Welcome! Today is the day! The day you’ve been working so hard for! TODAY ISSSSSSSSSSSSSSS another dayyyyyyyyy!!!! (unless it’s your birthday, in that case, happy birthday!) Anyways, guess what! It’s already March! That’s right, a quarter of the year is about to pass right by your little nose. But! That also means this semester is soon to end! Only two(ish) more months left!!!!!
Now, I know what you’re thinking, why, why is this guy so happy, why is he screaming, and more importantly, why… why on earth is he eating that apple with a spoon… Well, because this semester I graduate! That’s all. Let’s move on to what you’re really here forrrrr
First things first,
Feel free to come to Writer’s Circle on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays from 12:30-2:00, in 2307 Boylan, to enhance what students like me, and you, and me, and you have selected as their favorite weapon of choice, the pencil, (or pen, well, any writing utensil really) in this unforgiven world! In other words, you can come to the Writer’s Circle to further develop your writing skills!
The Spring 2018 Junction has officially begun production, feel free to submit your short favorite fiction, poetry, or 2-D art to firstname.lastname@example.org! The last day to plant your seed (and patiently wait for that flower you call creativity to show its many petals) is March 15th!
There will be a Roundtable on law in late antique and medieval Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions on Thursday, March 15th at 12:30pm with Professors David Brodsky, Bilal Ibrahim, and Lauren Mancia. (I’m attending this, will I see you there!?! Oh, I… I will? Well maybe… maybe I shouldn’t go then…)
Brooklyn College is Hosting Passport Day! Completed applications, along with a passport photo and appropriate payment for a new passport or renewal should be brought to 1108 Boylan Hall, between 11:00AM and 3:30PM on Thursday, March 8, 2018. We can finally go to Mars! Huh? What do you mean that’s not how passports work?
Lastly, Brooklyn College is also hosting Relations with #Russia: The Right Way Forward. It’ll be a lecture on US-Russia relations by former NATO deputy secretary general Ambassador Alexander “Sandy” Vershbow. The Lecture with Ambassador Vershbow will be held at 2:15 to 3:15 P.M. in the Gold Room located, in the Student Center. The Student Reception will be from 3:15 to 4:00 P.M. and will be held in the Maroon Room, in the Student Center.
Now, some information regarding Study Abroad
April 1st is the last day to submit for Fall 2018 semester abroad!
Brooklyn College Semester Exchange 2018-19 programs in Paris, Barcelona, Hong Kong, Rome, Israel, England, Scotland, Italy.
-Study Abroad Scholarship Deadlines:
* Gilman (Benjamin A.) International Scholarship – March 6th
* The Furman Fellows Scholarship for Study Abroad – March 15th
* The Karen L. Gould Scholarship for Study Abroad – March 15th
* Study Abroad Scholarship Association (SASA) Scholarship – March 15th
* Chancellor’s Global Scholarship for Study Abroad – March 28th
Study Abroad 1.0 Information Sessions are every Tuesday at 1 pm in 1108 Boylan Hall – open to all
Study Abroad “Q&A” is every Wednesday in March! Come and visit us during your lunch break from 11.30am to 1.30pm in the Cafeteria.
I know there’s been a lot of info, but don’t worry, we’re almost done. SO WAKE UP! YOU’VE GOT A WHOLE WEEK IN FRONT OF YOU!
Lastly, Brooklyn College is also hosting The Zicklin Summer Fellows Program which provides students with access to internships and/or summer coursework that will help them develop new skill sets and enhance the likelihood of graduation. The program would make it possible for qualifying students to earn credits toward graduation by taking summer courses. visit the Office of Scholarship website to obtain guidelines and the application at http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/web/about/offices/financial/scholarships/zicklin.php. The deadline is April 5th, 2018.
So yea, if you’re still pondering at the title, and wondering what’s “happening.” There’s nothing happening, it’s just another Monday… or is itttttttt… (it is……right?)
After the latest school shooting, the NRA has come under virulent attack by people demanding gun control. Major companies—such as Delta, United Airlines, and Hertz—have severed ties with the NRA after public pressure, but not Apple, Amazon, or FedEx. A boycott of companies that have not cut off their relationships with the NRA was planned for March 1.
