Volume 2, Issue i
Wild Greens 2, no. 1 (November 2021)
Welcome to the November 2021 issue of Wild Greens
Table of Contents
Not (Just) Here for the Snacks
by Kiley Miller-Dickerson and Katie Huey
“That's the power of literature, you know, it can act like little love letters between two people who can only explain their feelings by pointing at other people's.” –Frederik Backman, Anxious People
As an introvert, making friends is hard. Keeping them in your late 20s as life continues to expand felt an even greater challenge. Sure, one is supposed to meet people in bars, wearing heels, sweeping moody bangs behind ears bedazzled with hoops and sparkles. That’s what Sex and the City reruns and Carrie Bradshaw taught us, right?
But for me, I longed to crawl home and gather with a few choice people to discuss words. Books have been solace for me for a long time. Stories of other lands, other romances, other lives we could choose to live when the reality feels much less glamorous.
I had tried to start a book club for over three years. I’d invite women I worked with at a small non-profit, friends from high school, and the few colleagues I’d met at networking events. Often, my invitations were rebuffed with comments like, “Oh, I don’t want to read for fun, but I’ll come for the snacks.”
This wasn’t my vision. I craved connection, story, themes and tropes, wanted to dig into what it means to be a woman coming of age today. I wanted a community of smart women who could encourage and support me, and normalize the many complex emotions I was going through in figuring out who I want to be in this world. And yes, I wanted snacks, but the snacks were tertiary.
In the fall of 2017, a group of three gathered in my basement den. We started with my mom, my best friend from middle school and myself. Eventually, my friend invited her mom. My old babysitter moved back to town and over coffee, I invited her to join us. She, too, invited her mom. We had the makings of an intergenerational community, forged over the love of words, and we created a place to use the stories of others to explore our own stories. We had deep conversations and some wine, and I began to rediscover what it means to become myself as an adult with women who have known me for most of my own life.
Remember the old Girl Scouts song? “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, and the other’s gold.”
I was rediscovering the gold, but struggling to find the silver. Our small group isn’t exclusive and I extended an invitation to Kiley in December of 2018.
“I have a book club. You should join us.”
It was a casual remark, but it was an invitation I’d been craving since moving across the country. Three years into a cross-country move, my boyfriend and I had weathered my graduate school stint and made some friends through work, sports, and friends of friends, but there are limitations to the conversations you can have with other teachers in the hall and on the sidelines of a soccer field. What about the meaningful late night talks over dinner parties and wine that adults were supposed to have? Weren’t girlfriends supposed to drop-in regularly, or meet-up for a standing happy hour every week? Not yet, for me at least.
Still, these chance encounters and friends of friends connections had led us to a quasi-Christmas party, getting ready to go out for karaoke when the women of the gathering found ourselves on the patio, snacking and chatting.
Some hemmed and hawed at the invitation, explaining they weren’t big readers, or didn’t like deadlines and required reading. But book clubs were my jam, and I was eager to carve out space for me and my friends — I loved our friends too, but my boyfriend and I had reached the stage in our relationship where we were always a “we.” Could I still define myself outside of our relationship? It was an identity crisis, so the all-women’s book club that Katie proposed seemed like a great chance to get back into my reading habits and branch out on my own, to have space to connect with other people over an extended period of time.
I wanted the kind of friends who would want to sit for hours and talk about books, yes, but who would feel something for fictional characters, to dive into another life and listen deeply, while enjoying each other’s company.
Anxious People by Frederick Backman was our September 2021 book club pick, and one I was most excited for, which is saying something considering the years of chats and dozens of selections. Talk about an intricate plot line: multiple points of view, red herrings galore, forcing a reader to confront any and every assumption, and more, this one literally left me sobbing, and then laughing through my tears. In the novel, Backman talks about the connections his characters make, about found communities and what happens when we share our vulnerabilities and rely on each other for support. I owe my book club invitation to this same kindness and am thankful for the found community I’ve stumbled upon and been welcomed into with open arms.
