Mass Hysteria

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For the fourth annual Women’s Issue of the Nass, women writers and artists reflect on home, nourishment, motherhood, and embodiment.

The Nassau Weekly

Volume 44, Number 5 March 27, 2022

In Print since 1979 Online at nassauweekly.com


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March 27, 2022

Masthead

Editors-in-Chief

Mass Hysteria

Juju Lane Mina Quesen

Publisher Abigail Glickman

Alumni Liasion

Allie Matthias

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Persimmons of another tree

a transfem’s song of love and rejuvenation By Sophie Lockwood Designed by Hazel Flaherty

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Wanderer By Mina Quesen Designed by Cathleen Weng and Emma Mohrmann

Nothing Like Mom’s Cooking: Reflections from Professor Mommy’s Daughter By Kristiana Filipov Designed by Benjamin Small

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Art By Emma Mohrmann Designed by Jasmine Berger

Womb By Eva Vesely Designed by Tong Dai and Chloe Kim

Contrasts

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By Alexandra Orbuch Designed by Tong Dai and Hannah Mittleman

All In By Lara Katz Designed by Vera Ebong

Cartoons By Hannah Mittleman Designed by Jasmine Berger

Dear Nass Community, We are honored to present this week’s magazine, the third annual Women’s Issue of the Nassau Weekly. We, as co-Editors-in-Chief, are proud to lead this organization in a time when five of the seven members of the upper management team identify as women. The Nass was founded by a group of men who sought to carve a space on campus where radical idealists could challenge the norms. Now, 43 years later, woman-identifying students see this publication as a space of opportunity — to find empowerment, channel creative energies, and make our voices heard. In the pages of this issue, you will find a range of poetry, fiction, art, and personal narrative produced by women. We see this as a powerful reflection of the historical significance of creative works in feminist movements. When women were shut out of male-dominated publications and fields of academia, they would not be silenced. These women subverted expectations of what it meant to participate in cultural discourse by taking to the realms of fiction, poetry, and art, sharing their work through presses of their own making. Women through the ages have found innovative ways to describe their lives and have bravely imagined what the world can become. The women creators of Princeton today, whose work you hold in your hands, carry on the legacy of trailblazing predecessors. Their insights and imaginations will generate a better world.

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

We hope you enjoy the work within these pages and continue to support the Nass as we uplift and honor the work of so many talented and inspiring women.

Head Copy Editor

Andrew White

With love, Juju Lane ‘23 Co-Editor-in-Chief Mina Quesen ‘23 Co-Editor-in-Chief Note: Last year the issue was named the “Women*s Issue” using an asterisk, following the lead of Princeton’s Women*s Center. This year, we decided to use the possessive apostrophe because we, collectively as a community, are redefining the word “women” beyond its traditional use in a binary form. We use the apostrophe to emphasize and honor each creator’s ownership over their work in this issue.

Copy Editors

Nico Campbell Katie Rohrbaugh Bethany Villaruz

Events Editor

David Chmielewski

Audiovisual Editor

Christien Ayers

Web Editor

Jane Castleman

Social Media Chair

Mollika Jai Singh

Cover Attribution

Social Chair Emma Mohrmann Hannah Mittleman

Kristiana Filipov


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Volume 44, Number 5

This Week:

Verbatim:

Mon

4:30p East Pyne Who’s Afraid of Rachel Dolezal? Or, Whiteness as Impasse

6:00p LCA Ali Stroker: Turning Limitations into Opportunities

Tues

4:30p Chancellor Green Phillis Wheatley Peters and the Invention of American Lyric

6:00p 185 Nassau Black Earth Film Series: The Call of Mist (Redux) and Handsworth Songs by John Akomfrah

Wed

4:30p ZOOM Assembling a Black Counterculture with DeForrest Brown

Thurs

5:30p Friend Center Artist Talk: Teresa Margolles

Overheard in Whitman courtyard AB student: “Cosmology? Isn’t that just like beefed up astrology?” Overheard at Tuesday late meal Sauntering Vote100 fellow: “Are you in the Humanities Sequence?” Friend: “Why do you ask?” Sauntering Vote100 fellow: “Because you were typing and you looked worried.” Overheard in lecture Jovial politics professor: That’s a quote from my favorite investment banker—my exwife! Haha.” [silence]

Fri

12:00p Cannon Green Pride Festival

8:00p New South New Works Festival II: Clara by Leila Abou-Jaoude

Sat

10:00a ZOOM Oral Histories Training with Professor Gill Frank

8:00p LCA Making Queer Theater

4:30p Louis A. Simpson Heineken in Africa: Brewing a Better Africa?

Sun

12:00p Taplin Jack Isaac ’23, Trombone

7:30p Taplin Phillip Taylor ’22, Jazz Piano

8:30P LCA US: A New Dance Work by Jared Harbour

Got Events?

Email David Chmieelewski at dc70@princeton.edu with your event and why it should be featured.

Overheard in RoMa Undecided major: “Squatting is the new vaping.” Overheard in Palmer Square Mother to her tiny son: “Okay, so hiding in a trash can? I need you to know that’s a terrible idea.” Overheard in dorm Sore sophomore: “Foam rolling your ass? Exquisite sensation.” Overheard in lecture Tech-inept professor: “Come on, I just don’t know how to get rid of YouTube avocadoes!” Overheard after class Food critic looking at a bubble tea cup with an ungodly amount of toppings: “That’s a fruit salad. Get a spoon.”

