“Modesty. Timidity. Humility. Respect.” By Julia on the 511 going south

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
5 minutes
The Art of Pantomime
Charles Aubert

I don’t have none of that. None of that stuff to be proud of. None of that dainty fingernail shit. I’m not dainty! I never was! I just pretended for the first part of my life cause it made my mama happy. She’d tell me all the time to just keep my head up and smile. I didn’t feel like smiling! All I wanted to do was run around and play and scratch the boys and make them weep with mud pie tears. I’m mad about it now. A little. Cause mama never knew what I was up to or why I liked to be outside so much. Maybe I didn’t need a reason at all to do anything but it felt like I did cause she never seemed to understand. I’d always have friends with perfect cuticles and friends with the types of soft skin that never required makeup. I never seemed to be as put together….still ain’t! Still don’t care for manicures and mascara. But still sometimes wish on very special holidays that I had some sort of practical kitchen skill..that I could entertain guests like my mama did. She never liked reading unless it was the back of a recipe card, or a bank invoice.

“smooth even the toughest” by Julia at her kitchen table

Tuesday, October 29, 2013
5 minutes
the back of the Aveda foot lotion

From when I was young to now, to right now, I’ve been fighting with my hair! I know I know it’s sad. It’s true, though! That’s the biggest problem I have; combing out the knots and wishing I didn’t have any to begin with. My mom. My mommmmmmmm. She used to try to comb through each strand and she’d pick and pull and wish and hope and I’d scream and pick and pull and wish and hope. She was just like her mother was to her. After you’d come out of the shower, she’d be standing there with a wet comb and a half smile trying to persuade me into wanting it. I can do it myself, I’d say, but what is it with these woman who actually want to comb hair all day? They wouldn’t listen and I wouldn’t fight them because I needed all the energy I had in me to fight with my hair! It’s sad, I know I know, but it’s true!! I used to draw my stick figure self as a kid completely bald! That’s true too! Because I knew it would be easier without any of it. Without even a little peach fuzz to keep me warm!

“smooth even the toughest” by Sasha on her bed

Tuesday, October 29, 2013
5 minutes
the back of the Aveda foot lotion

I see a familiar face across the street. I knock on the window, hoping you’ll see me but you keep walking. You must be listening to music. You must be on the phone. I see that you’re wearing burgundy pants and I silently congratulate you, because that was probably a big deal. I think about texting you, about e-mailing you, about sending you a tweet. I sit on my hands. I call my best friend, Molly. “I just saw him.” Molly is making soup. I can tell she’s holding the phone between her shoulder and her cheek because buttons keep getting pushed. “Oh no. What did you do? Did you sleep together? You slept together.” The sound of the soup bubbling. I imagine how foggy her glasses must be.

“we are responsible” by Sasha on the Bathurst bus

Monday, October 28, 2013
5 minutes
“Real life and other tall stories”
The Wednesday Review

She was born feeling responsible, so don’t get her wrong when she gets a bit snippy upon being asked if she did the laundry today. She’s busy. She’s overwhelmed. She didn’t. But she wishes that she had. Trust in that, even if you can’t trust in her to tell you that she’s tired when she’s tired and hungry from forgetting lunch. And breakfast. She was made to lead, so when she has to take orders (or suggestions) she gets passive aggressive. Smile at her and tell her you love her, you love her drive, you love the version of “I’m So Excited” that she hums when she’s working.

“The span of my hips.” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday October 27, 2013
5 minutes
Phenomenal Woman
Maya Angelou

“Goddamnit, Shirley!” Hank forgets about the cans she’s collecting for the Food Drive. He wants to be able to walk into his house and not have to, for once, step over a bunch of nonsensical stuff. It is usually costumes for the plays at Church. It is sometimes boxes of books she’s found on the side of the road that she brings to the Shelter and gives to the women there. “What?” Shirley calls from the basement. She’s glue-gunning tassels to white skirts for the Winter Concert. The girls are going to icicles. “I said, Goddamnit!” Shirley comes up the stairs, pins in her mouth. She furrows her brow at Hank. It says enough. “What’s for dinner?” She motions to the oven with her head, turns, and goes back down the stairs. Hank opens the oven door and sees the pot-roast. His mouth waters. Goddamn Shirley, but God bless her cooking.

“Join the journey” by Sasha at her desk

Saturday October 26, 2013
5 minutes
the back of the Breton box

Before we became freedom fighters
Before we joined the revolution
We thought we were better than everybody else.
Not overtly
We rolled our eyes at the ignorance and the frivolity.
But now that we’re freedom fighters
Trained and prepared
Now that we’re part of the revolution
We realize that
I realize that
We are tiny specks of dirt in this
We are small sparkles on the whole dress of this country
When were learning
At the camp in the hills of New York State
We laughed at how ironic it is
You from the suburbs of Chicago
Me the son of a neurologist
Fighting the systems that our parents built
Brick by brick
Check by cheque
Dollar by dollar

“we are responsible” by Julia at Lit on College

Monday, October 28, 2013 at Lit Espresso Bar
5 minutes
“Real life and other tall stories”
The Wednesday Review

For calling our mothers
for teaching our brothers
for truthing to others
for admitting our druthers

for waiting in lines
for talking in rhymes
for singing in time
for drinking with limes

for laughing at jokes
for helping out folks
for ignoring pokes
for avoiding mean blokes

for calling our mothers
for calling our mothers
for calling our mothers
for calling our mothers

for cuddling the wee ones
for including the shunned ones
for smiling at the sad ones
for hoping for the worst ones

for asking good asks
for doing good tasks
for not wearing masks
for stocking the flasks

for reading books
for cautionary looks
for challenging crooks
for cleaning the nooks

for calling our mothers
for calling our mothers
for calling our mothers
for calling our mothers

