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On comfort

Crocante de Manzana

6 porciones


For the apples :


6 apples 

60 g of butter 

½ cup of sugar 

1 tsp of vanilla 

1 tsp cinnamon 


For the crumble : 


1 cup of flour 

¼ of a cup of sugar 

1/2 of a tsp of salt 

½ tsp of cinnamon 

¼ tsp of nutmeg 

100 g of butter (cool butter not room temperature) 


Preheat oven at 190 C


Peel the apples and cut in cubes. In a large saucepan melt the butter and then add the sugar vanilla and cinnamon, toss the apples in until they are golden on both sides. 


On a separate bowl mix all the dry ingredients of the crumble and add the butter, cut up in cubes. Incorporate the butter with the fingers until the mixture has a sandy appearance. 


Put the apple mixture in a mold or a pan and sprinkle the crumble over the apples. This goes in the oven for 15-20 min.


Ashley Kwak

Girl Cloud, 2023

About Comfort

Sophie Ahn

I think of my relationship with my therapist as on-again-off-again. We met when I was seventeen under unfortunate circumstances I’d rather forget about, but I’ve never committed to seeing her super regularly. I’ll go almost a year without speaking to her, and then something unfortunate will happen expectedly or unexpectedly, and I’ll religiously see her weekly for a couple months. Then I’ll taper off again. 


I should also add that my freshman year of college, when I told my father I was seeing my therapist, all he had to say to me was, “What helpful thing is that middle-aged woman going to tell you about how to live your life and how to feel better?”


Almost like a lover, it’s probably not the healthiest relationship you should have with your therapist.


Regardless, the other day, I saw her for the first time this year – a year that I’ve spent training myself to comfort others, rather than seeking comfort for myself. I’ve learned how to appropriately say, “I’m sorry to hear that,” or “Thank you for sharing with me,” to the actors who get paid to play patients for medical students’ mock patient encounters. How to be trauma-informed. How to strike that impossible balance between being removed from a patient’s emotional state while also maintaining the appropriate empathy and holistic, unconditional support for their experience. 


So basically, I’ve been playing doctor. And what did Hippocrates say about doctors? A doctor should cure sometimes, relieve often, and comfort always.


I used to seek comfort from everything and everyone. I’d text friends paragraphs about how I felt to the point where even I knew I was being exasperating without even having to say anything. I’d talk with them through dozens of scenarios and hypotheticals, I’d pile Kleenex into my trash bin. Sometimes, I’d eat chocolate-covered popcorn and others, I wouldn’t eat at all and watch the numbers drop slowly on the scale. 


I journaled furiously in multiple lost notebooks or on Word documents I’d delete a few days later. I called up men who weren’t smart ideas. I drank. I journaled, called them up, and drank all in the same day and in no particular order.


And then one day, you realize that eventually, none of it will be enough. So you stop seeking comfort from others, and start retreating into yourself. You learn to stop asking yourself these Godforsaken questions and instead, you pour yourself into your work and become a productive worker. You might convince yourself that all is well, but once you reach that milestone you’ve been working for, you realize that the heaviness still lurks within the depths of your mind only to come out when there is nothing left to do for the day.


Maybe I’m too much of a cynic, but I also feel as though comfort is all too rehearsed – rehearsed catch phrases of support statements, rehearsed pep talks, rehearsed hand holding, rehearsed handing over of a tissue box, rehearsed episodes of TV shows you watch whenever you’re sad. 


I think that’s why I’ve found myself hesitating to seek out comfort. That and the fact that everything that seems to make my life so heavy (the fear of failing out of medical school, the fear of disappointing my family, the privileged envy I feel towards my college friends who play grown-up in their West Village apartments, the sadness I feel speaking to my grandparents, the thought that I may have wasted my youth) is so distinct, and yet so blurred into each other so that one ends where the other begins, and eventually they all become the same amorphous thing. They become inseparable from each other until I realize nihilistically that the thing that makes life heavy is arguably just life itself.


I think about calling up my parents from time to time, but I wouldn’t know what to say. Where to start, what deeply flawed aspects of myself I unfairly hold them responsible for subconsciously ingraining within me. I used to resent the fact that they didn’t seem to understand me. I think part of being almost 24 years old, though, is beginning to strangely be okay with it.