I was so deeply excited to talk about it with my book club. I mean, I always look forward to gathering on cozy couches and flowering patios to share homemade goodies – this book club has the. best. bakers! — but it was the company I most looked forward to.
Three years later, book club offers several consistent monthly highlights: I scour local bookshops and the library for our selection, savor each page (or minute, when it’s an audiobook), plan (and usually fail) to prepare an elaborate snack, swing through the grocery with haste on the first Saturday morning of the month, snatch some cheeses and cheese-vehicles, and settle in with a group of women I didn’t know I’d come to love, respect, and trust so deeply.
Over the years, our conversations have taken thoughtful and meandering turns through joy and grief. After our two-hour meet-ups, my face regularly hurts from smiling. I’ve started to think more carefully about my makeup selection since I’ve been brought to tears on more than a few occasions.
Simply put, we’re a group of women, of moms and daughters (plus me, an out-of-state transplant), who meet on the first Saturday morning of the month to talk about a book. But, it’s so much more than that, when you think about what we share.
Joy and sorrow are building blocks of the human experience. Each month, we gather and explore the characters we get to know and love, or maybe despise, challenging their perspectives and wondering what would compel an author to do that to a person.
We’ve marked milestones of every variety together: engagements and marriages and publications and first houses and several Mason jars worth of sourdough starters; we shared the loneliness of months of Zoom meetings, jobs and relationships lost and recovering, old wounds and losses that never really heal, and the strain of different relationships that we see in each other. We see each of these in the characters we read and the plotlines we anticipated, not because of any foreshadowing, but because we see our experiences reflected back to us.
More often than not, book club leads us to lay our own souls bare in our grief and hope, experiences that equally obscure what’s around the corner and paralyze a person with self-doubt. But when you have a community who gives you space to process, one who listens and smiles encouragingly, it lifts you. It keeps you coming back, hoping you can offer a similar reprieve or perspective.
It’s a chance to pick up another story and share in that experience, at least for a few hours on that first Saturday of the month.
How I Found Peace
by Mike D'AndreaIt’s like choking, suffocating,drowning from the weight of youranxieties, yoursecrets, yourterrors.
Like desperately treading water,you throw out lie after lie to stay afloat,to stay alive,to keep them satisfied.
But then, like magic, - like a miracle -an arm stretched out,a smile that says, Relax, I see you, You’re safe with me.
And then, after a moment,a pregnant pause,you breathe deep,and then sigh with relief,and then, finally, weep.
You are finally seen.
You can stop trying.You can stop crying.Home has found you.
The kettle's uncontrollable rage
by Romy Tara Wenzel
She’d been red and black as long as she could remember, but lately, she’d lost her sheen. Things change as you get older, she told herself. That’s how it is. Nevertheless, it was unsettling to lose her facade. When she got emotional, she flushed all the colors of the rainbow.
Her voice had always been lower than other kettles. But as she grew older, it reached a higher pitch than she could control. Fuck you, she screamed at her highest key. Fuck you, and you, and you.
Despite her uncontrollable rage, the kettle always boiled water at the perfect temperature. If anything, the rage helped bring her to temperature faster. Sometimes she boiled an egg or two, and in spring the children used eggs wrapped in onion skins and lowered the flame under her backside. She loved the challenge of dancing the eggs without breaking the shells, and her rage vanished in the dance. Her cheeks blushed emerald and sapphire, hearing the squeals of the children as they unbundled the parcels to see the patterns and colors beneath. Oh, she had no ears, the kettle, but only humans need ears to hear; the rest of the world has a different way of listening.
The family matriarch received the kettle as a wedding present a hundred years ago. The kettle was loyal to all three generations, but she missed the dead lady. That lady kept her clean inside and outside, on her own shelf by the hearth. She rubbed the kettle’s shoulders when they were dull, used a soft brush of twigs and besom to scrub her. The kettle felt good all over when she did that.