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

Overheard in Scully Animal activist: “I miss the mice.” Exterminator: “Why?” Animal activist: “There’s not enough life in my room.”

Overheard in 1901 Hall Ally to women everywhere: “Imagine not wanting to be a pussy. Pussies are strong. Right? *high five* A woman: “What?”

Overheard at dinner Forbes resident: “My carpet keeps getting me sick.”

Overheard during study sesh Student checking Canvas: “Remember when it was check Blackboard?” Peer, dreamily: “I was just on Blackboard today!” Student: “Are you okay?”

Overheard in lab STEM twink: “This is very, very complex. There’s a lot of phosphorylation, bestie.” Second twink: “I was gonna say ‘just like my bussy’ until you said the second part.” Overheard at a birthday Kink shamer: “If I had to guess who had the highest chance of being a furry in this room…” Suspect Friend: “Pet play is NOT furrying!”

Overheard in MOL lecture Professor (showing COVID variant data): “And this is what I call the T.I. cluster.”

Submit to Verbatim Email thenassauweekly@gmail.com

About us:

Nassau Weekly is Princeton University’s weekly newsmagazine 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 encouraged to attend meetings and submit their writing and art.

Read us: nassauweekly.com Contact us:

thenassauweekly@gmail.com Instagram & Twitter: @nassauweekly

Join us:

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


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Volume 44, Number 5 PAGE DESIGN BY HAZEL FLAHERTY ARTWORK BY HAZEL FLAHERTY

PERSIMMONS of ANOTHER TREE: a transfem’s song of love and rejuvenation

I. I watch, from my room on the third floor, as partygoers climb through the window opposite mine. They sound joyous, burping sharp laughter onto the trampled myrtle blossoms. Can they hear me, singing along to their music? I wonder, when I strip off a floral dress, if they shake their heads at my dimpling belly; if they smile, wry, as I do, at the pink leopard-print thong I bought at a Target, on accident. When I am naked, can they see the scar lines on my legs?

By SOPHIE LOCKWOOD

Pre-poem: a primer.

When I say room I mean this space that contains me. When I say this space that contains me I mean I fill this space. When I say I fill this space I mean this space is my body. When I say I am in this space I mean this space is my body and I fill it, it fills me, I am the space and it is me, our co-terminality wavering and watery at the edges. Listen, please be mindful of what your voice touches: you are speaking within my body; as I am within yours. ‘I mean river as a verb.’ Natalie Diaz, “The First Water is the Body,” Postcolonial Love Poem.


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I. Myrtle I have filled my life with flowers. In the stairwell singing, How am I supposed to be healed? to “Orange Blossoms”, a stranger compliments my voice, another my lily shirt, simple cotton. I read a poem, “Calyx”, the other day. I wrote a poem to a Ruysch bouquet the other day. I read a line in a poem, his name for me is a flower: Hyacinth, / a final pink breath. I sent him a picture. I read a poem about an abortion the other day. I saw a still-life, a pail of roses and a mayfly, too. I wish I could have a baby. My favorite pair of shoes has carnations on them, or peonies, maybe.

I. Pair of shoes

I. Log

When my room becomes too silent, I lace up my running shoes and step from the chamber. (Remember what is my body and see how I change.) I run to the trail, to feel the sun, the wind. When I see the water, I want to strip the clothes from my body, and dive and swim the stream until I must scoop myself back onto shore. My feet still in my shoes—I was too much in need to remove them—I must unlace carefully, water-logged as they are. My worked fingers, prunish, open to the sky and unfold like leaves. (This, too, is writing a poem in which I desire you.) Freely, like a crack of wildfire taking to the riverside trees, I throw myself at the earth, fevered until my ribs break out in roots and branches, reaching for deeper mud and soil: my bones need a noisy arbor.

I count these moments I spend thinking of you by chewing a dried persimmon: 1, 2, 3— (slowly.) the flesh is sweet and tough. 4, 5, 6, 7— (slowly, please.) 8, 9,

10, 11,

12—

End note “How am I supposed to be healed?” is a lyric from “Orange Blossoms” by Half Waif. “Flower II, Calyx” is a poem by Sun Yung Shin. Rachel Ruysch is a Dutch Golden Age painter of many still-lifes of flowers (and insects!). “his name for me is a flower: Hyacinth, / a final pink breath.” is a line from “Alternatives for a Celibate Daughter” by Thylias Moss (Hosiery Seams on a Bowlegged Woman). *”strip the clothes from my body” is a lyric from “Midnight Asks” by Half Waif. *”lace up my running shoes” draws on “Lacing up my / tennis shoes in front of you feels more intimate than I intended”, lines from ‘23 Isabella Pu’s incredible “Autumn diptych”. *uncredited in poem


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PAGE DESIGN BY CATHLEEN WENG ARTWORK BY EMMA MOHRMANN

WANDERER

WANDERER A glimpse through a tear in the multiverse.

But that doesn’t matter. There’s no one left to ask her the story.

By MINA QUESEN

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n Earth 257, Charleston fell apart at the seams. It started with small tears here and there, small rips in the dimensional plane—which could’ve been sewn back together at one point, but a city in tatters has little hope of becoming whole again. It’s almost like fate. At least, that’s what Ria will say if she’s ever asked. She won’t say that she knew that city before it fell. That she had friends in that city. That she was there when it fell. She definitely won’t say that she knows how the tears were formed in the first place.