“The span of my hips.” by Julia on her couch

Sunday October 27, 2013
5 minutes
Phenomenal Woman
Maya Angelou

You don’t know this but I will roar. The size of me is greater than the size of you. My anger moves mountains. My kindness moves them back. I’m sick to my core when I think of the pit that lives there. It collects it all, shakes it around, and fills me to the brim with spite and power and rage and honesty. I cannot lie. I cannot, will not, cannot lie. And you don’t know this, but I will roar. I will blow the determination of a thousand armies through your heart and punish you there with the real hurt from my stomach lining. I will make you fear the day you see me at my most. I will make you rue the day you witness what my strength allows me to do. The journey of my mind, the span of my wings, my hips, my dreams. I’m everything and I am full of the aching. You don’t know this, but I will roar. From the ocean floor to the sky’s vast ceiling, I exist and I change, I sway and I remain. I am courageous. I am bright.
I am not waiting for you to know this.

“Join the journey” by Julia at her kitchen table

Saturday October 26, 2013
5 minutes
the back of the Breton box

I’m very impressionable. I don’t want to see anything I might start to want or think I need cause if I ever do, that’s it. I’m screwed. I’ve tried before to avoid those things, the good, the bad, the everything, but it’s very tricky. It’s hard to live in a box and still try to know what’s going on outside of it. Do I cut holes in the box? Maybe. Do I decide to take the lid off every now and again just to see but tell myself not to feel, not to desire? I know I’m not allowed anywhere near those addictive drugs, or the chocolates that make most women melt. I can’t even try them or I’ll be that way forever: wanting, needing, thinking on, lusting for. I can’t see sunsets or I get depressed when it’s dark. I can’t get daisies for good behaviour because I’ll learn to expect them. I can’t ask anyone else’s opinion before giving my own because if I do that, I’ll never make my own and I’ll just be swayed one way or another. I can’t see images of happy friends or family without wondering why I don’t have those for myself, without wondering if I do have those for myself just not the “right way” or the “right ones”. Like I said, I’ve tried to avoid them all, to ignore them all, to live this life without a single stimulating thing. But how do you unlearn it all?

“might lead you to believe” by Sasha at her desk

Friday October 25, 2013
5 minutes
The GRID TO, this weeks edition

I called you from a pay-phone in Paris, somewhere near the Arc de Triomphe. I expected to hear your voice and feel better. “What’s up?” I said, a backwards siren ringing in my ears. “It’s been a rough few days,” you say and I can hear it, anchoring your voice. “Nathan died,” you say and I remember the stories of your mother’s youngest brother,a heroine addict, living alone, drawing with pen all over his walls. “Oh my God,” I said, or something like that. “He committed suicide, he hung himself. Nana found him.” It had been raining all afternoon and my shoes were soaked through. I’d hoped that you might tell me that you needed me to come home, that you needed me there with you. You’re quiet. “I am so so sorry, Sam,” I say, over and over. “Just enjoy yourself, okay?” you sound stronger, “Do lots of awesome things and then get your ass back here so I can kiss you.”

“might lead you to believe” by Julia on her couch

Friday October 25, 2013
5 minutes
The GRID TO, this weeks edition

I can’t stop crying. I came in here to do it in private but now that I did I can’t stop. Seeing myself cry in the mirror always makes it worse somehow. Like I can visibly see how sorry I should feel for myself. Then I take 6 or 7 deep breaths and I shake it all off. Usually. But now I’m sort of stuck. In this cycle of feeling bad for what I see, and feeling bad for what I feel, and wishing someone gave a shit enough to come in here and help me from slipping further, or that I would be all out tears and my eye sockets would just dry out on their own. You’ll see me tomorrow and you’ll think I was just sleepless the night before, just tired. You wouldn’t know about the other stuff, the real stuff. And I would tell you I’m just tired anyway even if you could tell that this was a much deeper issue and not just a blown out of emotional proportion one. I don’t wear my tears well. They short of stain my whole face and my whole day and even my hair looks bad because of it.

“one time” by Julia on her couch

Thursday October 24, 2013
5 minutes
A piece of mail from Shoppers Drug Mart

I remember it well. You were wearing that white cotton, barely there, too sweet to be seductive, too seductive to be sweet, summer dress. You said something about espadrilles and I just nodded my head up and down until you smiled, trying to convince you I had any idea what on earth an espadrille was, let alone, a pair of them. That was the day I asked you to run away with me. In my mind, of course, you were married then, or on your way to be. I think I said something like, When’s the caged bird going to stop singing, and you shrugged your shoulders as if you enjoyed my wit enough to entertain it. I think if I had the proper gear, I would have taken you with me somewhere and not even asked you. Asking doesn’t get anyone anything, did you know that? It just gets the word No. I wish so hard I would have asked for your forgiveness, or his, instead of your permission. But at least you knew that if I couldn’t take you, you had already taken me. Surely if I need to describe it all in detail to you after all these years, it shows you may still care a little bit about me. Why bother reminiscing in something you never wanted? So I do have to go ahead and believe that it is out of regret and not merely out of the desire to tease me. I don’t think I could stand it if I were existing as one of your little jokes.

