Wack Mag 01: Transitions

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by Lydia Prendergast

and in my memories like these, i find moments wrap around my fingers, soothe my nervous palms and steady my shaking hands, venture up my aimless arms and straighten an unsure spine, lessen the tense buildup surrounding my shoulders, pile around my worn shoes (the ones you always liked) the loop repeatedly, like yarn uwntangling its knitted nature beneath my nail beds, stringing before my lenses transforming— and in moments like these, i find my memories sort your adoring features into a neat box only to discover the surplus has overflowed and kaliedoscope threads cascade from metal tips of needles through every crevice­­ of my worried forehead, appease the tangling of my peeling cuticles paint each nail different rainbows (each one you always loved) and pull with gravity to my feet, worn laces double (triple) knotted as we transform the repitition into self prophecy Art by Magdalena del Castillo




by Cece Meddock

My girlfriend wants to have sex, and I also want to, too. But she’s experienced and I’m not, so I’m worried I’d be bad at it. I feel like I should be super confident since I’m the “top,” but I’ve never had sex before so I’m nervous. I don’t think she would, but I’m a bit scared to talk to her about this from fear of her maybe thinking less of me. She knows I haven’t had sex before, but I’m nervous to tell her I’m nervous.

If you trust each other, it would be helpful to have a conversation about boundaries and roles before starting to have sex. I know this might sound intimidating, but you’ll both feel so much better about your relationship and moving forward afterwards! It can even be through text, if having the conversation in person seems too overwhelming. Your nerves are totally natural, and it may be difficult to avoid them, but there are reasons to stick it out and have those uncomfortable conversations. I think naming your anxiety can be very helpful in uncomfortable situations with trusted people, and helping your partner acknowledge and understand your feelings is the first step toward the larger conversation about sex! I have a boyfriend and have always dated boys. I’m basically scared of girls because I feel like I’m not experienced, and they’re confident and beautiful. I’ve always known I was bi, but I keep having these thoughts like “maybe I don’t like boys, maybe I just like girls,” but I like having sex with boys? I’ve gone down on girls before and got head once, so maybe I also like sex with girls, but I’m not entirely sure. Is it possible I’m just having these thoughts because I’m in quarantine and I’m socially and physically deprived? But how do you ~know~? I feel like I’m lying to my boyfriend if I really like girls but just like sex with boys. I like my boyfriend though. What do I do about these thoughts? I know I can like whoever, and I don’t need to label myself, so how can I come to terms with how I feel? How can I gain confidence when talking to girls? (It’s easy for me to talk to boys bc I usually see them as pretty low, maybe that’s bad to say.)

It sounds like you may be experiencing what is called compulsory heterosexuality! I’m not here to label anyone or force you to label yourself, but I can speak from personal experience when I say that a lot of your experiences and feelings towards men are similar to what I felt before realizing I am a lesbian. I highly recommend researching the “Am I a Lesbian Masterdoc.” It’s a wonderful jumping off point of answering that question, and whether the answer is yes or no: good for you either way! Finding out if you AREN’T something can be as meaningful as finding out you ARE something, and however you get there, you’ll get there!

A Lost Romantic by Jasmine Cheek

I romanticize my life so much that I’m not sure it’s mine I want to feel everything. I don’t do anything. the variety of life exhausts me; but I hate wasting time, I wanna live alone but I don’t want to be lonely. I think my heart’s been broke 1,000 times and I’ve never been in love.

I h a v e n o i d e a wh a t I ’ m d o i n g. Jealousy is a disease. I’m not getting well soon I think I’ll always feel this way I hate it. I don’t know if I have bad luck Or if I’m a bad person. All I know is that I wanna write words that mean something to somebody The truth is: I’m really scared Because I don’t know what I’m doing.






The emptiness I felt while living in Berlin was like nothing I had experienced before. Even though my days were filled with friends, späti beers, lake trips, and dinner parties—the loneliness was so overwhelming at times it felt like a void in my chest. I tried everything to get rid of it: I walked, I ran, I danced, I made myself busy. I made sure I was always surrounded by people, thinking this feeling was from a lack of contact with others. I frantically Tinder dated, searching for anything— love, friendship, any sort of connection to lift me from this vacancy. But nothing I did could shake the feeling.

