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  • Unveiling the Origin of Ghost Costumes

    For as long as I can remember, my family has maintained an annual Halloween tradition of watching the 1966 TV special It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown at least once every October. In it, many of the characters dress up as ghosts to go trick-or-treating on Halloween night by throwing bed sheets over their bodies and cutting two eye holes—or a dozen of them, in Charlie Brown’s case. While cuddled up on my childhood couch during one of the rewatches, I asked my mom why the ghost costumes are white sheets. After thinking about it for a grand total of one second, she dismissed the question with, “I don’t know—I guess it’s meant to be scary.” When you’re twelve, that answer holds up, so you shrug and immediately forget about it, attention easily shifting back to the screen. Now, though, you’re twenty-two with unfettered Internet access, and God help us all but you will make it everyone’s problem. Anyway, you’re twenty-two, and you hear certain lyrics to a Better Oblivion Community Center song (“They say you’ve gotta fake it / At least until you make it / That ghost is just a kid in a sheet”) that awaken the long-dormant part of your brain that has wondered about ghost costumes for over a decade. You take a deep dive to find the answer, and you come out of the water with a newfound appreciation for the religious context from which your favorite holiday was born. Let’s get into it. The story of ghost costumes originates from ancient folklore relating to the Gaelic festival Sanheim, which celebrates the end of harvest season and the beginning of winter. While Sanheim now typically occurs in early November, it used to fall on October 31st, overlapping with Halloween. During Sanheim, it was believed that the boundaries between the living and the dead became blurred, allowing spirits (ghosts) to pass through to the mortal world. To protect themselves from the spirits, civilians would disguise themselves as fellow paranormal figures by donning costumes and masks. White bed sheets became a popular vehicle for blending in during this time due to its simplicity and accessibility; the color white was also heavily associated with death and the afterlife in many cultures, adding another layer of symbolism to the costume. In addition to its practical uses, a white sheet contributes to the overall eerie look associated with ghost costumes, especially when lit up by candles or fire in otherwise total darkness. The uncomplicated and easily DIYed white sheet has persisted as a representation of a ghost throughout the cultural attitude and commercialization of the entwined traditions of Sanheim and Halloween shifted from a religious context to a secular one. The costume has even made its way into popular culture, including indie-rock banger Dylan Thomas and classic TV special It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. The ubiquitous ghost costume is beloved by adults and kids alike and is now seen as more of a playful costume than a spooky one; nonetheless, its rich history has been left behind in favor of a simplistic one: it’s (meant to be) scary for kids, and it’s silly for adults.

  • Summer Bucket List Item: Reach Out to Your Favorite Author!

    Summer Bucket List Item: Reach Out to Your Favorite Author! What if sending out your internship and job applications was whimsical, nostalgic, and FUN? I don’t have a way to make that happen, but I might know of the next-best thing. Here’s my pitch: whether you’re an avid reader or you haven’t read for pleasure since middle school, spend a moment this summer to reflect on a book you love and let its author know what you think! It really only takes a few minutes to draft an email, a direct message, or a letter (unless you get carried away, which is also cool). Once you’ve sent out your message, it’s best to try to forget about it; forgetting, or pretending to forget, is the best way to trick your author into responding. The day that response comes in will be a thrill. And what was the impetus for writing this blog post? Well, my passion for the artform was sparked again just a few weeks ago… My great friend and roommate Will Rokicki sat me — and Jaime Browning, another of our roommates — down to watch one of his favorite shows: Amazon Studios’ Just Add Magic, based on Cindy Callaghan’s middle-grade book series by the same name. It turned out that Ella Forsyth (roommate number three) was also a fan of the series, and they joined us for the pilot. We were electrified. Shortly thereafter, Will had a stroke of genius and gathered us to write Cindy an email expressing our love of her story. We ended it with the following sign-off: Warm regards and pluots forever, Will, Olivia, Jaime, and Ella (casted Darbie, Kelly, Hannah, and Buddy, respectively) You might notice how extremely subtly and tastefully we referenced Cindy’s characters and motifs. This was part of an elaborate and meticulous plan to persuade her to respond. And I’ll be damned if Cindy didn’t email back the very next day. You are all so kind to reach out to me. Your email got my day off to a great start as I'm working on a new project. Needless to say, we were absolutely flabbergasted. The rest of the email feels too classified to share, but you can imagine that it made our day, too. All this excitement had me thinking back to fifth grade English class, when I received letters back from Trenton Lee Stewart of The Mysterious Benedict Society and Rebecca Stead of When You Reach Me. Trenton got back to me with an automatic response-style Q&A packet and a signature inside the hardback book I spent money to send for that purpose. Hopefully I didn’t make that last part up, because my correspondent (my sister back at home) has not actually managed to locate my copy. Rebecca, I must say, went above and beyond. I did not have to do the pretending-to-forget act in this situation, as I am pretty sure it was a year or two after I sent my letter and book that a package arrived on my doorstep. I am still fangirling. She sent me back a box. Inside was my book, freshly autographed, as well as a bookmark and a postcard. Are you kidding me? On the bookmark, printed with a symbolic When You Reach Me key, she wrote the following: For Olivia, Hoping you find many books to love in life - Rebecca Stead And on the jazz music-themed postcard: Dear Olivia - Sorry this was so long coming! Thank you for your wonderful letter, and I’m so happy to finally get the book back to you - (with a bookmark) Yours, Rebecca Stead Utter brilliance. And that second message should clue you into a key part of my postal outreach strategy… send your author a personal belonging so they feel they have no choice but to deliver it back to you. However you reach out, I suggest you make it personal, and maybe even a little bit out of pocket. Entertain yourself in the process! As a bucket list item, this activity is as much for you as it is for your author. And now that you know that great opportunity lies ahead, I hope you will pursue it. Read on, AmFam and co.,  and make sure to let me know if any of your ventures are successful. Yours, Olivia Citarella