People are particularly upset with Amazon and Apple because they offer access to NRA TV, a free online-only channel, which features live commentary and documentaries. The push against the NRA brought attention to this little known channel and has dragged its hosts into the limelight. NRA TV is similar to right-wing channels in that its hosts complain loudly about the liberal, untrustworthy mainstream media. When they launched in 2014, they promised “the most comprehensive video coverage of second amendment issues, events and culture anywhere in the world.” And, by God Almighty, do they deliver. For example, in a ‘roid rage-fueled rant, Grant Stinchfield—think of a beefy Bill O’Reilly—blamed the Broward County Sheriff, Scott Israel, and first responders for the school shooting in Florida, not guns.
Now, based on this argument alone, I think that when Grant Stinchfield dies, if he is given an enema, his family can dispose of his corpse in a matchbox. Nevertheless, as a staunch advocate of the principles of the Enlightenment, I support Grant Stinchfield’s right to a platform to exercise his right to free speech. In addition, I doubt that he, and those sympathetic to his views, can or should be silenced. Even if Apple, Amazon, Google Play, and Roku drop the channel, there is still YouTube, among other digital platforms. Social media platforms are the modern public square, a place for discussion and debate, in which we can exercise our First Amendment rights, which includes the right to offend. These views will not disappear if driven to lesser platforms, or underground.
I cannot think about encroaching on someone else’s right to free speech without arranging for this to happen to me and mine as well, but never mind. That’s another essay for another time. Meantime, let us say that the NRA loses one of its propaganda tools, and let us pretend that gun laws are passed. Will the problem be over?
I doubt that. Unless our Dear Leaders stop setting the murderous example, things will not change. We can blame the epidemic of murder on movies, music, video games, and on the readily available guns until we’re blue in the face, and we will be right. But where do we get the idea of violence as a national value in the first place? I remember when my brother had his first child; he and his wife taught the baby to curse, and they would laugh and laugh, but when the baby turned the insults in their direction, and they weren’t in a good mood, they would get angry with her. Stupid, right? Well, in my brother’s defense, he was very young too. But that is where the idea of violence as a virtue comes from: our leaders, our symbolic parents. They tell us that the military is to be worshiped when they do flyovers during football games. When it comes to movies, they tell us that violence is a necessary tool that has saved our lives time and again.
Our country is fundamentally, and institutionally violent. Both Republicans and Democrats embrace defense projects with warmth even when the Pentagon tells them to stuff it where the sun don’t shine, and the defense budget becomes more and more bloated. Obama embraced drone murders, and Trump, who is in a perpetual dick-measuring contest with his predecessor, has already surpassed his numbers. The unrelenting message is that killing makes us strong.
But let us say that we lose our American minds for a moment and decide instead to promote nonmilitary, diplomatic means to ensure peace. Let us say that we respect our neighbors, rather than kill them, or rape and pillage their countries when they’re not looking. And let us say that we pass gun laws. Surely that would be enough to stop the killing. It would certainly be a step in the right direction, but what about inequality?
There is an enormous body of evidence that the black maw of inequality breeds violence. When you don’t have access to mainstream markers of status—a nice car, a good-paying, stable job—and all you have to cling to is the respect of your peers, you are more likely to lash out violently when your only source of value is threatened. You are more likely to distrust other members of your society, and therefore feel a greater sense of alienation. You see this feeling displayed often when mass murderers leave a video, or manifesto. But you also see it play out in daily life, after all; what, if not inequality and racism, is the source of gangsta’ rap?
You see, the problem runs deeper than passing gun laws. It’s deeper than silencing and defunding the NRA. If we don’t change our ideology, and if we don’t fix income inequality, heads will continue to roll.
If you live in the Northeast, you probably noticed that winter storm on Thursday night. It wasn’t the worst storm to hit this winter, but it certainly wasn’t fun to walk home in either. However, the Northeast United States isn’t the only place suffering from some pretty brutal weather lately.
Easterly winds from Siberia hit Northern Europe this week and brought the United Kingdom its coldest spell in five years. While the UK isn’t known for its particularly beautiful weather, it definitely isn’t used to snow like this:
In fact, It’s so cold in England, that even the snails are calling it in. The Dartmoor Union Inn in Devon was promoting a snail racing championship for Saturday, promising guests, “each thrilling race will last about 4 minutes with guests able to bet on their favourite snail.”
The only problem is, it’s so cold in the United Kingdom that the snails are starting to hibernate. The pub posted on Facebook Thursday, “Unfortunately due to our snails being extra sleepy we have had to cancel the snail racing championships this Saturday!”
