Write On, Downtown
A Journal of Student Writing at the ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus
April 2016 Faculty Editors
Rosemarie Dombrowski Catherine Rezza
Shania Alba Ayelet Ben-Nisan Charles Brown Zack Bunting Josephine Contreras Brooke Curleyhair Daniela Diaz Sarah Elenes Sawyer Elms Kaia Evans Stephanie Garcia Raymond Gurley Emily Holloway Kaitlin Kroum Sophia McGovern Cuyler Meade
Visit our companion journal at writeon.asu.edu.
Deanna Johnson Mullican
â€œWater is Lifeâ€? #WaterWrites mural by Averian Chee, Angel Diaz, Xochitl Enriquez, Jeff Slim, Kim Smith, and members of the Cyphers Center for Urban Art Photo concept by Daniela Diaz Photo by Deanna Johnson Mullican
Contributing Artists Zack Bunting Kelsey Cape Josephine Contreras Daniela Diaz Stephanie Garcia Emily Holloway Amanda Lacasse Cuyler Meade Ariel Shamas
Introduction: Literary Arts and the “Hierarchy of Needs” In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed that human motivation is governed by a hierarchy of needs. Often displayed in pyramid form, his theory was that our base needs must be met before the higher needs can be attended to. At the base of the pyramid is physiology, or physiological needs, which include air, food, water, and sex. Once those needs are met, we move on to our safety, which involves our need for shelter, health, and physical and financial security. If we meet those needs, we turn our attention to love and belonging, or the human urge for friendship and intimacy, which includes familial attractions. We then look to satisfy our esteem, which deals with both exterior value and self-respect. If we have respect for ourselves, we may begin to seek self-actualization, which is the quest to attain our highest potential. Finally, the self-actualized individual might move beyond him or herself into what Maslow referred to as self-transcendence, or the realm of altruism or spiritual elevation. Arguably, great literature seeks to expose and understand these simple human needs, and the works selected for this year’s journal reflect that premise. Whether a writer is exploring base motivations – the animal essence of our humanity – or seeking to comprehend the key to transcending humanity, his/her writing is most valuable when it is exploring some aspect of our existence, our means of living in the world. Simply put, good writing examines our quest for a higher purpose, or more accurately, the purpose for our quest.
Acknowledgements The Write On, Downtown (WOD) editorial staff would like to express our gratitude to Dr. Barbara Lafford, faculty head of Languages and Cultures, for her ongoing support of our endeavors. We’d also like to give special thanks to Mary Ehret for her continued support of both our publication and our celebratory launch luncheon. We’d also like to express our unrelenting gratitude to Deanna Johnson Mullican, the graphic designer for the College of Letters and Sciences and University College, for her partnership with WOD as well as her continued dedication to its promotion and evolution. Most importantly, we’d like to thank all of the student writers and photographers who submitted their work, as well as those whose exemplary work was selected for publication. Your talent and vision is an inspiration to us, the Downtown Phoenix campus, and the community at large. This year marks the release of the tenth issue of WOD, a journal that has grown from a twenty-five page chapbook to a beautifully integrated collection of more than one-hundred pages of text and images — scholarship and art that reflect the aesthetic of downtown Phoenix, the proclivities of the downtown students, and our collective vision for the future. We refuse to accept the death of print or the literary arts, and we hope that our efforts will convince you of its continued (and even increasing) value in the 21st Century.
Contents Physiology Those Wet Ripe Oranges
The Desert Series
Bluegrass on the Prairie
Intoxication in Six Acts
by Kat Hofland
by Molly Bilker
by Helen Alderson
by Jonathan Kistner
Safety An Open Letter to my Total P.O.S. Car
Snap. Crackle. Pop.
Japan, Stand Against the Tide: Restart Your Nuclear Power Plants
I hate it here
Dear Steve Beshear
This is Fine
A Flush a Day Keeps the Devil Away
Letter to Serena Williams
At Oak Flat
by Jordan Ramil
by Alison Kinnahan
by Jonathan Taylor
by Carolina Marquez by Courtney Rees by Kat Hofland by Gabriana Navarrete by Cassandra Daly by Molly Bilker by Nicole Davis
Belongingness/Love To be a Coconut
An Open Letter to my Man-Child Dead-Beat Dad
Rush Hour Casualty
Downtown by the Railroad
Girls in the Glass
Children Who Leave Too Soon
by Megan Atencia by Brooke Demny by Alexa Jimenez
by Jonathan Kistner by Oliver van Olffen
by Sophia McGovern by Kristen Emig
by Maeve Norton
Esteem Dear Meninists
The Argument that Changed my Life
Filmore after Dark
The Validity of Radio Opinions
by Courtney Mally by Molly Bilker by Mia De Tomasi by Molly Bilker
by Terra Pinckley
by Alonso Hernandez
Self-actualization Thunderbird Park
Kosher Soup for the Soul
Nothing to See Here
An Essayâ€™s Exhortatory Epistle
Respuesta del pretendiente (a response to TĂş me quieres blanca)
by Scott Hodnefield by Daniel Lester by Kat Hofland
by Ethan Millman
by Tonya Wagoner by Kat Hofland
Self-transcendence Transition in Phoenix Heat
The Intrinsic Journey
A Personal Cartography
About the Editorial Staff
by Scott Hodnefield by Melissa Mueller
by Carolina Marquez by Bonnie Murphy by Jonathan Kistner
photo by Amanda LaCasse
Those Wet Ripe Oranges By Kat Hofland
you came home to find her laying under the tree in the backyard eating all of the oranges didn’t leave any for you you didn’t say anything just stared at her staring at you while she licked her lips of that ripe orange juice and you got hard looking at that once pitiable woman who recognized something that you thought was yours and wouldn’t give it to you
The Desert Series By Molly Bilker
1 I see you in the desert, holding shoes cracked along the soles. I tie the laces around my thumbs to keep my hands from shaking. 2 I put a kettle on, forget to clear the dishes. In the other room, you take surgical scissors to your bandages. I bring a basin to wash your feet.
3 Between days, a wild exhaustion. I go hungry with yearning. I scrub at the sink, peckish and flightless. 4 I have taken my shoes off to stretch my feet and discovered bandages. This is a surprise. 5 This was you in a room of mirrors. I walked through and touched them all.
photo by Amanda LaCasse
I am sorry. This was always your desert.
Bluegrass on the Prairie By Helen Alderson
In the Beaver Valley of the Nebraska prairie in the 1930s, bluegrass grew among the wild roses on the roadsides. Ranchers considered it an arrogant invader of the virgin meadows, as it was poor hay for winter cattle feeding. The bluegrass stems matured in mid-June, thrusting seed heads above native grasses. Bluegrass seed was a valued commodity. Seed companies were eager to buy it, since it was in demand for resplendent city lawns and parks, especially in the East. The seed company arrived in mid-June to prepare for the bluegrass harvest. They rented about 20 acres for a drying bed and weigh station. They brought â€œstrippersâ€? to loan to the ranchers. The stripper consisted of a wooden, round, spiked hopper, driven with long spikes designed to behead the tall grass, pulled by a team of horses. The driver crisscrossed the meadow where bluegrass patches were abundant. When the hopper was filled, the seed was sacked in burlap bags, then hauled to the drying yard where it was weighed before checks would be dispensed. After weighing, the seed was emptied and dumped in windrows where it was turned by hand until dried. Newly arrived seed was not mingled with seed nearly dried. The entire process took place over three or four weeks, then the seed company departed with their harvest in burlap bags. The team and its driver melded with Natureâ€™s sunny benevolence as they made their way on the meadows, listening to Nature. No humming voices or strumming banjos invade the elemental prairie silence of earth and sky. Indigent voices peculiar to the environment travel lightly on the airwaves. Love songs burst forth
A metered beat sets the rhythm from the turning hopper. Red clover’s fragrant blossoms attract a roving bumble bee, adding a buzzing melody. Gentle breezes move the grass to dance in fluid motion. A soaring hawk, gracing sky’s expanse searches below for a lone mouse.
A giant stage encircles the flat prairie where Mother Nature conducts her tranquil symphony.
photo by Zack Bunting
with gusto from lusty meadow larks. The bob-white’s piercing whistle sharply accents the solitude of green meadows.
Intoxication in Six Acts By Jonathan Kistner
Act 1. The first bite is a provocative strip tease. The frosting dances across my tongue. Act 2. begins with a tap dance; the pitter-patter of my heart rhythmically pounds out of my chest. Act 3. An overwhelming lust of a beautifully harmonized ballet. I dig a chunk from the cake and feed it to my lover. His lips wrap around the fork. He enjoys it as much as I do. Act 4. A pole dance. Seductive and titillating. He closes his eyes. Slowly I draw the fork from his lips, and I lick the rest of the frosting. Act 5. is vigorous, filled with spontaneity, like street performers. Itâ€™s rich. Orgasmic. My eyes roll back. It is perfectly imperfect. Act 6. The last bite. He wants it. I want it more. I take the bite, promising him a slice of my cake later.
mural by Tato Caraveo | photo by Stephanie Garcia
mural by unknown artist | photo by Matthew Session
An Open Letter to my Total P.O.S. Car By Jordan Ramil
To My Total P.O.S. Car: I named you Complicated, Compy for short, and I had no idea how much you would live up to the name. You were my first car. A silver 2001 Chevy of the Cavalier variety and I should have realized when I bought you for the extremely low price of $1,500 that you wouldn’t be very reliable. I looked past the large side-swipe scratch on the driver side door because that’s what you do at the beginning of a relationship, you ignore the little things. I even ignored the dash that was cracked in five different places and the fact that I couldn’t unlock the passenger door from the outside, because it only added character, right? According to Nevada law, all window tint must allow 35 percent of light to enter the car (Nevada Regulatory Statute, 1993, p. 2434), but your tint was more like 50 percent — and it was so nice of you to not point that out to me. Thanks to you and your unnecessarily dark tint, I received my first ticket that amounted to a whopping $500, which forced me to strip it all off by myself. That was probably one of the best weekends of my life. Despite your less than admirable looks and charm, I picked you out of every other P.O.S. car I could find on Craigslist. I even looked past your little quirks. For example, the first time you broke down on me, it was partly my fault because I didn’t know you well enough yet. I was unaware that I had to pop out the stereo if I didn’t want your battery to die. See, the idiot do-it-yourselfers were not experienced, so they hooked the stereo’s power to your battery. If they had known anything they would have hooked the stereo up to a switched power source that will turn the stereo on or off when you were either on or off so as to “not drain your vehicle’s battery” (Ferency-Viars, 2015, para. 16). However, because I was unacquainted with this particular quirk, I left the stereo plugged in, and technically on, all night which led to your dead battery the next morning. I realize you had nothing to do with the botched stereo wiring, but why didn’t you have a light on or something to let me know of the stereo’s power? This miscommunication between us ruined my morning; but hey, you got a fully charged up battery because of it didn’t you? By the time our relationship reached its glorious one-month anniversary, I was in the habit of tending to your quirks. Every time I parked I made sure to pop out the stereo, manually turn off your headlights if needed, roll up your dysfunctional windows, and push the lock down as I exited. Maybe I skipped a step on the day you broke down at the sketchy gas station on the side of the highway, which was yet another great experience. The day
An Open Letter to my Total P.O.S. Car was hot, not surprisingly, as the average temperature that month was in the hundreds. You needed gas, and as any good owner would’ve done, I filled you to capacity. As I turned the ignition you gave a little cough and a click, then died. I tried again and again to get you started, but you wouldn’t turn over! Why not? Was I not a good owner? Hadn’t I just bought fifty bucks worth of gas for you?! If I had bought a Honda Civic, maybe I wouldn’t have been at the gas station seeing as how that model gets 10-12 more mpg than you ever could (“Compare,” 2015, para. 7). Regardless, I finally gave in and called my mom to come jumpstart you. But I’m sure you never felt badly about the situation, did you? In fact, you never felt my embarrassment when a nice lady gave me her jumper cables, my stupidity when a man asked me what was wrong with you, or my worry that someone was going to rob me. After all, you and I made a pathetically easy target. Instead, you got to sit in the shade while I sweated through AP Statistics homework, as I actually had things to do, unlike you. To this day, I still have no inkling as to why you left me stranded. A solution I should’ve considered was to terminate our rocky relationship then and there, but I did not. Does that make me naïve and stupid? Actually, don’t answer that. It wasn’t until our three-month anniversary that I became fully aware and accepting of you and your issues. I treated you well, in fact I did more for you than you did for me most of the time. That is why when you broke down for the third time I found it more tiresome than frustrating. You hadn’t given me any major trouble since your last breakdown, but you just couldn’t keep the streak going, could you? I had driven us down to work at Mom’s office for a while and when it was time to leave, I turned the ignition, your engine rumbled, and then failed. I realized at that point that you’d given me hope just to take it away! Mom tried to jump you with her car, but you just would not start. You complained that I didn’t take care of you enough, but how could that be true? I had just taken you to your check-up and everything was fine! A sloppy owner wouldn’t have done that, much less everything else I did for you. Someone finally stopped to help us, but you continued to sit there like a lazy, fat house cat with no regard for your owner. Eventually, Mom and I went to an auto parts store wherein we described your chronic illness and they diagnosed you as having a bad alternator. At this point in time, I learned that the alternator basically charged the battery and electrical system with an alternating current (“Motoring,” 1965, p. 802). I really couldn’t have cared less what the alternator did, all I focused on was that it would take $700 to replace it. A total rip-off if you ask me. You remember how we got home that amazingly blissful day? That’s right, I knocked a broomstick against your alternator and other complicated engine parts until you finally started. Clearly, I should have bought a Toyota, because at least they have the “fewest percentage of ‘check engine’-related problems” (Halpert, 2012, para. 4). Actress Alexandra Paul once said, “the cars we drive say a lot about us,” which is interesting coming from a character on Baywatch, a show where slow motion running was made famous, not cars (Demakis, 2012, p. 47). But, if the quote has any merit, what did driving say about me? Did it say that I had flaws, but could still get the job done? Did it say I was a cheapskate? Or, did it practically scream that I was an unemployed high school student who was forced to fix all your problems with the help of a Pep Boys cashier?
An Open Letter to my Total P.O.S. Car I don’t care, because while you could be annoyingly frustrating like a younger brother, you were my annoyingly frustrating car. Our relationship had its ups and downs, but whose doesn’t? I still miss your loud engine, your squeaky tire, and the left speaker that wouldn’t play music. Why? Because you were mine. Sincerely, Jordan #firstcarprobs
References Compare: 2001 Chevrolet Cavalier v. 2001 Honda Civic. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.cars. com/go/compare/modelCompare.jsp?myids=46,142 Demakis, J.M. (2012). The ultimate book of quotations. Raleigh, N.C.: Lulu Enterprises, Inc. Ferency-Viars, R. (2015). Car stereo installation guide. Retrieved from http://www.crutchfield.com/ S41eKAXUDGJ5/learn/learningcenter/car/car_stereo/installation_guide.html Halpert, J. (2012, Dec. 16). These are the 12 cheapest cars for repairs. The Fiscal Times. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/cars-with-the-lowest-maintenance-costs-2012-12 Motoring: Dynamos and alternators. The British Medical Journal, 1(5437), 802. (1965, March 20). Retrieved from JSTOR. Unlawful to Place Certain Transparent Material upon Windshield or Side or Rear Window of Motor Vehicle for Compensation, 597.710 N.R.S. § Chapter 597 - Miscellaneous Trade Regulations and Prohibited Acts (1993).
photo by Amanda LaCasse
Snap. Crackle. Pop. By Alison Kinnahan
No Rice Krispies jingle here, just the sound of bones breaking. You swore you wouldnâ€™t hit me again, that you were so sorry you lost your temper last time, and didnâ€™t I know how much you loved me? We snuggled in that apology, wrapped ourselves in denial until you snapped when I asked for your paycheck to pay the bills. Had I forgotten he committed his paycheck to go fishing with the guys next week? How could I be so stupid? I backed up against the refrigerator, watched his neck flush scarlet, face contorted, vulgarities forming in his tightened mouth. Tears dripped and reached the cold tiled floor before I did. I bargained, invoked his promise not to hurt me again, but his anger crackled into rage spewing past grievances for which I could only be found guilty in his court of law. The first pop was his fist into the drywall and stud. Knuckles oozed, blood mingled with tears as he grabbed my wrist and twisted it until I screamed with the second pop and dropped to the floor. He walked away, apologies the last thing on his mind.
Japan, Stand Against the Tide: Restart Your Nuclear Power Plants By Jonathan Taylor
Four years ago Japan was hit by an earthquake so large that it actually shifted the Earth’s axis of rotation — even affecting the amount of time in a day. More than 18,000 people died on March 11, 2011, virtually all of them due to the massive tsunami generated by the quake — a wall of ocean water that surged as far as six miles inland wrecking homes, harbors, and lives. But the Japanese people are resilient and ingenious. Contaminated fisheries are once again clean, and cities caked with mud and debris are safe and pristine once again. Over a hundred thousand of your people still reside in temporary housing, and efforts continue to make whole those who lost so much to the winds of fate. Through brave and unflinching effort, you are healing your country’s wounds but, alas, you are neglecting a critical injury to your nation’s infrastructure. The tsunami that wrecked homes and hearths also wrecked your confidence in nuclear power. One of Fukushima prefecture’s nuclear power plants had cooling pumps placed too close to sea level, which resulted in the tsunami knocking them out of commission. Three of the plant’s reactors went into meltdown which contaminated approximately 500,000 gallons of water in the immediate area. Over 140,000 people were evacuated and all 50 nuclear reactors across the country were shut down. Four years later, the government is waging an intense political struggle to restart those reactors. It is willing to court overwhelming public disapproval because the truth of the matter is that Japan needs nuclear power. To an advanced industrial economy like Japan, electrical power is like oxygen for our bodies’ cells — we will rapidly deteriorate and die in its absence. Prior to the 2011 tsunami, Japan generated an impressive 30 percent of all its electricity from nuclear power, with plans to reach 50 percent by 2030. As a wealthy country with highly advanced technology and few natural resources, this was a smart move. Nuclear energy played a very important role in your nation’s strategy to minimize its vulnerability to foreign fuel suppliers. By avoiding overwhelming dependence on any one imported energy source, Japan secured its energy independence. Energy security is a sine qua non for any nation valuing independence and dignity. Without it, your country is leashed to the whims of foreign powers. Nations have gone to war to avoid such a fate, but fortunately your country’s
Japan, Stand Against the Tide: Restart Your Nuclear Power Plants industrial expertise and scientific leadership provided a better way: the development of one of the finest civilian nuclear power programs the world has ever seen. Your civilian nuclear power industry is not just a scientific and engineering achievement, it is an act of moral leadership for rest of the world. Clean nuclear power was a cornerstone of your nation’s fight against the greatest threat facing our entire species today: climate change. You have proudly pledged some very ambitious emissions goals, and clean nuclear power was a key means by which Japan would keep its promises and shame other industrialized countries into doing their part defending the very habitability of our world. Your people’s extensive use of nuclear power was both intelligent and bold. That is why it is such a shame so many of you wish to abandon your nuclear industry, not out of reason, but out of fear. Major nuclear accidents, although few and far between, terrify. America, for instance, largely turned its back on nuclear power following the Three Mile Island incident — which resulted in no deaths, no diseases, and no long term contamination. Fear alone was allowed to influence American energy policy and as a result our country did nothing to wean itself off dependence on oil — perhaps even leading us to take, on the international stage, actions of dubious moral character and questionable strategic wisdom. The Japanese people are wise enough to learn from other people’s mistakes. We are all human and all vulnerable to predicating decisions on fears rather than more enlightened principles. Consider the phenomena of aircraft accidents versus car accidents. Although lethal car accidents happen far more often than plane crashes, and kill vastly more people in total, it is the graphic and spectacular nature of plane crashes that capture the world’s attention. It is the same way for nuclear energy. Nuclear power plants across the world have very good safety records, while more conventional plants are more dangerous to operate, spewing out enormous quantities of pollution causing chronic harm to people living in the vicinity with much greater frequency and likelihood than nuclear power plants. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), with regards to Fukushima prefecture: the predicted risks are low and no observable increases in cancer rates above baseline rates are anticipated … the radiation doses from the damaged nuclear power plant are not expected to cause an increase in the incidence of miscarriages, stillbirths and other physical and mental conditions that can affect babies born after the accident. (2013) Fukushima was not Chernobyl. No one has died or will die due to radiation or cancer caused by the Fukushima reactor meltdown. The area around the plant will not have to be abandoned, its seafood and sea water will not make anyone sick. The WHO report notes “the psychological impact of the Fukushima accident may outweigh other health consequences.” You have nothing to fear but fear itself. The Fukushima meltdown was an expensive lesson on how back-up coolant pumps should simply be located above flood level. It is a lesson that your fear is making much more expensive than it has to be. No nation in the world had better reason to fear the power of splitting the atom. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II left an indelible mark on the fabric of human history. Yet the Japanese people were once able to master their fear of 27
Japan, Stand Against the Tide: Restart Your Nuclear Power Plants this technology. A late entrant to the field of civil nuclear power, Japan quickly became a world leader, building some of the world’s most advanced reactors. For a resource-poor country with a massive and advanced economy, nuclear power offered a way to diversify its energy base, avoiding enslavement to a single set of suppliers for a particular kind of energy, such as oil. For a leader in environmentalism, nuclear power helped achieve admirable and ambitious emissions reduction goals. Japan’s adoption of nuclear power was the result of heroic optimism, technological mastery, and clear-sighted policy analysis. This tradition lies in stark contrast with the horror and dread that now clouds public perception of the issue. It behooves the Japanese people to return to their finest form and address the political and engineering failures that made some power plants more vulnerable than others. Your nation’s problems with nuclear power do not await some mythical technological solution, rather they can be solved through simple design changes and noncorrupt government oversight. Marshall your collective will once more, bring this about.