With all of this circulating, and the fact that I had a cardiology exam to study for, I figured it was the right time to talk to my therapist. I didn’t know what made me feel emptier; the fact that I had become uncomfortable seeking comfort from others, or the frightening reality that even if I did, I wasn’t sure that those well-intentioned, yet rehearsed routines could help me. Good intentions and assumed support only get you so far. You know that your comforters are there for you and love you, but you don’t feel comforted the way you want to.


And so I went up the stairs to her office, hoping somehow she could reach into my mind and take all of it out. I naively, and like a scientist, figured I could neatly present my predicaments and complexities, my idiosyncrasies and naiveties, and then ask for some evidence-based answers. How can I make these ruminations go away? How can I break free of old thought patterns? How can I successfully find comfort in anything, the way that I used to? How can I stop thinking, thinking, thinking at all?


She listened to me nonsensically ramble, and handed me tissues for tears that rolled down because of everything and nothing. And all she had to say was simply, I think you’re just looking for someone to hold this thing with you.


I’m not even sure what this thing is though. And they wouldn’t understand because I don’t really understand it. And regardless, understanding others is tiring, isn’t it?


I don’t think they have to understand though. They just need to hold it with you.


you have to play this song while you read the poem, since I wrote it to the song, and the song is part of the poem. - Kiran

When the city shuts down


because it’s snowed so much

and the A train can’t run, and neither can the Q, and neither can the cars, 

and the Citi Bikes are covered.

You don’t have to go to work today.


So we are sitting on the East River, 

the vessels in your face constrict from the cold 

the sunlight sits still in the dry air.

I wish you knew 

how your laughter can be a wool blanket

how the snow sits in your black lashes like a baby


If I could take your stress 

I’d  turn it into a snowball

If I could take your eyes, 

I’d want you to see


soft bread

honey butter

summer child sleeping in the garden bed


Salt Lake City

you're laying under this roof

of aspen trees


I’d want you to see your four year old

on their first day of school eating a plain bagel

milk and maple on their face

may you carry him on your shoulders

they’ll still work if you let them


and I’ll run the bath for you, aging man.

Tell me about your day.

You would say, 

“Remember how much we wanted to flee our youth when we were in it”

we would fall asleep in the car ride home

and when our parents woke us up

we were always there.

I would say,

“I’ll wake you up when we’re home.”

And you’re awake

just like that

because these first days of spring are dewey 

and the days are blooming

when the rain begins

you are in this house you unlocked with your own hands.

This storm is so violent.

This home is so self-contained.


But we’re not there yet


We are sitting on the East River

We have the same cold face

Four footprints in this thick, white snow

Tomorrow, the trains will run again

And the markets will open

But for today,

see how quiet this city can be

how self-contained these hours.


Maybe someday there will be a picnic in the park

and we’ll take the kids on a trip to Lake Louise 

and have a hotel breakfast.

or we’ll put a vinyl near the tv and

buy warm-colored christmas lights


And even

if  not

This will still be the life I want for you.


And held

Made of my memories of protection



These are my terms 

I will give you the hands I have

So that you can build a sanctuary

To live in

To wrestle in

To fall asleep in

The way my mother built a tent inside her room

For me to camp in.


Thoughtful, unassuming, poignant, and unexpectedly lighthearted considering the mature themes that the film concerns. Somehow, My Neighbor Totoro manages to feel like a warm blanket, a run through a field of daisies on a spring day, and of longing for a hug from your mother, all at once. There is no movie better suited to the word comfort than this one.

- Rory


by Libby Kern

For a period of three months while I was backpacking through Peru and Bolivia, I had a recurring, vivid dream of waking up in my bed at home, walking down to my kitchen, and making myself a cappuccino. That’s it.

When I woke up shivering in a damp sleeping bag, or sweating under a mosquito net, my heart would sink just a little as the discomfort of my situation set in. I was eighteen years old, with a group of people I had just met, and I didn’t have my phone or any sustained contact to outside world. We trekked through rain and snow, and ate only potatoes for days at a time. I had no routine. I couldn’t eat fresh fruits or vegetables because of the risk of getting a parasite (a risk I did not avoid), and any time I wanted to drink water I had to stir a water-purifying pen around my water bottle for 90 seconds first. Even the kindle knock-off I brought with me broke within the first 2 weeks from water damage, so I had limited access to the escapism of books, and no access to TV or movies.

