Non-fiction Editor: Ariana Maciel

2018 Staff

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Major?

English Writing Arts and English Literature

What are your interests?

Playing the ukulele, making funny videos, role playing, making up words

Life goal?

To be peaceful and present in all my endeavors

What are you passionate about?

Life, food, alcohol, animals, literature, philosophy

Favorite TV show?

Girls, Sons of Anarchy, It’s Always Sunny, Game of Thrones

Favorite color?

Black

Favorite word?

Flabbergasted

Favorite time of the day?

Sunrise and sunset

Fondest memory(ies)?

When my little sister was born in 2001, When my father came back from Iraq in 2002, When my mother was pronounced cancer free in 2015.

What do you love about yourself?

My versatility.

 

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Non-fiction Editor: Emily Almodovar

2018 Staff

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Major?

English: Literature with a Journalism minor.

Where are you from?

New York City.

Favorite color?

Blue.

Favorite food?

Italian, sushi, avocados/guacamole, sautéed vegetables.

Favorite TV Show?

Bob’s Burgers, The Office, Parks & Recreation, and Family Guy.

Favorite movies?

I have a lot of favorites, but I love Moana, Pulp Fiction, Get Out, and The Shining.

What are your plans for after college?
My future goal is to become an editor for a publishing company, but right now I am looking into a summer graduate program at NYU. I also plan to travel a few times and try new things!

What is your favorite word?

I have many favorites, a few are paradox, salient, and plethora.

What’s one thing on your bucket list?

I want to visit every Caribbean island, especially Puerto Rico. I also want to travel to Italy and other places in Europe. I really want to try a lot of the food from all those places!

What has been one of your favorite college experiences?

My favorite, most memorable college experience is getting my septum piercing—I did not think I would ever get that piercing! I really thought I was going to faint or cry, but I toughed it out. I had to go to class right after, too.

Non-fiction Editor: Jason Lima

2018 Staff

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What’s your major?

I study Writing Arts, which means I write things down, and study how to write things down.

What is your favorite color?

I love black. And lavender.

Favorite hobby?

Being a Game Master for Dungeon & Dragons. I also collect board games when I’m bored. HA! Get it?

Favorite Music Genre?

Pirate Metal

What are your favorite movies?

The Shawshank Redemption is the pinnacle of good storytelling. 

What is your favorite food?

Good Ramen

What is your least favorite word?

Necessary

Favorite time of day?

Breakfast

Life Goal?

To figure out what my life goal is. Let me know if you find one for me.

What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My hair.

Non-Fiction: Beauty Capturer by Hanna Elizabeth Yost

Non-Fiction

The doctors swarm like flies to blood. I twitch with anxiety, ready to slap a mosquito on the back of my neck at any moment. But I am indoors, surrounded by pastel walls and sterile supplies. “Who is the current president?” they ask. “Barack Obama,” he replies. “And who was the president before him?” The doctor asks his clipboard. My father says, “President Ford.” I rub my palms on the fabric of my skirt, trying to get rid of the clammy feeling.

He’s tired again. He won’t say that he is, but with a bandage around your head and a drugged expression, it’s hard to look anything but tired. I scoot my chair closer and lean toward him, inclined to lessen the distance. I smile and say, oh no no no. You did fine. As if it were a graded test. Pass or fail. You’ll do better tomorrow.

He reaches his arm out, palm facing upward. This is our signal to one another. All those drives in the pick-up truck. In between shifting and flicking through radio stations, he would put his hand out. Hello, don’t worry. I’m here. The miles may stretch out before us, but just grab my hand and it will be okay. Squeeze. Let go. Shift. I take his hand in mine and can do nothing but rest my arms on the edge of the bed with my face down. His other arm moves gently, careful not to pull the IV, and his fingers come to rest on my head, trailing through my hair.

My face pressed hard against my skin, I think of what this must look like to other people. I think that it would make a good picture. A sad picture, but a good one. I imagine Kelsey in the doorway of the room, face partly concealed by her camera. Photographer is such a generic name. I choose instead to call her a Beauty Capturer. This is beautiful too, isn’t it?

Non-Fiction: Oregon Trail in our Backyard by Geralyn Adams

Non-Fiction

On a rainy day, I could be found looking out the window, staring listlessly as water collected into ponds in the ditches of the gravel driveway. After the rain, I would rock hunt. My little brother Glen and I searched for special rocks in the driveway; geode was our favorite. When I took geology in college I was disappointed to find out that the rocks we thought were geode were actually variations of quartz. We went cruising on our bikes, never far enough though, because my mother told us not to go farther than the dead end of our two streets. Oregon Trail was an escape—we could go farther than we ever had before without leaving the yard.

