This season's background image was provided to us by previous contributor Keith Barker, whose photographs appeared in our first ever issue. For more information on Keith and his photography, look for his bio on our contributing artists page.
Remember to check out RPD's weekly artist features every Wednesday on our Tumblr! You can access it by clicking "blog" on the RPD site or visit rpdsociety.tumblr.com
March has certainly come in like a lion. Each month at The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society is different. This particular issue features a great deal of variety, in terms style and voice. Many of our pieces, however, are tackling a topic of identity and nationalism (something our own staff wrestled with further down in this publication). We always strive to offer our readers something unique and something off the beaten path; we hope this issue lives up to that standard.
The April issue is on the horizon now, and it will make March a challenging month for the RPD staff. In an attempt to give ourselves more time to finely hone each issue, we will be moving our submission periods to the end of each month instead of the beginning. The only way to do this smoothly is to hold two submission periods in March, one for the April issue and one for the May issue. It will be a challenge for us, but the benefits of having more time post-submissions to work on the issues in the future will greatly outweigh any stress we suffer during the next 31 days.
Another small (but important) change to the magazine is that we will now require bios to accompany all submissions. These changes will be reflected on the Submission guidelines page. We will also send an automated response to anyone who submits without a bio, so don't worry if you forget: we promise to remind you!
Keep your eyes peeled for more haiku poetry from new columnist Tom Loughlin and another fantastic essay in Vox Populi from Adam Kane this month. We are so glad to hear our readers are enjoying the work of these fine gentlemen and look forward to other opportunities to share the limelight with our regular contributors.
Please feel free to send us submissions ALL MONTH LONG during the month of March for consideration in our April and May issues. We are excited to see where these changes take us, and hope you join us on our journey.
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Identity Your RP&D Staffers focus on a common thread in this month's issue:
JORDAN: (National Identity)I was recently having lunch with a friend who was telling me about a talk she’d had with a potential date she’d met online. He asked her “what she was” in regards to her ethnic heritage, and subsequently referred to himself as a “mutt” of western European ancestry. My friend, whose parents are Turkish immigrants, questioned what the relevance of the topic was, and what the other party’s ancestry had to do with who he was now. That created a whole new discussion between us: is being “white” in the United States code for being “Americanized” to the point that your ancestry no longer has an impact on who you are as a person? My ancestors emigrated to the United States from Lingua Glossa, Sicily at varying times, between the late 1880’s to the just before 1920. I regularly failed quizzes in my high school Italian class because I thought I knew the word for certain things, only to find out it was different in Sicilian than from the “High Italian” they teach in school. I know how to braid an egg into the bread for the Festa di San Guiseppe, and I know that my great-grandfather was arrested for passing out union pamphlets on the night that Sacco and Vanzetti were executed. I know that the DiNobali Cigar company, housed on 9th Street in Queens, NY, employed my grandparents, their parents, and all of my aunts and uncles. During World War II, the company and all its assets were seized by the American Government for being potentially connected to Mussolini’s regime and sold to Parodi Cigars when the war was over. I come from a long line of hardworking, poor, forward-thinkers, who have instilled in me a great work ethic and thirst that is unquenchable. In 2006, while visiting a friend just outside of Manchester, UK, a stranger in a pub asked what I was. I responded, “Italian-American”. He asked if the Italian part was really important enough to come first. “Oh, yes,” I told him, “very much so.”
JEN: (Religious Identity) Religion is one of the most powerful forces for both good and evil, depending on who's interpreting the texts; it can give people a strong sense of belonging and a feeling of being special, but it can also potentially trap them in little boxes, not allowing them room to form their own opinions. Growing up Catholic, my relationship to God was - and still is, to a certain extent - a major part of my identity. I went to church every Saturday evening with my parents, attended Catholic school from pre-k to 12th grade, and hit all the major milestones: First Communion, Reconciliation, Confirmation, etc. When I was young, it seemed people were more concerned about what you did than what you felt, and I was always fearful of doing something that I'd later find out was a sin. I vividly remember being told, for example, that choosing not to have children is a sin, and crying because I didn't want them and would one day be forced to have them so I wouldn't go to hell (I think I was about nine years old). The whole point of life back then was to do the right things so you'd avoid hell. As I grew up, I became less religious and more spiritual; I still consider God to be an important part of my life, but I worked hard to shake that defining fear and guilt that one wrong step would condemn me, even if it didn't feel wrong. These days I base my decisions on what most conforms to the spirit of Christianity - inclusion, love, all those good things Jesus talked about - rather than the letter, and I feel like I'm a happier person for it.
BEE: (Sexual Orientation) At first, this paragraph was going to be out how, at a young age, I used to look down the shirts of my female teachers at my gifted&talented school and what did that say about how gifted & talented I was. I erased my first sentence over and over because how many times can I summarize my sexual identity to "I've always known I was queer before I knew what queer was." These days, in a long term heterosexual relationship, I still feel the need to assert my broad sexuality so as not to lose my identity, or something. To be honest, like many people attracted to more than one gender, I search for what to call myself, and eschew most of the labels that exist. I'm glad for the spectrum that is ever evolving and the groups and support and the inclusivity, but the more the definitions of gender, sexuality, and romanticism are expanded, the more anxious I feel about my inability to identify myself.
ADAM: (Gender Identity) The concept of social “norms” and the expectancy to adhere to them are typically thrown toward most at a very young age. If you don't adhere to them you tend to be cast aside as something of a pariah. Interests seen as exclusive to gender are no exception. I grew up in a setting where the notions of 'sport' and 'brawn' were the sole manifestations of masculinity. If you were male in this setting and you didn't find satisfaction in hitting things with sticks of different sizes and lengths or throwing things at targets, other human beings, etc., essentially there was something 'wrong' with you, and subsequently you were ostracized. Sport and brawn were things that had always lost themselves on me, and I was always inclined to more expressive mediums. I think that owning those interests without hesitance at a young age taught me something valuable regarding interest in general; if something fuels you, you just let it fuel you, regardless of what the “norms” might be, and regardless of what simpleminded connotation it might hold (whatever it may be). Normal is subjective.
Writing Prompts The staffers use Nostalgia Identity to get your creative juices flowing:
Jordan: Take a moment to recall how many years removed from your high school graduation you are. Imagine a reunion was being held soon and that you (and all of your classmates) were forced to bring your 17- or 18-year-old self to the event as your date. What would you talk about? What events over the course of the life you've lived since you were them would you warn your younger self about? What would you keep from them? Write the scene, with dialogue, as a script.
Jen:Find a photo from a time in your life that you consider to be a personal turning point. Write an essay about what was going on behind the scenes of that photo that no one would know by looking at it.
Bee: The Irish and the Portuguese have a shared cultural identity around the concept of SAUDADE, an untranslatable word that refers to a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Write free prose for a minute about something you know you'll never get back whether it be a time or a place or an idea.
Adam:Find or think back on something that was of great importance to you in your formative years, something of which you were very fond as a child (a toy, a keepsake). If by chance you can't find that certain something, close your eyes, attain a mental feel for it and project it into your hands. Once you have that item, or the feel for it, imagine having it callously taken from you, broken or destroyed. Write a short piece on what this elicits in you. Write from your own perspective or that of someone fictional.
ARCHIVES: ISSUES AND NEWSLETTERS
Archives of our past newsletters can be located on our site for your reading pleasure.
Be sure to also visit the archive of old issues of RPD, neatly arranged in a digital "glossy" version.
Both can be found under the Archives tab at the top of the site.
Until next time,
Jordan, Jen, Bee, & Adam
THE EDITORIAL STAFF