References World Health Organization (2013). Health risk assessment from the nuclear accident after the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami, based on a preliminary dose estimation. Retrieved from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/78218/1/9789241505130_eng.pdf
I hate it here By Carolina Marquez
The truth is everywhere. But they don’t care where it takes them. For them, it doesn’t feel real. For them, it’s impossible to see where this will end. This adventure lasts forever, over and over, round and round. It’s 2 trillion years old, And 7 billion gods, 8 million arms, 4 faces and counting.
photo by Stephanie Garcia
It’s 41 Celsius, 100 percent humidity. There’s no use in putting on clothes. Everything is melting, the asphalt, the cow shit. And the smell overtakes nostrils, a familiar perfume of the city, an old city, over 2,000 years old. A city overflowing with babies and whores and lambs, plastic rivers and metal death-traps waiting to swallow up the nomads who come here.
photo by Ariel Shamas
Dear Steve Beshear By Courtney Rees
As Kentucky governor for eight years, you understand the wants and needs of your community. As a Democratic and active leader, you continue to win over the citizens of your state who usually vote Republican in Presidential elections. Indeed, your election and re-election in an historically Republican state shows how far the right to vote has evolved since the founding of the great United States of America. However, not every citizen in America has the right to vote promised in the Constitution. Disenfranchisement, or the practice of taking away the right to vote from certain members of the citizenry, has been a problem since the founding of this country. In 2008, only one year after you won the election and came into office, you acknowledged the problem of disenfranchisement in your state and gave the right to vote back to 700 felons, who you claimed had done their time and deserve to be represented (Wartman, 2014). As leader of the third-highest disenfranchised state in America, you understood that something needed to be changed and you won over the state of Kentucky afterwards. Other states that have no rights given back to convicted felons, Florida and Iowa, donâ€™t appear to be making any of these changes. I commend your consideration and commitment not only to your immediate community, but to all Americans. However, although you took a step towards progress in 2008, the large portion of felons in Kentucky failed to be represented again. You cannot be afraid to continue correcting an outdated, racist, policy that you earlier acknowledged as wrong. Although Iowa and Florida are not taking any actions to change their disenfranchisement laws, 21 states already have given back voting rights to their released prisoners (American Civil Liberties Union). For the remaining states, the chain reaction has to start somewhere. With a population of over 4 million people and, according to Wartman (2014), one in every 14 citizens in your state disenfranchised, those 700 re-enfranchised felons do not fairly represent the Kentucky felons who have been released from prison and reintegrated into society, let alone the remaining released felons without representation in the United States. Not only are you underrepresenting your country, but you are hurting yourself for future elections. Since Kentucky voted Republican in all of the recent presidential elections, Kentucky could do the same with its governor at any time. One of your major campaigns is getting the word out about Democratic Party goals and values. However, the people who tend to identify as Democrats are the people youâ€™re suppressing. The felon population, largely African American or less educated than other citizens, identify as a minority, and minorities are the largest supporters of the Democratic Party in any election. 32
Dear Steve Beshear Some opponents to felons gaining their political voice back use slippery-slope fallacies, claim allowing felons to vote would open the doors for felons to run for office, change laws, or get policies put on ballots that the rest of America would find unethical. However, granting suffrage to these suppressed Americans would simply give them the feeling that they are heard, represented, and important to the country they live in. Requiring released felons to reintegrate into society, pay taxes, and find a job without having a voice in their governance, and ultimately, demise, makes reintegration difficult and makes prison look more comforting than the suburban community into which the felon is released. As Carl T. Rowan, honored reporter, government official, and author is often quoted as saying, “it is often easier to become outraged by injustice half a world away than by oppression and discrimination half a block from home.” Over 200 years of disenfranchisement shows that Americans and the American government would rather point fingers at other struggling countries and worldly issues than fix their own imperfections. Disenfranchisement has been a law in your state since the 1700s before slavery was abolished, when African Americans were seen as property of white men with no voices of their own (News One Now, 2014). If the rest of the United States never changed their voting regulations that were set in, women wouldn’t be able to vote, African Americans would have to perform literacy tests, and America would be so underrepresented that we might not be able to classify ourselves as a republican democracy anymore. We are a country that focuses so widely on coming to America and living the “American Dream,” yet we don’t allow a large portion of our society to vote based on one mistake they made. If no further steps against disenfranchisement are made, convicted felons will continue to be an afterthought to politicians, making them an afterthought to the citizens that those politicians represent. I understand larger steps than simply changing Kentucky’s regulations need to be taken, but giving all American felons their right to vote back, at least after finishing their sentences, has to start somewhere. We cannot acknowledge the 21 states that fully reinstate their felon citizens as good enough. America is a country that thrives on success, individuality, and power, but America’s façade of a perfect political system is not going to be good enough forever. As governor, you should care about your citizens and how well their government officials, including yourself, are taking care of them. You are the source of your citizens’ happiness when it comes to how their community is run. Every citizen in Kentucky who is old enough to vote should be granted a political voice. The right to vote was a promise given to Americans by the Founding Fathers in order to make America stand out as a powerhouse nation that could conquer anything. The American Dream shouldn’t just be another broken promise. Readdressing the disenfranchisement issue you started to address in 2008 would bring the United States one step closer to truly being a democracy and it would grant you more citizens who would be happy to re-elect Steve Beshear, a man who truly cares about his citizens and embraces the values of the Democratic Party, as their governor. Thank you for considering the future of your country. Truly yours, Courtney Rees
Dear Steve Beshear
References American Civil Liberties Union (n.d.). Map of state criminal disenfranchisement laws. Retrieved from https://www.aclu.org/maps/map-state-criminal-disfranchisement-laws News One Now (2014). Timeline of laws barring felons from voting. News One. Retrieved from http:// newsone.com/2882341/timeline-of-laws-barring-felons-from-voting/ Wartman, S. (2014). Felons getting closer to voting in KY. Cincinatti.com. Retrieved from http:// www.cincinnati.com
This is Fine By Kat Hofland
I found you in the backyard, watering the irrigated grass. Nothing to fucking lose you were screaming at nobody. I wandered into the house with all of the lights on, flashing brighter and brighter as if to say We are here for as long as we want. In the bathroom, the water is flowing from the tub, the toilet, the sink. We prefer to bathe on the marble floor. It is ninety degrees outside, but the heat is on just in case we get cold. Better safe than sorry. I look out the window. The earth is on fire at the horizon. Donâ€™t worry, itâ€™ll never reach us.
A Flush a Day Keeps the Devil Away By Gabriana Navarrete
To the lady who didn’t flush the toilet in the University Center floor 2 restroom, I wonder what was going through your head after you got done doing your business. Was it just too much to flush? Was the handle just too disgusting to touch? Or maybe there was no thought process at all. You just “forgot,” right? Whatever your reasoning is, it beats the shit outta me. Let me give you an example of how this should work in society. I crawl out of bed at 7:30 AM, bright eyed and bushy tailed, pumped to go learn how to calculate the population standard deviation in STATS 226. On rare occasions, I even have the willpower to get up twenty minutes earlier to make it down to the dining hall before class to have a healthy and nutritious meal. But you know what’s even better? When I run to the little girls’ room after doing so and discover what you also had for breakfast. I hate it too when my omelet and hash browns don’t sit well - except I keep that secret between me and the deep dark depths of the toilet drain, the one that manages to suck down my digested breakfast. Did you know it could do that? But, let’s get back to the speculation regarding you and your motives. I don’t know about you, but I remember kindergarten like it was yesterday. Gosh, missing the first day must have been tough. You know, the day where you learn the golden rule to just keep trying and trying until you succeed? Yeah, the same concept applies to bathroom etiquette. You may fail to get everything down the toilet the first time but you keep flushing and flushing and flushing until you prosper. But wasn’t there also a day when for your first bathroom tutorial? I believe it goes a little something like this: All the boys and girls line up with ants in their pants itching to go explore the “big kid” bathroom. Before you know it they’re all snickering under their breath because seeing urinals and stalls is just way too hilarious. The teacher, for the billionth time, then, reiterates how important it is to 1. wash your hands, and 2. always flush the toilet. Thus, I would have let it slide if you were still five years old but certainly not now. I’m sure you’ve heard “there is no sin a Christian can commit that God cannot forgive” (Compelling Truth, 2011). But you, however, have committed the only exception to that rule. Hats off to you. I think it’s safe to say that your favorite author must have been Shakespeare. I’m confused though, because I thought it went something like “to be, or not to be,” not “to 36
A Flush a Day Keeps the Devil Away
photo by Ariel Shamas
flush or not to flush.” But let me tell you, that is not the question. It’s actually out of the question. So I’m sorry, you leaving your prestigious well-crafted masterpiece is not on par with the work of Shakespeare, and I think he would also agree. Please get your shit together, and by together I mean down the toilet. Here’s another theory: You’re an environmentalist and want to save money – and the world — by not flushing. Ding ding ding, we have a winner! If that’s the case, I’m assuming you don’t follow the rule of “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down,” correct?
Let’s do the math. The national average for a gallon of water is 2/10ths of a cent per gallon. The average toilet manufactured today uses about 1.5 gallons per flush. And, a recent AWWARF study shows that the average person flushes a toilet 5 times per day (Hamm, 2014). Multiply all these numbers by the 365 days that are in a year and, congratulations, you’ve saved a grand total of $10.95! Wow, I wonder what you did with all that money? Hopefully you bought some extra toilet paper, because by the looks of it you also like to conserve that based on the ratio of your human waste to toilet paper left in the toilet. I’m sure karma will take its jab at you sooner or later though. All I can say is that I hope you enjoy spending your afterlife with Satan: In Dante’s Inferno, Hell is described as having 9 different levels, or circles, each lower than the last? As one descends into the depths of hell, he comes closer to the 9th circle where Satan himself resides. Each level of hell is reserved for different types of sinners, and different punishments are inflicted on the damned depending on the nature and severity of their sin. (Dante’s Inferno, 2013) I’m 110 percent positive that the sin you have committed places you in the last circle of Treachery. Satan and Judas will make sure of it, that you’ll end up in a Hell where the toilet 37
A Flush a Day Keeps the Devil Away just keeps filling up with other peoplesâ€™ crap. And consequentially Cassius will forever be your turd burglar. You know, that one pooper who does not realize that you are in a stall and tries to force the door open (Thomand, 2008). Sounds pretty shitty if you ask me. #YouWalkAroundLikeYourShitdontStinks #ButItActuallyDoes Sincerely, Gabriana
References Compelling Truth. 2011. Are there any unforgiveable sins? Retrieved from http://www. compellingtruth.org/unforgiveable-sins.html Danteâ€™s Inferno. 2013. The Levels of Hell. Retrieved from http://www.danteinferno.info/circlesofhell/ Hamm, T. 2014. Do You Save Money By Not Flushing? Retrieved from http://www.thesimpledollar. com Thomand, M. 2008. Toilet Jokes and Potty Humor. Retrieved from http://porcelainpoetry.faketrix. com/funny-toilet-jokes-bathroom-humor-poop-at-work.htm
Letter to Serena Williams By Cassandra Daly
Dear Serena Williams, In 2013 you made a comment in Rolling Stone about the Steubenville rape victim who became drunk at a party, left with two football players, and then eventually passed out at a second party where football players then proceeded to rape her (ABC News, 2013). The victim was incapable of giving consent and two football players were convicted of rape. (ABC News, 2013). You said, “She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky” (Gonzalez, 2013). By making this statement, though it is now understood that this was not your intention, you essentially blamed a sixteen-year-old girl for being raped. Moreover, in a second interview, you questioned what the victim was wearing, how she was acting, and if she was drunk at the time (Ullman, 2010). By doing this, you add to the current idea that a rape victim could be, in some capacity, responsible for their rape. It is understandable that you would think this. The news constantly spins reports of rapes so as to place at least some blame on the victims. Every day there are new stories in the media about another girl that got a little too drunk at a frat party and fell victim to rape. But the news always seems to focus on the fact that the victim was drunk, or wearing a short skirt, or was being just a tad too flirty. The news never seems to focus on the fact that these rapists consciously thought about taking advantage of the victim and made the choice to rape them, and should therefore face the necessary repercussions of their actions. Because of the generally accepted view of rape victims in today’s society you, like countless other people, have been persuaded to think that rape victims could in some way be responsible for their rape. Unfortunately, you hold more influence on people than your average citizen; and because you are in the public eye so much, you have to be a lot more careful about what you say. A normal citizen can make claims like this and cause very little damage, but when you publicly make a comment about a rape victim a lot of people hear you, and may be persuaded to agree. Not only are you a public figure, you are such a positive role model for girls. You show these girls the importance of being active and of being kind to people. Girls look up to you and when you make a comment like this one, it sticks with them; they may start to believe you, which can be dangerous. I know your intention was not to get more people to blame the Steubenville rape victim but, unfortunately, that is what happened. 39
Letter to Serena Williams To correct your previous statement, you then said, “What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me. I was deeply saddened. For someone to be raped, and at only sixteen, is such a horrible tragedy! For both families involved — that of the rape victim and of the accused” (Gonzalez, 2013). While this shows you did not mean to victim blame and you do believe that rape is a tragedy that nobody should have to endure, your concern for the rapists’ families suggests a mitigation of fault. You still showed support for the rapists, and thus, in some capacity, showed approval of what they did. Again, this probably isn’t your fault. The news focused on the ideas of these two football players’ promising careers being ruined by this girl and how, because of her, they had no future. The news did not focus on the fact that this young woman’s life may be ruined by the traumatizing actions of these two young men. Because the media was saturated with this talk, it is understandable that you would react this way. Many people who have not been raped pin the assaults on the victims so as to believe there is no chance they could be raped too. They feel a false sense of safety because if they don’t fit any of the characteristics of the victim or situation, they think there is no way they could be raped; this false belief actually increases their risk of being raped. I have a feeling you might have unknowingly done this with the victim of the Steubenville rape case to remove yourself from the perceived risk of being raped and to give some meaning to the senseless trauma that these football players inflicted on the young woman. But, there is no meaning behind this, and the young woman was in no way asking to be sexually assaulted. Many people probably react the same way. But now I ask you to reconsider your thinking. Rape seems to be the only crime in which the victim is, in some way “asking for it.” A robbery victim is never asked if they were flaunting their valuable items in public or announcing that they never lock their doors. Even if the victim of robbery did admit they never lock their door, the robber would still face repercussions for their actions. A lot of the time rapists get away with their crime because the rape victim was drunk or had been sexually active in the past. Rape is a crime and should be treated as such. You could be one of those calling for change, Ms. Williams; you could be the reason that rapists go to jail for their crimes and the reason that rape victims could finally have some peace of mind knowing that their rapists are behind bars and paying for what they did. Time for some kind of revolution, revolution of the way we, as a society, view rape and rape victims. We will no longer ask what a victim was wearing or drinking. Instead, we will make sure the rapist faces the proper repercussions. You could be a part of the reason that this happens. If this does not happen, we will only dig ourselves deeper into the hole of victim blaming and allowing so many rapists to get away with their crimes. Society as a whole will become increasingly dangerous for not only young women, but everyone. Because we are currently teaching our daughters to do everything they can to not put themselves at the risk of being raped instead of teaching our sons not to rape, we are tacitly encouraging young men to rape. Ceasing to ask victims what they were doing or wearing could make society a safer place for our daughters and our sons. Sincerely, Cassandra Daly 40
Letter to Serena Williams
References ABC News (Producer). (2013, March 22). Steubenville: After the Party’s Over [Motion picture]. United States of America: Films Media Group. Associated Press. (2013, June 18). Serena Williams: Steubenville rape victim ‘shouldn’t have put herself in that position.’ The Huffington Post. Retrieved from www.huffingtonpost.com Gonzalez, A. (2013, June 19). Serena Williams clarifies Steubenville rape comments. CNN. Retrieved from www.cnn.com. Ullman, S. (2010). Talking about sexual assault: Society’s response to survivors. American Psychological Association. 1, 3-9.
photo by Emily Holloway
At Oak Flat By Molly Bilker
On the Native American occupation of Apache holy land slated to be destroyed by the construction of a copper mine. 1. Being At the campground, the air is clear, untouched, free of city detritus except occasional litter, towering rock piles that James, one of the occupiers, topples as he passes. He leads us into a small cave— low, cool, sunlight filtering through red rock. His voice is deep. “This is Rattlesnake Cave.” His sentences are clipped. “And that’s pindah-lickoyee.” Thick spray paint adorns one wall. “Means white people.” 2. Journey A shaker carries the rhythm of the march. The boys yip and howl. “Listen to the Apaches!” Someone’s got a megaphone.
At Oak Flat Photographers, like me, run ahead, crouch, climb on pedestals, swing cameras like sabers to capture the wave of bodies. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick receives honor tonight at Phoenix Convention Center. 30 protesters gathered outside to ambush when she leaves. She helped the Apache land giveaway they say. Held Dem sway in House of Reps they say. After the march, the boys sit smoking, talking, laughing. Somehow, they are always laughing.