Before the fall, Noe both hated and loved Charleston. She loved the hope hidden in it; she hated that she had to keep coming back to its barbarics. Noe believed in signs, and what better sign than the fact that Charleston on 257 bore more tears than any other place in the multiverse. Noe stared at the map of Charleston, golden pins stuck in so many places Ria half-expected she could back up and see someone’s portrait. “We have to be close,” Noe said. “Or missing something.” “Are you expecting the tears to spell out a message?” Ria asked. She waved a hand dramatically. “‘This way to the Tailor.’” Noe actually considered the

notion. “Do you think it’s in another language?” Ria traced a finger around the outline of the pins. “What language looks like a dragon-headed chair?” “Oh, go prick yourself,” Noe waved her off. “I’m not the only one with an absurd hunt.” In fact, both of their... hobbies were contained to a single room of the house. Noe’s map was pinned up on one wall, but the surrounding space was filled with the hanging swords of missing Stitchers. Missing according to Noe. Fallen according to Ria. Black sword upon white sword, each glowing with a soft light. The swords carried their own souls, and this is why the white Needle and the black Ripper couldn’t be created by just any hand. Because Stitchers don’t have mourning practices, Noe didn’t have a word for

the collection, but Ria did: a shrine. She began the shrine when a failed hunt for her parents instead turned up her mother’s pair of swords. Since then, Ria collected any pair of fallen swords they encountered and hung them up in the eternal shrine. “At least mine has proof,” Ria said. “At least mine will serve a purpose.” Because the Tailor would solve all their problems. The legendary sword maker would somehow weave their questions into answers. Assure them that they were not the only ones, that there was purpose in their work, that their lives had meaning. Noe believed in things Ria no longer could, but it was easier to keep up the search for the Tailor than to tell Noe to stop chasing fairytales. Just as it was easier

to let Ria grow the shrine than to call her a heretic. “We’ve been staring at pins for so long there are gold spots in my vision,” Ria said. Noe offered her now-predictable compromise. “Back to the field? I have a good feeling.” Ria had never turned down a chance to go Charleston; she certainly wouldn’t start then. “Three gold coins say that they brought down the statue.” “Easiest three coins I’ll ever make.” When Ria jumped through the Earth 257 tear, night stretched her fingers above and welcomed Ria into her palm. Waves lapped against the sea wall, now paved for tourists and morning joggers. The Battery, a splash of green kept as a war-era reminder,


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sat in shadow before her. At its head, the cursed, bronze statue of two men standing proud with their arms outstretched. Damn. Nevertheless, Charleston and all its flaws was a home Ria was never allowed to claim. Noe popped out of the tear. Despite having been to the city countless times, Noe was always more focused on the interdimensional rips than on what really existed in the city. The hope she saw was in Charleston’s slow unraveling, not in its history or potential. So she may not know where every problematic statue was located, but she did know Confederate Defenders, and she grinned in triumph at its sight. “Keep betting on change and you’ll go broke,” Noe said as Ria stepped up to the tear, sheathed the Ripper, and pulled out her white Needle. “Keep betting against it and you’ll have a stroke when it comes,” Ria answered. From this end, she could stare into the fraying mouth of the Stitching Space, an abyss beckoning her return. It would not be the first time she wondered if all the fallen were just floating

in that Space. She hooked the white blade into one side of the tear and brought it to the other. “Besides, there are enough Earths. I’ll win back my coins.” “We’ll find the Tailor before you win that bet, and by then you’ll be so in debt to me that I’ll still owe you nothing.” They placed their bets on money pilfered from sidewalk edges, forgotten pockets, lost wallets across generations and stored throughout their home on Plumera 56, small amounts that wouldn’t be missed, but enough to add up. The cousins passed it between each other’s hands. Worlds like Plumera recognizing Stitchers provided everything they needed, collecting offerings for their idols which kept the worlds from falling apart. “Split?” Ria asked when she finished stitching. Noe pulled out a folded map from her pocket and handed it to Ria. “Mark—” “Wherever I Stitch. I know.” “Sometimes you forget.” Forget was a generous word for what Ria did. “I’ll take the south end.” “Meet at Marion?” Ria nodded and walked toward Broad Street. “Try not

to traumatize a civilian this time.” “Be on time and I won’t get reckless looking for you.” “Still not an excuse for creating a rip in front of a teenager.” “Don’t be late.” Ria kept herself from saying, “I will be.” Wandering is inherently selfish. Ria learned this before she could speak. To take leisure in exploring and to not give a damn about time. To care only for your own amusement. Yes, wandering is selfish. Her parents were wanderers: a Stitcher who used every resource at her disposal to remain rootless and found a kindred spirit in a Charleston native who wanted to be anywhere other than the world he was born into. Together they jumped from dimension to dimension, one of them doing her job stitching together the universe and the other an eternal observer who

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March 27, 2022 PAGE DESIGN BY BENJAMIN SMALL

Nothing Like Mom’s Cooking: A reflection on the nourishment our mothers provide, both physical and emotional. By KRISTIANA FILIPOV