So I left.

I moved 635 km away. I journaled and walked and walked and walked. I sat with myself and nobody else.

And finally the loneliness moved on.

These photos are from that period of time in Berlin.


“It’s illegal to be a nudist,” Ella Jepsen, apparel design major at Rhode Island School of Design, reminded me. She’s right; you do indeed need to be clothed, at least in public. But getting “dressed” can mean a lot of different things. For Game of Thrones star, and personal icon of mine, Maisie Williams, it means a pleated skirt, leather jacket, flared wrist cuffs, and a chic black mask; but, for my earth science professor, it means a short sleeve button up and khaki shorts. Clothing is essential, yet it is art, and art welcomes interpretation.

I hopped on a Zoom call with my cousin Ella in May of 2020. She’s someone who I didn’t see much growing up, but when we found ourselves both at college in the Northeast, we started seeing each other more. Ella wore a chunky, brown sweater and had a “Crisp Apple” Angry Orchard cider in her hand. I was wearing a thick, brown sweater and had, you guessed it, a “Crisp Apple” Angry Orchard cider in my hand. We laughed about how similar we looked, but also how we were not surprised because in the few years we had gotten to know each other better, we realized we were incredibly alike. Ella grew up in Crestone, Colorado—population of 146. Crestone has character; it has gorgeous scenery, strong spirituality, and is home to a very talented artist. My mom loves to tell me about the first time she ever visited Crestone: “We were driving down a dirt road and a real-life tumbleweed blew across the road, followed by a three legged dog.” Ella remembers always wanting to be a fashion designer. She told me that when she was just six years old, “My mom had this big hamper full of scrap fabric that she would use for making quilts, and I just dove in it. I took a pair of big silver scissors and just started cutting out this poncho-thing and I was like ‘Mom! Look how great this looks!’ and she just said ‘wow.’” 17

Ella once made a dress out of a trash bag and wore it to school. This made me laugh because it makes perfect sense. I can so easily see her big, glossy eyes and wild, wavy hair paired perfectly with a very fashionable dress, only slightly resembling a trash bag she stole from under her mom’s kitchen sink. Fashion is something that is a part of people’s everyday lives. But when you start to look at it as a profession, you begin to question it more deeply. Ella told me that growing up it was more of a creative outlet that she simply had fun doing, which still resonated with her, but what’s changed is how she questions it. She says there’s “this whole other element that has come to surface, which is ‘what do you want your clothing to say, what do you want your clothing to do.’”

Questions are what keep her moving as an artist, which is something we can all channel in our own work. “I think art is meant to be questioned and I think that fashion is an art form and we should question why we’re doing it, why we’re making it, why we’re wearing it, what it’s saying, and how a certain cut of something says something more than a different cut or neckline or silhouette.” Questions are how something grows. They are how we grow. If we are always so sure of ourselves we will never make changes or challenge ourselves. When we start to question what we are doing with our lives, whether we are actually happy, or actually a good person, we become in tune with what we genuinely want, who we genuinely are. The same goes for art —there are just fewer consequences. But, asking ourselves what we want our art to accomplish is how it grows. This idea brings Ella to sustainability. 18


Growing up she spent a lot of time in the mountains and has “had a lot of fun going out and foraging.” These experiences growing up have informed her artistic process. She is inclined to do it all from scratch, “like picking the wild berries and the wild roses and flowers and experimenting with what shows up on certain fabrics and what doesn’t.” Ella got really excited talking about natural dyes: “Okay, natural dyes are super cool,” she told me. And I trust her. “I love the idea that you can just milk the colors from the earth and you can just take things that are around you and use them. And, in doing so, you’re not affecting or polluting the planet at all, which is so great.” I asked her about some of her favorite materials for dye, and she explained that you mainly need your p r i m a r y colors. So, for red she has been using madder r o o t p o w d e r. She had to buy that one online because, unfortunately,