Now the family let the grime gather in her mouth and under her foot. They never scrubbed out her spout and only cleaned her belly when the scale was so thick the kettle could barely taste the water they filled her with and scrubbed her with rough wire brushes that scoured her insides and left long scratches on her skin. They kept her in a dark cupboard when she wasn’t on the hob. The kettle did not like it. The old lady would not approve, she thought fiercely, the rage gathering in her belly. The old lady would be angry, too.
After she’d been poured out and left on the hob to cool, the family would gather round to tell stories of the forest outside. In the heart of the heart of the forest, there is a cave, the uncle began. His voice was as scratchy as the wire brush, but it did not anger the kettle. Instead, she fell in with the story, forgot her scratches. In the cave, there lives a Beast. Some say she was a woman once, a woman who chose the forest over the village. Whatever she was once, she is a beast now, a spined, hairy thing, huge and monstrous. She has teeth long as your faces and tears the soft parts from men to eat them.
The kettle shivered in pleasure, and the children squealed and pinched each other. The kettle felt cozy and as if she belonged—like she was part of the family. But then they would put the children to bed, and put the kettle in the dark cupboard, and the feelings would stir again, resentful and brooding. An acid blue-green patina crept over her belly each night like a bad dream.
“Time for a new kettle,” said the woman one day. “Granny’s one is falling to pieces.”
They left the kettle in the blues and the greens of the forest, deep in bracken and pine.
At first, she was angrier than ever. The rage glowed her red-hot as she simmered on the soil. But she had no water to boil, and soon her body creaked like her copper heart was breaking. It is over, she thought. I am turning to soil.
At night, there were noises. Dark rumbling growls and twig cracklings like something large was moving nearby. The Beast picked her up with long, thin fingers, turned her in the dappled moonlight from the canopy. The Beast hooked the kettle onto a belt on her hip and ran to her cave in the forest heart.
The Beast left her in the cave and went outside. No doubt to hunt, the kettle thought. It was dark in the cave, dark as the night cupboard. Oh well, the kettle consoled herself. Wasn’t I destined for soil, anyway? But at least out in the forest there had been light and life. In here she would bear witness to horrors she could not fathom yet. Who knew what the Beast would do? Would she come back to devour dead men? Or worse, living ones? Would the kettle have to listen to their screams? Was that to be her new life?
The kettle heard the Beast long before she returned. The forest responded as she approached, the ground rumbled, the trees shook. But there was no crunching of bones, only of roots and leaves. Once the Beast had finished her dinner she tended the fire and little flames leaped up and made shadows dance on the walls.
Fire woke up old memories in the kettle—memories of the little woman who had cared for her, memories of being useful and loved. When the Beast filled her with a trickling stream outside and hooked her over the fire, it reminded the kettle of the old ways and old times. After the Beast had boiled and poured her tea of weeds and flowers, she scrubbed the kettle all over with a soft brush of twigs and besom. The kettle felt good all over. If the kettle had possessed a mouth, she would have smiled.
"Slow and Steady": An Interview with Lauren Kimball
by Rebecca Lipperini
R: When did you make the next one?
R: And the third one?
R: When did Frank get involved?
L: So then I literally — This is the level to which I cheated. I googled comic drawings of turtles and saw the things people did to simplify turtles’ features.
L: So you have to get the shell right and then you have to get to the beak right, and then beyond that, you really can't go wrong. It’s much, much harder to draw Hare. I also didn't want to draw Bugs Bunny.
R: So the key features of making the drawing funny are…
R: This gets me to my next question: the punchlines. Where do they come from?
If you like the issue, you can donate to Wild Greens through our Ko-fi page!
by Lauren Kimball
by Christian WardA community of faunalives in a tattered black notebookwrinkled as an ancient oak:A honeydew-green mothcurved like an arrowhead. Pale white butterflies bringing winter with them. Pink Amazonian dolphins who transform into people at midnight. Hummingbirds wearing every colour of the spectrum. Various badgers, bats, bears, fish, foxes... I feed them marginalia, scrapsand doodles. Sometimes, I seethem prying it open and my bedroom erupts into a rave of wonders, with even the moon peering into join in this temporary festival.