(an image from National Geographic) by Julia at the CSI Coffee Pub

Wednesday October 23, 2013
5 minutes
National Geographic Photo Issue
October 2013

Oh dear, I seem to have misplaced my board. It has all the things I’m supposed to do on it on one side and on the other there’s a really cute picture of a boy with a helmet on, standing in the middle of the beach. My to do list: I like to rotate it off my board so I can keep that picture constant. I made a slip for the paper to slide in and it’s protected by a thin plastic layer–much like you’d see during an overhead presentation at school, when one of the classmates was responsible for teaching the others something about grammar that week. I can’t start my day without writing the list–and then also looking at that picture.

I don’t like to tell many people, but it’s not just the image that’s important to me, it’s the boy.
He is mine, actually.
I really don’t let on that he is, but it’s true. He has his front two teeth missing and that’s the last day I ever saw him because I left him there, at the beach. It was an accident. He was supposed to be in the car with his Aunt Roe.

“one time” by Sasha at her desk

Thursday October 24, 2013
5 minutes
A piece of mail from Shoppers Drug Mart

Your cheeks are rhubarb, tart and pink. You’ve just come in from raking the leaves. “Want tea?” I shouldn’t even have to ask anymore. But I do. And you respond – “Yes”. The kettle howls and I find supreme satisfaction in steeping the dark bag, covering it with a small glass bowl so that it stays hot. I check my watch. I wait three minutes. I stretch my tight back as I wait. You’re running a bath. One time, many years ago, I told you that I hated you. Sometimes, when I stretch I hear myself saying those words, they are locked somewhere around the base of my spine. You slide your arms around my waist and smell the secret place where neck meets shoulder. “You smell good,” you say.

(an image from National Geographic) by Sasha at the CSI Coffee Pub

Wednesday October 23, 2013
5 minutes
National Geographic Photo Issue
October 2013

“Remember when you forgot your own postal code? That was soooo funny!” Lukas laughs. “Remember when you put all those sticky notes everywhere? With all those reminders? That was hillllarious!” He picks at a chicken pock scab on his forehead. “How many days til Christmas?” He asks. The scab is bleeding. He holds his finger to it and then tastes. “My blood tastes like perfume!” He holds out his finger to me, “Wanna try?” I pause. I nod. How can I ever say no to this boy? He squeezes his forehead and a red droplet appears. He extends his finger to me again. I take it into my mouth and suck, gently. Rose and lilac, lavender and mandarin. “That tickles! Grandma! That tickles!” I bite down and he squeals.

“Make a list” by Sasha on the subway east

Tuesday October 22, 2013
5 minutes
Writing Down the Bones
Natalie Goldberg

1. Learn to drive.
2. Read (or re-read) the “Classics”.
3. Quit Facebook.
4. Two words. Core. Strength.
5. Write an old fashioned letter.
6. Publish.
7. Teach.
8. Learn an array of poetry by heart.
9. Have a dinner party.
10. Travel frequently.
11. Learn the New York subway system.
12. Document the recipes in my head.
13. Join a choir.

“become the master” by Sasha at her desk

Monday October 21, 2013
5 minutes
the back of the Curl Keeper bottle

I want to know what you named the mole on your mother’s back and how you take your tea. I want to know the sound of your sleep. When we meet, you’re wearing a smart jacket and an expression like you’ve just landed. I’m teetering in too-tall shoes and laughing too hard at a too lame joke. I instantly want to know what colour socks you’re wearing and I get the thrill of my young life when I catch a glimpse of them, as you cross your legs, sipping on a whiskey. Blue and red. Striped. I want to become a master of you, to know every scar and every pet peeve, to know where you’re ticklish and what your voice does when you’re grumpy. I want to meet your big toe and your heartbeat. I want to know all the jobs you’ve worked. I want to know the name of the street that you grew up on.

“Make a list” by Julia on her couch

Tuesday October 22, 2013
5 minutes
Writing Down the Bones
Natalie Goldberg

stop itching
stop scratching
stop waiting
stop worrying
stop picking
stop dreaming of pink limonata. IT’S NOT A THING YET
stop grudging
stop comparing
stop taking work home with me
stop eating standing up
stop grunting
stop waiting to be dressed
stop nodding off in the middle of enlightenment
stop picking young children to stare at on the subway
stop wishing it were Friday
stop obsessing over things that nobody else cares about
stop holding out hope for him to come home
stop thinking about human names for dogs
stop giving away all the best items in the fridge and closet
stop reciting poetry with one eye shut

“become the master” by Julia on her couch

Monday October 21, 2013
5 minutes
the back of the Curl Keeper bottle

He says “I know you’re watching so I’m being extreme”and then he laughs to himself as his character on Grand Theft Auto One Billion shoots a dead man over and over.
He’s good at the game, I guess I’ll give him that. But master? No no, he’s just starting out. He hasn’t been playing for 10 000 hours. That’s how you can finally identify yourself as one. A master. It takes a lot of practice and time. I suppose the only thing I’m a master at is falling asleep in bars or in cars or during movies that start playing after 10pm. He glances over at me to see if I’m watching and when he knows I am, he selects his weapon; which gun to obliterate the next unsuspecting innocent bystander. I ask him “Is that killing really necessary?” And he shakes his head from side to side. Then smiles. “You’re allowed to do what you’ve always wanted to do in real society… in this game.”