Luckily, snails come equipped to ride out a cold snap. They “make a dried lid of slime over the shell mouth, which seals in the snail for several months,” reports the BBC.
Luckily, “the beast from the east,” as the British Media calls it, is estimated to be completely dispersed and melted by next week.
As for the gastropods at the gastropub, The Dartmoor Union Inn has no current plans for escargot; they say the snail race will be rescheduled.
Poverty and Parenting
Lines are being drawn in the sands of the California desert as a Joshua Tree family fights to stay together after their destitute living situation was discovered by the police.
The LA Times reports that Daniel Panico, 73, and Mona Kirk, 51, were living on a plot of land outside of Joshua Tree with their three children for four years without running water, plumbing, or electricity. Police also reported that 30 to 40 cats were also found in a trailer on the lot and roaming the grounds. Kirk and the children were sleeping in a make-shift shelter they had constructed from plywood and tarp material, while Panico would sleep in a small trailer with the cats. Children’s toys, old furniture, and various refuse littered the “yard,” and police also found several holes filled with human feces. Understandably, the police removed the children from the parents’ custody, before charging them with three felony counts of child abuse.
“When it comes to raising children, we have a standard we have to live by,” Captain Trevis Newport, of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office, told the LA Times. “In this case, we decided, let’s pull the kids from the residence, we don’t want them living in that environment.” However, friends and neighbors of the family tell a different story.
Jackie Klear, a longtime family friend from nearby Yucca Valley, says the only fault in Panico and Kirk’s parenting is refusing much-needed help from others. “They don’t want handouts,” she said. “I’m hoping this woke them up.” Klear is a troop leader for the Phoenix Scouts, a local scouting organization that all three children belong to. She also said that while not enrolled in school in any official capacity, the children were all well-read and educated, spending time at the Yucca Valley Library with their mother.
Newport noted that none of the children appeared malnourished, but did say that there was not an adequate amount of food on the property. Ultimately, it will be up to the courts to decide if Panico and Kirk are guilty of a crime, or of simple pride. If the court finds that it’s extreme poverty and not bad parenting, the two will discover that help is not far, with a GoFundMe page set up by Klear, garnering over $12,000 dollars in two days in the effort to purchase them a house.
China’s blooming new dictatorship
Over the past few weeks, Chinese legislators have been considering a major overhaul in the Chinese constitution that would basically strip term limits from law. Currently, there is a portion of law that states rather clearly that a president can only stay in power for two 5 year terms. As the Chinese legislators ponder over the removal of this law, the reason for its initial placement has to be considered.
The law was placed into the constitution after the reign of Mao Zedong, one of the most modern examples of a dictator. In 1982, the amendment was put forth as a reaction to Mao’s merciless and complete hold on power in China. Mao was the party leader, much like the current president Xi Jingping, and developed an almost cult like following in China with his personality and ruthlessness.
The removal of term limits, which is extremely likely considering the fact that the Chinese Parliament is filled with people from Jingping’s party, that follow his leadership, will potentially cause another life long term. Much like leaders such as Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it appears as if China’s Jingping is heading towards an area where he is able to hold all the power in his country in a grasp that nobody can shake.
It almost seems as if the world is swallowed up by all the dictator-like leaders at this point in time and it is scary to think that perhaps the age of democracy is at its weakest point since the inception of America. This idealogy, that to keep the country strong and to quell internal conflict it is worth it to basically install an all-powerful leader who will represent the country for years to come, is the same dangerous train of though that has brought about many tyrants that have caused plenty of suffering in the world.
A country like China, perhaps the world’s second most powerful country, heading in the direction of a dictatorship is particularly worrisome because China is the most populated country in the world, and the ability to manufacture and escape criticism is particularly dangerous there because so many people are potentially losing their democratic voice.
With some luck, this trend of all powerful strong men leading countries single handedly doesn’t extend everywhere around the world. It may be touching our country, but there is still that hope that democracy will prevail in America.
Boil water in medium saucepan. Stir in macaroni. Cook 7 to 8 min. or until tender, stirring occasionally.
Drain. DO NOT RINSE. Return to pan.
Add margarine, milk and Cheese Sauce Mix; mix well.
I think I’m not unreasonable to assume anyone reading this has probably stumbled across this “recipe” at least once in their lives, or some variant of it. The quintessential childhood (and maybe adulthood – I’m not judging) favorite: Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Even you boujee Velveeta-lovers can relate.