  • True Colors

    “True Colors” Artist unknown, pictured by Hope Hamerslough This image depicts two women wearing headscarves from Jewish and Palestinian culture. Both women are shielding their eyes, a gesture that emphasizes sorrow, pain, or perhaps a refusal to look or acknowledge something. Below them is a single child, not extremely visible, and a representation of the families created and the lost by both women through the years of occupation. Underneath you can see newspaper clippings of news reports throughout the years. Created in 2014. A call to action for Jewish students: My family sits around the kitchen table while we eat and talk, with the TV turned to the news, its volume set low, felt like a subtle score for our conversation. I can recall the snacks on the table, the feeling of hunger after just picking my grandfather and grandmother up from the airport an hour away, my brother disassociating up in his room playing video games. When I turn my attention from the TV to the conversation at hand, I don't know how to approach, and yet still my mother cues me in. “Hope doesn't agree with you.” To me it felt more like a call out, so I knew I had to use my words carefully for them to resonate, to have any impact at all, other than complete disregard. “I just think that there is a lot of suffering, and too many people dying for the “taking back of our land” to be justified” I said. It was the wrong thing to say, it was too much for them, and I could feel them shying away, so I tried again. “I’m a humanitarian, I’m anti-war, I just don’t want innocent people, innocent Palestinians to die.” The response I got was bone chilling, a terrifying realization of humanity or lack of it. “People die in war.” My grandfather said. Like it was inevitable... but it didn't feel inevitable, his statement made it feel necessary. Like I had to understand and swallow the fact that death is a necessary part of life, or rather that death of Palestine and all its people is a necessary to restore peace and safety for Israel. I didn't want to swallow that, so I choked instead, and saw the truth, that any act of violence for the hope of peace can be justified. In sharing my story, I do not intend to erase Palestinian suffering, nor do I intend to attack my fellow American Jewish community which I was born and raised in. My only intention is to be one Jewish voice in a sea of millions who attempt at breaking the silence of blind complacency to the state of Israel. I am afraid to do this, to speak, and I know many in the Jewish community are afraid too. I am afraid that my unwillingness to grapple with the suffering of Palestine is putting me in a position where my family will no longer love me, where my Jewish friends and community will turn their backs on me, demonize me and call me a “self-hating Jew”. I’m afraid that my family will continue to entwine my critique of Israel with antisemitic values, and say that because I am anti-Zionist I do not support and love my Jewish community. But they are wrong, it is because I love my community that I must break my silence. And yet, I am still more afraid than ever, for the Palestinians who have lived their entire lives without a glimpse of freedom. So, I beg you to not let fear continue to hold its dominion over you like it has of me. Don't let fear be used as a controlling power over your voice. My previous silence was not born out of “self-hate,” nor was it born out of submission, but I think it was born out of self- numbing shame. Shame for not saying something sooner, for not speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the Jewish and Palestinian voices that wail for an end to occupation. My paralyzing shame came with seeing the truth of Israel's apartheid regime and not speaking for a call to action. So, I ask you the same thing I did that day with my grandfather...how many more Palestinian people, children, mothers, brothers, sisters, teachers, friends must die for the sole purpose of “taking back” our land? For me, I know now that I have no other obligation to my Jewish community than to break this silence, and in doing so I invite my Jewish community to feel, to recognize that pain has no boundaries, no borders. To decode the colonized mind and know that it consists of more than just saying “liberation for all.” We must face the deaths of all Palestinians and see the ways in which our silence has proved blindly complacent. We must look at the polarizing forces that move our minds to support imperialist regimes. My call to action begins with the self. Are you going to sit by and allow people to die on both sides because you cannot see past these institutions which veil oppression and subjugation with “right” and “retaliation"? Ask yourselves if you are resistant to seeing the truth because you truly feel unsafe or if you are not breaking the silence because you are afraid of feeling uncomfortable? I challenge you to find time to question yourselves, to be uncomfortable in your own minds. For me it was not an easy task, so if there is one thing to take away from this, besides an awareness and acknowledgment of the state of Israel's occupation of Palestinian land, is that you have some semblance of support in the other Jewish voices who feel alienated from their community for not being able to disregard Palestinian suffering so easily. I want you to know that our moral and urgent responsibility to support freedom for all people, everywhere, does not erase your Jewish identity. Here are just a few resources to investigate in the D.C. area if you are looking for gatherings, events, or community to share and support you: Jewish Voice for Peace DC- Chag sameach Pesach Instagram Linkin Profile Website DC website Resources/ Community- Beyt Tikkun Synagogue Calendar events and solidarity statement with Palestine. The New Synagogue Project Website- calendar events, programs, information J-Caring Community Support Line with JSSA and The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Toxic polarization and how not to be part of the problem featuring Rabbi Rachel Schmelkin of Washington Hebrew Congregation with the Jew-ish Podcast. Readings- Final issue of Tikkun Social justice magazine Tikkun Magazine “A Jewish and Interfaith Prophetic Voice to Heal and Transform the World”. AU Eagle Newpaper article on student reprimand for support of Palestine. The Nation Magazine article sharing news and information about Jewish voices calling for a ceasefire. Poem "Enemy Of The Sun"- Samih Al-Qasim from Indy Liberation Center Oseh Shalom: A Prayer for Peace from hebrewsongs.com Kadish Yatom: Mourners Kadish from hebrewsongs.com

