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september 2015 / vol. 1, issue 2


I

In high school, the song “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes pervaded teen girl culture. Justine sang it in the shower; Hazel pretended to despise it in public, but privately scoured YouTube for bootleg versions from when Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos’s romance was real. Love it or hate it (love it), we couldn’t get the ubiquitous line “Home is wherever I’m with you” out of our heads. As we’ve grown, we’ve expanded our conceptions of home. We’ve made new homes by going to college, traveling, branching out in new states and countries, and finding people who, yes, feel like home whenever we’re with them. Both of us have spent the bulk of 2015 away from the places we grew up in, across countries and continents, and chose this theme as an outlet for the complicated feelings that arise from aging out of our old surroundings. In this issue, our contributors explore their own interpretations of home, and how those change as we age. We dedicate this issue to our families, friends, and everyone we tell “Ugh, I miss you so much.” —H&J September 2015

Staff: Editors-in-Chief

Hazel Crampton-Hays & Justine Goode

Production Editor Justine Goode

Special Thanks to Braudie Blais-Billie, Yvette Chen, Zoë DePreta, Hannah Gold, Alison Kronstadt, Corinne Miller, Margaret Miller, Isabella Pizzo, Dyeemah Simmons, Sasha Solov, Vida Weisblum, Emily Wilkerson


in this issue Wherever I’m With You, by Isabella Pizzo

Unlearning Home, by Yvette Chen Country Roads, by Emily Wilkerson Cruisin’: Songs for Driving, by Hannah Gold The Small Screen, by Corinne Miller Abroad City, by Justine Goode Open Window, by Braudie Blais-Billie we 3, by Sasha Solov σπίτι μου, by Dyeemah Simmons

Reminders, by Alison Kronstadt Where the Heart Is, by Vida Weisblum Staying Home, by Zoë DePreta Ebb and Flow, by Hazel Crampton-Hays Chartreuse, by Margaret Miller

Free Cake for Every Creature: An Interview, by Hannah Gold So Long, Summer, by Hazel Crampton-Hays


wherever i’m with you By Isabella Pizzo

H

ome is a big idea made up of little moments. My daughter and I eat a lunch of mac and cheese in our underwear on the floor of the kitchen. We steal bites of each other’s candy bars, which are our dinner, as we are hours into a bad sci-fi movie marathon. We hold each other before drifting off to sleep, treasuring those last moments together before we wake up to do it all over again. For my daughter, I know what home is. Home is a good boob. I am absolutely positive that there is

nothing that pleases her more in the world than my boobs. For many people, home could be described as the place you have your Amazon packages sent to automatically. In my case, however, this would be my mother’s house, and that statement would be horrifically untrue. This leads me to ponder what exactly “home” means to me as a woman and as a mother. There is a home within my daughter’s words; the


way she deliberately sounds out “mama” when she is excited, devastated, terrified, or just remembers that she has the wonderful ability to make loud noises. It is those two small syllables that I crawl into when I am feeling worthless. The relationship between “mama” and myself is irrefutable. I am her mama. This is a fact. And in that fact I purge my sadness and bury it until there is nothing left but that bouncing, bright word reminding me of all that is good. That is home. There is a kind of home sitting in a pile of clean laundry that you know you need to fold, that you tell yourself you need to fold, but you damn well know you are not going to fold. Surrounded by the warmth and cleanliness, I sit there some days in the eye of the laundry storm, like a poor Sylvia Plath metaphor. There is home on the floor of the YMCA, where many women have knocked me on my ass during roller derby practice. That home is a necessary one: finding something you love and fiercely throwing yourself into it with no hesitation. Home is knowing you can work a screwdriver, rock a tutu, and do anything you could dream of. I watch my daughter play with both very often, never favoring one over the other. There is beauty in strength and strength in beauty. Her body and her mind are powerful, and I will make sure she knows this forever. Looking into my daughter’s eyes is home. They are green, like my own, but a whole different shade and depth, completely personal and unique to her. She will have far greater and different ambitions than I will, she will do bigger things than I ever could, and that is the true goal of parenting: to raise someone who is better than yourself. There is a home in my daughter’s two bottom teeth, which are the only ones she has right now. She smiles bigger and brighter than anyone I have met, and she has only been on this earth for a year. I do not think that is coincidence; the world has a way of making us forget how to smile like our whole head is going to split in half. I pray she never loses that smile. There is a home spread out in this newfound patience I have with myself and with my daughter. From it pours love and acceptance that I never thought possible, and it either laid dormant within me until her birth, or grew

Home is a big idea made up of little moments. softly and steadily alongside her. I will never know, and it does not matter anymore. That love, acceptance, and patience are here now forever, and for that I am eternally grateful. Home is in the way my daughter’s body, tensed like an adult’s, melts into my shoulder, relaxing the way that only I can make her by warbling “Hey Jude” softly into her hair, until she is ready to be laid down to sleep. There are days where I feel like a planet, slowly rotating while the world moves around me, with a tiny blonde moon revolving around me faster than humanly possible, making weird animal sounds, trailing drool in her wake. And then I realize what is actually happening: she and I are both planets.We are steadily and silently revolving around each other. We are in sync, forever and permanently connected. It is indescribable, being a mom. I was not planning on writing about my daughter for this piece. But every time I saw my daughter after beginning to write, the words exploded out of my mind faster than I could type. She is a continuing source of inspiration and frustration. Ultimately, I cannot even say that my daughter is “home” to me. Home is within myself. I am home. And she is my moon; always there, always spinning, like a ballerina with her tutu on, screwdriver in hand. m