See behind the scenes of Wild Greens. Our Ko-fi page contains concept art for past issues.
Thomas Sharp Elementary School Mural
by Robin Brownfield
Tile, glass, stone, porcelain, hammers, tile cutters, grout, thin-set
Methods: The hard work of many volunteers and lots of chaos!
Inspiration: Thomas Sharp Elementary School has a new principal, Douglas Newman, who wanted the poorest school in the district to be an exciting place for kids to learn. He focuses a great deal on the arts to engage students. In June, I was asked to lead a mosaic-making session in my grandchildren's 5th-grade class. That led to the school's PTA asking me to make a mosaic mural on the school's blank outer walls. I agreed to it, as long as others in the community would also take part. While I've done most of the prep work for it, it has quickly become a project in which people in Collingswood, NJ want to participate. Since summer, dozens of parents, children, seniors, neighbors, and Principal Newman have all been contributing to the mural. People passing by take photos and post them on Facebook. People across the street sit out on the porch to watch. People walk by with their flirtatious dogs and babies, they jump out of their cars, wanting to help, or donating needed supplies. It's grueling work at times, but this is a project people can spend the rest of their lives saying, "I helped make that!"
Passing the allotments at North Sheen
by Christian WardPudding cups of white bindweed flowers by the railway tracks plan a distraction away from wild blackberries and ivy leavesturning a shade of mulled wine.
Whatever was planted will wait:The climbing runner beans will have to pause mid-climb, scarecrow heads of pumpkinswill have to scare the earth a little longer.
This is the vote of the unseen community. This is what their unseen hands, elaborate as henna, vast and complex as a tributary have decided.
Perhaps I'll put this scene between the pages of a heavy bookto preserve it, watch it Polaroid my room on those difficult dayswhen I feel heavier than the soilturning underneath my feet.
This is the community I need.
by Lynne Marie Rosenberg
Wild Greens in Wild Numbers Infographic
by Maggie Topel
An infographic for Wild Greens!
My Gilmore Girls Character Alignment
by Kathryn Pauline
This collection of charts is all about Gilmore Girls, the early aughts dramedy from Amy Sherman-Palladino about the relationship between a thirty-something single mother (Lorelai) and her teen daughter (Rory) in a small town in Connecticut. My feelings about Gilmore Girls are as complicated as the melodramatic mother-daughter relationship depicted in the show. I’ve watched and re-watched it since it initially aired, and my feelings towards the characters change almost every time I revisit it. For instance, when I was a teenager, I thought Lorelai was the coolest. When I was in my 20s, I thought she was irritating and irresponsible. And now in my 30s, I think she’s a bit of both: she has become my favorite antihero.
My changing feelings towards Lorelai exemplifies the core of Gilmore Girls: It’s a show about how much we are willing to accept a community of characters with variably intense personalities. Sometimes that intensity can be a good thing, but sometimes it can wreak destruction. And likewise, a lack of intensity can be good, while a lack of intensity can also be a big red flag. It all depends on how a character uses their intensity (or lack thereof) to affect the lives of the people around them.
I thought of this idea while in a very intense mood myself. I was working like a lunatic on a new work project, and my husband told me I was reaching a new Paris Geller level of intensity (as opposed to my more typical Lorelai or Emily level). Proving him right, it was then that I realized that Gilmore Girls is defined in large part by the varying levels of intensity of its characters. After grabbing a sheet of paper and plotting a few main characters along an x-axis of intensity, I realized that I didn’t necessarily like or dislike characters based on that one trait. There was good and bad on either side, so I added a y-axis to also include information about how much I loved each character. After I added the y-axis, I realized that these two features are the crux of the show. After all, Gilmore Girls is all about characters’ actions and inactions, and whether we can forgive and love our community in spite of both.
Fair warning if you haven’t seen the series: spoilers ahead!