They depart before itâ€™s time. Empty of warm bodies, the street hums with traffic and echoes like a shell. 3. Becoming They paint their girls in ashes, the metamorphosis to becoming a woman. Ahead on the path, a 3-year-old boy trips over a rock, lands on his belly, stands, laughs, trudges on. He flips the largest stones as he goes. The campsite smells like smoke. The boys come back with chicharrones, donuts, Honey Buns. They laugh & their long hair swings around their shoulders.
photo by Daniela Diaz
I smear ash on my jacket sleeve.
Finding Home By Nicole Davis
The windows felt so hot, burning. I could only leave my hand on one for so long before it began to sting. A cold-blooded creature seeking reprieve from the blasting AC, I leaned into the searing window. Gazing out at the blurred landscape during my family’s trip from Los Angeles to Phoenix, I fell in love with the desert. Topaz and ocher mountains surged skyward in the hazy distance, their dusty bones spiny and razor sharp against the pale, azure sky. I tried to peer into their invisible crags and ravines, the stark desolation spurring a sense of adventure. Jolting me out of my daydream my dad’s voice boomed through the car, “There’s a gas station coming up.” My younger brother, infinitely more frenetic than I, protested and whined “But I don’t have to go to the bathroom.” “That’s too bad, because you’re getting out and going.” Unbendable, my father’s statements always became reality. My brother was attempting to ram his way through a stone wall. Ten minutes later, a pouting 7-year-old slumped out of the car dragging his feet to the restroom. When the car door opened the summer air came rushing in, like when you open the oven while cooking. The heat-blasted air exhilarated me, carrying with it dusty, earthy smells like sagebrush and far away rain. Compared to the sterile air pumped through the car, the desert air felt so vibrant and teeming with energy. With my dad manning the gas refill, my mom led the expedition into the store. My brother attempted to negotiate the purchase of every candy brand.
My mom bought a water bottle for each of us, several Mountain Dews for dad, and my special treat, a frosty cold Arizona Lemon Iced Tea with its pink checkered can. They never have tasted as cloyingly sweet and wonderfully tart as on that drive. Corralled back into the Excursion, AC and engine roaring, the drive continued through expansive washes and rounded knolls studded with spring green palo verdes. Here, dormant river beds bespoke a world of sudden, sometimes violent change. Only the sturdiest mesquite and palo verde brushes braved the sand beds. Scanning the scenery as it surged by, I caught a glimpse of a mesquite bushâ€™s banana yellow blossoms. The starkness of this drive enchanted me. The rock, the vast wastes and searing heat I found so subtly beautiful. The hint of life at the edges of my senses, the serene emptiness with just the wind blaring in my ears. We arrived in the afternoon, thunderstorms chasing our car as we sped east on the 101 into Phoenix proper. From the balcony of the hotel room I gazed out into the storm, waiting for the streaks and bolts of lightning, then the deep bellow of thunder. Curtains of rain washed the dust and noise of the city away, until all I could hear was the downpour. In the clean, drenched air the electricity of the night ignited sparks in my blood. There was no place on Earth I would rather be than in the middle of a storm, and I was certain this was what falling in love felt like. I connected to the wonderful contradiction that is a desert, its desolation so beautiful and steeped in color and vibrancy, life tenaciously flourishing in this parched world. This world of extremes matched the contrast within myself, what could be seen on the outside and what lay under the surface and occasionally escaped in a rush of energy. I belonged with this rocky landscape, its life bubbling below the surface, just beyond sight so quiet and shy. I belonged with the storm releasing this tucked-away energy in a torrent of wind, rain and light. If there is another place nature can be so passionate and reserved all at once I did not know of it. If there is another place mirrored within myself so perfectly I did not know it. I had found home and myself in the same place.
photo by Stephanie Garcia
photo by Zack Bunting
To be a Coconut By Megan Atencia
Dinner at our house, wherever we were, would always be the same. My father would come home from the base, take off his laced up boots from his tucked in pants and his camoprint jacket with the American flag pinned backwards on his shoulder beneath his master sergeant badge. I’d asked him once why our flag was like that; he said that’s how our planes fly our flag. My father’s retired now, but dinner’s still the same, with the weight of a conversation my brothers and I try to participate in. Mom sits at his right and over their rice they probably talk about how Tita Hilda asked for money again or how Kuya Ian wants to wear our flag just like my dad so he can join us in America. One dinner, my father said to my brothers and me, “You people are all coconuts! You are white on the inside but brown on the outside.” My brothers laughed, but I, I wanted to understand why, why my own father didn’t think of me as brown like him, like the red blood I was birthed with was infected with something otherly because I was born in Alabama and I can do a Southern accent better than his. Let me tell you what it’s like to be a coconut. To be a coconut is to be told you’ll make a man happy some day because all they see is a cookbook of hand-me-down recipes, men with full stomachs and too much rice, a woman sexualized because the best porn sites read “Busty Asian Babes.” To be a coconut is to halo-halo las lengwas but understand only the dessert words and root crops in your native tongue because your grandmother only used Tagalog in the kitchen, thought a good wife should be taught the difference between sutanghon and pancit, guisa and sinigang. And your parents, they never spoke to you as a kid because they were scared you would grow up with an accent. Your parents are proud to have an American kid, but are scared to take you back to where they were a kid because you’ll be stolen for your American-ness. And when you say you want to volunteer abroad, they’ll tell you poverty is the same everywhere, that you shouldn’t be interested, that you should make your life in America instead. To be a coconut is to beg your mom for a story besides Snow White, a story of engkantos and Juan Tamad, but she’s forgotten all but three because they’re not important enough for her memory. And you beg your father to stop comparing life here to life there because yes, I do know that you used to work hard, and yes, I’ll never have to live on a farm, but I’m doing my best and life in America is different in ways you can’t grasp. Childhood here is surviving bullies and childhood there is surviving beatings, and yes, I may never 51
To be a Coconut know true hunger but dad I’m depressed and that’s my brain chemistry, and I need you to understand I’m not just being lazy. To be a coconut is to watch your parents work their way up, epitomizing upward mobility. Go from peeling lead paint on the bedroom walls, to the suburbs where your parents pay someone to paint it all. Yet your dad shows you the house next door, tells you to call the man working on the roof a Mexican bird. After living in that house, after they fix it all up and have a pool — you go off to college and no one wants to pay for you. You’ve become too rich, did too well, made a comfortable living only to be brought back down. Now you sit there Googling what interest is and wonder if you should get a loan, wonder if you’re really a minority because your advisor said minorities get scholarships but you’re not worth shit. To be a coconut is to wonder why there’s only a paragraph in your high school textbook about camps interning Japanese-Americans. To be surprised that one sentence in your college textbook in your Spanish class says Cesar Chavez worked with a Filipino union, because until then, you never knew those existed. Yet we all celebrate Black History Month and no matter where you go, you’re taught that people had to fight for their civil rights, especially colored people — the Hispanics, Latinos, and Blacks. You know all the famous names, had to recite MLK, and you wonder where your people were, what they were doing, if they even were in America, wonder if the lower classes are made up of your brown people too, wonder if you have someone to speak up to, if you have a voice to speak at all. To be a coconut is to not fit in with the brown kids, who listen to Jay-Z and rap, who know Manny Pacquiao’s stats, who play guitar much better than you, dance much better than you, are too cool for you. The brown kids know their heritage, every step to the tinikling, tell stories from our common past and you wonder if they know how jealous you are. Coconuts grew up with Nancy Drew and Barney, watched Hey Arnold every day, but had to find anime on their own, late nights watching Adult Swim to discover that brown people could be heroes, too. To be a coconut is to make yourself the butt of a joke because that’s what you think you are: “Oh, you taught yourself piano, that’s great! Your parents didn’t even have to make you take lessons!” “No, but they do want me to be a doctor instead!” “Ah, that makes so much more sense!” And your brothers make jokes too - “Dad, we’re Asian! We’re not brown on the outside, like coconuts. We’re yellow, like bananas! Duh!” I want to go back to being a young coconut, green and wide-eyed. A young coconut sails the sea to plant a tree in a new land, regardless of where it stands, props its roots in the sand and says, “Hello world, it’s me!” A young coconut grows strong, unafraid of being wrong, or asking questions — simple ones, like “Can I know who I am?” Am I not a coconut, a product of my people? Do I not deserve the same voice as those that are heard? Where is our culture, where are our artists, where are our stories? Why is it that amongst the crowds of minorities I am made to be otherly, I am made to be my white inside? I am not the olive skin of Italians, or the pasty Germanic whites. Black is not my Beautiful, La Raza is for Latinas. I am Asian but not the milky surface of our Chinese kin. I am the rough brown of Filipino coconuts, retrieved from the jungle floor by calloused hands that build families with all they can, sacrifice all they can. I am of the palm-roof huts and fisherman’s boats, carabou and manok, suffocating humidity and vicious poverty, 52
To be a Coconut a culture dying beneath the weight of everything it wants to be. My families spend money on TVs and sleep on hard rock floors, belt out on the karaoke “I’m on the edge of glory!” because they know that all they’ll ever be if they can’t make it off this island is a tambay, a stand-by, drinking gin at the lighthouse and taking every distraction from their life because their parents were poor and they are poor and their children’s children will be poor. My people are hopeless, but one act of kindness gives them hope — I want to know why no one knows this! Lonely young coconuts travel the seas alone, but we’re all out there, somewhere. I wait for your voice. I speak up with mine because I want your response, long for your call. Our people need your white inside and your brown outside, need your confusion and mildmannered rage, no matter your age, I beg you to speak! Coconuts, you have a spongy heart you never knew existed and I don’t want you to miss it before it dries up into the white and disappears before your eyes - Coconuts, listen. There’s me and there’s you and we’re one and the same, born of the same race, and you have something to be proud of — you just don’t know it yet.
Mainstreamed Middle-Class By Brooke Demny
Dear Fellow Middle-class Americans, If you are anything like me, you have an incredible work ethic and a burning desire to be successful someday. I have been working since I was fourteen with the hopes that one day I will drive a nice shiny car and go on exotic vacations every year. My first job paid me $5.25 an hour to pick up debris at a water park and haul industrial-sized trash cans up steep hills. This job definitely was not enjoyable, but it was my first attempt at striking it rich and I’m proud of it. When I received my first paycheck I was so excited that I took a photocopy of it, framed it, and hung it up in my room. To this day, it is still hanging right where I left it in all of its pride and glory. The papers that came attached to that check were confusing to me at the time, but as I grew older I learned that they represented the portion of my paycheck that was deducted for tax purposes. It was around this time that I also learned to believe the money deducted from my paycheck went straight to welfare, helping the poor pay for their drug habits. This thought frustrated me because I could use that money in better ways than letting it go to drugs. I have never smoked marijuana in my life and I also don’t drink. I even go to the extreme and hold my breath when I pass by someone smoking a cigarette. You may not be as hard-core, goody-two-shoes as I am, but you also hold yourself to high standards and put in an honest day’s work. Yet somehow, those on welfare get to spend our taxed dollars on substances, guilt free. Four years later, enrolled in an English 102 course at Arizona State University, I was asked to write about something that infuriated me. Naturally, drug use among the welfare population came to mind and I decided to persuade my audience to support drug testing this group of people. As all great college essays go, resources were required. So I began researching for reasons as to why drug testing welfare recipients should be a legitimate idea. After multiple hours in the musty library I did not come out with the answers I went in looking for. Instead, I came out feeling like what I was taught as a child was completely and utterly wrong. With this new information, the idea of drug testing the welfare population became irrelevant to me because it was now clear that my focus was on the wrong people. People on welfare are not the problem, and they often don’t do drugs either. Florida, in an effort to expose the welfare population’s misuse of benefits, drug tested their Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in the months of July, June, and 54
Mainstreamed Middle-Class August of 2011. However, Florida’s testing results revealed that only 2.6% of the TANF welfare recipients tested positive for substances not tolerated by the program, leaving over 97% of the recipients drug free (Alvarez, 2012). Similarly, in Utah, only 12 out of 466 TANF recipients tested positive for drugs (Delaney, 2013). This baffled me, because I too was under the impression that my hard earned money went to support the poor’s drug activities. However, as it turns out, those on welfare serve as scapegoats for the disappearance of a large amount of money. This deprived population find themselves falling victim to the stigma of drug use that was created out of fear and placed on an easy target (Katz, 2013). As this research shows, those on welfare are merely in pursuit of the American Dream, just like you and me. So then it must be asked, if our money isn’t going towards the welfare population’s substance abuse habits, where is it actually ending up? An elite group of individuals commonly referred to as the One Percent exists in America. This select population makes up the highest financial quartile in America and has an average starting income of $654,000 for a family of four (Sahadi, 2013, para. 5). However, some One Percent families’ earnings reach well over this starting point and soar in to the millions (“Who exactly”, 2012, para. 3). In 2008, their average income was a whopping $1.2 million (“Who exactly”, 2012, para. 3). This wealthy group’s money is just as taxable as yours and mine is; however, they find themselves entitled to larger tax breaks than the rest of us. In 2011, the One Percent benefited from roughly 17% of all major tax cuts offered while those in the middle quartile, who earn a substantially lower income, only received 13% of the tax relief (Sahadi, 2013, para. 5, para. 8). The One Percent earns more than enough money to feel comfortable but somehow manages to get taxed less than those whose bank account balances may be considered well below where they should be. Why is it fair for the rich to sail around the world in yachts worry free while we, the middle-class, have to put in extra hours to be able to put food on the table? You and I find ourselves falling victim to the income inequality in America and blame the impoverished for our lack of revenue out of fear. We have been trained to think that welfare recipients abuse substances and that they are the reason why the dollar amount on our paychecks isn’t as large as it should be. However, condemning the deprived for our insufficient funds isn’t an idea of our own creation. This scapegoat scheme trickles down from the One Percent and manages to go undetected by us. Some wealthy genius casually swinging a golf club came up with the idea to blame the defenseless poor for the rich gaming the system. The One Percent’s value is 70 times greater than the value of the middle class because this 1% of the population control just under 50 percent of the currency in America (Dunn, 2012, p. 1). This means that there is about a $577,000 earning difference between the highest average One Percent family of four’s income and the lowest average middle-class family of four’s income (Sahadi, 2013). Our chances of falling into poverty is not threatened by the poor but rather by these rich. Instead of looking down and blaming the class below us, we need to look up. Forcing the welfare population to take drug tests only leads us further into the web of lies that the One Percent has taught us to full heartily believe in. We should not pursue the poor for taking money that they actually need and rely on, but should instead go after the wealthy for abusing our dollars to purchase designer purses and other unneeded items. Drug testing the welfare population should not be done because drug use among the 55
Mainstreamed Middle-Class recipients is rare-- this testing would only be a mere cover up for the income inequality in America and the requirement would serve as a way for the rich to get richer while the middle-classesâ€™ focus is shifted elsewhere. Too many have been blinded by the lie of drug use among welfare recipients for too long and it is time we recognize the reality of this situation. We need to change our mindset from blaming the underprivileged and in turn focus on the One Percent in order to solve income inequality. If we do this, then we may be able to regain our financial losses. Until then, Brooke Demny
References Alvarez, L. (2012, April 17). No savings are found from welfare drug tests. New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com Delaney, A. (2013, August 27). Welfare drug testing catches only 12 users in Utah. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com Dunn, A. (2012, March 21). Average America vs. the one percent. Forbes. Retrieved from: http:// www.forbes.com/ Katz, M. B. (2013). The undeserving poor: Americaâ€™s enduring confrontation with poverty. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Sahadi, J. (2013, May 29). Top 1% get big bang from tax breaks. CNN Money. Retrieved from: http:// money.cnn.com/ Who exactly are the 1%? (2012, January 21). The Economist. Retrieved from: http://www.economist. com/
An Open Letter to my Man-Child Dead-Beat Dad By Alexa Jimenez
Dear Daddy, I was five years old and you took me to Disneyland. I still have the Mickey Mouse ears stitched with my name in yellow on the back. I remember you giving me a quarter to make a wish at Snow White’s wishing well. I remember holding onto your leg as we were about to get on Big Thunder Mountain. Most of all, I remember riding the Pirates of the Caribbean. You promised that one day you would take me to dinner at the fancy restaurant inside the attraction. But, you never did. I am not sure why this moment has stuck with me for so long, but one thing is certain — it was the beginning of countless years of broken promises and disappointments. As much as you would like to call yourself a father, the fact of the matter is, you are anything but. The literal definition, per the Merriam-Webster dictionary, states that a father is “a male parent” (“Father,” p. 1), however, you don’t even deserve the title of parent. You see, a parent is someone who puts their child before themselves. A parent is someone who fights to see their child, who wants to better themselves for their child. A parent is someone who cares. The only things your 20-year-old self cared about were basketball and something called Mary Jane. But, of course, like any other dysfunctional relationship, nothing has changed. You’re constantly using the three words, I love you. But, this baffles me, as love is, in its simplest form, putting another person’s happiness before your own. Of course, we, and hundreds of other little girls with estranged fathers, all know how that’s worked out. You, Pops, have never done anything to show me your love. Not even something as basic as making sure I was taken care of. You never fought for any kind of custody. Never got me ready for school in the morning. Never braided my hair. Never stayed up with me all night when I was sick. Never made me a PB&J. In fact, I’m sure you don’t even know that I only like them with grape jelly. The point is, you never did any of the things that a child should have memories of, but you know who did? My stepdad, the person who had the least obligation to do everything you were supposed to. How lucky am I to have been that 57
An Open Letter to my Man-Child Dead-Beat Dad “1 out of 3 Americans that [was] now a stepchild”? (Stepping Stones, p. 1) Even though it is not something every child hopes for, I did. I so badly wanted a dad. It was what I wished for when I blew out my birthday candles. All I wanted was someone filling the space in my heart that you never did. At five years old, my wish finally came true; And thank God it did because I did not want to be the “1 out of 3 American children in biological father absent homes” (fatherhood.org, para. 1) and turn out to be emotionally damaged. I’m 18 now and I’ve accomplished things you will never get to say you helped me achieve. I have already beaten many of the statistics that I seemed destined to succumb to the minute I was born to a teen mom. For example, I have “graduated high school, not given birth as a teen, not given birth as an unmarried teen, and [have] become economically active” (urban.org, p.1). In fact, I have achieved many successes in my short life. I was Senior Class President, graduated in the top 11 percent of my class, have been getting a paycheck since I was 15, earned a $32,000 scholarship to Arizona State University, and at the end of the year will be signing a contract with the United States Navy Reserve. The part you do not seem to comprehend is that you do not get to gloat about my successes. You do not get to brag to your friends, and you most certainly do not get to claim that you helped me get there. You were not there to wipe the tears over lost campaigns, when I was struggling academically because I’m dyslexic (surprise), to wish me good luck when I went to my first job interview, or when I cried because I got a C. But really, what were you doing at this point in your life? Certainly not taking responsibility for the “mistake” you created. When you were my age you were making sure Mary Jane was taken care of instead of making sure I had diapers and formula. You left my 19-year-old mom to fend for herself. Unlike you, she is a parent. She took responsibility, she swallowed her pride, and she asked for help when she needed it. And although “less than 2 percent of teen moms earn their college degree by age 30” (dosomething.org, para. 4), she did not let herself become a statistic. She did what was going to give me the best life, because from the moment the test came back positive, she loved me, something I am not sure you have ever been capable of. The reality is my mom was there to fill not only her role, but also the one you left unfilled The irony is you could have been there, no one said you couldn’t. The door was always open; you were the one who closed it. And after all this, with no explanations, you’re back. At 40 years old you’ve finally decided to become an adult. What a coincidence, because I’m one too. And although for some reason you think that means my memory had been wiped clean of all the pain your absence has caused me, those memories will always stay with me. I will never be free of the thought of my own father not wanting me, of me not being good enough for him to want to turn his life around. The irony is, I do not want to hear any more of your “sorry”s. I do not want to hear any more of your promises, because I stopped believing in them after our fateful trip to Disneyland. The short time you were in my life does not make up for the 13 years you missed, because in those 13 years I became my own person. I was influenced and motivated by the people around me, and again, you were not one of them. It is OK though, really. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be a daddy’s girl. On the contrary, I thank you for teaching me one of the most valuable lessons; to want better for my future children. You have made me realize that not just any guy is up to the 58
An Open Letter to my Man-Child Dead-Beat Dad task of being a dad, but that it takes a real man. A real man who takes pride in raising his children gets to be called Dad. Someone who fills their child’s life with unconditional love, not unconditional pain. He is the one who gets to give his blessing on a marriage proposal. He is the one who gets to walk his daughter down the aisle and be called Grandpa. Since you have not had any interest in being in my life until now, I would not want to burden you with these grueling tasks. Instead, you can sit on the sidelines with your Mary Jane and watch my stepdad, my real dad, take pride in having raised a daughter. But, don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate you. Not to say that I haven’t said that, I have before, but I’ve decided not to waste my time filling my heart with any thought of you (something else that I learned from you.) Instead, I simply do not respect you. Just like you never respected my mom or your role as a father. I would feel badly for you, but you made those choices. And now that you’ve decided that you need me, I don’t need you. You see, someone taught me how to neglect people in my life. And thank God for them, or else telling you to go screw yourself would be unimaginable. In fact, I’ve come to realize that “one of the happiest moments in life is when you find the courage to let go of what you can’t change” (Wong, p.1). In the long run, all I need is my mom and that is exactly what I have. As for You? Well, you made your choice, and now I’m making mine. Sincerely, mommy’s girl, Alexa #18yearstoolate
References DoSomething.org | America’s largest organization for youth volunteering opportunities, with 2,700,000 members and counting. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2015, from https://www. dosomething.org/ Father. (n.d.). In Merriam Webster’s online dictionary. Retrieved April 28, 2015, from http://www. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/father National Fatherhood Initiative. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2015, from http://www.fatherhood.org/ Stepping Stones. (n.d.). Statistics. Retrieved April 28, 2015, from http://steppinstones.tripod.com/ stepping.htm Urban Institute | Social & Economic Policy Research Center. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2015, from http://www.urban.org/ Wong, J. (n.d.). One of the happiest moments ever is when you find the courage. Lifehack. Retrieved April 28, 2015, from http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/one-the-happiestmoments-ever-when-you-find-the-courage.html
photo by Cuyler Meade
Rush Hour Casualty By Jonathan Kistner
The last thing you want is to be friends. You’re in your car. Un-tinted windows. Stuck in rush hour, I-10, cursing his name.