unlearning h by Yvette Chen

I

loved suburbia for a long time. It was all I knew—falling asleep to crickets chirping outside my window, helping my mom hang up shirts on the clothesline, waiting for the yellow school bus each morning. When I went to college, I became slightly embarrassed about my upbringing—one that felt sheltered and stiff compared to the cosmopolitan lives of my counterparts. But I still maintained a love for my hometown, looking forward to coming home and feeling the wind in my hair as I biked past farmers markets and public libraries. The last few years have been a process of unlearning, especially as I have pursued an interest in housing policy. To me, housing is a natural manifestation of injustice, and working on policy is an avenue to address racial and economic segregation, the increasing domination of business interests, and an overall fracturing of society. In school, I learned about the exclusionary policies of the suburbs pushed by federal, state, and local governments. Historically, government subsidies for suburban developments lured white Americans out of cities into privileged and exclusionary enclaves. Suburbs adopted restrictive covenants or contracts that legally prohibited African Americans from white areas. Redlining and block busting preyed upon racial stereotypes to promote segregation. I tried desperately to hold onto the virtues of the suburbs from my own upbringing. There is no doubt that the disturbing history of suburbia is inexplicably tied to American “values” and culture. However, I argued to myself that my New Jersey town, which hovers around 50% non-white, was different. And anyways, I lived on the edge of town, surrounded by cornfields, far from the classic image of conformity. When I began working at a public interest law firm dedicated to fair housing in New Jersey,

my bosses mentioned their fight for developing affordable housing in my hometown. Again, I was forced to confront my conceptions of home and suburbia. I vaguely recalled proposals for a rental-unit complex in high school. At the time, a close friend told me that this would bring crime and overcrowding to our high-performing schools, a sentiment that has proven to be untrue when affordable housing is constructed thoughtfully. The exclusion that occurs in New Jersey is preposterous and largely invisible. Serving to preserve affluent communities, New Jersey housing policies prioritize zoning for large, single-family homes, which makes it nearly impossible to accommodate for a mix of housing types and residents. This falls along racial lines, but is typically veiled by inaccessible and technical rhetoric gaining little attention. In the rare


ome occasions when it is not, it is clear what lies beneath the veil; last year a councilman warned that re-zoning for mixed uses and incomes “could totally change the complexion” of his town. “Isn’t our town so nice?” my mom asks me on a recent visit home as we drive past vast swaths of cornfields. My mind turns to the values of naturalism and individualism that suburban homeowners often purport. Can they really be separated from the stereotypes, stigmas, and fears that fostered earlier housing decisions and development patterns? I think about my friend telling me that welcoming renters would make my town a “bad area.” I think about the mayor who proposed fulfilling the town’s affordable housing obligations in

Trenton where he says there is more need, an argument incongruent with the fact that the town’s new Amazon warehouse buses workers in from Trenton each day. It is uncomfortable to change your conceptions of something you are raised to take for granted, especially something as close to home as home itself. Behind the bucolic landscape, I see the town I grew up in as part of a larger system, one that is explicitly designed to exclude deserving members of our society. It is only when we challenge our deep-seated views and thoroughly investigate troubling histories that we can begin to wake from the slumbers of complacency. m


By Emily Wilkerson

W

hen I think of home, I think of driving. More specifically, I think of going into treecovered mountains, seeing them appear indistinct on the horizon and eventually meeting them head-on, impossibly verdant in the spring and summer, yellowgold in the fall, and snowy white in the winter. Growing up in New York’s Capital Region, this landscape captured my imagination. They mountains and hills surrounded me, and I felt their safe, constant presence even in my suburban neighborhood, but the best place to get a sense of their scope was always the road. Over the years I learned that these mountains extended in three directions, cradling the river valley where I grew up. To the north are the Adirondacks, home to the country’s largest state park, where I learned to hike and camp and peed in the woods for the first time. To the south are the Catskills, cut through by the Hudson River and dotted with farmland, where family friends milk cows and grow produce of all kinds. Driving east, I go into the Berkshires, where on one wintry day, I was overcome with emotion upon hearing a particular line of “Sweet Baby James.” It’s only driving west, to college, to my extended family, that the ground is relatively flat and bare – unsurprising then that this stretch of road seems more like a no-man’s land, an empty stretch between two familiar places.

But before I went to college or listened to James Taylor or even knew the name of these mountain ranges, I visited them on various family drives. With my one of my parents at the wheel I would fall asleep in the backseat and awake to the sight of them, the great leafy guardians that, more than my parents assurances or road signs saying “X miles to Schenectady,” told me that I was where I belonged and home was close by. For a long time I didn’t think any place would ever feel more like home than where I grew up. Where else could I find a landscape that felt like a companion? Where else could I feel stable and oriented even in motion? Then about a year ago, I fell asleep on a bus, coming back from a weekend trip to Berlin. I woke up from my nap, looked to my left, and tried to process the forest rising up beside me. In my sleepy confusion, I wondered if I was back in Upstate New York. I turned to my right, and saw my friend, still sleeping in her seat. I pulled out my phone and opened Google Maps, hoping it could remind me where I was. In the minute it took my phone to tell me I was in Thuringia, “The Green Heart of Germany,” I had completely woken up and solved the mystery myself. I was on my way to Munich, where I’d been living for over half a year, nestled in the mountains, going home. m


— Hannah Gold Illustration by Leann Skach


illustrations by Justine Goode


L

et’s all admit that television is actually good for you. Forget what your parents said as you stared like a zombie at Spongebob trying to make his way from Rock Bottom back to Bikini Bottom. “You’re rotting your brains away,” your mom would say. “Go read a book.” “Hell no, this is important,” you would say. Or “Five more minutes.” Whichever. Your eyes widened with hope when a red lobster shaped bus came into view for rescue (was that a lobster?). Your heart plummeted into your stomach when SpongeBob missed the bus because he was trying to get a candy bar (but also, you understood). You laughed with glee when his knight-in-shiningweird-fish-lamp-head ended up speaking English the whole time! This show had you on the edge of your seat. Or maybe that was just me. My love for TV started around the age of 0 and has blossomed throughout the years into a healthy relationship akin to that of crack and any human who has done crack more than ten times. Television is more than just entertainment for me. I fall in love with fictional places, plot lines, and characters. I even find myself taking on their personalities, and have been told on multiple occasions that I remind people of Michael Scott, Phil Dunphy, and Gary the Snail. TV acts as a blanket of comfort and vehicle for adventure. I can lose myself in the drama of vampires, cartoon burger chefs, or office paper suppliers, and their problems become my problems. They’re just a click away on Netflix or Hulu or Amazon. They’re the families that never leave me. People say that home is where the heart is. Well, my heart must be stuck in a television, and I have no intention of getting it out. I’ve taken television with me across the globe. I can make any place my home as long as I’ve got a computer with internet, or at least a computer with a disc drive and all 10 seasons of Friends. I’ve lived in villages in China, dorm rooms in Northern California, “Centers for Education” in Rome, ovens disguised as houses in Washington D.C., and my real home in Los Angeles. Each place I associate with a television show that I wasted my nights and early mornings watching.

