GIVING ROOM MAG
ISSUE 2: QUEER NOSTALGIA
ISSUE 3: METAMORPHOSIS
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The Healing Nostalgia of Ocampo’s Not Flowers By Mashaal Sajid
Noreen Ocampo’s contest winning micro-chap
is a striking bouquet of sixteen exquisite poems swaying on the winds of quotidian magic. This collection came to me as a breath of fresh air, amidst “trees whispering in forbidden corners of the wood," “meadow of neon dandelions," “rickety mountain roads," and “cherry blossoms & afternoon light," this collection offers you quiet space to reflect on all that life has to bestow.
On the Crossroads of Personal & Playful, Diners’ Four Wheels and the Truth Optimistically Rolls Along by Emma Shahin
I had the pleasure of virtually meeting Blue a few weeks before the release of her new album, Four Wheels and the Truth. We not only discussed all of the wonderful elements of her songwriting, but also talked about whether boomer rockstars truly enjoy their social media forays, the unwavering need of DIY musical spaces for blossoming songwriters, the indescribable charm of McCartney’s RAM, and the culinary versatilities of pancakes vs. waffles. Blue taught me that the sun doesn’t have to set if you are the one behind the wheel, and I believe hopping onto the sonic journey that is Four Wheels and the Truth is the perfect medicine on a cloudy day.
Eulogy of Me by Ariel Moscat
She was the most beautiful storm I’d ever seen, so full of rage, emotion, and yet nurturing. Her smile was electric, her laughter contagious but her cries were lethal. I’ve never met someone who felt as much as she did. When she loved, oh she loved to the edge of the world and when she hated—well, you can imagine it was catatonic.
Kwame Sound Daniels Delivers Brilliance through Light Spun by Ari Collins
From insanely elegant odes to mundane objects to incredibly descriptive reflections about life and acceptance,
has it all, and has quickly become a collection I return to read again and again.
In Times of Insurmountable Doom, I Hope You Dance: Why Mothé Doesn't Want You to Worry Anymore and Much More by Emma Shahin
On a calm, rainy day, I had the pleasure of engaging in merry banter with Spencer Fort of Mothé about their love for listening to CDs while road tripping on desolate roads, throwing ass amid doomed days, and creating an indie subtype that is less insufferably ‘cerebral’ and more danceable. Fort’s album
“I Don’t Want You To Worry Anymore”
was released on April 8th, and they will be touring with
this summer. One of Spencer’s main goals in life is to become the role model they used to idolize on the big stage, and I know they will do just that.
Sylvia Plath gave us the Best Gift: The Bell Jar by Ari Collins
Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar has probably sat in my hands for days on end—days on end including my time reading it, reading it again, and then giving it to friends. I first read the book when I was trying to get out of a reading slump amidst lockdown. I rode my bike to the bookstore and spontaneously picked three novels: The Picture of Dorian Gray, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and then
The Bell Jar.
I didn’t know why I was so attracted to the book. I didn’t even know what it was about. Because of the uninformed nature of my choice, I had just given myself, by accident, the best gift.
Mother Dearest by Ariel Moscat
The first few moments were the closest to oblivion I’ve ever been in my life. It was cold, the type of cold that would make your skin burn, except I didn’t have any skin. I didn’t have a body, only a mind, and yet I was able to hear the sound of my own breathing— at least I told myself it was my own. The darkness began to fade out and I became aware of my physical body.
My GSA Days by Samantha Reagan
It was quite the scene, the day the posters came out. There were only two— two unboasting little fliers, on regular eight by eleven printer paper, incredibly slight in comparison to the huge laminated pieces of posterboard advertising cheer tryouts or student council elections. I’d been thrown off guard walking into the crowded sixth-grade hallway that morning, finding my classmates gathered in one big clump by a wall, snickering and whispering amongst themselves, pointing at whatever was hung up that had caused such a commotion. I shoved through the wall of students, craning my neck until I finally saw what all the fuss was about— the paper, posted with scotch tape, reading Gay Straight Alliance, Wednesdays, Room 215, 2:00-3:15 PM.
Addressing Patriarchal Violence in Pakistan and its Resounding Collective Trauma
At the beginning of July,
Pakistan’s domestic violence bill was
opposed after several right-wing fundamentalists raised objections and demanded that the bill be sent for a review by the Council of Islamic Ideology. According to the CII, the bill interferes with the Islamic way of life. The proposed bill had punishments and fines for domestic violence and extends the definition of domestic violence to cover emotional, psychological and verbal abuse which is in direct opposition to the CII’s views of domestic violence, according to which a husband should be allowed to beat his wife ‘lightly’ and what constitutes psychological abuse is necessary for disciplining children.
