“in the key of giving” by Sasha on her couch

Thursday August 30, 2012
5 minutes
from the front cover of Fifty-Five Plus Magazine
July/August 2012 GTA edition

I’ve reconsidered Grade Five and instead I am going to hitchhike to Alaska. It’s possible. I have researched, I have the map printed out, and if you’re concerned about my warmth please don’t be, I got that goose jacket from Nana for Christmas. Don’t ask the typical Mom and Dad questions of “why” and stuff, okay? You won’t be pleased by the answer. I’d prefer to go without much fuss and let you live in the depressing mystery of it while still maintaining your manicured and veneered existence. I’m not judging you! I’m simply telling you know it is! From my perspective, yes… From my perspective. You’ve still got Arthur and Ingrid. Two kids is better than three anyway. Five is an awkward number for a family. Four is much nicer. You’ll all fit comfortably in the Corolla… With Dusty on the weird seat in the middle. Maybe then he won’t bark the whole way to the cabin, if he gets his own seat! I have one request before I go… I need my University fund. I need full access. That’s why I’m not leaving until Monday. You can arrange a meeting at the bank first thing, before work. Please put it into a checking account, withdraw three hundred dollars cash, and get my a bank card for the rest. You’ll be able to check online to make sure I’m not spending it on candy or comics but on necessities like propane and hamburger meat.

“Who can remember” by Sasha at her desk

Wednesday August 29, 2012
5 minutes
A quote by Margaret Atwood
in the Sun Magazines Sunbeams

Last night I dreamt that she was safe, that she was back, that she still had braces and knobby scabbed knees and would leave cereal on the counter… It’s not the first time. I have variations on this dream a lot… The time changes, it’s not time as we know it, it’s fluid. She’s a baby, she’s a four-year-old, she’s crawling into my bed with nightmares about Big Foot, she’s fifteen and has purple streaks in her hair. Sam was never a bad kid. You need to know that she was never a bad kid… She met Justin when she was in Grade Ten and from what I could see she fell pretty hard for him. She never talked about it, just that she was going to his place or was meeting him somewhere. I only met him once, when I came to pick her up at that movie theatre. I don’t even think they’d seen a movie. It looked like I surprised them. Sam reluctantly introduced us and looked embarrassed by my fleecy and tights… She blushed when she said, “This is my Mom,” like she wished it wasn’t true. Justin shook my hand but wouldn’t really make eye contact. He was probably high for all I know. Sam was very good at hiding it. That’s why it took me so damn long to figure it out. You probably think that I’m not a good mother, couldn’t keep track of my kid, let her fall to far off…

“in the key of giving” by Julia on the subway going west

Thursday August 30, 2012
5 minutes
from the front cover of Fifty-Five Plus Magazine
July/August 2012 GTA edition

Her voice sounded like Christmas. Maybe it was the words or something, you know, that she was using, but Christmas is the definite feeling she was conveying.
Weird, right? Given that it’s not even September yet and the leaves, for the most part, are still up on the trees.
Maybe it was something seasonal like hot chocolate or mulled wine that her voice sounded like and not Christmas because nothing is Christmas. Christmas is only Christmas because of the spiced pine and eggnog and pink lights and whatever.
Her voice, to me, sounded like home.
Like the place I go to visit my parents home, the place I grew up in for seven years but then moved from and only come back on Christmas home.
The one that makes you think that there are no other options but to pick a tree and bake a goddamn apple pie.
Or whatever pie, right?
Depends on what kind of family you had.
Maybe there’s no pie and just tin cans being shot one by one with a pellet gun.
Maybe there’s pie but that’s all there is because turkey isn’t a think at your house but apple pie with vanilla ice cream definitely is.

“Who can remember” by Julia on the subway going west

Wednesday August 29, 2012
5 minutes
A quote by Margaret Atwood
in the Sun Magazines Sunbeams

Don’t have time for pleasantries, the ‘His’, ‘How are yous’, the Oh, and your name is?
I don’t even care what your name is. I know we’ve met, I remember your face, that’s it, let’s move on.
I’ve acknowledged your presence, enough.
I have a job to do. And that may seem like one of those things that crazed hit men say, but fuck you, it’s true, and I’m not one of those people who do things half-assed.
My job is to protect certain people, make other people look smarter than they are, and on occasion, wear a fancy fucking tie and a 3 piece suit.
I’m not here to make friends.
I’m here to get paid.
You may find me callous, insincere, closed off, bitter, abrasive, whatever.
I am those things but it doesn’t keep me up at night, I’ll fucking tell you that. What keeps me up is playing back the encounters I’ve had in one day and trying to put faces to names and names to occupations and so on and so on.
So guess what!
I just fucking don’t do it.
I pop a couple of T3s and I hit the hay like a champion horse after a race.
I’m a big fucking boy now.
I don’t waste my time trying to be nice to people I could give a fuck about.

“They put in punishing hours,” by Sasha at her desk

Tuesday August 28, 2012
5 minutes
Empire of Illusion
Chris Hedges

they waited for the sun to come up
to shake her magnificent fist
and say
they waited for permission to start
to fail
to fall
they waited for the now be the then
and for the then to be the way back when
they waited with pursed lips
and full pockets
their hands were in there
amongst a found penny and a few grains of sand
they waited for the snow to come
thick and white like lies
they waited because the had nothing else to do
they started carving dreams into the skin of their forearms
buffalo over cliffs
no one beneath
monkeys swinging between light and dark
they waited for a mistake and a reconciliation
and a mistake and a truce
they waited for the sweet smell of spring
a lilly of the valley
so brave
she risks everything
to grow

“They put in punishing hours,” by Julia on her couch

Tuesday August 28, 2012
5 minutes
Empire of Illusion
Chris Hedges

my throat was so itchy i wanted to lick your 5 o’clock shadow and just be done with it.
you said it was a bad idea.
you were right, so what?
someone once told me not to eat eggs that were past the expiry date and i did and i’m still here so who do i trust when it comes to avoiding these so called bad ideas?
never once, never twice.
someone said that to me one time too and if you can be the first to tell me how much glue he was sniffing well then you’d sure win the prize of go fuck yourself and also maybe a basket of fresh raspberries from the garden.
too many little quips every now and again, about the future or whatever, and the rest of our lives or something.
thinking tonight i’m going to wait for you to fall asleep so i can pluck all of the hairs out of your chin and get that satisfaction of the root being yanked out.
i asked if i could do this to you when you were awake and you said no so here i am trying to accommodate you as always.
they’re the ones, the ones who do all of the deciding, that are the most unhappy.
did you know that?
they can’t give their smiles because they have to spend their afternoon smoke breaks selling the idea that someone else could have it all.
and by they i mean who ever you want it to mean.

“orange & cognac” by Sasha on the Queen car going west

Monday August 27, 2012
5 minutes
the label of a Grand Marnier bottle

We throw good parties. It’s important to her. She likes that stuff – napkins with little blue forget-me-nots, Kobe sliders, sushi with sesame seeds sprinkled on top. “Don’t forget that Monica and Bill are coming over tonight, hon,” she said this morning, putting a bagel in my hand and kissing my cheek. We got married too damn young. Besides the point now. Pumpernickel. Who likes it anyway? I knew I had a meeting at six but that it would be a quickie. The client was late. I called on my way home. “What the fuck, Al?” She whispershouts into the phone. I can hear her heels. She’s walking out of the living room and into the kitchen so that Monica and Bill won’t have the slightest idea that she’s pissed. “I’m sorry. My last client was late!” I say for the second time. “I don’t care! I told you that…” I hear her opening the stove. “What are we having?” I say. She hangs up. Before I get out of the car I close my eyes and count to ten, like the therapist said I should do. I feel a bubble of rage caught in my stomach. I count to twenty. It’s not moving. I keep counting. My cellphone rings. “Where the hell are you, Al? We’re going to start eating without you. This is a huge joke. You said you were leaving the office forty minutes ago! What the fuck, AL?” I am past two hundred now.

“Something rare and wonderful” by Sasha at her desk

Sunday August 26, 2012
5 minutes
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Dave Eggers

I knocked on the door of the hotel room. It smelled like pee… and falafel. I’d seen this John before, but it had been awhile. My hair colour had changed, my breasts sagged a millimeter lower, I no longer wore lipstick. There he was. His face looked more tired, more sad. “Destiny…” He wore a collared, striped blue shirt and khaki shorts. I reminded myself to smile. He had a bottle of expensive champagne and quickly went to pour us some. “Pop the bottle!” He shouted at me. There weren’t glasses. Only disposable coffee mugs. “I don’t mind,” I said. We drank champagne and he eyed the bruise on my lower thigh. “What happened?” he asked, after awhile. “I walked into the coffee table at my parent’s place – ” I stopped myself. Too much information. He liked it. “Poor baby…” He said. “My wife bruises like a peach.” Silence. “Is she fair?” I knew she was. I remembered him telling me about her freckles. He likes women with freckles. “Something rare and wonderful about red-heads,” he’d always say. Too bad I wasn’t one anymore. Maybe he was disappointed.