It was an elaborate pretend game of survival. I foraged for berries, leaves, clovers, flowers, and honeysuckle, putting them in a Frisbee for “dinner” that got served with the imaginary animals he hunted in the woods and brought home to our plastic cabin playhouse. We only ever really ate the nectar from the honeysuckle. We collected twigs for firewood, and put them in our cabin to store up for the harsh winter.

We didn’t have oxen, or a wagon; there were never broken wagon wheels or rivers to be forded. There were no murderous vagabonds; no thieving bandits. No one got typhoid fever, measles, dysentery, or cholera. No one got bitten by a rattle snake. Neither of us ever died. We never settled in our log cabin because it was infested with spiders that had made their home, nestled in every crevasse.

The honeysuckle still grows in the brambles. We have both moved away. I wonder if he remembers those summer afternoons of Manifest Destiny.

Non Fiction: If You Win This Hand by Geralyn Adams

Non-Fiction

 

“If you win this hand, I’ll roll a peanut to China with my nose,” he winked and his whiskers grew into a smile. I chuckled, knowing he would neither win the hand nor roll a peanut to China with his nose, despite its girth.

He usually smelled bad, and always had crud under his fingernails. When he went swimming we’d lovingly call it his yearly bath. At times he was grumpy because someone was making him take a shower or clean under his nails, but the promise of ice cream always livened him. He had type two diabetes and when someone complained the ice cream would affect his blood sugar, he said to let him die happy, with his ice cream. In his eighties he lived more than anyone I had known.

“Want to hear my Italian impression?”

“Sure, Grandpa.”

“Put the macarroni in the icea boxa,” he laughed at his own joke. His grin was hidden beneath his beard, but I always knew he was smiling when his eyes lit up.

Grandpa, Grandpa!,” the grandchildren shouted enthusiastically.

One day during a particularly long camping trip in Tennessee he said, “Call me Grandma, I’m tired of being called Grandpa.” My little brothers took to calling him grandma, they thought it was hilarious.

The earlier memories are fuzzy; some are just stories I have heard along with vague figments of recollection. I do remember scaling fish with him—the smell, and the feel of scales under my fingernails. I remember walking on wooden planks he put in place, they led to the Mattawoman. As I played in the creek I scared fish from his nets. I remember how my brother Gabriel was scared of Grandpa at first because he had never seen anyone with a beard—he would cry louder if Grandpa tried to talk to him or dare to pick him up. Gabriel got over his fear of the beard and became Grandpa’s buddy—he learned from John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, he dressed like a cowboy and if you pretended to shoot him he died valiantly. He twirled around and cried out in agony, “Ah, you got me!” and fell, lying with his tongue hanging out.

When Grandpa was seventy he was having a heart attack. I remember climbing the narrow staircase to see him. He was holed up in his room with a gun, threatening to shoot—no one was making him go to the hospital, over his dead body. He gave in and got a pacemaker. My parents warned me against going up those rickety stairs, but I didn’t listen, I just wanted to be with Grandpa. Lo and behold, one day I tumbled down those stairs and had to get stitches in my head. All I remember was afterward, when the stitches were being taken out, kicking my dad while he held me in place so the doctor could snip out the strings. I wonder if I still have the scar.

I still have a scar on my forehead where Grandpa scratched me when I was an infant. I don’t know if it was an accident, other family members joked that he was marking me “Me number one pattawon.”

If I told you some of the stories of my grandfather, you would not believe me. I have seen photos, I am a believer. He evaded water police on the Potomac in his riverboat. He punched a cop, cursed out a judge, and landed himself in prison. He escaped a few times.

“Wie geht’s, Grandpa?”

“I’m not going anywhere!”

I never knew if he was joking or not during this exchange, but I like to think he was being a smart alec.

“Wie viele Männer hast du? Halt, ich schieße! ”

He taught me German phrases from the War when we sat in the car waiting on my mother during her road runnings. He began to tell me stories.

A common story I heard was how he found Jesus. He was in a fox hole, it was night.  A man told him about how his father had cattle on a thousand hills and a mansion on a hilltop. He thought the guy was loaded; he said he better watch out for him, stick with this guy. The man must have went on to explain about his rich heavenly father, the streets of gold and gates of pearl. That sounded like a pretty good deal to Grandpa. The story always stopped there. Christianity sounded like a get rich quick scheme.

“Ich liebe dich, liebst du mich? ” he slurred his German like an alcoholic. I smiled.

“You’re the prettiest girl on this side of the Mason-Dixon, Sherylanne, ” He could never say my name right, and it never bothered me, “Hell, we could put you in a potato sack and you’d still be just as beautiful. ”

“Gin rummy, ” I smiled, “I’m out. Where’s that peanut?”

Non Fiction: Mourning by Christopher Brennan

Non-Fiction

The first thing I noticed was the quiet.