she said “I can’t like forage tree roots from that tree.” Turmeric for a bold yellow. Indigo for blue, or red cabbage, or black beans, but indigio is ideal. This also helps her be more sustainable in her own home. She said, “I’ve been finding all the things I can reuse again as dyes, like black beans. If you have beans that are leftover you can use them to make a blue dye or coffee grounds—I save all my coffee grounds, I save all my onion skin. And it’s this wonderful thing, like you can do it even before you compost them to give them a second life again.” She plays with these vibrant colors on repurposed fabrics: old shower curtains, clothing scraps, and bedsheets. The patterns she achieves from rust, petals, roots, and produce is unreal. You almost can’t believe they are derived from such natural sources, but at the same time it is the only explanation for such grounding colors. The fashion world is not perfect, which can be discouraging. Ella doesn’t always love the world surrounding her art, but that is why it’s all the more important to have small, slow, purposeful, fashion designers like Ella Jepsen. “I love that idea of making something that is so nice, special, and one of a kind that you can’t buy it in fast fashion and it really becomes a part of your closet, a part of your identity, something you want to wear and love. I love that idea of just having treasures that you can continue to wear over time.” As our conversation transitioned from art to how we were hanging in there, I thought about how I can’t wait for the day that I can have an Ella Mae design in my own closet, but I must be patient. The day will come when I can buy a piece from her and hang onto it forever, knowing that it was either repurposed from existing materials or came straight from the earth.


stares at his nude self in the bathroom mirror. He runs his fingers from his neck down his chest and over his breasts. They’re gentle, fragile, moving across his skin as if one wrong touch would break him. He isn’t a porcelain doll; he isn’t a doll at all. His wide hips mock him from the base of an hourglass figure. There’s a frown on his face as his hands lower down to his thick hairless thighs and he bends over to cradle his knees. He doesn’t hate his body, he tells himself. He hates what it’s missing. He picks up a piece of fabric from the floor. This item has become his best friend in recent months. It looks like a grey crop top, but it compresses his breasts to his chest to imitate pecs. He pulls the tight fabric over his head, struggles to get his hands through. The fabric is trapped around his neck and he tries to catch his breath. Anxiety that bubbles in his throat. What if this time he truly gets stuck? How humiliating it would be to call for his mother, shirtless, and struggling with an item he knows she despises. With one hand scrambling under the spandex to find the curled bottom edge, he tries to yank his other hand through. He struggles. Eventually, he gets there. He shrugs on a pair of boxers, jeans and a t-shirt. It’s summer and the sun boils in the afternoon sky. There are many things he wishes he could do, but without support, it’s nearly impossible until his 18th birthday. His mother looks up at him from the dining table as he walks by downstairs and calls him by a name which no longer has meaning to him. She uses pronouns that make his stomach flip. It’s 1:17 p.m. They leave to run her errands: return a dress at the mall, buy water-softening salt at the depot, stop at the Kosher market for meat. Conversation between them is nonexistent. Too many conflicting views lie between them. For one day, maybe they can go without an argument over who he is. Mother believes that she knows best but she doesn’t know him as well as she assumes she does. She isn’t the one in his mind; she doesn’t get to hear the dysphoric thoughts that run untamed. He wonders if she would listen to them anyway or would ignore them like she does to his pleas for support and love. As they drive, he stares out the window of the moving car. People pass by on the streets, carrying beach chairs and pails as they walk towards the shore. Men are shirtless and no one gives them a second glance. Men like him can’t walk shirtless. He hasn’t gone swimming in the past few years; can’t stomach the thought of wearing a bikini and if a damp binder is bad—a wet one is worse. One day, he will swim again and the only stares he’ll be subject to will be focused on scars across his chest. She tells him he must grow out his hair for his aunt’s wedding—a cisnormative ideal that defines the flower girl as a giver of nature and beauty. He didn’t want to be the flower girl—not because he doesn’t like his aunt, or hates flowers. It is the idea of all eyes on him, querying his form or his looks as he walks down the aisle. And he didn’t want to give his mother the idea that one day, he’d be the one in the white dress to follow the fallen petals. He wants to stay away from the family that preaches inclusivity, yet never practices it. The Torah is hypocritical like that, and they are dutiful followers. But the word “no” does not