Instead, I wrote in my journal.

I recently found and reread this journal, and I noticed a pattern. Of course I missed my parents and friends, but I wrote about physical comforts much more often. And although there is quite a bit of venting in these journal entries, there is also an

appreciation for the little things I rarely think about anymore—the things I forget to be grateful for.

These are taken directly from my journal:

“Last night was most definitely a character-builder. Everything was wet and

muddy, we crammed four people into a three-person tent, and I had one of

the worst stomachaches ever. But once I hung up all my wet clothes and went

to bed I was actually pretty content because even though I was smushed and

uncomfortable, I was at least dry and warm.”

“After a little while of walking, the sun finally came out and I think I almost

cried but this time from happiness… I sat down on the dry grass, let the

strong sun beat down on me, and ate my lunch of leftover pasta. It felt so

luxurious and I was so happy in that moment. It felt so good to finally feel hot

after two days of feeling cold down to the very core of my body.”

“I like the fact that I’m reading a lot more, but I miss my phone and my

computer. I miss being able to relax in my bed and watch a movie or TV show

of my choice. I don’t miss those things all the time, I’m actually happy we

can’t have our phones on this trip, but I miss them right now.”

“The whole morning was really chill—we just worked on the garden and

listened to music. I finally got to play songs from my spotify!”


“Today was a good day. I finally bought avocado because we got to go to the

market in Tiquipaya for Spanish class, and I think that’s the only place you

can find avocado in Tiquipaya. I started off the morning with avocado toast,

or I guess it was just bread but it was still so good. Buying those avocados

was the best decision ever.”

“I should probably shower but the water is so fucking cold!! Last time it gave

me a headache and made my ears hurt. And somebody was just in there

anyway. That’s the problem sharing a bathroom and a shower with 20

people. At least I have peanut butter and avocados.”

“Then I washed some clothes which took forever. I’m never going to take

washers and dryers for granted ever again.”

Looking back on it six years later, I realize that I had prepared myself before the trip to give up the big, emotional comforts—being away from home and from my friends and family—but I was not prepared to give up the little, physical comforts, like choosing what to eat, listening to music, or taking a hot shower. Ironically, not having those little physical comforts took a bigger toll on me than anything else.


Perhaps it was because I was actually mentally, socially, and emotionally fulfilled by seeing some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life, by learning a new language, and by forming connections with people from entirely different walks of

life than me—the physical discomfort was simply a necessary condition to  experience those things.

But while that was an extreme case, it offered me an important lesson about balance—some of the best things in life require you to surrender some comfort, but some of the best things in life are those comforts themselves. After all, I’m writing this from my bed while a cinnamon and clove-scented candle burns next to me; I just took a hot shower, I’m wearing a fluffy robe, and I’m listening to Norah Jones… And I am so content.

Roses (original)Abby Walker
00:00 / 03:07
Rose 1_edited.png


Alexandra Gers

I saw Clemmie on a billboard yesterday. She was modeling for Prada– dressed in a black gown that swallowed her frame. She still had the same platinum bob that she’s had since childhood. When we were seven we played hairdresser and cut our hair with blunted scissors over the kitchen sink of her New York apartment. I was making a jagged chop straight across the back of her head when her mum found us. I wasn’t allowed to come over for a few weeks after that. Since then she’s worn her hair short. 


When we first moved to London, my family took the train out of the city to Richmond. We met Clemmie, her sister Daisy, and her mum for lunch in Richmond Park. We had a picnic of shortbread cookies, apricot jam, and cucumber sandwiches. Our parents had champagne. That afternoon our sisters made flower crowns and we all played hide and seek, running to the edge of the park. We pretended to be fairies who had to hide from our evil, older sisters. We squealed when they found us and ran for cover in the thicket, convinced we would have to live off the jam residue on our fingers. She made England feel like home. 

I hadn’t heard from Clemmie in a few years. When we were 18, she posted a photo on Instagram saying her dad had died from colon cancer. I didn’t even know he was sick. I sent her a message: Heard about your dad, sending my love with a red heart emoji. I told her if she was ever in London I would love to see her. She never replied.

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