In China it was New Girl, last quarter at college it was The Mindy Project, in Rome it was Ugly Betty, and this summer it’s been American Horror Story. I’ve watched too many shows in my twenty-one years of existence at home to count, but I associate Los Angeles with all of them. Do I regret spending my time in these amazing places blinding myself with a bright computer screen? Yes. Would I do it again? Probably. I found myself in the characters I watched. I witnessed my complete lack of social ability as Nick Miller moon-walked himself out of awkward encounters. I saw my adolescent desire to be white and skinny and my eventual appreciation of being brown and curvy in almost every word Mindy Lahiri spoke. I found ambition to follow my dreams in NYC through Ugly Betty, and most importantly I found a boy whose face I wanted to make out with in American Horror Story (shout out Evan Peters). People often come to me with concern, saying I’m not spending enough time with friends. I look at them with a confused stare. “What do you think I’m watching?!”

“TV acts as a blanket of comfort and a vehicle for adventure. I can lose myself in the drama of vampires, cartoon burger chefs, or office paper suppliers, and their problems become my problems” But the real point is that TV doesn’t ruin your life, despite what your parents wanted you to believe when you were ten. It understands us more than anyone. It comforted me when I left the US alone for the first time and felt homesickness every day like a kick to the stomach. It understood and made me laugh when I experienced heartache for the first time at college. And again abroad in Rome. And again when I came back to college. It’s a source of relief in any new place you explore, and gives you the courage to explore new places. Like a warm hug at the end of the day, it makes any place feel like a home. m


F

inding a new home is a little bit like creating a Horcrux, minus the murder and Dark Arts. Bear with me. Once you connect with a place—be it a city, a neighborhood, a building, a bed—it inevitably becomes, in some mysterious and vital way, a part of who you are. And that really is a pretty magical experience: walking the same street a hundred times, becoming a regular at your favorite coffee shop or bookstore. Memorizing the cracks in a ceiling or recognizing the squeak of a door. Knowing exactly what your town looks, sounds and smells like at different times of the day, and in different seasons. Earning that sense of familiarity and comfort. But it’s painful, too. Because inevitably, if you have more than one place that you call home, you’re going to feel split. You’re always going to feel like a piece of you is simply not there, wandering elsewhere, thriving and pulsing without you. Most of the time, you might not even be aware that anything’s missing, until one day it strikes you without warning, and disparate, vivid

memories come flooding back. I have three homes/Horcruxes now: Los Angeles, Oberlin, Ohio, and Paris. The latter is the newest and certainly the most unexpected. I moved to France to study abroad for the spring of my junior year, and ended up staying through the summer. I really don’t want to be that person who claims to have, like, “found themselves” during their time abroad, when in reality most days were spent eating Nutella crepes, drinking 3 euro wine and rampantly posting about it all on social media. So I’ll be honest: my French-speaking level still rests somewhere between adequate and abysmal. I’ve gone to see the Mona Lisa approximately seven times (mostly under duress, but it still counts). I take pictures of the Eiffel Tower on every possible occasion and wear shorts in public. In short, I do a lot of things your average Frenchman wouldn’t be caught dead doing. I have no pretensions that I am passing for a Parisian— but I don’t want to sell myself short, either. Over the past seven months, Paris really has become


illustrations by Justine Goode

my home, due in part to an instant connection with its dreamy, laid-back atmosphere, and in part to active effort. During the semester, my friends and I made it a point to scope out every corner of the city we could. We rode every metro line—pink, yellow, or purple if we were lucky, and green, brown or light blue if we were not— and pounded the pavement. I always forced myself to walk somewhere if I had a little extra time, trying to earn my knowledge of the streets, memorizing each curve and sign that I passed by. I felt a rush the first time I was able to direct us from Point A to B without glancing down at Apple Maps. I basked in visiting friends’ compliments that “You seem so in your element here!” as we wound down tiny alleys and across busy avenues. Gradually, I was able to create my own routines and rituals, making it a point to return to my favorite coffee shop day after day, earning free drinks and eye rolls from the baristas who watched me pore over French homework for hours (and where I’m actually writing this essay right now). I grabbed a pain au chocolat from the same boulangerie every morning and ate it while listening to Missy Elliot and waiting for my 10:30 metro. I had a small, warm community of friends that grew as the semester went on, yet I could step onto the street or into a subway car and be completely unknown. As long as I didn’t open my mouth, no one knew who I was or where I came from. I felt blissfully autonomous and anonymous. So Paris slowly became a home, but more than that, it became the first home I got to choose for myself. As the end of the semester approached, I realized that, actually, I didn’t want to leave. I decided to get a job as an au pair, and began a monthslong search to find a family to work for. I traipsed to all corners of the city doing interview after interview (which in itself was an eye-opening, if condensed look at how others create homes in Paris). Eventually, I found one. I was staying. After I finally moved in to my new apartment, lugging my bags from Rive Gauche to Rive Droite, I felt an unexpected sense