photo by Josephine Contreras
It’d be easier if you were targeted by the shooter. You grab your chest. Drape over the steering wheel. Every cliché you’ve ever heard about a broken heart makes sense.
Swerving in and out of lanes. 5mph pace. Those tears are causing double vision. Time doesn’t stop. You want to pause, rewind. Go back to the world you knew. Slam your steering wheel. Get out your rage. This is only a phase.
Downtown by the Railroad By Oliver van Olffen
In most of the world, blue is a cold color. But here, in an oven in the desert, that’s not the case. The sun shines unceasingly through a hot, blue sky onto the concrete and asphalt surfaces of Phoenix, and the heat remains through the nights. There’s not a cloud in the sky today, except for an artificial one in the distance leaving a brief history of the jet that made it. Bailey and I assume odd positions around the railroad tracks. Holding our cameras. Looking for good material. The junkies are the only others lingering around the tracks. Their clothes are withered and their ribs are prominent. One is sitting down, resting his back against a hollowed, brick building that has been forgotten by the city. He is mixing drinks with beer cans and liquor bottles concealed in paper bags, like a chemist with beakers. A group nearby is puffing, passing, and rolling blunts. Their various walkers, shopping carts, and bicycles are parked around them. Another lies motionless beneath the absent shade of a dead tree. Hopefully he’s sleeping. Here by the railroad, the washed up devote the remainder of their time to their various vices, which likely put them there. A distant train horn will sound occasionally, but the junkies pay it no mind. Absorbed in our craft, we pay no mind either. Railroad tracks run through the entirety of downtown, and with some of the city’s long-standing buildings in the background, it can make good material for photography. We are standing near a Y-shaped intersection on the railroad. It’s an old switch, still operating on a manual lever to change its path. The lever is padlocked, holding it in place. Bailey leans in on the switch in the track and takes a photo. She’s a short and slender person, but her hair is thick and long – tameless. The color is somewhere between blond and ginger – a confusing color. Her eyes are a pale green, and her gaze is stern. Her nose and cheeks are freckled. She made as little an attempt to wear makeup this morning as she did to keep her hair contained. She wears a white t-shirt and jeans. The shirt has coffee and paint stains on it, and so do the jeans. These are the clothes that she wears on busy weekend mornings when we tidy up the house and engage in home-improvement projects, usually in preparation for guests; I have a matching set of shirt and jeans, only I’m not wearing them right now. It has been a long time, maybe years since we last did any work around the house together. So, in her defense, now would be as appropriate a time as any to wear them. We saw we were en route to a divorce and decided to seek professional help. The marriage counselor suggested we find a hobby we can spend time doing together. We 63
Downtown by the Railroad decided on photography since she worked as a wedding photographer, and I had remembered enjoying a photography class I took in college at Florida State. Still focused on the switch, she now crouches down slightly. The flashbulb on her camera blinks, she crouches lower, it blinks again. She wears the camera on her face like a mask. I notice the scar above her left brow is visible behind the camera. She typically uses her bangs to cover it. My brother had long scars going across his upper back. He was fourteen years older than me and had a separate father. Growing up, I thought his scars looked awesome, like Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom. I would ponder having scars just like his, thinking about how they would make me look like a tough guy. On a family vacation to the beach, we had been playing and splashing in the water, trying to catch ourselves in the waves. I asked him how he got his scars. I was expecting a theatrical story that George Lucas couldn’t have told better himself. He took in a large breath as if intending to say a lot. Then, with a slight hesitation, he said, “My dad made those scars.” And in silence he returned to the sand of the beach and sat there, breathing in the salty ocean air. I followed but didn’t dare press for more explanation. That’s all I would ever know about his scars, and the scars would be the only insight I would ever have into knowing what his father was like. It was difficult to understand why he never trusted my father, his step-dad, and never had a relationship with him the way I did. As a child, I spent a lot of my time with my dad in his garden. Most of this time was spent picking weeds, digging holes, doing the laborious, simple minded work. It was good, wholesome activity, but obviously that wasn’t what I liked about being in the garden with my dad. I found invaluable 64
joy and comfort in the time the garden afforded me to talk to my father openly about whatever it is a young boy wanted or needed to talk about. I couldn’t comprehend how to navigate life without having a dad, and I especially couldn’t understand how to navigate life with a bad father. Maybe my brother couldn’t either. There’s an abandoned, brick building by the railroad that I want in the background of my photo. I lie low beside a neglected portion of the railroad with grass growing where it can between the rails and ties of the track. I carefully look over every section of what I see through my lens. I have the grass and the tracks in focus and the abandoned building in the background against a blank sky and city line. So far, so good. I notice that the chemistry junky is still sitting at the base of the building, and he’s in my image. But instead of trying to fit him out of the frame, I decide I like the photo with him in it. I hear Bailey rotate to the other side of the track for a new angle; now her arm and shoulder are in the edge of my picture. “Move to the right just a bit, would you? No, your right.” Finally content, I snap the picture and look at the photo on my camera. A man with no home, having sacrificed all human relationship for his drinks, now sits downtown by the railroad in a patch of grass against a vacated building, with only cans and bottles to keep him company. The image reminds me of Pink Floyd lyrics my brother and I used to sing. Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail? When I was in high school, my brother would pick me up at the end of my school day. He drove an old Jeep with no top and no doors. We would ride in it without any regard for seatbelts or speed limits. Sometimes we didn’t lend any attention to
Downtown by the Railroad stop signs either. Unfortunately, these joy rides came to an end when he got into a car accident. No people were hurt, my brother included. The Jeep, on the other hand, was totaled. I wasn’t there for that one. I was at home, sick, perhaps also unfortunately. Reflecting on it, the fun was inevitably finite. Regardless, my fondest memory of these car rides was listening to the music that we shared a passion for Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, and other artists we considered timeless. We considered our youth timeless too. I resume scanning the landscape around me for potential photographs. The nearby group huddling around their marijuana cigarettes stands out to me. I focus them in the center of my lens, then draw my attention to the background. There’s an abandoned freight trailer resting on its four wheels in the rear and a beam in the front. It stands alone in a fenced, empty lot, with the faded shadows of illegible letters on its side. I pan to the left to catch the entire freight box in my image. The group is in the bottom-right corner of the frame. I pause, wait for a good moment to take the picture – for something to happen. Their conversation seems scripted like the ones I have with strangers or vaguely familiar associates. Hello. How are you? Good, you? Fine, thanks for asking. And then just talk about sports or the weather. In their case, the conversation ends with talking about what contraband is on the menu for today. And then they just keep themselves busy with puffing and passing blunts, then rolling a new one. When it all runs out, they’ll grab their bicycles, carts, walkers, and go their different directions, until next time, I suppose. I snap my camera just as one of them exhales a puff. As if by design, but probably due more to luck, everything in the photo
seems to belong. A gathering of shelled-out individuals, holding an empty conversation, a gray cloud of smoke dissipating in the center of their circle, their run-down modes of transportation parked around them, and a hollowed trailer in the background. Bailey is still crouched down by the switch. Now she stands back up and takes a couple steps towards the old, manual lever which controls it. She fixes the camera back to her face and resumes taking pictures. It looks like no one has turned the lever in a long time. Trains have unfailingly turned right at this juncture for a long while. When I finished college, my brother was the only person I had to fall back on. Our mom had died when I was in my junior year. My dad had to that point been sending me frequent letters from home, typically with cash in them. But the letters and most other conversation didn’t sustain after the death of my mother. My brother had banked all he inherited on a semi truck. He started a moving business, and at the end of his work day, the hollow trailer of the truck was repurposed into an apartment. My brother offered me a job that came with a living space, and I accepted. I worked and lived with my brother for two years. I was very frugal, not interested in any unnecessary expenditures. I would work Monday through Friday and usually Saturday morning too. Moving furniture was mostly redundant, aside from some headscratchingly large and awkward-shaped pieces: a big, brass bed frame; a longcase clock; a taxidermied black bear once. I was happy with the speed things were going; complacent. In hindsight, I probably should’ve made a stronger effort to apply for a career, taken myself more seriously. But two years isn’t that many anyway. Living with my brother was fun at the time. On weekends it was always just the 65
Downtown by the Railroad two of us, and for good reason, considering we lived in a trailer. He routinely bought marijuana and was always happy to share. “What’s mine is yours,” he would humorously say. He even named the company “BlackSmith’s Moving Company.” My last name was Black, his Smith. It had a nice ring to it, even though blacksmiths had nothing to do with moving furniture. Obviously, the way we were living was unsustainable long term. I knew I had to do greater things, utilizing my education: masters in chemistry. When I landed a job as a pharmacist, I was overqualified. But it seemed like my big break, the first rung on the ladder. Still, it was difficult to tell my brother. I wasn’t just leaving him, I was leaving our whole lifestyle of a constant search for recreation, typically drinks and drugs. He took the news well, said he was happy for me. Things disintegrated from that point. The frequent phone calls that we had agreed upon to keep in touch worked at first. But I got busy with work, started dating, meeting people. I think he did too. I saw his truck once, in a poorer part of town. I knocked on the door at the back of the trailer, but my brother wasn’t there. A long-haired man with bloodshot eyes answered the door. He had a blue bandage on his left forearm, and he took at least two seconds to register anything I said to him. I think I saw a girl lying in a sleeping bag in the shadow behind him. He did say that my brother still owned the truck; most of our company name was still written on the side of it. He had been working with my brother and told me I still had the right phone number to reach him, despite not having had any success. He didn’t know where my brother was that day though, and was unalarmed at his unknown whereabouts, as though it were routine. It made me feel odd over my concern. 66
A few years down the road, I would finally get a call from my brother on a number I didn’t recognize. I was newly married to Bailey. He had never returned any of my voicemails telling him that I wanted him to be at my wedding, maybe even be my best man. I never did cultivate a friendship closer than the one we had. When he called, he didn’t acknowledge the missed phone calls. We had a superficial conversation that seemed more a formality than catching up between friends, brothers. As soon as he got through the how are you’s, the what’s new’s, he reached the purpose of his phone call. “Can I ask you a favor?” he asked. “Um … Yeah, sure. What’s up?” “Could you pick me up?” “Ok … That’s fine. Where are you?” I heard a deep breath from his end of the line, as if he were back on the same shore from when we were young. “… Florence State Prison. I just got out.” I didn’t offer Bailey much explanation. In a hurry, I grabbed the car keys and was on my way. I drove him from the prison outside of town to a storage lot where his truck was. I paid the fee for him to get his truck back. He asked for some extra money to help him get a cellphone and get back on his feet. I felt hesitant. But still, my brother was the one who helped me when I needed someone to fall back on. Still working with the lever, Bailey bends down and focuses in on the padlock fixing it in place. She starts taking pictures of the padlock, shuffling around, experimenting with all angles. I wonder how long this padlock will remain in place, keeping the lever in place and the trains turning right. A little farther down the tracks, a man is lying motionless in the sun, beside a leafless tree. Both man and tree appear dead. I focus my camera on them and zoom
Downtown by the Railroad in. I look for his chest to rise and fall, I look for the tree’s branches to sway with the hot breeze. When I was young, I would go to garden stores with my dad. He would look for skeletons of plants that appeared lifeless. He’d press his finger in the dirt, feeling the roots, testing for life hidden inside. “This one is still alive, son. See? Soak the roots in water, and it’ll spring right back.” I didn’t understand what he was showing me. Whatever it was, it was a sign of life. Two months back, I received a phone call from the police station, calling to inform me that a body had been found and confirmed as my brother’s. The last time we spoke to each other was the night I drove him from prison, other than a text message he sent me so I would have his number, if that counts. Whatever the case, it had been a decade at least. The officer said that if I wanted to, I could go to the morgue and see the body; that seeing it helps some family members to come to terms with the loss. When I went to the morgue, his body was laid on a steel table, partially covered by a white towel. I wanted to see the body the same way my dad would see those nearly dead plants. In a way, I did. I saw unmoving, blue lips, but also, I saw lips that breathed in ocean air on the beach when we were young. I saw gaped, fogged-over eyes, but also, I saw eyes that squinted, keeping the wind out as we drove in his jeep with the top down. I saw his hands resting strengthless on the steel table, but also, I saw strong hands that squeezed my shoulders lovingly at our mother’s funeral. But those lips, those eyes, those hands had been dead before this, hadn’t they? “When did he die?” I wasn’t asking him, but the coroner offered me my brother’s estimated time of death. I turn around and look at Bailey, still taking pictures of the padlock. The
hot breeze moves her hair. She seems determined to make it work. She tries one position, doesn’t like it, then another; this one’s better, apparently. She digs her feet in the dirt, planting them firmly. She takes in a deep breath, her chest rises, and stays. Steadying herself, preparing for each picture, the bulb flashes. Then, she lets her chest deflate, finds a new angle, another deep breath, a pause, a flash, repeat. I turn my lens towards her, take in a breath, hold it and wait for her to take hers. She inhales, pauses, I take the picture. After taking the picture, I pull up the image on my camera screen. It’s unique from the other photos I’ve taken. The photo of the man sitting against the building was a picture of decay. The photo of the circle of people with just their contraband between them depicted emptiness. The photo of the man laying under the skeleton of a tree was dead. Looking at this photo of Bailey, it’s still. Yet in my eyes I can see her hair swaying with elegance, her feet digging soundly in the dirt, her chest inflating with the warm breeze. I see her the way my father saw the roots of near-death plants at the garden stores, still full of life. And with the right effort, and with time, that life will show itself in beautiful bloom on the surface. Six months after today, hot blue skies will have turned to iced-over mornings. The grass will have died. The walkers, carts, and bicycles will have all rolled away their various directions. The leafless tree will have fallen. But the switch in the track, the lever, the padlock will all be unmoved; turning trains the same direction as always. And Bailey and I will be right back here with our cameras, still working.
photo by Cuyler Meade
Girls in the Glass By Sophia McGovern
Every ballet, I saw the girl in the glass-covered buildings of downtown Phoenix. She wore my red shoes, red dress and white tights, and held my grandma’s hand. She skipped from pane to pane, and it took everything not to pas de chat with her. We went downtown for ballets at least five times every year, and they were my favorite adventures. The magic of the stage brought my mother to me. The hundreds of miles that separated us were erased with each pirouette made by the Sugarplum Fairy, Odette, the Lilac Fairy, or The Sylph. I never could control myself on the way back from Symphony Hall once the curtain swished shut. I hoped there’d be some magic left, and that I’d see my mother in the rippling waves of glass. I broke free of my grandmother’s grasp and leapt higher and higher until the girl in the glass panted, her face pink and sweaty, but I never saw my mother. The Courthouse in downtown Phoenix is Grandma Marge’s memorial. While I searched for my mother, my grandma ran into hers at every corner in the shadows of historic Phoenix. She was the kind of woman whose name slipped from the lips of famous people in family stories. She was the kind of mother though, whose pictures did not often appear in family photo albums. One night, in the space between dinner and my bedtime, we watched Channel 8’s, Arizona Memories of the 50s. My grandma pointed out the Sip ‘N Bite where she and her friends ate burgers and milkshakes everyday after school. She described what it was like to sew every outfit they owned. Midway through my grandma’s description of the dances, she gasped. The black and white photos had switched to video. A woman in a dark dress with a clipboard, and dark hair, done in a ‘40’s style was talking with her hands in the same way we all did. Although her voice was muted, there was no mistaking Grandma Marge, or her authority. She was in charge. The clipboard appears again next to Barry Goldwater in the Arizona Memories of the 60s. Grandma Marge appears three or four times in a light dress suit, and her hair done up. She smiles more for the camera than herself, and clutches the clipboard close with confident strides. In both my grandma’s and aunt’s offices, a signed picture of Barry Goldwater hangs. They’re addressed to “Dear Marge,” and filled with thanks that fade more and more from 70
Girls in the Glass the photos every year. One of my aunt’s favorite stories is when she and her cousin Evelyn met Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. This brief conversation ended in, “Give my best to Marge, ladies.” Family legend, mostly told by Grandma Marge’s grandchildren, highlights her gumption. Her rebellion from her family’s Mormon values is honored in these tales. Not only was she kicked out of BYU in the ‘20’s for dancing, she married a farmer to spite the influential Paces, who settled many of the small and very Mormon towns in Arizona. Through my grandma’s stories, it became clear that despite the image neatly packaged behind a clipboard, the woman behind the dresses and curls was running. She may have looked the part every woman was supposed to play, but the resemblance could be washed off, or unzipped at the end of the day. Instead of performing motherly duties she threw Bridge parties that were coated in cigarette smoke, and drowned in mix drinks. Her daughters served the ladies drinks in dresses she had made specifically for these parties. By the end of the night the tiny house was full of shrieking ladies with running makeup. I remember Grandma Marge. When I knew her, she lived in a group home and was so hunched over in her scooter that even though I wasn’t four yet, we were almost the same height. Her room was filled with large piles and small things I couldn’t touch. I found out later that many of those perfume bottles smuggled vodka, and she broke the rules of the place more often than she kept them. A few years ago after a ballet, my grandma brought out a picture to show me. I wasn’t sure where she kept it because I’d never seen it in an album. She told me it also appeared in the newspaper that year. In the photograph, Grandma Marge’s young family walks down the streets of downtown Phoenix. She’s younger than she was in the video, but she marches in a plaid skirt, and her hair done in the same 40’s style. She holds her handsome farmer’s hand. He looks straight ahead next to her carrying the youngest of the two daughters. My Grandma Marge’s other hand holds the toddler’s, who wears a plaid dress matching her mother’s. The same determination to behave in her nice dress I saw in the rippling glass of the buildings appears on my grandma’s face. They seem like a flawless family.