“this is how it sometimes is at God’s table” by Julia at the Fringe Creation Lab

Sunday October 20, 2013 at the these five minutes: writer’s workout at the Fringe Creation Lab
5 minutes
The Essential Rumi
Ed. Coleman Barks

This is how it sometimes is,
you either love it or hate it, they call it Show Biz
With a hand on your hip you pose,
you say yes to every man when he proposes
“Marry me!” you shout and you let it all out
cause someone nearby is watching the lie,
and you are an actress with clout
But who do you perform for?
The God you named is a sleeping bore
he watches with his belly full
and packed from stuffing in more and more
his long beard white is braided into a promise–
he tells the angels to tape you so he won’t ever miss
the subtleties of you on your knees
and begging for an audience
that finally appeases you
Oh and his table filled with chicken and gin,
he tunes in to review your sins and you
put them in a jar marked ART-
say the people who watch you have you stuck in their hearts

“this is how it sometimes is at God’s table” by Sasha at the Fringe Creation Lab

Sunday October 20, 2013 at the these five minutes: writer’s workout at the Fringe Creation Lab
5 minutes
The Essential Rumi
Ed. Coleman Barks

The placemats are the make-your-own with an iron kind. The ones you can get at that art supply store. You put photos in between the two sheets of plastic and you… iron. God made these in August, when she was hot-flashing and moody. She’d elastic-banded an icepack to her bra strap. She took photos of her brothers, her daughters and you, quite a few of you, and she arranged them, collage-style, for each rectangular placemat. She also put in a cut out from a magazine of lasagna, because it’s her favourite, and a cut out from the newspaper of something Nelson Mandala said, to keep things real. She drank ice-y limeade and she arranged the collaged and she ironed, watching the plastic stick together and get gooey at the corners. Simon and Garfunkel played on her small, red boom-box.

“popularized in New York City” by Sasha at her desk

Saturday October 19, 2013
5 minutes
from the back of the Sourz Apple bottle

When I got there you said, “You look tired…” “I’m good,” I scoffed, thinking, “Fuck you, you pickled pear,” because you think they are the worst, those little grainy pear pieces in those trying-too-hard jars. “How was the flight?” You’re pretending we’re polite, that this is how we speak to one another. “Turbulent.” I say. I drink water from a plastic bottle that I found in the fridge and pretend it’s bourbon. “Where’s Aimee?” I ask, but I don’t really care. She’s only given me attitude and laundry for the last year and a half. “At Sam’s…” You say, as though I should ask why she’s been spending so much time there, as though I should open up the discussion about our daughter losing her virginity, her innocence, her mind. I just nod. It drives you crazy. “Wanna have sex?” It never used to be like this. You used to be handsome, you used to vacuum, you used to buy me cans of cider when you got your boxes of wine.

“popularized in New York City” by Julia on the subway going west

Saturday October 19, 2013
5 minutes
from the back of the Sourz Apple bottle

That’s where I’ll go to live
To breathe to sing to fight to stay
And everyone who knows my name will shout out loud
Give her the fame!
They want me there
They love my hair
They say she’s got it all
They ask each other what took so long
And if I had my fall
The answer? yes! Every single day
The tears and fears on the replay
Am I going to be as good as my heart knows I should?
The answer? If here I do remain.
That’s where I’ll belong
Won’t get lost won’t prolong
Be inspired to be admired and then let all the old rights feel wrong
It takes work it takes pace
It takes waking up in an abundant place
And they will be glad because I won’t be sad and home is the spot that I’ve wanted to have
With a dream that’s ignited
Oh no I won’t fight it
In New York New York New York

“there are many who are experts” by Julia at Cafe Pamenar

Friday October 18, 2013 at Cafe Pamenar
5 minutes
The PACT Conference 2007 Keynote Speech
Brian Quirt

According to Zara’s research, and by research I mean her general observations of random people in her German class, she had concluded that most people with problems concentrating were not merely under-stimulated, but boring individuals. Zara’s mother used to say, There is no such thing as boredom! Look around you. Don’t you see a world of opportunity? Then she would pass out and drop her half-full wine glass onto the rug and stain a new section of the living room, creating a beautiful array of disappointment and tactless parenting. Of course, people who drink in excess, were never bored, Zara speculated. How could one with so much fear of living in reality ever be bored? She meant it as sarcastic judgement at first and then re-evaluated. Maybe drinkers weren’t truly bored… but scared. Maybe the two didn’t go hand in hand after all. Zara watched her mother drape herself across the lounge chair she made her father buy her three summers ago when it got “too hot to stand”.

“there are many who are experts” by Sasha at Cafe Pamenar

Friday October 18, 2013 at Cafe Pamenar
5 minutes
The PACT Conference 2007 Keynote Speech
Brian Quirt

There are many who are experts in Zoology and Scientology
In Rigor-ology and Astrology
There are those who speak the language of equations and permutations
Of fractions and subtractions
There are some who laugh at hilarities
Who sigh at profanities
Who “ooh” and “ahh” at the foibles of humanities
There are few who glare at rebellions
Who frown at the hellions
Who curse the loud-talkers by the millions
There are few though
There are few who speak the secret language that we do
Who know the charms of our voodoo
Who smoke the dreams of the ones that you knew
There are few though
Who sing the songs that we sing
Who ding the bells that we ding
Who clang the clocks that we ring
Who run at the ocean and fling their bodies in
There are few
Who make mixtures of herbs and spices
Who live life by the toss of the dices

“Cashier: Diana” by Sasha on her couch

Thursday October 17, 2013
5 minutes
a receipt from Qi Natural Foods

I come here to tell you that… I quit, Mister Samuel. I sorry for this inconvenience. I come to Canada to learn English language and at this job I just finding the work to be just counting and scanning. I learn the grocery items – pear, squash, can of the tuna fish – but I need learn more than that. I need learn to tell all the dreams inside my thoughts. I thank you for this privilege of working at your store, Mister Samuel. I thank you for taking the risky time to train a girl who speak poor language. I thank you for the, the, the… generosity of that behaviour.