of accomplishment. Even though I had disrupted my original plan—to go back home, do a summer internship, see my family right away—and found this crazy alternative, everything still felt right somehow. I was surprised: when my friends’ time was up, they had been very ready to leave, citing aggressive cat-callers, sketchy wifi, and inferior Mexican food, among other reasons. But when May 17 passed—the day I was supposed to fly back to LA passed—I had no regrets. I had no family, no school, no safety net, and my remaining friends were trickling out of the country one by one. But I still had the bluish grey rooftops, and the bushy green trees blossoming by the Seine. Right now, at the end of it all, I’m not sure how much I really belong here. My brain is tired and my tongue is clumsy. My other homes have started to pull me back with weirdly specific, mundane memories: eating baked beans off Styrofoam plates at a Fourth of July barbeque, waiting in line for the Revenge of the Mummy rollercoaster at Universal Studios, the way Ohio smells after a rainstorm in June. I’m anxious, and I feel like I’m very slowly and uncomfortably being rejected from this country. But everywhere I look, memories collect in layers, piling up on one another—on street corners, by the river, in cafés, in parks, at metro stops. They all blur together, and it’s impossible to feel too sad. Paris welcomed me continuously—its buildings, its bricks, its rooftops, its river—every day letting me know I should stay just a little bit longer. I will miss being surrounded by its warm, ancient beauty, and moving invisibly through its streets, feeling more and more each day like a small part of the city’s pulse. In Paris, I just existed. And I think it’s there—when you no longer have to think about your surroundings, but can simply be—that you’re home. m


open window by Braudie Blais-Billie

I

t isn’t very often that one experiences complete silence in a city. These moments must be savored with a ceremonious cigarette out the window. Miami, New York, London, Paris. People famously complain about the noise of traffic and nightlife in these metropolis landscapes, and it’s generally true. But what isn’t as true is the idea that your problems stick to a certain area code, that moving around will keep you away from the tribulations of every day life. You can travel to all the different capitals of the world and still find the same kind of loneliness, the same kind of crippling self-doubt in the back of a dive bar clutching a Heineken. Olivia panicked at the bar, ordering a Heineken with a “knowing smile” because she had seen it in the movies so many times. It wasn’t the first time she had come to this place, but it was the first time she had done so alone. Take another sip and fade into the background. She fucking hated Heineken. A few months earlier, Olivia lost her wallet after blacking out. Though the first half of that Saturday started off painfully clear, it ended with hazy memories of kissing a faceless woman, throwing money at a taxi driver, slurring French, and eating a stale baguette in the kitchen at 5am after somehow finding her way home. “You were so gone,” Cathy said the next time they met, sipping Cokes at a sticky bar table somewhere downtown. Olivia’s eyes shot down to her glass. She looked up, grinning half-heartedly. “Yeah, how crazy was that night? I can barely remember anything. Hey Maxie, did you know that Cathy is from Philly?” The three girls were close to shouting over the music as sweaty bodies slid past their chairs on the way to the dance floor. A Britney Spears song just came on. “No way, you know I’m trying to go there after I graduate. My ex boyfriend wanted me to move to Arizona with him. But I was like, fuck that! I hate the dry heat.”


Olivia stared at Maxie as she enunciated her words like a golden-age movie star. Maxie’s hands bounced up and down with her words, saturated in a dark, heavy Latin American accent. It accompanied her jet-black hair, glowing brown complexion, and impossibly strong sense of self. Her eyes were dark, darker than Olivia’s, and moved almost with anxiety between each face. She wore dark red lipstick and nothing else on her face. “Well, glad that’s over with,” Olivia exhaled, rolling her eyes. She wanted to reach out to Maxie, reassure her with a touch of the hand that she had made the right choice in dumping his ass a few weeks earlier. “That’s what I like about Cory. He’s not trying to get me to agree to things about the future. He lets me do my thing, you know? And he never criticizes my politics or preferences. I know that’s such a baseline to being a decent person, but Cory really does let me do my own thing.” Olivia sucked on a piece of ice. “I know, I’m so happy for you two.” It was a sorry attempt on her part to bring Maxie to a lesbian bar to meet her lesbian friends. It didn’t matter that they got drunk together and Maxie confessed that she “may also like girls”, because within days of breaking up with her controlling boyfriend in the States, she was with a new guy. The worst part was that Olivia had always encouraged it because she knew how much Maxie secretly liked the new guy. And of course, he worshiped her. “Philly is my hometown, I love it to pieces,” Cathy exclaimed, “but I see myself going to school in the U.K. So much cheaper than the U.S.” “Oh my god. Don’t get me started on that,” Maxie giggled, throwing a glance at Olivia. “I’m just happy to be studying in Paris this semester.” They danced a little, talking a bit about lesbian drama and body language as they bobbed along to the DJ. At the end of the night, Olivia was invited to a club by a desperate group of friends, but Maxie and Cathy declined the offer. They ended up walking slowly to the bus stop together, complaining about straight men. Three months later and Olivia was still in Paris, working a remote internship and surviving off the money she earned bartending. She had a closet of a studio to herself in the 18th arrondissement. Most of her friends had either voyaged back to America or were traveling. So naturally, she found herself watching Netflix in bed, spooning cereal into her mouth while absent-mindedly thinking about how she could be working instead. It was her last weekend in Paris. She checked Facebook between episodes to find a message from a woman working at the club she had been at the night she lost her wallet. The night she blacked out with Cathy. Votre portefeuille est ici. Tu peux venir quand