“orange & cognac” by Julia at Sambuca Grill

Monday August 27, 2012 at Sambuca Grill
5 minutes
the label of a Grand Marnier bottle

Liquid sugar.
No, courage.
Right. Forgot.
Liquid courage.
A tattoo on my self-esteem. “Permanent Failure” it likes to remind me.
Sipping on a cocktail to forget myself.
Liquid distraction.
Liquid I Told You So waiting to happen.
You left.
That’s one true thing.
One good thing is you didn’t say goodbye.
Dead maybe.
That’s easier than if you tried to see me.
I’m going to write a letter to your mother and beg her to tell me what you’re doing.
I know you’re not dead.
I pretend you are sometimes when I’m praying.
I pray to you as if you were dead and not just gone.
Liquid Forget Me Not.
I won’t.
I can’t.
Your socks used to match the days of the week.
Why did you do that?
It was easy to tell if you didn’t come home.
Same socks.
Wednesday socks on Thursday.
I’m a sound sleeper.
Lucky you.
Liquid dreaming.
Liquid REM sleep.
Your mother might be dead too…
Then I’ll find you some other way.
One more true thing:
You are not at the bottom of this bottle.
You never were.
And yet, I look here.
I’m not at the bottom of it either but it’s nice to think that something is.
Liquid searching.
Liquid apology.

“Something rare and wonderful” by Julia at her desk

Sunday August 26, 2012
5 minutes
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Dave Eggers

I saw two dead squirrels on my way home today. In the same four minutes from the subway to my house, there were two dead squirrels. Now I know I just said that, but you’ve gotta listen to me. It’s important that you understand the significance of seeing two dead squirrels within minutes of each other. The fact that there was even one is something but two? Two is something’s something if you know what I’m saying.
The first one had been dead for a while. It was almost just a cage of matted hair and claws. It was underneath some garbage and it looked like it had been struck by lightening or something the way it was all sprawled out. I stayed there and I watched it for like two minutes, which on a nine minute walk home is a really long time. I stared at it and I wondered why I was drawn to something so ugly but then I kept walking so I guess I really didn’t care that much. Then I rounded the corner and there was dead squirrel number two. Remember I saw two dead squirrels? Not just one. Two squirrels. Two dead ones. Right? And this one was newly dead. Or so I thought because its fur was so shiny it looked like a stuffed animal. There were flies around it and it wasn’t moving so I just thought, another stroke of lightening? But I watched this one too and it was actually still breathing. I must have stayed there for three or four minutes this time; thinking to myself, is it a good idea if I touch it?

“undeniably Ossington” by Sasha on the Queen car going West

Saturday August 25, 2012
5 minutes
from a sandwich board at Queen and Shaw

My new thing is running a lukewarm bath and holding my breath under water for as long as I can. You find me like this and it scares you. “What the fuck?” you say. It’s like you’re calling me from another world, where things matter less and cost more. I arise. You’re brushing your teeth. “Relax,” I say. I should have made up a lie. “I’m practising for learning the didgeridoo!” or “I want to swim across Lake Ontario!” but I don’t. I dry myself off and think about the time when you used to look at my body like something to be taken. I rub lotion on my legs less because they’re dry and more because I’ve now made up my mind to seduce you. “What is that?” You say, pointing to my ass. “What is what?” I unsuccessfully try to see what you’re talking about. “What’s that red thing?” “I don’t know… A spider bite?” “A “bug bite”? Why couldn’t you just have said “bug bite”?! Why did you have to say “spider”!” You’re shouting. You’re spitting toothpaste everywhere. I wrap my towel around me and leave the bathroom without saying anything. “Are you expecting me to drain the water from your fucking bath?!” I switch on the radio in our bedroom and turn up the volume.

“create a variety of shapes.” by Sasha at her desk

Friday, August 24, 2012
5 minutes
The Cooking Ladies’ Best Little No Cook Cookbook

Rebecca shakes her head but says “yes…” She wrinkles her nose and looks up. “It’s going to rain,” she says, “we should probably start making our way home.” The way she says “home” fills me with polaroid pictures of our children and blueberry pancakes. We start walking. The polaroids fade. It starts to rain. “Told you,” says Rebecca. I remember that she’s seven years younger than me. “We don’t have to do this if you don’t want too…” I say. “Shut up, Rob,” she responds. My apartment is only a few blocks from the park. I quickly go over the mess inventory. I know there are dishes in the sink. I know that I haven’t vacuumed in weeks. I know that there’s a pile of dirty laundry in the corner of my room. Rebecca is getting wet from the rain and I think she’s the most incredible creature to ever live, to ever walk this asphalt, to ever look at me with running mascara and a slightly see-through tank top. We get inside and I offer her a towel. She goes to the bathroom and I run to my room and shove the desperately needing to be washed clothes in the cupboard. She catches me. “I don’t care about mess, dude. You should see my place… Although that’s mostly my roommates…” I didn’t know that she had roommates. She’s looking at the photos tacked to the wall. “Who is this?” She’s pointing to a picture of Liz I couldn’t bring myself to take down. “My sister…”

“undeniably Ossington” by Julia on the 7 going north (and by accident)

Saturday August 25, 2012
5 minutes
from a sandwich board at Queen and Shaw

It was something blue–something bluey-grey that reminded me that I should call you. I’m not sure if it was because your eyes were bluey-grey or your bedroom was both blue and grey, or if the sky at dusk was whispering your name.
I’ll be honest: I don’t think it was any of those things…specifically, I mean. Specifically speaking they had nothing to do with it. But the feeling of bluey-grey like a song with an intro that just reeks of you. That was what I had. Just a feeling, which doesn’t sound like much…but believe me, it is enough.
I imagined myself telling you this and you understanding and saying, ‘Ah, yes, the old bluey-grey feeling,’ and it would just be so easy. That made me want to call you even more because I had convinced myself that you would be happy to hear from me after all this time and after all those things I said I needed to do, but alone, not with you, to figure out who I was.
I am not that same person anymore. But what kills me is that you might not be either and this bluey-grey stuff won’t matter. You won’t be grateful for my call.

“Make cheques payable to:” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday, August 23, 2012
5 minutes
Sasha’s TD Visa Statement

If it wasn’t December maybe I never would have done it. But there’s this sense of ending… of finishing… December screams “JUST DO THAT THING YOU’VE BEEN SCARED TO DO!” If you don’t agree, that’s fine. I’m just speaking for myself. Don’t you want to start January with a clean slate? A new year a new page in the book? Nevermind.
I knew that Charlie wakes up around eight, brews coffee, takes a pee… Maybe not in that order but you get my drift. He opens the front door to check the weather (the old fashioned way) and he calls his Gran May. She’s one hundred and four. He’s always done this. He was living in Whitehorse, now. I’d never been up there. We hadn’t even talked in almost eleven months… I don’t think you can really say that we were in a “fight”. We just had “differences of opinion”. When I bought that damn plane ticket I knew that I was a goner. In multiple ways. Who goes to Whitehorse in December anyway? This girl. Good grief. I took a taxi from the airport to Charlie’s place. It was seven fifty three. I made the cabbie wait with me (aka hide me), and he even turned the metre off, bless his heart. Bang! Eight oh three, the door opens and Charlie looks up at the sky. I run out of the cab and up his front steps.

“create a variety of shapes.” by Julia at Cafe Novo

Friday, August 24, 2012 at Cafe Novo
5 minutes
The Cooking Ladies’ Best Little No Cook Cookbook

Lara was drawing circles in the sand with her big toe. She was looking down at it and thinking that she has the same toe as her mother. Not her whole foot; just the toe. She didn’t know if she was okay with this or not. Her mother’s feet were beautiful but when you took her big toe out of context, it wasn’t the most appealing looking thing. And that’s what it seemed like when it was on Lara’s father’s foot. Out of place and just wishing no one would notice. She was drawing her name, then scratching it out, then trying again only bigger this time. She couldn’t get the L to look like it was connected to the A and it was frustrating because it was an easy task and she was just messing it up because she was thinking about it too much. Lara wanted to go home. Enough time here in paradise with big floppy hats and market fresh vegetables. She craved the city, the wildness, the passion for urgency and quick walking. Here, in the land of the middle aged or retired, Lara felt like she was only allowed to walk at one pace which was just slow and nothing else. She starting tracing the L and then the A. Over and over she traced, wishing the L were a J and the rest of it was something completely different.

