Fall Foliage

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This week, the Nass puts a play on for a dead son, starts a commune beyond patriarchy, and learns the importance of trash bags.

The Nassau Weekly

Online at nassauweekly.com

In Print since 1979

Volume 45, Number 2 October 2, 2022

Fall Foliage

Perfect Places

By Otto Eiben

Designed by Eman Ali and Chloe Kim

Where the River Runs

By Mina Quesen

Designed by Benjamin Small

Pink Pipes

By Petr Karpov

Designed by Vera Ebong

A Cup Can Be a Bowl: Lessons from Outdoor Action

By Sofiia Shapovalova

Designed by Vera Ebong and Audrey Zhang

Will Be Gone

By Lara Katz

Designed by Tong Dai

Tagaloa’s Odyssey

By Lumepa-Rose Young

Designed by Pia Capili

Music for the 2020s: Nass Recommends DECIDE By Djo

By Kristiana Filipov

Designed by Hazel Flaherty

Cold Spell

By Mirabella Smith

Designed by Hazel Flaherty


Juju Lane

Mina Quesen Publisher

Abigail Glickman

Alumni Liasion

Allie Matthias

Managing Editors

Sam Bisno Sierra Stern

Design Editor Cathleen Weng

Senior Editors

Lauren Aung Lara Katz

Junior Editors

Lucia Brown Kate Lee Anya Miller Zoey Nell Charlie Nuermberger Alexandra Orbuch

Art Director

Emma Mohrmann

Assistant Art Director

Hannah Mittleman

Head Copy Editor

Andrew White Copy Editors Nico Campbell Katie Rohrbaugh Bethany Villaruz Noori Zubieta

Events Editor David Chmielewski

Audiovisual Editor

Christien Ayers

Web Editor

Jane Castleman

Social Media Chair Mollika Jai Singh

Social Chair

Kristiana Filipov

October 2, 20222 Cover Gawon Jo
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Masthead 14 18 20 You are cordially invited to a Nassau Weekly kickback. Date: Thursday, October 6, 2022 Time: 9 p.m. Location: Wright 401 Theme: Black and White and Read All Over

This Week: About us:

Mon Tues Wed Thurs

8:00a Frist FluFest

2:30p LCA Lecture/Workshop with Chief Ayanda Clarke: The Relationship Be tween Music and Dance

12:00p Murray-Dodge Taste and See

7:30p 185 Nassau Reading by Sylvie Baumgartel & Amy Tan

12:00p Burr Sonorous Worlds: Musical Enchantment in Venezuela with Yana Stainova

4:30p Wooten Olúfémi O. Táíwò: Subjective Security


Overheard in Wilcox dining hall

Sweaty,anxiousmaneating dinnerwithagirl: “No one in their right mind would make a bad juice. No one. Right?”

Overheard at NCW

Passionateinternational student: “Are you guys going to that Jordan Salami thing?” Fellowdomesticstudent: “It’s Jordan Sa-LAMA.” Passionateinternational student: “It’s Salami to me.”

Overheard at a cocktail party

Gaymanguest,tohostess,after befriendingafemaleguest: “It is MINUTES until we have sex in your bathroom.”

Overheard at breakfast

Futuredictator: “If I was in charge—wait, no, that would be illegal.”

5:30p Chapel Sound Journey

Fri Sat Sun

12:00p All of Campus Pop-Up Meditation 8:00p RoMa Diasporic Conversations

1:30p 122 Alexander Hip-Hop Techniques and Foundations — Popping with Emily Pietruszka

2:00p LCA

Affecting Expression

7:30p Richardson Princeton University Orchestra: Chopin & Mussorgsky

Volume 45, Number 2 3 2:00p LCA Verse/Chorus: Songwriting Workshops with Kamara Thomas

6:30p Murray-Dodge Jeanelle Austin: George Floyd Global Memorial Director

Got Events? Email David Chmielewski at dc70@princeton.edu with your event and why it should be featured.

Overheard in Chennai Chimney Medicalgenius: “If your eye got scooped out, wouldn’t it feel like getting kicked in the balls? ‘Cause, you know, they’re both dangling.” *Swinging gestures* Thedoctorweallneed: “Why would a testicle and an eyeball have the same nervous wiring?”

Overheard in front of Frist Obliviousonlooker: “Everyone looks so happy out on the grass!” Observantonlooker: “I think they’re protesting.”

Overheard out and about Sensitiveshortgirl: “Actually, my legs are very long for my height.”

Overheard at girls night Pot-seekingEnglishmajor: “In sitcoms the weed dealer never graduates!”

The Nassau Weekly is Princeton University’s weekly news magazine and features news, op-eds, reviews, fiction, poetry and art submitted by students. Nassau Weekly is part of Princeton Broadcasting Service, the student-run operator of WPRB FM, the oldest college FM station in the country. There is no formal membership of the Nassau Weekly and all are en couraged to attend meetings and submit their writing and art.

Overheard on iMessage

Self-consciouslyquirkyjunior: “All my problems would be solved by dating Wyldstyle from The Lego Movie.”

Overheard after Terrace Dinner

OverwhelmedEICafter changingdirectionsinthe middleofWashingtonAve: “How many Nass members does it take to cross the street?”

Overhead in Small World Informedbisexual: “The GSRC is having a community-wide panel tonight.”

Biphobicbisexual: “Is that the gay center?”

Overheard on the way to late meal

Girlswholearnfrommistakes: “We’re not allowed to fall for another gay man.”

For advertisements, contact Abigail Glickman at alg4@princeton.edu.

Overheard during coffee

Nassgirlie#1: “Do you know that Nass girl that ex-upper masthead member was hitting on?”

Nassgirlie#2: “That doesn’t really narrow it down.”

Overheard at Terrace JuniorflexingUniversityprovidedcreditcard: “Shit just got real.”

Overheard while compiling verbatims

Verbatim-hungryNasseditor: “Say something funny.”

Submit to Verbatim Email thenassauweekly@gmail.com

Read us: Contact us: Join us:

nassauweekly.com thenassauweekly@gmail.com Instagram & Twitter: @nassauweekly

We meet on Mondays and Thursdays at 5pm in Bloomberg 044!

Perfect Places

“What is it about Eastern Europe that makes underage, emotionally vulnerable people think those harmful, dangerous thoughts? What is it about Eastern Europe that I still, despite all of this, miss so very much?”

Electoral autocracy.

