The Latin phrase alma mater translates to “kind/nourishing mother” and does not, in specificity, refer to one’s university or college of attendance. The phrase was simply an epithet for the maternal gods of the Roman Empire and was often attributed to Ceres, she of agriculture and good harvest. It’s first known appearance in English was in 1600 when an English printer began to use the motto on a seal for the Cambridge press. It was first used in context as “one’s university” beginning in 1710 and has remained in our lexicon as such these three-hundred odd years despite its true definition having skewed off course. Recall its untampered definition, however, as an acclaim for maternal virtue, as praise for the provider. So who is our provider? Who nourishes these mouths and bodies? Who is our alma mater? I believe her to be Kim, owner and namesake of Kim’s Kitchen, of 88 Russell.
O muse! Sing in me and through me tell of that eternal woman, as constant as the eastborne wind, unmovable as the western ranges. Sing of she that rolls grain and seabound flesh, she who feeds from her tender heart, like the pelican, we her young. Sing of she who holds the cans and the cartons, but gives freely. She who stays coursed, a bark untossed, untempered in the tempest. She whose eyes do see but do not judge. She is just, she is righteous, she is good.
Give me your tired, your poor, your hungry masses yearning to eat cheap, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, your red-eyed, your dry-mouthed, your spirited and spiritless to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Laudemus (Latin: Let us praise):
A moment of pause for the $3.99 ten-piece California roll, may it reign forever and ever. A moment of pause for the half-off day-old sushi. A moment of pause for the six flavors of Arizona stocked. A moment of pause for Andre brand champagne.
In a fit of rapture and panic, I ran the half-mile from Frye to Kim’s for a veggie roll, minutes before closing time. At my arrival, Kim informed me that she had extended her hours to midnight for us and in that moment I felt real maternal love, matribus amant.
Kim’s is situated at the eastern ridge of our campus and as the sun rises and opens a new day, Kim’s hours begin.
I can’t remember the other guy’s name. I feel really bad because he’s just as nice and always tries to make conversation. It might be Charlie but I can’t ask him because I’ve seen him so many times. He might know my name. Where’s the respect in that? On the topic of names, I don’t think I know Kim’s last name. I like the mononym. It makes her mythical. Hamlet. Achilles. Kim. I should still know it though. I feel bad. I am flawed. I am imperfect. Kim is not.
All of these feelings are mostly sincere (bar the mock epic). Kim’s is a constant that does not disappoint or startle. I think we care about Kim and Kim cares about us. She is our mother.
Inspirations: The Odyssey’s invocation, inscription at base of Statue of Liberty