T

he classroom buzzed with chatter of mom’s lasagna and grandma’s dumplings, delicacies of childhood that populated the tables of family gatherings, birthdays, and other special occasions. Even behind masks, I glimpsed my classmates’ wistful looks as they recalled home cooking, the satisfaction of being provided for, of being fed. We had been asked to describe the foods of our childhoods to trace our shifting attitudes and associations with food. One student reminisced on the bone broth congee her mom always made her

when sick. The girl next to me remembered the extravagant spreads her family ate after church on Sundays. I thought back to my childhood. What did my mom make better than anyone else? Frozen pizza already in the oven when I got off the school bus. Chicken nuggets and potato wedges that we pried off the tinfoil. Microwaved salami, crisped up at the edges and drenching the paper towel with melted grease. Stovetop popcorn, every night, or it wasn’t a full meal. Big, fresh salads with parmesan and a little too much vinegar. As a (then) single mom, time was scarce, and she always chose bonding time over cooking time. As a child, I always felt left out at bake sales, birthday parties, and other school socials. My friends contributed homemade

brownies, lemon bars, and snickerdoodles, but all I could bring were grocery store cupcakes—or, when my mom didn’t have time, nothing at all. I used to think that baking “from scratch” meant using a boxed Betty Crocker mix, a special occasion I only got to experience when my grandma visited. Once, my mom told me, a lawyer-mom friend of hers confided that she always placed special orders at the local bakery for dozens of cookies made to look homemade, so she wouldn’t have to deal with the snide remarks of other moms. Every time I complained about my bake sale woes, she responded with the same refrain: “I don’t bake.” Time wasn’t the only thing that prevented her: something about the process of baking was at odds with her identity. She didn’t want to be

the type of mom who gave in and baked just because it fulfilled some expectation or shut up the other, “better” moms. Since 9th grade, I’ve been the home chef, making a bargain that if I cooked, I wouldn’t have to do dishes. “Mom’s cooking” doesn’t mean the same to me as it does for everyone else—maybe this should mean that I have a different relationship to food, family, and femininity. Perhaps I am less able to connect with people, or to express my love the way women are expected to. But I don’t think that’s true. I was raised by the author of 10 books, a professor with glowing course evaluations and numerous research grants who nevertheless played, watched movies, and regularly cuddled with her daughter. My mom


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Reflections from Professor Mommy’s Daughter never sacrificed her career to raise me, but she also never sacrificed me for her career. She made motherhood her own and showed me how cultivating a family can be nontraditional and still be nurturing and full of love. Society relies on mothers and grandmothers to perform traditional household labor, both in order to form their identities as mothers and to form the identities of their children. This forms what Louis Althusser calls an Ideological State Apparatus, which reproduces itself with every generation of mothers and daughters. As girls see their moms feeding themselves and others as a form of love, they learn that that is how they should express their own love once they become mothers themselves. This reproduces the gendered

labor expectations we have come to recognize as unequal and often stress-inducing. During my child-

She made motherhood her own and showed me how cultivating a family can be nontraditional and still be nurturing and full of love.

hood, I struggled with the fact that my and my mom’s identity were supposedly tied to her relative lack of home cooking. But even though my mom rarely cooked elaborate meals, I was always fed, always filled with the love we shared over those

quick-and-easy dinners. As a (then single) mother in academia, she had little time to dedicate to cooking— but I think it went deeper than that. My mom bucked against the gendered labor expectations she grew up with and decided that as long as I was fed well and healthily, it didn’t matter whether we ate lasagna from scratch or boxed mac and cheese. Funnily enough, I love cooking now. I want to have kids, and I want to be the mom that bakes key lime bars and whoopie pies for the class party. I am excited about the prospect of raising my children the way generations of women have been told to, but having a mother who raised me without that allows me to break the mold and realize how much choice and agency I do have. Because of my

mom, I’m able to celebrate the empowerment that enabled her career and her nontraditional parenting, while also appreciating the genuine love and nourishment shared by mothers and grandmothers everywhere. For me, embracing womanhood (and motherhood) is about embracing its contradictions, the gendered and sexist expectations that oppress us while also enabling us to share so much love and care with our children, lovers, and friends. Even though I don’t want to follow her path exactly, I will always admire and respect my mom for everything she has accomplished while navigating the minefield of womanhood. The classroom buzzed with chatter of the Nassau Weekly and Kristiana Filipov.


Volume 44, Number 5 PAGE DESIGN BY JASMINE BERGER

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art by emma mohrmann

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PAGE DESIGN BY CATHLEEN WENG ARTWORK BY EMMA MOHRMANN

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collected notes in a tattered, leather-bound notebook. Wandering let them forget the daughter they left in Charleston. That daughter didn’t grow up in love with the multiverse. Instead, she grew up with Gran, who taught her to love a city with more history than the Stitchers could ever care about. Her parents found freedom in the secrets of the multiverse. No one considered that Ria might have found freedom in something else. It seemed only natural to Ria that she kept returning. Ria loved Charleston because it had roots stretching beyond just one dimension. She could walk down Broad Street and witness 300 years of history stretch across the architecture. But Charleston 257 was not her Charleston. This Charleston wasn’t the cruiseship town where Ria grew up watching the horse carriage tours rattle down the cobblestone streets and prattle on about history. It wasn’t the one where she grew up plucking frogs from the marshlands just outside the city and learned to lay sandbags during the flood season. Not the one with her cousins who hated Charleston because it was so grounded in the past. No, that Charleston was on Earth 258, just one number off from the dimension she strolled through now. 257 and 258 were nearly the same, down to the second, as Ria once checked with a church clock tower and her own watch. There was one difference Ria could make out: the version of her father here never fell in love with a