I let this phrase lin ger in my mouth for a few minutes before I blow it out like used smoke. I catch myself shivering a little, as if some chilly breeze is washing over my soul, wafting in all the way from the East. Blowing from a place I used to call home. A place I still, unwaver ingly, call home.


Lessons from time gone by ring in my ear as I’m scrolling through a Hungarian news portal on my phone. Lessons about people with vile inten tions and unlimited power.

Lenin - Stalin - Mussolini

- Hitler - Mao - the list goes on and on, but I wonder if we will have to find a blank space for a new candidate to be put on the wrong side of history.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been in power for

forevermore). I’m leaving much room for interpretation when I use the word “elected”, because there wasn’t really a chance for things to change.

He is behind every deci sion ever made. If one turns

of information is the nation al television, and the not-sosubtle channels of propagan da pouring out from their screens, spreading out across their living room, sprawling like a bulging cloud of an in

I guess we really did bring it upon ourselves. We elected him. We elected him 5 times.

What pains me about his umpteenth reelection is not the fact that he is going to drive Hungary out of the European Union, or the pos sibility he’ll bring us to total ruin in desperate times like these, no. It is the fact that he’s been doing everything in his power to make himself as unlikable as a politician can only hope to be, and people still vote for him.

12 years in a row (he had been in office prior to that between 1998-2002, but his long-term reign only began in 2010), and he has just been re-elect ed on 3rd April for another 4 years (or as most of see it,

on the TV in the countryside, there is a high chance of re ceiving a certain treatment many would classify as ‘brain washing.’ I myself have rela tives living near the borders of Hungary, whose only source

fectious disease. We’ve had conversations very typical of the Eastern European coun tryside, where justification for a claim is at best the phrase “I saw it on TV, it is the truth.”

Electoral Autocracy.

His previous measures and political maneuvers go as far as using an anti-immi gration, racist rhetoric to win the elections in 2018, at a time when the refugee crisis had already subdued in Eastern Europe (one only had to take a look at the refugee camps around “Keleti,” the Central Train Station in Budapest, in 2015 and in 2018 to be able to tell the difference between times of crisis and times of propaganda—these camps were non-existent in 2018). Or in 2020, where he had the

Volume 45, Number 2 4

Parliament grant him sweep ing powers to rule by decree. He used these powers to make life for the LGBTQ+ commu nity a living hell, including banning transgender people from legally transitioning.

Following that he banned any media content containing LGBTQ+ narratives for people under the age of 18, inspir ing protests across the capi tal city—I myself took part in one, along with 10,000 other outraged people who marched in front of the Parliament and expressed their anger as one should in a democracy (even though 10,000 is not a lot compared to the 10 million living in Hungary). In 2022, it seems the new target of the far-right propaganda will be women. A new abortion law would require pregnant peo ple to listen to the heartbeat of the embryo for a few sec onds before they can legally request an abortion. This law has only been enacted recent ly. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Things get worse; they get horrible. But nothing really

changes. Well, except for the terminology used in the EU to de scribe Hungary’s polit ical system. Democracy is no longer the right word, the Members of the European Parliament agreed.

It’s much more like an Electoral Autocracy.

Like many other kids around the world, I’ve always dreamed of coming to America, of studying at a pres tigious Ivy League School—which one could hear all about in Disney Channel shows as a child—becoming a part of a residential college community, living the American Dream. This is the ef fect Hollywood has on people. It makes us be lieve High School, then College are the most meaningful parts of our lives, where we all have our “main char acter” moments, only possible in America. To

live on campus, to join clubs, to watch games together as a school, rooting for your team— everybody grew up with these dreams, but they aren’t really a possibility if you’re not from the US. Hollywood makes it seem as if life in the States is perfect. As if America is The Perfect Place.

As soon as I got on the plane at Budapest Airport, I felt like the one who got away. Who man aged to escape from a place unsuitable for the youth. I’m sure many feel the same way. Students across Eastern Europe (among many other re gions) leave their coun tries to pursue a degree somewhere where their basic human rights are not diminished on a daily basis. I, too, had hope.

In the first couple of days, this hope got re placed by something I never knew existed. It was a mixture of home sickness and a sense of

alienation. I found it hard to involve myself in conversa tions the Americans had over dinner during CA, because most of the time I had no idea, and no interest whatsoever, in what they were discussing. Favorite ice cream flavor? Tastiest snacks you can buy at Trader Joe’s? American foot ball teams?

These subtle signs of not belonging might not seem like a big deal—but they are to me. In less than a week, I found myself longing to dis cuss Hungarian alt bands with someone, because that was something I knew. I wanted to complain about the Prime Minister. I wanted to share dreams about how we’ll spend the entire summer at Lake Balaton, eating lángos and drinking overpriced, tasteless soda. Never in my life have I imagined the day would come when I don’t want to talk about America. The day when I’d prioritize my own culture. My home.

The news about the re classification to ‘Electoral Autocracy’ hit exactly at the

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right moment to make me feel like I don’t really be long anywhere. It took the EU this long to recognize that the people of Hungary have elected this right-wing autocrat, meaning there was no place for liberals like myself. Not unlike most people in my friend group back home, my personality was centered around blam ing the country I grew up in for every single one of my problems. Yet, now that I’m here, I can’t stop thinking about the day I finally get to visit home.

As I am getting lost in nostalgia and longing, I open up my diary that I brought in the one suitcase I managed to fit on the air plane. I strike up a page, somewhere around the beginning.

2020. New Year’s Eve.

The following entry catches my eye: “It’s been roughly a quarter of my life and I’m already exhausted. Exhausted of all the changes

and the things that never change. I desperately want to flee my fuckin’ hometown and start anew in another country. If that doesn’t hap pen in two years, I’m going to collapse. I need to leave here. Hungary hates me, and I hate Hungary too.”

I pause for a brief second and evaluate. This was less than two years ago. What is it about Eastern Europe that makes underage, emo tionally vulnerable people think those harmful, dan gerous thoughts? What is it about Eastern Europe that I still, despite all of this, miss so very much?

It’s not the cuisine. It’s not the (at best) average landscape. It’s definitely not the politics.

It is perspective. The per spective of those who did not grow up in the world’s greatest superpower. Those who cried themselves to sleep after every election and ignorant government decision in the last 12 years.

Those who know what it’s like to feel insignificant, but still never giving up the hope that one day they could get out and become someone.

I miss being understood.

