Categories
Nonfiction The Upper New Review

Walking Boston

By Paula Brown

Nothing too much to be gleaned from this. It’s just a walk after all, a walk with a dog. But after weeks of mornings awakening to the leftover heat from the record-breaking temperatures all the days before, perhaps a walk on a cool morning is something. And to a dog, any dog, a walk is amazing. And this dog, this Boston Bean dachshund dog, probably thought I was just being lazy on all those hot mornings when the leash was left hanging. Now he tugs me forward, tail wagging with each step, to the end of the block where we turn right to make our usual loop over trails and sidewalks. We both know the way. Boston’s short legs propel him in a blur of quick steps while the tips of his ears flip up and down keeping time with each footfall. I rejoice in the step of my shoes on the dirt, in the night cooled air finding my lungs. I am walking for the newness of the day and the possibility of seeing another human alive who has withstood this searing furnace of a summer, for the opportunity to say “good morning” to whomever crosses our path today.

Categories
Nonfiction The Upper New Review

Not Nigerian Enough, Not Italian Enough: A Place of My Own

Aminat Emma Badmus

There was a time when I struggled to find a place of my own, to experience a sense of belonging. Growing up in Italy as one of the few black kids who were born in the 1990s, I always felt that I belonged nowhere and everywhere at the same time.

I remember how badly I wanted to have a friend who was Black, actually, not just Black. I wanted to have someone who was similar to me, who was born as a Black Nigerian- Italian. Someone with whom I could speak Italian and Nigerian pidgin English, switching from one code to another without being seen as an unusual mode through which to interact.

Categories
Nonfiction The Upper New Review

Taking Root: A Study of Suburban Life

By Monmita Chakrabarti

“I love these roads where the houses don’t change”- Ella Yelich-O’Connor (Lorde)

Picture a white man dressed in round glasses, Dickies, and a patterned sweater that he always makes a point to say he thrifted. He isn’t wearing a beanie but he certainly owns many. He grew up in New York City and we are having a conversation in his car, a very nice car, as he gives me a ride from my parents’ house in Dublin, OH back to our college an hour away. As we drive through the suburb where I grew up, he tells me that it is terrifying, with its pristine lawns and cookie cutter houses. He calls it a sundown town. Of course, New York City is a melting pot, so he notices these things. As if the part of the city in which he lives isn’t also a product of racial violence and redlining, as if a white man implicating a person of color in a white supremacist project isn’t the pot calling the kettle black. I am allowed to say that Dublin is ugly and racist. I would accept it if another person of color said that it felt hostile towards them, but I was hurt when the statement came from this man. If Dublin is a sundown town, what does it mean that I care about it so much? When I was a child I ran wild through the big lawns and played pretend with the other brown skinned neighborhood children. I was so happy. I hold my nostalgia dear and close, for when I was young enough to ignore the small violences occurring all around me.

***

In 1801, the brothers Peter and Benjamin Sells traveled up the Scioto River to what is now Columbus, Ohio scouting the surrounding area. They purchased 400 acres and named it Sells Town, just two years before Ohio became the seventeenth state of the Union, thirty two years before all Wyandot families in the area but one—the family of Bill Moose—were forcibly removed to reservations, and sixty four years before slavery was abolished. In 1810, Sells Town was named Dublin by John Shields, after his home in Ireland. In 2005, my family moved there.

Categories
Nonfiction The Upper New Review

The River Knows Me

By Tim Ott

When I returned to the United States from Rwanda, having served a couple years in Peace Corps, somebody asked me to teach a sense of place lesson. We were at a place called Davidson Flat, one of the most popular places on the Deschutes River in Oregon, east of the Cascades, in the sagebrush desert of the Columbia Plateau. We hiked up to a place with a pretty view, and I introduced the lesson by poking fun at the idea of sense of place as being a fad that had just popped up into popular consciousness while I had been abroad. I noted that some things in my country had changed while I was gone. Sriracha was out, and Frank’s Red Hot Sauce was in. Something called Tinder was all the rage in the dating scene. And now I was surrounded by people who talked about mindfulness and a sense of place without explaining to me what they were.

Why would anyone need to make an effort to get a sense of place? Had people forgotten how to read a map while I was gone? (perhaps they had—a few months later I was leading a group in the Oregon Cascades using a map and compass, and another hiker passed me on the trail and asked me where my phone was). I got a couple chuckles from the students as I made fun of “sense of place,” then proceeded to teach a sense of place lesson that my co-instructors told me was well done. While I might not have completely understood what a sense of place was, if there is a place I know, it is there, the approximately one hundred river miles flowing north from Warm Springs to the Columbia River.