vous voulez pour le ramasser. “Holy shit!” she mumbled out loud through a mouthful of muesli. Someone had actually found her wallet after all this time. She sat up, reread the message, then opened another tab and Googled the club’s hours. Sunday: CLOSED Monday: CLOSED Tuesday: CLOSED Wednesday – Saturday: open from 11:00PM until 5:00AM Because she was leaving Paris Wednesday morning and needed her driver’s license for her job as a camp counselor in California (why did she agree to driving the van?), Saturday night was her only option. She checked the time: 11:30PM. Against her better judgment, she went through the motions and scrolled through her contact list, seeing if anyone willing to spontaneously adventure into a lesbian nightclub would answer a text. That hope quickly faltered when one of the two friends in town replied with a flat out “no thanks.” The prospect of putting on clothes and braving the metro to arrive at a club, solo, made Olivia grimace. She had resigned herself to becoming a hermit, fusing with the pillow and the keyboard as the Parisians outside her apartment celebrated la joie de vie. She looked in the mirror and noted her greasy bangs and dark-rimmed eyes. Maybe she could put on a little makeup. Maybe she could make a night out of this tortuous task, get a cheap drink at the dive bar then pop over to the club to fetch her wallet. Who knows, she could even meet someone to accompany her. Olivia threw on a pair of ripped jeans, a black tank top, and blow-dried her hair. She religiously applied pink lipstick, then lip-gloss. “It will be fun,” she said to her reflection in the mirror, an almost chant to convince herself of this decision. “It will be fun.” After spending fifteen minutes awkwardly nodding her head to horrible dubstep, Olivia downed the frothy remains of her beer and surveyed the room from her corner table. Beautiful girls, older women, men with impeccable style. A few dared to make eye contact, but that was all. Should

I dance next to a group? Should I try talking to the next person who passes by? Olivia felt like an alien, a foreign species integrating with the larger herd, a sick experiment with onlookers in white lab coats. She rolled a cigarette with shaky hands, preparing to leave the bar defeated (alone, like she came) and complete the night’s mission. She smoked her cigarette and looked down. At least three drunk men approached her asking her name or for a cigarette to spare. “Sorry, no more. Sorry, I don’t speak French.” She just didn’t have the energy. The club was crowded, but Olivia managed to track down the bartender who messaged her. A couple more creeps, a long metro ride, and then back to the comforts of absolute solitude. Back at her studio, she immediately opened the window and began rolling another cigarette. The minute fumbling and concentration was therapeutic, as was the nicotine rush to the head to clear her thoughts. That wasn’t so bad, right? She searched her brain for the positivity, the gains of the night. But what if she really just had a shitty night of being terribly alone? She rested her chin on the windowsill, watching the smoke curl up towards the iridescent glow of the almost-full moon. She thought about what it would be like if Maxie was with her right now, if she didn’t have a boyfriend. She thought about the months she had spent in Paris and the growth she felt as an individual, but also about the small shrinking feeling in her gut when it came to nights like these. Nights like the night she lost her wallet. The streets of the 18th arrondissement beneath her were awfully quiet. The silence filled her lungs as she exhaled clouds of apologies to the dream— Olivia who would never be so afraid, so far from home. m

Photo credit: Braudie Blais-Billie


we 3 i wish to think of us three generations of women as women passing power to one another sharing stories snippets of childhoods and choices of living moving migrating, mouths so thick with our mother tongue that sometimes here we feel we cannot open them of adapting and not adapting many of my stories come second-hand i often see and hear each of you through the other and i vaguely remember my small self through you both as we pass each other into one another’s hands soft, steady unsteady hands ­— Sasha Solov


σπίτι μου


σπίτι μου (SPI-tee MOO) means my home in Greek. Halfway across the world, in a culture I knew little about, I found a home. σπίτι μου. In the sunsets; the students I taught; the artwork they shared with me; the food and wine I savored; the incredible beaches of Χαλκιδική (Halkidiki); the many Greek words I could not pronounce; the friends who felt more like family. Dyeemah Simmons worked as an Art Fellow at Anatolia College in Thessaloniki, Greece through the Anatolia College Fellows Program for the 2014-2015 school year. 


Reminders

I am always coming home to myself. Triumphant return or last resort, I am inescapable in my hereness. I am here in love with my fight song heartbeat, in love with the sunrise curve of my stomach, in love with the way the circles under my eyes say “Resilience doesn’t have to look beautiful to be beautiful, and neither do I.” Last night I fought sleep in terror of bad dreams that already came true. Last night I tried to outrun myself. But today peace was faster, and she caught up to me. Today we walked towards my destination, too tired to be anything but grateful. Resilience doesn’t have to look beautiful to be beautiful. I do look beautiful, though. Even when I feel like where I’ve been, I look like where I’m going. I’m going home, to a body that I love because and despite, a body that is constantly teaching me that hope, not fear, is the inevitable thing. ­— Alison Kronstadt


Vida Weisblum


staying home by Zoë DePreta

I

think my mom is amazing. I cannot remember a single milestone for which my mother wasn’t present. She has looked out for me in every way and has still maintained her own life. But despite all of these things, I was never interested in having her life. I have always been encouraged to go to college and work towards the top of my career path of my choice, neither of which my mom did. First wave feminism has taught me that being a stay-at-home mother is not okay. I grew up valuing what my mother did for me but not realizing how important her job was. I appreciated her, but was told I “could do better.” As I grow older, however, I’ve become more and more aware of what an impact her work has had. I’ve come to the realization that my mother could have done anything. She’s taught me so much and is a jack of many trades, but has chosen to be a mother before anything else to my brother Duncan, my sister Kati, and me since she was 25. My mother grew up in Flushing, Queens with her single mother who was a teacher in the New York Public School System. She would visit her mostly absent Colombian father somewhat frequently throughout her childhood, but it was mostly just her and her mother. At 25 years old, she became unexpectedly pregnant and her entire world changed, but she knew motherhood was her destiny. After supporting herself with various part-time positions, she seems to have gotten the stay-at-home mom gig down. Throughout my life, she raised chickens, became a