There are so many things wrong with my country and I could go on and on about this for many more pag es. There are also so many things that are exactly right. It took me 19 long years and a flight to the United States to realize that.

indeed do not exist.

Am I a bad Hungarian for sharing all this criti cism? Possibly.

Will I let the government and the rest of the ignorant people in my home country define what it means to be a Hungarian for me? No.

It is who I am, it is who I’ve always been. Even if my two years younger self would not be proud of that.

Electoral Autocracy. Electoral. Elect. Choose.

I chose to discard what

soon as a plane carries me back around, I’ll find the things I took for granted untouched, and that I’ll be able to view them through lenses given to me by the “land of the free.”

This is the effect the Nassau Weekly has on Otto Eiben. It makes us believe High School, then College are the most meaningful parts of our lives


Where the River Runs

A speculative fiction piece exploring a world after patriarchy and life beside a river made of metal.

WHEN the river brought me home, the villa called me their lucky carp. They said I flashed silver like the fish of a time long gone. Of the three girls brought home that day, it was my silver that they saw first. Each generation born of the riv er brings a new omen, and they hoped I would bring them good fortune. Silver like the river.

Silver like the fish.

Silver like the rich. But as lucky as a carp is, she still makes her migra tion. So really, they should have known from the start.

CLARA comes at eight every morning. She sits on the wood en stool one of the carpenters carved the day I came home, the legs specially positioned so you can see the constellation of my birthday engraved on them from the front. In her hands is a wooden rod carved into a spiral. Most mornings I am quick to sit on the pillow before the stool, but today I’ve slept too long and

my limbs feel too heavy. As the week crawls forward, I’m cer tain it will be harder to wake.

“You’re the one who insists on getting your curls done,” Clara says as she ushers me to the pillow.

“And who says that ‘Presentation is everything’?” I retort, dragging out the last syllables of each word. The oth er girls start their workday at nine. Mine begins with Clara just before dawn. Village sing ers don’t need light to train their apprentices.

Clara moves the top layer of my hair out of the way and takes one of the bottom coils, stretching it out and then re-coiling it around the wooden rod. The coils get flattened as I sleep at night, and each morn ing they must be redone to look like a curl and not a tortilla. Clara took it as an opportunity

to get extra training in.

“Wear the coils straight if you hate waking up so early,” she says.

“I’d look like a rake.”

Clara scoffs. “As long as you don’t look like a rake on Friday. Have you picked a song?”

I sleep to avoid pick ing a song. “I was planning on something simple.”

“Wise. History is com plicated, so better to be simple. What history?”

Every morning she tells me a new one, and every week I hear another sung in the heart core. I enjoy the histories,

yet I have yet to hear one that tells me what I need to know. “Something people know, but also something they love.”

“Tell me more.” She puts the first lock down in its proper place then moves to the next.

“Something classic.” Something no one has ever been told.

“You haven’t a clue.”

“I have a clue. What better place to start than the begin ning?” When something is more myth than history, it is easy to rely on it.

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Clara must know I’m stall ing, but she says, “Then begin.”

And so I do.

WHEN the river would not submit to the fathers, the fathers built their own. The women said they could never tame the wa ters, that they needed the waters to survive. The fathers could not bear to be wrong. They took their insatiable tongues and drank the river dry. They took their met al teeth and bit into the earth, ripping a gash through her body that would run for miles. They

clotted their wound with metal, creating a silver scar that was ever moving, ever breathing, a machine they believed they could control. For years, the river was the fathers’ pride. They couldn’t see that the world had been di vided, and that the women’s rage festered. The women could not bear to be invisible.

BECAUSE the river was made, the banks are not sand. They are the dirt and stones which existed undisturbed be fore the great scarring. They carry the memories of a time before. When Clara finishes my curls, I have a half hour before

my next chore and the river pro vides a place for meditation. As I near the river, I can hear the groan of moving metal, its song a theme for the entire villa in its moments of quiet. In the rain we hear its drumming and in the wind we hear its whistling. The mother is always calling to her children. And I am always drawn to her side.

As a child, when the maudras were trying to instill the villa’s rules in us, they told us that we could not cross the river. I thought they meant you could not upset the river, and that provoking the river’s wrath would be the cause of your ex ile. I wondered how one could upset metal. I know better now. The river breathes, dances, and sings like anything else. You can absolutely enrage it.

Down the bank, I can see a collection of bodies mov ing in unison. The hunters at

their morning drills. A path runs down alongside the bank, marking the botanists’ walk to the gardens. I have fifteen min utes of solace alone before my sister ambles down the path and breaks the peace. We used to throw stones at the river to add our own beat to the song, now she is more worried about time and rules. When I hear the crunch of her footsteps, I speak before she can urge us to leave.

“How many babies do you think we’ll have this year?”

Scilla stops behind me. “We can’t predict that.”

“The cooks have a run ning bet,” I say. “I hear them murmur under their breath when we’re around. Jina says six and Kinoko says one.”

“We had one last year.” Sometimes I think the genera tions born alone are lucky. That they are not born a unit and in stead as an individual. That girl is not one of ten or six or three. She does not need to pretend she belongs seamlessly with her sisters.

I finally turn to look at her. “Come on, play with me a little.”

“You’ll make us late.”

“What if I said Serenity bet on four.”

“The miracle there would be the fact that you were able to talk to Serenity.”

Our third sister had been locked in her studio for days trying to finish her project before the birthday. She was a dutiful apprentice, a dutiful member of the community. If I am their carp, she is their star.

“Just a number.”



We stare at each other for a long while, her silver eyes hard and determined, but her urge to leave is stronger. “Five.”

I smile and get up. “One day, I’ll pick a different spot for my break and you’ll lose your mind over whether or not I’ll be on time.”

“You have nowhere else to go,” Scilla says.

And she’s right, of course. The distance we’re al lowed to be within only stretch es so far. She’d find me no mat ter what if I stay on the bank, and she knows I’ll never go too far from the river.

“Don’t you want to know what I think?”

She walks away. In an utterly uninterested tone, she says, “Do tell, Sen. What do you think?”

“Three. Just like us.”

THE fathers had a god; a man who could walk on water. The


women say they made the riv er metal so they too could walk across a river, maybe one day a sea. And some of them did try. They did not think they would be swallowed up by the very thing they created, that their tameable body would rebel so terribly. And when the women, one by one, left their city, the fathers thought they too had been swallowed. They could not fathom that the women had left for something better.