If you’re a fan of the show, you might disagree a bit with my analysis of characters on these axes. But regardless of whether or not you agree with my analysis, it’s clear that while the y-axis is extremely subjective and entirely based on my own feelings, the x-axis is somewhat objective. Intensity, or lack thereof, is undeniable. But no matter where you place the characters, the concept remains constant: there are four main categories of Gilmore Girls characters.
The Four Types of Gilmore Girls Characters:
1) Cool Cats:
These characters are chill and grounded, and we love them for that. Best exemplified by the Troubadour, Morey, and Dave, they add a refreshing note of calm to an otherwise chaotic universe.
2) Lovable Lunatics:
Overwhelmingly high-energy characters whom we love both because of and despite their intensity. They give life to the show, and create a universe we want to be a part of.
* the Sherman-Palladino Threshold:
Characters past this threshold have big main character energy, and are the heart and soul of any Amy Sherman-Palladino show. Any of these characters could absolutely hold down their own spin-off.
3) Nightmare Psychos:
These characters use their intensity for evil and need to take it down a notch. They cause mayhem in the lives of the people around them by stridently asserting their own harmful preferences at all times. Jackson, you are dead to me.
4) Toxic Cowards:
Passive, cowardly, and apathetic, they make themselves and others miserable through their inaction or quiet, simmering destruction. They slouch into roles that others impose on them, and choose the easy way out of most situations, even if that leads to resentment later on.
* The Unconcerned Center:
These characters are so close to the love/hate line, I feel pretty much indifferent towards them. And they’re not really intense or chill enough to notice in any meaningful way.
What does this all mean?
Here, I’ve drawn some observations about what all this data means.
It seems that the most compelling frenemy relationships come from opposite quadrants. The Paris/Rory frenemy relationship has sparks flying, with a lovable lunatic squaring off against a toxic coward. Likewise, Luke (a moderately cool cat) often finds himself at odds with family members and neighbors who are nightmare psychos (e.g., Taylor and TJ).
The least interesting frenemy pair on this list is Sookie and Michel, because we’re rooting for both of them equally, and they’re both a similar degree of intense. If Zack somehow managed to take over Sookie’s job at the Inn, the ensuing face-off between him and Michel would be electric.
Like Sookie and Michel, Richard and Jason’s very dynamic work relationship is just not compelling enough to care about—even though Jason is an absolute shit-stirrer and Richard is a relatively grounded person, neither he nor Richard is likeable enough for us to care very much either way. But the more you like Richard as a character, the more compelling their relationship will be to you.
Secondary character romances are all over the board, with almost everyone finding a partner who is at least a couple degrees more or less intense than themselves (with the exception of Lindsay and Dean).
Lorelai dates from pretty much all four quadrants. Max is most similar to herself, Luke is much less intense yet similarly likeable, Christopher is detestable and less intense, and Jason is detestable and more intense. Rory, on the other hand, dates almost exclusively from within her own quadrant. (This is directly mocked in the reboot by the introduction of the oft-forgotten boyfriend character.)
Gender and Sexuality:
In Gilmore Girls, if you are a straight man, you will only be likable if you are extremely chill (e.g., Luke, Morey, Dave, Brian, and the Troubadour). But just because you are not intense does not mean you will necessarily be likable (e.g., Zack, every single one of Rory’s exes, her father, and her grandfather).
If, however, you are a straight man who passes the intensity threshold, you will almost certainly be a total psychopath. Indeed, while you can find them all across the board, straight, white men are the sole inhabitants of the nightmare psycho corner of Gilmore Girls.
Queer and queer-coded characters (e.g., Gypsy, Taylor, Michel, and arguably Paris and Kirk [hat tip, Margie Housley]) are placed all over the board, except absent from the Rory corner.
Female characters are generally placed on the intensity-side of the spectrum, with male characters more on the less-intense side of the spectrum.
There’s so much more to say, but at this point, I invite you to draw your own conclusions, and fill out your own Gilmore Girls character alignment chart. Print it out, or sketch out your own.
Artists and Contributors
Kiley is an Ohioan-turned-Coloradoan, living in Northern Colorado with her husband and two dogs. She teaches college composition and can usually be found at one of the local bookshops or breweries. Her passions include words (producing and consuming), beer (drinking and brewing),and adventures (near and far).