One more final question, Mister Samuel. For next job I maybe need a letter, a note? A letter telling I am hard worker, I have big smile, I pretty girl with good English language? Will you give me this? It’s not the same at the home because we don’t get the opportunity to… to, to…

“a woman’s body” by Sasha at her desk

Wednesday October 16, 2013
5 minutes
Alive Magazine
October 2013

I lie awake and I wonder about my mother’s hips,
What lives in there – shame beside cartilage, fear inside bone.
She wakes in pain, she tenses, she breathes, she prays, she remembers the freedom of youth.
Arthritis is a leech that sucks mobility like blood, that spreads to knuckles and toes.
I suppose I should say, what lived in there, in my mother’s hips…
She has new ones now – polished machinery, scars carving beautiful capital “C’s” into her upper thighs.
I was born of that body.
I watched that body.
I called that body “home” and “beautiful”.
I see that body now, sixty-three years on this earth,
and I see what the devotion writes on her freckled shoulders,
what the judgement writes on her sun-spot chest,
what this mother to us daughters teaches and knows,
and teaches and forgets.

“principle monetary unit of Morocco” by Sasha on the Bathurst streetcar

Monday, October 14, 2013
5 minutes
The Pocket Oxford Dictionary

I arrived wide-eyed
At night
Asking the taxi driver if he knew the town
Knew the people
Knew the ocean
He nodded to all my questions
Which did not reassure me
I arrived wide-eyed
At night
And she met me
My friend
Curls bouncing sweet surf
Smile telling secrets
Eyes twinkling her love for her man
Born in this place
In the dips of Paradise Valley
I woke up the next morning
Hung over with jet lag
And I heard the prayers
Of the men
I heard the voices of the people
Singing to God
I thought
“Imagine if we prayed together in the West?”

“Cashier: Diana” by Julia on her couch

Thursday October 17, 2013
5 minutes
a receipt from Qi Natural Foods

Orange smock. Check. Green scrunchie. Check. Green scrunchie with extra elastic. Check. Keys. Check. Keys to store on lanyard. Check. Banana muffin for breakfast. Check. Locket of Ray’s hair. Just kidding. He’d never part with it. Good joke to tell family at Christmas. Double check.

If all mornings could start like this one.
If all good things ended but got recycled.
If all afternoons began with his laughter.
I. Would. Want. It. All.

Terri cloth knapsack. Check. Home style chili from Tim Horton’s. Check. Windex refill. Check. Tiny salted almond slivers. Check. Porno DVD that Steven snuck into my bag last Friday. Check. Rubber rat to get him back. Check. Post it notes. Check.

“a woman’s body” by Julia on her couch

Wednesday October 16, 2013
5 minutes
Alive Magazine
October 2013

i didn’t want to ask you
what you thought about my body
i didn’t want to know if
you preferred red heads to blondes to brunettes to whatever it is that i have
i didn’t want to ask any questions
none at all
none that would lead me to want you more
or hate you more because i want you more
i didn’t secretly need to hear
anything from your mouth
that indicated you thought i was beautiful
even if it was only a little bit
even if it was only sometimes
i’d rather stay out all night trying
to catch butterflies
in the perfect moment where
they realize they can fly
i didn’t want yo ask you
i didn’t want to know
what you thought needed improvement
or judgement
or more make up, just around the eyes, though
it seems i would be unhappy with
any one of the possible
the ones where i melt in front of you
the ones where i desperately search
for a blanket to cover myself up
the ones where i forget to breathe
in case you’re watching my stomach
or my chest
or my mouth

“So I let go of my parents’ approval” by Sasha on the subway going West

Sunday October 13, 2013
5 minutes
The Unhealthy Truth
Robyn O’Brien

I wish our conversations could go like this:
Me: Hey, when were you planning on doing the laundry?
You: Oh man! You read my mind! I’m going to go do it right now!
Me: I love you so much.
You: I love you so much.
What our conversations really go like is this:
Me: Why the fuck isn’t the laundry done, Sam?
You: Calm down –
Me: Don’t tell me to calm down!
You: I don’t have time right now, honey –
Me: I am not your honey!
You: Why do you care so much about this place being so… clean and organized?
Me: Because! Everything else in our fucking lives is out of control!
You: It’s because your parents are coming over for dinner isn’t it?
Me: Shit.

“changed their marijuana laws” by Julia at R Squared

Tuesday, November 15, 2013 at R Squared
5 minutes
A Thousand Dreams
Larry Campbell, Neil Boyd & Lori Culbert

Addison walks through the park with her hood tied tight around her mouth and nose. Her eyeballs poke through and that is all she needs to get by. She tries closing her eyes and extending one or both of her arms to try and lead her through safely without vision. She is mostly unsuccessful. She tells herself she should really study the park better in broad daylight. She should know which path leads to which place and she should know it with her soul, and her legs, and not just her eyes. Addison is meeting someone but she doesn’t know who. She knows it’s going to change her life and make her answer those tough questions she’s been avoiding since she came into this world. She knows that no one else will ever make her learn these things, but she’s willing to go at it on her own. It’s the getting there she’s a bit hesitant about. She reaches up to tighten her hood even more so that only one eye can see out. She walks slowly, absorbing every energy from the ground through her boots as she mushes across the wet grass. She feels inside her sweater pocket for the roach she put in there after almost having to talk to her ex boyfriend, Matt. It’s the only thing that comforts her now, like her teddy bear, Ally, used to when she was very young. Matt wouldn’t have understood anyway.