  • Your Father’s Chair

    You open your eyes to the tang of blood and an eerie quiet. Awareness cracks through your whiskey-induced calm. Your body aches and your ears ring. You study your hands slowly and wiggle each of your limbs. There’s an electrical wire dangling into your living room through a gaping hole where your roof used to be. The room looks as if it’s survived a bombing, yet you remain unscathed save for a cut that draws a wet line across your forehead. You fell asleep in your father’s musty, old recliner, breathing in what was left of his scent. You saw it coming; heard the roar of twisting wind growing louder. Minutes before it tore apart your house, you woke in a blurry haze and scanned the room for things worth saving. Instead of running for the storm cellar, you thought of your father’s chair. The one he stayed in long after he’d lost the strength to stand. The one he died in after cancer coated his airways. You thought of him passing peacefully in the arms of that brown recliner and wondered if it was good enough for you too. You considered the fear you should’ve felt and the tipped over bottle beside your foot. In your father’s arms, you closed your eyes and asked it to take you. Now, the sun blares into your living room. Sparrows resume their calm chirping, calling to one another to see who survived the destruction. In the corner of the room, the walnut hutch that stored loose photos and your childhood blanket lays on its side. Its contents spilling across the floor. You push yourself out of your chair, groaning at the effort. As the hardwood floor shifts like waves beneath you, you pause a moment to steady yourself. You set your eyes on the hutch and drag your feet towards it. Though it’s only a few steps, it feels like crossing an ocean in a rowboat. You reach the hutch and lower yourself to your knees to sift through the memories that have tumbled out. There are photos of birthdays, weddings, you in your baseball uniform. Despite the splintered wood and broken glass, you gather them up as best you can. You clear away a cabinet door that was forced off its hinges in the fall. Beneath it, your father beams up at you. He holds a newborn, stained the color of bruises, in his arms. He’s young, no more than twenty-two. His face holds none of the deep lines and wrinkles you remember. You set it down and pick up the next one. You are twenty-two in a cap and gown, your arms around your parents. They’re tan from an anniversary cruise they took while you were hours away at school. They beam at the photographer with pride. You wince as you pick up the next photo. Your father sits in the recliner, his body propped up by the mechanics of the chair. You two fussed and fought over the settings until he sat upright, facing the camera, so he could look somewhat like he once did. He grips your hand tightly with his left hand, your mother’s with his right. He grips you both like he’s fighting to prevent you from leaving. You want to tell him that she wouldn’t leave. That she’d follow him wherever he went, even into death. In the next photo, he lays back in the recliner. You are beside him attempting a smile. In his final hours, though he was too weak to lift his head or mumble more than a few words, he asked for a photo of you both. “Something to remember me by,” he said. You shook your head, fighting back tears. “I’m not sure I want to remember this moment, Dad.” You replied. He just sighed. “One day.” His eyes are closed. The hands that hold yours atop the covers are frail and bruised with the puncture marks of an IV needle. You’ve been trying to erase this day since he released his last breath. Even after nights spent stumbling around bars, it always crawled back to you; a lasting ache more painful than the headaches the next morning brought. You feel your father’s hand in yours like it was yesterday. Sidestepping the electrical wire, you stumble back to the recliner with the photo in your hand, craving the smell of Marlboros and Irish Spring soap. But as you sink into the cushions, the sour smell of cigarettes barely reaches your nostrils. You pause at it, remembering the hours of your mother and father’s arguments dedicated to arguing about that smell. How your mother would never get it out. How it’d seep into the walls and cling to everything including their child. Your mother hated going to work reeking of cigarette smoke, yet your father only listened to her silently and continued finishing off his cigarette. Eventually, she’d give up and leave for work anyway. You stare down at the photograph in your hands. Their bickering sticks in your mind and you laugh at it. Back then, you’d rush out of the house to get to school or a friend’s house to avoid the fighting. Now there’s only silence and the plush of the chair. You press the button to release the footrest and reach into the armchair caddy that holds the TV remote. You stuff your hand into the bottom of the deep pocket and pull out the familiar box and lighter. He called it his Emergency Pack for days your mother hounded him especially badly. Smirking at the red and white packaging, you slide out a cigarette from the container. You close your lips around it. At the click of the lighter and the first inhale, you think it smells like home.

