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Over the phone, my mother’s voice sounds the same as mine. Same cadence, same pitch, same laugh that bubbles from nowhere. We walk through the mall, and she criss-cross links our arms. A hat vendor asks us if we are sisters.
I could limit my world, partition it into a series of quiet, dusty rooms. Just another specimen in the collection... "Homo freshmanus.”
Virginia Woolf sat in the library at Oxford imagining the books that Shakespeare’s sister didn’t publish. Sometimes when I walk deep in Widener’s belly, I feel the incredible pressure of the books that are not there.
I went to Paris wearing a red peacoat, convinced that the city’s monochromatic madames et monsieurs were an overblown American myth. I rubied my lips for good measure. My delineated Cupid’s bow awed a grand total of two people: myself (easily impressed) and the one creepy guy who dubbed me a bitchy bouche rouge when I didn’t flash a smile at him as I passed him on the street (easily dismissed).
In the face of terror, it is essential to remind yourself of your ability, whether what scares you is writing a conclusion to your thesis or cauterizing an abdominal wound on the fly. Sitting under the fluorescent lights of my dorm room as I fumbled through Tomb Raider, I heard Lara’s words and I felt their importance.
In January, my skin turns to snow. I leave my dorm in the morning, hair shower-wet, mousse-sprayed to my neck, snowflakes crystallized in my curls. I wear black tights and salt stains bloom on my thighs; I wear black boots and white lines cross my ankles in waves. The spaces between my fingers grow cold.
In those lazy summers of five or six years ago, when every morning we awoke together ready to take on the backyard, we favored one in particular. I wrote a description of that game, Madame Mademoiselle, in my college application essay. My sister watched me compose the first draft.
I am fascinated by celebrities and the pop cultural sphere that they inhabit. I spend my free time combing through Twitter to read the musings of my favorite stars and devouring every word of entertainment news articles to learn about the goings-on of B-list actors. No tweet is too inane to spark my curiosity (I’m looking at you, Jaden Smith). No article is too obscure to merit my interest (seriously, I just read an article about the fashion ambitions of Sadie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty”).
A Culver’s in its natural environment, though, is always found in Wisconsin. On the side of any highway, framed by scrubby trees, you’re bound to spot the navy blue oval of a Culver’s sign, that beacon leading to squeaky cheese with a crispy, hot outer crust and served with cups of shamelessly fatty frozen custard.