Children Who Leave Too Soon By Kristen Emig
Lorna Rope was five when she was dropped off at St. Paul’s, a boarding school in Lebret, Canada. The day of her arrival in 1963, she was unaware of what was happening to her; when her parents didn’t turn up after a few hours, it was apparent they had left her there and would not be returning. She stayed at that boarding school for nine years and saw her parents only on the occasional holiday. Rope said one of the traumas she remembers most was that she lost her identity. She asserts that the boarding school “was a lonely place. Lots of kids, but lonely” (Legacy of Hope Foundation). She claims nuns abused her but also claims that worse was the feeling of being abandoned by her parents. According to Papert (1999), renowned psychologist Jean Piaget, famous for theoretical understanding of child cognitive development, studied how children think and reason at different ages. In his stages of child cognitive development, Piaget emphasized that children do not begin to think logically about events until they are seven to eleven years old. Before the age of seven, children are more shortsighted and see events only from a symbolic standpoint (p. 105). For example, if a child’s parents leave him/her at a boarding school, the child may only feel abandonment; the child will not see the parents are only trying to better their education. The core of Piaget’s thinking is the environment in which a child is raised creates the child’s cognitive development. Of course he also believed genetics play a role in the cognitive development of humans, but a child’s upbringing can greatly affect how their personality develops. For example, if a child is neglected he/she will most likely grow up not to trust others, and consequently will have a hard time making new relationships. Humans are social creatures, and if abandoned at a young age, like Lorna Rope was by her parents, a person can develop less effectively. Based on Piaget’s 75 years of research, Rope’s chances of leading a successful and happy life decreased when her parents dropped her off at a boarding school when she was just five (Papert, 1999, p. 105). Another child, Alex Renton, was left by his parents at the age of eight, at a UK boarding school called Ashdown House. Like Rope, he too felt abandoned and stated that, “[he] never really trusted an adult again, until [he] was one [himself]” (2014). Renton notes that sexual abuse and physical abuse were brutalities he, as well as other boys, faced on a regular basis. “Ashdown had broken me, as you do when you train an animal, and then drilled me until I was a suitable citizen” (Renton, 2014). He was not given the opportunity to have experiences most children of such a young age should have. Most importantly, he could not 72
Children Who Leave Too Soon find security and protection from his parents, which is crucial for younger children in order for them to be prosperous and happy at a young age and into adulthood. Although boarding school can be a negative experience for younger children, it can be a highly rewarding experience for those who are older. Karl Schlachter’s case is similar to the experiences many older children have between the ages of twelve and eighteen. Schlachter was raised by loving parents and was considered a gifted child in elementary school. When he got to high school he started hanging out with the wrong crowd, skipping school and snorting cocaine. His parents sent him to a boarding school in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts. Schlachter claims that he went to school there for fifteen months, and looking back he says he doesn’t understand “how [he] could have been so blind to what [he] was doing to [his] parents” (Marcus, 2000, p. 52). Another boy, Darren Schreiber, was from a wealthy family and like Schlachter, he fell into the wrong crowd. After his enrollment at Boulder Creek Academy in Idaho, “[Schreiber] soon gained confidence and became a passionate writer and public speaker. Now 20, he is in his second year at an engineering college” (Marcus, 2000, 52). Schreiber’s and Schlachter’s cases are not unique in the way they have become stronger and better people. Similar to many children, Schlachter and Schreiber needed guidance to better themselves so they could have brighter futures. Boarding school is often a great option for troubled teenage children. Parents send their children to boarding school for various reasons. As already mentioned, parents send their children to boarding school for therapeutic reasons or to better their child’s education at an elite school. But some parents also send their children to boarding school to fix or change their child. This isn’t a new practice in this country, though. Decades ago our government created boarding schools in America in order to change American Indians and rid the land of their culture. “During the 19th and into the 20th century, American Indian children were forcibly abducted from their homes to attend Christian and U.S. government-run boarding schools as a matter of state policy” (Smith, 2004, p. 89). Boarding schools were built on Indian reservations as government policy, specifically Ulysses S. Grants’s so-called Peace Policy to “kill the Indian and save the man” (Lambert, 2008). These boarding schools were far from peaceful for the American Indians. Verna Flanders was one of the tens of thousands of young American Indian children who were thrown into boarding school in the 1970s. She was just six years old, and she does not reflect on her experiences fondly. “For 10 years [Flanders] missed out on childhood experiences… She grew up without parents, spending a decade of her life, as she remembers it, ‘behind brick walls’” (Cole, 2013). American Indian children like Flanders, reported feeling utterly alone and isolated at the boarding schools they attended. The government stripped these people of their childhood, and consequently damaged them psychologically. I have a friend, Emma, whose story is similar to Flanders’ in that she too was forced to attend a boarding school. The boarding school Emma attended was a therapeutic school in Oklahoma, and she went there when she was thirteen. Her parents had sent her to this boarding school because they felt she was headed for disaster when they learned about her recent escapades: smoking weed and sleeping with quite a few guys. This is problematic for most parents when their child is so young; one question many people would consider is if 73
Children Who Leave Too Soon they, as parents, made the right decision by sending their child away. At the time, it seemed horrible to both her and me that she had parents who would send her so far away. But looking back at it now, there seems to be no doubt in Emma’s mind that what her parents did was right. When she returned back to her hometown after a year away at a residential boarding school, Emma had changed significantly. She stopped her use of drugs, held a steady relationship, and just seemed like an overall more understanding person. At the age of thirteen, a little reality check is what Emma needed; a boarding school helped shape her into the person she really wanted to become. When a family is considering sending their child to a residential boarding school, it is necessary to consider the age of the child and the potential damage that could be inflicted. The parents might wish to better the child’s education, and although they might be doing so, other factors are at play and must be considered as well. At a boarding school, children have little privacy, and also have little time to be a kid and participate in normal childhood antics. As noted by Schaverien (2004), “on the one hand independent and intellectual thought is encouraged but at an emotional level autonomy is not fostered” (p. 699). If a child lacks freedom, it may halt their creation of self. Also, from an emotional standpoint, feeling security from one’s parents is crucial for young children; if this is stripped away from a child when they are so young, is it really fair? Childhood is meant to be spent with one’s family. As noted by child psychologist John Bowlby (1982) in his attachment theory, “the knowledge that an attachment figure is available and responsive provides a strong and pervasive feeling of security” (p. 669). If a child does not first learn to create relationships with his/her family, the child may not know how to develop new relationships; this is referred to as primary attachment. The initial years of a child’s life and what they learn can change their personalities for the better or for the worse. Boarding schools promote their technique of “attachment fracture” where emotional ties to family members are broken (Renton, 2014). From a psychological pointof-view, it is apparent that sending a young child to boarding school would not be in the child’s best interest, as can be hinted in both Piaget’s and Bowlby’s theories. Children are especially vulnerable at a young age; their personalities are subject to change based on their environment and the relationships they have. The problem with sending young children to boarding school is the lack of intimacy crucial to their development. Boarding schools frequently shape an individual into a better, more rounded person. But this is generally not the case for those of a young age. Children who leave too soon are doomed from the start.
Children Who Leave Too Soon
References Bowlby, J. (1982). Attachment and loss: retrospect and prospect. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 52, 664-678. Retrieved from PubMed database. Cole, Y. (2013). Residential school survivors share their stories at truth and reconciliation event in Vancouver. The Georgia Straight. Retrieved from http://www.straight.com Lambert, C. (2008). Indian boarding schools, then and now. Harvard Magazine. Retrieved from http://harvardmagazine.com Legacy of Hope Foundation. (n.d.). Where are the children [Video file]. Retrieved from http:// wherearethechildren.ca/en/stories/#story_4’ Marcus, D. (2000). The toughest cases find a home away. U.S. News & World Report, 129, 52. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier [EBSCOhost] database. Papert, S. (1999). The century’s greatest minds. Time Magazine, 152, 105. Retrieved from http://ase. tufts.edu/DevTech/courses/readings/papertonpiaget.pdf Renton, A. (2014). Abuse in Britain’s boarding schools: why I decided to confront my demons. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/may/04/abuse-britainprivate-schools-personal-memoir Schaverien, J. (2004). Boarding school: the trauma of the ‘privileged’ child. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 49, 683-705. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier [EBSCOhost] database. Smith, A. (2004). Boarding school abuses, human rights, and reparations. Social Justice, 31, 89. Retrieved from JSTOR database.
Frieda By Maeve Norton
Resumen Yo empecé esto proyecto con una misión de explorar y aprender sobre arte hispánico a través de varias experiencias y muchos eventos en mi comunidad local, y lo logré con una mejor comprensión que no había anticipado. Después de probar y estudiar obras de baile, cine, fotografía y arte visual por varios tipos de artistas – famosos y locales, contemporáneos y pasados, ricos y modestos – yo he ganado una mayor apreciación para mis favoritas obras que estudié en mi clase de la introducción de la literatura hispánica. En esto proyecto, cada capítulo revela temas comunes entre una obra escrita que había estudiado en clase y una obra que había descubierto durante mis aventuras en eventos o lugares que celebraban elementos artísticos de la cultura hispánica. En cada caso, analizo cómo las diferencias retóricas y técnicas entre las obras cambian las interpretaciones y los mensajes de las obras, y cómo nosotros, los lectores, podemos aprender de estas obras como guías del pensamiento y de la acción en la vida. Frida Kahlo y Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Un retrato de una identidad verdadera Dos de las mujeres artistas más influyentes de la historia mexicana y latinoamericana – y de la historia mundial – son la pintora Frida Kahlo y la autora y poeta Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Las dos mujeres mexicanas se destacan por sus obras brillantes, pero han ganado gran fama por medios y estilos artísticos diferentes. Frida Kahlo (siglo XX) es famosa por sus autorretratos que muestran un rostro estoico y un fondo con colores vivos y elementos de la naturaleza mexicana. Por otro lado, la feminista y monja Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (abreviada “Sor Juana”) (siglo XVII) produjo muchos cuentos y poemas que implícitamente defendieron la mala posición social de la mujer con un estilo barroco y de técnicas del culteranismo (Juana 190). A través de las obras de las dos mujeres progresivas con conciencias comprometidas, se ve el tema de la discrepancia entre una identidad que es mostrado al mundo externo y una que internamente existe en la realidad de la misma entidad. En la exposición “Frida Kahlo: Her Photos” en el Heard Museo de Phoenix, Arizona, los espectadores pueden ganar una nueva perspectiva de Frida Kahlo con sus apariencias dinámicas presentadas en y manipulaciones físicas de sus fotos. En su poema “A su retrato”, Sor Juana emplea metáforas y motivos del paso del tiempo para protegerse como critica la percepción de la mujer de su sociedad contra las capacidades extraordinarias actuales de las mujeres. 76
photo by Kelsey Cape
Frieda Recientemente, visité la exposición “Frida Kahlo: Her Photos” en el Heard Museo y vi más de doscientas fotos de la colección personal de la pintora famosísima. La exposición se organizaba cronológicamente; las fotos se separaban en grupos que correspondían a ciertos eventos mayores de la vida de Kahlo. Para mí, una sección que se destacaba era las fotos que se capturaron durante el pico de su relación romántica con el fotógrafo Nickolas Muray (Frida Kahlo: Through The Lens …”). Muchas de estas fotos, con la mayoría tomadas por Muray, representaban a Kahlo en muchas posturas animadas, ropa simple, expresiones faciales emocionales, y con fondos de varias actividades y lugares. Aunque otras fotos de Muray representaban a Kahlo en colorido traje tradicional mexicana y en posturas serias (que observé en la gran mayoría de las fotos asociadas con Diego Rivera), observé una foto de Kahlo fumando un cigarrillo con una boca abierta, una de ella sonriendo con su mono (Fulang Chang) y otras mascotas exóticas, una de ella con el pelo suelto en la playa con Muray … en total, había fotos de Kahlo que la revelaban en una luz de vivacidad y sensualidad. Otra sección de la exposición que me interesó mucho incluía fotos de Kahlo durante su recuperación después de un accidente horrible en un autobús y antes de casarse con Rivera. En esta sección, había fotos íntimas de Kahlo en su cama del hospital, y también varias fotos de sus primeros años de adultez que fueron manipuladas por Kahlo- ella escribió mensajes personales en unas, y cortó la imagen de sí misma de otras. Estas manipulaciones mostraron emociones de sufrimiento, tristeza y frustración que ella probablemente se sentía durante estos momentos graves de su vida, y la representación de ella en esta manera difiere mucho de los serios autorretratos muy famosos de Kahlo. Cuando se considera las diferentes intenciones de publicar de Kahlo entre estos dos tipos de arte, un significado grande se presenta. Kahlo probablemente no tenía la intención de compartir sus fotos, sino que probablemente tenía consideración de cómo serían recibidos los autorretratos por el público cuando pintaba al lado de Rivera y otros intelectuales urbanos durante un movimiento artístico en México que enfatizaba idealismo político y nacionalismo (“Frida Kahlo: Through The Lens …”). Aquí, el tema mayor envuelve los motivos personales y ambiente político de Kahlo y su influencia en cómo se representa en su arte. El ambiente político y social de Sor Juana influyó su poema “A su retrato” también, pero ella avanza sus creencias de (en lugar de transformarse en arte) una posición escondida y externa. Desde ella era joven, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz tenía una curiosidad grande para explorar y aprender, y se dedicaba a perseguir esta pasión. Durante una época cuando 77
Frieda las mujeres sufrieron de pocos derechos humanos, ella tenía valor para disfrazarse de hombre para estudiar en la Universidad de México, y escribió muchas obras que criticaron su ambiente social del machismo (Juana 190). En “A su retrato,” Sor Juana compara los papeles y expectaciones rígidos que la sociedad asigna a las mujeres con un rostro pintado en un retrato. La poeta describe la visión perfecta, con belleza ideal y una agencia estática, de la mujer de su sociedad patriarcal como un “engaño colorido” y “cauteloso engaño del sentido” (Juana 191) porque esto juicio superficial de mujeres no es realístico. Este papel femenino es “un vano artificio del cuidado … una flor al viento dedicada” (Juana 191) porque injustamente niega las raíces de identidad individual y habilidades fuertes de mujeres. A la mitad del poema, la poeta mezcla ciertas palabras con connotaciones opuestas para subrayar la discrepancia entre la depravación de los derechos de mujeres y el valor actual de la mujer, y para introducir una llamada a acción. Mezcla la “lisonja” e inmortalidad de dioses con “los horrores” de “los años,” y describe un “resguardo” que es “inútil” para crear un humor de desesperación y urgencia. Con los últimos versos del poema, la autora describe la descomposición del retrato de “cadáver” y “polvo” a “sombra” y “nada” (Juana 191) para expresar la identidad fugaz de la mujer de la sociedad y exhorta que las mujeres se abracen sus identidades verdaderas y resistan la opresión de su sociedad. Debajo del disfraz de su uso de metáforas y juegos con palabras, Sor Juana ingeniosamente expresa sus opiniones sobre la mala imagen social de la mujer y vanidad humana y su cosmovisión feminista. En las dos obras de Frida Kahlo y Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, se revela una diferencia grande entre una representación y una verdad. Aunque las mujeres tenían tácticas artísticas, motivos personales y contextos históricos muy diferentes, las mujeres se destacan por su común talento extraordinario de explorar y expresar identidades humanas a través de arte comprometido. Los mensajes implícitos y obras creativas de estas mujeres y otros artistas continuarán inspirando a espectadores a analizarse y pintar mejores autorretratos.
Bibliografía “Frida Kahlo: Through The Lens Of Nickolas Muray, With Traditional Mexican Costume From The Textile Museum Of Canada.” Textile Museum of Canada. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 dic. 2015. Sor Inés de la Cruz, Juana. “A su retrato.” Aproximaciones al estudio de la literatura hispánica. 7ª edición. Virgillo, Carmelo, L. Teresa Valdivieso y Edward H. Friedman. New York, NY: McGrawHill, 2012. 190-191. Impreso.