Stitcher. No, he never met her, but he still had a daughter, still named her Ariadne, still left her to grow up in 92 Broad Street, a home that was older than the 97-year-old woman who spent her entire life in it. There was another difference, too: 92 Broad Street in 257 still had two occupants. In 258, the ancient home stood empty. Ria only owned one thing from Earth 258: a blue-faced silver watch Gran gave her on her twentieth birthday because “Women had lipstick and watches.” Noe called it a reckless distraction that would one day catch on a sword and cost her a life, but Ria wore it tight every day, taking comfort in the ticking heartbeat against her wrist. She knew she’d have to get the battery changed soon; it had been two years since Gran gave it to her. The watch attached to 257, a lifeline to pull on when Gran died in 258. A lifeline she followed now. As soon as she hit Broad Street, Ria cut open a tear and jumped through ten blocks east. She landed in a dark alley, but the streets on either side were alive with music and laughter. It was near midnight, but the city was wide awake. Most humans were creatures of habit, reliable. Ria knew there were three spots downtown she could go to find her. The first was just around the corner. Simon’s was a restaurant with a rooftop bar and opensky club. On a Friday night, Ria was likely to find Ari upstairs grooving to whatever blaring hit took the DJ’s fancy. The

hostess downstairs confirmed as much and sent Ria up. It was humid and hot upstairs, but an occasional breeze would brush by and tousle the strings of exposed light bulbs. The bar wasn’t too crowded yet, and Ria caught sight of Ari, lean arms waving high in a strange dance. Ria was inches away when Ari opened her eyes and beamed.

“Ria!” She threw her arms sticky with sweat and humidity around Ria. “How are you?” “Charleston always has me in a good mood. You?” “I’ll be good with another drink.” Ari turned to the two friends she was with, friends who swapped out and were different every time Ari and Ria met. “This is the USC girl I was talking about. Ria, this is Mare

and Ken.” “I got rejected from USC,” Mare shouted over the music. The drink in her hand was to its dregs. “Ignore her; she’s drunk,” Ken said. “You’re the watch-twin?” Mare continued. Ari plucked Ria’s arm in answer, displaying their matching watches side-by-side. “They know everything, too,” Ari said. Ria had ex-

pected as much. E v e r y other introduction ran through almost the same; everyone knew how they met. Ria wasn’t supposed to get involved, but Ari was drunk and stumbling home, and Ria knew exactly where the girl was trying to go. At some point on the long walk to 92 Broad Street, Ari noticed the watch. “Watch-twins,” she’d mumbled. Apparently, three weeks later, the watch was the only thing she’d managed to remember as she caught sight of it when Ria paid for a coffee at the cafe Ari worked at. Two accidents were enough to keep

them in touch months after. Or, as in touch as Ria could be. She had no phone, no real address, but managed to blame everything on strange parents, University of South Carolina dorms, and a desire to be down to earth. None of which were quite lies (except going to USC). Ria would drift into town every now and then, find Ari at one of her regulars, and pretend that the two didn’t have ghosts of resemblances haunting them. But Ria was grateful for the connection, to have someone know her and ground her to some place. Any place. “Can I get you a drink?” Ken asked. “No thanks. I’m working the early shift tomorrow,” Ria said. Noe would go berserk if she knew Ria was partying. “Late shift and early shift?” Ari asked. “You’re a machine, girl.” “What do you do?” Ken asked. “Pirate tour guide,” Ari answered. “A killer gig. She gets to pick her hours and carry around those bad boys.” She pointed to the swords. “Props, of course,” Ria answered. In a city with pirates wandering around, the swords were the least suspicious thing Ria had. Even so, she tried to steer the conversation away. “How’s Gran?” She immediately regretted it. “Gran’s a goddess,” Mare said. Ken poured his cup of water into Mare’s cup. “She’s kicking,” Ari said. “Out of the recovery center and back home. Can’t go up the stairs, but she says that her favorite things are on the first floor anyway.” Ari was home when Gran fell on 257. Ria wasn’t when Gran fell on 258. And it was so


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easy to keep coming back, to keep living in a world where that mistake wasn’t made. But thinking about it didn’t change anything. And there were few things that stopped her from thinking about it. “Wanna dance?” Ria asked. Dimensions are always in motion. They rub against each other until their borders fray, then tear. If left unnoticed, things spill from one into the other. Glass rain pools like crushed liquor bottles, strange blooms that only gather in one spot for a generation before becoming an invasive species, sometimes whole animals that wander for a few days before being snatched back into their proper homes (not without being seen and sprouting a few uncrushable myths). Stitchers keep dimensions from falling together, or, worse, falling apart. People assume that Stitchers will favor their Needle for such purposes. Good Stitchers favor their Needle. Ria knew she wasn’t a good Stitcher the first time she did it. She knew it the second time. And the third. And every time to follow. Noe thought Charleston was a dimensional hub, the gateway to finding the elusive Tailor’s home. Ria knew better. Not because she didn’t believe in myths but because she knew what Noe didn’t. The tears in Charleston weren’t made from universal friction. Hours and hours later, after Ari was wasted and Ken took Mare home, Ria stood in the alley behind Simon’s. Ari was in the bathroom, and Ria was going to have to drag her home once again, not that she minded the long walk. Noe was likely already at the Marion, but it