beekeeper, is a certified Bradley Method of Childbirth teacher and doula, paints, cooks meals for families with dietary restrictions, among many other things. My mom and I talk all the time. I take pride in how close we are and how easy it is to talk to each other. Based on all of the conversations we’ve had over the years, I was able to piece some things together, but the following was an enlightening conversation for me about handling money with or without a partner, what it’s like to be outside of the workforce in a society where it’s looked down upon, and motherhood in general. Zoë DePreta: Ready? Laurie DePreta: Yes. Oscar [the new kitten] too. ZD: Oh good. Okay. First of all, hi Mommy! I apologize in advance if these questions seem weirdly formal. LD: You're weirdly formal. ZD: That’s fair. Back in '87 when Duncan was born, were you planning on being a stay-at-home mom? LD: I became a massage therapist with being able to be a mom in mind. I was single when I got pregnant, and was planning on getting a nanny and working part-time. ZD: Did you actually get a nanny and work part-time? LD: No, [my first husband] Jim stuck around and the situation no longer warranted that. Once the reality of motherhood hit me, I realized I couldn't really handle it alone. ZD: I know you've worked various jobs throughout our lives, but how long were you a massage therapist? And how many hours a week was part-time? LD: It was never full-time. I only worked as much as I needed to pay the bills. When I first got licensed, I worked at the New York Health & Racquet Club, which only paid $11 an hour I think. Later I worked for myself, so I made a lot more. $50 an hour. Remember, my rent was $200 a month [laughs]. ZD: Wow, your rent was $200 a month and you were living in New York City?

LD: I only paid $400 for the apartment Duncan was born in, but when I lived there with [my roommate] Honor, we split it. It was this fabulous huge studio apartment with closets and a kitchenette. It was really, really nice for that much money on North Moore St in Tribeca. But think about it. If I made $50 an hour, I would only have to work a couple of hours a month, really. I worked probably a couple of hours a day. It made sense to have a baby and you just leave for 2-4 hours, and then come back. You could still be breastfeeding and not need to leave a bottle for them. ZD: Speaking of money, people often think of having a stay-at-home mom is a financial privilege, and that they can be a financial strain. But watching you my whole life, it seems to have been a money saver because you were able to provide for all of us more than my friends’ moms who were working. You could cook us dinner, things like that. What do you think? LD: Well, I am like Miss Home-Ec, right? I always made everything, decorated, and painted every room, so I am really not the norm when it comes to stay-athome moms. I was never not interested, even though I wasn’t earning a salary. I was always interested, engaged, doing courses, learning new cooking things. I like to create things and paint. You never had a bored stay-at-home mother, and that really is the danger, thinking “Ugh, I have to stay at home”, you know what I mean? I think that if you frame it properly, it can be just as fulfilling in that regard. But back to money, I like to cook and make things from scratch. I don’t do a lot of takeout. Takeout is expensive, as you as a newly released human being are realizing. ZD: Released from the prison of our household? Yeah. Well, you’re very crafty, have a lot of things that you do, and a lot of hobbies. You have a degree in massage therapy from the Swedish Institute; you do reflexology, which you don’t need a license for. I’m thinking about the classes that you’ve taken throughout my childhood. So you took beekeeping, became a Bradley teacher, and you took Italian lessons. Beyond all of those things, have you ever thought about going back to school to get a college degree or something? LD: Well, you guys have gone to colleges that seem very interesting to me because you didn’t have to do classes that I would hate [laughs]. The whole idea of going to college for me is if I had to do requirements, that wouldn’t be interesting to me. I have no interest


in doing any kind of math. I don’t need a degree. In my circle with yoga and reflexology, I meet a lot of people who don’t have college degrees and have very interesting lives and just didn’t do that part of it. ZD: It’s just become such a norm. You have a car and stuff, so you’re not physically isolated, but have you ever felt isolated? LD: Oh yes. I think that all new mothers feel isolated. When you first have a baby, everything changes. You’re isolated because you have to change your ways; you have to be on baby schedule. Your friends change because your single friends are not interested in your baby talk. You have a different focus in life. That transition is very isolating. When I first had Duncan, I was the only one of my friends who had a boyfriend,

let alone a baby. I was 25, so all of my friends were like “career, acting, writing,” all the artsy stuff that I was surrounded with back then. They didn’t know what to do with me. So then we moved to Santa Cruz, CA where I didn’t know a soul and I didn’t have a car. I lived at the end of a lane with three houses. So I was really isolated. It was horrible [laughs]. We only lived there two years because the big earthquake [in 1989] and I was done with it. ZD: I brought this up with you earlier, but statistically more stay-at-home moms are Latina, and more have a high school diploma or less in terms of degree. Do you feel like either of those parts of your background feed into where you are? LD: No. Not at all. I always knew I wanted to be a mom. Always. I was not a school person, so that just wasn’t going to happen. Watching [my mother] Granny go through school for all of those years turned me off. She was in school my whole upbringing. She has two Masters degrees, and I was around for her Bachelors because it took her forever to get everything because she was a mom. It just seemed like ugh, I would never do that! That seems like torture to me. Even though she wanted to do it. I really got an education from having such an academic mom and life. She was constantly taking me to very highbrow things and we had all these books around the house. I lived in a really low brow, blue collar neighborhood but she wasn’t like them, so I was kind of isolated from them too [laughs]. ZD: Most of our Colombian family has stay-at-home moms or working moms; I guess they’re all different. And you had a single mom. Do you think that your relationship with Granny influenced the way that you parent? LD: Yes. I think my mother was a fantastic mother. She was really devoted and thinking and psychologically aware. She really loved me and I always felt very loved. The idea that she worked fulltime made me never want to do that [laughs]. I really wanted her around much more. I envied those kids in elementary school who walked home from school for lunch and their moms had a sandwich waiting for them. Sometimes when they came home from school, there would be clothes that their mom bought while they were at school waiting for them on their beds. ZD: That’s what you used to do!