There was silence in the school hall that morning. There was no scuffle of shoes across the polished floor. No one was shouting across the hall to get a guy’s attention; no one was talking about how wrecked they got that weekend or how they saw her best friend’s boyfriend totally checking out her best friend. The conversations I usually overheard were gone, hushed down to whispers or not even spoken of. Instead, there was silence.

The second thing I noticed was the tears. I sat down at a table in the cafeteria, noticing a girl I sometimes talked to. She was crying. Her cheeks were puffy and red, her lips shaking, choking down a whimper. Her eyes were bloodshot, mascara running down her face in broken patterns. I asked her what was wrong, but she said nothing. I noticed her face was one of many. Most people had their heads down, but some were up, with the same puffy cheeks and red eyes.

Someone died that weekend. I heard the story in bits and pieces. My friend, composed yet solemn, told me that a junior was in a car accident driving home from a party. He was a year younger than me.

“He wasn’t supposed to be driving,” someone said. All the faces blur together now when I try to recall who said what.

“He was grounded but he went to the party anyway. He stole his mom’s car keys. He didn’t even have his driver’s license yet.”

“He was so drunk, we told him not to go,” someone else said. “but he went anyway, and then—”

The speaker buzzed on. Our principal called us to an assembly in the gym. A short walk from the cafeteria to the gym, the mass of people crowded together, slowly walking towards the heavy doors. I waited in the back so as to not get caught in the crowd. The gym was already lined with chairs. We didn’t have an auditorium or official center so the gym often functioned as both for events like pep rallies and concerts. This wasn’t like that though.

I sat in the back row, near the door. The principal told a similar story to the one I had already heard from the scattered voices. Sometimes, I heard a choked sob. More often, I heard people who didn’t hold anything back.

Like most mornings at a Catholic school, he led us in prayer. It was either a “Hail Mary” or an “Our Father,” sometimes both. The prayer echoed to the ceiling, and everyone who wasn’t sobbing spoke the words with the usual monotony. And then there was the quiet again.

I never knew him. People talked more about him than before, and I learned a few details of this boy. He was a football player, apparently a good one. He went by Jay Ray. I never knew if that was just a nickname or his actual name. He liked that incessant Soulja Boy song, and it was often heard or referenced in the halls during the days to follow.

I went to his wake. I said I would go and for some reason, felt I had to. It was near my school, in a white church that I always passed but seldom paid attention to. Perhaps I felt some sort of obligation to pay my respects. Or perhaps it was out of some morbid curiosity.

I dressed up in a clean, collared shirt and a red tie, not knowing what to expect. Outside, it was brisk but not cold, a typical autumn evening, nothing special about either the weather or the building. Inside the church was a different story. It was filled with people sitting and standing and there was a line stretching around the pews to see the coffin. I went on the line, and I noticed someone I knew sitting down. I waved at her. I don’t think she ever saw me.

The line was quick, but long. People shuffled silently along, but there was a strange sort of murmur in the air. No one looked like they were talking, but you could hear voices. That always seemed to be the way with churches. You expect solemn silence, but there is always an odd hum floating around, sneaking past the statues and crawling along the long windows of stained glass.

The line reached towards the front, where the pews were crowded, and the display of flowers came into clearer view. All white, I noticed suddenly. The flowers, the ceiling, the clothes, the coffin, all around was white and more white. It would have been startling if there wasn’t this muted quality about it, pale and dim. I found myself at the coffin.

It was closed and I sighed with relief, but there were pictures of him surrounding it. Two large ones were the most noticeable, one with him in a jersey and the other looked almost like a prom picture. He was smiling in both. I tried to put a memory to that face. I was searching for some sympathetic memory, a feeling that I would have, at least briefly, known the boy smiling down at the people in black and white. But nothing came to mind. That wake was probably the only time I ever saw him.

I was never great with the idea of death; it frightened me ever since I was a child. I remembered becoming sick when I went to my fist funeral as a boy. I suddenly thought maybe I shouldn’t have come. I prayed silently to this closed coffin and the picture of an unfamiliar face.

Turning around, I saw his family. They were all looking down or staring blankly. Some were crying, but most just looked vacant. My eyes latched onto the mother. I knew she had to be his mother, but I can’t remember her face. I remember her there, that figure sitting down in front, head down and lamenting the loss of her son. She had lost him so suddenly, so quickly, it must have felt like the world was splitting in two. A dozen questions ran through my mind.

She began to look up and I said my condolences without actually saying them. I opened my mouth and the words were there but I couldn’t speak. My voice was caught somewhere in my throat and it stayed there.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” I managed to say in a low, low voice. I felt pathetic and useless, and walked out of the church without a second thought. I didn’t stay for any service or prayers. I don’t know what’s worse, that I didn’t stay or that I didn’t want to stay. All I felt was guilt and grief for a boy I never knew.