“Make cheques payable to:” by Julia at Starbucks

Thursday, August 23, 2012 at Starbucks
5 minutes
Sasha’s TD Visa Statement

Boob job. Wanted a boob job since I was old enough to know what it was. And no, I’m not talking about the surgery. That would be unnecessary as I have a great rack so that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is I need to get a job that flaunts my boobs. Forget Hooters. That place is a real piece of shit. I’m just vying or the position of sexy secretary or hot legal aid receptionist. Something that Erin Brockovitch would high five me so hard over. Like graduating without actually studying; just showing strategic cleave. I’m not about to become a stripper because obviously I have an education, but why else do I have these suckers if I’m not going to get more awesome things from them.
People will not even be able to judge me because they’ll just say “well, where is she supposed to put them?”
I will either work for straight men or lesbians who like a decent sized titty bar. And they will not care about a word that comes out of my mouth so I can spew bullshit all day and get away with it. I’m just tired, you know? Of trying to dress conservatively and get ahead with my brain. That shit’s overrated.
That shit is for idiots.

“Wherever it takes you” by Julia at Sambuca Grill

Wednesday August 22, 2012 at Sambuca Grill
5 minutes
A quote by Annie Dillard

Bonjovi is the man I’m going to marry. My mom will be proud because I am the underdog in our family and she will feel like she’s taught me something that was hidden for a while, like during high school and university, but is finally deciding to show up and help a sister out.
I’m talking about charisma. Je ne sais quoi. All that lambshit that my mother thinks makes a woman into a ‘catch’. She avoids talking about looks with me because I’m the one with a birthmark smack in the middle of my face. She still says I’m cute but never pretty. Which is true because I’m not. But that won’t stop me.
I’m planning to blind Bonjovi and then he’ll be so devastated by his new deformity that he will need someone to console him and I know what it’s like to be outcast for my face.
So then he’ll learn to depend on me throughout all of my random, unselfish acts of kindness in leading him around and believing in him even though he has no eyes.
Then I’ll be able to get him to rely on me to put his pretty hair in order because he won’t trust his assistants who now just want to steal his money because he’s blind and can’t catch them.
I haven’t told my mom how I’m going to blind him yet, but she’s really on board for the idea and hopes his genes are stronger than mine.

“Stick out your tongue!” by Julia at her desk

Tuesday August 21, 2012
5 minutes
Little Miss Giggles
Roger Hargreaves

Stick our your tongue.
Did you know that Winter is coming? Not quite yet but he always does so it’s fair to assume he’s on his long way here. What does winter do on his journey? Does he stop to take pictures at a lighthouse? Does he help an old lady with her groceries?
Does he just sleep and really he doesn’t have to go far at all? Just wakes up and rolls out of his bed and into our yards?
Winter, I think, has a nickname too. Spring, Summer, and Fall call him Wint for short or Winnie when he’s being facetious.
Summer has a crush on Winter because she thinks they’d be the power couple of the seasons. The celebrity duo of the whole year until there are no more years.
So always.
Summer is looking for the real deal. 100% committed relationship. She thinks snow beaches could be a really great love child between them.
But Winter, he plays it cool. Ha. He doesn’t get too close because he knows everything he touches turns to ice and a little bit of anger.
He knows, and yet he’s coming anyway.
Stick out your tongue. I dare you.

“We find ourselves” by Julia on the subway going west

Monday August 20, 2012
5 minutes
A quote by May Sarton
What do I want to be when I grow up?

We find ourselves swimming in dark pools of regret. That’s where we end up. That’s not where we started out.
Where we started was in a barn somewhere, sitting on a stack of hay and trying to make our voices carry across to each other in only a whisper. Things like that made us feel bigger than we were. Bigger than big.
We knew then we’d have the ability to be even bigger because our wants were specific and our vision was clear. Then along the road somehow, after perhaps too many hitch hiking experiences and the loss of all our material possessions, we started making choices that connected ourselves to ourselves and no one else. We stopped being so big with our dreams because we were told no a couple of times and the ‘yeses’ were all consequence based after all. But we took them anyway because they sounded better than the ‘i don’t knows’ or the ‘not right nows’. We stopped holding hands with the idea of ‘seize the moment’ and started to forget the past while searching only for the future. We let go of each other and kept nothing but our sorry suits.
Now we swim.

“wherever it takes you” by Sasha at the Laundromat

Wednesday August 22, 2012
5 minutes
A quote by Annie Dillard

Tom makes maps. He’s twelve. He has a preference for vanilla over chocolate and beans over broccoli. He chooses only solid colour polo shirts to wear. Collar down. (He’s not a douche, okay.) He doesn’t so much “make” maps as… copy them. He uses his father’s National Geographic Atlas of the World. Printed in 1995. He uses slightly transparent paper so that when things get really complicated and intricate he can trace. But he doesn’t make a habit of it. This rainy August afternoon Tom is drawing a map of Winnipeg. He likes printing “Regina” because… he’s twelve! Come on! He shades the prairies a light green. His mother comes in and offers him lunch. “No thank you,” says Tom. He never mixes food and map-making. Amateur mistake. “Shall I make you something and leave it on the counter for whenever you’d like to take a break?” asks his mother. She’s generally concerned with Tom’s slight anemia and extreme skinniness. He nods. She peeks over his shoulder. “Looks great, Tom!” She says. “I know.” Tom responds. His mother is terribly insecure and always looking for love. It bores Tom, who has greater concerns on his mind. At four pm Tom eats half of the tuna fish sandwich that his mother has left on the counter. A fruit-fly sits atop the other half. Tom wrinkles his nose.

“Stick out your tongue!” by Sasha at her desk

Tuesday August 21, 2012
5 minutes
Little Miss Giggles
Roger Hargreaves

As soon as I got there I knew it was a mistake. But I stayed. One, because I’m not a quitter and two, because I wanted to see if you actually looked as good as your photo. You were thirteen minutes late. No, you were fourteen, cuz I was a minute late myself. I don’t drink so we met at a fancy coffee shop in Yorkville. On your lunch break. I knew it was you when you walked in and I was instantly glad that I wore the purple blouse instead of the v-neck. Much more feminine. I somehow knew you’d be down for that. ‘Deb?’ You hadn’t doctored your photo and it wasn’t from eight years ago. ‘Hey! Phil!’ I said it like you were my cousin and we used to have water fights or something. You sat down and then stood back up to go get your coffee. ‘Need anything?’ you asked, indicative of your nervousness as I had a coffee and a croissant on the table in front of me.

“We find ourselves” by Sasha at Sorauren Park Farmer’s Market

Monday August 20, 2012 at Sorauren Park Farmer’s Market
5 minutes
A quote by May Sarton
What do I want to be when I grow up?

We find ourselves in the middle of a city that neither of us recognize, per se, but that I know we’ve been in before. Something about the smell of the streets and the wrinkles around the eyes of the shopkeepers. We look for a place to sleep. “Not on the edge,” you say, “I’m exhausted of sleeping on the edge.” “I know that,” I respond, looking up at the cumulous clouds. They are laughing at us, I think, getting so worked up over nothing.

You wake up in the middle of the night. “I’m hungry,” you say. I sigh. I open up my backpack and dig around in the front pockets for some almonds or dried apricots. My tired fingers find half of a chocolate bar but I search past it, I don’t want to share that. “Nevermind,” you say after awhile, “let’s just sleep.” We aren’t on the edge. We’re under a bridge. There’s no traffic at all. In fact, I’d call it quiet. I stretch out my arm so you can rest your head on me, like I used to do when you were still small. You need new pants. Your legs are longer than I’d ever thought possible.

“with a robe of honor” by Julia at Factory Theatre

Sunday August 19, 2012 at Factory Theatre
5 minutes
Ayaz And the King’s Pearl
Rumi tr. by Coleman Barks

I swear if you didn’t speak I could have fallen asleep in the nook of your arm and body. The one you said I could have. Then you open your mouth and say, let’s get a dog. I wake from my half sleep and first I laugh and then I scowl because I DO NOT WANT A PET, I WANT TO SLEEP RIGHT NOW.
You say you’re sorry, which I believe, but in my current state I am a bit unimpressed by life and everything in it.
You wait until my period’s over and then you tell me I shouldn’t wear my hair with the clip like that.
I tell you thanks for being so honest and then I punch you right in the penis because that is what happens when you’re honest with me.
I can’t take all the lies, or the truths, so I just ball my hands into fists and let them go like new born babies. THEY CAN’T CONTROL THEIR LIMBS! And you can’t control how often you say things that I simply cannot stand.
But again, you were speaking. You’re always speaking. Now I know to be worried if, Heaven Forbid, you ever do stop. Then I’ll send out the search party in your brain and tell them to keep their eyes peeled for a broken heart or a rejected kiss turned hug instead.

