On Being Lost

by Gabrielle Hick, Dominique Pariso & Patrick McMenamin

published March 18, 2016

Field Notes from an Exploration of the Rhode Island Craigslist’s Lost and Found Page

Somebody found a tool bag in Cranston, which “definitely belongs to a plumber or electrician,” but in order to reclaim the bag you must identify all the tools. 

A grandparent found three darts on Gano St. in Providence. If the darts mean a lot to you, describe them and you can have them back, “if not [he/she] can give them to [his/her] grandson.”

Sal is looking for a colander that she must have left on a bus stop bench in Pawtucket, across from the Slater Mill. There’s a $75 cash reward for its safe return—apparently it has sentimental value. 

A second-floor apartment was robbed in Woonsocket, the robber(s) taking between “200-300 record albums” and “binders of baseball cards.” 

Missing cat named “Plywood” in Johnston R.I. Disappeared February 25th. 

Update: He came home, a week later. Even though Plywood was an inside cat, he “survived the snow, thunder & lightning, the extreme elements.” Lost and then found: “don’t give up hope, people.” 

“Looking for my Dad” is the caption for a picture posted on the site. The dad in question, whose face is blurred out, has one hand resting on a silver Toyota. Apparently “he worked for a car dealership,” but the car he sold to his son or daughter “is a lemon. Doesn’t run anymore.” 

Another father is looking for his “lucky hat.” Posted online by a helpful son or daughter, the notice says that he “was driving his car with the top down on 95 South near the 6-10 connector” when a gust of wind blew the hat right off of his head. Apparently he is “totally distraught without it.” If you catch a flash of blue while you’re driving down the highway, it might be a hat, a lucky one. “Please stop and pick it up.” 

A “lovely dove flew away she’s all white with a little black on her tail very friendly.” If you’re in the Manton/Olneyville area, keep an eye out for a dove that strikes you with its particular comeliness. –GH



Labyrinths and Maizes

The first ever modern-day corn maze was the brainchild of Don Frantz. He constructed it at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania. His website,, boasts that the designs are both: “The original and still the best … getting people lost since 1993!” It should also be noted that this is the official maze of The Farmer’s Almanac. Corn mazes conjure images of sugar-addled kids running around fairgrounds; too short to get on the rust bucket rides named after verbs and natural disasters like The Zipper or The Cyclone or, the more scientific sounding, Gravitron. The kids’ energy fueled by endless gastronomical options: cotton candy, candy apples, funnel cake, shaved ice, gyros, corndogs, pizza, curly fries, popcorn, etc. 

Although, if we want to take it back a bit, the corn maze is really just an extension of the hedge maze made popular in England during the Middle Ages. Noble people constructed these mazes, elaborate and decadent, in gardens to entertain guests and pass the time. 

Go back further still: you’ll see that after the fall of the Roman Empire mazes got flattened out, taken from three-dimensional structures to paintings made on the floors and walls of spiritual buildings. These symbolic mazes evolved into metaphors for sin or pilgrimage. Technically speaking, these patterns were more like labyrinths. The difference between a labyrinth and a maze has to do with entrances: a labyrinth should have only one, while a maze can have many. But they accomplish the same thing in the end, regardless of where you start. 

Rewind just a bit further and we’ll get to the mother of them all. The Labyrinth of Knossos. Daedalus, the original know-it-all, designed it for King Minos of Crete to house the Minotaur, the illegitimate consequence of Queen Pasiphae’s unholy union with a bull. It is said that Daedalus constructed the labyrinth so cunningly that he himself could barely manage to escape it after it was built. In the center housed the Minotaur, which Theseus managed to slay after being gifted a ball of thread by King Minos’ daughter. 

The last time I was in a corn maze, I saw a young, toe-headed kid launch himself at the wall of corn, his worldview still being shaped and deceived by cartoons; he hung suspended for one glorious moment as the stalks bent against his weight, before flinging him back down to Earth. Not gifted with a sense of direction or a sense for algorithms, I paid ten dollars to get lost for nearly two hours. Money well spent to simulate wandering. 

But here’s a hint, in case you ever get lost in a maze: don’t rely on anything as flimsy as thread. Instead, extend your arm, keep one hand, left or right, on the wall and follow it all the way out. –DP



“Love is lost” sang David Bowie in one of his last singles before we, too, lost such an alien pop star visitor. Harper Lee, Nancy Reagan, Antonin Scalia, losses to our cultural memory are piling up and—with them—re-evaluations of how and why we’re invested in certain icons. Pasts come leaking out and I find myself watching clips of Nancy Reagan saying wildly homophobic things about the AIDS crisis. Absently, I’m googling phrases such as “primaries update” and re-opening The Intercept’s “The Drone Papers” and glossing slowly over long lists of stats about US military investments and mass incarceration stats. A certain amount of time is lost.

Everything lost tends to sneak back up with the new. We find history showing us all the people who knew all along, who either wanted things to be lost or didn’t quite get how the whole process of history was about to stack up. (Exxon knew about climate change as early as 1977.)—A friend says there’s even a word for this, agnotology.

So maybe let’s take a minute to mention everything that’s not lost right now. Ice cream. Empanadas. Baklava. Falafel. The Downtown Boys. Making out standing up. Web comics. Sincere teenage zines. There’s lots of good things we hope are not forgotten.

And not to hedge, it’s worth mentioning what lets me publicly present such nice things. The College Hill Independent receives funding from and is predominantly staffed by students who attend Brown University. Ask any student activist worth their salt and they’ll tell you that the university only exists as it does by way of a very rich elite, sciences funded heavily by US military research initiatives, investments in corporations who own private prisons and coal mines, tax breaks and zoning laws that let it roll over lots of local Providence politics. (I’m serious when I say to ask someone, others can give you much more detailed figures about the mechanics of such complicity and listening to them is sort of the whole point to begin with.)

There’s a way thinking of such things that sticks me in the same kind of emotional morass as trying to think through what it feels like to be someone like the speechwriter for Donald Trump’s campaign. I want to say I have too many feelings and I don’t know where to put them but I know that’s unhelpful and expresses a specific set of privileges. Admitting complicity is not enough to becoming un-lost. The way responsibility and feeling get passed down in such a situation make it by and large impossible for direct emotional response to have much of a real value.

Where does any of this leave us? If I say lost I feel like I’m admitting a type of defeat and I’d be best to spend the rest of my time in a mush of scrolling feelings misdirected and useless. Suddenly I’ve found myself scoping out too fast, my hands no longer run along any kind of corn-maze walls. Love is lost. -PM