From the NSA, With Love

Your life, #nofilter.

Illustration by Devon Geyelin. Hello American #1,341,682, You may not know me, but I know all about you. I’m a data collector for the National Security Administration. But don’t worry, I’m not here to defend our domestic surveillance program or deny its scope. I’ll be the first to admit that we have indeed been spying on you. You, personally. We have mined your phone records, your Google searches, and your direct messages on Twitter. We know your favorite YouTube videos, and we know which Buzzfeed. . . Read more
Jesse Shreck
Making Believe

Conversions come in many forms.

Over lunch early in my freshman year, my friend Madeleine Witt told me she had been at a Yale Students for Christ retreat that weekend. I asked her how it had gone. She smiled. “I had the most intense religious experience of my life,” she said. “It completely changed my relationship with Jesus.” For the rest of the day, I puzzled over those words. I’d thought religion was something people only found, or sought to deepen, in times of need. Witt was a talented artist. . . Read more
Aaron Gertler
All in a Life’s Work

A new initiative addresses the needs of the long-term unemployed.

After working as a sports writer for over two decades, Bob Greeney found himself among the long-term unemployed. Photo by Maya Binyam. “If you’re gonna be Santa, Bob, be the best damn Santa you can be.” Bob Greeney steeled himself and stepped into the big red suit for a kids’ Christmas party in December 2010. Greeney, a 55-year-old Stamford native, had been unemployed for a year and a half and was doing anything he could to get by: delivering flowers, holding up yardsticks at high. . . Read more
Arielle Stambler
Where the Wild Things Are

A Bridgeport zoo adopts an orphaned bobcat kitten.

Photo by Shannon Calvert. We meet for the first time in October 2012, with a set of metal bars between us. Safe on our opposite sides, we size each other up. BeeZe (rhymes with “easy”) blinks first, blandly, which only goes to show you the stupidity of a staring contest with an opponent who’s indifferent to the game. BeeZe has nothing to prove. BeeZe is a creature of limitless patience. BeeZe has eyes worth a long deep stare: hazel-colored and lamp-like, their expression lying somewhere. . . Read more
Sophia Nguyen
Saving Grace

Burl Salmon builds a new home in the Church.

This is Lexington, a small town only an hour outside of Atlanta. But in this land of boiled peanuts and dairy farms, I feel worlds away. I’m in the Georgian countryside, at the home of Burl Salmon, my former high school English teacher and a graduate of Yale Divinity School. His neighbor is the photographer for the magazine Gun and Garden, the self-proclaimed “Soul of the South.” I’ve been here a few times to visit Burl on trips back from college, and the area has. . . Read more
Ashley Dalton
Step by Step

Folk dancing spins connections.

Bill Buford plays music and calls dances at Bethany Music and Dance. Photo by Cuchulain Kelly. Four years after I hold Bill Fischer’s hand for the first time, he learns my name. “Dana? Diane?” He asks. Bill’s hand grips a microphone. He is calling a contra dance—a style of group folk dance—in the barn attached to his house. It is one of his monthly parties, which require no invitation, called “Bethany Music and Dance”—BMAD for short. His fuzzy blond dreadlocks, dotted and decorated with beads. . . Read more
Diana Saverin
Imperfect Pitch

A satire of the a capella rush process.

Illustration by Devon Geyelin. “DO YOU SING?” Yale boasts over four hundred active undergraduate organizations, but if you measure activity in terms of decibel levels, there is really only one to note. Every August, hordes of ardently chirpy a cappella singers descend upon timid freshmen continuously asking the dreaded question. Oh, you anxious-to-please freshmen, making bad jokes like, “Only in the shower!” “Well, I’m not going to quit my day job!” After the hundredth ask, even questions such as, “Are you mad at me?” and,. . . Read more
Taking the Stage

Experiments in theatre and in community-building.

Illustration by Devon Geyelin. From the Harlem-125th Street Station, it was a simple subway ride uptown to Bronxworks, a community center on the borough’s artery, the Grand Concourse. I settled into a folding chair in a bright room, facing a makeshift stage. A dozen middle-schoolers outfitted in matching T-shirts mingled onstage, nervous and excited. A tall bald guy, intense and energetic, introduced himself as a “joker,” or facilitator, and explained to the audience that we were “spect-actors,” not spectators. Then he urged us to be. . . Read more
Julia Calagiovanni