was at the Met Breuer until January 29. This exhibit was a survey of 35 plus years of work and includes over 80 personal works plus vari-
ous works from the Met’s main collection as well as pieces from other museum collections. With the works featured in this exhibition, Marshall wanted to challenge the Western art canon to be more inclusive. To accomplish this there are two parts to the exhibit: The curated collection of his works and the curated collection of the masters Marshall learned from. His works told his story of the black experience in America, not as a tokenized history but a humanized story. So along with paintings related to the Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Movement were photos of post-industrial American cities, a painting of an intimate moment between lovers, or a painting of a black artist in her studio. They showed the black person as a person whose body should be represented in the art world. The works he chose as his inspiration included a diverse array of modern and renaissance fine artists like Harlem Renaissance artist Jacob Lawrence, Venetian painter Paolo Veronese, along with famous Japanese artists like Katsushika Hokusai and continental African sculptures like the Senufo oracle figure. So what exactly felt different? I was not just happy that I got to see art with Black people in it. I do not look to the Met for validation that Black people can be fine artists. However, on that day in the museum with my mom, I felt that Mastery is not gendered, or colored, or classed. Black life goes beyond politics and police brutality. Kerry James Marshall’s exhibition at the Met opens the doors for other black and brown artists to be financially successful. And that culture expands to move those at the margins closer to the center.
we need to talk about anastasia a rant about romance in this day and age
CHANTAL MARAUTA staff writer illustrator DIANA HONG
Fifty Shades Darker, the much-anticipated sequel to the supposedly titillating erotic film Fifty Shades of Grey, came out on February 10th, and some people could not have been more excited. I’m going to be honest and say that I, too, was excited to watch it—but more out of curiosity similar to one experienced when driving slowly past the site of a car crash out of morbid interest to see the wreckage. I thought that most other people would feel the same way and join me on a two-hour journey of sarcastic criticisms and jokes about lukewarm BDSM. But when I asked some people why they were so eager to see the film, many replied: “Because it’s such a romantic love story.” Hold up. Romantic? What on earth is romantic about a man who literally stalks you, tells you that he “doesn’t do hearts and flowers,” controls what you eat and drink, and takes advantage of your naivete to turn you into his pampered sex object? Because let’s be honest here, even if female love interest Anastasia Steele (get it? Steele? Grey? Hilarious) signed a contract outlining what she did and did not want to do in bed, she still
secretly hoped that Christian would be her doting, loved-up boyfriend, and she got incredibly annoyed when he fell short of this expectation. All character analysis aside, this movie and E.L. James’s books have set up an incredibly warped image of romance. Young girls are being told that being emotionally and physically submissive is the way to a man’s heart. They grow up believing that as long as a man buys them expensive presents, or is insanely attractive, or “chooses” them out of all the girls that apparently “really want” him, then it’s fine to go along with whatever he wants. Because once a man falls for a woman, he changes, right? So it’s completely fair to go along with getting hurt and being meek about the whole thing in the hopes that one day he’ll wake up and suddenly decide that hearts and flowers are his thing after all. Worse yet, characters like Anastasia Steele’s lives revolve around men. Much like Twilight’s Bella Swan, on whom she was based, Anastasia is absolutely miserable when not around her lover. Having grown up with the Twilight franchise, I thought it was normal and even romantic for men
to be extremely possessive and intense. My tweenage friends and I believed that finding an overbearing boyfriend was the most important thing in life because Bella and Edward Cullen’s twisted, masochistic, and obsessive relationship taught us what love was, and that it mattered above all. I mean, Bella gave up her mortality to be with the man, for goodness sakes! This romantic dependence isn’t a trait solely reserved for the practically identical Steele and Swan. One of the DC universe’s most-loved characters, Harley Quinn, who got her first cinematic portrayal in Suicide Squad, gave up her career, emotional well-being, and sanity to be with an incredibly abusive Joker. Their turbulent relationship glamorized abuse and psychological manipulation, leaving many young girls believing that Harley and the Joker are relationship goals. This is a serious problem. Despite the weakness of their characters and emotional resolve, these women are considered some of contemporary culture’s favorite “heroines.” These characters and their lovers glorify dependence and emotional abuse and make it seem
okay for women to give up every other aspect of their lives—their friends, families, and careers— to either spend time with or daydream/sulk about their significant others. It’s infuriating. Are women not supposed to have anything else going on in their lives? Why does popular media always portray the most exciting and significant event in a woman’s life as finding a man, even when this man is emotionally abusive? Ladies, if a man expects you live in a relationship by his rules, with no room for compromise, you get the hell out of there. If he’s overbearing, overprotective, and gets mad at you for just interacting with other guys, you run the fuck away. Being possessive is neither cute nor romantic; it’s degrading and downright creepy. If a man excuses his terrible behavior by saying that “you’re the only girl he cares about,” and if he insinuates that because he “picked” you out of a supposed large pool of women vying for his attentions he can treat you however he pleases, then spit in his eye and walk away. No man (or woman, of course) is beautiful, wealthy, or desirable enough for you to compromise your dignity and sense of self-worth.