wouldn’t be the first time Noe had to wait. Maybe Noe did find something and was taking a bit more time. Maybe Ria should take a hint from her humanity and be a bit more reliable. Ria pulled out her Ripper. She dipped the hooked tip into the nook where the building met the sidewalk. She pulled— making a tear so thin and delicate it would take months before it got big enough to warrant attention—then sheathed the blade. Almost as if it had never been pulled in the first place. “What are you doing?” Ria jumped at the voice and whipped around. Noe stood at the other end of the alley, hand on her own Ripper. It was too dark for Ria to read her cousin’s face. Instead, she pulled her Needle. “I just found a thin tear,” she said. How much had she

seen? “You’re late.” “I’m always late.” “How long have you been downtown?” “Not long. I started at the pier and there was nothing there.” There really wasn’t; she’d made sure of it last time. Noe didn’t speak. Is there

where everything falls apart? Ria stitched her own tear as quickly as she made it, Noe silently watching. When she finished, she turned. “Should we go?” For a moment, Ria thought that no matter what Noe had seen, she would forgive her. They would go back to their game of pretend and let their habits play out until the next incident came. But then: “Why do we keep coming back to 257, Ria?” “You’re the one that brings us here.” “This isn’t your life.”


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Volume 44, Number 5

PAGE DESIGN BY CATHLEEN WENG ARTWORK BY EMMA MOHRMANN

It was Ari’s life, Ari’s Charleston, Ari’s Gran. Ria laughed. “Of course it isn’t. No one here even knows me.” Ari knew lies and masks and drunken hazes. In the entire multiverse, it was just the two Stitchers. No matter how desperate they were to prove otherwise. “No one,” Noe repeated. Ria couldn’t answer before the door slammed open and Ari stumbled out, heels in one hand. “Twin-twintwin,” she sang before spotting Ria and crashing onto

her. “Lipsticks and watches for us.” Ria scrambled to hold up Ari as she also tried to find a lie for Noe. “No one at all...” Noe said. “I can explain...” Ria said. “...except her. What is she…” “...she’s obviously drunk…” “...my replacement...” “...and it’s crowded. Contact is inevitable…” “...or your puppet…” “...I couldn’t just leave her…” “...or your delusion?” “....This isn’t what I wanted.” “That makes two of us.”

Ria felt it all at once: Ari slipped from her arms, the watch’s heart stopped, and Noe ran. Quick, like shadow, blending into the crowd faster than Ria could pick out. Ria’s senses felt too slow. Stumbling and sloppy and slow, street after street, crowd after crowd, she was too far behind, until she found a tear, and she jumped through, and it spit her out at the pier right beside another, so Ria jumped again, and again, and again. No one considered what would happen if Stitchers preferred their Ripper to their

Needle, if they saw more value in tearing than stitching, but Ria now knows that they should have. That after jumping tear to tear to tear, frantically searching for someone who was always too many rips ahead, someone should have warned them. Or maybe they once did and when there were too few Stitchers everyone just gave up. What did it matter if someone made more holes than they closed? If one Stitcher desperate for a home started ripping apart a city for excuses to come back? If a second one went on a frantic ripping spree trying to

escape the lies of the first? If all their tears finally connected? If an entire city vanished overnight? If the city and a Stitcher both fell because of one wanderer’s selfish desires? Ria knows the answer now.

Mina Quesen loved the Nassau Weekly because it had roots stretching beyond just one dimension.


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March 27, 2022 PAGE DESIGN BY TONG DAI ARTWORK BY CHLOE KIM

“The voice shifts subtly, almost as if it’s mimicking my own.” By EVA VESELY

I

wake up to the remnants of another reclusive night. The taste of stale chips lingers in my mouth, a bitter and reproachful mucus coating my tongue. A book hugs my chest with a certain weight that, in the moments before I fully wake, reminds me of a baby’s head. I believe in the company with such zeal that I commit my subconscious to the child’s steady breathing on my neck, the tender memories we share. As soon as I shift under my covers, the hard binding burrows into my armpit and I understand that I am alone. Yet, a muted presence lingers in my room, a pair of underdeveloped eyes filtering the sunlight like webbed skin, a placental red squinting at me from a hidden corner. “Hey, bub.” The book topples off my chest, its pages splayed open as if it’s been pinned to my hardwood floor. I become aware of my heart in my chest, tripping ahead of my thoughts. No one has called me that since the last time I was home, all those years ago. “Yeah, you. Don’t think I can’t see that pack of chips in your bed, you slob. You got crumbs all over your covers.” My eyes roll around the

womb womb room, trying to locate the source of the noise. For a moment they land on the photograph of my mother. I had put it on the nightstand after driving down to her house last month. It was the only thing I claimed, left the rest for my siblings. “Not that it’s much of a loss. When was the last time you did your laundry? What’s that stain over there? Yeah, that one, by your knee.” For a moment, the voice is unmistakably hers, possessing that same shrill, demanding timbre that haunted me even after I finally moved out. I look down at my left knee, give the bug bite on it two scratches, and look back up again, this time to the houseplants underneath my window. The tips of their leaves curl upwards like a smirk, mocking the planes of dusty sunlight pouring in through the smeared glass. “I was just snacking.” My voice is insubstantial, barely audible. Yet the response still comes, the words pressing against the walls of my skull. “Yeah, I’ve been decaying here for a while now. I know what just snacking looks like, and this ain’t it. Those maternal instincts of yours are really going haywire, huh?” The voice shifts subtly, almost as if it’s mimicking my own. I notice that it sounds vaguely muffled, as if its owner is teething on a piece of cloth or speaking from inside one of the lemons on my lemon tree. The tree is barely that at all.