pass his lips. He is too scared to say otherwise. Conversation goes dead like the end of a dropped phone call. Both sides hear static. He retires to his bedroom as the day lulls over. The walls are still pink from when he was younger. Despite asking to repaint them a more neutral color, both of his parents have said no. He has never been given a reason why. One more year until he can live his life the way he was meant to, wanted to. He told his parents he was a boy. They told him he couldn’t be. He smiles, as the day finally comes to rest and he’s able to feel the relief of taking off his binder. He loves it, loves how it turns bumps to pecs. But, god, it hurts. However, the pain is worth it. People say beauty is worth pain, but he knows masculinity is too. Summer days come and go. They are grey, like his binder, and boring, like his time. The heat wraps around his little town and suffocates it. He’s the one suffocating the most, but no one notices. The weather does not share solace for the boys out there, like him, where heat of the sun beats down on them, with no relief. The end of the season comes, but at the end of each day, his thoughts overpower the negativity which holds him back. Back in the mirror, he looks at himself again. His fingers rub across his smooth jawline and cheekbones. One day, this will change. He folds up his binder and coughs to release the fluids that may have built up in his lungs. This is what he does to be comfortable. Dangerous, yes, but it’s little of a sacrifice compared to his confidence. This world is dangerous in and of itself. Wearing a binder is not more dangerous than walking across the street. Both can lead to broken ribs. Though, being trans is the risk he takes every day; to love himself, to fight for his existence against a society that says “no.” He wonders when people will understand, he and so many others, just want to be happy in their own skin. He sighs, continuously waiting for a better future. He falls asleep to dreams of a future where all mentions of him as “she” drift into the sea. He wades into the ocean, the waves licking at his flat chest. If he could wish them goodbye, he would. His old name and pronouns soon turn to mist. And he hopes that one woman out there, like him, who needs these catches them and loves the name he never could.


Life Itself

by Faith Bugenhagen

Transition is not the right word because it doesn’t feel like there will be a start or stop, to what I am feeling. And maybe, transitions are not marked by a start and a stop, but they are. There needs to be a point to which the change starts and the arrival towards the destination comes.

have the day planned, I feel so desperately void of purpose and alone. I can not simply be, within myself and by myself, without anxiety creeping in. I hate feeling as if I am not allowed to be lost in myself and my senses.

That is not what I am feeling. Maybe the best phrase for it is, “lost in translation.” I feel lost. Lost in what I feel, how I am, and who I am becoming. I think the scariest thing about life, is that we are never actually supposed to feel alright. The goal of this existence is not to get it perfect; it is to allow all the experiences and emotions wrapped up into time, to allow for fluctuations in feeling and thought. This notion is supposed to comfort us, but it just makes me feel lost. Dying is arguably the only thing in life that we do not have to try to do. We age and time passes and when time is ready to let go of us, it does without hesitation. Breathing gulps of air and muttering regrettable goodbyes, the air beyond us carries to what comes next. Actively living takes so much work, and it is making me so tired. Nobody wants to talk about it, at least so it seems. I have bared witness to the careful constructions of our consolidated lives; the lives we shared online and in person. “Yes, Sandy the kids are doing amazing, off to Clemsvon in the fall.” “Yes, we have been together for two years, we are so happy.” “Living there was so beautiful, I felt so at home, I just moved to get out of the city.” Tidbits of conversations and filtered-fascinations, lead to a pressure to performatively live. I feel it every day. If I do not know who I am spending my morning with, I panic; if I do not

I hate this pressure to perform, I hate this pressure to be. I think this transition into wanting all of what is expected of me, is slowly killing me, rotting the insides and my now-hallowed brain. I have no sense of identity and no sense of security, because I can no longer pinpoint what it feels like to be me. The funny thing is, is that this should not be all negative as it seems. This is just my transition into reality. The reality is that life is just a jumble of equal and opposite reactions that cloud together to create a sense of purpose in every individual who experiences it. There is a cause and effect, but only to an extent, and because I am so tiny [in the grand scheme of things], I have little to no control over it. It is not about existentialism, though. I think it is just about accepting and appreciating this sense of being “lost in translation.” I am so starkly and nakedly lost. It is me growing into a reality I had never seen coming. I am very alone right now in my life; a lot of changes have undergone to bring me to a sense of utter and utmost questioning. All of everything has a negative undertone, but these statements I make, because it is reality. We are so scared to talk about parts of ourselves and our existences, when there is no silver lining and when things are just bad. But where does that get us? Stuck in a place where our lives are forced to be palatable for other people. Living for other people is simply far worse than being lost. I rather be lost and pay the price of trying to piece myself back together, no matter how hard it gets, than to ignore the beauty and intricacies of this life.