arts & culture
As young women, it’s our responsibility to remind each other that there is a very distinct difference between fiction and reality. It’s fine to watch and enjoy the performances of Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey and Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen, Bella’s romantic interest, but it becomes a problem when people find themselves desiring a man like those characters—or, worse yet, Jared Leto’s Joker. It’s dangerous for young people, especially, to think that a dysfunctional relationship is something to aspire to. Though films and songs make it seem like a fabulous “wild ride” (I’m looking at you, Taylor Swift, with your “Style” and “Wildest Dreams”), the emotional, psychological, and sometimes even physical effects of a dysfunctional relationship can have a disastrous and far-reaching impact. So as the night you and your friends go to watch Fifty Shades Darker approaches, be the Miranda Hobbes of your group and remind people how ridiculous the story is. If you see a friend reading or watching books or movies that glamorize abusive relationships, it’s your duty to provide them with alternative stories and role models to fantasize about. The days of women giving up their self-worth and dignity are long over. As the 20th century poet Julia de Burgos put it, with simple yet powerful words: “Don’t let the hand you hold, hold you down.”
the comeback king the myth of tom brady
JOSH WARTEL staff writer illustrator OLIVIA LORD
Sometime between 10 and 11 p.m. Standard Central Time, after all the confetti had fallen to the field and while ESPN analysts were still breathlessly breaking down the New England Patriots’ 34-28 comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons, someone stole quarterback Tom Brady’s jersey from the Patriots’ locker room. This crime is not without clear motivation; Sports Illustrated estimated the jersey could be worth $400,000 or more. The Houston Police Department has opened an investigation and Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick has deployed the Texas Rangers to find the thief. Grabbing Brady’s Super Bowl LI jersey may have been the theft of a lifetime, but the mystery of the crime pales in comparison to the enigma of Brady himself. Whether you love or hate him, Tom Brady symbolizes the American belief in hard work, virtue and success, alongside an unmistakable subtext of political villainy and violence. The possible meanings of Brady overwhelm the man’s powerful 6’ 4” frame; if Tom Brady wasn’t a real person, we would have simply invented him. The story of Tom Brady has become a great oral tradition, passed down from one generation of Patriot fans to the next. It all began with the famed 199th pick in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL Draft. Regarded as a marginal prospect coming out of the University of Michigan, Brady quickly overcame a flabby body and non-existent speed to secure a backup job. Yet, like all self-made men living their American dreams, Brady knew it’s better to be lucky than good, and best of all, he was both. In Brady’s second year in the league, Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe suffered a concussion, handing the starting job to Brady. He never looked back, leading the team to a memorable comeback in the Super Bowl against the St. Louis Rams, and so the myth was born.