“principle monetary unit of Morocco” by Julia on the Greyhound

Monday, October 14, 2013
5 minutes
The Pocket Oxford Dictionary

Don’t know what to say. Don’t want to say the wrong thing and have you be mad at me.
You know?
It’s hard not knowing how to read you. Think you were born with some tricky looking expression that makes it hard for people to understand.
But you’re just like me. Have to remember that sometimes. Especially when flying. Especially, especially then.
You never did end up reading that book I sent you. I know this because I inscribed it and it wasn’t just some Mickey Mouse message. It was one of those real nice and honest ones. One that makes you cry or laugh or both. And I know if you had read it, you would have told me so. You would have hugged me. That’s something I’m sure of.
But you might have just forgotten to, and that’s understandable, being on your way to a completely different country, and having to get sorted right away. Books take less of a priority. But that’s how we’re different, I guess.
Been thinking about that for a while now. See, I would have read the book, and if not the whole thing then at least just the inside cover. Just to see if there was anything written there for me.
Just my principles, I guess. What I value. What I hope for when it comes to the people I love a great deal.
I’m just crossing my fingers you didn’t read it at all..
Might be worse to have you read it and not respond well to it. To think it unfunny, or meaningless to you.

“She snapped the shutter” by Sasha on her couch

Saturday October 12, 2013
5 minutes
from the 2011 Toronto Star article ‘American Girl still walking tall’
Murray White

When Tash and Rowan found the bird, it was barely breathing. Rowan picked it up from the rusty leaves and cradled it in her open palms. She could feel it’s heartbeat, rapid and quaking. “What should we do?” Tash whispered. She was usually the one with the plan, but knew she should refer to the reader of the Eye Witness books and the winner of the Zoology prize three years in a row. Rowan held a pointer finger to her pursed lips. Tash nodded. They had both worn their purple sweatshirts and rainboots from the Hardware Store. Rowan’s were bigger. Tash’s sweatshirt had a stain on the bottom cuff, from when she ate spaghetti with her fingers. Rowan cupped her hands around the bird so that it was fully enveloped, and walked as if there was a stack of books on her head, like she’d seen in a movie. When they got to the library Tash looked confused. “It’s Sunday. It’s closed!” She whispered. Rowan walked to the back of the old building. She knocked on the small door three times.

“She snapped the shutter” by Julia at Sambuca Grill

Saturday October 12, 2013 at Sambuca Grill
5 minutes
from the 2011 Toronto Star article ‘American Girl still walking tall’
Murray White

Cher was waiting at the bus stop dressed like a boy because it was Thursday. She was waiting to see the driver she had grown accustomed to riding with on her usual morning route to school. Maybe she should have brought an umbrella today, she wondered to herself, even though the skies were quite clear and the forecast showed no signs of rain. Cher couldn’t have been bothered to regret things so she put the thought out of her mind and into the big bubble she was making with her gum. Today, she thought, she would ask the driver his name and maybe tell him hers. He was always very nice to her, letting her ride without paying, or just asking her about her day on the days she still dropped in the proper fare. She wondered if his name ended in an O, an R, or an L. She was usually right about things like that. She was usually right about birthdays and weight-guessing as well. Cher stood there waiting and ready when all of a sudden she felt a tiny raindrop bounce off her head.

“adjacent to the wildly popular” by Julia in Massey Harris Park

Friday, October 11, 2013
5 minutes
The Grid TO, Oct. 10-16, 2013 edition

When I tell you about my day I want you to ignore every single thing I say except for the part where I camped out on a park bench for too long watching a tiny Chinese woman do her daily power walk around the block 8 times. Remember the part where I tell you I never felt more welcome and more uninvited than when I heard her shuffle step come close to me, and I looked up to see her face. This was clearly her post. She had peed on it and everything and I was sitting in it while fooling myself that I could write a song in this comfort zone. In this hidden sanctuary where I learned to let go of my hatred for filthy pigeons and all their damn entitlement, or the fact that I hadn’t eaten anything substantial since yesterday. I will probably fail to mention that I almost called you but decided I’d rather just be alone.

“Led Zeppelin” by Julia at her desk

Thursday, October 10, 2013
5 minutes
Overheard at Columbia University

You asked me if I was going to your birthday party. I didn’t want you to think that I was judging your idea or your theme. But I said no. Cause I didn’t have anything to wear. And I said no. Cause I didn’t want to show up wearing the wrong thing. You said everyone knows Led Zeppelin and it shouldn’t be hard. Well I don’t but I didn’t want you to know. I just nodded my head and said I’ll do my best. Then I went through my closet and I started to cry. Not cause I had nothing, but because I thought that if you knew it you would not want me at all. Just on the grander scheme of things. I’m good at faking other interests but sometimes I feel I’m being failed by my own inadequacy. And someone should have taught me all of life’s good party themes sooner. So I could get prepared and just at least own a jacket or a bandana or something. I could have bought it but it would have looked too much that way.

“adjacent to the wildly popular” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Friday, October 11, 2013
5 minutes
The Grid TO, Oct. 10-16, 2013 edition

I would very much like you to remember the time before you cradled a tiny screen like an infant. I would very much like you to remember spending hours in the lazy sun, tucked into your mother’s garden, pushing your fingertips into the soft, moist earth. She welcomed you. That tiny screen? He pushes you away. He pushes you away because in keeping it there, in your hand, like a premature baby, all the time, always scrolling or trolling or knoll-ing… you’re looking down. Your focus is too focused. I would very much like you to look up, or out, even just out, not necessarily up. Soften your gaze and behold how the maple forest has changed since yesterday. It’s a bit more golden, a bit more orange, a bit more musical. Widen your gaze and see that man in the red jacket who has taken a break from selling the Street News newspaper and is biting into an apple. Someone gave it to him, as a present, as an exchange of sweetness. They didn’t want a newspaper in return, just a moment’s eye contact, just a smile.