  • Let’s Overthink Together 

    A friend got me a book, 3000 Questions About Me, for my birthday which has led to my roommate and I answering some of the questions before bed. Some of them are stupid: what’s your favorite food, are you scared of spiders? What about, do you believe in ghosts? (This one split us, I say yes, roommate says no). But some other ones really made us think: what childhood dreams have you neglected? Do you feel robbed in any area of your life? Is your life fulfilling? “Question 1823,” I asked on a Thursday night, “What is the best thing about being your gender?” We both let out deep sighs and sat silent for a moment. “I don’t know,” my roommate answered pretty quickly. “I’ve never thought about my gender before–which I know is a privilege,” he gave me a look, knowing I would have a much more complicated answer. And of course, I did. The obvious answer for me is the concept of “girlhood.” The messages we convey with just a look, getting ready to go out together, and the ability to make someone’s day with a compliment are my favorite things about being a “girl.” The only issue here is that the answer assumes that my gender is, in fact, girl. Which it might be, but it also might not be, because as much as I enjoy “girlhood” and everything it entails, it doesn’t hurt to explore things outside of the girl/boy binary. Follow along with me to overthink my gender, and maybe yours too! Thinking back on your childhood relationship with gender with a critical lens is an exercise I would encourage everyone to start with. When I was in 2nd grade (7 years old?) I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was a pastry chef; not a baker, because I associated bakers with housewives and simply supplying classrooms with birthday cupcakes. Pastry chefs, however, were successful and had a larger purpose outside the house. How did this idea get put in my head? I have no idea. Throughout middle school I prided myself on not being boy crazy (and later learned what a lesbian is) because I didn’t want to be the girly girl archetype that I felt my friends and peers fit into. Yet I tried and tried to still fit in, fighting a losing battle against myself. My highschool years were spent on student council, prom committee, yearbook, and the newspaper–if I was in a leadership position then people had to respect me, and not look at me as just a girl–as if those two things were mutually exclusive. Growing up, I was always the “mom friend,” the one who made the plans, baked the cakes, and took care of the people around her. Those are all things I enjoyed doing, and still do. But, the comparison to being a mother has always made my skin crawl. I’m aware of this, and are my friends, we call it my “motherhood complex,” but I have not come up with a way to combat it yet (if anyone has suggestions, please share). Some great realizations have been made by looking into the past. Now, we look to the future with lots of questions that will not necessarily have any answers. If I do not consider myself a woman, am I reducing women to mothers? I know there is nothing wrong with motherhood, but why do I have such an issue with it being considered, even in passing, for myself? If I had been raised less concerned or aware of the negatives people associated with femininity, if I had been educated on the fluidity of gender sooner, or if I understood where my resentment of being a “girl” came from, what would be different? I’m not unhappy with my gender expression now, but I wouldn’t describe myself as satisfied either. Changing my pronouns seems like a surface level fix, though I know it is a solution for many, I don’t necessarily associate my usage of she/her with the heaviness that I carry about being a woman. With this newfound perspective, back to the original question at hand… “What is the best thing about being your gender?” My answer now is that it can be whatever I want it to be. The best thing about my gender is that it is made up, I can still have “girlhood” without defining myself to a box. What’s yours?

  • A Letter to My Mother 

    Dear Gina, A fallen eyelash brought me here. The first eyelash that dared to cling to my soft, unscathed cheeks. When you directed me to make a wish, I wished for you. I wished that you would stay with me. I apologize for my youth and inability to comprehend the life sentence I assigned you to, but, look Mama, here we are. I would hope that you will forgive me, but I know you will. I know you love me more than you ever thought you could. Although sometimes I think the roles are reversed because I love you like I birthed you. I see myself in you, just as you see yourself as me. Or maybe you have just taught me so well that we have blended into one, learning from each other about which parts of ourselves to exclude from the final project of us. Mom (I never call you that, it sounds too formal), I’m sorry. I only write when I’m sad, and you’ve never read any of my work. I don’t want it to hurt you. I cannot let you think that it’s your fault because it is not. Nothing is. I don’t know what is wrong with me, but you didn’t do it. Even though I know you still won’t believe me, I promise you. I promise you, just like my eyelash promised to fulfill my wish when the breath flew out of my 4-year-old lungs. I promise you like you promised me that you would make my life better than yours was. Sometimes, when I do something wrong, I repent to you as if you are my god. Sometimes I think you are. By having your love, I know I can do anything. Anything bad that happens to me is part of a bigger plan you’ve handcrafted. Wherever I go, I always let you guide me. I trust you. I have faith. Thank you. I know I haven’t said it enough, but thank you. I embrace every part of me that was created by you. I love you. Love, Abby