mural by Jon Linton, a collaboration with the â€œI Have a Nameâ€? project | photo by Stephanie Garcia
photo by Ariel Shamas
Dear Meninists By Courtney Mally
Dear Meninists, I understand your intention is to “express the difficulties of being a man in the 21st century” (Moss, 2014), I do. Men are objectified, as much if not more than women these days, and that is a lot of pressure to live with. Not every man wants to or has the ability to be Channing Tatum or Ryan Gosling. No one should have to live with the pressure of being the strongest person in the room both physically and emotionally. And, why is it OK for a woman to cry as a way to express herself, but when a man tries to talk about his feelings he gets shut down and told to “man up”? That kind of standard is confusing and impossible to meet. There is also the argument that men need to be paid more than women because men have to pay to get into clubs and parties, when girls can get in for free and, men “have” to pay for everything in relationships. Some women are manipulative and use men for food and gifts, simply because they know they can, or they feel their man “owes” something to them. Being treated this way isn’t fair to you … it isn’t fair to anyone. So, I understand why you’re standing up for your rights to be treated equally as men. However, do you really understand what you’re standing up against? I want you to stand up for your rights, but you need to know why women had to stand up for themselves, first. Here is some background for you on how this all started: The initial idea behind feminism was to stand up for women before and during the early 20th century. Women were seen as things, property to be controlled and owned by the male race … they could be publicly objectified, only given simple tasks as they were not seen as capable or strong enough to do anything on their own. And, as time progressed, women became understandably more and more frustrated with their lack of option to voice an opinion, especially with something as simple as voting come election time. Then after almost 80 years of working toward the 19th Amendment, Women’s Suffrage was passed. Moving further into the 20th Century, the feminist movement caused a lot of activists to be discriminated against similarly to that of African-Americans during the Civil Rights Movement. This caused activists from different classes and races to collaborate, support, and comfort each other during a time when that was not accepted. (Banner, 1984) Women demonstrated the sole basis of what feminism strives for: equality. These activists had no regard as to what race or gender their supporters were; they simply wanted support and equality for all. However, these were the very early waves of feminism. These acts of comfort and collaboration for all people became, through time, misunderstood. 83
Dear Meninists Different women have different definitions of feminism, and how they should behave in relation to this movement. If a woman considers herself “liberated” she may not think that a woman who considers herself a “regular feminist” to be passionate or dedicated enough to have progress made toward a common goal. The differences in opinion on how active a woman “should” or “should not” be involved is counterproductive, because it turns women against women… when they themselves are still advocating for women … so I understand why you, as a 21st Century man, are confused. I’m a self-empowered modern woman, and I get confused sometimes too. Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “Why is she focusing solely on women? Isn’t that one-sidedness the very issue I’m standing up against?” Well, I am giving all this information to you because as feminists, we understand your struggle. We want all the benefits of feminism to be positive for you, too. Just because a woman is a feminist does not mean she wants to take over men’s roles and the world. Yes, we are ambitious women with goals and dreams. Yes, we will stand up for others and ourselves if there is a situation where that needs to happen. And no, we will not settle for less than we deserve. But in all reality, a feminist wants the sexes to be ambitious and work together. Men and women should collaborate, not compete. If men and women work together for equal pay, then everyone has more money and more opportunities to be successful. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? If women are making as much money as men, then men won’t “have” to pay for everything all the time. Although that may go against what you were taught growing up, wouldn’t you want your daughters to have equal opportunities for a successful, well-paid career? Nonetheless, the wage gap needs to be closed. If women are working just as hard, they should be paid as such. Why do statements and protests just like 16-year-old Kari Schott in Sandy, Utah need to be made in 2015? Schott demonstrated the wage gap between men and women today by charging the males at her high school a whole dollar for items at a bake sale, and charging the women only 77 cents. The statement was not taken well … people told her that if the food was sold equally, that would create a “more comfortable environment.” (Kliegman, 2015) Which was the point. How can a 16-year-old have a better perception of equality than the rest of society? There is not a drive for world domination. Just because a feminist woman knows she’s whole on her own does not mean she wants to be alone. Furthermore, meninists and feminists in all reality, are essentially the same. When statements like, “I need meninism because the movie Magic Mike promotes an unrealistic body expectation” (Daubney, 2014) are posted on the Internet, we as feminists, agree. We agree that Hollywood or magazine covers should not set body expectations. In fact: We are enraged when we see that a woman’s weight, clothes, age and hairstyle are more important than her ideas, words, or accomplishments. Women are sexual beings, but sex isn’t all we are … On the other hand, we don’t want to be ridiculed, judged or told we are stupid or vain when we do alter our appearance. We want an end to the contempt for women’s true selves. (National Women’s Liberation, 2015) And feminists want that freedom for every gender. We want equality for the sexes. Women and men should have the freedom to dress however they want. There should not be any standard set for someone’s appearance besides the one they set for themselves. 84
Dear Meninists Society has been male dominated up until now simply because, biologically it made sense. Women could not perform physically to provide enough for a group as a whole, so you took the forefront. However, in this day and age our needs are different. Shelter and food are not scarce, and most of our biological needs can be met by the push of a finger. There is a different level of efficiency reached each day by every individual that to some, having a spouse isn’t necessary. And I truly understand the concept of a feminist, independent woman can be intimidating and confusing for someone who has grown up to be the sole provider and support system for society thus far. The idea of a woman essentially taking over both roles in everyday life is threatening. In all reality, the modern woman could financially support herself, while raising a child she didn’t need a man to have. There are so many options for a woman to “have it all” by herself, all on her own. A full-time career, adopting children and seeking emotional support from family and friends to get her through a rough day … this concept could cause some identity issues for the average man. And so, I have one last thing to say: Meninists, please consider coming together and joining our movement. Feminism isn’t about moving from one lopsided society to another equally lopsided system. Feminism is about equality for all sexes. Thank you, Courtney Mally
References Banner, L. (1984). Feminism comes of age:1945-1984. In Women in modern America; a brief history. San Diego, California: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Daubney, M. (2014, December 29). Will 2015 be the year of meninism? Retrieved April 21, 2015, from The Telegraph at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/11308455/Will-2015-be-theyear-of-meninism.html Kliegman, J. (2015, March 19). This high school bake sale charged women less to make a point. Retrieved March 19, 2015, from BuzzFeed News, http://www.buzzfeed.com/ Moss, C. (2014, December 19). Men have started an anti-feminism movement on Twitter, are calling themselves ‘Meninists’ Retrieved April 21, 2015, from Business Insider, http://www. businessinsider.com/meninist-anti-feminism-movement-2014 National Women’s Liberation - What we want, what we believe. (2015). Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://www.womensliberation.org/about/what-we-want-what-we-believe
The Fall By Molly Bilker
photo by Stephanie Garcia
When you fell from the tree, I positioned myself to catch you, as if I wasnâ€™t short and dwarven, nearsighted and frail. My glasses snapped when you landed. Your cheap necklace found its way into my mouth, and I was struck by the metal tinge, the whole contest where I tried to catch you every time you fell. It was a roll of the dice, a game of strip poker that I always lost. It was your thumb, my wrist, shards of broken window. Each time, I felt the recoil, hot, coppery and acidic. I felt the itch to escape. But when it came time to leave, I couldnâ€™t. Trapped under your fallen skirts and my broken glasses.
The Argument that Changed my Life By Mia De Tomasi
It was mid-February of my junior year in high school. I had just started my second semester at a public school in my hometown after spending almost 16 years at an overly strict private school. I sat in the passenger seat of my mom’s brand new car in what felt like the longest car ride of my life. I listened to her jibber jabber about all I could be doing better and, I do admit, I focused much more on the pounding rain on my window - maybe even counted the times the windshield wipers move - more than the argument at hand. New friends and a new life where I didn’t need to focus on being a good student or having straight A’s, I got to finally be the social butterfly I always thought I should’ve been. I was happy, why couldn’t my mom just get that? Being the only child in my family does call for a lot more arguments, and a lot more “Mia, why this” and “Mia, why that,” but it has also given me this weird sense of friendship with my parents. I cannot stand the feeling of disappointment, especially from them. I mean, I’m the only kid they have; I have to do something right. Anyway, instead of just understanding my fun new life, my mom wanted to lecture me for the one-millionth time about school and my future. I really thought this was just a repeat of the one-sided conversation I had heard so many times before, so I sat picking the pink polish off my nails, and let my mind wander to my own thoughts and agenda. Little did I know, in a matter of seconds, this lecture would change my high school experience, college applications, and my life as a student and a daughter. I said before that I hate feeling like I have disappointed my parents. And I mean I hate it. It’s not like I have an older brother that did stupid things in high school or a little sister that distracts my parents with her bratty-ness, it’s just me. When I make my parents mad, it’s just me, in the big quiet house avoiding all contact. I hated getting lectured in high school because it always ended in tears. I get so mad or worked up that I get that gigantic lump in my throat, and the tears start flowing. I can never help it, except for that day in the car; I was a new kind of mad. I looked up from picking my now obnoxious, chipped nails when my mom said the words, “Mia, you won’t be able to blame anyone else when you don’t achieve your goals.” The word “when” slapped me in the face; my mom had started to lose hope in me. The anger that came over me when my mom started telling me how disappointed she had been in my behavior and academics overwhelmed. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t even feel the lump in my throat. I felt numb. I didn’t get it, I was so happy with all my new friends and I knew 87
I what I wanted to do with my life, so why couldn’t I just have fun? I deserved a break from the stress of volunteering, straight A’s and club fundraisers, and that’s no reason to lose hope in me. She stressed to me how worried her and my dad were over the impending college decisions and even the future of my possible nursing career. She told me how she didn’t think I knew what I wanted or was willing to put in the effort to get myself there. All the money, the time, and the resources they had put into my school career suddenly seemed like such a waste. I felt the utter feeling of disappointment in a way I had never felt. This time, I was so angry at myself for ever letting myself get to that point. I knew how bad I wanted to have a career in nursing and go to a great school, why couldn’t my mom see that in me anymore? After what felt like four hours in the car, my mom got out at a local grocery store. I didn’t even look at her, which was my way of refusing to join her. It was probably a good idea considering the second she closed the door, I shattered. My tears wouldn’t stop, the lump in my throat wouldn’t go away, and a hammer pounded my head. I couldn’t see from all the tears, but I grabbed her work notebook from the back seat of the car, and I just started writing. Every thought, every dream, every hardship, every hope, and every expectation I have of myself flew out onto the paper. The goals I want to accomplish and how I plan to get there, the reasons deep down to the core as to why I want- or need- to be a nurse. It all came out. When my mom got back in the car, I swear she thought I had gone through an exorcism or something. I must have looked like I just died and came back to life because I hadn’t cried that hard in a long time. I put the notebook in the back seat and sat silently in the passenger seat all the way home. Not one word was uttered in the next 20-minute drive home, and not one word was said the rest of the evening. The next morning my sobbing mother woke me up, notebook in hand. She read to me an excerpt of my letter with tears welling up and nose all stuffy. We both sat crying, it might have been the closest my mom and I have ever felt in my whole life: I want to change people’s lives, I want to be the person people cry on and depend on in their most vulnerable stages in life. I am going to be a nurse, and no one is going to stop me. I am going to be a hard working mom and wife someday, that’s not something I am willing to give up for a little bit of fun now. I want people to believe in me and trust my judgment in any situation I take on. I want to be humble, passionate, and fearless. I am humble, passionate, and fearless. I have no doubt in my ability to be whatever I set my mind too. I am going to make you proud. 88
photo by Kelsey Cape
The Argument that Changed my Life
The Argument that Changed my Life To this day, when I get down, when I feel discouraged or unable, she hands me the letter. Every raw emotion I experienced in that instant comes back to me and I can remember why I started all of this in the first place. It reminds me why I am up at 2 am doing chemistry 101 homework or writing essays. It reminds me how my emotions, my behavior, and my lifestyle affect the people who love me the most, and it shows me how important it is to always stay true to myself. At that time in my life I fell into a lot of peer pressure and social scenes that didnâ€™t truly make me happy, but all I could focus on was how â€œhappyâ€? I was. My mom saw it all along and she was just hoping and yearning for me to see it too. I am thankful every day for that argument because the things felt and said in that letter really changed the student, daughter, and friend I have become. I am so happy she decided to lecture me that day; I never knew an argument could change my life.
Filmore after Dark By Molly Bilker
Tribute to Wallace and Ladmo mural by Hugo Medina | photo by Stephanie Garcia 90
Claw-toed ravens walking through my brain with drugstore pumps, melting in dirty blue like gun-muzzle just as the shot goes, epileptic lights flashing behind eyes like gunpowder as the fuse sparks; o god, it sounds like riots inside my brain. It looks like wild things across the ocean. Those birds have hijacked my imagination. A whole ribcage full with molasses and tobacco, heavy memory, molting black feathers and echoing caw. I end up by Circle K. For once, I forget about the gun, avoiding a cockroach in the street. There go my fingerprints. Then my lips, my eyes. I could be a drugstore mannequin. I could be an aviary. Heel to cockroach makes a fine powder. The lights clamp within the brain. Midnight on the dim-lit street I go down. Up comes sidewalk, bird droppings, powdered bug.
The Validity of Radio Opinions By Terra Pinckley
To the Two Local Sports Radio Talk Show Hosts Whose Names I Missed Over Your Valid Opinion on Women in Sports: I, probably unlike yourselves, do not consider myself to be a hardcore-feminist. I do not hold picket signs. I do not rally. I do not send strongly worded letters or voice my opinion on the radio waves. However, you both have the privilege of doing the latter in your show on 910 AM radio here in Phoenix and I am sincerely envious and commend you on having such strong and courageous feminist stances as sportscasters. At first, your voices were just background noise in a car trip home with my friends after putting together a university lacrosse broadcast, but my interests piqued when I heard you guys nobly speak out concerning women’s basketball. You both pointed out the great accomplishment that the University of Connecticut (UConn) women’s head basketball coach, Geno Auriemma, achieved when winning his 10th championship title. What helped make it so great was the fact that this tied him with another legendary basketball coach, John Wooden, for the most all time championship titles (“Auriemma Ties Wooden”). Right after praising Auriemma’s remarkable feat, one of you added, while the other agreed, that in order for it to gain any attention in the sports world at large, it needed to be tied to the fact that Wooden accomplished this with a men’s team, otherwise no one would have ever noticed or cared. Basically, insinuating that Auriemma’s wins didn’t mean anything unless men’s college basketball was there to save the day and give it some relevance. I’d really like to thank you both for looking out for women’s basketball in such a just and fair manner. It’s nice to know that you have women’s backs when it comes to all things sports, and that you’re willing to give attention and credit where it’s due. This relatively minor admission of worth-by-association then led you to elaborate and put forth your feelings and opinions on women in sports. First, right after pointing out the lack of attention women’s basketball receives, you guys then brought up the point that, “women’s basketball is like the minor leagues to 92
The Validity of Radio Opinions men’s basketball.” I would agree! Just like the minor leagues does for baseball, women’s basketball gives women the opportunity to get ‘called up’ into the big show, where they are guaranteed to make more money than they ever thought imaginable while doing what they love. However, in accordance to their rules, Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) players can make no more than $107,000 per year and that’s AFTER they’ve played for six years in the league (“52 NBA Players Make More Than WNBA”); the average is more around $70,000 (“WNBA Salaries vs. NBA Salaries”). The minimum salary for a rookie in the men’s National Basketball Association (NBA) is $507,336, for the 2014-15 season alone. As that rookie player becomes more experienced in years, his minimum salary increases, and as time goes on, the rookie minimum salary increases for each new batch of rookies (“Minimum Annual Salary”). But I’m sure you both knew all of this, being the concerned feminists you both are. Now I know you guys weren’t suggesting that women’s basketball is inferior to men’s basketball in the way that the minor leagues often has inferior play to that of the major leagues in baseball, and your point was to help draw attention to those stats I mentioned above. So that leaves another interpretation of your “minor league” comment — that you both believe that women should be able to try out for men’s sports and be ‘called up’ in that sense! I agree, breaking barriers is a great way to see feminism in action, and actions speak louder than words. Except you guys weren’t setting forth a call to action or some sort of change. No, that wasn’t your message in the slightest, as you articulated in your next talking point. Instead, you attacked the very few women who were able to try out for men’s sports and how much of a failure that was, and how truly unfair it is to allow women to try out for men’s professional leagues. Most recently it was Lauren Silberman, the first woman to try out for an NFL team (“Female Kicker’s NFL Tryout”). Rather than look at her credentials and how she made it to the point where she was able to try out, the course you guys took was to tear her down. However, this was not a point that you stressed, so I won’t stress on it either. What seemed really unjust to the two of you was how men are not allowed to try out for female sports. Historically, only the best of the best when it comes to female sports and leagues have tried out for their male counterparts. Women like aforementioned Lauren Silberman, or Manon Rhéaume who actually played in a National Hockey League (NHL) preseason matchup as a goaltender for the Tampa Bay Lightning (“First Woman to Play in NHL”) after having a resume that included being an Olympic silver medalist. In order for a woman to be able to try out for a men’s sport, they have to have talent, accolades and accomplishments that sets them far an above any other woman in their field. If that same logic applied to men, only the Alex Ovechkins, Peyton Mannings, or LeBron James’ would be able to play in women’s leagues. That is, if they want to take the 10, 15, and 21 million dollar pay cut. Unjust and unfair are not the words I would use when noting that men are not trying out for women’s professional sports; financially intelligent is what I would call it.
The Validity of Radio Opinions However, it appears evident that you guys are not concerned with financial intelligence, as you guys are more concerned with protecting and shielding a woman from hypotheticals rather than furthering their career. As was the case of future full-time NFL referee Sarah Thomas. Sarah Thomas was announced as the first female full-time NFL referee before the beginning of this season. Sarah has been officiating football games for over twenty years at all different levels, including college football bowl games and NFL minicamps. You both either completely overlooked her history, or strangely found it irrelevant when discussing Sarah’s new role as a full-time referee. The issue at hand to you both was the “obstacles” Sarah would face being an NFL referee. The first obstacle you saw Sarah facing was if she was able to handle the “heat” in the NFL, as in helping break up and subdue fights like any other ref, and whether or not she could handle the physicality of the NFL. 1. Sarah will be provided with the same attire, tools and rulebook as every other ref, and will respond as such. The NFL is not treating her different or giving her a different set of guidelines and I’m not sure where you get off thinking you know better than the NFL in saying that she may need different treatment (namely, not being in the NFL at all). 2. Just as with any other ref since, well, forever, if an NFL player touches Sarah they will be punished accordingly with consequences such as being thrown out of the game, fines, and suspensions. There are strict guidelines with how players are to interact with refs, and that will not change with Sarah. She won’t be expected to tackle a player or vice versa. 3. Seeing as it seems like neither of you did any research at all, here is some more: Sarah is the mother of three children, two of them being boys (“NFL Hires Sarah Thomas”). If you think for even a minute Sarah has never had to break up a fight amongst her children, you must both not have any children of your own and were single children growing up. Now a counterpoint to this may be that dealing with ten year olds is different than 260 pound athletes, and I agree. The difference is that there’s more of a chance of a ten-year-old hitting her than any NFL player will ever come close to. 4. Building on that last point, do you guys seriously think after all the domestic abuse and violence cases the NFL has had come to light within the last year that they would let a single NFL player come even close to attacking Sarah? After the fiasco of the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal, Adrian Peterson hitting his kid, and Darren Sharper pleading guilty to serial rape, the NFL has several serious problems. Refusing to promote Sarah because she’s a woman would add to it, especially if the only reason not to promote her is the idea that a player might uncharacteristically attack her on the field. Physicality wasn’t your only concern when it came to Sarah Thomas and her new role in the NFL, though. What about her precious little ears? NFL players can say some 94
The Validity of Radio Opinions nasty things to each other on the gridiron, and honestly, no lady should have to hear what disgusting filth NFL players spew at each other on game day. It is necessary to protect women from harm, and verbal abuse is something that could easily harm the dainty ears found on a woman. Now I could link you to lyrics written — and sung — by women with profane language, or YouTube videos where a young lady repeatedly says the ‘f-word’, but I think I understand where you guys are coming from. I think I get it. Every woman needs a Prince Charming to save and protect her from such harms found in life, and Prince Charming can’t do the job if that woman is putting herself out there and growing as a person. Now if a woman were to sit around in a tower all day or sleep until you arrived, it would be easy to keep her safe, because there’s no risk that she’ll, you know, live life and gain experiences. Such as being able to referee an NFL game. From one helpless woman who needs protection from challenges and profanity to her self-appointed Prince Charmings: Stop being such close-minded fucking assholes, especially when you try to influence the masses. Sincerely, Terra Pinckley #FirstStronglyWordedLetter
References ABC News. (2013, March 3). Female kicker’s NFL tryout falls short. Retrieved from http://abcnews. go.com/blogs/headlines/ Adler, L. (2014, May 19). 52 NBA players who make more money than every player in the WNBA combined. Buzzfeed. Retrieved from http://www.buzzfeed.com/lindseyadler/ Basu, A. (2012, September 29). Part 3: Rhéaume first woman to play in NHL game. Retrieved from http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=642007 Garland, M. (2012, December 28). Top WNBA salaries vs NBA salaries: Who gets paid more? Black Enterprise. Retrieved from http://www.blackenterprise.com/ NBA - CBA minimum annual salary scale (2011, January 1). Real GM. Retrieved April 20, 2015, from http://basketball.realgm.com/nba/info/minimum_scale Ringo, K. (2015, April 7). Geno Auriemma ties John Wooden with 10 titles as UConn beats Notre Dame. Retrieved April 20, 2015, from http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/ncaab-the-dagger/ Seifert, K. (2015, April 11). NFL hires Sarah Thomas, who becomes 1st female full-time official. ESPN. Retrieved from http://espn.go.com/nfl/story
photo by Stephanie Garcia
Wrestling Expectations By Alonso Hernandez
Josh Kramer’s small frame hides the talent that has allowed him to accomplish things most will never even come close to. Standing at 5’6 and 135 pounds, you would never guess he’s a standout wrestler for Arizona State University, which fields one of the best wrestling programs in the nation. But looks can be deceiving, and Kramer has made a habit of proving people wrong his entire life. His back-to-back state championships in high school and multiple Division I scholarship offers have helped. With that type of resume, one could be forgiven for a swelled head, but Kramer is the opposite of your typical jock. He speaks low and laughs uncomfortably when I bring up his accomplishments. “Yeah, I’m not like the best or anything. I just try harder than most people, I think.” Starting his first year at ASU, being a little fish in one of the biggest ponds in the nation, Josh Kramer is ready to surprise people once more. Appropriately, I meet Josh at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex on the Downtown Phoenix campus. I’m already waiting on the third floor when he walks in. He is wearing gym shorts, a Sun Devil Wrestling sweatshirt, and red and gold training shoes. He gives me an almost whispered “Hey,” puts down his backpack and sits down. He is quiet, and I have to lean in after every answer he gives. But he’s confident. He is sure of himself in the way that he walks, talks, and, of course, how he wrestles. “It was like, shit, I’m about to lose without scoring a single point,” he laughs, still almost in disbelief about his second state championship match. “It sucked, because the whole time I knew I could beat him. I was down 8-0 and I just wasn’t wrestling like I usually do. But I knew I had it, I’d been here last year, and I knew I could do it. There was a minute and 26 seconds left in the match. I got a couple takedowns and, I took it to overtime and I beat him.” That was the state finals, and that win got him his second state championship in a row. His usual solemn look breaks into a sly smile. He can’t help himself; it’s one of the few things that replace that look. “Yeah, dude, to win like that, it was awesome. It was special … yeah, it was special.”