The beginning of my cooking career is grounded firmly in Hamburger Helper, which is only slightly more complex than the aforementioned “recipe.” When I was a kid, before I even considered the possibility of me seriously cooking dinner, my mom used to make it maybe once every week or two – a reasonable amount. Being a kid, I was totally into the artificial cheese and the knock-off Stroganoff, but I didn’t feel too strongly about it. I didn’t feel too strongly about most dinners. Like many kids, mom put it on the table, and we sat down to eat it.
I’ll save you the details of my familial turbulence, but eventually my dad became my primary guardian. My dad and I suddenly found ourselves standing in our local Stop and Shop, staring dumbly at the various apples and plethora of cereal brands, silently exchanging the question, “What would Mom buy?” I had always gone to the grocery store with her, sure, but I hadn’t really paid attention to anything besides “Gushers! Can we please buy Gushers, Mom? Please! Please oh please!” But this was a new era. I somehow felt that the gravity of grocery shopping had transcended begging for the things I wanted to eat, to the necessity of buying the things I had to eat – the things that Mom used to take care of.
So with no real knowledge of cooking, my father and I wandered anxiously through the aisles, inspecting raw chickens and wondering what in the hell was hominy. For that reason, it seemed like a real God-send when we stumbled by the Hamburger Helper “10 for $10” sale. Safe to say, we bought ten, even though I’m pretty sure this sale runs pretty much every week.
I am not sure if you guys have ever had Hamburger Helper, but just picture Kraft Mac and Cheese with some ground beef cooked into it, and, like, maybe some variant packet of spice or something. And then picture that for, like, two weeks straight. Yeah. The image in your head is right. The first few nights were like, “This is awesome,” but I think by night seven we were like, “Let’s get take out,” and then by night fifteen we were like, “Yeah, this isn’t sustainable.” So we invested in a “30-Minute Meals Cookbook.” None of the meals actually took thirty minutes, but the whole process of my dad and I running around the kitchen, trying to chop peppers and simultaneously sauté chicken and frantically google the difference between “dice” and “cube,” all so that we could get dinner on the table before 9 PM, was sort of fun.
I have graduated from “30-Minute Meals” pretty significantly, but I can’t pretend to deny what those first experiences provided for me, even if they were borne out of necessity. The cooking itself was fun, but there was something more to it, and this ambiguous “more” became crystallized when I discovered NYT Cooking. I would spend whole mornings reading each recipe from the “What to Cook This Week” section. I would reread them when I ran out. I would click each link in the weekly newsletter I subscribed to. I opened up a subscription to Bon Appetit magazine. In between trying to not fail Quantum Mechanics and finishing my American Folklore paper, I was googling how to make vinegar, reading Internet forums on sourdough starters, researching the various ways to make Kouign Amman which no one seems to agree on. Mostly, though, what it came down to was a voracious desire to read recipes. Not even just the narrative paragraphs at the beginning, dense with the particular inspiration for kale-pesto, and the specific circumstances under which Samin Nosrat likes to make tofu. I liked the steps. I liked to think them through, turn them over in my mind, think critically about why it might need to be cooked at 325 degrees instead of 350. I liked the onslaught of… what? Directions? Yes, I liked the onslaught of directions. I like the onslaught of directions.
And I think this was true of the backs of the Hamburger Helper boxes, too. Hamburger Helper came into my life most potently as a consequence of a difficult time. But really, I could rely on it to be candid when no one else was. There was no question about what was meant. Boil the water. Cover the dish. Simmer for ten minutes.
I am writing my thesis on cookbooks and have consequently been reading a lot of them. While they are definitely more “adult” than the backs of Hamburger Helper boxes, they crystallize what I see now first made me fall in love with reading about cooking. The recipe is inextricable from its sincerity. It means exactly what it says.
1 pound strawberries, hulled, sliced
3 cups milk
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup sugar
Macerate strawberries in sugar 1 hours.
Add milks. Steep overnight.
Draw the juice of the berries out with sugar first. Don’t add milks until you have syrupy berries.
Berries have to be excellent – don’t try to compensate for shitty berries with more sugar, please.
from Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton
You might be like, why would I ever spend this much time to do something that Nestle strawberry syrup could handle in thirty seconds? To which I would respond, you literally never have to. These are great lengths to go to for strawberry milk, I know. But then, the actual completion of the recipe isn’t really the point. The recipe grants clarity. It lends the comfort of finally someone is speaking to me candidly, directly, without hesitation or indecision or uncertainty! It is direction, forthright and point-blank.