LD: Their moms knew their size! My mom never knew my size. I did it because I thought that was a cool thing. Was it cool? ZD: Yeah, I loved it! So, do you ever feel judged by people for not really going into the workplace? If so, by who? LD: Yes. Well, in Connecticut, there are more working moms than in the other places we’ve lived. I have felt a little judged by that, but once they find out all the stuff that I do, then it’s not like that anymore. That’s the thing, I don’t have time for a job. That’s always been my motto. ZD: Do you feel appreciated? LD: I do, actually! By my kids and your father. You guys never roll your eyes at me! ZD: What are the best parts of being a stay-at-home mom? LD: [pause] I think because being a mom has a funny schedule, you never know what’s going to happen. You never know who’s going to be sick, who’s gonna be up at night. There are challenges. When you live with other people, you have to deal with them and be there for them. If I had to get up and look nice with makeup on, and everybody packed and ready for school in the morning but somebody was up throwing up all night, how could I possibly pull that off ? I don’t know how these women do it. It really is amazing to me. When I was little, Granny had her mother living with us so there was a built in babysitter for years. I also saved a hell of a lot of money on medical bills. I did it all. Nobody went to the doctor. I like having control. Maybe I’m a control freak. Am I? ZD: I don’t know. That’s probably where I get it from. What’s the worst part of being a stay-at-home mom?

LD: Not having your own money. I don’t like having an allowance as an adult. ZD: Yeah, that sucks. Okay, final question. So now that Duncan, Kati and I are all pretty much moved out, what’s different? LD: Well, I work a lot. Three days a week I work 8-4 or 5 at a garden. It’s a beautiful, magnificent estate, and I get to weed. I know other people think it’s kind of horrible but I kind of find it meditative, although my finger really hurts today. Days fly by! Sky is blue, weather is nice, I get a little sunburn. On the weekends I cook for a family for which I make all of their meals. They’re paleo, gluten free, and dairy free. I also do a vegetarian meal for every day. I also do reflexology whenever people request appointments. I want to phase more into that. During the winter when the garden goes away, I would like to have 4-5 reflexology appointments to make up for the garden. I also get to go to yoga a lot more often. I have a big empty upstairs that I don’t want to deal with. I also don’t want to pay a cleaning lady to clean a place no one lives in. But it seems like Dad and I are busier now. I don’t really know why. Maybe you guys interrupted us and then we had time to interact with our loved ones. And now we’re just running around on the hamster wheel. m


ebband


dflow By Hazel Crampton-Hays

I

excel at hyperbole. But for all of my dramatic declarations, I know two things to be true: Squam Lake is my favorite place in the world and my dad is the best person I know. My dad’s side of the family has been trekking to Squam, a small lake in the greenest part of New Hampshire, for either forty years or over a century, depending on how you count it. Weeks at Squam have helped me grow and learn, with help from my father’s unyielding patience. My dad taught me how to swim in the shallows by our cabin, a tough feat for an anxious, athletically uninspired bookworm. Hours and hours of begging me to swim more than a couple feet a time with an imploring “Swim to me! Swim to me! You can do it!” refrain were somehow worth it to him when I finally gained the confidence to leap off the edge of the dock, letting the inky depths of the lake swallow the sounds of my shrieks. When I was in eighth grade, I decided to join my middle school’s tennis team, despite being one of the worst tennis players my WASP side of the

family has ever seen. Patiently, my father spent hours throwing tennis balls at me, gently correcting my grip, and cheering when my racket miraculously collided with the ball. “Nice shot!” he’d say seemingly sincerely, as the yellow ball went careening far, far away from the court and got stuck in a tree. “I’m so proud of you,” my dad said consolingly after I failed at yet another athletic attempt, whether I huffed and puffed my way up the mountain, paddled the wrong way in a kayak, or whacked my grandfather in the head with a tennis ball. “I’m so proud of you because you tried.” This summer was different. In April of this year, my dad suffered a massive stroke. I was in Barcelona at the time, lamenting an awkward run-in with an ex, when my mom butt-dialed me on the way to the hospital and everything instantly changed. My dad’s new life is incredibly trying. He struggles to walk, talk, or do anything the way he used to. His therapists give him hours of work to do each day, from picking up beans to following


a pen with his eyes. Stroke victims struggle with impulsivity in their recovery. My dad doesn’t understand why he can’t have five scoops of ice cream for dinner or go for a walk by himself even though he lacks control over his gross motor skills. My mom has to read over any text or email before he sends it because he possesses about the same level of impulse control in texting as I do after a few too many shots of tequila. He can’t be left alone to do anything except take a shower, and even then my mom gets concerned after about five minutes. My mom is my dad’s primary caregiver, which is an exhausting job that involves fifteen hours of doctors’ and therapists’ appointments a week, watching everything he eats and drinks to make sure it doesn’t affect the medications he’s on, and constantly babysitting her life partner. Because of a combination of distance, disconnect, and denial, I didn’t have to fully engage with the immense changes my father’s mind and body had undergone until we reunited at Squam. I volunteered to spend some quality time with my dad, to help carry my mom’s immense burden but also to selfishly assuage my own guilt about being absent in my dad’s care. At dinner, my dad proudly brings a plate of spaghetti he served himself to the table and promptly loses control, letting the whole mess of carbs slide onto the ground. I spring into action, picking up the spaghetti, running to get him a new serving, wiping down the floor, all with a Stepford Wife smile. I reassure my dad that everything is okay but the look of shame on his face destroys me. I swallow the lumps that gather in my throat and let them sink to my abdomen, where they thud against each other when my body shakes with fake Stepford laughter. On the courts, I spend what feels like ages throwing tennis balls at my dad, getting too excited any time his partially paralyzed right hand can make his racket come near the ball, let alone hit it. I feel myself turning into a parody of an overly peppy aerobics instructor, cheering “You got this! Nice shot! Way to go!” when he swings and misses. I become so overwhelmed when my dad miraculously hits the ball that I nearly burst into tears from pride. In the lake, my dad wears so many stabilizing floating aids that he seems twice his size, but his fear makes him shrink. He hesitates to move more