Writer & Poet
Katie Huey is a writer, marketer, and facilitator. She believes in the power of story and the beauty found in sharing personal experience. Her work has appeared in Invoke Magazine, Conscious Company Magazine, and Hello Humans. You can follow more of her story on her website katiehuey.com. She lives in Colorado with her husband Dylan and rambunctious puppy Olive.
Find her on Instagram: @52beautifulthings and Twitter: @52beautiful
Mike D'Andrea was born and raised in the Philly suburbs, though he currently lives in Hell's Kitchen in NYC, where he works in tech as a User Experience Researcher. Writing poetry is one of Mike's longest-held hobbies; you can find more of his work on his Instagram, @mikeyd231!
Romy Tara Wenzel
Lauren Kimball lives in Philadelphia. She teaches literature and composition at Rutgers University, New-Brunswick. In her spare time, she plays with paint, digital pens, words, and home improvement tools.
Christian Ward is a UK based writer who can be currently found in Asylum Magazine, One Hand Clapping, The Crank, Sein Und Werden, and The Pangolin Review.
Follow him on Instagram: @christian_ward_writes
Robin Brownfield is a former sociology professor who turned to art after becoming disabled. While she dabbles in numerous art forms, she finds mosaic art is a great way to recycle old materials and found objects. She has created murals, garden walkways, ornate tables, and countless other mosaic works, but recently, she has turned to creating portraits and works for social justice. She was recently featured in a FOX-29 News report, because she was commissioned by Tamika Palmer to do a mosaic portrait of her daughter, Breonna Taylor, whose death, in part, launched an international movement for justice for victims of racist murders. She has also won numerous awards in juried art shows, was featured as one of the Best Mosaic Artists in New Jersey in Best of NJ, and has had her art displayed in galleries all over the United States.
Lynne Marie Rosenberg
Kathryn Pauline is a recipe developer, food photographer, and writer, currently working on her first cookbook (A Dish for All Seasons, out in spring of 2022 from Chronicle Books). She loves solving crossword puzzles in her spare time, and occasionally constructs them for fun. Kathryn studied medieval English literature at Indiana University and Rutgers, she recently moved from Hong Kong to Melbourne (where she spends most of her free time hiking and kangaroo watching), and she originally hails from Chicagoland, which is almost as magical as it sounds.
Jacqueline is a senior undergraduate student at the University of California, Riverside, working toward earning her BA in English and creative writing. She was a 2021 publishing fellow with the Los Angeles Review of Books and served as a co-editor, copyeditor, and producer on the fourth issue of PubLab journal. As a bookworm, writer, and homebody at heart, she spends her spare time looking for new fictional worlds she can lose herself in and working on crafting stories of her own.
Tim Brey is a jazz pianist living in Philadelphia. He holds positions as Artist-in-Residence and Adjunct Faculty at Temple University and The University of the Arts, where he teaches jazz piano, music theory, and improvisation. Check out more of his music and his performance schedule at https://www.timbreymusic.com.
Arts Editor & Artist
Hayley creates the cover image for each issue of Wild Greens magazine and serves as the Arts Editor. Hayley is a social justice seeker, world traveler, rock climber, dog snuggler, frisbee player, event planner, and story-teller. She loves to paint with watercolors, embroider, and write. She grew up reading sci-fi and fantasy, and to this day she still turns to those genres to help her make sense of the world. She calls Philadelphia home, and she wouldn't have it any other way.
Maggie Topel is an artist and writer living in Philadelphia. She designs our seasonal Wild Greens logo and social media avatar.
Rebecca Lipperini is a writer, teacher, and academic living in Philadelphia, and the founding editor of Wild Greens magazine (hi!). She holds a PhD in English from Rutgers University, where she taught all kinds of classes on literature and poetry and writing, and wrote all kinds of papers on the same. Her essay on the soothing aesthetics of the supermarket was recently published in PubLab.