On Bright Young Things

Life Drawing by Robin BlackRobin Black’s New York Times commentary, What’s so Great About Young Writers?, struck a huge chord with me. Far more than European or Asian cultures, Americans embrace the cult of youth, likely because we still are a fledgling nation ourselves and equate energy, innovation, freedom and individualism, all prized American values, with being young.

I am among those lucky enough to have grown up in the relative safety of middle-class America, where there was always healthy food on the table, a place to rest my head at night, money enough for ballet classes or piano lessons, and parents who strongly believed in the importance of education and cultural and social awareness of the larger world.  I also am a product of a childhood in which of series of tragic deaths and illnesses resulted in a chaotic family life permanently scarred by trauma, loss and embitterment. When I was a child, novels, and to a lesser extent, movies and live theater, served both as my escape from that traumatic chaos and also as a way to help me make sense of it.  As such, books were these miraculous gifts created by mysterious, sentient beings known as authors, who were as remote as they were omnipotent.

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“Fembots Have More Fun” by Sandi Sonnenfeld ’85

Sandi Sonnenfeld ’85 is a fiction writer and essayist. Sandi authored the memoir, This is How I Speak (2002: Impassio Press), for which she was named a 2002 Celebration Author by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. The Managing Editor of The Lyon Review, Sandi holds an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Washington, where she studied under National Book Award Winner Charles Johnson. Her work has appeared in more than 30 literary magazines and anthologies, including Hayden’s Ferry Review, Sojourner, ACM (Another Chicago Magazine), Mr. Bellers Neighborhood, The Raven Chronicles, and Perigee among others. “Fembots Have More Fun” originally appeared in the October 30, 2012 issue of the Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review.

It all started 18 months ago when I saw a new ad from a national anti-abortion group being promoted on the subway. The ad featured a sad-looking woman hugging herself for comfort and a single sentence, “Abortion changes you forever.”

It was so simplistic a slogan, an affront to every woman who has ever agonized over her choices. It meanly implied that women who unexpectedly find themselves pregnant blithely rush out to get an abortion without giving any thought to the consequences, which directly contradicts my own personal experience and the other women I know who faced such a decision. What made the ad particularly galling, however, was that it was sponsored by the same group that was egging on former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and others in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood, one of the few affordable places left for women to obtain reliable birth control that would help prevent the need for an abortion in the first place.

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Cheese Love by Iliana Paul ‘11

After graduating from MHC 18 months ago, Iliana Paul now lives in Brooklyn with her high school sweetheart. She works days as a paralegal at a law firm, but afterwards and otherwise, she is an avid cook and eater. She plans to attend graduate school in the not-so-distant future, but for now, Ilana says, she is “just figuring things out day by day.”

The easiest answer is to say that, like most other humans, I am hungry. But there is more than that. It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it…and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied…and it is all one.–M.F.K. Fisher, The Gastronomical Me

“Do you want any more?” I asked tearing a bit of baguette and smearing on chevrot.

“No, I don’t want to have nightmares,” Chris replied matter-of-factly.

“What?”

“Don’t you know that eating cheese late at night will give you nightmares?”

“You’re ridiculous,” I said.

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