w a s i didn’t know i had a moustache until a boy in my seventh grade science class told me i knew i had dark circles i didn’t know they bothered anyone else until a boy in my sixth grade english class told me i knew i had hairy arms but a boy in my seventh grade history class reminded me i knew i had stretch marks on my hips i didn’t know they were unnatural until a girl in my eighth grade gym class told me i knew i had hairy toes but i didn’t hate them until a girl in ninth grade pulled at the hair to see how long they were i was told that girls didn’t have hair on their faces on their arms on their toes i was told they didn’t have hair and if they did it was supposed to be blonde how dare i look like my abuela

t o l d not me i’m trying to buy it back to remind it that it was made for me it loves me in turn, i’m trying to love it back i wasn’t told to start loving just for me but nonetheless I did i decided to i chose to love it i choose to love it because it is a fact it is non-negotiable it is inescapable until i fall back into the earth it will be my home i must treat it kindly and remember not to rent it out

i was told to hate the body i lived in i was told to shave it, hide it, monitor my every move i walked with my head looking down at my shoes to hide my upper lip i wore concealer under my eyes as to not offend those around me with my biology i wore long sleeves to cover my arms i stopped wearing flip flops but no matter how much i shaved no matter how much I cried no matter how much i imagined a life without it no matter how hard i tried to escape my body it all grew back or it simply sustained, remained the body is a fact the body is non-negotiable the body is inescapable when i started liking it again it was because i was told to i was told by boys that my body was nice to hold i was told that my body belonged to others it was at the service of others i lived for others i loved my nose because my dead aunt couldn’t love hers i loved my hips because my mom always longed for an hourglass shape i grew out my pits for Gloria Steinem i grew out my moustache for Frida Kahlo my body belonged to those of the past




Triptych by Lu Aubin

i There’s an abbey in the clouds, an empty gymnasium-ballroom. Kick off your shoes cause it’s only us and wallflowering veils of budding forsythia. Loving you always had a knack for squirming into abandoned spaces, growing out of walls: prayers of staleness like tobacco barns. I still hear your voice in the cries of revolution, leaving me breathless. Do you believe in G-o-d? (mouthing it). Most days I’m flying moth-like; ash on these fingers. My body, last night’s dying embers. Ash on my fingers, marking your bruised skin. ii Mangroves, I’m moving to Manhattan—you city of sirens. Digress from a Texan altitude. Your ears won’t stop popping so wake me up, walk me up to 80 and I promise they’ll stop yelling before the ocean eats me and my porcelain brain, or at least before I stop playing that same sweet song of blue. Portrait d’apparat. There’s still an abbey up there. Hold your nose and breathe out. How fast do you drive? How fast, north up the childless 95? Fast but not too long ‘til I’m down south again. Momma, I’ll have to be picky because my first will be bossy, I mean look at me! Her and those daring eyes. iii I can’t say my infatuation with you still makes my heart race. I don’t know how to love someone that much, how to open my arms that wide for you. How can I hold this city whole? (How do I swallow it?) Sweetheart, I swear it’s an endless flume. Running, those blond brothers on Farmington pavement. I’m checking my mailbox nightly. All I can show for it is an empty spinning motion of a combination lock. Passing the five before stopping at 31. I’m worrying lengthwise. Falling all over the floor: this island, my poetry’s entrails. If nothing else, I’ll keep her body in my mailbox while all these skeleton skins insist on hanging in my closet. There’s an abbey in a desert, in these midnight curls, tiny worshippers traipsing through it, tiptoeing in the crevices of silence, whispering out of ear shot. God, please, God, please, God, please.


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