IN the villa, numbers are important. Numbers designate your jobs. Clara once spoke of a world where a father deter mined whether or not your la bor would get paid, but in the villa no one gets paid. At eigh teen, we assist the cooks with the morning meal, mostly just by prepping whatever ingre dients they need by washing and trimming. For the past few days, Serenity had her mentor excuse her from her labor so she could finish her project in

time. This left Scilla and me to do the prep work in our corner of the kitchen. Every now and then a cook would come by and ask if we were excited for Friday. Scilla would do most of the talking and I would just nod, saying that it would truly be something.

We turn nineteen on Friday, assuming the roles of our careers along with addition al jobs. I would be a singer, Scilla an official botanist, and Serenity a carpenter. On Friday, I would give my first history, Scilla would share her first chosen crop for harvest, and Serenity would present her first creation. But I don’t care about the ascension. No. I care about the babies.

NERIA was the first woman.

Neria left the city with a back pack of her life, nothing her hus band would notice missing. She was so good, her husband did not notice for days that she was missing, her labor replaceable by a maid’s. She was so good, they assumed she died and hosted a funeral. At the back of the re ception, a caterer slipped a note in Neria’s sister’s hand. The sis ter’s funeral happened the next month.

DURING the jobs, we met many people. We’d seen these people before—the villa wasn’t very big—but growing up with so many miscellaneous “help ing” jobs meant that we were

introduced to many people. I asked many questions. I asked about their work and their lives and “is this right?” They thought me curious and eager to learn. But I also asked about the before. And about the river.

“Where are the fathers now?”

“How does the river keep working if no one is watching it?”

“Will the river ever stop?”

“Why can’t I go on top of it?”

“Where do the babies come from?”

They told me to be a singer. The singers had answers.

THEY called them suicides,

the mass funerals that appeared. As the women disappeared, the men only panicked once they re alized the birth rate plummeted. The men grew more desperate, the women became bolder. They started leaving notes. “The river is freedom. It is better to be free than to damn my daughters to this hell.”

To be continued…

Each morning Mina Quesen must be redone to look like a Nassau Weekly and not a torti lla.


Volume 45, Number 2 10 PAGE DESIGN BY VERA EBONG Pink

1. Cheese does not need to be refrigerated. It’s best not to think too much about it…or to look at it really. The thing to keep in mind here is that it tastes better than Kraft’s American cheese.

8. Underwear 1/day. This suggestion is not fe male exclusive.

safe, totally weather-proof shelter for you to sleep in while you make yourself helpful elsewhere.

17. Even one optimistic person can do wonders. Happiness is contagious and all.

A Cup Can Be a

Bowl: Lessons from Outdoor Action

A Cup Can Be a Bowl: Lessons from Outdoor Action

A curated list of hardearned life lessons from one writer’s OA excursion.

For many freshmen at Princeton, a critical part of the orientation experience is embarking on a three-night, four-day trip into the wilderness with little to no access to pre cious necessities such as restrooms, a comfortable place to sleep at night, and cell-service. However, de spite these minor inconve niences, this special excur sion frequently proves to be a unique, unifying adven ture, encouraging excellent character development in all its participants. Listed below are some of key les sons learned by freshmen during their OA trips – les sons that they are sure to carry on with them into the rest of their forever changed lives.

2. Trail spice is the real spice of life. There’s real ly nothing like a pinch of freshly-ground dirt and a smidge of crunched up leaves to bring some flavor to that cheese.

3. Showers and the state of being clean/non-smelly/ presentable/a decent hu man being is relative. If no one else is doing it, you don’t have to either.

4. You should brush your teeth every day though. Cost of cavities adds up.

5. A cup can be a bowl. A bowl could be a cup. In fact, a tortilla could be a bowl. Or a tortilla could be a cup. As Ginny Weasley once said, “anything is possible if you’ve got enough nerve”.

6. The spoon must be unbreakable though. Non-negotiable.

7. Your rain jacket is your best friend. If you don’t end up using it, it will have been there for you the whole time as a sort of safety blanket. If you do use it, you’ll nev er feel secure without it again. (Side note: definite ly worth it to test your rain jacket’s endurance in the shower. You never know what’s coming at you.)

9. Garbage bags are your second best friend. The more the merrier. Garbage bags are your magical de fense shields from the brutal outdoors. Put some thing in, and it’s guaran teed utmost protection.

10. One must be stern as a mule. Always.

11. Just add water. To tomato powder. To milk powder. Any powder. Any water. Any time. Anywhere.

12. Never underestimate the importance of having a friend who used to work at a restaurant. Keep them nearby at all times. You never know when life will hand you three onions and green bell peppers and just ex pect you to chop them up right then and there.

13. Some people really like grilled chicken. Such things are only consistent ly found in the NCW/Yeh dining halls and not on OA trips. Make of that what you will.

14. Your Disney Channel foundation will come in handy one day. Camp Rock is an especially relevant piece of cinema.

15. There are people in this word who can intui tively guess who the Mafia is. You can try to laugh it off, but, in the end, they will come for you.

16. Also bring a few prospective-B.S.E’s with you. They will help to set up a

18. Embrace your love for the Weeny Man. One day you’ll change his life. YOU could be his Weeny Wife.

19. Come up with a helpful tagline to introduce yourself to others. Some find it especially use ful to compare their name to geographical features such as rivers.

20. Cherish your mas cot. This is your source of strength and inspiration when you feel like you just can’t take it anymore.

21. LNT*. ‘Nuff said.

*Leave no trace. If Sofiia Shapovalova doesn’t end up using it, the Nassau Weekly will have been there for you the whole time as a sort of safety blanket.



In this fiction piece, a daughter navigates her family’s grief and theater production after the death of her brother.

On the day before the bachelor party, two of the actors had both been rehearsing day in and day out, but no one knew who was the un derstudy and who the star, because Mom had been unable to decide. There was Actor 1, who was too skinny but acted well, and Actor 2, who looked about right but sometimes shhed his s’s, which Will had nev er done. As Chief Family Arbitrator I was called to the dining room, where Mom sat drinking her “bad day” drink, Earl Gin (iced Earl Grey and Gin). At one end of the crystal dining room table, two actors took turns laughing, wiping their brows, and bending down to pick up the roses that were repeatedly fling ing themselves from their tuxedo buttonholes.

“Cade,” she said the moment she could hear me, without turning around. “Who’s saying it better?”