“with a robe of honor” by Sasha at Trinity Bellwoods Park

Sunday August 19, 2012 at Trinity Bellwoods Park
5 minutes
Ayaz And the King’s Pearl
Rumi tr. by Coleman Barks

On her birthday he will bestow her with an azure blue cape of goodness and a gold bracelet that he bought from a street vendor in Crete. He will sing her songs in a language they made up themselves, in their first year, when things were still quiet and safe. It’s not complex, their language, but it is secret. They are the only two that speak it in the whole world. There’s something wonderful about that, isn’t there? The song will be neither melancholy or uptempo. She will imagine a woman dancing to it, in a forest, wearing a white dress. She will close her eyes and listen to his deep, round voice. He sings well. She wishes he would do so more often. It’s like he is saving it, his deep, round voice, for a special occasion like a pair of silver cuff links with topaz and ruby. She opens her eyes when he stops singing. She can tell that the song isn’t done. Tears are streaming down his cheeks. ‘Brodvich ickatichliebe doustitch nanotie dorwifth,’ he says. ‘I love you beyond song and words.’ She laughs and kisses his tears away, leaving small red spots on his face from her lipstick, a painting of adoration.

“simple construction” by Julia on the 505 going west

Saturday August 18, 2012
5 minutes
Erin Templeton’s business card

It’s a simple construction of a moment, really.
Girl sits on streetcar, enjoying her Miriam Toews novel and thinking about doing a hot oil treatment on her hair later.
A man wearing a smile and a corduroy suit sits in front of her, flailing his arms around and getting yelled at by the driver to keep his limbs inside the vehicle.
There. Moment constructed.
A simple moment, but a moment none the less.
She, the girl, notices his hat is lopsided but doesn’t think to think about it any further. She reads. She isn’t interested in old flaily arms.
He, the man, notices her and smiles, tries to make conversation about the book she’s reading (which he knows nothing about).
She smiles for a second, then remembers he’s a complete stranger and doesn’t owe him anything, then she stops. She resumes reading. He smiles and turns around.
Moment #2.
The girl now is is acutely aware that this man is singing loudly and still flailing. She reads, but he turns around again and says, I am Tevyeer. And I find you to be very hot. I’d like to invite you for a coffee.
The girl almost laughs in his face and says, I have a boyfriend.
He keeps smiling and says, tell him he has competition. And this time, it’s serious.
…That’s moment #3

‘simple construction’ by Sasha at Trinity Bellwoods Park

Saturday August 18, 2012 at Trinity Bellwoods Park
5 minutes
Erin Templeton’s business card

You taught me how to cut snowflakes out of recycled printer paper and not to care that there were strange numbers, left over, that would show up when we stuck them to the window and the light shone through.
You taught me how to add and subtract using rocks that we found by the lake and painted little animals on. “Add two cats and one monkey and how many do you have?” “Now take two giraffes away and?”
You taught me the joy of looking up a word in the dictionary and finding it. There will always be a dictionary on my shelf and I will use it. I will not let laziness and the constant availability of the Internet undermine your wisdom and lessons in patience.
You taught me the simple construction of a bunk bed for my dolls. Two small pieces of driftwood and four posts. A few nails. A hammer. They slept so soundly, Emmy and Bec. They loved their bed.
You taught me how to curl ribbons on birthday presents and the importance of handmade cards.
You taught me the necessity of “thank you” and “you’re welcome” and “nevermind”.
You taught me to find joy in words, and lists and how to squeeze laughter out of someone having a truly terrible day.
You taught me how to pooch out my belly so it looked like a beer gut or a pregnancy.
You taught me when to dive, headfirst, into a deep dark lake and when to wade in, one pinkie toe at a time.

“how cities should get things done.” by Sasha at Ideal Coffee

Friday August 17, 2012 at Ideal Coffee
5 minutes
the front page of The Grid
August 16-22, 2012 issue

There was nothing okay about the fact that it smelled like sewage. Concrete for as far as I could see. There was nothing alright about no place to find shade, no place to be carried by the current of the river, no place to see the expanse of the Milky Way. My first night here I couldn’t sleep. It was so loud. The traffic, the sirens, even voices on the street. I could hear what they were saying… They were saying things that didn’t matter. It was hot, too. That didn’t help. I smoked a bit and called my brother who was still on the Rez. He didn’t pick up. I didn’t know what I was doing here until six or seven months later when I met Lena. She had just shaved her head. She had these eyes that spoke a language I can’t even tell you about. She was born here and she loved this city. It was her mother. She took me to Cherry Beach and the Island and bought me a hoodie in Kensington Market. After not even a week of hanging with Lena I knew that I could figure this out. And then the dreams started. Otters swimming in oceans, never finding shore.

“Alterations & Repairs” by Sasha at her desk

Thursday, August 16, 2012
5 minutes
the Elite Cleaners sandwich board

Cynthia Woo always thought that she’d inherit her parent’s Dry Cleaning business. She was the eldest, she was smart, she was good with people, she was decent enough at math, she even knew how to work the cash register at the shop before she could count to two hundred in Spanish. Cynthia was born in Shanghai and her brother Trevor was born in Toronto. Their parents opened Elite Cleaners on Elm St. three years after arriving in Canada. Before that, they picked mushrooms, cleaned offices and constantly rubbed sleep from their eyes.

When Cynthia turned seventeen she realized that it was probably time to address the fact that she planned to get in on the dry cleaning. She sat her parents down. Each had a cup of tea. Cynthia had a Sprite, leftover from Friday when they’d had a small party for Cynthia’s aunt, who’d been the first to immigrate. “I want you guys to know,” said Cynthia, “I plan to work at the store as soon as I finish high school. I don’t desire to attend college or university. I don’t desire to travel. I want to work…” Her mother and father exchanged worried glances. “And I want you,” Cynthia smiled wide, “to go on vacation to Mexico like you’ve always wanted!”

“how cities should get things done.” by Julia at Christina’s Hair Studio

Friday August 17, 2012 at Christina’s Hair Studio
5 minutes
the front page of The Grid
August 16-22, 2012 issue

Chad kept coming over to my house and begging me to show him my underwear. I told him no and if he comes again I’ll scream so loud everyone in the whole city would hear and come RUNNING. When you’re seven, boys are very scared of girls and their meaningless threats. Even at that age they’d rather not see a girl lose her shit because boys are boys are boys and they never know what to do with it.
Chad smelled of chocolate chip cookies and his hair was so white he blended into the sky like a dead dandelion waiting to be wished upon and then blown, spreading its seed all over the place. I showed him my shooting star undershirt once and ever since then he was obsessed with seeing the rest. I guess I liked him coming over to visit but not in the undie-showing sense or anything.
One day he gave me his Batman eraser and I thought that meant we were in love or something.
Now I know he was just trying to bribe me into showing him the stars.
Chad’s older brother, Ben, had done the same thing to my older sister, Taryn, and she had warned me about the McCalister boys from the very beginning. I told her she didn’t have to worry about me. I wasn’t particularly amused by boys with such white hair.

“Alterations & Repairs” by Julia on her couch

Thursday, August 16, 2012
5 minutes
the Elite Cleaners sandwich board

I asked Pauly if he was still feeling like his arm wasn’t attached to his body and he said, today is better than yesterday. Yesterday when I asked Pauly how he was he said, good but there’s just this one thing with my arm. It feels like it’s not mine, but someone else’s. It feels like it’s not even real.
I squeezed it hard and I asked, do you feel this? And he said, sure, I feel it. And I said, great, everything’s okay then. But he wasn’t convinced. Fully functioning arms don’t necessarily feel good if they aren’t your own. I told him to make a fist and he said, that’s not what I mean. I said, maybe we should get some of your shirts altered to give you more room for your phantom arm. He said, Nora, that’s not as funny as you think it is and I told him I was sorry and that I wasn’t meaning to laugh at his expense. So I’m hoping the next time I ask Pauly how he’s feeling he just says, today is perfect, or, it comes and goes; today it’s gone. I wonder if it’s related to his diet or maybe the way he sleeps. Tonight in bed I plan to stay up all night and monitor him; see if he’s laying on it for a few hours to make it feel numb.