The years that followed were memorable and now almost forgotten. Following that game the Patriots won two more Super Bowls in 2003 and 2005 and went undefeated in 2007, only to fall short in Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants. It wasn’t Brady’s fault; he had the best year of his career, throwing for 50 touchdowns and taking home his first MVP trophy. A year later, he married a supermodel, Gisele Bündchen, with whom he would have two children. For a long time, no one mentioned Brady’s other son, born in controversial circumstances, to the actress Bridget Moynahan. Yet somehow having a family didn’t humanize Brady. We learned he eats an “anti-inflammatory,” gluten-free diet, which forbids sugar, peppers, coffee, dairy and fruit. He goes to sleep at 8:30 p.m and works out twice a day even in the off-seasons. Friends to Sports Illustrated say things like, “Football isn’t what Tom does -- football is Tom. This is who he is.” More man than machine, Brady fulfilled another American fantasy: the perfectionist. “No wasted movement. No plays off. No days off. Everything is purposeful,” said Brady’s trainer in the same Sports Illustrated article. After the Patriots clinched another Super Bowl title in 2015, Brady closed in on another milestone: the greatest
quarterback of all time. The haters grew, but so did a sense of impending historical stakes. Brady’s longtime rival, Peyton Manning, retired. Still, Brady found himself in the fight of his life, with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Gradually, the whole affair acquired a name: Deflate-gate. Whether Brady intentionally deflated some of the footballs in the team’s second-half victory over the Indianapolis Colts’ in the 2015 AFC Championship, we will never know. Scientific experts weighed in, the league and Brady faced off in court, but in the end, Goodell prevailed. Brady faced a four-game ban and a return to football with a tarnished reputation. Little did Goodell know that you can suspend the man, but the legend will only grow. And so this year was Brady’s revenge tour. “The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted,” wrote D.H. Lawrence in 1923, probably anticipating Tom Brady’s 2016 season. Throwing for 28 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, he lost one game, tore through Houston and Pittsburgh in the playoffs, and made it to his seventh Super Bowl. And yet Brady found a new story to add to his legend. Trailing 28-3, Brady rallied the Patriots for the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, a fourth Super Bowl MVP, and a place alone atop
football’s summit. Fox didn’t even bother to bleep what Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount told Brady amid the celebration after the game: “You’re the fucking greatest, bro.” Greater than ever on the field, Brady has faced new scrutiny about his politics. A longtime friend of President Donald Trump, Brady was spotted last year with a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker. Soon, Brady stopped answering questions about the election or the new President. But what did we really expect of a white man who makes millions from violent collisions? My focus, Brady often replied, is on the game. After this latest Super Bowl triumph, we don’t need Tom Brady anymore. Still, he rides on with nothing left to prove, without a word of retiring on top of the world. He turns 40 in August and says he could play for another five years. We’ve learned not to doubt the legend of Tom Brady. Even when he declines and can no longer throw those beautiful, arcing passes anymore, we’ll talk about him to future football fans like the apostles talked of Jesus. As the reporter in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence said, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend. See you next year, Tom. I hope you find that jersey.
topten things to do over the long weekend
I wonder if I’ll get my soul back from the SciLi when I graduate. Want to do laundry together? Save money...live better...Walmart. Duuude, this looks legit! I’ve always wanted to protest something. The opposite of humble is grumble.