I watched them silently, detecting no dif ference that mattered, be fore announcing, “The first one.”

“But he’s too skin ny,” Mom moaned.

“Then give him some padding,” I suggest ed. “I would also lower your voice a bit,” I added to Actor 1, “when you finish your sentences. Instead of rising in pitch. Stay neutral.”

Actor 1 nodded. Actor 2 sat down at one end of the dining room table. “So I’m out?”

“No,” Mom said. “You stay, in case anything happens to him, or in case I change my mind.”

“You’re not chang ing your mind,” I said.

“And what next?” Mom turned to me.


“No, I was think ing—can we re-rehearse the drunk bachelor party scene?”

“Scene 6?” Actor 1 asked.

“Yes, 6A.”

Actor 1 waved vigorously at an invisible someone. “Uncle Dave! Long time no see—did you trim your beard?”

“You—play the other parts—” Mom ges tured vaguely to Actor 2.

Actor 2 leapt up. “You noticed? Thanks, old man.”

“How could I not? Woof, that’s a lot of beer, though.”

“I’ll give you fake liquor on the day,” Mom in terjected, sipping her own drink. “Abigail!”

Abigail, Mom’s PA, appeared to refill her cup.

“Can I go?” I asked.

Mom seemed to have forgotten I was there; Actor 1 was dancing with his thumbs in the air, just like Will had always done, and Mom’s shoulders had begun to shake. Quietly, but not as quietly as Abigail could, I took my leave.

“I’ve interviewed seven Wills,” Mom said, sighing. She leaned on the coffee ta ble. “It was exhausting. But it had to be done.”

“Couldn’t Abigail have interviewed the ac tors?” Stan asked. “That sounds like an Abigail kind of job.”

“No.” Mom frowned. “I don’t even know why you’d suggest that. I’m his mother.”

“You’re our moth er, too, though,” Stan said.

I waited for them to both look at me to mediate, as they always did. “Well?”

“Mom should do whatever she’s comfortable with.”

“You don’t look too comfortable, Mom,” Stan said.

“There’s noth ing I could do to be more comfortable.” Mom’s face looked like a raccoon face, darkly encircled eyes and pale, pale skin. She was dressed almost like a nor mal person, too—for some one who could look expen sive and powerful even in pajama pants and a torn sweater.

“Is it really the case that none of the actors are good enough? Your perfect son is that special?” Stan sounded like something was itching him in the

back of his throat, like he couldn’t decide whether to cough, snap, or cry.

“Don’t talk about your brother in that way! No. The only one who might have been good enough was too skinny.”

“Will was skinny,” Stan said.

“But this one was too skinny.”

“I’m sure he’s good enough.”

“No.” The word fell heavily, landing on the coffee table’s glass top like a thick book, never to be opened, just in case the dust inside was thick and sneeze-inducing.

“Then that’s that,” Stan said. “We’re calling it off, right?”

“Let her do what she wants, Stan.”

“Why do you keep siding with Mom?”

I tried to stand in such a way that evoked the non-committal attitude I desired but did not possess.

“I’m asking for an answer, Cade.” His gaze cut through me.

I almost snapped at him. “Because for once she’s right.”

Volume 45, Number 2 12

I had caught Stan’s ego, and Mom didn’t seem to care. Stan was silent, al most pouting. After staring at Mom for a moment lon ger, he called, “Abigail!” and left the living room.

I sat down next to Mom and waited for Abigail to arrive. She would inevi tably bring tea for both of us, and a sticky note from which she would read the emails she’d responded to that day on Mom’s behalf, and a reminder that the bill for the porch furniture would need to be paid by the end of the week. She did actually need Mom to sign that one.

That night, I sat in my bedroom and reviewed my outfit options for the wed ding. Which option indicat ed normalcy, joy on behalf of my brother, and subtle fashion sense? Which outfit best complimented the out fit Mom had secretly cho sen six weeks in advance?

I wondered, for a moment, if I had become colorblind in the month since Will died, because I couldn’t tell the difference between my purple dress and my black dress, and I couldn’t tell which one was more appropriate, let alone if either fit the occasion. If Will were here, he would laugh at me for my indeci sion, and he would laugh at Mom for critiquing my out fit no matter what I chose, and he would laugh at him self for having accidentally stained his suede shoes with overbrewed coffee. And

Mom would snap, “You could have just had one of the staff make you coffee.”

But Mom had fired half the staff since the last time she’d heard Will laugh, because some of them had looked too sad, and others too happy.

I went to find Stan.

He was eating a block of cheese at his desk with his eyes closed, but af ter I stood in his door frame for a minute he opened his eyes and acknowledged me with a silent chin motion.

“Can you help me pick my dress?”

“No,” he said shortly.

I was unsurprised; Stan avoided labor of any kind at all costs. “Then can I just come in?”


I went to sit on his couch.

For a long time, we sat in silence, Stan chew ing, me breathing, his eyes closed, mine trained on his. Finally, he spoke.

“I don’t like this feeling.”

I’d never heard Stan speak about feelings before. I said nothing, afraid of scaring him into silence.

“Like, I thought the gum would help, but it is not.”

“The gum?” I couldn’t help myself.

“Yeah.” He sighed. “I real ly need to pop my ears. It’s like—it’s like there’s some thing small and round and smooth jammed inside my jawbone, and no matter what I do, I can’t move it. You know what I mean?”

“That’s profound, Stan,” I said. “What are you do ing here again?” “Nothing.”

“Did you and Mom fight or something?”

I didn’t answer. He knew Mom and I never fought; if I were her staff she’d never fire me. I was hard to be mad at. I never looked like I had any emo tions at all.

“I just wanted help pick ing out my dress.”

“The purple one. And you can close it.”

“Close what?” Did he mean the clasp?

“The door.”

Long after I had left, I realized that there was no choice but the purple dress: the rest of my dresses had all been worn before, and therefore had been stained by memories involving Will. But what con fused me was the fact that I had

never told Stan the options; I had never mentioned that I had a whole closet full of dresses I’d worn before, and only one I’d not yet touched, the only purple dress I owned. I never made impulse purchases, but this one—the same week we lost Will—had been an impulse buy. Right off the rack, with out even trying it on. If Will were here, he’d remind me that Mom would kill me if I didn’t try on the dress to make sure it fit right, but I knew he was wrong—Mom couldn’t kill anyone, be cause the part of her that felt anger was already dead.

All six hundred of the wedding guests were much better-dressed than me, and everyone had good skin, though that also meant that everyone looked aver age next to each other. The wedding reminded me of the dance classes I’d attended until I was ten, the age at

which it became clear I would only ever receive ensemble parts. Everyone moved seamlessly, as though they were one sin gular, beautiful trained body, everyone except me, because I was clumsy, but that didn’t matter, because I also happened to be invisi ble. Sometimes I wondered if Will must have been in visible too, because no one seemed to notice that the groom was a completely different person, no mat ter how skillful an actor: for all his Will-ish motions, phrases, and face, there was something undetect ably too graceful about his walk, something too un original about his

Volume 45, Number 2 13

Tagaloa’s Odyssey

“The girl rifles through her thoughts, grasping for the reason behind the aching in her heart. And then there it is again, Tagaloa’s steady voice. ‘Come home.’”

The girl’s cries drown out the sound of the sky’s anger. Snow, hail, and rain decided to pay the StarSpangled land a visit, when the baby girl is born. Her unaccus tomed ears hear the faint call of Tagaloa, but the city sounds muffle his siren song. In the Star-Spangled land, buildings scrap the sky, blocking out the stars. Seasons change, snowy winters turn to bright springs then to sweltering summers. Reds, whites and blues sur round the girl as she goes about her day. “Proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free!” her superiors chanted, and for a second she

believes them. The girl grows, acclimated to the indifference of the Star-Spangled people and the fast-paced lives they live. Yet Tagaloa’s voice still calls to her, “Come home.”

As the girl begins her first steps, her parents take her to sail across the seas, the flag of stripes and stars waving her goodbye. They arrive in the land of Alewanisoso, the Fijian goddess of travelers. The god dess peers down from her place in the clouds, her watchful eyes curious and warm when she looks upon the newcomers.

Alewanisoso greets the family with the words “Bula Vinaka,” soothing the girl’s palpitating heart. New sounds, smells, and sights engulf her: towers that once dominated her sky re placed with glimmering stars, the smell of burgers and fries now replaced by the spices from Indo-Fijian curries of all kinds. Coups and a baby’s coo are memories of this land. But still, even as a child, she can

hear Tagaloa summoning.

When the girl begins grow ing taller than her mother, she helps her family sail to the island ruled by Qat, the Melanesian god of morals. The Melanesian gods take interest in the family, they teach them the ways of the Ni-Vanuatu. Pele, Ra, and Santo call out welcoming words to the girl and her family. Tana’s smoke brushes across her cheek. Seashells, turtle shells, kava shells and more sustain her family on the familiar shore. Rowing by pristine beaches in endless lagoons is a luxurious normality in these islands. The girl’s soul settles here; the call of Tagaloa is softened by the blare of the cruise ship’s horn and bustling crowds of tourists. The girl makes new friends, and she comes to love the place she now calls home. But Tagaloa is too close not to be heard and heeded. The call is strong and must be obeyed. Short malaga back to and from

Volume 45, Number 2 14

the girl’s homeland will have to do for now. The girl knows she will eventually leave the to tem-filled island, her parents following industry and devel opment, as they do.

And despite her love for the lessons of the Melanesian gods, her family becomes rest less, wanting to move to an unfamiliar domain. The land of Ala offers the girl’s family a rest from the Pacific’s vol atile seas. The West African earth goddess who looks after the land welcomed the family with open arms. Ala proudly presented her colorful land; the girl is again bombarded by her new surroundings. Peanut oils, peanut sauce, ground nut shells and Sahara sand are her new friends. The West African heat is dry and unforgiving, completely different from the island’s soothing humidity, yet she adapts and learns to find comfort in the sandy roads and bustling markets. Breathless with the oddity of this new land, awed at the fact that the same blood flows in her veins, familiar yet so different. But still there is something miss ing. The girl rifles through

her thoughts grasping for the reason behind the aching in her heart. And then there it is again, Tagaloa’s steady voice, “Come home”.

Her turmoil comes to an end as the girl decides to follow Tagaloa’s call. With the help of her family, she sails across the harsh rolling seas, pass ing the Star-Spangled nation, Alewanisoso’s warm smile, and Qat’s watchful eyes. And finally.


The girl arrives on the spar kling shores of Tagaloa’s do main. His call echoes in her ears, as she travels farther into the island. “You belong here” he says, “You have come home.” She travels deeper into Tagaloa’s island, offering tender smiles to people, her people, she comes to realize. Her people, her land, her sky, her shore, her shells, her food, her aiga, her aiga. The call has stopped now. She is where she belongs. No more wandering beneath star-filled skies. Only the lovely ease of gazing up at her piece of the Universe. The girl wonders at many things

within the land. The calm crys talline waters, the gracefulness of the taupou’s movements when she dances to the in cessant sounds of the drums, the mighty coconut trees, and the spirited morning markets find refuge inside the girl. Her Samoan family greets her with sincerity and enthusiasm, the ache she found in heart slowly dissipating as her love for her Tagaloa’s land grows. The girl feels at peace, she is home, her calling she has answered. The girl, however, does not forget the Star-Spangled nation, or Alewanisoso’s hospitality, or even Qat and the Melanesian gods’ instruction, for the girl keeps these experiences close in mind, soul, and heart. They help her navigate the harsh journey called life. The journey is not over but this is a journey of a lifetime that will span gen erations of Tagaloa’s kin, hear ing the call, making moves and coming home.

And despite Lumepa-Rose Young’s love for the lessons of the Nassau Weekly, her family becomes restless, wanting to move to an unfamiliar domain.



words, and something too smooth, too shallow, about his face. Of course, he was a real man, blood pumping through a heart just as real as my own, and Will’s, but something about the fact that I had not known him since he was in diapers gave me pause, separated us, and I felt a kind of coldness toward him, the sense that, unlike Will, if there were to be a fire, I would save Stan first, every time.

Or, maybe, the guests were too numerous and knew too many other people to keep track of the realness of each one of the people they knew. Probably I knew none of them ei ther, none of them real ly. Probably no one knew anyone.

Stan had been married last winter, in a tropical lo cation, covered in flowers, and Mom, taking after our least pleasant ancestors, had paid for every local within a sixty-mile radius to be vaccinated against con tagious diseases (but not the non-contagious ones). I had squatted under a palm tree and waited for a coco nut to fall on my head, but it never happened. Later, I learned they had been glued in place.