It reached up to my hips when I brought it home last year and refused to grow with an ornery stubbornness. Surprisingly, though, the lemons grew to be about the size of small breasts, their color nauseatingly vivid, their rind taut as if they were on the verge of bursting. I’d been waiting a few weeks to finally pick them. “I don’t have maternal instincts,” I speak again, the sentence like a seed I slowly push

through my pursed lips. There is no answer. I try to pinpoint which lemon is hollowed out, study each one individually for signs of quivering, pulsing, swaying with the sticky breath of whatever inhabits it. I wonder whether the humidity inside tastes acrid or sweet. I contemplate the presence of teeth, worry the acidity is wearing away at their enamel. My clock throbs

mechanically. My walls sigh, their ancient structure swelling with a newfound breath. Outside, a neighbor’s wind chimes bustle awkwardly. The lemons remain still — as if thinking of a response. The Nassau Weekly topples off Eva Vesely’s chest, its pages splayed open as if it’s been pinned to the hardwood floor.


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Volume 44, Number 5

contrasts BY

“stars and stripes / color the flag of my birth country / and I am found buried in the pages / of its history” By ALEXANDRA ORBUCH

After George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From” I’m from bookshelves towering like the skyscrapers lining the horizon of my city-bound childhood a menagerie of blinding lights hordes of unwanted tourists flashing cameras on sticky summer streets

Gridlock piercing honks a blur of pressed suits concrete punctuated by a smattering of green Now, though, I settle on a street that whispers palm trees swaying to its quiet song white roses drinking in the sun’s radiant milk I’m from the smooth tip of my lead pencil I line the wrinkled pages of a dozen notebooks I am found beneath the scrawl in the margins

But I am also found beyond words in silence in the meditative rise and fall of my breath in letting go of internal chatter in gently shutting my eyes into a darkness of peace

ALEXANDRA

stars and stripes color the flag of my birth country and I am found buried in the pages of its history connected to a past my ancestors took no part in I come from all of life’s most beautiful contrasts

I’m from the hilly suburbs of Romania and the once vibrant cities of Poland before the war From my grandmother’s steaming scarlet borscht and my great-aunt’s golden kreplach

PAGE DESIGN BY TONG DAI ARTWORK BY HANNAH MITTLEMAN


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Volume 44, Number 5 PAGE DESIGN BY VERA EBONG

early to eat breakfast. She reminded herself she would still eat breakfast no matter the time. She got herself out of bed by 8 AM. Then she went to the bathroom and took a long pee she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.

“Then she got a glass of water, because really, it was almost 8:45 AM, she must be thirsty by now, and hydration is very important.” By LARA KATZ

Content warning: eating disorders hat if I told you you could eat as much as you want?” “Okay.”

“W

“And what if I told you you should eat as much as you want?” A pause. “Okay.” “And what if I told you you must eat as much as you want, like there’s no tomorrow?” “Why?” “Because if you don’t, well—” A pause. “It might be a lie to say there won’t be a tomorrow. But there will be fewer of them.” Another pause. “And we both know you know that.”

The longest pause yet. “Okay.” Becca cried herself to sleep and awoke very early in the morning. She felt like she hadn’t even slept, even though the clock told her that eight hours had passed. “I slept,” she consoled herself, and got out of bed. Before she even stood up she understood how incredibly hungry she was. But it was so early… too

Downstairs she encountered her dog. It was early enough no one else had walked him yet. She felt so hungry she ate her two gummy multivitamins before putting on his leash. On the doormat she dallied; did she need a coat? There was still snow on the ground. It didn’t matter what temperature her weather app said it was—sometimes it was warm out and she shivered like a hypothermia patient and sometimes it was cold out and she sweated like a pig. She put on the socks that lay crumpled by the doormat (her dog had been gnawing on them yesterday), stuffed her feet into sneakers, and went outside. It was not so cold that she regretted skipping the coat. Her dog did his business very quickly. It was 8:12 AM when they returned from the walk.

Becca remembered: it was time to eat. She fed her dog first, two flat scoops of dog kibble and one rounded scoop of wet food. Then she opened all the cabinets and all the drawers and the fridge and all its drawers and the freezer as well because, despite having decided already the night before what to have for breakfast, she now felt indecisive. She decided to start by making hot chocolate. (But the decadent kind, not the unsweetened kind.) Becca was determined to do this right. First she poured in enough white chocolate chips to cover the bottom of the biggest mug she could find. Then she filled the kettle and put it on. Then she felt bad; she needed more chocolate chips than that. She poured in some more and six more than she had intended to add also fell out of the bag. Becca took a deep breath. This was right. She spooned on two fat tablespoons of cocoa powder. While the kettle heated up she danced around and made cooing noises to her dog, who had already


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Volume 44, Number 5

devoured his breakfast and was now lying catatonic on the couch. When the kettle whistled she poured in just enough hot water to cover the cocoa powder and white chocolate chips. She had promised herself in advance she would pour no more than the quantity absolutely necessary to dissolve the cocoa powder and melt the chips. This no

more than the quantity absolutely necessary turned

out to be more than she had estimated it would be, or at least the mug already looked half full. Were her hands shaky today? She acknowledged in words spoken in her head that yes she was hungry but no her hands were not shaking, the kettle was just big and her wrists small and weak. And she reminded herself that the upper half of the mug contained considerably more volume than the lower half and also that most of the volume in the lower half was already filled by white chocolate chips and cocoa powder, which she should congratulate herself about, because she had really put in three tablespoons, not two, given how big her spoonfuls had been—not that this was really worth delineating as a victory, because cocoa powder is not so impressive beside white chocolate chips.