“now magnificently enhanced” by Sasha at her desk

Wednesday August 16, 2012
5 minutes
the back of The Lion King Special Edition Soundtrack case

I knew something was different about Jess when I saw her at Christmas. And it wasn’t just the high heels. We all went home, I mean, Diana, John, Jess and I, like usual, and there was that smell in my parents place. Trent stayed in Korea because he’s got that new girlfriend and won’t leave her side, apparently. He says so himself, on Skype and in emails. Maybe he’ll stay there, can you imagine? Jess went through that growth spurt three or four years ago. She got… hot, right? I mean, don’t you find a lot of really awkward kids turn out to be pretty hot adults? We were having coffee and Bailey’s on Christmas Eve morning and I couldn’t stop starting at her. Something was… different. I hadn’t seen her since Thanksgiving. Had she lost weight? No. She’s always been skinny. Had she… And then I realized. Nose job. Yup. Must be that millionaire boyfriend she keeps talking about. Or, no, wait. He’s not her boyfriend. They “hang out”. She couldn’t have the money for that! She’s in school! I was staring for awhile and she noticed. “What the fuck, Jane?” She asked, pouring more Bailey’s in her coffee. “You got a nose job…” I said, almost without an opinion. More of an observation. “I did not…” She said, but the way that she looked up at the ceiling betrayed her. Liar.

“now magnificently enhanced” By Julia on the subway going east

Wednesday August 15, 2012
5 minutes
the back of The Lion King Special Edition Soundtrack case

Bunny, I am telling you the truth, girl. He got an “enlargement.” I know, I know, I’m not saying it that loudly, don’t get all prudish on me. But seriously, Bun, I couldn’t make something like this up! It’s…bigger right now. He won’t even let me touch it because it’s sore! You think I’d be making that up!? I haven’t had sex in a week, Bun! Oh God. No one’s listening to me, stop worrying! What do you mean can I prove it? Bunny, he is usually pawing at me night and day! Now he just sits there and moans. It’s like he’s a cat in heat! I don’t know if cats actually moan, Bun, it’s an expression. Anyway I’m telling you, he did, so just for a second, would you mind putting this doubt on the back burner and out of my face please? Christ, Bunny: I’m telling you the truth and you’re making me feel like a liar, I swear. Has he told me? Here we go with the sass-mouth-disbelieving-attitude again! We went though this! He’s sore, it’s all swollen because I can see it through his sweat pants, and he’s trying to avoid contact with it! An injury! Ha! What injury? The only sport this man has played since we met is “hide the remote.” Come on, just admit it. You’re jealous because my man actually tries to please me!

“with pots and kettles dangling” by Sasha at her desk

Tuesday August 14, 2012
5 minutes
The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow Washington Irving

I blew rage in your face and told you that I hated you. I’ve never felt such fuzzy conviction or indestructible magnificent power but it’s mixed with something… Regret? It came as a burst of fire and then I felt instantly guilty. Guilt, not regret. I really did. I saw your face fall, The Great Wall of China. You’d experienced this kind of irrational, terrible behaviour before, with your mother, I think. But it’s worse now, because I’m usually tender and sweet and lots of other things like that which I can’t quite find the right word for… Especially now. And you love me. You walked away without saying anything. That always makes it so much worse. I heard pots and pans clanging in the kitchen and you switched on the radio. Jazz. Too smooth, too in time, too harmonic for right now. Fuck you. I wish that I could go back and erase it without leaving even the faintest outline. I can’t do this. I don’t know what you’re doing in the kitchen. Perhaps making spaghetti sauce. Or apricot jam. I’ll find a pile of small, black pits later and, on the table, I’ll arrange them into the shape of a heart.

“with pots and kettles dangling” by Julia at Starbucks

Tuesday August 14, 2012 at Starbucks
5 minutes
The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow Washington Irving

Millie was dying to tell me about her vacation in Norway. She was late because of the rain and I just knew she would be inappropriately dressed for it. Sure enough, Millie shows up in white skinny jeans and a halter top that has clearly been taken in to fit her tiny frame. I almost told her she looked good and then stopped myself when I remembered that I couldn’t remember what Millie’s idea of ‘good’ was. She couldn’t have been more than 102 lbs when we met up that day, but just in case, I kept my mouth shut. She flung herself down beside me at the restaurant so we were both facing the wet street. Millie was chatting away, not uttering even for a second a ‘how are you’ even though she knew my cousin has just passed away on Wednesday.
She was going on and on about the never ending sky and the Midnight Sun. It sounded great. But she was shaking whenever she’d pause to so much as inhale some more air before she permanently ran out. Suddenly she had my arm in hers and was drag-leading me to her car.
She had remembered the plant she had gotten for my aunt and it was sitting on the front seat like a forgotten passenger.
“Send her my condolences,” she mentioned as she opened the back door. She leaned over and opened my side’s back door as well.
“Get in.” she said.

“He almost cried,” by Sasha at her desk

Monday, August 13, 2012
5 minutes
The Beautiful People
William Saroyan

We were talking about the Nazis coming into his small Lithuanian town. I was fourteen. My Zadie couldn’t believe that I was taller than him. “Good genes,” he kept saying. He used a walker and smelled like an old man, a bit fishy, a bit musty, but my love for him grew every time we spent time together. “Zach!” he’d say, “Look at you!” as though he’d forgotten that I was growing and evolving. He told me that I reminded him of his brother, Chiam. I would never ask him questions about this time in his life. My dad had told me not too. “He’ll talk when he’s ready,” was the answer I always got. I loved history, I still do, so I had to repeatedly bite my tongue. I’d gone to Montreal to keep him company for the weekend. We were having breakfast. He spread cream cheese on his bagel, a very thin layer, and dotted it with lox. “Did you bring that tape recorder?” He asked me. “Yes, of course,” I said. It had become a habit. Every time I went to visit I brought a handheld recorder in case he started telling stories. It was something my dad had done with his grandfather and I’d grown up listening to the tapes like some kids listen to Raffi.

“that’s frightfully kind of you,” by Sasha in the car on Highway 2

Sunday, August 12, 2012
5 minutes
My Week With Marilyn
Colin Clark

When I first met Janet she was drenched from the rain. I was taken aback by her lack of desire to dry herself off and to order coffee, which was the intended plan. “I don’t want to be stinky!” She said and laughed like a small child. Her nose scrunched. When I showed her the layered gum I brought her, first because we’d talked about it, and second because it really is the best thing, she stopped smiling and said, “That’s frightfully kind of you, Dan.” Her eyes sparkled though. There was a laugh in there somewhere. Janet was six years younger than me. She didn’t mind that I had grown children or a bit of a belly. She didn’t mind that I could only come to Toronto to see her on weekends because my job meant that I had to be in Rochester. When I first went to Janet’s apartment it felt like my birthday. We’d already been on seven dates. She said that was her rule, now. I wondered what that meant her rule used to be before.

“the FAQs about food” by Sasha at the Timber House Country Inn

Saturday, August 11, 2012
5 minutes
The Starch Solution
John A. McDougal

It starts with a gurgle and it ends with a splash
It swirls in the centre and gets a little mashed
Breakfast lunch and dinner you always got the look
Morning noon and night you always wanna cook

I could start listing off the things that you do well
But it’s bubbling in the oven and I just don’t wanna tell
Take me to the market and buy me some leafy chard
Set the timer to four minutes and make the soft egg hard

I’m craving something raw and I’m craving something sweet
I’m not thinking about the clean-up just don’t care if it’s not neat
I go out to the garden and I pick some tomato and swiss chard
I’ll make you something tasty cuz it isn’t very hard

Stirring something tasty fine and good for you in a pot
I’ll never leave you hungry I’ll make you everything we bought

“He almost cried,” by Julia at the Bloor And Keele coin laundry

Monday, August 13, 2012 at Bloor and Keele Coin Laundry
5 minutes
The Beautiful People
William Saroyan

He’s a beauty, and he cries sometimes, so what, he’s a beauty and he also makes my soul dance.

He’s the perfect combination of perfect things all in one being. He’s so funny it’s not even funny. He’s so kind it hurts a little. He’s so generous he takes too much. He’s so understanding I can’t understand it.

He’s a beauty, and he cries sometimes, so what, he’s a beauty and he also makes my heart light up.

Met him on a street corner, he was selling sweet corn with his mother and older sister. He asked me what my name was because he said he couldn’t bear to go on forever without knowing. I told him forever was a long time and he smiled a smile so sweet it made his corn look like compost on a Tuesday morning.
At my place it’s always on a Tuesday.
He shook my hand like he might break it. Should have known it was a sign for future comings and goings on. Knew he’d hold my face like that one day. Gentle. Sincere. Knew he’d hold my life that way.

He’s a beauty, and he cries sometimes, so what, he’s a beauty.