And what’s greater, it speaks to more than just strawberry milk, if you let it. You really should never try to compensate for shitty berries with more sugar. In your strawberry milk, or anywhere else. End of story.
To write about recently seeing the opera “Il Trovatore” or to write about watching The Bachelor? The Bachelor it is.
I am not encouraging anyone to watch the show, nor am I suggesting that it’s a quality watch, unless you enjoy watching reality television, then you would definitely enjoy this. I am wondering why I enjoy it. Reality television tends to get a bad reputation and for some good reasons.
Its name suggests its based on real life but of course, the shows are actually staged. It also usually features catty fights and high drama, such as in The Real Housewives or Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Other shows are more about competition, organized like a game, such as with Survivor, Top Chef, American Idol, or Dancing with the Stars. What I think makes The Bachelor so alluring, is the way it balances both fiction and reality. All reality shows, balance these elements; however, The Bachelor also presents itself as both a game and a “realistic” show.
In case you’ve never watched the show, it’s about a bachelor or bachelorette who tries to find true love and gets engaged at the end. The bachelor gets to choose from about 30 women and talks to each on small “dates” to get to know them better. Each week, there is a rose ceremony and a few women get sent home if the bachelor doesn’t think they have a connection. As the show nears an end and the bachelor is left with three women, he eventually meets their families. Tensions grow high as the remaining women inevitably “fall in love” with their future husband. Of course, the show can only end with one woman and while the contestants usually get engaged, marriage after the show does not usually last long.
Although viewers are led to believe a couple actually falls in love in the end, it is still a game, as contestants compete to be the winner of the bachelor’s love. I know what you’re thinking. That’s absurd and so demoralizing! And it is. I would never subject myself to that process, as many contestants end up feeling not good enough or blame themselves for not finding love but, what keeps me watching is the idea that part of it isn’t real. Plus, people love people watching (at least some do) and reality television captures people’s most intimate and private moments.
The Bachelor prides itself on making privacy public, including people’s relationships. The viewer gets an inside, almost scandalous, view of people’s personal lives, and I mean really personal. I sometimes wonder how the camera man doesn’t feel uncomfortable getting really close to the contestants as they kiss. The ability for the viewer to watch relationships unfold is what creates a connectedness to certain men or women. We want them to find love too. It also helps that most of the contestants are attractive.
Finding love, of course, is a key component of a happily ever after, which is the end goal of the show. The contestants travel around the world, get dressed up, and receive roses from their suitor, all very fairy tale-esque.
The show connects with its viewers and contestants who believe that true love really exists. Whether or not people have a “soul mate,” many believe in getting married as an integral part of their lives and achieving happiness. So, while some of the features of the show are pretty dramatic, such as going on luxurious dates, its grounded in the realism of marriage.
This mixture of fiction and reality is not only what makes the show entertaining, but also watchable. I oftentimes wonder why I watch the show, when I understand much of it is staged? Well, Dana Cloud’s “The Irony Bribe and Reality Television: Investment and Detachment in The Bachelor” explains the contradictions behind the show. She labels the inner workings of the show, the “irony bribe” and states, “viewers can regard the program as ‘real’ and ‘not-real’ and therefore worth viewing and worthless at the same time.” Finally, someone can make sense of my craziness! She labels the fantasy of the show the “mythic romance,” and says that my reactions “against taking the fantasy seriously” are what makes the show entertaining. Her point on reactions could not be more true, as I usually have to pause the show to vent about its ridiculousness. Why is he picking her? Again with the kissing? Oh, please, he’s saying I love you and they just met.
The strong reactions that the show conjures up is an integral part of its existence. Unlike the opera, where I sit in silence and speaking among others is highly frowned upon, I can make as much noise as I want when I watch! I’m usually on my own couch and no one can tell me shhh! Reality shows are meant to be taken with a grain of salt and a lot of noise. For me, I enjoy watching the show because I can talk about it afterwards with one of my best friends. We’ll oftentimes text one another, U watching? to which I respond prob not until tomorrow as I debate between watching the newest episode or doing homework. The conversations I have with my friend are happening across the country as The Bachelor gathers large fan bases, just as sports fans gather to watch “the game.” Even after the show ends, the drama continues in tabloids and magazines until the following episode resolves all tensions.