than an inch at a time, and I become manic in my encouragement, like a first time babysitter who is too desperate to be liked. “Swim to me! Swim to me!” I call in a nursery rhyme voice, grinning widely. “You can do it! Swim to me!” My dad doesn’t want to try swimming. He’s scared. Suddenly, I have a flashback to the role reversal many years earlier. I immediately plunge under the water, letting the inky depths of the lake disguise any tears that began to form. I emerge and continue my possessed cheerleader routine until finally, he takes a deep breath and shoves his body forward into the embrace of the lake. He can’t swim well but I’m so overwhelmed I can’t control myself. My emotions zigzag up and down far more rapidly than the tide, and I have to remind myself that this isn’t about me. I am not a parent. I am not a caregiver. I am a daughter playing dress up. Desperate to be useful, I enthusiastically applaud my dad’s progress. “I’m so proud of you! I’m so proud of you because you tried!” My dad gives me a half-smile of acknowledgment. This is probably because he can’t control the right side of his face, but he may have noticed that roles have somewhat switched. Later, I float aimlessly on the water, letting the waves carry me far away from the dock. I find peace in letting the lake control my movements as it ebbs and flows and I bob up and down. The shore erodes but the tide never changes. Squam Lake is still my favorite place in the world. And without a doubt, my dad is the best person I know. m


Margaret Miller


by Hannah Gold

O

n a sticky morning this July, I called Katie Bennett, the woman behind the band Free Cake for Every Creature. Katie’s songs have a bedroom feel. Lines like “If you drew a picture of my face, it wouldn’t look like me at all. You don’t know me at all,” are intimate and conversational, smart and simple, matched with catchy guitar, and sometimes clapping or the banging of Katie’s shoe. She celebrates her friendships, the women she admires, the time she needs alone, and the highs and lows of new love. As a twenty-one year old myself, Katie’s growing pains strike a chord with me, and the vulnerability of her early twenties is reassuring. Sometimes lonely, often love sick, always honest, Katie has felt like my friend all year. She is relatable without being trite, raw without dismissive selfdeprecation. It was unsurprising, then, the ease of hearing Katie on the other line. Unpretentious and thoughtful, talking to her made me wish that much more that we were real life friends. Hannah Gold: In a lot of your songs you talk about your own relationships directly. Some of those are romantic, I think, and some are not. A lot of women and women artists get a lot of shit for talking about their own feelings and relationships in their songs, and get written off as overemotional. Is that something that you think about or worry about as you write these songs? Katie Bennett: It’s definitely something I think and worry about a lot. But ultimately, I’ve come to the conclusion that I like listening to songs in which women talk about their relationships and can talk about them in an honest

and even confessional way, because it makes me feel like I’m listening to a friend, or someone who trusts me enough to tell me these things, and that makes me feel less alone, and recognized as a person. Everyone has their own things, and their own feelings, and if they don’t hear anyone else talking about them, then they’re not going to talk about them themselves. They’re going to keep it inside, and they’re going to feel bad. HG: Cool, yeah. Do you usually play the songs for the people they’re about? KB: The people I wrote them about are usually always around me [laughs] so yes. HG: Is that something you’re conscious of while you write the songs? KB: I try not to be. I mean, I think about it, but I try to separate real life from the art. HG: In your song, “Heroines,” you talk about men getting a lot more credit than women, and then list the women you admire. What qualities do the women you most admire have in common? KB: They aren’t afraid to talk about what’s going on in their lives, in their relationships. They aren’t afraid to talk


some of our music twee. It’s just a reiteration of a lot of those concepts, maybe to a lesser degree. HG: What is your wildest dream for Free Cake for Every Creature?

about their feelings. They aren’t afraid to talk about their bodies and how they aren’t perfect. They aren’t afraid to be silly and weird, and to not be feminine all the time, or traditionally feminine. HG: Can you talk about twee culture, and what that is? KB: Sure. People throw around that word, “twee,” a lot. But the way I learned about it was I was really into twee music from the late eighties and early nineties. It’s just classic pop songs in which people, in maybe like an exaggerated way talk about their feelings or just explicitly state, like, “I love you so much my heart could burst!” And Sun. And Butterflies. It’s an exaggerated way, but it’s also a really radical movement because people were like [laughs] “How embarrassing! They’re singing about their feelings, and they’re gushing about love and, oh no!” So many people thought it was just so terrible [laughs]. But I just love it. The songs were willing to embrace love, and embrace sadness and to just put in all on the line, but within the context of music that was generally uplifting, even with the juxtaposition of sad and jangly guitars. It has the message that even if you are sad, this is a celebration of that emotion, and an indulgence in that emotion, and a recognition that it’s normal and it’s human, and it’s going to be ok. I think that to take the term “twee” in the context of today’s music, twee music… I guess Quarterbacks are considered twee, or Frankie Cosmos. I would consider

KB: [Laughs] Oh man. My wildest dream? It’s always changing, honestly. At first it was just, oh my gosh, I’m playing music, and oh my gosh, I’m doing it in front of people now, and it’s so cool [laughs]. And now, I don’t know. I mean, I’ve always wanted to be a pop star [We both laugh]. I have a lot of dreams, but probably my number one would be just to make songs that I’m so happy with, and that I feel like I’m really having fun with, and trying new things. Most importantly, being honest with my lyrics. HG: Cool, well you’re there, right? KB: Yeah, and I keep doing that I guess. I keep doing my thing. HG. Cool. Last question: Especially as someone who started playing on the later side—you started playing guitar when you were twenty, right? KB: Yeah, twenty, twenty-one. HG: So what advice would you give to people, especially women, and especially women who are starting a little later, who want to start a band? KB: Just to know that it’s going to be super hard [laughs]. But also that you will get better. Just pick up the guitar as soon as possible, and everyday you’re going to get better, it’s going to be really exciting, and it’s so worth it. It’s going to be totally amazing in no time, but it’s going to be hard at first. m


UGH MAG | ISSUE 2  

Vol. 1, Issue 2

UGH MAG | ISSUE 2  

Vol. 1, Issue 2

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