“She’s shocked by the subject matter” by Sasha at Timber House Country Inn

Friday, August 10, 2012 at Timber House Country Inn
5 minutes
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Milan Kundera

She shakes her head because she doesn’t want to laugh. Or cry. Shaking is easier. She wishes that she could do something else. He’d probably like that. It’s harder now. It’s also harder to chew hard things (carrots, celery, toast). She doesn’t know what to say. She looks at the man that used to be a little boy on her lap. He’s got longer hair than she likes now. She kept it short when she could still control that sort of thing. She says, “Would you like some lunch, Charlie?” The man with long(er) hair, Charlie, says, “We just ate, Mom… You’re still hungry?” “I wouldn’t mind something small and sweet -” Charlie goes to her pantry cupboard and opens it. There’s a box of digestive biscuits. He puts a few on a plate. “Something sweeter than that!” She says, shrill and loud. “I don’t know what you’ve got that’s sweet, Mom!” Charlie is exasperated. “There’s vanilla ice cream in the downstairs freezer.” She wishes that she had the energy to go down herself because she might sneak a peek at the framed photographs of herself when she was young and beautiful and still had all of her hair. “Sounds good,” Charlie runs down the stairs. He comes back up with a quart of ice cream. “How long have you had this?” He asks, “it looks a bit freezer burnt.” “It’s perfectly fine for me,” she says, trying to push away the thoughts, like rainclouds, about this man that used to be a little boy on her lap, about this man with long hair, about this man that plans to go far, far away from her.

“that’s frightfully kind of you,” by Julia at Nicole’s house

Sunday, August 12, 2012
5 minutes
My Week With Marilyn
Colin Clark

Oh mister, thank you so very much, from the bottom of my heart, from the depths of my soul, from every good part of me, from the moment I was born or conceived or whichever you think is more innocent, from my truest innocence, from the silence in my dreams, from the peace in my plight, thank you.
How can I ever repay you? You have single handedly saved my life.
I don’t care about you, I could care less about you, you’re a spec on the earth, you’re a waste of space, indifference?

I’m not sure I’m very good at this.
I’m good at the guilt thing! Can we go back and try that one just one more time? Okay great. AND! BEGIN!

Now I’m stuck. I had all these wonderful ideas. I think I swallowed them, so please do forgive me for my lack of organization. Mentally. Ha ha! What a genius mistake I’ve made. Only God can help us. I think I heard my mother say that to me once. There isn’t a sadness is there? Not one of longing or despair? Oh forget it! I’m just confused it seems! Again!

That might be the last one.

“the FAQs about food” by Julia at Petersburg Park

Saturday, August 11, 2012
5 minutes
The Starch Solution
John A. McDougal


“She’s shocked by the subject matter” by Julia at her desk

Friday, August 10, 2012
5 minutes
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Milan Kundera

Her mother, Ray-An, spelled with only one N for God knows what reason, gave her all of her old books. She didn’t even know what half of the titles meant, but she was romanced by every single one of them. I think she was trying to read her way into maturity; to somehow trick the hands of time into thinking she had already started her period and that she actually knew what tongue kissing felt like. Some of the books were in different languages and some of them were just pictures. Ray-An, she might have been a severe hippie back in the day, was real open to all kinds of literature and expression of the human mind. Deliah, oh did I not mention her name? She was the daughter if you haven’t already figured it out. Deliah was trying hard to be older and to feel like an adult much too early. Much before her time. She was ready, however, in her little mind, and she loved that Ray-An even let her call her by her first name when they were in public so people might think her a bit more developed and advanced than she truly was. Deliah and Ray-An even drank coolers sometimes together on the back patio. That’s when Deliah felt truly alive. She could smell every flower and if she were asked, which she never was, to recite a few words to describe those smells, she was confident that she might be able to do it very succinctly and impress my mother. Her mother. Her mother’s name was Ray-An.

“I was practically falling for a stranger” by Julia on the 504 going east.

Thursday, August 9, 2012
5 minutes
Dating Diaries
The Grid Aug 9-15, 2012

Oh there’s a lot that I can’t tell you. You can ask but I can’t tell you.
Those are things I tried to keep to myself. To myself. To.
You have all these instincts about what I’m feeling anyway. Just use the breadth of your intelligence and.
And. Wait. Maybe patiently. Wait. Maybe aggressive hand gestures might help.
I can’t.
I wish I could even want to. But I don’t. I don’t wish for you to know. You’re practically a stranger.
You have ideas that make you seem far away from me and I know it’s a little hard for you to accept that.
But you’ve brought it. Brought it upon yourself. With those wispy promises. Getting caught in spiderwebs on your way home from work.
You light a candle on my desk. There’s a poem there that you’ve written, and it’s not in English. It’s not in any language in particular.
At all.
Of all things that you could have done, granted this is probably your best one. Not the best one but your best one.
I want to be made into a fantasy.
Don’t want to live on real soil.
I Have a lot of uncertainty about you and if you’re the one that should be dreaming up my face at night. I don’t think that’s right. You have to prove more than your undying curiosity for everything about me.
You can ask but I can’t tell you.
There’s a lot of things you shouldn’t get to feel.
You shouldn’t get to know.
You shouldn’t get to prick the balloon and make me fall.
I’m practically already falling.

“If it came from a plant, eat it” by Julia at her desk

Wednesday, August 8, 2012
5 minutes
Food Rules
Michael Pollan

What a way to live, to take , to feel alive.
A man I met once with a penchant for storytelling and dried figs told me to keep my head up and be a man.
I thought it particularly amusing because I am not even close to pursuing the life of a man.
I could teach the life of one though.
I already have secrets and a way to get my head up higher than the rest.
I want to seek nourishment from the plants sitting on the windowsill.
Enough people have pointed our that they’re a bit lack luster in terms of beauty.
And in terms of productivity.
How many months have we been together?
One hundred?
I can’t tell anymore if I’m supposed to have hope, or if I’m just supposed to recognize it when I see it.
Thought suddenly about how Jesus would be proud of us for hurting.
Then I remembered the giant scar on my right butt cheek.
It doesn’t hurt anymore.
But it’s still there for the rest of my life…

“I was practically falling for a stranger” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday, August 9, 2012
5 minutes
Dating Diaries
The Grid Aug 9-15, 2012

When Chloe saw Isabelle she felt something new. She felt something gushing and quiet and fast and bright and sounding faintly of Handel’s Messiah. They were in the library. Chloe had been there for over six hours, many books open in front of her. She was in the midst of writing her dissertation on Post colonial feminist theory with a specification in Nature vs. Nurture. Or at least, I think that’s what it was. Isabella sat down at a table across from her and took out a sketchpad. Chloe looked up and… she felt that something new, something strange, something wonderful. “I probably haven’t drunk nearly enough water this afternoon,” Chloe though. She blamed this feeling on that. It would take awhile. That’s okay. Isabella was the most incredible specimen Chloe had ever seen. She was dark and voluptuous and mesmerizing. And she smelled unreal. Or, at least, Chloe imagined she smelled unreal.

“If it came from a plant, eat it” by Sasha on the Queen car going west

Wednesday, August 8, 2012
5 minutes
Food Rules
Michael Pollan

I used to hide chocolate bars under my bed. Snickers, Mr. Bigs, Mars Bars. I would steal them from the corner store at the end of my street. Mr. Wong would have fallen asleep in the back watching Chinese game shows with the volume turned up really loud. I knew kids that stole a lot more than a bit of candy. Judd Vincent would take packs of cigarettes, double the price and sell them to kids older than us… In seventh and eighth grade. I would eat those chocolate bars when I heard my mom fighting with her boyfriend or when my brother refused to turn down his music so that I could go to sleep. It was a private protest, the best kind. This was before I knew anything about the poison in those things. It is poison. If anyone tries to tell you differently it’s because they’ve been brainwashed. We’ve all been brainwashed, it’s just a matter of degree. Now I tell my kid, “If it comes from a plant, eat it. If it doesn’t be very suspicious.” When I think about all those chocolate bars during my growing years I cringe… and get a bit queasy.

“Talking trash” by Sasha at Sorauren Park

Tuesday, August 7, 2012
5 minutes
The front page of 24H
Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I got an itch the size of Kentucky when she’s around… And not in a good way. I got creepy crawlies on my arms, like, the hairs stand up, any time he mentions her name. So I decide that I gotta take matters into my own hands. I’m effin’ tired of sniffing his shirts, you know? So I go down to the plant. I tell Bess that I’m droppin’ something off for him. A sandwich. I bring a little paper bag, I mean, I think of everything. So there’s this spot where you can watch the guys work and it’s so effin’ loud in there that nobody would know the difference. I watch him workin’ for awhile… Then, just wait, it’s about to get good, I promise, I feel a tap on my shoulder. She’s standing behind me looking all skinny and perfectly pressed. “Can we help you?” She asks, as though there’s two of her or somethin’. God forbid. She acts as though we’ve never met before. For some strange reason I can’t think of anythin’ to say now… So I tell her that I have something for Dom. “Oh!” She says, “Well, why don’t you give it to me and I’ll make sure he gets it.” LIKE HELL YOU’LL MAKE SURE HE GETS IT! YOU’LL MAKE SURE HE GETS SOMETHING ELSE REAL SWEET TOO, WON’T YOU?! Hussy.

