Its alarming frequency and some hope for the future.

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Credit to Brooke Cagle on Unsplash.

“Widowhood Was Escape, Freedom, a New Life.”

My mom once told me how someone from her women’s group at church announced that her husband had died, which unsurprisingly triggered pity and sympathy from everyone, but also a glimmer of envy.

“Envy?” I asked, incredulous of these reactions and how nonchalantly my mother was reporting this.

She went on to say that she assumed some resentment in the sacrifices and responsibilities demanded of a woman in a traditional, heterosexual marriage. …


Writer, sister, traveler…still figuring out what else.

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Me in Bergen, Norway in 2019.

Introducing Myself

Reading others’ “about me” posts made me question how much I have to share about myself. Especially now, feeling isolated and aimless while basically unemployed and living at home again during a pandemic. However, I think for a shy 22-year-old I’ve experienced a fair bit so far.

I’ve lived in or near Los Angeles, Munich, San Francisco, and Berlin, although my closest emotional ties are to L.A. — was born in Santa Monica, spent most of my childhood somewhere in L.A. County, and moved back here after graduating from the University of San Francisco last December.

Moving to Bavaria as…


I acknowledge that pleas to support independent bookstores, especially during the pandemic, are nothing original. Just recently, The New York Times highlighted how crucial it is to support local bookstores. And the American Booksellers’ Association, or the ABA, recently launched their “Boxed Out” campaign to encourage people to shop indie, complete with cardboard installations covering bookstores across the country, indicating how indie bookstores have been shut out by Amazon deliveries. So while articles like these may sound repetitive, as the pandemic wreaks havoc on the economy, while billionaires get even richer, it’s become vitally important to sound the alarms to…


7 national parks down, 56 to go

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Photo by author.

It seems wrong to celebrate the benefits that have arisen from the pandemic, as they are never worth the amount of global collective loss experienced. However, I will say that my relationship with travel became less shallow as a result of being on lockdown.

Before, exciting travel meant new countries, new states at the very least. And repeating a travel destination often didn’t seem worth it when there are so many places I’ve never even been once.

For most of my life, I’ve lived roughly 150 miles from Joshua Tree National Park. …


All genders can benefit from valuing these overlooked positions more.

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Photo by Dimitri Houtteman on Unsplash.

As women increasingly make gains in the professional world, there’s undoubtedly a lot to celebrate. Yet only so much can be achieved if only traditionally male qualities and jobs are prized in the workplace. In many ways, women are expected to adopt forms of masculinity to get ahead and be taken seriously—to be more domineering, not apologize, take on high-paying positions in STEM or business.

And yet, there’s nothing inherently wrong with habits or jobs primarily practiced by women. The same could be said about those practiced by men, but we lose out on a lot by only valuing the…


A feminist reading of ‘Romeo and Juliet’

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Photo by Lukas K on Unsplash.

Shakespeare presents an uncharacteristic outlier to the patriarchal literature of his time in the titular Juliet of . Although Juliet is considered by many readers to be nothing more than a foolish, love-struck girl, further examination suggests that her role in her hasty union with Romeo can indicate her desire to live a life unruled by oppressive patriarchal figures and retain some autonomy in a society where very few women experienced that right.

At Juliet’s age of thirteen, her mother instructs her to “think of marriage now; younger than you / …ladies of esteem / are already made…


It’s not “real women have curves,” although I hate that too.

A hand holding a tape-measure
A hand holding a tape-measure
Photo by Jennifer Burk on Unsplash.

I’ve been skinny forever. A baby without much baby fat, who then lost 10% of that weight due to anemia. My weight relative to my size never fluctuated much from that.

I was grateful for my thinness, not because it is superior to other body types, but because I knew my self-image would have been even worse if I had been subjected to pervasive fat-shaming.

Even so, having an “acceptable” body didn’t mean I wasn’t subjected to unwarranted comments as early as elementary school. …


Travel. Czech Republic. Culture.

The Sedlec Ossuary, an unusual chapel in the Czech Republic.

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(Photo credit to author’s father)

In my ninth-grade history class, we had to do a presentation on our family history and ancestry. I didn’t have any intimate acquaintance with familial immigration or connection to my culture like many of my classmates, so I tried to overcompensate with every fun fact I could find, however distant. One tangent I included was the tourist spot in Sedlec, Czechia. This is relevant only because it was in Kutná Hora’s suburbs, where the Vokoleks of four generations past emigrated from.

On a family vacation to Prague, we took a day trip to Kutná Hora to honour our roots, even…


A poem.

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Photo taken by author near Hollywood sign in 2016.

On the periphery of this city,
I almost laugh about air quality—
“Just another downside of living here.”
Too many cars and too many fires.

Then, last spring:
the air finally breathed
its cleanest gasps in decades,
because we now held our breath.

Did not dare open ourselves,
fearing air’s potential to sicken, weaken,
destroy what was not already broken.
But even if you hold your breath,

Death still surrounds the city,
with double the fatalities
of previous years,
permitting
crematoriums to increase activity

So we can have malls, film studios So that I can breathe, and think of who…


MAD LIBS

In [45] days, you‘ll hardly even remember them.

Illustration of a heart in a trash can
Illustration of a heart in a trash can
Photo by Liquid (Artiste) Arya on Unsplash.

So you’re [coyly] single now? Well, that’s no reason to [tipple] and mope. In fact, this is actually a [lemony] time to focus on [poison]. With my [kitten]-winning 5-step technique of [Margaritaville] tailored to you, [Alicia], you’ll become the [sparkliest] version of yourself.

1. Express your feelings.

Whether you [villainously] vent to [testicles] or…

Kayla Vokolek

Recent creative writing grad located in Los Angeles. She/her.

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