“Led Zeppelin” by Sasha at Joe Coffee

Thursday, October 10, 2013 at Joe Coffee
5 minutes
Overheard at Columbia University

Molly is nineteen. She wears a black leather jacket lined with sheep’s skin, light blue jeans and red Doc Martins. Remains of last night’s red lipstick stain her lips. Her blond, shoulder-length hair is messy and falls just below her shoulders. She wears many rings on her fingers, some sitting above the knuckle. Chipped white nail-polish coats her short nails.

I always think about listening to Led Zeppelin but I just never get around to it, you know?! I feel mad at my Mom for never exposing me to the cool stuff. She only listened to, like, John Denver. She was absolutely in love with him. She tells this story, over and over, to anyone that will listen, like don’t bring it up if you ever meet her because she will for sure try to launch right into it… She went to, like, fifty seven of his concerts or something. But at one, down in the East Village, she actually met him. She waited by the stage door and he finally came out and… his hand was cold when she shook it. That really surprised her, because, he was like, sweaty from playing the show or whatever.

“For their swim records” by Sasha at Brooklyn College

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at Brooklyn College
5 minutes
Super Fish Thorpe
Kaci Tami

How are you being so fucking calm! What the fuck? I found your passport. I found your hiding spot. I found the letter and the blow and your stupid knife! Vinny! Listen to me! I, I… You said you weren’t going back there. You fucking promised. Now, I’m all, I’m all homeless and you’re… you’re fucking around with those dumb, cross-eyed brothers! I don’t care if it’s over and we’re, we’re… over! You made a promise! They’ve got nothing for you. All they’ve got is trouble, and that bubbly water that’s not even good for you. People think it’s fancy but I heard someone say that it’s not. It upsets your stomach. Vinny. Okay. I’m, I’m going to pick up Gio from swimming class. When I get back I want you to have some kind of cool and collected response for me. You’ve got, like, forty five minutes. Get it together.

“Freedom to give” by Sasha at Tarragon Theatre

Tuesday October 8,2013 at Tarragon Theatre
5 minutes
Universal Freedom
George Krokos

Do you want the cast iron pan? Your mom gave it to us when we first… You know what, why don’t you just have it. I mean, you make that cornbread and all those… omelettes. But, you have to season it, Sam… If you don’t, it goes all flakey and, well, like, Google how to season it, okay? Shit. I, I, I… This is… This was… I need more boxes. I’m gonna go to No Frills, wanna come? Or, maybe that’s… a bad idea. I just, I, I appreciate your, like, gentle way. How you’re being gentle? I’m, I hate this shit, this wrapping and labelling and having to remember if it’s your copy of To Kill a Mockingbird or… You know what? If you don’t mind, I’ll keep the pan. I love that pan. They don’t make them like that anymore so…

“The way we judge” by Sasha on her bed

Monday, October 7, 2013
5 minutes
The Four Agreements
Don Miguel Ruiz

Amy and Dan’s therapist told them to trade secrets. They set aside five minutes on Monday night to do so.

Amy: Do you ever see someone on the street and think that they’d… taste good? I mean, not sexually. I mean, like, that if you licked their arm, they’d probably taste like… pie?
Dan: Nope… But, I respect that you do. I mean, that’s weird, but –
Amy: You aren’t supposed to judge –
Dan: I’m not! I was just saying… I like that you see strangers and want to lick them.
Amy: That’s not what I said! This isn’t working.
Dan: Don’t say that. Remain hopeful. I’m going to go. Phew. Okay… Sometimes I, well, I never want to lick people, but… occasionally I want to, like, touch their hair. Okay. If I’m being perfectly honest, I want to braid their hair.
Amy: You know how to braid?

“For their swim records” by Julia at Cafe Uno

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at Cafe Uno
5 minutes
Super Fish Thorpe
Kaci Tami

I failed swimming lessons when I was 7. Or 6. Or something dumb and young like that. I was told in my first year of lessons that I “Swam like a fish”. That was bullshit. Just something Keri, the swim instructor told all the stupid kids. Truth was I couldn’t grasp it. I would try to paddle like a dog and just end up swallowing too much water. I was afraid of everything, the diving board (even when I wasn’t on it), the stairs, the shallow end. Keri said I was doing fine, but there was something different about her tone. Maybe she knew I wasn’t teachable, even at 6. Or 7. My sister wasn’t doing that well in swimming class either, so guess what, I didn’t care to be that great either. I thought if I was supposed to excel at it, my sister would have already shown me how to do it. My sister is the smart one. She picks up things quick, like baking, or when we were kids, being a leader. I was always fine just tagging along and wearing what she was wearing. Not much for making decisions. I wish I could go back in time and re-learn how to learn because something is still wrong with me. I can swim to save my life, I guess, but that’s only because my aunt Kathy forced me to tread water for an unnatural amount of time because she knew I wouldn’t even know how many minutes had passed. I suppose that was a nice thing she did. Either way. Swimming is still bullshit.

