“Beating a Dead Horse” contains my childhood memories of life on the streets of New York City and Jersey City during the Great Depression. The focus is on the ubiquitous presence of working horses (as well as a flock of goats) within the city in that era. The ways people made a living include the organ grinder with his monkey, the fruit and vegetable vendors with their horse-drawn wagons, and the man who collected old clothes to re-sell them. This was an exceedingly stressful era for adults, but we kids were unaware of this; we thought everything was normal.
How do the spaces we inhabit often represent our internal struggles? In many ways, the condition of my kitchen mirrored the condition of my life for almost twenty-five years. The lens of my marriage and relationship with my ex-husband had clouded the view of my life and I began to act accordingly. At some point I began to realize it was not my kitchen, but me that was feeling “ugly” inside. In the end, beyond a little “window dressing,” my kitchen never really changed. I had changed.
Finding strength, self, and voice through the turmoil of bitterly divorced parents and an emotionally abusive misogynistic father, I discover who I am and who I want to be. This essay begins the exploration of my journey, learning to become whomever I needed to be in order to appease those around me. This piece talks about me learning to find my voice and stand up for myself.
Adolescence is a period in a person’s life in which one changes from a child to an adult. The ages most commonly agreed upon for this period of life is between 13 and 19, in some opinions, or 10 and 20 in others. It is a period of change: Change in physical shape and size as well as in mentality, all sparked by hormones rushing around in the person’s body. The sexual drive is extremely strong, and the teenager must come to grips with how to handle this urge, depending on one’s upbringing, parental influences, religious strictures, the mores of the society of which one is a part. The urges are in constant battle with the strictures, causing tremendous stress and strain. Not for nothing does the word adolescence come from the Latin word for “suffering.” When a teenage boy challenges his male teacher, the masculinity of each is threatened.
Is procreation and expanding the gene pool still the end-all be-all of human existence? Though more and more people choose not to have children, the assumption remains that the goal in this game of life is to get married and have children. Of course, this is especially true for women. This essay will resonate with anyone who is tired of hearing about biological clocks or of others telling them what they should do with their bodies.
In the sea of faceless humans, we ache to have our identity confirmed through connecting with others who are kindred spirits. On a remote ranch in 1960s Montana, a boy’s lonesome quest to find others who aspire to a literary life turns up a questionable kindred spirit.
“This is an excerpt from my writings during a particularly tough time in my life. It was a period that made me realize the thin line between sanity and insanity. Each small decision during this time decided the kind of person I have become today.” — Ayushi Jain
This recounted moment of personal history, which induced the author to reflect on the many times he’s been told that he looks just like someone else, started out as a holiday greeting to colleagues and friends a few years ago. Using analogies to quantum physics and to the distinction between particles and waves, it addresses how we are all connected to each other and mutually entangled, to make it resonate (albeit subtly) with some of the pressing issues of our day: e.g., isolation, identity politics, polarization, silo culture, and whose lives matter.
This piece speaks to the lasting impact of colonialism within the Caribbean. It shows how degrees of African-ness can be used to separate peoples within a shared narrative. As the witness, the author is an added layer of American diaspora struggling to accept the microaggressions enacted by the fair collector using the pejorative “negra” (black) towards a person of Haitian descent.
“Can You Believe it?” is a meditation on a weekend the author spent with some friends at a kung fu retreat about twenty-five years ago. Through this personal narrative, the author ruminates on the nature of belief, reviewing how martial arts and religion have had an influence on him and the culture at large.