“Talking trash” by Julia at Grange Park

Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at Grange Park
5 minutes
front page of 24H
Tuesday August 7, 2012

I am talking trash, everywhere. You walk into Sadie’s bedroom? Trash. You take a step into their washroom? Trash. I honestly can’t comprehend how some people live their lives like this. Those hoarders are even better than these people. They at least keep things, not just garbage. Marilyn’s a terrible mother. She makes Sadie bathe in the kitchen sink because the bathroom is so filthy. But seriously? Sadie is 4. She doesn’t live in an unfortunate village with no bathtub! She lives with Marilyn, the lazy son of a bitch who can’t get off her ass for 30 minutes just to tidy it up. I mean, I really shouldn’t be complaining. She did give me the job in the first place. But I didn’t sign up for being a nanny and a cook too. Just a cleaning lady. I want to clean Marilyn’s house so bad it pricks me in my sleep. I dream about disinfectant wipes and a brand new broom as if they were my own children. Somehow I get caught up when I’m there—in child rearing, and making sure the house doesn’t burn down, or that Marilyn doesn’t drown herself and her baby in whiskey.

Image from Scientific American by Sasha at her desk

Monday, August 6, 2012
5 minutes
Scientific American
August 2012 edition

There was inconsolable solitude
And we’d run run run fast as we could
There was the thick and opaque sound of silence
And we’d turn up the bass and roll down the windows
There were elders standing by birch trees counting as high as they could
We closed our eyes and imagined a lovers face close enough to lick
There was a big fire where we were told to throw our secrets
We threw one or two and kept the others concealed under sweaters and shoved deep into pockets
There were no street signs
There were no Starbucks
You felt excited
I felt alone
We stayed for fifteen days
On the sixteenth day you said
“You’re getting too quiet here, we should move on,”
But by then I didn’t want too
I liked the deep quiet
The warm darkness
The glowing empty
You wanted us to get a train in the morning
“One more week,” I said
“No.” You turned away
We left before the sun
As we should
But the elders were there
By the birch trees
They hummed an anthem of leaving
No patriotism
Only yearning
We could hear their humming
Even over the sound of the train
Leaving the station

“and you never actually saw him at his job.” by Sasha at Nadeem’s desk

Sunday, August 5, 2012
5 minutes
A Star Is Born
Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins

He’d leave in the morning before we were awake. Sometimes I would feel the bristles of his beard on my cheek, a phantom goodbye. At breakfast I would ask my Mom what she’d packed us for lunch. “It’s a surprise, silly!” she would say, dishing out pancakes with blackberry compote and dark maple syrup. “Where is Dad going today?” I would ask, dripping syrup down the front of my T-shirt. “I’m not sure, Maddy…” my Mom would reply, snapping on dish-gloves and filling the sink with soapy water.

I would be in bed by eight thirty, reading Little House on the Prarie for the seventh time. I would hear him coming up the stairs. He’d give a knock on my door and open it before I could say, “Come in!” He looked tired. “Where did you go today, Daddy?” I would say. He smiled and sat on the edge of my bed. “Sarnia. Do you know where that is?” I shook my head. “Well, it took about four hours to get there.” He asked me if I’d told my Mom about what I was grateful for. I said “Yes,”. I hadn’t, though. There wasn’t time after dinner. She was giving Mikey a bath and he pooped in the tub. Thank goodness I wasn’t in there with him.

Image from Scientific American by Julia at Starbucks

Monday, August 6, 2012 at Starbucks
5 minutes
Scientific American
August 2012 edition

I’ve decided that whatever you want is within reach. That I need to live by the water. That I’m moving to the beach.
I can’t wait for the month to change. It will change whether I wait for it or not. I’ve got to go and do the thing no matter how deranged.
This is a mantra: Repeat, it’s mine from you. Repeat, it’s yours from me.
You will be better after this. Drown the disease of fear and dispel the myth.
A tragedy if the person writing these hieroglyphics dies before he is able to accept it as a truth?
Strategic pronoun. He. Thank you. What if+ He= Don’t look too closely.
I’ve decided that I’m better at expecting failure than I am at even meeting her. Strategic pronoun used there as well.
She. You’re welcome. Expecting+ She = Speaks for itself.
Go get big things.
This is the mantra you play on repeat.
Try to hear it before it bleeds into the background.

“and you never actually saw him at his job.” by Julia at her desk

Sunday, August 5, 2012
5 minutes
A Star Is Born
Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins

He’d show up wearing the same back pack everyday. I’d be like, yo, Emile, what the fuck do you have in there!
And he would just smile this half smile and take it to his cubicle without explaining its contents.
Yo Emile, I’d be like, Emile, I know you’re hiding something from me, guy! And he’d be all, snicker snicker, mysterioso in the office!
I was thinking he was trying to flee the country and he was just trying to be prepared. I don’t know much about immigration but I’m pretty sure the whole system is like, fucked or something because people write books and shit about it.
Emile is nice, but he’s just not very good at being inconspicuous and all that because I betchu any money Emile is all about secrets and double lives.
He barely walks around even the office without that pack on so I’m like, Yo, Emile, you carrying canned goods around with you everywhere you go in case we get bombed or some shit? Little bit of creamed corn and maybe some easy peel tuna cans? Huh? Is that even close? Or are there like, dead babies in there! Something so fucking whacked you can barely talk about it without being really sent home or something.
I wore a back pack once to work to like, mock him, right? But Emile, so prairie, guy! He like did not even for one second realize that I was turning him into a huge joke right then and there! He like, figured I also needed to carry shit around with me!

“Make your child a star” by Sasha at her desk

Saturday August 4, 2012
5 minutes
from a poster on the bulletin board
at Lit

Tabitha has the better hair and the more organized and well distributed freckles.
Georgia has legs that go on and on and on and my legs are… short. No matter how you look at it.
Vicki’s voice sounds like gingerbeer. Mine sounds like what a camel’s voice might be. Think about it… Now listen to me say… Caaameeellll. Right?!
Kate has wide-set green eyes. Mine are dark, of course, and I seem to have pulled out all of my eyelashes so people get a bit… shocked.
It’s not that I compare or anything. I’m just… My Mom entered me in beauty competitions when I was a baby. They exist. Baby Beauty Pageants. I know it’s terrible. She didn’t know what else to do with me. When I turned three someone broke it to her that maybe we should “try something else… Another avenue for my… talents”, or at least that’s what Georgia says. Then it was gymnastics. Put an overweight five year old in a spandex suit and throw them over a vaulting horse. Genius idea. It lasted for a few months, before I couldn’t hold back my disdain for my Ukrainian coach. Vicki had studied with him and it had done wonders for her as a dancer. I am not a dancer. Don’t ever ask me to dance. Not even the Funky Chicken. Disaster.

“actors have a tendency to hypochondria.” by Sasha at La Merceria

Friday, August 3, 2012 at La Merceria
5 minutes
A Challenge For The Actor
Uta Hagen

“Shake those sillies out”. That’s what it was. Before we went to bed he’d say, “Shake those sillies out, girls!” and he’d flail his limbs around! My mother would come in and say, “You’re getting them all riled up, Joaquin!” but he didn’t care. He’d wink as he tucked us in and said the prayer that his father had said to him in Madrid growing up.

I don’t romanticize anything. Death often has that effect. When I was getting my doctorate a professor of mine would go on about how someone is always a saint… after they’ve died. In the eulogy I tried to speak frankly. I mean, I didn’t mention the wooden spoon or the smacks but really… My mother would have fainted. She’d already been through so much.

It’s more simple now. There are fewer calls to make, fewer obligations. He hated obligations. But his life was wrought with them. “It’s just what you do,” he would say. He didn’t question it, I don’t think. My mother asked if I would like his journals and I said… yes. But not to read them. God, no. I don’t want to know him that intimately. But I don’t want her to have them there in that giant house, calling to her from the basement or the cupboard under the stairs.

“Make your child a star” by Julia at Lit on Roncesvalles

Saturday August 4, 2012 at Lit on Ronces
5 minutes
from a poster on the bulletin board
at Lit

I have the very distinct feeling that my mother, Anne-Marie Cusack, is going to enroll me in beauty school and try to turn me into a lady. She has the idea in her head that ladies are taught how to be ladies. I’m like, “Mother, I’ll learn on my own. How do you think they do things in third world countries. Are you saying they’re not ladies?” And then my mother blushes because she’s embarrassed that I’m now aware of racist behaviour and also think she’s guilty of it. She tells me, “It’s not like that, Lily.” And I tell her “This conversation will expire in 3,2,1…” and she gets the picture very easily that I am not keen on today’s racist and anti-feminist discussion. Oh yeah, I also know what feminism is and my mother is also guilty of not understanding that. If I were to go to beauty school, I would purposely leave my eyebrows uneven and wear mismatched socks. I could make them think I was a hopeless case and then they’d just send me back to Anne-Marie and say, “We tried, but she’s just too natural to be tamed.” My mother would probably cry and say “It’s my fault, I did something wrong during your formative years when I was raising you.” And I’d say, “Yup, Anne-Marie, you sure did.”