Wrestling Expectations As a standout wrestler in high school, Josh knew it was going to be different at the collegiate level. After coming very close to starting for the ASU wrestling program, Josh recently learned he was going to be redshirting his freshman year. It was a tough reality for him to swallow, but it didn’t take him long to accept the hard truth. “Obviously I was disappointed. I want to wrestle, everyone does. But it’s not like I can just give up. I’m going to start next year.” With a few seniors occupying his weight class, it was always going to be tough for him to start. He didn’t take the decision personally, but it was quite a shift from the role he played in high school. Starting from the bottom all over again, Josh is determined to work hard and change opinions. He recently flew to New York to attend a wrestling tournament. He finished with a record of two and two. “It was ok. I’m alright with it because it was my first time wrestling at that level. But it’s still not good enough.” Josh’s main goals coming off a redshirt year are to be a better wrestler than ever and to be ready should his number be called. His day starts at 7:30 in the morning with his first practice. Afterwards he has to hustle to Downtown Phoenix for his first couple classes, then head back to Tempe for his second practice of the day, take a quick shower, and, finally, attend his last few classes. A Kinesiology major with aspirations to be a physical therapist, Josh isn’t the athlete working his way towards a major in underwater basket weaving. Majoring in a competitive field and wanting to attend physical therapy school, Josh knows he can’t slack off in his studies. His goal is to graduate from ASU with at least a 3.5 GPA, given that he’ll be looking to get into graduate school. When he’s not wrestling, or doing school work, Josh likes to spend his time with his long-time girlfriend Adriana Orozco, a freshman athlete on the ASU varsity soccer team. “We met freshman year of high school and we’ve just been together ever since. She’s awesome. That’s kind of where I spend all of my free time is with her, I don’t really go to parties or things like that. It’s not really my thing. I’m pretty boring.” As the interview is wrapping up we start playing ping pong, a change of pace from Josh’s usual sport, but he’s game. He turns out to be very good. With the sounds of bouncing basketballs, the squeaking of shoes sliding on hardwood, and our own ball hitting the table rhythmically filling the space around us, Josh breaks away from his usual mumble. “Yeah I’m pretty competitive,” he says after beating me for the second time, flashing a smile and keeping it light hearted. “I just think we [wrestlers] have to be; it’s intense.” True to his word, he keeps track of every point, and every win and every loss in our “friendly” game. We play a last game before we sit down. I win. We play another last game. He wins. “Yeah ok,” he tells me smiling and sitting down. “I just couldn’t end on a loss.” Before we leave, I ask him about his future. “I really just want to do the physical therapy thing. I want to coach high school wrestling too one day. I think it’d be awesome to coach my own kids one day too, that’d be awesome,” he smiles at the thought. “Unless they end up choosing soccer,” he finishes up, laughing. In his future it’s Adriana that’s with him. It’s his family that’s with him. And, of course, it’s wrestling.
photo by Amanda LaCasse
Thunderbird Park By Scott Hodnefield
The park pool in December still full, with wraiths on the water – I used to ride my bicycle the six blocks to watch them make dance, but they were never afraid. A clairvoyant said condensation on frozen night is only shadow I asked her if she is lonely – her face was made penumbral by haloing park light: I knew she was crying. I miss being able to believe there is God in the condensate – Leviticus admonishes her, Saying she is made from depravity, but we both cry.
Kosher Soup for the Soul By Daniel Lester
“Oh great,” Lazy said with a tiresome tone. “There goes the rest of my free time.” After hesitating, Cowardly chimed in, “Oh boy, I should have paid more attention to the notes we were given. I just know I am going to fail this thing.” Never missing a beat, Arrogance was quick on the scene, stating, “No need to worry. I’m sure I can Google the topics and write out a few pages based on the examples.” Deep within my brain, seven key figures dictated my every move and emotion. Lazy, Cowardly, Confidence, Arrogance, Imaginative, Picky, and Optimism had all functioned peacefully inside my naïve mind. Upon hearing that I would have to write a 12-page paper about what Judaism means to me in order to graduate from middle school, things got a little hectic upstairs. Writing about Judaism should come as second nature. After all, Confidence and Arrogance had been routinely collaborating, giving me a false sense of security. “You go to a Jewish school and to synagogue, you have nothing to worry about.” Adding fuel to Lazy’s fire, their words hit a nerve with me. Coming from a Jewish household and regularly practicing my faith, I couldn’t fathom why I was stuck trying to write a paper about what Judaism means to me. Stunned by this lack of knowledge about a religion that had been a large part of my life, Optimism came to the rescue, letting me know that I would be able to search deep in my heart and easily connect the dots between myself and Judaism.” Slowly, I began asking my Jewish educators about their experiences with Judaism, only to get answers that set me back due to their broad and contradicting views of the religion itself. The Orthodox teacher studied every word of the Torah and believed that we should not deviate from any aspects of it. The Conservative teacher believed that only the most important aspects should be practiced. The Reform teacher believed that the religion was malleable, and that the important rules were simply recommendations, not morals to live by. In “Institutions and Frozen Thought,” James Gee  asserts schools themselves are, “frozen thought. They exist in part to think for us.” While I did not know it at the time, my institution’s restrictions were not in the requirements for the essay, but rather the broad spectrum of views that my educators had towards the religion itself. Knowing that it was its time to shine, Picky carefully chose its words, asserting that I “must make sure to cater
Kosher Soup for the Soul various parts of my paper to my educators’ views, as to not displease one of them and get a bad grade.” With nothing to lose, I looked within my smallest discourse community, my family, for their advice. Without hesitation, my grandfather chimed in about the significance that Judaism had on the establishment of Israel, and how the religion was almost wiped out less than a century ago. “When I was a baby and my family was escaping Poland from the Nazis,” he said solemnly, “my mother had to hide me with a non-Jewish family, so in the event that they were captured, my life would be spared.” Imaginative quickly came to center stage, describing to the other members of my brain what my ears had just witnessed. I had never thought of Judaism as a culture, but more like a religion. My grandfather was able to help me realize that Judaism was not just going to synagogue on Shabbat, but that it flowed through my veins. I was able to convey a few thoughts on my blank Word document, but I was still stuck. Consequently, the sheer size of the essay made me overthink the material and not comprehend its substance. According to Erika J. Peterson in “Past Experiences and Future Attitudes in Literacy,” “there are usually many people playing different roles in teaching literacy to young children.” In this instance, the “adolescent” approach that I took to Judaism played the role of the young child, while the role of the teachers was played by my family and people within my religious discourse community. Having been to Israel, I was able to stretch out a page or so about the aesthetics of the land, such as the mountain fortress that is Masada and the Dead Sea’s ability to make people float. However, it seemed like Lazy had become Imaginative’s new role model, and I was again stuck. I figured that joining Jewish organizations would help, and with the help of Confidence, I became involved in my Jewish community. I joined Jewish youth groups and student unions, and attended synagogue more frequently. This enabled enhancing my essay, detailing the bond that Judaism builds between people. Several days and revisions later, my paper and search for religious identity had come to an end. My seven “copilots” had helped me on a journey guided by the most arduous writing assignment of my life. As I handed in my completed essay, glad to be done with the work, I, without knowing it at the time, set in motion within me a religious foundation that has yet to be broken. According to Gee  in “Short-Circuiting the Circuit of Human Reflective Action,” “much of formal schooling is devoted to listening to and reading language, not taking actions in the world that are relevant to that language (say in history, civics, or physics).” I held similar thoughts about education until I completed my research paper. Virtually all of my past homework assignments simply consisted of being asked a question and having to answer with the correct answer. This essay had no right or wrong answers, and it enhanced my ability to put my own ideologies into my work. While I was not too thrilled with having to write a 12-page research essay in middle school, I can now see the importance of it. While my ideologies were still being shaped, my teachers gave me the ability to face what my religion meant to me head on, and it grew on me. They made me face who I was as a person, and allowed me to reconnect with my religion and faith. The more I wrote, the more I became passionate and inspired. A simple
Kosher Soup for the Soul writing assignment made me rethink my whole Jewish ideology and who I was as a person, and I will never forget the impacts that a â€œsimpleâ€? writing assignment had on me.
References Gee, J.P. , Institutions and frozen thought and Short-circuiting the circuit of human reflective action in The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students Through Digital Learning. Macmillan. Petersen, E.J. . Past experiences and future attitudes in literacy. In E. Wardle & D. Downs [eds.], Writing about writing, A college reader, second edition. [pp. 191-197]. New York: Bedford/St. Martins.
Nothing to See Here By Kat Hofland
I wrote my name in blood & didnâ€™t ask you to forgive me for it.
Envious of the way colors move into & out of each other so easily. There was never a secret, just the pride of owning oneself completely.
Maybe my best defense is miles from home. If you are my home, I will always be miles away. I still have a rolled up dollar bill in my purse from the days I spent my time on dying. I have no sense of grace.
I no longer long for open arms to fly toâ€” just a soft bed, a cigarette, and nothing to need. 107
mural by unknown artist | photo by Amanda LaCasse
Let me open up my skin and show you how I bleed black diamonds. I used to lick them off my legs at midnight.
An Essay’s Exhortatory Epistle By Ethan Millman
To whom it may concern, Unlike the scholars who have adulterated my true purpose, I am going to get straight to the point. I can no longer be silent for the crimes against my very nature. What was originally supposed to be an art form has become merely a dreaded part of the educational curriculum. I am talking, of course, about essay writing. In case I need an introduction, I am The Essay. For seven hundred years, I devolved into the current mishmash of scholarly articles and student assignments that I’m known as today. I’ve gone from acting as one of the most crucial vehicles of change in history to a caricature of my former self, and I have shriveled into a powerless, dry mess. But this is not what I’m meant to be. I was formed through the art of rhetoric. Persuasion, conveying an argument and making change were my virtues. Social satire, novellas and plays slowly formed, still sticking to the roots of argument. Throughout history, I’ve been carved into stone and carried down mountains, I’ve called eye for eye, tooth for tooth, I’ve been nailed angrily to church doors to start reformations, I’ve been sent to kings to sign a nation’s independence, I’ve even justified the ingestion of Irish infants. I’ve voiced a mad man’s struggle and a hopeful girl’s time in hiding. I helped a man powerfully cry out his dream of civil and color equality. And now I am used as a useless tool for high school students. Where did it go wrong? Unfortunately, strong essay writing went extinct with rhetoric as a whole. Rather than seriously proposing change or conveying an opinion, essays have become vanity projects and tiresome assignments. With students no longer learning rhetoric, any genuine arguments are long gone. What made an essay great? Not relying on five-paragraphs. The typical formulaic high school paper was just that… formulaic. With no true room for writing, essays tend to stay in the box, merely answer pre-determined prompts. How can a writer create a real argument when they are instructed to do so? Opinions stem from passion. As passion cannot be faked, how can an apathetic student, driven by nothing more than a letter grade, present a genuine argument on the given subject? Scholars are no better. Shrouded in vanity, scholarly articles are typically written for other scholars, in a perpetual effort to impress their peers. Literary critics have
An Essay’s Exhortatory Epistle been shaming essay writing for years. Between deconstructionist literary criticism and incredibly long, vague, jargon-filled discursions, scholars embarrass essay writing. What can be done to bring back my once good name? As a start, reviewing what makes a strong essay would help. If I haven’t stressed this enough already, an essay uses rhetoric, and usually leaves the reader with food for thought. Some stronger essays, such as James Paul Gee’s Learning by Design clearly present an argument, facts, opinions, etc. Gee clearly tried to address more than one group of people, shown through his employment of light vocabulary and concise stating of his argument. Along with the use of other rhetorical devices, Gee actually showed an example of strong writing technique. Other strong representations include Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. Through use of satire, hyperbole, and a slippery slope type of cause and effect reasoning, Swift created something powerful. Though he didn’t necessarily mean that children should be used for sustenance, he caused an intense ripple effect. I know that the similarities of a scholarly article and social satire are few and far between, but both touch on the most crucial part of an essay which, of course, is rhetoric. And this is what needs to be highlighted to future essay writers. Writing isn’t always about the artistic side, nor is it about the paper’s length. In many instances, even among students, the biggest adulteration to my very identity comes from ignorant grandiloquence. Essay writing, at my very core, needs to convey a point of view or an argument. Make the reader think. If what has been written starts conversations, responses, or arguments, then it has done its job and fulfilled its purpose. So reader, the next time you take part in writing an essay, think before you write. Sincerely, The Essay.
Respuesta del pretendiente (a response to Tú me quieres blanca) By Tonya Wagoner
Domingo, el 17 de enero del año 1912 Mi Querida, Entiendo completamente porque tú has decido dibujarme un cuadro de tus sentamientos. Deberías darte cuenta que esas relaciones frívolas no serán significativas. Quisiera que tú sepasque no hay otra mujer quién merece el título de mi esposa tan como tú. Tú eres mi cisne agraciado. No te olvides jamás que te he escogido, tú tendrás siempre todas que las otras mujeres se codician – mi propiedad, mis cuentas, hermosa ropa, invitaciones a fiestas elegantes, perfumes de la Francia y sobre todo, mis hijos legítimos. Tendrás una vida de tus sueños conmigo. No es un delito si prefiero que tú estés “blanca”. Una mujer de la estatura alta en la sociedad debería ser franca y pura. Ella es especial y más respetable que putas. No tienes que hacer nada, pero ser mi azucena. ¿Por qué refutarías esta magnífica oferta del matrimonio? ¿Sería por razones de orgullo? No seas celosa de las putas, mi amor. Tú vales más. Un hombre puede amar a una mujer con su corazón entero, pero esto no le parará de querer probar el néctar de muchas flores. Un hombre exige que su esposa sea su propia virgen limpia mientras tiene cuidado de sus tendencias carnosas como necesario. No significará absolutamente nada. Los placeres de los hombres no deberían causarte tan sufrimiento innecesario. Un hombre, cualquier hombre, mi estimada, podría ser descrito como un salvaje que reacciona con su cuerpo a las mujeres de pocas luces. Un caballero ama su dama con su corazón, mente y alma. ¿Quién prefieres ser? Nuestra noche de bodas vendrá bastante pronto y significará algo. Me atrevo a decir que sus labios también serán morados. Por favor, aceptas lo que no puedes cambiar, mi amor. La tuya, Tu esposo por toda tu vida
Respuesta del pretendiente (a response to Tú me quieres blanca)
January 17, 1912; Sunday My love, I understand completely why you wish to paint me a portrait of your feelings. You must realize that these frivolous relationships will be insignificant. I want you to know that there is no other woman who deserves the title of my wife other than you. You are my graceful swan. Don’t ever forget that I chose you, you will have everything other women want — my property, my accounts, beautiful clothes, invitations to the most elegant parties, perfumes from France, and above all, my legitimate kids. You will have the life of your dreams with me. It’s not a crime if I prefer you to be “white” (pure). A woman of your high social status should be pure. She is special and more respectable than whores. You don’t have to do anything but be my lilly. Why do you refute this magnificant marriage porposal? Is it because of prideful reasons? Don’t be jealous of whores, my love. You’re worth more. A man can love a woman with all his heart, but that won’t stop him from trying the néctar of many other flowers. A man requires that his wife be his clean virgin while taking care of his fleshy tendencies as necessary. It will mean absolutely nothing. The pleasures of men shouldn’t cause unecessary suffering. A man, whichever man, my love, can be described as a savage who reacts with his body to women who are not very bright. A gentleman loves his dame with his heart, mind and soul. Who do you prefer to be? Our wedding night will come soon enough and will be significant. I dare also say that your lips will be bruised. Please accept what you can’t change, my love. Yours truly, Your husband for the rest of your life.
photo 112by Amanda LaCasse
Smoke By Kat Hofland
I met him at 10:30pm at the hookah lounge where we were regulars. The owner knew our water bottles were full of vodka and kicked us out, so we finished them off in the parking lot, pretending we hadnâ€™t been high all day. We went back inside and took our spot on the large leather couch. We started smoking, talking about how I was raped and how his father used to beat him. He went to the bathroom to do another line of coke, and I took another OxyContin. We sat for a few more hours. At 2am we each drove our cars back to our apartment building. We watched TV and fell asleep with our toes touching.