I would never be married, but no one was worried about me except Will. He would ask me things like, “Do you mind

that you always stand in the back of all the family photos? Because I’m hap py to switch, sometimes, so that you can stand in the front.” And I would smile because even if he meant it, it would still never happen.

Or he would say, “The next time you take a long walk, I’d love to come too. I’ve been meaning to talk to you about… ” and it would be something which he ratio nally theorized mattered to both of us. He never seemed to imagine that I would re ject his offers for conversa tion, connection, physical touch; he never seemed to consider I badly wanted to accept them, and that I would regret not accepting them now; and that I could never agree to anything un less I was unwilling. I wait ed for him to just do what he wished, one day, wheth er it was to make me a cup of overbrewed coffee or to squeeze my hand in a broth erly way, or even a cordial way. But he never did, be cause he always asked first. And I only ever shrugged.

The courtyard was decorated with a music theme, because playing pi ano was Will’s least embar rassing hobby. I could dis tantly hear Actor 1 playing the C major Haydn sonata he’d learned specifically for this occasion, the chords falling lightly throughout the bamboo sheets hung up for acoustic purposes. I held a fluted glass in my

hand. It was empty, but I could not remember what I had been drinking, or if my glass had ever been full in the first place.

For a moment, I thought I saw Will stand ing under one of the cherry blossom trees transplanted that morning. He was star ing across the courtyard to where Actor 1 sat playing the piano, wearing slacks and sneakers, and smiling. His glass held prosecco; I could smell it from where I stood.

It was after I stopped breathing that I re alized it really was Will.

I didn’t approach him—I never approached him. Instead, I watched him until he began to watch me.

“Cade,” he mouthed at me, finally.

“Will,” I mouthed back at him, quickly.

“What’re all these people doing here?”

“It’s your wedding, remember?”

He looked pup py-doggish. “But I don’t want to get married. Not yet, at least.”

“Too bad.”

“But I do like Marianne.”

“She’s kind.”

He shrugged. “She’s pretty. And political ly expedient.”

“That’s rude.”

“How’s that rude?”

“You don’t think she’s kind?”

“She’s alright. She’s not very clever. Connected, but stupid.”

“So are you.”

His eyes flashed toward mine, dark-socket ed like Mom’s. “You’re just stupid.”

“Rude. But true.”

“Everything I say is rude and true.”

“It won’t suck to be her husband.”

“But I’ll miss you.”

“Will you?”

“I miss you even when I’m with you.”

Something inside me was broken. “Hold me.”

Will blinked.

And with that, my imagination stretched too far, and it snapped. I found myself staring into a pile of wet, mashed cherry blos soms, wondering what they would smell like when they started to look as dead as they were.

I stood at the co lias-strung balcony. “Cade,” Mom’s voice twisted my neck, slowly, so that my eyes met hers. “Is it going okay?”

“It’s going beau tifully,” I said. I pointed at the sky. “See? Clear skies. Perfect for stargazing.”

“But do you think he likes it?” Mom sounded out of breath.


“Will,” she panted. I tried to commu nicate with my eyes, in case one of the twelve videogra phers was in range. Which

Will? Real Will or Actor Will?

“You know what I mean,” Mom said dis missively. A swell of music rose from the garden, and the guests began dancing faster.

“Do I?”

“You always know what I mean.” One of my hands suddenly felt tight, and I realized it was be cause Mom was squeezing it. I let my hand go limp, and she used my arm like a ladder, climbing toward me. We peered over the bal cony together.

“I can only read your mind sometimes, Mom.”

She frowned down into the courtyard. “Stan isn’t dancing.”

“Neither are we.”

She didn’t seem to have heard me. “He’s sit ting on one of the hydran geas. Thank goodness we got rid of the bees first, or he’d be screaming his head off by now, don’t you think? What are bees for, anyway?”

“Human suffer ing?” I suggested.

“But the Prime Minister is dancing.”

“I’ve been meaning to ask you—”

“I know, the pash mina is too thick for the occasion. It’s just that I’ve been feeling cold lately.”

“I’ve—I’ve been meaning to ask you how the actor’s going to pretend to die.”

Volume 45, Number 2 16 PAGE DESIGN BY TONG DAI


Mom shrugged the pashmina down her shoul ders. “I’ve begun to like him.”

“It doesn’t mat ter. He’s—you know what I mean. He’s not. He can’t do this forever”

“No, I don’t know what you mean. I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.”

“Of course you do. You just said you’ve begun—”

“You’ll understand when you become a moth er—not that you will. But if you did, you’d know that love comes first, and then liking. And the liking can take time. Where did Stan go?”

“Who cares about Stan. I’m talking about Will.”

“And I mean to say, I’ve begun to like him. He was a good son, so of course

I loved him, but he could be hard to like. He could be impossible to like. You know what I mean?”

I felt like there was an ice cube in my mouth, and I was being forced to speak around it. “I don’t know what you mean.”

Mom let go of my arm and took both my hands, interlacing her fin gers with mine. “Will has always been the cleverest of you three. And that’s part of it.”

“Part of what?”

“Why he can be so hard to like.”

“He never thought he was clever.”

“He knows now.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You’re asking the wrong questions.”

“I just—I have a dif ferent opinion. I think—” I choked on my words. “I

think that he wasn’t very happy, for, I guess, some reasons. And that’s why I don’t understand why we have to do this, because—” I was running out of syntax. “Because really, what the worst that could happen if we told everyone the truth, if—”

“But Cade, don’t you understand?”

“Understand what?”

“He’s happy now!” She gestured, and sure enough, he was smiling, dancing with his thumbs in the air.

I wanted to vomit. “If Heaven’s real, I don’t think Will got to go.”

Mom ignored me. I felt her leaning into me, wrapping her full warmth around me. I tried to let go—of the desire to cry, of the pounding heart within me that beat so hard I felt

like I would burst with the desperation of being alive— and I tried to pretend that I was just a daughter in her mother’s arms, like I was meant to be, and it would be okay.

“Mom!” Stan sounded hoarse, like he was running.

“Make Stan go away,” Mom murmured.

“I would, but you’re holding me.”

“I don’t want to see him right now.”

“I thought he’d be next in line for your favorite child.”

I felt Mom’s arms squeeze around me, one hand sliding up around my chin, so tight I almost want ed to die.

“MOM!” I thought I could hear Stan’s footsteps, but it was hard to hear. It was like my ears had given up.

