Senem’s Coffee & Tea House, Broadway Street
Marlon, Designer, at Wilde’s on Broadway Street
Mikaela taking a photo of Super Obama, Broadway Street
Parker, C.J., Marlon, and Mikaela at Pasta Palazzo on Halsted Street
Mikaela and Marlon
Chicago Marathon, Lake Shore Drive
What happens at 3Elements Review headquarters after submissions are closed? We like to get the publishing party started, that’s what! So last weekend I boarded a Megabus from Des Moines to Chicago, photocopies of submissions bursting against the seams of a faded folder, nearly a hundred paper wings contemplating flight. Excited to be en route to the Windy City, I looked forward to collaborating to make our debut volume a reality.
When the bus rolled into Union Station a little after 11 pm, I felt accomplished, both having combed through every accepted submission and sneaked in a bit of sleep. Mikaela (Executive Editor) and Marlon (Creative Director) were kind enough to pick up this Iowa girl in their car. I am especially thankful for that because Union Station felt shockingly crowded and strangely surreal.
Already disoriented from an abrupt end to my cramped, muscle-stiffening nap, I emerged haltingly from the bus to an incomprehensible, almost absurd scene. Duffel bags and backpacks plopped from the bowels of the bus, and a fidgety throng of soon-to-be travelers itched and bucked to board one of the massive, sputtering beasts. I don’t believe I could have navigated myself anywhere good in my somnambulant state. I pawed at my luggage and lumbered along as Mikaela led the way through the crowd to Marlon in their car. Even if she hadn’t kindly grabbed my heaviest bag, she could have led me anywhere, and I would have followed—a promise of wine, good conversation, and some actual leg room awaiting me once I reached their home. I pinched myself awake to take in the city lights on the drive toward Lake Michigan.
The next morning dawned quickly, and we sauntered through the neighborhood to a coffee shop where we edited and wrote, caffeinated ourselves and chatted, organized and classified, plotted and planned for hours, refining our vision and fine-tuning our process for future issues. Industry eventually gave way to weary eyes and general exhaustion, so we celebrated our hard work with a couple of beers and then dinner at a great little Italian restaurant where I splurged on jalapeño gnocchi with Italian sausage (hot stuff!). Everybody else’s food looked appetizing (especially Parker’s cheesecake), but mine was so delectable, the flavor obliterated any other memory of others’ orders. I must thank you, Chicago; I appreciate your consistent ability to satisfy my foodie taste buds!
In the morning, Mikaela and I were hopelessly trapped by the marathon, unable to meet the other editors at a planned location, so we hunkered down in one of the only coffee shops accessible to us. We made quick work of what we could accomplish so I could rush off to catch the Megabus back home.
I am riding that bus now, reflecting on the weekend as an autumn sun sets across brittle-bleached cornfields. I confess to a sense of inebriation at the potent concoction of conflicting emotions that effervesce to the surface of my cocktail thoughts: excitement, anxiety, trepidation, and (especially) gratitude. I am thankful for the passion and commitment of my wonderful colleagues. 3Elements is a labor of love. We work on this literary magazine because we believe in its vision and in the value of the arts—literary and otherwise. I also reserve a heaping helping of gratitude for those who answered our first 3Elements challenge. We never imagined we would receive so many artful and varied responses to our prompt—we hoped, but didn’t quite suspend all disbelief until they came pouring in. Now we can barely wait to share the talented writers and artists who fill the pages of our debut issue (to be released on October 31st). And we’re psyched to see what you’ll do with the elements for the December issue!