Even though, I have attempted to provide a list of reasons, why the show is appealing, it’s hard to overlook all its criticisms. It’s ironic that I watch a show, whose values oppose my own, including the amount of frivolous kissing and lack of monogamy. The process is also highly unnatural and seems mentally debilitating. You’re supposed to find love by “dating” 30 women? And of course, one of the most pressing critiques is its lack of diversity. Only last year did the show finally have its first Black bachelorette. All criticism aside, I will still be watching the finale on Monday and before you judge those who watch reality television, keep in mind they understand it’s highly fictional and yet so entertaining.
Cloud, Dana. “The Irony Bribe and Reality Television: Investment and Detachment in The Bachelor.” Critical Studies in Media Communication, vol. 27, no. 5, 2010, pp. 413–437.
Fun fact: I used to hate kimchi. When I was first introduced to the fermented spicy cabbage as a kid, I thought, Why does this smell so much? and It’s so sour!
It’s definitely an acquired taste, because now, I make sure to have a jar of kimchi in stock at all times.
As a college student living away from home, I cannot count the number of times I have cooked kimchi fried rice – kimchi bokkeumbap – for myself. I’m a food enthusiast who is always trying to come up with new recipes from the same core ingredients, but kimchi bokkeumbap remains one of the few staples on my ever-changing budget menu. It’s an easy, versatile, and delicious match for my spontaneous cooking style.
My brainstorming process usually goes like this:
1. What’s in the fridge? I see white rice and garlic – did I mention I’m Asian? I’m Asian. 2. Repurpose breakfast essentials. Grab any leftover cold cut deli meats (ham, turkey, salami, chicken) and an egg. The egg is important. 3. Find the jar of kimchi. Like I said before, it’s always around! 4. Grab the not-so-secret sauce. Gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) is not necessary, but just a spoonful brings out the flavor and color of the kimchi. 5. Garnish and seasoning! I usually have dried seaweed in snack packs – again, I’m Asian – but just salt and pepper should do just fine.
Separate your clove of garlic, then smash it using your palm against with flat side of your knife so it’s easier to peel and slice. Julienne your kimchi, deli meats, and dried seaweed to the consistency of your liking.
Here’s the fun part! Stir-fry your garlic with a drizzle of oil in a shallow frying pan. While the savory aroma of garlic fills your kitchen, add in your chopped kimchi and deli meats, tossing occasionally so the flavors can come together. Now add in your rice and gochujang, breaking up the rice to integrate it with the rest of the ingredients. Pour a ladle of kimchi juice, the red liquid the kimchi sits in, over the top – this gives the dish color and intensifies the taste of the kimchi. Make sure to stir well so that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper as you finish frying, then transfer your kimchi bokkeumbap to a bowl.
So now that you’ve fried the kimchi and the rice, you’re done, right? Wrong. Wipe off any leftover grease from your pan so you can proceed to the final, most important step: frying the runny egg that sits over the rice. Coat the pan evenly with oil before cracking an egg directly into the pan. If you dislike the raw egg whites that tend to settle on the top of the yolk, you can cover the pan with a lid to let the steam lightly cook them. (If you dislike runny egg yolk, this isn’t your dish.) Slide your sunny-side up egg over your rice, then garnish with seaweed and a pinch of salt.
Now you’re ready to eat. Sit in front of your steaming bowl and a single spoon. Inhale the spicy aroma with the reverence it deserves. Give thanks for the blessing of food in your life in the traditional Korean way, with your palms pressed together and eyes closed – jal mokkesseumnida. Gently press the edge of your spoon until the yolk bursts over your rice, a glorious yellow against the red. Gather rice, kimchi, meat, egg, and seaweed in a perfect spoonful, the essence of the yolk seeping in. Savor the crunchiness of the kimchi against the contrast of the soft rice, and the creamy gochujang against the crisp seaweed. Taste the individual and culminated flavors in your mouth as you chew.
But before that, I used to stay out late all the time, by myself. After the movies, I’d walk my friends towards the subway, group hug goodbye and take the long way home. The movie theater was in my neighborhood, right across from the park, and years later I’d clean the sticky popcorn crusted floor for a short stint. I’d volunteer for the cleaning crew to get away from the horde of customers, spittle flying out their red mouths, the marijuana soaked lobby, the supervisor with impossibly white teeth, his white grin glowing luminescent, glowing bright, as he teased the gold metal of his zipper, asking me if I had a boyfriend.