  • Come and Get It (This Review)

    Fans of Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age already know that Reid has a masterful way of capturing everyday observations and turning them into real and unique stories. The author’s sophomore novel, Come and Get It, follows a series of characters at the University of Arkansas, primarily Millie, an RA ready to graduate and buy a house, and Agatha, a visiting professor and author. Millie is 24, took a year off school to take care of her mom, and is determined to put a down payment on a house when she graduates. The issue? She doesn’t get paid much as an RA. When Agatha enters her life, offering to pay Millie for her help setting up interviews with Millie’s residents, Millie jumps at the opportunity. But how far will Millie go for a side-hustle? Will she make it through a year of the dorm pranks and roommate issues, namely from the suitmates Tyler (a wealthy, dog-obsessed, sorority girl) Peyton (who spends most of her time cooking) and Kennedy (a lonely transfer student whose dorm is stuffed with decorations)? Will her friendships with other RAs survive dorm-room eavesdropping? And what will happen when Millie and Agatha’s relationship turns to a bit more than friendly, a dynamic that might just put all of Millie’s goals in jeopardy? While some reviews have critiqued Reid’s sophomore novel for being unrealistic and overstuffed, I found a lot of truth in her story. There are some aspects deserving of critique, like one character’s Southern accent, which is phonetically spelled out perhaps more than it should be. Regardless, I think Reid so successfully captures what it’s like to be an American college student in today's world (which is a perspective that other reviewers lack). In a book centered around money, power, and the tension that inevitably arises when the two clash, Reid’s dialogue especially stands out. The author has a unique ability to so realistically capture conversations that I myself have heard around campus. From conversations about “going out” to “fun money,” from inner monologues of loneliness and desire to the pressing anxiety of the future, even side characters in Come and Get It feel plucked from real life. They are complex and flawed and almost as hard to love as they are to hate. I couldn't put the book down (though it helps that it was one of my Spring Break Reads). Love it or hate it, Kiley Reid has captured attention with her fiction and I couldn’t recommend Come and Get It more.

  • Art Tumblr in 2024: What’s it like?

    Posting art online can be pretty rough. The culture surrounding art on social media is a mixed bag: your ability to post your work and reach thousands of people is spectacular, but the nature of social media also encourages people to just scroll by and not really engage with the art that they see. It also really depends on where you post your art, and in my experience, most really aren’t great. Tags are overflowing with unrelated posts; art theft is rampant; AI art becomes more of a plague every day online. I have used Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), Artfight, Artfol, Pixiv, and many others—some are better, but I struggle to say that any of them are great in particular. When raising this issue with some friends, though, they had a suggestion that I never saw coming: use Tumblr. In 2024. I didn’t know much about the site, but what I did know was it had fallen from grace after encountering controversy after controversy since its heyday in the 2010s. I had no idea it was still even up and running, to be honest. But, with little other options, I figured that I could give it a shot. So, what was it like? Well, for one, the actual UI for once doesn’t feel actively hostile to artists. It’s a bit confusing, especially the ability to reblog: basically a repost, but you can add tags or text to the original post. Sometimes it’s a bit hard to tell if you should use this reblog feature or just comment under a post, but it’s also not too much of a deal and nothing most users pay that much attention to. Beyond that, the tagging system is really good. For one, unlike other social media apps, the etiquette on Tumblr isn’t to just shove every tag imaginable for the most amount of outreach; instead, people get quite specific and weird with tags. People also add hashtags to reblogs, which are often used to compliment the artist without leaving an actual comment. Speaking of people’s reblog tags, Tumblr users are so nice. Beyond anything I was expecting. Personal art got more attention than I had ever received, fandom art even more so. (Of course, fandom art still seems more popular than personal art on Tumblr, but I think that’s more of an issue with art on social media in general and, while mildly discouraging, is understandable). I can’t exactly pinpoint why people are particularly kind to artists on Tumblr, but I do think it has to do with the aforementioned tagging system. Unlike commenting, it feels a little less anxiety-inducing because there is a layer of separation between the artist and the commentor, sort of like reposting something on your Instagram story. However, with reblogs, you’re encouraged to add a tag to have your blog sorted neatly; and while you’re typing, you might as well add a nice comment in the reblog that the original poster can see. Thus, you can leave something nice for the artist to read without having to go through the hassle of leaving a full comment or the potential anxiety of being annoying or intrusive. So, if you’re sick of posting art in your usual spots, I can’t recommend Tumblr more to try out. It might not seem like it, but it’s truly worth a second glance, even all the way in 2024.