“actors have a tendency to hypochondria.” by Julia at her desk

Friday, August 3, 2012
5 minutes
A Challenge For The Actor
Uta Hagen

i wish i was a different boy and when i fly away i’ll be a different boy a different boy a different type of paper
let me show you the same things over and over again.
you’ll be lost but you won’t need to be found.
in a perfect kind of perfect
kind of better than the other things you wanted but just couldn’t get and if you had to pick your favourite moment of life it would be this one or the one that happened just before.
i want to see the world but not from the boat floating on the water.
i want to free the world but not from the confines of normalcy and privilege.
i have high hopes flying high hopes wishing life would be a bit on my side
and i’ll be a different boy.
i’ll be a different boy a different boy a different type of music sheets on my bed spread is taking a break from the laundromat to sink in all those things that we think are just the ends and just the means to everything that seems but won’t seem true.
i haven’t asked another person. i want to be a different boy a different boy i’ll be a different boy.
you’ll ask me you’ll wait for my answer and you’ll see.
it’s nonsense.
it’s happenstance.
it’s diligence.
it’s a pity party for the souls that you once tried to throw overboard you couldn’t say goodbye to them
they were apart of you and they were your friends you had the chance to say it’s over.
and you knew the better way to find a four leaf clover in the middle of a forest or a meadow and when you can find the answer you will still be caught in the middle.
i want to be a i wish i could be a i am going to be a different boy a different boy a different boy.

“Some people believe” by Julia at Sambuca Grill

Thursday, August 2, 2012 at Sambuca Grill
5 minutes
altHealth in NOW Magazine
July 26-Aug 1st edition

Some people believe in Angels you know. So much so that they start to think they’re seeing them floating around them on any given Sunday. I’m a little bit against the belief in Angels, to be honest. I think they’re fluffy and a little creepy. What is the appeal of having such long, curly, and blonde hair? What is that saying to my three year old who already has to beg for a Barbie doll because I’m not quite convinced on her benefits yet?
Some people say they can hear the Angels singing in their choir. Also what is the appeal of choral singing when you’re an Angel? Does no one want to show off their Angel pipes and sing a solo for once in their lives?
I’m only talking about Angels because I’m afraid I know someone who is turning into one. She is blonde, yes, curly, yes, and a little bit self-righteous. She’s also going to die soon, but not quite yet so the ceremony will be put on hold. She’s going to volunteer to play the trumpet, to sound the horn for all of the heaven people. Little does she know that those people she wants to play for are the people that were all summoned before their time because there was nothing left for them on earth.
I see my friend turning into an angel, but I have a pretty strong feeling that it’s because I’m intuitive as opposed to believing that they exist.

“Some people believe” by Sasha at the laundromat

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012
5 minutes
altHealth in NOW Magazine
July 26-Aug 1st edition

I’ve started writing lists again. It’s a good sign. It means I’m back on track… Or, that I’m getting there. When I was a little girl I used to line up my stuffed animals and dolls and give them Inspirational Talks… That’s what I called it… “Inspirational Talks”. My brothers made endless fun of me. They’d listen outside my closed door as I scolded the lions and giraffes on telling lies and taught the Barbie’s self esteem. Then, at the dinner table, with my father’s new wife and her mother who spoke not a word of English but “no”, they would use lines that they’d heard me say. I would blush, push the food around on my plate and then asked to be excused. So, I started writing things down. I kept my notebooks in the sliding drawer under my bed that was filled with winter sweaters, long johns and my pink and green snowsuit that was getting to be much too small. By the time I was thirteen and we moved to the suburbs there was hardly any room in that drawer for warm things. I bought my notebooks at the dollar store and took great pride in selecting the appropriate theme for my time of life. For example, horses. Strong and free, galloping across a nameless prairie. Or dolphins, painted onto a turquoise ocean with jewelled stars.

“more than a little insulted” by Sasha on the Queen car going West

Wednesday August 1, 2012
5 minutes
SCTV Behind the Scenes
Dave Thomas

William buys his meat from the butcher a bus ride away. There’s one closer to his house. It smells dirty.
William doesn’t re-use plastic bags or disposable cutlery. Germs hang on to plastic like a child to his mother’s hand. William prefers staying in. It’s safer. His bungalow was his mother’s. Before she died. She left him the house, Doug the diabetic ginger cat, and sixty thousand dollars. Given that his mother had been a coupon snipper and fan of every early bird special there ever was, William was surprised, no, that’s an understatement, he was shocked when his mother told him to go to the safety deposit box when she was gone and enter Doug’s birthday into the keypad. He was too late when he went back to the hospital to break the news that he didn’t remember when exactly Doug was born. He knew it was spring. He knew he’d been in Ann Arbor at the annual Star Trek Convention. When he’d returned his mother was feeding a tiny ball of orange fur, kibble by kibble. “He can’t do it on his own,” she’d said. William had searched the house high and lo for any sign of where Doug’s birthday might be written down. Finally, amongst a stack of unpaid bills and unsent Thank You cards on his mother’s desk, William found a small photo album. It was dedicated entirely to Doug.

“This is terrible,” by Sasha on her front steps

Tuesday July 31, 2012
5 minutes
Mountains Beyond Mountains
Tracy Kidder

She tells me that it felt good to put cream in her coffee again. Jay had been telling her she was “chubby” but he said it “in a good way”. Her eyes glaze over as she speaks and she flicks her cigarette into the grate on the street. “It was a long time coming,” she exhales slowly, blowing smoke straight up to heaven.

“You always fucking do that!”
“I’m trying to tell you how it makes me feel like shit and then you go off yourself! We’re talking about ME! MEEEE!”
“Narcissist much?”
“Fuck you, Jay. Seriously.”

She tells me that she better head home, she has to open the restaurant tomorrow morning. We’ve already hugged and she’s starting to walk towards Euclid when she calls my name. “Yeah?” I shout back. She’s running towards me. “Can I sleep at your place?” She asks and suddenly I realize that she looks too young to be thirty one. “Ah,” I think about what a mess my apartment is. “I don’t want to be alone right now…” She chews on a thumb nail. “Yeah. Sure. Okay,” I say.

“more than a little insulted” by Julia on the 504 going west

Wednesday August 1, 2012 at
11:40pm on the 504 west
5 minutes
SCTV Behind the Scenes
Dave Thomas

Didn’t wave at me, didn’t say goodbye. Had all these feelings. All these wonderings.
Were we supposed to be better.
No one knows.
Was there supposed to be a trigger that I’m aware of.
How will I ever find out.
Can’t decide on why you hate me so much.
Didn’t even see you Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of last week and those were my worst days.
Can’t see why they don’t all want me around.
Probably that distinct ability I have to keep people at bay, to express myself through self-indulgent philosophy.
I actually feel sorry about you hating me.
I don’t know what makes someone more of a pleasure to be around but I’m starting to think I need to lose weight if I want to be considered.
Told me you liked some of my stuff once.
But where’s the follow up.
Where’s the second date, asking for a third, trying to reschedule everything so I can be there.
Were we supposed to be better.
No one knows.
Could have said
How are you.
I miss you.
Could have made a joke that we ordered the same meal without even consulting with one another first.
Could have been delighted by our sincerity if we still had any.

“This is terrible,” by Julia on the subway going west

Tuesday July 31, 2012
5 minutes
Mountains Beyond Mountains
Tracy Kidder

Darrel and I met on a rainy day in July. Actually, that was the second time. The first time he didn’t mention where his scars were from or why one of his eyes didn’t move around. He told me about his house in Georgetown and how property is so much cheaper out there. He told me about the traffic at dinner time and that if he could avoid the commute all together, he would.
The second time, on a rainy day in July, he mentioned Georgetown again, but this time he explained why he was commuting. His doctor had been late again. An hour and a half to be exact. Darrel didn’t mind that I could hear him telling his mother over the phone about the switch over from methadone, but he was shaking wildly and I knew he’d rather me not see that.
I didn’t ask any questions. He told me on his own. He told me about the near fatal car accident he was in almost eleven years ago. He told me about his sawdust bones and his mangled limbs and about the jaws of life that took forty minutes to release him. He told me about the luck he had that day that a helicopter was flying just overhead the accident and how he got to thank those paramedics three months later.
He told me about being conscious for some of the screaming, and waking every now and again just to realize that it was actually coming from him.