Intermittent Signals

The sun lit up her bedroom as its rays shone through the thin white curtains covering the windows, but all Elizabeth’s mother could feel was an unrelenting chill in the air. The heater was on, she was wrapped in a thick blanket, the room was bright; yet it felt impossible to disentangle herself from the sheets.

She stretched her arm out and felt a patch of cold–her husband had left for work ages ago, taking his warmth with him. Feelings of abandonment, loneliness, and bitterness seemed to cloud her thoughts all at once, feelings that had felt too familiar recently. Most mornings were filled with the promise of a meaningful day ahead. Most afternoons flew by without her realizing the hours were passing. And most nights were spent with a smile on her face in good company. But days like today existed too; they came in waves. The mornings were cold, the afternoons spent counting every hour, the nights quiet and devoid of interaction.

Her throat constricted more and more as she allowed herself to sink into her misery. Tears leaked from the corner of her eyes, the first tears she had shed in months, and she wasn’t even entirely sure why they had decided to make an appearance. They flowed out slowly at first, until all of a sudden she found herself sobbing into her pillow, leaving streaks of eyeliner from the night before across its white cover. She laid there covering her face for what felt like hours, her body exhausted from crying so hard. It wasn’t until she felt the vibration of her phone coming from under her pillow until she quickly sat up, wiped away the tear tracks still on her cheeks, and hastily answered the call.

“Hello?” She could barely recognize her own voice. It was an huskier than usual. It sounded unnatural, forced.

“Hey mom. Just thought I’d call to see what you’ve been up to,” Elizabeth spoke into the phone. For the first time, talking to her daughter seemed to only make her feel worse. It was a reminder of how far away she was, and of how much everything had changed since she left. She felt more than ever that the people around her were moving on to the next chapters of their lives, and she was still trying to figure out what page she was on.

“I’m great! It’s been a busy morning,” she heard herself say dishonestly. “I can’t wait for you to come home.” She added this last bit and meant every word. Things would be better with Elizabeth home. Things would feel normal again.

The conversation didn’t last long. She couldn’t bring herself to admit to Elizabeth that she really wasn’t okay today, and she couldn’t bring herself to keep up any lie that indicated otherwise. She hung up the phone exasperated with herself. She needed to snap out of it–but for now, she threw herself back onto the bed and squeezed her eyes shut, already counting down the hours until the end of the day.


Insomnia coming to Thayer!

Break out your stretchy eating pants, Brown U, because if it hasn’t hit you already, here comes the Freshman 15. INSOMNIA COOKIES, the rad cookie bakery that delivers late night treats to people in need of some serious snacks, is going to bless Thayer with its presence. (Weren’t we just wishing for this?)

To the chagrin of our waistlines but to the delight of our hearts and mouths, Insomnia will be up and running from its new home at 307 Thayer (right across from the post office) early in the spring semester of 2017. Late night study sessions will never be the same.

 


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Days are numbered for Au Bon Pain

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The death knell tolls for another Thayer Street business, as the Au Bon Pain so familiar to countless Brown students and East Side residents will soon shutter its doors. After 25 years of service in its present location, the café’s lease will expire next Thursday, December 22nd, a store manager confirmed.

2016 has done it again. In the wake of all this year’s misfortunes, Au Bon Pain was always there with an artisanal sandwich or a light pastry for some casual coping: no more. We’re left to wonder, is this the true evil that professional sightseer Kylie Jenner saw for us? How much more are we going to have to realize before this year is over????

A recent notification from Au Bon Pain headquarters spelt the demise for the store, the manager confirmed, because we definitely needed yet another reason to resent the capitalist forces of production wrecking this planet. Is nothing sacred?

 

The inheritors of the Au Bon Pain space have yet to be found, so if you’re feeling particularly enthusiastic about opening a vape shop, it’s time to suppress those feelings HARD.

 

In all honesty though, only something as pure as an Insomnia Cookie could fill the void (@InsomniaCookieHQ), but we’ll have to wait to see who comes to occupy the hallowed halls of 223 Thayer until next semester (hopefully).

Our advice? Students still on campus should take advantage of this cheap French fare before the semester ends. Stop by for a cup of coffee before it’s too late and if you can’t, pause for a moment to admire the optimistically yellow Au Bon Pain sign one last time, and remember all that was.


Black Mechanics: The Making of an American University and a Nation

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Like most college students who decide to go to an event on campus, my decision to go to the exhibition was driven by the fact that a friend of mine had worked on it throughout the year. However, what is available to us here is something more than just the culmination of a semester’s work of several scholars at Brown University. The exhibit which is entitled Black Mechanics, is a powerful and insightful creation that serves as a jumping off point for hopefully further discussion regarding the way that slavery continues to shape our institutions.