  • 10 People You Can Love In College

    By Teo Nouve I. The Best Friend The best friend will save you from your worst, and come alive at your best. At first you’ll be afraid in the best friend’s home, they’ll hold your hand. You’ll ask them to forgive you, they’ll laugh. Roughness and outsides fall into each other like the force of gravity. Softness and insides fall in line. Seeing them live is earth-shattering and it’s also easy; it reminds you of your grandmother’s old recipes. The best friend is kind, and spreads themselves all around your beating heart like honey. Hang onto their words like a prophet, stare at them until they see you back. You will not kiss them. Both of you will wonder whether you are a happy accident or inevitably, irreversibly converging bodies. You’ll discover it’s the latter. The best friend does not care how alone you are, or what you’ve done to get there. One day the best friend will need you very badly, and you will care for them. They are only seeing what you are, who you are, who you love. They are only loving you. II. The Lost Cause They will make you feel something so deep, you forget where it ends inside. You want to touch their hair and hang out. The lost cause wants to hang out. So do homework and eat ice cream together; be friends, figure them out, be available, be funny. Don’t fall in love. Fall in love. They will share some of their darkness with you and it hurts. Anyways you will fall harder. You chase them around campus without shame, wandering in and out of a song, one that gets stuck in your heads. You convince yourself you are the lost one; that they will come find you. When you wait there for a long time, you open your eyes and you see the empty street. The wind is hard and your cheeks are soft, hot, and wet. Your chest aches—you pretend it does not. You can’t find them anymore. III. The Devoted Follower A sweet soul, they remind you of something you wish you had. The devoted follower wants to be your best friend and wants to make you whole: So give them what they want, little bits of you, cookie crumb butter ball you you leave behind in traces. The follower will relish every morsel, until they’re transfixed by the taste of you. Give them their plate, fill up their glass, because it feels good. At first try to pretend that you don’t notice. Then stop pretending and comfort them: It is normal to have feelings, to be weak, to be a child. After all, you are one yourself. But they are not childish feelings. The devoted follower lets you see into parts of them nobody has seen before, gives themselves up for you to hold, and you accept you’ve done something terribly wrong. Try to confess, try to muster the courage to say something. Say something! Say something! They are caught in the crossfire and you are on the other end of a phone call asking them to hang up. Tears wash down their face and you are so selfish and you want to wipe it all away… IV. The Stranger They like your skin. Not in a scary, animalistic way. It’s in a way that makes you feel like you’re wrapped in soft leaves, branches covering your private parts, gossiping with the bees. The stranger likes you for your easiest self, the one you were given at birth, and you don’t question this at all. Kiss and draw their outline in your head during class, during lunch, during — . Make your body last forever. Make sure you are both happy, and touch them without fear. Like you are diving into a volcano without fear. Like you are smiling and teasing and listening and pushing and pulling each other until there’s nothing left. Make art out of the ashes: Burn your doubt and love and pain and throw it into pottery. Fire the clay. Let your hands do the work. Take it out. Admire your talent, your suffering. Let it shatter. V. The Almost Yours They ask to come over on a weeknight. Nothing special is happening. Instead of doing your homework, you decide to hang out with the almost yours. This is foolish, though you couldn’t have known. They greet you and flash you with teeth, the corners of their mouth take flight, like saying hello to an old friend. The almost yours has perfect eyes red like mars, lips pink like grapefruit, hair like butterflies resting their wings on their cheeks warm like sunrise. You wonder if you could be soulmates. The almost yours is brave, pure, and their blood runs thick with love. It is like the air in the room is vibrating around you two, enough to make you dizzy. You’re having trouble getting anything done. The almost yours is kind, thoughtful, and they are good to you. It is like moving through mud without them. You sleep together many times. The almost yours is honest, free, and kisses you like you are running out of time. In your dreams you starve. They are needing you and you have to be brave. You wake up sweaty and confused. The almost yours is still asking for your help, but you are too scared to do anything. You run to get help; it is too late. The almost yours is no longer yours. Somebody else has found them and been brave. Try wishing yourself into their arms. When this doesn’t work, watch from afar and shed your love. VI. The Wreck Sometimes you think you will disappear completely and forever be still; this is a good thing. Remember when your mother read you fairy tales and they needed you. Now when you sleep your veins rush with blood and your brain pleads you to run. Remember when as a child you went to pick berries and you cut your hand on the thorny bush. You are half of a wish for a meaningful life with a happy ending—like the bloody half-chewed berry dripping down your chin. Every day you narrowly escape disaster, until it is like brushing your teeth. You need the fairy tale; it is needing you. Sometimes you stare at yourself in the mirror and try to disappear completely. You need to cast a spell where you clap three times and become invisible. One—But each time you try, you become brighter and brighter. Two—You try to look away but light fills your vision until everything is like the color of you (blinding gold) gleaming, reflected across the room. Three-And your skin is hot and you are breathless and out of control and you love it. Open your eyes. You are the wreck you love. VII. The Memory Boy He is the boy on TV you imagined yourself being friends with. Except he is not on TV, but a man with teeth and muscle and bone. One day find yourself eager, looking for somebody to play with. The boy agrees and he lets you ask him a lot of questions. You learn his favorite color is orange, how he likes being touched, and his last name—it is not what you expected; he is afraid to love another boy. Anyways you keep asking. You will leave this boy in your hometown and you will forget his name, his body, his orange... One day you will return and he will pretend that you are strangers. That you didn’t leave the equivalence of a footprint in his cement memory. When you see him you are a child again and he is afraid again. This time he will ask you questions: What is it like? What are you doing? Do you miss me? You can’t answer him because you don’t want him to hurt you in an accident (you cannot say I love you). Instead, laugh and kiss each other in each other’s memory. VIII. The One Who You Forgot to Love You are unwell. The world does not know what you want; only you do. You walk into alleyways to see if there is anything left there. You are hoping for something to fall and hit you on the head, hard enough to knock you out. The spirit fights to find a place far away. You beg the spirit to stay, but cannot find it in you; you are too afraid to die and be buried in the ground. You must leave… must run, as did your fathers before. They met you in a whirlwind, bodies stuck together by accident. They started making you feel again. They take your love carefully, like a reward. They are gentle with you, like a kid. When you ask them a question they answer you. They let you be childish. They love you without hesitation. They change for you, they make things right. You are unwell. They let you let go of them. Cling on they do. The one who you forgot to love is still in love with you (and in some way, you are, too). IX. The Adult Babies The adult babies are needy and look weak to you. Craving attention, the girl will call you up at night and ask you what you are doing and if you are all right, etc… The boy will not admit it, though he longs to see you too. You discover the courage to return to home. The adult babies are making a mess and can’t clean it up. They are lonely without you, they are trying to survive without any help. When you were a baby, you used to be their reason for life. Now when they speak to you sometimes there is acid in their words. But swallow it with pride—This is family. Do not ask questions without permission. Make a promise to be their teacher, to give them purpose. Take care of them better than they took care of you. Accept this role with passion, with dignity. Love them deeply and sincerely, like an ancient dance. Try not to miss them too much, convince them to let go of you. Write a poem about how much you love them. So they will not doubt you; so they will remember. Talk about movies for hours because you have nothing in common… They are perfect because you did not choose them. X. The one you haven't loved yet With a funny look on their face, yesterday they passed you on the street, and you felt their body pressing against yours. Tomorrow you will race to get the bus because the driver did not see you. Somebody on the bus will see the evening light reflected across your face, and they will ask them to stop for you. A year ago you ate breakfast and your waiter thought you were the most beautiful thing he had ever seen his whole life. He was so afraid to tell you, but he smiled when you were leaving. When you are thirty you will stop in a bar on the roadside because it is raining like crazy. She will stand there with a small bag that is soaked, and great big glasses that are completely crooked, and it will be so funny that you spend the night together. Or when you are forty, and in the window of your apartment you see a man who cannot carry his grocery bags. The first time, you won’t care enough to help, or the second. The eighth time you will fall in love. Or when you’re old, and he’s dead. You reach out to someone who used to love you—they are still there. They share with you, and offer you their forgiveness. And you walk through the dark together.

  • Spit Me Out

    By Sydney Hsu I tear conversations apart like they’re made of flesh. Grinding down the bones between my teeth till I can discern the difference between oregano and rosemary. Is that a touch of dill I taste, or just resentment? No matter, we’ll find a new topic to talk about, but it’ll all taste the same. Years will go by and I’ll still find your words stuck between my teeth, wanting to escape. I’ll stare at my reflection and conjure up my best impression of you, for I know you wouldn’t remember your own words. You’ve never been one to take pleasure in your food. I remember you now with your head bent over a bowl of soup, a spoon in one hand and a tissue full of snot in the other. When I’d ask you how your meal was, you’d respond: “I wish you would have chosen somewhere else.” Words never got caught in your throat. You’ve always said what you meant, always finding the vocabulary. Sometimes I wish you’d choke on your own voice, so that I might have to find it for you. Carve you open and roast you over a fire. Watching the embers crackle and your skin peel in on itself. Only then would you be willing to say: “I don’t love you anymore.” Instead I’m met with a level of coolness only reminiscent of spearmint gum. And I’ve learned the Heimlich for no reason. Maybe that’s why you were always chewing gum. That bit of white crushed between the yellow of your teeth, watching the wad lose its taste until it no longer served a purpose. You’d spit it out, then ask for a kiss. And the only taste from your lips was the dialect of distance, which seemed to constantly be caught between us. I wonder if you’d still love me if I didn’t breathe the way you liked. Or if I cut my hair. Or if I stopped chewing up my food and tasting it for you. I wonder if you’d still love me even after realizing that I was nothing. Not a person. Not whole. Just a thing that needed to be carried from place to place. I wonder then, will you still spit out your spearmint gum and ask for a kiss? “I don’t love you anymore.” I realize, now as I stare at myself replaying your words over and over and over again, trying to find a different taste, that I served my purpose and you spit me out.

  • Playlist of the Month

    By Abby Martinez Like many avid music listeners, I love to cultivate playlists upon playlists depending on my mood, the season, and overall ~vibes~. I’m not sure when (well, I guess it was once I got the student subscription for Spotify), but I started making monthly playlists depending on the vibes of the month. Sometimes they’re sad, happy, nostalgic, folksy, instrumental, oldies mixed with newbies, or they’re just a random mix of songs I discover that make me feel something. This is my last semester at AU, and this month has been heavy with studying/thesis writing/grad applications, and stress about what will happen once I graduate. It’s scary, but music always helps to chill me out. Also, Spring is here! The days are getting longer. The weather is warmer. So, despite my stress, I feel content. I think this month’s playlist reflects that. It’s the perfect background music for when I’m writing, studying, going on walks, showering, cooking, and really doing anything. So, without further ado, I present my February/March playlist: “Oat milk Cappuccino” Hope you like it! Charmed - Σtella, Redinho Rose Blood – Mazzy Star Blue Light – Mazzy Star Fade Into You – Mazzy Star Cherry-coloured Funk – Cocteau Twins Ur so pretty – Wasia Project Solar Pilgrim – Twain Forgot Again – Loving The New Thing Dies – Ray Bull Sea, Swallow Me – Cocteau Twins, Harold Budd Playground Love – Air, Gordon Tracks Be My Angel – Mazzy Star Falling Apart – Slow Pulp Bros – Wolf Alice Better in the Dark – Jordana, TV Girl For Emma – Bon Iver Femininomenon – Chappell Roan HOT TO GO! - Chappell Roan Pink Pony Club – Chappell Roan Red Wine Supernova – Chappell Roan Coffee – Chappell Roan Casual – Chappell Roan Naked in Manhattan – Chappell Roan Dear Mexico (Thank You for Joyce) - Twain Starman – David Bowie Better Distractions – Faye Webster Silver Springs – Fleetwood Mac Say Yes – Elliott Smith These Days – Nico But Not Kiss – Faye Webster Lifetime – Faye Webster Blue Bell – Golden Daze Amber – Golden Daze House Song – Searows Natural – Shelly Some things Cosmic – Angel Olsen One Last Time – Summer Salt How to disappear – Lana Del Rey The Good Ones – Widowspeak Wicked Game – Widowspeak Cosmically Aligned – Widowspeak Crush – Ethel Cain Hide & Seek – Etta Marcus Philadelphia (with Searows) - Matt Maltese, Searows How can I pretend? - Wasia Project Beanie – Chezile So well – Ann Annie, Searows I Know – Fiona Apple Boys – Indigo De Souza Our House (Early Version) - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Don’t Let Me Down – The Beatles Moon River – Melody Gardot Honey – Drugdealer, Weyes Blood Neon Pill – Cage The Elephant Ribbons – Ryan Beatty Yesterday – The Beatles I Can’t Quit You Baby – Led Zeppelin Warned You – Good Morning Clementine – grentperez

  • Warhol Didn’t Invent Screenprinting (duh)

    By Abby St. Jean Art has historically been an extremely effective way of communicating ideas or opinions during times of political unrest, war, or social justice issues. Printmaking in particular, has long been used in activism as a way to quickly mass produce original artwork protesting for a cause. We see a large-scale example of this throughout the 1960s when Civil Rights protesting was widespread and primarily led by lower income populations who didn’t have access to the exclusivity of the art world. In order to make art to make change, these artists used mediums that were easily accessible, such as Printmaking and assemblage/yard show art. The reason printmaking is so easily accessible is because all of the supplies can either be made on your own (making screens for screen prints, or carving blocks of any material for relief prints), or locally sourced. While screenprinting in the 60s was made popular in the mainstream by artists like Andy Warhol, it was certainly not invented by him. In fact, working class individuals were often the ones physically printing the pieces of art for major artists and were the ones making it accessible to the public. Chicano artists in the late 1960s were a huge contributor to the rise in screenprinting. An exhibition a few years ago at the Smithsonian, ¡Printing the Revolution!, highlighted the revolutionary works of Mexican Americans who used screenprinting as a method of protest, advertising social justice issues, and drawing attention to problems across North America. These activists were revolutionary in using screenprint as protest, and should be highlighted and honored before Warhol’s name is even mentioned. Some of my favorites from this era are Juan Fuentes, Rupert Garcia, and Ester Gernandez. Margaret Lowengrund is another name everyone should know. I recently went to an exhibition at the Print Center New York where they featured artists that she made popular through her work with middle-class art in the mid 1900s. Her entire mission was to make printmaking, a media that was seen as less than in the art world (due to how much the field was dominated by lower class individuals and activists), a higher-class art form while also keeping it low-cost. She started an initiative that capped art prices for prints, allowing middle-class art collectors to expand their collections. These efforts were revolutionary in the art world, and much of the work that Lowengrund did across New York is the reason why artists such as Warhol were able to make a name for themselves through screenprinting. Modern-day screenprinting is often credited to Warhol, so knowledge of its history in activism and origins in lower-class artists is important.

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