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The first thing State Sen. Nikil Saval (D–01) learned from watching his recently immigrated Indian parents run a pizza parlor in Santa Monica was that the restaurant industry is hard. The second thing he learned was that solidarity among working–class people of color—not top–down organizing—is what gets shit done.
If there’s anything La Chinesca deals in, it’s slightly unapproachable cool. Owned by 13th Street Kitchens, which operates brunch staple Café Lift and Franklin's Table’s KQ Burger, the restaurant feels like the rest of their arsenal. It’s a place you take an out–of–towner when you’re trying to impress—but not overwhelm—them with your Philly knowledge.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Mitski lately—well, really only the one song. “What do you do with a loving feeling,” it asks. “if the loving feeling makes you all alone?”
Here’s a secret: I have a hard time writing these letters when I’m happy.
The only lesson I remember from any of my communications classes is the one about parasocial relationships. An academic term, it really boils down to one thing: being a stan. Parasocial relationships are one sided, intense affairs, where you love a character or celebrity so much you project onto it. Two parts escapism and one part obsession, parasocial entanglements feel normal, mostly because they are—to an extent. Everyone loves something a little too much.
I learned what moldavite was exactly one week before I took a sledgehammer to my pandemic–proofed life. I ended a circumstantial friendship, went back to therapy, and broke up with the first man I ever felt comfortable enough with to write about. At the time, none of it felt intentional, and, honestly, most of it felt very self–destructive. But that’s the thing about breaking routines, especially unhealthy ones. Until you form better habits, all you feel is the pang of lack.
Rick Krajewski (E ’13) isn’t your typical politician, but perhaps that’s the point. The software–developer–turned–Reclaim–Philly–organizer went grassroots after a STEM curriculum he developed at a West Philly public school was shelved when the school morphed into privately run charter academy. Since then, he's helped elect District Attorney Larry Krasner, convinced thousands of Philadelphians to pay attention to judicial elections, and ousted a 35–year establishment incumbent to become West Philly’s state representative.
Amanpreet Singh (C ’21) can map their Penn experience in sensory details: the polished evergreen of the trolley at the 37th Street transit portal, the gooey decadence of a chocolate and peanut butter Kiwi Yogurt sundae, and the sweetness of the purple morning glories that dot Locust Walk in the spring.
To quote a little Big Time Rush, “We’re halfway there,” and despite most of these letters ending up as diatribes on my anxiety and loneliness, I’m going to do something different. To mark the first finish line of my term as editor–in–chief, I am going to end with optimism.
The first time I really met Tamsyn Brann (re: the first time we weren’t talking about work) was 12 days after our first work conversation. I had just broken up with my ex–boyfriend for the second time in two weeks, and relatively friendless, I called her, desperate for someone to keep me company. She was on my couch within ten minutes, and we drank wine and ate popcorn and talked about distinctly Tamsyn things: David Bowie, where to buy mini skirts, and the notion that change is okay.
As the academic year winds down and we cram our heads with new theorems and theories, the most important lesson I’ve learned is a simple one: It is okay to quit things.
"Acceptance" is a funny word. I’ve been thinking a lot about it as quarantine inevitably forced the introspection I used to reserve for quiet, empty Sunday mornings into an everyday occurrence. What will I accept from myself? What will I accept from others? And why do those two end up feeling drastically different?
When I was younger, comfort looked a lot like solitude, and more acutely, avoidance. I’d burrow myself in the corner of the big blue chair in the living room and read chick lit for hours on end, the acoustic guitar of Ingrid Michaelson’s Pandora station insulating me from the words I didn’t want to hear: that my father was cheating again, my mom lacked the means to leave him, and that everything would be easier if I was just somehow a little bit less. If I couldn’t hear the conflict, it didn’t exist, and I could deal with it later or not at all, depending on if I wanted to finish my book.
Middle Child is loud.
March 11 washed over me like any other day. I did my silly little tasks: clock in at my internship and procrastinate any real writing, attend about four hours of Zoom meetings, go to the gym and cry about hating my body, and come home and cry about hating the things that comprise the pandemic–proofed version of my life. An endless stream of deadlines. Financial insecurity. Social isolation. The end of choice.
Growing up is a slow burn, even though we don’t always realize this in the moment. The trope stares us in the face so regularly we never think to interrogate it.
“We’re never done with killing time,” sings Lorde on “400 Lux,” a casually evocative pop ditty about a couple savoring a pretty silence. I’ve been replaying this lyric a lot in the first month of my 20th year, but definitely not as the song intended me to.
I hadn’t thought about Taylor Swift’s Fearless since the fall of my first year at Penn when I had a crush on a boy who shared the name—but not the spelling—of track four. I’d play it as I was doing my calculus homework in the Van Pelt reading room or as I was folding laundry in my shoebox dorm room. Then he didn’t reciprocate in the way I wanted, and I graduated onto the rest of the Swiftian canon where she sang about things far more relatable to my liminal college experience, like falling in love with new cities and eventually with someone who ends up becoming your best friend.
It is a Sunday night and my friend is begging for a 'conference.' This, I soon discovered, is code for boy talk. We sit, legs pulled up on rolling desk chairs, with a Costco–sized container of jelly beans between us. “When is it acceptable to say I love you?” she asks.
Buzzwords are sweet nothings.