“How was it?” My mother asked me later.

“Sad,” I said. “Quiet.”

 

Sometimes, it comes back to me, crawling around in my mind. Thoughts and feelings I want to push away, but insist on coming back. This wake is one of many memories I would like to change or delete from my head, but I can’t.

He died and I felt sad and I didn’t know why.

I used to cry when we passed cemeteries when I was little, and I felt sick when I thought about death. I came to terms with it as I grew up, but it never left me, that looming presence of death. It is there to remind me, to remind us, that no matter what we do, no matter how far we fly or how low we fall, we will die one day. I will die one day, and I will be forgotten.

That is what scares us the most, I think. That no one will remember us when we’re gone. I look back to Jay Ray’s wake, thinking of all the people that came and mourned him. Perhaps there were some like me, who went for the sake of going, out of guilt and grief for the loss of someone so young. All those people coming to remember him.

I will never have that.

That is the selfish thought that haunts me on nights when I can’t sleep. I toss and turn, and the thought usually jumps in and out, static in a radio. The harder I try to push it away, the more it comes back, whispering a silent hum in my mind. It tells me that I will die, disappear into nothing, and be forgotten by people who don’t want to remember such sad things.

I’m sure people remember him. It will never leave his family, of course. But he was after all, one victim amongst thousands. His death is hardly any different from all of those other drunk-driving accidents you hear so much about, all the ones you see briefly in the news.

It is always in the quiet these thoughts come, and in the quiet they stay, with memories both tragic and commonplace. I feel this urge to push them away, yet their presence tells me they must be heard, they must tell others their feelings, and ask if they feel them too. Perhaps I just have a coward’s heart. I am young, and all I know is what I have seen and lived through.

All I know is that I will never forget when I mourned a boy I never knew.

Non Fiction: End by Christina Kim

Non-Fiction

I don’t remember how it ended. Period. No matter how hard I try, no matter how many years go by, I can’t recall when it was, where it was that I last saw you or spent time with you before that visit.  When you left that was it. The end. You walked out of that spot I reserved just for you, that spot every daughter reserves for her mother.

I want to believe it was at the airport that last time I saw you. Maybe we were at the gate, where non-passengers cannot go beyond, with the black elastic lining those boundaries and the security with their stern faces painted on, gripping their batons as though they might sprout legs and run from them as well. You might have had a suit on since I picture you wearing one even to bed back in those days (those days back then).  Maybe you wear one to bed, even at night, even at fifty, when you’re overwhelmed from staying in the house too long. It might have been one of those black pencil skirts and blazers that I saw walking away from me. So tight and streamlined you always were, hair even bobbed then so as to be cleaner, straighter.

We may have hugged, with you whispering in my ear a promise to come back, or apologies for having to leave. I might have even cried, though that one is a bit of a stretch of imagination. My hand was probably clutching grandmother’s the whole time, grandmother very likely crying and shaking as you stooped onto your knees to envelop me in your hug.

I want to believe that you hugged me tight so as never let me go, so that hug would linger on me as you yourself walked away, barefoot with your arms over your head to stroll past those vigilant security guards. I want to believe that it lingered, that I could feel that hug on me as I pressed my cheek against cold glass to watch your plane, or maybe it wasn’t even your plane at all but some other business mom’s, disappear into the sky.

But, I don’t remember how you left.

Non Fiction: Teach by Christina Kim

Non-Fiction

This is how you listen. No, not with your ears. With your eyes. When you sit with someone who’s speaking to you, telling you about how awful her day has been, you listen. You listen with your ears and try to pick up those words, every one of them. And you try to glean what she’s trying to say from what she’s not saying. But the trick, my dear, is in listening NOT with your ears. This is how you listen with your eyes.

When you sit with her, you open your ears to her, yes, but try not to rely only on them.  Open your eyes as well.  When she is fidgeting, maybe touching her hair too often, picking at her fingernails, swinging her legs.

Notice, maybe when she talks about her mother, she clasps her elbows, clenching them tight like a cage.  Maybe she clenches her fists.

Notice, maybe when she speaks about her boyfriend (s), she’s twisting her hair around that index finger, eyes glazed, barely even reacting to your questions. Listen with your eyes.

Even when she’s not talking, maybe she flinches when strangers are near or covers her ears with headphones, her hat, her scarf, her hood?  Maybe she hides herself, closer into the corner where the table meets the ledge against the wall.

The world is a very loud place, if you want to listen. But it’s colorful in its loudness. Open your eyes and you will hear just as well as you can see.

Notice, maybe on the days when the words are sad, when the words are all greys and thunderstorms, that she is a riot of color, all neons and reds and greens, alive.

Open your eyes.