When you travel to Berlin (or anywhere in Europe really, but it’s particularly noticeable in Berlin) you are surrounded by historical testimony. Public memorials and art are ubiquitous and help form a collective memory, a collective act of remembering that is essential. The horrors of the period are paid tribute with constant acts of remembering.

This strikes us all as profoundly appropriate. The museums are always filled, the monuments are always surrounded, not only by tourists, but by everyone. The memory is public, the tribute is shared, and we try to honor those lives that were treated so horribly during darker moments in history.

Slavery is not treated the same way in the United States. The only memorial I’ve ever seen paying tribute to the lives of enslaved persons in the United States is the one outside of the Haffenreffer Museum at Brown University (and it still too me 3 years before i realized what it was  for). As a student, the structure of slavery and texts regarding the Black Experience were always discussed quickly in the beginning of the year in history classes, and perhaps again when we discussed Civil Rights Movements. However not only do we lack the same act and culture of public remembrance for the lives that literally built this country, we continue to criminalize and dehumanize black lives.

As a student at an institution that was literally built by enslaved persons, its important to be aware of the real human lives that built this campus. I live on a street named after a slave owner. Slavery is a system that continues to have real impacts on our lives.

This exhibit is critically important because it shows the way that Brown University has continuously been implicated in the use and discourse regarding slavery.

It is essential that if you are on Brown’s campus right now take a 20 minute break from your finals and go to this exhibition.

Learn about Brown’s role in slavery, and if nothing else take a moment to remember a life that has been lost to history, and a life that was dehumanized (with a literal lack of naming occurring in some instances). Especially if you are a white person it is important to take this opportunity to learn. We seldom take advantage of the vast resources available to us. And it’s difficult to read whole books about this issue. But the effort has taken place, the writing for the pieces is all exquisite, and Evie Shockley’s poem throughout the exhibit is tremendously powerful and evocative. Please go and honor the lives that have so frequently been forgotten. And a sincere thank you to all those at the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown University for putting in the hard work and making this tiny piece of history available to us.

The exhibit is open until December 21, 2016

https://www.brown.edu/initiatives/slavery-and-justice/black-mechanics-making-american-university-and-nation

 

Photo Courtesy of Brown University


Local movement’s headquarters experiences break-in, racialized harassment

On the night of Sunday, Dec. 11, the headquarters of Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM) was broken into and vandalized, according to a post on one group member’s Facebook. Materials had been disturbed, two knives stabbed into a table and a noose left hanging for the students to find. PrYSM is a 15-year-old organization founded in order to help Southeast Asian students form a community free of violence and work towards causes of social justice in coalition with other minority groups. The group organizes around issues like poverty, health and food access. This is apparently not the first break-in at the organization’s headquarters.

 


Basking in the Moonlight

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Moonlight is an astonishing movie. Under the careful direction of Barry Jenkins it effectively tackles the subjects of life in poverty, drug addiction and closeted homosexuality, all while making you feel as though you are eavesdropping on real life events. I left the theater floored.

Moonlight tells the tale of Chiron, a young Black man growing up Liberty Square, Miami through 3 stages of his life: youth, teenager and adult. Each chapter is integral in Chiron coming to finally accept who he is, conquering some of the issues he faced throughout his life, culminating in realistically satisfying ending.

Barry Jenkins’ direction is impeccable. Each scene is essential. There is not one moment that is filler or out of place. The way in which the film is edited is even more remarkable, as evidenced by the transitions from chapter to chapter. Time doesn’t cut during standard events such as a holiday or birthday, rather in a key conversation or a character being sent to prison. Jenkins has a way of using tension, silence and subtlety to push the story forward. He never panders to the audience. There are moments in the film that defy immediate comprehension but later become clear. As a viewer you put your trust in his direction, and it completely pays off. When conversations about Chiron’s mother’s addiction or his sexuality come up, they aren’t presented to us in grand Shakespearean monologues, but rather in the actors subtle eye movements, which are testaments to the direction and acting capabilities on display.

When it comes to the performances of the all Black cast, everyone shines. All three actors who play Chiron in different stages of his life, Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes beautifully capture this one character’s mannerisms and awkwardness in a believable and continuous way. When you see them on screen, you do not doubt for a moment they are all the same person. Naomie Harris gives a desperate and explosive performance as his drug-addicted Mother. Marshela Ali, from the recently release “Luke Cage,” does the same as Chiron’s unlikely father figure. Yes, the various actors who play Chiron stand out, but the fabulous supporting performances push it to a new level.

This film is not for the faint of heart. With graphic scenes of verbal and physical abuse, it takes it’s toll. I remember having to take a deep breath before heading back to my dorm from the theater. But that said, right now there is no movie playing that requires your attention as much as Moonlight.