Living in A Toxic Home During Quarantine by Carla Wilson
It was a random Thursday morning when I walked into the back office of the school library that I worked at. The library assistants were running away from the office, talking about how the school was probably going to close down due to the virus. Student aides like me were wondering if we were going to be getting paid during what we thought then was going to be a two week break.
Mini Universe by Ariel Moscat
Someone once said we hold the universe within us. If we have the capacity to hold an entire universe within, then imagine the different galaxies we can create. There are very few people on this Earth that I’ve loved, and many I’m no longer in communication with. This is my message to them.
Dinner Party with the Past by Ari Collins
Our scene sets itself. A dim light. A long table, seats for the most recent six, stands out in the middle of the room. The night was cold, air whistling through the cracked window. The snowflakes outside fell softly, creating the perfect enclosure for our characters to meet again. ARI turned on the fireplace. She picked at her nails. The nerve was a bit surprising, even for herself. The clones would arrive soon.
A Woman Walks Into the Gym… by Lola Anaya
I have a love-hate relationship with the gym. I love to exercise, and I love the feeling of accomplishment when I reach a goal or have a great workout. But there’s one thing I hate about gyms: men. Their intimidation— although unintentional, I hope— can be overwhelming for me. Being surrounded by constant grunting and masculine energy and muscles bigger than my head makes me never want to go to the gym again.
The Books We Read During Covid by Stella Garner
In just about every household in America, one is bound to find an ever-looming stack of books from the Barnes and Noble down the street, untouched since their purchase years ago. There are few people who actively dislike reading, and yet, everyone finds themselves too busy to pick up a book during the day, or too tired to attempt a chapter at night. But with offices, stores, and schools worldwide shuttering to stop the spread of COVID-19, people of all ages and backgrounds suddenly found an abundance of free time in which to pick up new hobbies.
Rapid Cycling: A collection of journal entries by Ariel Moscat
This is a collection of very vulnerable experiences I’ve had within my own mind and body. It’s not meant to make complete sense, as life is full of confusion, but instead it’s meant to show a small part of the reality of mental illness; in my case, Bipolar 2 disorder.
TW: Mentions self-harm and suicidal thoughts
Censorship Sucks by Ari Collins
I first read Laurie Halse Anderson’s
when my seventh grade English teacher offered me some of her books when cleaning out her classroom at the end of the year. I’ve never been the one to turn down books. I looked through the stack of novels after a month of summer, bored out of my mind. An intriguing title caught my attention:
The initial read was quick and just as quickly, it became a favorite. The book still sits on my dresser, or in the hands of a friend who I’ve forced to read it.
Paradoxical Platforms: What Social Media Reveals About Our Values by Lola Anaya
As someone who is almost constantly traveling through busy streets and subway cars on a day-to-day basis, I always make a mental note of the people around me. Noting what they’re wearing and what they look like, I am the type of person who enjoys people watching. Within these crowds of commuters, I see people around my age, the majority of them occupied with their phones.
The State of Uncertainty in Your 20s During a Pandemic by Amy Tonta
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a question we’re often asked as we get older, and reach that age of independence. It’s something we’re expected to have set in stone, cementing who we will become in the future.
But the real question here should be: why are we expected to have our future written out at such an early age when there are so many drafts we still have to go through?
The Music Industry is a Two-Sided Vinyl by Stella Garner
The phrase “starving artist” had to originate somewhere. The Beatles began as a band of scrawny high-school Liverpoolians, led by then-sixteen-year-old John Lennon, known simply as “The Quarrymen.” The Beach Boys? Originally “The Pendletones,” a group of brothers and cousins playing high school dances in Southern California. Almost every iconic musician or music group can be traced back to their roots in run-down pubs, meager concert halls, and sweaty school gyms.
Brandi Spering's This I Can Tell You Offers Honesty in the Midst of Secrets by Ari Collins
“I did not feel unsafe around my father’s new friend, but I did feel as though my father was, in some way,” Brandi Spering writes in her new memoir,
This I Can Tell You.
The book follows Spering as she looks upon her childhood and uncovers the hidden secrets and mysteries within the family and her environment. It retells Spering’s youth through mature eyes in a surprisingly suspenseful rendition of childhood. Spering feels like a friend—that friend who has the best stories that often lead to anecdotes within the original story.
A Simple Guide to a Ritualistic Life by Ariel Moscat
What do you think when you hear the word
ritual? You may think of grand ceremonies with nude people dancing around a large flame. You may think of something smaller, like sitting around a few candles on your bedroom floor with crystals scattered around on the night of a full moon. While those are some ways people go about their ritualistic practice, a ritual in itself is not about aesthetics; it’s about intention.