“Freedom to give” by Julia at Sambuca Grill

Tuesday October 8,2013 at Sambuca Grill
5 minutes
Universal Freedom
George Krokos

Hasn’t she had enough, Tom? Maura asked with concern. Please. We don’t need to be so cruel. She needs a couple of dollars, so what!
She needs to learn how to be independent, He told her. That girl doesn’t know how to do anything but let other people do things for her. I blame you for that, Maura.
Me? She replied. How can you blame me? Because I didn’t want to see our daughter suffer and make the same mistakes we did? That’s what parenting is, Tom, it’s about giving.
She can work for her money if she needs it. She can work just like everybody else has to.
This is different, Tom. She’s not everybody else. She’s gone through something traumatic and it would be nice if you weren’t being such a hard ass.
I don’t think of it like that, I told you. If my parents gave me everything I wanted I’d be dead on the streets by now. By her age, if we want to get specific.
Well maybe she’s not like you. Maybe she’s stronger.

“The way we judge” by Julia on her couch

Monday, October 7, 2013
5 minutes
The Four Agreements
Don Miguel Ruiz

The way we judge hurts and flirts with all the good things. All the good things.
Closed eyes, hand on heart, sort of reaching in every which direction without knowing the destination. Knocking off every single mantle-piece, art installation, packet of stale crackers.
And things get in the way, like the people we love, like the people we trust. And we throw them into a pit filled entirely with piranhas.
We don’t know it yet but it isn’t very useful. We do it because it’s easy and it feels good to take the blame off of ourselves every now and again. Especially when the biggest critic there is lives inside our skulls and pounds every wall down just to be heard.
It sounds like humour but it’s a pretty little mask.
We can’t stand to be alone and we can’t stand to think that someone else was justified in doing anything at all. We pick at each other’s scabs because we don’t like the sight of our own blood.
Squeamish little fuckers.
Then we smile and laugh and sing and dance and pretend like we’re all best friends with each other.

“1951-2013” by Sasha on her couch

Sunday, October 6, 2013
5 minutes
from Haroon Rahim Bakhsh’s memorial card

“I’m going out!” I call. Mom’s in her bedroom watching The Price Is Right. She guesses before the contestants on the show, out loud, and if she’s right she rewards herself with a spritz of perfume. The smell is making me nauseous. “Mom!” She can’t hear me. “I’m going to the beach!” “Fine,” she says, and I hear her shuffling. “No need to get up,” I poke my head into her room, holding my breath, “I’ll be back in an hour or so.” “Can you do an errand for me?” She asks. She either wants Rum or BBQ Chicken. “I’m just going to the beach, I wasn’t going to go to the store,” I’m irritated but I hide it, or I try to. A mother always knows. “Fine,” she says. When I’m out of the apartment, I cough and take huge gulps of the Florida air. My cell phone beeps. It’s Vee. She’s been checking in on me every few hours. I think she thinks I’m suicidal. She doesn’t want me to go before Mom.

“Toronto had one film festival.” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Saturday, October 5, 2013
5 minutes
From an article in the VIA Rail Destinations magazine September/October 2013/

People are writing their secrets on the leaves of the big maple behind City Hall. It’s starting to turn, autumn sweeping her mysterious paintbrush across it. There’s a jar at the base of the tree, I put it there, filled with coloured pens. A plaque sits behind the jar, she made it, and reads, “Tell us your secrets.” She has curly, goddess penmanship and makes writing on wood with a Sharpie look like an ancient Japanese art form. We wait, perched in a chamber with an overlooking window. “Let’s stay for three days,” she says, sipping Earl Grey from a travel mug. The first person comes and reads the plaque and walks away. A couple, in somewhat matching plaid jackets, smiles at eachother. The each take a leaf, low down and write and wait, and write and wait. I trust this tree more than any person. He’s been listening to my secrets since before I was born.

“1951-2013” by Julia on her couch

Sunday, October 6, 2013
5 minutes
from Haroon Rahim Bakhsh’s memorial card

When we get there, I’ll make sure Mona knows about the car seat. Okay? I promise you, Birdie, I won’t let anything happen. Mona has the kettle ready to go, she just said to call when we’re a minute or two out so she can put it on. She’s trying, Birdie. She wants to help you, and I suppose both of us. She really is. It’s not like a judging thing. She’s truly invested in this family, and I honestly couldn’t even tell you why. She might see something in me, but quite positive it’s you she worries about. She’s maybe not had to deal with some of the same things, but I can assure you, she’s a good listener. And she understands without having to go through it all. I think that’s rare, Birdie. I think it’s nice too. If you’re still feeling uncomfortable by, I don’t know, 3pm or 4, you just let me know and we don’t have to stay. We do have to go, though, that’s part of the plan. She’s expecting us, after all, and it wouldn’t be fair to keep her waiting forever and then never show up. If you want we can even tell her right when we get there that we’re probably not sticking around. She won’t begrudge us that, but we have to at least drop in for half and hour and say hi. She’s been busy baking all morning for us. It’d be a shame to let her famous ginger cookies to go to waste.

“Toronto had one film festival.” By Julia on the VIA Rail

Saturday, October 5, 2013
5 minutes
From an article in the VIA Rail Destinations magazine September/October 2013/em>

Back when the roads were calm, the streets were empty and the whole world went elsewhere to feel alive.
Back when the city centre was a couple of hay bails and markets. Back when people didn’t come up to you to accuse you for not being from there. Now there are divides. We see neighborhoods with different personalities and humans adopting those personalities as if they forgot to develop their own and those were the next best options.
We see big buildings that keep the wind out, the love out, the money in.
It’s beautiful and enviable to those on the outside and for those who chose to pay higher rent than everyone else learn to resent it. We hate ourselves for staying and we blame ourselves for leaving.
Back when the growing was grass, not concrete, the life to have was the one we were building, not the building we were renting.
That’s when things were easier.
We can remember those days when the daily commute tries to tame us.