She got out one of the teaspoons but one of the wide-mouth ones, not one of the narrow-mouth ones, which seem smaller and therefore less terrifying but are in fact also still teaspoons (so she couldn’t tell if this was a victory or not too). She stirred the white chocolate chips and cocoa powder and boiling water very vigorously, until it was all as well-combined as it was going to be. She had somehow thought it would be possible to make the mixture completely smooth and homogenous but white chocolate chips don’t work that way. She stopped at last when the mixture was mostly homogenous and very creamy. She took the skim milk from the fridge. She was supposed to drink two cups of cow’s milk per day; she was starting off strong. (There was no whole or reduced or lowfat in the fridge for her to feel ashamed about not drinking in lieu of the skim milk.) She poured the milk into the milk steamer

somewhere between the minimum and maximum line and she didn’t look to

see where, this was a victory, steamed it, danced around a little bit while the steamer made its funny choking noises that she knew it made because she

didn’t know how to use it properly, but who cared because the milk always still got steamed, and then she poured it carefully onto the mostly homogenous mixture in the big mug. She poured it carefully because she wanted the foamy part to sit on top and not be deflated. She cleaned the wand of the milk steamer, emptied out the little tray underneath it, and wiped the heat sensor. Then she took the tray back out and rinsed it because she knew it was the right thing, what if there was a bit of milk left in the tray that sat out for days and days and soured and smelled awful? Then she rinsed out the metal milk steamer cup and put it in the dishwasher, which was halffull of dirty dishes. Then Becca returned to her hot chocolate. She acknowledged that the hot chocolate needed just a little bit something more. She got out the cinnamon and shook some on top. Then she found a chai spice mix and hesitated. She put the chai spice mix back even though it was near its expiration date, because she really didn’t feel like chai spice, and she was acknowledging that preference, which was perhaps also a victory. Instead, she shook on some turmeric—because


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March 27, 2022 PAGE DESIGN BY VERA EBONG

turmeric supposedly helps with immune function, or hormonal function, or something, which she didn’t really believe, and she’d just chosen turmeric because it was pretty and she actually really did think it tasted good. Then she very, very delicately swirled the top of the hot chocolate in such a way that the foam was not deflated but the spices were swirled into the white milk foam in an appetizing manner. Then she took a photo—because it was pretty. Then she got a glass of water, because really, it was almost 8:45 AM, she must be thirsty by now, and hydration is very important. Then she sat down with her reading homework, realized the morning sun was too faint, and got back up to turn on the kitchen light. It was a cloudy morning; even though her weather app said it was above freezing there was hardly any sunlight and therefore the remnants of snow outside were still not melting and while walking her dog she’d had to be careful of slipping in case there was ice because she knew, she knew all too well, that if she fell she might not just fall, she was a young woman with old woman bones, the scan had told her so.

Becca reminded herself that looking normal wasn’t an indicator of anything and bodies don’t get memos of percentiles and weight ranges being technically, say, just greater than an official quantity of 18.5, the unit of which was irrelevant to everything and everyone except, perhaps, a statistical chart, and she had fought hard to not have to take statistics in high school so she had no clue what that meant, anyway. She drank some of her water. About half a glass. Then she sat down with her reading homework and her hot chocolate masterpiece and reminded herself that if she didn’t drink it now, the foam would soon all be gone and it would be cold and she was cold enough that she didn’t want to drink cold chocolate. If she had wanted to drink cold chocolate she would’ve just poured a goddamn glass of chocolate milk. Becca took a deep breath and scooped some of the foam off the top of her hot chocolate with her wide-mouth teaspoon. It tasted damn good. She had forgotten what sweetened hot chocolate tasted like. She reminded herself she needed to really consume this, all of it, in not

too long a timeframe, because she was supposed to take her slow-release calcium pills at this time and if she didn’t have it in a reasonable timeframe, then the slow-release calcium pills might not realize she’d eaten, that is it wouldn’t qualify as taking the pills with food, and her cortisol levels might rise and her hunger might also rise, and her body might still think it was in terrible, terrible danger. Well, it did think she was in terrible danger, it had been thinking that for a long time. But she was ready to calm it down. She was trying her hardest to calm it down. By the time Becca finished the hot chocolate, and three glasses of water, she had even sipped some of the mostly homogenous mixture straight from the mug (which was the biggest mug she had been able to find), and therefore not just from the short end of her wide-mouthed teaspoon. She reminded herself:

This is a victory.

She was right, it was a victory.


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March 27, 2022 PAGE DESIGN BY JASMINE BERGER

HANNAH MITTLEMAN

CARTOON CAPTION CONTEST WINNER

“Just consider the angle of the shot. Oswald couldn’t have acted alone, you know what I mean?” —Daniel Drake ’24


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