Categories
Nonfiction The Upper New Review

Inheritance

by Taylor Roseweeds

A glass-topped tray in a carved wooden frame affixed with two brass handles hangs on the wall by my bed, five blue swallows hand-painted on its surface. It’s the type of tray you might bring to a sick person in bed, but I’ve chosen to hang it on the wall exactly as it hung in my grandparents’ bedroom until I inherited it in 2016. I spent portions of each summer and many Christmases with them on their apple orchard—a welcome break from a less idyllic daily life. Despite the availability of a spare bedroom, my sister and I almost always slept in the living room on two matching couches.

When we were small, we’d wake up before anyone else and get in our grandparents’ tall, soft bed. I would choose my grandpa’s side and he would check that my feet were tucked in, muttering something about Jack Frost coming to get my feet. In a dream—or a waking imagining seeded by this idea of Jack Frost—I sometimes saw a creepy man at the foot of the bed, emerging from the closet. So, while my grandparents tried to get a few more minutes rest, I would turn my gaze away from the closet and focus instead on the wall where the bird tray hung underneath an extremely 1970’s print featuring sunflowers in a vase. In calligraphy, it read “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” I’d watch the birds fly and take in the pleasant philosophical depth of that simple statement, drifting back to sleep.


When my grandma—Dee Loris—died in 2016, preceded by her husband seven years earlier, she left a houseful of stuff. An individual binder-style scrapbook album of snapshots for each year from 1958 to 2015 as well as additional themed books for vacations, older photos, or individual people. Kitchen cupboards crammed with sets of dishes, papered inside with recipes and diet tips cut out from Woman’s Day and Redbook. Basement rooms with closets still bearing treasure—Gunne Sax dresses, washed-soft vintage tees, and bell bottom jeans so wide my aunts said they’d have to stop walking on windy days when their pants transformed into sails.

Categories
Nonfiction The Upper New Review

My Flag

by Vanessa Wright

The Union Jack. Three colours. Three stories. The same national symbol unites and divides us.

RED: “to paint the town red: meaning to party or celebrate, usually in a public place”.1Red – en.wiktionary.org/wiki/paint_the_town_red

We walked a couple of streets to Howberry Road, where we would spend every Saturday morning visiting the butchers and greengrocers with Mum. But on this occasion, it was transformed. Trestle tables instead of parked cars now lined this street in Thornton Heath; red, white and blue bunting draped between lamp posts; Union Jack flags arranged as centrepieces on tables. And crowds lined the street in readiness for the races. The Queen’s Silver Jubilee, 1977. My earliest memory of the British flag.

Categories
Nonfiction Research Narratives The Upper New Review

Connect-the-Dots

Connect-the-Dots: Following the Unnatural Path of Water from the South San Juan Mountains to Albuquerque

By Stacy Boone

Growing up meant worm farms, roly-polies in a jar with dirt mined from the garden and smashed lightning bugs on my t-shirt as day wrestled with evening. I turned over rocks to find hidden crawdads in water drainages and hopped after toads accidentally kicked out of a molt of leaves. I was raised in an era when a child’s mode of travel was a bike and shoes were of the “tennis shoe” variety. I was left to wander in an Arkansas subdivision with no sidewalks but wood lots and forest that neighbored in safe proximity to lawns. I rarely strayed far from an oversized circle radius of seven or eight blocks. Well, maybe more if I thought I might not be caught. My friends and I made a point to check-in at whoever’s house was closest at lunch where we were fed and promptly pushed back outside with a gesture to, “Go Play.”

In the wild, I waded in creeks, scaled trees, rushed into high grasses and drank with scooped hands most any clear water source when thirsty. I scraped my knees. My legs bumped and itched with chigger bites. Bruised was an unworried part of play. Outside was education laid bare. Unwittingly, day-to-day outdoor activities were experiments of how the natural world worked. I researched before I understood the concepts that involved a created hypothesis or abidance to a system of methods. I examined without formality through a hands-on studied approach. Without the scientific methodology, I knew that tadpoles became frogs, water moved downstream and branch buds turned to leaves. Intuitively, I expected a repetition of nature’s routines.

Categories
Challenges Nonfiction The Upper New Review

Silence is Golden, But Music is a Girl’s Best Friend

by Lillian Beach

I find myself constantly listening to one thing or another. The only time, it seems, when I am not listening to something is when I am in the shower and forced to be alone with my thoughts. Even then I sometimes turn on a podcast or music, distracting myself from the quiet that feels so claustrophobic. There is a need to listen to something. My thinking is done for me. I don’t need to consider what is going on outside, or what I am stressed out about on a particular day.