photo by Amanda LaCasse
photo by Cuyler Meade
Transition in Phoenix Heat By Scott Hodnefield
You will not have trouble finding love in those who already know you without body, conscience of holy becoming, seen as you feel (you are) hopeful You will not have trouble with fleeting ambiguity second puberty true becoming, stubble to be transfigured peach fuzzed cheek against mine as we hold each other in protest of what binaries say from across sententious streets
The Intrinsic Journey By Melissa Mueller
She definitely looks like your local Phoenix yoga instructor with her hair falling down to her shoulders and her outfits of flowy shirts and long skirts. However, Jacqueline Labonok is not just a stereotype; she is passionate about the work she does and the journey she’s been on. Jackie is a strong individual who has endured many of life’s difficulties and now dedicates her life to helping others by imparting the wisdom she has learned along the way. Jackie did not always see herself as a yoga instructor. “I had no direction and no idea what I wanted to do!” Like most college students, her passion was not in plain view so she struggled to find her niche. After achieving an undergraduate degree in social work, Jackie was still clueless. She helped her mother with a clothing business for a few years, but the business fell apart. Jackie had high hopes when she went to school to become a travel agent, but even that left her completely dissatisfied. Disenchanted, Jackie gave the career search a rest for a while. Then, something caught her eye. “I was driving down the road one day in Scottsdale when I saw a sign for a Psychic Fair. I did a U-turn and went in to see if someone could help me find my life purpose. What I found was an amazing life coach/counselor who helped me steer my life to where I am now! Working with her, I decided to go to graduate school in social work. I was happy to find that there were some offerings in alternative healing as that was an interest that resonated with me.” At that point Jackie still did not know what she wanted to do, but at least she was moving forward. It wasn’t until age 36, after she had just given birth to her first daughter, that Jackie started to practice yoga for her scoliosis. She found an enormous difference in how her back and whole body felt. Practicing yoga was the start to transforming many aspects of her life. In March of 2010, as Jackie was just settling into her married life with her newborn daughter, she was blindsided by the news that she had breast cancer. Jackie was taken aback because she had always been a health-conscious person. “I went into a bit of a denial and stepped up my juicing and alkalizing body thinking I could control it. I felt I could go all natural with my treatments and began searching for alternative treatments.” Jackie did not want to face the reality that she might need chemotherapy or a mastectomy. She was passionate about natural body healing and was desperate to defeat the cancer on her own, though she quickly realized it was much worse than she thought. “By this time the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes and I could see that it was serious.” At this point, Jackie could have gone with the natural remedies to cure her cancer but deep down she knew what she had to do. Instead, she sought the help of her old trusted life coach who worked 118
with her the whole time she received the medical treatment she needed. “It was through this work with her, the mindfulness practice she taught, and the Healing Emphasis Yoga Teacher Training that I started using the tools I needed to cope.” Jackie practiced yoga and meditated daily to help keep her spirits up. She came through the treatments cancer free. Jackie used her experience with cancer as a springboard for evolving her career and began teaching yoga at the retirement center where her mother lived. She taught Hatha, Restorative, Healing, Therapeutic, and Yin yoga there. Jackie felt strongly about what she was instructing these seniors. “The love and kindness I felt from the students was very healing.” She felt encouraged by the seniors as they were rooting for her to fight to be cancer free. In turn, she helped the seniors stay active in their old age. In December of 2013, Jackie got a job doing what she loved at the Banner MD Cancer Center. She now gets to work with cancer patients. She teaches two yoga classes a week and also gives private consultations to people struggling with their treatment. Jackie is wonderful for this job because she can personally relate to her clients and because she has been through it all. She helps shed light on their dark times in the hospital. Jackie says, “Every time I walk into work at the hospital I am reminded of what is really important in life and I remember how much I needed support when I was faced with cancer. I feel I want and need to be there for them. In some people, having cancer is the opportunity for life transformation. My favorite thing about teaching there is how rewarding it feels when you begin a yoga session or consultation with someone who is in a very bad space and then you see this complete transformation by the end of the class or session. You can see and feel their renewed joy and hope.” Jackie not only helps cancer patients with yoga and counseling, she also teaches at Arizona State University as a Stress Management instructor. This class involves learning many stress-managing techniques and practicing them, as well as practicing yoga and meditation. Jackie just started teaching this class in the fall. She knows very well that college can be a stressful time in students’ lives and explains, “I feel so excited to have the opportunity to offer them these stress management tools that has taken me so many years to learn. I think about how much I could’ve benefitted from what I know now, at their age.” Jackie is passionate about the work she does in the classroom and it shows. The students in her class adore her and see her as a role model. One student says, “Jackie has an attitude about life that everyone ought to. She is lighthearted and you can see she really cares about her students.” Jackie says her main message to her students is: “We are all going to face challenges in our lives. These challenges are opportunities for growth. It is not so much what happens to us in 119
photo by Stephanie Garcia
The Intrinsic Journey our lives, but how we choose to look at it and what we choose to do with our experience.” Jackie positively impacts the future generation with the tools to live a stress-free life. Yoga and meditation are clearly incorporated into Jackie’s professional life and these practices remain incorporated into her personal life as well. Yoga has done so much for Jackie; it has helped her mentally, physically, and spiritually. “Physically, yoga has helped my back, healed my wrists, helped digestively, helps balance my hormones, and strengthens my body and flexibility.” Mentally it has helped reduce her anxiety and depression significantly. “It has given me a connection to a higher power that I have never felt before … It feels like going home when I come to my yoga mat and meditate.” Jackie has found herself through yoga and it helps her in virtually every aspect of her life. In her free time, Jackie is constantly responding to emails from work, making lesson plans, and attending meetings. She is also a wife and a mother of two daughters, and she loves to travel with them. Jackie and her husband like to go for hikes and her daughters love to shop. To her surprise, her practice of yoga and meditation has further helped her with her daily life. “I am much calmer and less stressed, which helps everyone. I sleep better when I am doing yoga and feel much happier, which helps everything run a lot smoother at home. It has helped me become more conscious of what I am feeling, to recognize when things are not working for me and also the courage to speak up about it.” Jackie notices that everyday life is much less stressful with yoga and meditation in her life. She even proclaims, “Once in a while I can get them [her family] to do yoga!” Jackie does not teach just to teach. She does not instruct yoga classes just to stay fit. She has discovered the healing benefits of yoga and meditation. These benefits have assisted her in her professional and personal life. “Yoga has helped me in so many ways in my life that I just want to share it with others,” Jackie says. “The number one thing is to be kind, patient, and accepting of ourselves. It is from this space of love and acceptance that we can heal and transform ourselves.” Jackie shares her peace of mind with her students and her clients at the hospital every day. She has shared her journey with us to further help us with our own.
A Personal Cartography By Carolina Marquez
Iâ€™m lost in the jungle of America, taking notes on the geography, trying to map the area while everyone else runs by.
The Salt River Phoenix tastes like rust and blood because the DEA polluted the ground water with their war on drugs.
The West Desert The land of the coyotes is too hot to walk on. We wait for them to guide us. Instead, they rip us apart: an arm and a leg, they take it all.
San Xavier Mission La llorona calls me back to the Santa Cruz River Valley where my ancestors walked miles for water. I hear them crying.
Sabino Canyon I realized how little I discovered, the day I came home. But now, Iâ€™m wishing I was still lost. 121
mural by Gennaro Garcia | photo by Cuyler Meade
Late August By Bonnie Murphy
The mirror behind the old carved bar revealed a face he was not certain was his own. Where was the thick cropped hair with all of the light brown shades? When did it begin to be replaced with thin grey strands and a straw colored remainder? How long ago did the top part start growing back to meet his neck? Gone also were the chiseled features of his cheekbones and jaw lines. They had been replaced with extra flesh, his forehead had grown longer making his brows stick out at odd ends hiding his eyes, now more sunken. No longer were his eyes light blue, eyes in his younger days when a girl had said, “danced in the light.” Once they’d been filled with life and hope — a promise of some untold future. Now they were cold, hidden gray- certainly not dancing. Standing, he realized he was not as straight as he once was. His shoulders rolled. His head and chest used to taper toward his waist, now a triangle of skin under his chin and below was a rounded mass, showing he had quite obviously consumed large amounts of the wrong kinds of food and too much alcohol. No longer wanting to see himself, he looked instead down the expanse of the bar. Three men sat on bar stools not close to one another. This could not be a Friday night, could it? Was this the kind of bar where one went if he no longer belonged to the real bar scene where there was music, dancing and laughter? Had his days of emulating beer commercials ended and all of the promises of fun, women, and companionship that those days implied— had those days ended too? He gazed at the surroundings again. They, like the people who had lived a solid portion of their lives, were tattered and obsolete. Here it was the last of summer and green Saint Patrick’s Day shamrocks were still stuck to the wall. They were an advertisement for a light beer. He could remember when they were being tacked up and he had used the back of one to scribble the beginning of a letter. There were still other memories around the bar, reminders of people-including him-spending lonely Christmases and too many paychecks here, to escape the loneliness or, at least, make the loneliness bearable. Waving to the bartender, settling his check and nodding to the other three men, he left. The night air was brisk, almost cold to his face. This was unusual for August. Still, it was refreshing. Not for the first time upon leaving the bar, he wondered which was worse-going to the bar or leaving it. Both made him feel an expectance, then a disappointing emptiness. If he stopped going, he wondered how long it would be before anybody inquired his whereabouts. Would it be a concern or just something to keep the conversation sagging on? 122
Late August Taking a breath of dirty city air, he expelled it by coughing—a deeper cough than usual, lasting longer. he was reminded of the country and how everything there was natural and so much cleaner. He loved the country. So many times he had gone there to collect himself. But every time he returned to the city, not because he wanted to, but because he felt too dirty for country life. All of the animals seemed content. They belonged. This always filled him with envy. The only place he felt he belonged now was the bar and then only if he spent his money at just the right pace. How many times had he forgone buying dinner so that he would have a few extra bucks for the bar—a few more bucks and an extra couple of hours to spend there? But enough thinking about the country or the bar. He needed to decide which direction to turn now. If he went left, he’d go through the city’s red light district, past the drunks in the alley, the addicts along side of them, most of them shaking from withdrawal. No one there had anything of enough worth for anyone to steal. He’d pass the whores and count how many of them would hit on him. There had been times when he would take a barometer of himself based on the count. When he first started walking this way, he was approached by the hookers nightly. Each time he walked by now, they progressively hit on him less often. At first, he thought it was because they were after someone more prosperous looking. Then, that they had never really seen him. Rather, they’d seen him around and decided his escape wasn’t with them. He needed to be with a familiar friend in order to feel better. And he liked the caress of glass, a glass that when emptied could be filled again and again. If he went to the right, he could walk around the fading neighborhood. Sometimes he did enjoy going past the small frame houses and wondering what it would be like to have one. To have a place that was yours—a place where you knew who did or did not belong. What would it be like to sit on the porch of your house and think things like, maybe the house needs painting, or maybe we’ll have rain before the fall really sets in, the grass sure needs it. It was true he had enjoyed walking through the old neighborhood but lately more and more of the houses were surrounded by chain link fences and the few enclosed people he saw, seemed to look at him funny. He did not understand this. When he’d first begun walking there they never even seemed to give him a second glance. He turned left. Not as nice but felt more comfortable. He walked a couple of blocks and shot a glance down a familiar alley, as he usually did, or especially did since he’d been mugged there a while back. Just past the alley’s mouth, a strange recollection hit him. He saw a familiar figure trying to keep from falling, leaning against a garbage dumpster. He thought he knew this man—knew him from the bar. He was wearing the same dirty oversized jacket he always wore. How long since he’d seen him? Three weeks? Maybe more? He approached more closely. The jacket wasn’t just dirty, it had become badly stained. It seemed to reek of whiskey and vomit. He wondered if he should try to help his comrade. After all, he was now certain it was the man and the two of them belonged to the same bar- or should he turn around and keep going? He turned around and kept going. In two short blocks he was at his hotel. He’d only been here two weeks, having moved from the hotel across the street. This one was not as nice but cheaper and for the little time he spent here he felt it was worth the difference in quality. He’d have more money for the 123
Late August bar and there was a little liquor store in the lobby. He bought a pint bottle, then walked past the elevator with its out of order sign to the back stairs and began his three flight climb. At the second floor landing, he noticed a worn but still serviceable blanket. As he approached the blanket, it moved. He jumped. At first, he thought a rat had got tied up in it. But he looked again and saw a small black rounded nose followed by a white rounded snout. It was a puppy. For the first time in over ten hours, the man opened his mouth to say something other than a drink order and asked the small dog, “Watcha doing here?” Knowing he would not get an answer, he picked the dog up and climbed the last flight of stairs. He held the vulnerable pup, gently and felt its tail beating against his chest. Instinctively, he held it closer, unlocked the door to his room and then slowly brought the puppy two steps to the bed. The little animal walked tentatively around in a circle three times and then plopped down on his rear and looked up at the man. The man looked determinedly for what he might find to feed his charge. After rooting around in the single cupboard, he came up with a can of vegetable soup, a bowl and some beef jerky and with shaking hands placed it on the bed. Gently, he picked up the puppy and placed its mouth close to the bowl. The puppy began slowly to lick at the soup but soon began to quickly lap it. How soon it was gone. “Hungry, aren’t cha?” the man asked. Then he sat down on the bed with the dog and hand fed him small pieces of the beef jerky, stroking him as the dog ate. Then suddenly, tired the man lay down on the bed and closed his eyes. The dog licked the man’s arm, then nestled in the crook of it. Within minutes, the puppy was lightly snoring, deep within the man’s arm and into his body. And for the first time in a long time, the man was asleep — really asleep. Not just lying there with his eyes closed hoping to find rest. He was in a good sleep — the kind where nightmares are not possible. After a time, the man dreamt of being young. He dreamt of a time when having family and friends meant having comfort. He heard sounds of laughter and smelled food cooking. He watched the people in his dreams enjoying themselves and wanting to be part of that, filled his sleep. Someone smiled at him as if he were not an intruder. For the first time in a long, long time, he felt comfortable. A small smile came to his face as he slept. The little dog remained in the man’s embrace until the first morning light. That is, while the man continued to breathe. He stayed while the last of the man’s air escaped his lungs in a small gasp, the calm remaining on the man’s features. Then the small little creature stood, licked the man’s cheek a few times, then stretched, scratched himself and jumped from the bed. As the dog looked up through the window, a small yellow bird flew by, heading due east.
The Painter By Jonathan Kistner
The next day, crowds gathered. She felt confident this time. With resplendent strokes, she created white clouds on her canvas, giving him a clear day. He looked up squinting. She thought he was pleased, but he covered his eyes with dark sunglasses and disappeared. She threw the brush down and didnâ€™t paint for days. The sky was blank. Her mind was blank. She chewed at her nails until they were destroyed, teeth gnashing. She went off her medicine. She might be at a high risk to develop psychosis. In one last attempt she crawled to the roof with her brush. Bright oranges, vivid pinks and blues illuminated the desert sky. In a matter of minutes, it transformed into a menacing purple that was caressed by glowing city lights. Once the sun set, she jumped. This time, the man was pleased. 125
photo by Josephine Contreras
She woke up each day and climbed to the roof top. It was mid-April. Everything was in bloom. When he gave her a paint brush, she promised a masterpiece in return. She painted a sunrise, but he wasnâ€™t impressed.
Editor Bios Shania Alba is an aspiring broadcast journalist with a love for the arts. Her main focal points are the local music scene and physical fitness. She strongly believes that everyone can achieve happiness on an emotional, spiritual, and physical level and that belief carries into her reporting style. She strives to report on issues that can improve one’s happiness or bring awareness to issues that may directly affect the public. Ayelet Ben-Nisan is graduating from ASU with a degree in English literature and a minor in nonprofit administration this May. She loves learning about people’s stories and is passionate about making sure their stories are heard/read, as well as making sure they can have happy, healthy, safe, fulfilling, and successful lives. Charles Brown is a 26 year old father of two boys from Tucson Ariz. He loves video games and is obsessed with the game, Dota 2. An avid reader and writer of fiction, he appreciates writing in all its forms, especially writing which speaks to the soul, promotes growth. He believes all the pieces in this journal do just that—promote spiritual growth or understanding in some way. The only thing this journal lacks is dragons. Charles loves dragons. Zack Bunting is a journalism student at the Cronkite School. Serves beer by night, fights crime by day. Host of the greatest radio show of all time, Folkin’ Around, which can be listened to on 1330 AM Fridays 8-10pm. Very amateur banjo player. He likes to say he is a photographer, but that is a lie, he doesn’t know how to use a camera. Josephine Contreras is a social work major and sophomore at ASU. She was born and raised in Texas. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing and volunteering. Starting her own practice and helping others is one of her lifelong dreams. Until then she will continue trying to make a positive impact on others from one day to another. Brooke Curleyhair is currently a Sophomore at Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus. Her major is secondary education with an emphasis in English literature. She aspires to return to her hometown, Kayenta, Ariz., on the Navajo Reservation and teach at the high school she graduated from. She loves everything pink and is obsessed with her baby (dog), Buko. Daniela Diaz is a communications major at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus. She is currently in her junior year and intends to minor in English. After graduating, she hopes to become a teacher and further her education in literature, eventually teaching literature at a university. Her ambitions in life include reading everything she can possibly get her hands on and instilling a passion for literature in the leaders of the next generation.
Rosemarie Dombrowski, PhD, co-editor-in-chief, is the co-founder of the Phoenix Poetry Series, an editor for the Phoenix-based literary press, Four Chambers, and the founder of rinky dink press, publishing works of (micro)poetry for the people. She’s the author of two collections of poetry – The Book of Emergencies (Five Oaks Press, 2014) & The Philosophy of Unclean Things (Finishing Line Press, 2016). Notably, she never wears flats and prefers to be called ‘RD.’ Sarah Elenes is a senior in general studies with focuses in writing, science, health care, and values and society. She enjoys working with various ASU clubs that seek to help new students connect with their campus, including Sun Devils Wear Prada, Sun Devil Survivor, and Outlaw Comedy. In her free time, she works with a non-profit organization, Hope, where she helps with event planning, hospitality, marketing, and other aspects of operations and logistics. When she graduates, she hopes to become an event planner and a leader in organizational management. Her current favorite hobby is walking to new coffee shops with her newlywed husband from her apartment in downtown Phoenix. Sawyer Elms is a student in the creative writing program at ASU. His goal is to be able to teach creative writing to young adults, but is aware that he will probably just teach English. Sawyer writes short literary fiction in his spare time, and reads when he should be working. His goal is to foster his own writing and the writing of others by creating dynamic and productive communities. Kaia Evans is a senior studying journalism at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She works as a copy editor for The State Press and interns at AZ Big Media. Last year she studied abroad in Italy where she channeled her inner Lizzie McGuire and indulged in her loves of pizza, pasta and cute Italian boys. She hopes to cross more countries off of her bucket list after graduating in May. Stephanie Garcia is a senior at Arizona State University and is expected to graduate May 2016. Her love for literature led her to major in English literature in the hopes of a possible publishing job in the near future. In her spare time, she enjoys hikes, photography, reading, and skate boarding. Though one of her first loves is literature she also plans on pursuing a photography career. She is currently interning as a copy editor on a few projects and has also manages to get her photos out there through several outlets. Overall she’s a wellgrounded student with big dreams in the marketing fieled through literature. Raymond Gurley is currently in his second year at ASU and remains active in his studies and in his career path. A native of Los Angeles, he enjoys creating content of all sorts, including videos and stories, and hopes to be an actor or screenwriter in the future. Raymond has a strong passion for bringing laughter and enjoyment to those around him and takes pride in his ability to connect with others. He is very close with his family back home (one brother and two sisters) and cites his mom being an avid role model in his life.
Emily Holloway is a taller-than-average senior at Arizona State University who is constantly reminded that she is tall and should play basketball (she doesn’t). Her goals after graduating with her bachelor’s in English this spring include working for a publishing company and living in the city like the glamorous Carrie Bradshaw. She also sees herself traveling the world. Kaitlin Kroum is a self-proclaimed coffee enthusiast, lover of naps, and beginning yogi. She is a junior at ASU, majoring in communication. In her free time, Kaitlin enjoys writing, going out to eat, and dancing terribly in public. She aspires to have a pet owl. Sophia McGovern is a senior in the creative writing and global studies programs. This is her second year on the Write On, Downtown editorial staff, and her nonfiction chapbook Mizungo was designed by Four Chambers this past November. She is traveling to Chennai, India with the International Alliance for the Prevention of AIDS after graduation. She hopes to apply to MFA creative writing programs, and eventually teach creative writing at the university level. Hopefully, she can provide students a space for global health advocacy through not only writing, but also partnerships with organizations that are both local, and abroad. Cuyler Meade is a senior, a husband, a father of three, and a late-awakened writer of fiction and poetry. His background is in journalism, but his heart is in literature. Though new to the craft, his creative faculties have arisen from the dust to lend new color and expression to his extant psychosis. A sometime musician, he wonders why Savage Garden wasn’t a bigger deal. He loves Bob Dylan and barbecue chicken pizza. Catherine Rezza, co-editor-in-chief and instructor of English at the Downtown Phoenix campus, holds an MFA in fiction from ASU and a BA in political science from Brown. Previous lives include construction worker, Harvard Square bartender, and editorial assistant to the associate publisher of Hyperion Books in NYC. Lately, she takes refuge in the Buddha but she still aims to misbehave.
FOUR CH A M B ER S
A Journal of Student Writing at the ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus