Updated: Feb 20, 2019
Here we are at the precipice. We are looking out over the cliff into the deep and vast and tingling unknown. We look up and see trees and more scraggly mountain to climb. We look down and see our firm feet. Start the journey. Pick this step up, and then this one, and then also this one, and then this one, and then this one...
"man bending, man standing, man dancing"
Chad Knuth 35mm
January 31, 2013 (Age 18) “I get tired of feeling the same way and writing the same things. I grow weary of myself. I wish this wasn’t my outlook, that I could learn to love who I am. I want to be secure, confident, and happy. Maybe someday I will be, and I am going to work towards that as best i can” February 19, 2014 (Age 19) “It’s 1am and i think im finally getting a grasp on what this is...I have been questioning if I can do it. I have been investing more in my doubts and fears than i have been in my aspirations and strengths. There is this thought that keeps rearing it’s head, the thought being “ you are not good enough, so why bother. You have zero potential and zero chance of doing the things you want to do.” I just keep defeating myself before I ever give myself the chance to win. It feels like for every ten accomplishments I make, there is one mistake that undermines all the progress ive made. For every ten people who love me and support my dreams, there is one erson who tells me those dreams are intangible. Here recently, that one person is me...I am giving up. I am giving up being this self defeated person who gives way to the negative. I don’t have the will power to keep shoving my own face in the dirt and saying that my aspirations are unrealistic, because there is no truth in that.There have been no missed opportunities, just redirections to the opportunities that i am meant to seize. Here’s to breathing easy and finally seeing that I can indeed do this.” January 30th, 2015 (Age 20) “I want to not want to fast forward to the outcome. I want to cherish everything between now and then.” January, 31st, 2016 & February 1st, 2016 (Age 21) “Last night, for no specific reason, I cut off all my hair. I was afraid to do it. Mainly because I’m “too fat” or “not pretty enough” or whatever. Because of mom. All of it. I feel on the brink of something.” —-
“We are meant to wash our hands of ourselves everyday”.” February 1st, 2017 (Age 22) “ To create, I’ll have to employ myself and do the necessary work. Not just sit or try to fix myself. I don’t need fixing. Doing is it. And me, I am me and valuable, and I have to protect myself, listen to myself, trust me.” February 2nd, 2018 (Age 23) “I had a small death tonight. The real kind where my brain becomes a warm pulse of it’s self. It created, it purged, it released. When I have an orgasm, I remember how complete of a thing I am all on my own. Whatever the pure and exquisite nature is of being alive, God or not at all, it rests, it writhes, it lives in you.”
January 31st, 2019 (Age 24)
I’ve kept journals since my 18th Birthday, and I like to go back and reread them. To see what was important to me and how I might have changed.
I thought, what if I go back and look at my entries from the same day each year (or dates close to if I didn’t write on this particular day, lol) and see how much more mature I must be. Interestingly enough I see a lot of the same themes from year to year.
I see the fending off of insecurities, wanting to be present, to love oneself and others better.
And at first, I would be lying if I said it didn’t bum me out to see that this time 4,5, or 6 years ago, I was working on the same shit I am now.
Recently I asked my therapist, in regard to a break up, if it gets easier to handle things as you get older. If these things don’t have the same affect on you—She said (and I’m paraphrasing) “it doesn’t change that things will hurt, but you get better at processing your feelings, feeling them in the moment instead of withholding, but luckily the pain never lasts as long”
And I think about that often. That as we get older, we have to learn the same lessons over and over again. We have to remind ourselves of what we thought we already knew.
And little by little I think we simply have a closer relationship with the truth and with ourselves. That anxiety, loss, self-judgement, and confusion are no longer a stranger to you and don’t seem to wield the same power they did before. That might be the true definition of Wisdom.
I imagine in a year I’ll be dealing with the same shit I always have, and will be all the wiser for it.
All of the photos in this issue (unless otherwise stated) are photographed by Jacob Kruty.
I loved them all, it was hard to choose.
Nicholas "Quazzy" Herd
Chris Sintic- "Richard Ortiz"
So You’re leaving some bar one night
and it’s raining outside
and you need to get home somehow, right,
so you think, sure,
I’ll call an Uber or a Lyft or somethin,
just to get home safe and dry.
So You’re in this strangers car, right...
You’re drivin through the city
when you look out the window
to see the gloom of the day
floating down gutters and washin away
through trash lined sewage grates.
So you’re looking out the window right,
watching blobs of strangers pass by
when your car comes to a halt.
Your middle aged chauffer slamming
on the brakes of his run-down BMW,
barely making the mark on this red light.
So you’re at this random intersection, right,
when you notice some bright orange sign
glowin down a distant street.
You know, the ones that riddle the junk yards
or sit atop old mechanic shops -
the ones that turn invisible in the daylight.
So you’re at this random street corner,
looking down some block
when You see it,
pulsing in the distance, and, in a flash,
the cabbie or whoever puts his foot on the gas
and you’re off again into the night.
And you catch one last glimpse...
then it’s gone.
“Richard Ortiz’s Funeral Home”
burns in your mind
like the memory of your last lover
and their half-smoked cigarette.
What a sight.
You’re driving home from the bar
and it’s raining outside
and all you can think about
is the poor bastard
who can only afford to be buried
by Richard Ortiz
on some random street corner
in some random neighborhood
in this dirt caked city.
May He Rest In Peace.
Sophia Rouze- "Time Stops For No Mouse"
Time Stops for No Mouse
We all do it—a lot
too much, far too much
we succumb to the schedules of the powerful
every. single. time.
we let our precious minutes and seconds slip away
oblivion knows how many hours ticked away
as we waited for friends, family, pets, our bodies, transportation, technology, food, safety, love, an apology, forgiveness
Time heals all wounds,
But what heals wasted time?
Is time even wasted?
Waiting brings creative juices, magical lands, interesting people-watching time or if you’re an avid iPhone user it brings distractions with quotes by friends, pictures—mostly Photoshopped to “perfection”—and a bombardment of info left and right.
Watch out my friend something always wants your time
But what do you want, hunh?
Hannah Myers - "Window or Aisle"
I wish you could fit in my jacket pockets
Safe and snug
Warm and convenient
So I could reach inside
Get lost in the gum wrappers and
Loose tobacco and
Extra euros from another lover
Waiting for me
On a chilly day.
I crawl my fingertips around you,
Hello there. Here’s a little snack.
I got your favorite.
How’s your day?
We are inches away and worlds apart.
You have trained my heart
Only to call out
In the distance.
Only to cry
In the dark.
I’m sorry my technical support hotline is 24/7 out of service,
But your lunch break commitment kills my vibe.
When I trust you are far, far away
On a plane,
Out the door,
On the phone with customer care.
I was jealous.)
Then and only then,
I cry out.
Do you mind?
Maybe you accidentally hit mute,
Or maybe you’re stuck in the security line
Step aside, sir.
But whatever the gate,
Don’t forget where you
Do your laundry.
Because sorry to break it to you
But the blood don’t lie like tears do.
You come from car crashes and indigo,
Moxy and Dr. Pepper,
Sick dogs and melancholia,
Walking tacos on the six-mile soccer field.
Ring any bells?
No, I don’t want to marry you,
I just want to own you.
We are so afraid to ask for
To claim our
To build a house in the
That might only turn out to be a
The bad guy never knows he’s
But I don’t need another fucking
Believe it or not, I know I’m
I don’t need you to
The way I once did.
But if you could just
If you could just
If you could just
That would Carpe my
That would be
Ask me again
And I’ll probably want
An ice cream cone
Letterpress RSVPs with burnt orange borders.
I want you.
Matthew Van Gessel - "HOWIE"
Lights up on a kindergarten classroom. There are large windows to the outside where we can see torrential rain. There is a large cork board on one wall of the classroom proudly displaying children's drawings. There is only shallow darkness and rain for thirty seconds until we hear distant, indistinct, cheerful conversation. The door to the classroom opens and the fluorescent lights are turned on. Here are our three characters;
Richard Bernbaum, a kindergarten teacher early thirties. He wears a light blue button down shirt, sleeves rolled up loosely tucked in to khaki pants. He has short purposefully messy dark hair and glasses which he frequently takes on and off. He was a shy and quiet child but found himself as an adult and moves through the world with relative confidence.
Gordon Newhouse, an investment banker in this mid-forties. He wears a lime green polo shirt tucked into khakis with loafers. You can tell by looking at him that he has a bone-crushing handshake.
Janet Newhouse, a stay at home mom also in her mid forties. She wears high waisted jeans with a floral button down shirt. She seems eternally nervous, but also possibly dangerous.
As they enter the classroom chatting, Gordon and Jan shed the rain jackets they had been wearing moments ago. The men are mid-conversation, Janet stands back quietly.
Gordon: And the ball hits the line and Danson is telling Ledonovitch “its out, its out, if you want to challenge it its out” and the crowd just can’t believe it, they’ve never seen anything like it, we’ve never seen anything like it and sure enough Ledonovitch calls and sure enough, its out!
Gordon: Wow is right. Are you a tennis guy?
Richard: I don’t play as much as I’d like. I belong to the club. I try to get down there as often as possible.
Gordon: Which club?
Gordon: Well I’ll be damned! (Gives him a firm slap on the back) We should play a game sometime!
Richard: That we should.
Gordon: It’s so much better than working out, you know?
Gordon: To get it going with real physical activity, by playing a game instead of just lifting weights
Gordon: It gets your blood flowing and you’re having fun. Not just (mimes lifting weights dead faced) Ugh, ugh, ugh. Hahaha! You know what I mean?
Richard: Yeah. Yeah. I totally agree.
Richard: Yes, lets- by the way I’m sorry the guidance counselor couldn’t be here, Brett got caught in bad traffic...the rain ya know.
He offers Gordon and Janet two small children's chairs. Once they are seated he sits in one himself.
Gordon: So, what’s going on?
Richard: Yes. So. I guess first thing I want to ask is how Howie is doing at home?
Gordon and Janet look at each other for a moment.
Janet: Fine. He’s been fine for the most part.
Short pause. Richard looks skeptically at both of them.
Richard: Really? (Beat) No weird behavior? Nothing that makes you wonder if everything is ok?
Janet: Well..Howie has always been a little different from the other children Mr. Bernbaum.
Richard: Huh, ok....
Janet: You see, we moved to Sykesville because of the quality of the schools and the special education programs offered. We wanted him to be in the most constructive environment possible. Somewhere that would facilitate his needs.
Richard: Mhhm. Now see, this is news to me. I never knew Howie had any special needs. Ususally there is paper work to be filled out as soon as the kids begin school. We’ve been in session for a month and a half now. Did you think it was our job to see if Howie had or has any behavioral difficulties?
Gordon: What do you mean?
Richard: Well we have programs set up. Put in place that are meant to help children who...well.
Richard: I want to choose my words carefully. Has Howie ever been seen by a therapist or a psychiatrist? I know he’s only five but...
(Pause, then off of Janet and Gordons looks;)
Richard: I’m a little confused here, did you read the email I sent you about what this meeting was about?
Janet: Yes, actually he has.
Richard: Sorry, has what?
Janet: Seen a therapist.
Richard: Ok, and I hope I’m not prying, but I am your child’s teacher. So I have to ask, why was that?
Gordon: (Rising) Look Mr. Bernbaum, I’m sorry but this is a getting a little personal.
Richard: Hey, look, I apologize, I’m just trying to understand. And you can call me Richard.
Gordon: Understand what, exactly?
Richard: I think that Howie may be on the spectrum...or something like that.
Janet: The spectrum?
Richard: Autistic. Autisim exists on a spectrum. Howie’d be mostly high functioning but...he has some social quirks.
Richard: To say the least.
Gordon: I think you better tell us what is going on Mr. Bernbaum. What are you alluding to?
Richard stands and walks to the wall of drawings.
Richard: We have a period every day that’s about half an hour where the kids can sit and draw. We take out the big boxes of crayons and construction paper and they can just have at it. Most of the kids draw what you’d expect, unicorns, pirates, fairy princess, whatever. Howie on the other hand. He... well. His drawings are very different. Almost disturbing. I have some of them right here.
He goes to his desk and grabs a manilla folder and removes a few pieces of colored construction paper with Howies drawings on them. They are out of view of the audience.
Janet: Oh my god.
Gordon: Howie drew this?
Richard: Yes. And this one.
Hands them another drawing.
Richard: As you can imagine these ones were not going up on the wall. And look, its common for kids to express themselves in these ways occasionally, usually it’s because they saw something on T.V. or whatever but every single time we sit down for coloring...I’m actually getting anxious just thinking about it. Howie always, ALWAYS draws things like this. The same themes come up over and over again.
Janet: How do the other children react?
Richard: Quite frankly the other children are afraid of him.
Gordon: Afraid of him? He’s five.
Richard: Well, all the children are five. The real thing that has become an issue is the touching.
Richard stops and looks at both of them quizzically.
Richard: Ok, I’ve got to say I’m having a difficult time believing that none of this behavior goes on at home. At home is he just your average kid?
Gordon: Are you saying we’re lying to you?
Richard: No, no, I’m just saying that. I just have a hard time imagining Howie not like this. How he is here, at school, with me.
Richard: Does he draw at home?
Janet: Wait, I want to know about the touching? What touching?
Richard: Ok. Howie...touches...has touched....the other kids.
Janet: Oh God. Oh God no.
Gordon: What is going on here? Are you accusing my son of...what the heck is going on here?
Richard: That’s what I’m trying to find out! I’m just telling you what I’ve seen. I’d like, if we can, to keep this meeting as civil as possible. I’m really just trying to do my job. (Very severe) Howie will grab other kids private parts. Girls and boys. It’s gotten almost compulsive. It’s not typical roughhousing. No other children talk to him, which he doesn't seem to mind, but if they get too close he terrorizes them. He looks at them and screams. And I just want to be clear...he is not like this at home? At all?
(Janet and Gordon look at each other for a moment)
Janet: Let me speak Gordon. I can speak for myself. Yes. Yes Howie has always acted a little different. Oh who am I kidding, more than a little different. He was born a little prematurely. For three months we kept him on a device when he was young because when he fell asleep he would stop breathing. And yes. Yes Howie acts different but its not dangerous. We thought that the odd behavior would be left at home but...apparently not.
Gordon: (staring at Jan) Jan.
(Richard lets out a big sigh)
Richard: I really wish I had known this sooner. It really brings up some major questions. What kind of odd behavior does he express at home?
Janet: Mr. Bernbaum, Howie is a very, very special child. I’d rather not get too in to all of that.
Gordon: Hey buddy, I think it’s pretty obvious this is distressing stuff you’re bringing up here.
Richard: I am simply trying to piece this together. This meeting is for the safety of your son and the safety of the other children. I’m his teacher and I think I have a right to know.
Janet: My son is not a threat to the other children.
Richard: Well, ma’am, I have evidence to the contrary.
Gordon: You’re trying to blame us! That’s what you’re doing right?
Richard: Ok, Mr. Newhouse. Fine, ok. I will say that there is something major I’m not saying outright, quite honestly because I’m afraid that if I even think what I’m about to imply, you will beat the shit out of me...excuse my language. Sorry. But...I have reasons to believe that Howie has been--Oh my God. How do I ask this?
(Very tense beat)
Richard: Has Howie ever been...been hit? At home?
Gordon throws Howies drawings to the ground. He makes two fists. He is seconds away from exploding.
Janet: Excuse me?
Gordon: What the fuck?!
Gordon: What the absolute FUCK?!
Richard: I’m sorry I-
Gordon: I am astounded that you would level such heinous and unfounded accusations against us! Especially after only having known us for half an hour! I thought this was a parent teacher conference, not a damn inquisition. Who do you think you are Mr. Bernbaum? You’re just a TEACHER! Just who the fuck do you think you are?
Gordon: No, I have every right to be angry! Who is he? You know I’ve never seen a male kindergarten teacher before, I think that should be raising some red flags right? What draws a thirty something punk to want to be around a bunch of kids? This scumbag thinks he can just accuse us of beating our child? I mean, that is what is happening right? Lets not tip toe around the subject and lets just say it ok? You are saying, Mr. Bernbaum, that because my son is acting disturbed and shit it MUST be our fault? That is what you’re saying right?
Richard: No, I’m only trying to figure out the truth! I’ve had to deal with all sorts of complicated family stuff in the past in my classes but I have never, never had a child like Howie. Even the way he looks at me...it...it scares me.
Gordon: He scares you? A five year old boy scares you? You’re a bigger pussy than I thought.
Janet: GORDON. Do not use that language, we are trying to be professional.
Gordon stops. Collects himself. He is still giving Richard a death stare.
Gordon: Sorry honey.
Janet: Apologize to Mr. Bernbaum.
Gordon: Only if he apologizes first.
Janet: Oh my god Gordon.
Pause. Janet is intensely staring in to space.
Richard: Look, I-
(Something has been building up inside her and it finally breaks)
Janet: Ok! Ok. There is something you need to know about Howie.
Gordon: Jan, you don’t have to-
Janet: No. He needs to know.
Richard: What do I need to know?
Janet: Do you believe in God?
(Richard is standing with his arms crossed looking in disbelief at both of them)
Richard: Is this relevant to the-
Janet: I asked you a question.
Pause. Richard looks at Janet. Is she testing him?
Richard: Uh. No. The answer is no.
Janet: I see.
Richard: What does this have to do with Howie?
Janet: Mr. Bernbaum. I can assure you. Without doubt. There is a God.
Janet: When Howie was a baby he was always very quiet. He never really cried much. It frankly seemed like a blessing for a while. It didn’t worry us too much. But when he was three he started waking up every night with nightmares. And we would sit on the bed with him and talk until he calmed down. By then the sun was usually up. His dreams though. His dreams were the most vivid dreams I’ve ever heard a child describe Mr. Bernbaum. And if I’m honest, at first I thought he was lying. But they were so vivid. So vivid. I don’t think I’ve even had a dream as clear as the ones he had. Names. Places. We started to look up these names and places on the internet and would you believe it…
Janet: Do you know about Leighton Greenwald? You’re from here right.
Pause. Richard turns and stares directly at her. This question is significant.
Richard: Yes. Yes actually I do. But listen I don’t see what this has to do with Howie. Why-
Janet: Well you will in a second. Mr.Bernbaum, how much do you know about the Greenwald case? And what happened to that boy.
Richard: (Taking his time) I actually know quite a lot. Leighton and I knew each other, believe it or not. Like you said I’m from Sykesville. I’ve lived here all my life actually. We were family friends with the Greenwald's and Leighton and I played together as kids. Now I think we should-
Gordon: Wait, so you did know him? Like actually ‘knew him’ knew him?
Gordon and Janet look at each other with suppressed morbid giddiness. Richard looks out the window.
Richard: Yes. I ‘knew him’ knew him. I would even go so far as to call him my best friend. When I was four of course. Because then....
Janet: You were his best friend?
Richard: (Turning back to them) Well, from my point of view yes. Unfortunately you can’t ask him if the feeling was reciprocated. If you don’t mind, this is bringing back some...unfortunate feelings and I’d like to get to the point. The business with Howie.
Janet: Their business is the same.
(Janet takes her hands, see lays her fingers and intersects them as she speaks the next line)
Janet: Howie and Leighton….
Richard: Uh, what?(Slowly piecing something together and then bursting out laughing)You have got to be kidding me!
Gordon: I knew this prick wouldn’t believe us.
Richard: (Heading to the door) Excuse me, but I think this meeting is over. You’ve brought up some very bad memories and insulted the hell out of me when all I was trying to do was help.
Janet: You’re going to leave?
Richard turns to them in disbelief.
Richard: You just told me that my childhood friend who was kidnapped and murdered 28 years ago has been re-incarnated as your son. Yeah, you bet I’m leaving.
(He heads to the door before turning and realizing)
Richard: Wait, this is my classroom. YOU leave.
Janet: What about Howie?
Richard: Howie? I’ll be talking to the school board about him. And you too, for that matter.
Janet: Us, what did we do?
Richard: You’re completely nuts!
Richard is heading towards the door. Janet hesitates before speaking.
Janet: Wait, Dinky.
Richard freezes at the door. He stands there back turned for a long time. Thunder crash.
Richard: What did you call me? What did you just call me?
Richard walks back over to Janet.
Richard: How do you know about that?
Janet: How do you think?
Richard: Who the fuck are you people?!
Gordon: You watch how you talk to my wife.
Richard: Just tell me how you know about that.
Gordon: Howie told us.
Richard: Jesus Christ, I don’t believe this. I don’t believe this. (He looks at Gordon and Janet and then something clicks.) Is this some kind of complex cover up? A cover up to hide child abuse?
Gordon: (Rising, fists clenched) That’s it! I’m gunna punch you in your goddamn face if you-
Richard: (Screaming) Shut up! Are you seriously trying to pull a fast one on me? Who did you hire? I bet a good PI could have found out about that nickname. But I don’t believe for one minute that your son told you that. No way. No fucking way. Excuse my language.
Janet: I think we’re past that.
Gordon: We’re past more than that.
Janet: We understand how shocking and confusing this must be. Just imagine how we felt.
Gordon: Why would we lie about this?
Richard: Because! Because you need to cover up. You need to hide the fact that it is your fault Howie is this way. Because you don’t want people like the police finding out about this. Or CPS. But you can be damn sure that I’m letting them know that Howie is not only being abused but his parents are god-damn lunatics!
Janet: (Very serious) You wouldn’t.
Richard: You bet I will.
Richard moves towards the phone on the wall, he begins to dial.
Gordon: (Getting in Richards face) Get away from the phone. Get away from the fucking telephone. DINKY.
Richard: Don’t call me that.
Gordon: Dinky. Dinky. Dinky. Dinky! DINKY!
Richard: STOP! STOP! STOP!
Janet: (Over the commotion, but softly) Great green gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts, marinated monkey meat, french fried parakeet. (Richards stops and listens to her as if he’s seen a ghost) All wrapped up in fuzzy wuzzy beetle brain, pass the eyeball soup and the gravy please...
Pause, Richard is shaking.
Richard: What the hell is going on?
Gordon: Do you believe us?
Richard hangs up the phone and goes and sits in a chair, head in his hands.
Richard: I can’t. I can’t believe you. To believe you would mean shifting everything I know to be true about the world. To quite literally sacrifice my worldview in favor of something totally outrageous. Totally fantastical. Totally unknowable.
Janet: Does that scare you?
Richard: Yes, quite frankly it does.
Gordon: What are we gonna do?
Richard: Look, I’m sorry. God I knew this was a bad idea. Let’s wrap this up and pretend like it never happened. I’m so sorry but Howie can‘t be in my class.
Richard: You’re surprised? After all this? It’s just too much. I don’t think I could even look at him now.
Janet: But he loves you.
Gordon: Oh yeah, he loves you. And I am not using that word lightly.
Janet: Howie was the one who told us he wanted to go to this school.
Richard: Your five year old told you to move here?
Janet: Howie is special. He deserves what he wants. When we were looking at teacher profiles online he pointed to your picture and said “Dinky, I love Dinky.”
Richard shakes his head.
Richard: If there was one thing I wanted to here Leighton say....
Janet: Look, you can believe what you want. We’ll talk to him about the drawings and the touching. But please. Don’t call CPS. Please don’t take our child away from us.
Richard: Lady, I honestly don’t know what to believe. On the one hand, and this is a hand I lean very strongly towards, you people are out of your mind and using a painful event you somehow found out about from my past against me to shield yourselves. On the other hand...on the other hand...
Gordon: We’re right.
Janet: I think it’s time for us to go.
Gordon and Janet get up, grab their jackets and prepare to leave.
Gordon: Oh hey, Richard, I think it goes without saying that invitation to tennis no longer stands.
Richard: I figured.
Gordon exits, Janet stays for a moment watching Richard, still sitting with his head in his hands.
Janet: We’ll tell Howie you said hi.
She exits, automatically or purposefully turning the light off in the classroom leaving Richard in the dark for several seconds. He lifts his feet up in to the fetal position in the children's chair. His phone rings, he looks at it and picks it up. Richard has the whole conversation with his knees up.
Richard: Hey Brett...no, no, it’s over they’re gone...Uh, it went...fine...No, I’m fine. Uh, weird question; do you remember Leighton?...the little kid who got...yeah, Greenwald. Do you ever think about him?...Yeah...me neither. I wonder if he thinks about us...what? Haha no, it was just a joke….sorry yeah it was bad. Ok, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.
He lifts his head up, looks at Howie’s pictures on the floor, picks one up and slowly goes and places it on the wall. He then walks over to the window.
Richard: Huh. It stopped raining.
End of play.
Averil Gleason- HOUSTON, TX
I attended The Women’s March in Houston this weekend.
It was beautiful. It was empowering. And most of all, it was freezing cold.
Marching alongside me was my best friend.
We held wooden signs in the shape of the female symbol and we carried them with pride as we marched to Houston City Hall on Saturday morning.
Before the march began, my dad asked me why I was even attending.
“Women have rights, you know,” he told me, matter-of-factly.
“What’s the point? What are you marching for?”
At first, I was stumped.
The goal of the march is to advocate legislation and policies regarding human rights and other issues, including women’s rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, reproductive rights, the environment, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, freedom of religion, workers’ rights and tolerance.
But why was I marching?
Maybe women do have rights. The right to buy land and vote and get out of the kitchen and into the workforce.
But what happens when they get a job? And they’re being paid less than their male counterpart?
What about the women who want to feel safe when they’re walking down the streets at night?
Sure, we have rights. But do we have respect?
I think back to a date I had where a man forced himself on me 45 minutes into meeting.
He was 6’6 and I was no match for him.
I couldn’t tell my parents because then I wouldn’t be able to go on dates anymore.
My safety was in jeopardy.
And when my life is at risk, when girls all around me are at risk, we’re the ones who have to be on the defense at all times.
“Don’t stay out too late.”
“Carry your pepper spray at all times!”
I marched on Saturday because I’m strong too.
I may not have as many muscles as a man.
But I have my wit. And my smarts.
I was one of over 10,000 people in attendance.
Ten thousand people were marching because of the things that President Trump said during his campaign, which threatened millions of people who were gay, disabled, immigrants, and everyone in between.
I realized that I wasn’t marching for one specific reason, but rather for every reason listed.
Many people referred to the Women’s March as an anti-Trump rally, but I viewed the march in a different way.
In the eyes of everyone marching, Trump started his political career on the wrong foot, but there is room for improvement.
He is our president, and the people marching wanted him to know there is still time to change.
There is still time to make America great again if he would just listen to what the people at the Women’s March have to say.
These people were marching to promote hope for the future, not fear.
The march wasn’t driven by hate. It was rooted in the fact that we are all equal.
By the end of the day, my hands hurt from clapping so much and my throat was sore from cheering so loud. I was proud to be one of 10,000 people marching for equality.
Saturday was more than a protest. The Women’s March fueled peace and positivity among millions of people all over the world.
I’m marching for the future.
I’m marching so women who go on dates with men won’t be scared or have to fend predators off.
Yes, we have rights. And I have it good.
But some women don’t.
And until we’re all on the same field, I will continue to march
How did I find my way back here?
I look down
At my wrist and five fingers
Resting on my own thigh
My dearest companion
But just one short month ago
I wanted to run from this body
Tore myself to shreds
Bashing this precious skull again and again
Into the concrete
A misbehaved animal
The monster who never could be loved
I love these fingers
I love these toes
I love the sweet sound
Of the birds
And the dance of the bare branches
Outside my window
A trunk roots me down into this earth
Just like you
This is a moment of celebration
a moment of trust
A moment of thank you
Of I’m here
Oh yes I am
And I can keep smiling
Don’t need to crumble
And learning to have deep
For when I do
The me that does
But right now I’ma buzz
I got a date with sweetness
She just wants to kiss me
And I’m not scared any more
I’m ready to feel her lips all over my body
My heart is open
You don’t have to break down my wall
Ive already let it crumbled
Your love crumbles me
This heart rumbles
He’s a poet
He’s a king
I love me
This is silly
And I love it
Hit that pop shove it
That’s for my boy Jake Henry
Killing it in the wine industry
I got so much love to give
Like I’m a little kid
Back on my dads shoulders
Hercules movin boulders
Hope you told her
How much you love her
Hope you know
Hope I know
Hope we remember
How beautiful we are
How we’ve come so far
Nothing to prove
Nothing to lose
Keep on smiling
The sky is still blue
I love you
I love you
What it do
Anonymous - "STORMS"
Sometimes I think of other people like little storms; just existing and traveling around interacting
with each other in this huge world. And since we’re all just little storms, the majority of our interactions
are pretty benign and we’re left unscathed, but every so often we collide with one another and something
extreme happens. It can be extremely beautiful, beneficial, or painful and once it happens, there’s little we
can do to stop or change it. Maybe it’s the timing of the interaction, the chemistry of it, which of their
debris got caught up in your personal storm or vice versa, but once you’ve collided, you’re not really ever
the same. Each interaction with every little storm is going to leave you a little bit changed and sometimes
that can be great, sometimes it’s really frustrating and sometimes you wish you could go back and change
This whole storm thing is just a theory of mine, more like a feeling or a daydream really. A way
for me to explain things to myself because well, I’m just a little storm floating around the world not
knowing what I’m doing or where I’m going. There are only a few things I really know that are not hard
facts; ie; I need to eat food, gravity, math etc. Those things are 1: that, well, we’re not little storms and we
do have the power to make our own choices and decisions and, 2: we actually have to do that and if we
don’t, we won’t do so well in this life 3: I love my family, 4: ignorance is bliss but, 5: knowledge is
power, but also kind of a duty. One thing I don’t yet know is how to reconcile 4 and 5.
Something else I know is that I’m in love. Or I was when I began writing this, and I do still love
him but it’s a different kind of love now. It was Headoverheels, stomachchurning, worldturning,
I’llgetonaplane, I’veneverwantedadickpicbutpleasesendme100dickpics , kind of love. I
collided with this particular beautiful storm while studying abroad at the University of Havana in my
junior year of college. I was having a bad, confusing first day. I barely spoke Spanish and was going as
the only student in the program but knew this semester abroad was something I needed to do. So I cheated
on my application, and 2 months later, I was sitting in a history class where the only word I really, really
knew was azucar (sugar) and the fact that it was said so many times in this history class made me think
maybe I didn’t know what it really meant and that was stressing me out.
As I was sweating profusely, fumbling with my books and trying not to cry, this bright smiled,
confident, happy little storm in a crisp white long sleeved button down rolled right in and introduced
himself to me, in English, as Bryan. I felt such immense relief but also annoyance at this. Annoyance
because he strolled right up to me so confidently and I felt everything but confident that day and because I
wanted to go cry and he was postponing that. Relief because he was speaking to me in English and
something about him just made me feel more settled than I had been the entire time I was in Cuba. I also
was pretty caught off guard as to why this charismatic guy was talking to me instead of his big group of
friends or the exchange students fighting for an opportunity to speak Spanish with him and, irritatingly, to
speak about speaking Spanish. To be honest I don’t even know what, if anything, I said to him. I was at
that point of almost crying where if you open your mouth, you won’t be able to stop the tears. He asked
me for my number so we could hang out and study sometime. I didn’t really have any time to think about
if I should give it to him or not because of that smile and that confidence. I had so little time to process
this interaction that I didn’t even realize that maybe he was asking for my number because he actually
might like me until months later.
Most times that I have given someone my number, I’m thinking about them, meeting their
parents, going on vacation together and what our kids will look like and repeatedly obsessively checking
my phone until they text me. But this time, this collision with this bubbly little storm was actually one of
the least eventful parts of that stressful day and I barely thought about it again. He sent me a message a
few days later and we made plans. By that time I had made some friends with other exchange students
and I invited some of them because of all the Dateline I’ve watched. Looking back and remembering him,
in the environmental art cafe he suggested, sitting at a table set for two, looking nervous, then shocked,
then a little disappointed, then pulling it all together and pretending to be excited to meet the other guy I
brought along on our date, I feel a little bad but I still wouldn’t change a thing. I thought he seemed pretty
smart and probably wanted to talk politics so I brought along my other smart friend with similar interests.
I was trying to set the two of them up for an awesome friendship, but Bryan was just interested in me. I
wasn’t in him and I don’t know why exactly.
I collided with a lot of storms over that semester. After my shy start, I began to make a point of
making friends and of going out with them and dancing with them and a lot of the time making out with
them. Storms. Storms colliding. There were a few guys I liked more than the others, that I imagined going
on vacations with and meeting their parents, I wanted our storms to merge for at least a little while but
each one of them destroyed me little by little in their own way. It was at this point that I started to think
about people, especially the men (boys) I had let into my life, as little storms. I wondered if I myself had
destroyed people with just a few interactions, colliding into them and then rolling on, as had been done to
me so many times before. I wondered why and how some people could come into other people’s lives and
not see that they are doing that; coming into someone’s life . Affecting them, taking up their time, their
energy, their mental space and then rolling right on by as if they hadn’t been inside the other person.
After a few more interactions which he tried to make dates and I tried to make opportunities to
make friends, Bryan and I became good enough friends that we hung out by ourselves a few times a
week. My favorite thing we did, the thing that we did the most often was going to the Malecon just to
talk. He lived closer to Havana’s seawall than I did but he would always come up the hill to meet me at
my house and we would walk down together, grabbing a beer once we got there. Usually, the two of us
insisting on paying until I could convince him that he bought them the last two times at least. It would be
an awkward show of things, similar to most dates I’ve been on but the whole semester I never felt any
type of sexual or romantic pressure from him. Even when towards the end of the semester he told me
directly that he liked me, I felt no pressure. No fear of the friendship ending, no dread of the inevitable
“friendzone” lecture, no oncoming clash of emotions. I said thank you and that I liked him too but just as
friends and he walked me home and after hanging out with him a few more times, I left the country.
When I got back I had a few very meaningful collisions with little boy storms. Meaningful but not
very beautiful which I actually feel lead me to the place where I could appreciate Bryan for who he would
later become in my life. Upon returning to the US, I met the worst guy I have ever been involved with
during my first and only instance of using Tinder. Emilio. Emilio fucking Macy. He was by far the most
important person I can accredit this feeling of a person being like a storm too. He was a person who
brought this underlying thought of people raging through others lives like storms, like destructive,
careless, dehumanized masses of unorganized atmospheric pressure and hormones rambling over things
and not even stopping to think that they were affecting another human. Just as he had been inside me
physically, he was inside me mentally and emotionally as well. I truly felt, and still feel that he would
never understand that.
The next collision that would happen to me was with another very good friend of mine. Dayne
and I became friends during my freshman year of college, I was crying over a guy when he came outside
to roll a cigarette and started talking to me. In a totally nonsexual, non romantic way, he was so shy, so
quiet and just so comforting to be around. We decided to trade me teaching him yoga for him teaching me
how to meditate and roll joints and we thought this cocktail of activities was exactly what I needed to get
over my breakup with my high school boyfriend. We hung out all the time in big groups of friends as well
as by ourselves, I never suspected he liked me. Once I thought that I liked him but we were always just
too high to make any moves on each other.
He told me how he felt before I left for Cuba and nothing came of it, we pretty much ignored that
it ever happened and just continued smoking, drawing and hiking like nothing ever happened. But after
the terrible way Emilio made me feel, I decided I deserve someone nice so I refused the joint for once and
kissed him later that night. He told me he had been dreaming about that for a while and that it was his first
kiss...ever....as a senior in college...I couldn’t believe it but I also totally could. We dated for a few
months and had a beautiful, slow, caring and totally life changing loving sexual experience together. But
he was so nice and sweet that after a while, I found it boring and suffocating. I knew that I couldn’t put up
with the love he showed me because although I cared for him deeply, I didn’t love him and I couldn’t be
the storm that destroyed him in the way I had been destroyed before. We had a very amicable breakup
over coffee and a spliff. He thanked me for everything even though it sucked and told me I changed his
life for the better.
After that, I ran into Everett, that high school boyfriend that Dayne found me crying about that
day and I thought, like Goldy Locks that I had been through too hard, too soft and this was my just right
finally coming back to me. We hung out a few times, talked about all the complicated things of our past,
got drunk one night, and slept together. We didn’t have sex or even kiss even though he wanted to but just
sleeping next to him, lying next to him and looking in each other's eyes after so long felt so good. I
thought we had gotten back together, or would, and he thought he was just going to get it one last time. I
went to work the next day feeling SO happy, and I texted him saying so. But as I started to sober up, my
mental clarity came back and I realized that he had given no indication of us getting back together, every
minute he didn’t text me back, it became more and more clear to me what had really happened. I hadn’t
come into work at ten after drinking and snorting Adderall until five am miraculously sober, I had come
in drunk and as I started to get sober and incredibly hungover reality hit. As I squatted out back of the
restaurant and brewery I worked at, throwing up, I started to cry realizing this. I realized I was King
Sisyphus and walking around in circles, hungover, serving beer and greasy food, trying to maintain a
smile, while holding back tears and vomit, waiting for a text from a boy who had put me through this for
years already, was my hill in the underworld. And I had created it all for myself. I worked a double, and
the storm raged on.
When I finally heard from him days later, saying it was good to see me but that we had made a
mistake, I was so upset and so angry. I felt like I needed to make him understand. This is my fatal flaw I
think, needing to make people understand, needing to make people realize what they did and, really just
wanting people to care. I pretty much begged him to come over and talk to me and pathetically told him
every thought and feeling I had felt since the morning he dropped me off at work. I just wanted him to
know, to fucking know what he had made me feel, and how he had just stormed through my life and that
you can’t and shouldn’t fucking do that.
A few months after that I returned to Cuba for a research project and the second I saw Bryan
again, I knew I needed to be with him, no matter what that meant, no matter how difficult it would be, I
needed him. Bryan and our exceedingly difficult yearlong longdistance relationship showed me was that
if someone cares, you won’t ever have to wonder or to make them care, you won't ever have to spell it out
for them, if someone cares they will show you and if they don’t, telling them every little way in which
they hurt you, still won’t make them care unless they already really cared . I felt like these interactions,
these collisions with these three very different and destructive little boy storms were the perfect recipe for
me to finally appreciate Bryan. He was smarter and more humble than all of them, he wasn’t quite as sexy
as Emilio but way less full of himself which made him sexier, he was as sweet as Dayne but three times as
sexual, a million times as confident. I can’t even insult him by comparing him to Everett. He was so fun,
so sweet, so interesting, so sexy. In the same day, he helped an old woman cross the street with her bags
and fucked me in the street. He was so much more mature and selfaware than any of those boys.
Bryan would never be anyone storm, he’s much too considerate. Bryan is the sunny day to remind
you why you like to be outside, Bryan is your reward for being shut up inside your house, inside yourself,
trying to hide from the storms. Even though I’m not with him anymore, he showed me what to look for,
what to prioritize and where my standards are. He taught me how to keep them sky high while remaining
humble as ever, to keep my standards of myself high while expectations of others low, which is such a
struggle and so confusing but the way he loved me gives me the strength to do it. Bryan didn’t just rescue
and repair me from the storms I had been through, he gave me the tools to protect myself from the other
storms, hurricanes and fucking tornados that would later come my way.
Tij D'oyen -"AN OPEN LETTER TO MY FUTURE"
I’d like to try to write a letter to you.
Maybe because it’s the start of a new year
and I’m feeling uncharacteristically optimistic,
Or maybe it’s because I don’t trust what’s in store for me and this is merely another attempt to control that which I cannot,
Or maybe it’s because I’m too scared to let go of the past,
Or maybe it’s none of the above.
But still, I’d like to try to write a letter to you.
I’d like you to be full of tough talks.
Conversations so hard that I feel the dull throb of growing pains well before the conversation’s even close to being done. I’d like you to be full of fresh fruit. And sticky hands.
I’d like you to be full of apologies. Full of the ones that I’m still too scared and too stubborn to give just yet (so please bear with me until I am brave enough to give them, because I do want to give them. But in the meantime, thanks for waiting.)
I’d like you to be full of thick-sobby-little-kid cries. The kind that only come from those EUREKA moments of clarity when you spring from the weight of traumas you didn’t even know you had, or from a really good reunion. Open to both. I’ll let you pick and choose what goes where.
I’d like you to be full of kisses on the lips with all my favorite people. Speaking of lips... I’d like you to be full of meaningful sex. The kind of sex that would make even me want a cigarette. I’d like you to be full of bold proclamations. Ones so heavy that they feel like they could balance out against the weight of the world on some god’s pair of celestial scales. The kind of proclamations usually only slurred by lips stained with cheap red wine.
I’d like you to be full of surprises.
I’d like you to be full of astonishment, not dismay.
I’d like you to be full of taking the time to pay attention.
I’d like you to be full of witnessing my loved ones in moment after moment of complete and absolute euphoria. On wedding days. On having children. On fulfilling life goals. On actualizing life dreams. On falling in love. On falling in love with themselves. I’d like you to be full of change. Change that flips me upside-down and swings me back and forth. I’d like you to be full of coming into my own. I’d like you to be full of fewer assumptions. I’d like you to be full of self discovery.
I’d like you...
I’d like you...
I’d like you to be full of trust.
Trust in knowing that you will be all that I need you to be, and so much more than I could ever expect.