1.become a billionaire 2. solve world hunger 3. cure Zika 4. sleep for 96 consecutive hours 5. complete the Ratty Challenge four times 6. run across the country and then lose your true love to disease like Forrest Gump 7. found a religion 8. age by four days 9. become a serial killer who only kills other serial killers (alternatively: become a cereal killer) 10. go back in time to aware Beyoncé the Grammy
planning ahead prom and the pill
ELIZA CAIN staff writer illustrator CLARIBEL WU
The paper covering the examination table crinkled under my jeans as I crossed and uncrossed my legs. Children’s books sat in a metal basket attached to the wall, and a brightly colored mural of the planets adorned most of the room. It was my farewell appointment with my pediatrician. I was 18 and leaving for college soon, and the doctor’s office suddenly felt juvenile. Dr. Trafton scribbled some notes on her clipboard and asked if there was anything else I needed. “Um, yes, actually, I was hoping to get a prescription for birth control.” I don’t know why I was embarrassed to ask. We were both women. It’s not like it hadn’t crossed her mind that I might be having sex. She was my doctor, after all; she sometimes asked about those things. But that was exactly it—I’d never had sex. And considering that the whole idea of “sexual intercourse” was a foreign concept in my mind, I didn’t think it was going to happen anytime soon. It’s not like I want to wait until marriage or anything. My hesitation toward sex—perhaps a bit traditional and conservative in today’s society—is based more on my wish to wait until I’m in a serious relationship, instead of losing my virginity in a meaningless hookup. But sitting there in the doctor’s office last summer, mulling over what I deemed to be a mortifying truth (that I had never so much as kissed a boy), I felt very childish asking for birth control. In high school, I was always self-conscious about my nonexistent love life. I’d had my share of hopeless crushes, but that’s about as far as anything ever went. Once, before my junior year, I fell for a counselor at my summer camp; he was the first crush who seemed to re-
turn my interest. Other boys had asked me out, but, invariably, the attraction wasn’t reciprocal. But while the counselor and I shared a string of flirty texts for weeks after camp, the fact that he lived in a different city stifled anything that might have been. For the rest of high school, I fantasized about my first kiss; a kiss that, at least in my mind, would inevitably lead to my first boyfriend. Maybe that cute senior would finally look at me, not past me, and invite me to dinner and a movie. Or I imagined walking to my car after basketball practice, looking sloppy in my oversized shorts and slides, and that guy from my econ class would emerge from behind the portables and envelop me in a passionate embrace. By December of my senior year, I knew that I would be heading to Brown in the fall. And with college looming in the near future, I sensed that if I wanted to find romance, it was now or never. Prom, only weeks away, was the best shot I had left. So I waited. But no one asked me. So I asked someone—via Facebook. I’ll admit, it wasn’t the classiest way to deliver a promposal, but it seemed better than chickening out on the endeavor entirely. The boy in question was the boy, the one I’d had an enormous crush on ever since we were lab partners freshman year. He was tall with dark, curlyhair, and an arrogant but goofy personality, always trying to insert SAT words into his comments in English class. While he said yes to my invitation, things quickly went downhill from there. We stopped talking at school, perhaps due to the ambiguity
of the situation—was it a date? In an effort to diffuse the tension, I caught him in the parking lot after school and suggested we attend Prom just as friends. But I couldn’t help wondering if my efforts to put him at ease made him think that I would spurn any future amorous advances. So when I got home, I tried to clear things up, again through Facebook. That was a big mistake. Here are the cliffsnotes (with added sarcasm): Me: “Wow, sorry I was so completely awkward today.” Him: “No big deal.” Me: “Oh, well in that case, I’m just gonna go ahead and proclaim my romantic feelings for you!” Him: “...I’m flattered. But not really looking for anything like that, blah blah blah...” Me: “This went terrifically. I cannot WAIT to go to Prom together!” I’m getting off track, but the point of all of this is that while I’d never even had my first kiss, I was about to start taking the pill. Despite her insistence that I avoid sexual relationships during high school, my mom was under no delusion about what would inevitably occur in college and supported my decision. I figured that I might as well get used to the routine of being on the pill. Plus, I’d heard rumors it could reduce my occasional breakouts (hallelujah!). When I got home from the pharmacy, I immediately tossed the prescription onto my desk, where it sat, obediently, for the rest of summer break. In late August, the crumpled white bag,
still stapled shut with my name spelled out in block letters across the front, suddenly seemed daunting, as if it was a metaphor for all the unpredictability of college. Wasn’t sex just one more experience to add to the growing list of unknowns that awaited me at Brown? Without bothering to read the directions, I threw the bag beside my suitcase, ignoring the anxious feeling settling in my stomach. My prescription didn’t make it to my dorm room. Which was fine with me, because it meant it would be awhile before I got around to refilling it, giving me one more reason to wait on sex. I’ve since picked up a new prescription, which is currently residing in the back of my desk drawer. I have yet to take the first pill, but, at the same time, I have yet to develop strong enough feelings for someone to justify beginning a relationship. So I’m not in any rush. But I did get that first kiss.