I could feel Mom’s warmth becoming my own, like I was being reabsorbed into the womb. I could hear myself crying, but with her hand on my neck I couldn’t move, I couldn’t think. I couldn’t remember when her hand had arrived there, on my neck, no more than I could remember what I had drunk out of my fluted glass. No more than I could remember what I had seen in Will’s eyes when I asked my memory to hold me.

I smelled Stan’s breath on my cheek and I wished he would just stop breathing; it was warm, and wet. But more than that, I wanted Mom to keep hold ing me forever, even if it was just my imagination, and I let myself give up.

Volume 45, Number 2 17

Music for the 2020 s: Nass Recommends DECIDE by Djo

Discover Joe Keery’s new album that encapsulates the absurdity, anxieties, and joys of Gen Z.

The first time I ever listened to Djo must have been on some suggested songs list back in high school, when I was trolling the indie charts to curate my next vibey play list around some or another high school emotion I want ed a perfect soundtrack for. Two singles from his debut, “Chateau (Feel Alright)” and “Roddy,” quickly be came background tracks for my senior year, ebbing and flowing with their ambient synths and distant vocals. I had a vague awareness that Djo is the moniker of Joe Keery, who plays Steve Harrington in Stranger Things, but I had never seen the show.

Skip to this summer, and I am home again, in the same quarantine house I didn’t leave un til January 2021, hanging out with my closest high school friends almost every day. My friend Kari, then

currently watching Stranger Things Season 4 with her family, convinced me and our two friends to embark on a mission to watch all 4 seasons in two months. She also made sure to play Djo’s newest single, “Change,” every time we were in the car together. As I got to know the character better in the show, I was tempted to distance myself from the music—it felt almost cringe to be a new Stranger Things fan so enamored with Steve Harrington’s persona on the show that she decided to listen to Keery’s music too. But something kept me coming back—I couldn’t stop listening to this track. It became my travel anthem as I flew back and forth to Oklahoma and Europe vis iting family and shot up to one of my top 5 Spotify songs of all time in just a couple months. Something about the opening drum beats calmed my anxiety every time I boarded a new train or exited another air plane, the spacey synths and soaring, undulating vocals cocooning me in a mental safety blanket. Eventually, I gave up my re sistance to Keery as an actor and musician and found

out that he had actually been making music before he was ever cast on Stranger Things.

Now the whole album, DECIDE, is out, having been released on September 16th. Although it is certain ly influenced by some of his experiences on the show, the album is a rollicking tour through Keery’s entire psyche, delving into many memories, musical influ ences, and moods. Songs like “Gloom” and “Figure You Out” reveal such obvi ous references to 80s mu sical icons like the Talking Heads, David Bowie, and DEVO that they should feel derivative—but Keery masterfully combines all these styles in a way that feels fresh and unexpect ed. Beginning the album with chromatic synths in “Runner,” Djo cascades into the bouncing anthem “Fool,” meanders towards the circular “Climax,” and glitches up the gloomy apocalypse of “Go For It.” Atmospherically, the album feels like a despondent romp into the retro-futur istic world you might see if Blade Runner had been made in 2022: the decaying cityscape plastered with

Volume 45, Number 2 18

floating neon billboards, flying cars above filthy crowded streets, and algo rithm-deadened eyes look ing out through VR head sets. Keery combines this background anxiety with a kind of flippant joy, choos ing to have fun with glowing rhythms and cheerful melo dies despite everything else going on. In this way, the al bum perfectly captures the ethos of Gen Z: although many of us are rightly terri fied of the future, we try to forget these worries with humor and irony, a sense of the capital “A” Absurd. Keery’s musical references to the 1980s are relevant not only because he stars in a TV show set in that time period—they also link our current historical moment to that era, when the world was teetering on the edge of nuclear holocaust and socioeconomic collapse, at the height of the Cold War and Reagan Era.

Keery’s Gen Z sensibili ty extends into the album’s

lyrics, especially in tracks like “Half Life” and “On and On,” in which he strug gles with the omnipresence of technology and social media in our lives and pop ular consciousness. Keery’s lyrics address his own expe riences, especially his com plex relationship to fame and authenticity coming out of Stranger Things. But overall, this album puts its finger on the pulse of the 2020s, a time riddled with anxiety, guilt, nihilism, and fear. He frames this despair in a relatable way—every one has found themselves “Scrolling on and on and on / feed[ing] the algorithm some,” as described in “On and On.” These lyrics hook you into the mind set, the guilt that you feel when you’ve spent hours on TikTok or Instagram having done nothing but make money for strangers selling your data. These despondent feelings lead to our need for distraction to numb the pain: In “Half

Life,” he sings, “The world is changing / And upgrad ing / Faster than we can con trol,” reacting with disgust to his own mind-numb ing impulses, telling him self “God, you’re a fool / Plugged in / That’s a half life.” He also deals with the powerlessness of our gen eration in the face of every thing going on in the world in “Climax,” revealing that “It terrifies me that there is no plan / The future break ing right on top of me / The waves are washing hope right out of me.” These 21st-century anxieties work their way into almost ev ery song on the album and cast the bright synths and up-tempo tracks in a cold er, harsher light. But this doesn’t undermine the en ergetic, even happy sound of the album—instead, it completes the piece as a portrait of Gen Z, a genera tion that cannot forget the terrors of the world but des perately wants to. The perfect punchline

for the album is the fact that the final track, “Slither,” blends in seamlessly with the first, “Runner.” If you happen to be listening to the album on repeat, it’s almost impossible to tell without knowing or looking at the album tracklist that it has ended and looped to the beginning. This irony punctuates the album bet ter than a proper, “final” track ever could—although the album spends so much time criticizing algorithms, modernity, technology, and the endless media cycle that overwhelms us with content, it becomes willful ly hypocritical by doing the exact same thing.

Stream DECIDE on all platforms now.

Eventually, I gave up my re sistance to Kristiana Filipov as an actor and musician and found out that she had actu ally been making the Nassau Weekly before she was ever cast on Stranger Things.


the world is coming up dandelion fluff

I dream of spades. spring is cool and wet and breath is sun

I tread on mulch, brown flower petals crushed to carpet soft, dead, bleeding on my sneakers buds bloom and fall and crush the shag grows, toes stumble through push down, turn up long nights and startling middays to part pink brown pink an indecisive sea that steeps, stains my shoes, once white, gore-aged too far gone.

sap seals leather cracks, and spring will pass. perhaps. if I set them on the shelf

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