This is before that time. I’d hug my friends goodbye, wait at the top of the stairs for them to disappear in the rush of wind blowing through the Brooklyn catacombs. I’d turn and take the long way home. Summer night. I didn’t sweat back then, I don’t remember sweating. I walked along the park, sometimes hoisting myself onto the wall, balancing on the wall, short sprints forward like I was Maniac Magee.
I’d take the long way home. I’d spread my arms and smile in the Alone. Darkness splashed against the dark hairs starting to grow on my arms. Lights in the brownstones facing the park flickering off and on. Fireflies fighting to get free.
I remember the night taken from me. Out of love, I know it was. And out of truth. It saddened me but I was never angry.
Coming home late, probably from school. The sun had settled down but my father rose and grabbed my arm, not angry, it didn’t hurt. This wasn’t anger, it was love.
He led me back out into the streets, his flashlight catching spots in between cars. “Anybody could have dragged you under here, and raped you.”
“Dad,” I laughed. “Nobody’s raping me.”
We walked the entire route back to the school. His light stripping beneath the cars, illuminating alleyways, beckoning forth the wide trees where invisible rapists apparently laid in wait, hanging off the branches, ready to pounce. Then we went back home, my dad making me promise to wear a whistle around my neck. And I didn’t go to bed fearing anything, and I didn’t know that the night had been taken.
Sometimes, I would sneak out of the house. For no reason. I just needed to stretch. My neighborhood was safe, I’d just wander around and then head back.
“How much?!” A man poked his head out of a slowing car.
I paused, confused, only a couple blocks away from my middle school. But I still thought the night belonged to me.
Years later. During my popcorn cleansing stint. Summer night. It was raining. I loved the weight of it on my umbrella. A mobile iMax experience of pounding water. Only two blocks away from my home – something hits me from behind, right against my backside, and I’m shuffling several feet forward, the water rushing me down the concrete river.
Turned around and found, a boy laughing at me, groping his crotch and jutting his hips at me. Saying something, I don’t even know what he says.
“Barely felt anything!” I grip the handle of my umbrella tight, shouting through the rain. “Small fucking dick!”
“Yeah come see how small it is bitch!”
I can’t turn around to walk. I have to walk backwards through the rain. He’s dancing back and forth like he’s gonna come for me – no, he’s backing away. He does it again and again until he’s crystallized in black showers. Two blocks away from my fucking house.
And, so I was angry. Not even. I was humiliated. It was humiliating. And I cried. But I got over it pretty quick, it was more like just a release of tension squeezed like liquid heat out the corners of my eyes. I don’t think I got it then, because I still walked the night (just, for a few years, avoiding that particular block).
I think I might have had a guardian angel working overtime that Halloween night. In another country. A cobble stoned town I had no business being in. And I went out in a tight black dress with a really sick friend, who let me borrow her boots that were a size too small but looked really good. And she found someone she liked, and I fell into a cute boy’s lap with incredibly nice hair to grip onto. As a foursome, we left the club, and when he saw I was cold, cute boy gave me his sweater to wear.
“I have to go piss, wait for me here.” My friend went off with her guy to pee between the cars, covered by the night.
What should have taken a few minutes, stretched into a half hour. Cute boy and his own group of friends were growing impatient. “A mi casa.” He slurred, but I shook my head no, I had to wait for my friend. He nodded politely, rubbed my ass and then softly asked for his sweater back.
I wandered around the town square myself, rubbing at my cold arms, hopping anxiously in my too small boots, the leather squeezing my ankles and pinching my toes. A maze of vehicles parked in front of bars, long closed after last call. “Brianna!” A chorus of howls answered my call, a pack of shadows converged beneath the streetlamp near the taxi service, grinning at me.
Guardian angels must exist. My feet were only bleeding a little bit, when I got back to the hostel, closing the door with my grinning admiror still a block behind. And in the morning, Brianna knocked on my door, alive. And we hugged when she told me why it took so long, the admirer she found of her own.
But I still didn’t get it, that the night had been taken from me.
Then – normal day. Average day. And the sun sets. And nothing happens. And I’m walking home. Undisturbed. And I don’t realize I’m holding my breath until I reach my front door, and my keys are clutched in my hand, warm metal fitted through the gaps in my fingers like I’m Wolverine. And the tension bleeds from my body, as I collapse in relief. Happy to make it home. And I know then, that the night had been taken from me.