Being a Caregiver for My Mother by Carla Wilson
My whole life I knew someday my mom would get sick and I knew that when that day came I would be the one to take care of her. As a kid, I imagined us living next door to each other in matching mansions. I would invite her over to have dinner with my spouse and four kids. I would be able to afford an in-house nurse to take care of her when she needed the extra help.
Late last year, that day came: my mother was diagnosed with dementia.
It's Okay to Like Casual Sex by Fairley Lloyd
No matter how much progress we've made as a society to be more accepting of people’s personal, sexual preferences, we still judge people for living differently than we do. This is especially true when it comes to people’s sex lives...
Pride Merch Collections By Companies That Don't Forget Queer People Exist Once June is Over By Carla Wilson
Pride Month is the time of the year where we celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community and queer folks tell the world that we are proud of our sexuality and gender. It’s the time where we remember how far we’ve gone and how our queer ancestors got us here. It’s also the time when stores like Walmart remember that gay people exist and that some even have money.
Nothing like a Fairytale: The Exodus of Meghan Markle by Yuning Zhang
Oprah with Meghan and Harry
was filmed in an idyllic garden in California. Without cynical scrutiny or harsh examination from the outside world, Meghan Markle candidly shared unanticipated details of her repressed life as a member of the British royal family for the first time.
Why Nag is a Sexist Term by Mashaal Sajid
I did not fully understand how offensive certain sexist terms can be. That was until I stayed up till 4 am one night after an interpersonal conflict with a family member, where they told me to stop “bickering” when I suggested something that clearly made them frustrated in an already stressful situation.
Rocky Horror Picture Show: A Cult Classic with an Ever-Changing Target Audience by Stella Garner
Rocky Horror Picture Show
danced into theatres in 1975, the now-iconic film was met with lackluster enthusiasm and an overall neutral response from critics. The movie was released on the heels of John Waters’s
in 1973, a smash hit with the underground movie crowd found at midnight screenings.
A Mirror Versus an Image: How “Halston” Lacks Nerve to Wrestle with Identity vs. Brand by Olivia Hrko
Netflix and Ryan Murphy Productions continue their prosperous relationship with their newest venture, a miniseries named
The five-episode miniseries gives the audience ample time to get used to Halston as a brand, and occasionally as a person.
Top Tier Thrift Tips by Ari Collins
My friend always asks me where my shirt is from, and all I can say is
She groans: Why can’t I find this at the local thrift shop? All that’s there are cringe-worthy graphic tees and old jean shorts.
The problem: my friend doesn’t know how to shop like I do.
Margaret Atwood’s Subtle Adaptations to an Age of Film by Lola Anaya
Margaret Atwood is a highly renowned author in fictional, nonfictional, and poetic realms, as her work has been cherished for decades. A recent uptick in her popularity can be traced to her series
The Handmaid’s Tale...
Pandemic Pen Pal by Elly Rivera
I didn’t think it was possible for me to become more introverted and then, in the same way it takes just one snowflake to become a snowstorm, the pandemic interrupted our lives...
Decolonize Your Classroom, Organize Your Community: An Interview with Celia Gottlieb by Cerissa DiValentino
Throughout our interview, Gottlieb provides a vivid account of her experience as the ceaseless “squeaky wheel” in fighting for a more diverse and inclusive education system and prepares our readers with the essential first steps in mobilizing their own community...
Observations of a Flawed Reader by Kelly Stohr
I talk about having “reader’s block” like I’ve invented something new, but the internet is way ahead of me.
The New York Times
, Mental Floss, and Barnes & Noble have covered plenty of ground, leaving me feeling kind of silly.
Do's and Dont's: A Note to Fifteen-Year-Old Me by Olivia Hrko
Dear Fifteen-Year-Old Me,
Been a while; But I've figured something out that I think help you a lot...
The Wind Dancer by Ariel Moscat
I can’t remember when this all started, only that it feels like a lifetime. I used to be so fearful as a child, even now I struggle with fear. I used to fear what unspoken words people thought of me...
Balancing the Scale by Olivia Hrko
I don’t need a strawberry Fanta.
But I want it.
I don’t need pepperoni and sausage pizza. But I want it. I don’t need a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Half-Baked. But I want it.
A Life Worth Living: The Tortured Artist Writers A Letter by Pearl Woytovich
This is a love letter to trans and disabled artists. I see you. I am you. I embody your love. I dedicate my life and my life’s work to you. This is for you….
How to Make a Clay Frog by Maddie Baildon
Follow along Maddie's funky graphics to learn how to make a groovy clay frog...
Welcome Home by Cerissa DiValentino
In the third grade, my teacher didn’t like me. I was constantly in trouble. I don’t remember what for, but I have my theories. Often, as a result, my teacher instructed me to eat lunch in a separate room from all the other children...
ISSUE 2: QUEER NOSTALGIA
ISSUE 3: METAMORPHOSIS
Work with us