“(a photograph of people walking in the snow)” by Sasha at the CSI Coffee Pub

Wednesday May 28, 2014 at the CSI Coffee Pub
5 minutes
from The Sun Magazine

He’s wearing that T-shirt that’s a joke, a joke about dharma and bums. I don’t get it. He’s picking at an ingrown hair on his chin. “Got tweezers?” He looks at me like this is totally normal, like I’m his assistant in LIFE, like the reason I’m here is HIM. “Yeah…” I say, digging into my toiletries bag. It’s hot. Lisbon is hot. We’ve been travelling for seven weeks and I’m ready to shoot him. I present the tweezers. “Can you do it?” He says, almost whiney. “What?” “Can you?” I scrunch my nose and think about it. I’ve always liked popping a good pimple. “Fine!” I say, like it’s an inconvenience but tolerable. He is growing his hair and it’s kind of a Posh Spice bob. I go very close to him and I can’t believe that we slept together three years ago when we were lonely and it was winter and we’d had a bottle of bourbon. “This is nasty,” I say, picking around his chin.

“I think I’m crying from happiness” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday May 27, 2014
5 minutes
from http://www.buzzfeed.com

WSW. Craigslist post.
You know when you’re walking down the street, and it’s lush and things are blooming all over the damn place and you suddenly touch your own cheek and you realize “I’m crying from happiness”! That happens to me. At least once a full moon. If it happens to you too, let’s talk. I’m taller than average, with bigger than average feet and kneecaps. I like baseball hats, James Dean, the colour orange and persian carpets. I was born on the East Coast but have called Toronto home since thinking I wanted to be in Journalism and attending University and then having a quarter life crisis and quitting. Now I sometimes hang out in a tattoo parlour and I sometimes bake vegan muffins (the former for money the secondary for pleasure and bowl licking alone). I’m not a vegan, but I dabble in animal protection. I’m not religious but I believe in something bigger than my little (tall) self.

“A passionate hot blooded woman” by Sasha on her couch

Monday May 26, 2014
5 minutes
from the ‘Julia’ candle

My palms are sweaty and I think I might’ve accidentally worn yesterday’s underwear. Don’t ask me how that happens! Sometimes it does, okay!? “So, Samantha…” Doctor Bald says (his name has been changed to protect his privacy), “what brings you to the birth control clinic this fine May morning?” He’s smug. He’s looking like he woke up to a blowjob and some yeasted waffles. Motherfucker. “I, uh, I think I might have a… I need a prescription for the pill.” He smiles like someone is giving him a really good foot massage. I look down. No one. Shit. “Okey-dokey, Samantha. Now have you been on birth control before?” “Yes, no… I don’t know… Kind of? I’ve used condoms.” I hate that word. It makes me feel twelve. “Never have you embarked on the hormone based birth control?” “Nope…” He strokes his chin, like, like, he cannot believe that a twenty nine year old woman has never taken a fucking A Lesse tablet. “Hm…” He says, looking me up and down.

“Income tax services” by Sasha on the Queen Streetcar going East

Sunday May 25, 2014
5 minutes
A sign on Queen St. West

The shit hit the fan when we were playing scrabble. Ben heard from his Mom on Wednesday that they wouldn’t be going up to the cabin that weekend and would we like to go. Would we like to go? Um. YES! We would. We did. We borrowed their car. We packed bags, we got on the highway before rush hour, we ate chocolate covered coffee beans so that we would stay up longer relaxing once we got there. It was going to be the best weekend of our spring, heck! Of our lives. When we arrived, there was a note on the door from the neighbour. “What neighbour?” I asked, looking around, instantly worried about the jeopardizing of my plan for porch sex and pretty constant nudity. “Burns,” Ben said, all nonchalant. “Burn?” I repeated, trying my best not to get edgy but recognizing that this might be challenging given the amount of coffee beans I ate. “Burns”, as if that’s even his name, wrote, “Problems with the sceptic tank. Call me.” Ben took out his phone. No signal. “Who’s Burns? What’s a sceptic tank?!” I was getting clinically hysterical. Ben said, “Please chill out. Go for a walk or something,” and left me there, while he went over to Burns’ place to talk toilets and water pressure.

“we pass the time very well” by Sasha at Dark Horse on Queen East

Saturday May 24, 2014 at Dark Horse Queen East
5 minutes
Sambuca Grill Drink List

I want you to think I’m a really good listener.
I nod my head.
I “uh huh”.
I smile and I furrow and I gasp.
I want you to see me as a compassionate person.
I want you to think I’m filled to the brim with dignity,
with grace,
with ease,
with love.
I want you to know me as a kind soul.
I’m a kind soul.
I want you to look at me and see health,
see vitality,
see brightness.
I want you to know I’m smart,
and articulate,
and creative,
and sensitive,
but not too sensitive,
just the right amount of sensitive.

“master of my own” by Sasha on her couch

Friday May 23, 2014
5 minutes
overheard on the streetcar

When I married Christina I didn’t think that our differing opinions on literature would really be a problem. When I married Christina I never could’ve imagined that the smell of her would make me turn away. When I married Christina I thought I was the luckiest man alive, I thought I was master of my own, I thought…

The fighting only got really bad when I was writing. I am sorry to be the one to say it, but marrying a writer is never going to be easy. “Why aren’t you coming up for supper?” She’d ask from the top of the stairs. “Goddamnit Christina! Because I’ve been sitting here staring at a white fucking screen all day long and I finally got on a roll and I need to stick with it!!!!” She wouldn’t say anything. I’d hear her walking across the kitchen and turning off the stove.

“No phone or internet” by Sasha on the Queen car going West

Thursday May 22, 2014
5 minutes
a woodgreen.org streetcar stop ad

When Velma called she sounded out of breath.
“What is it?” I said.
“It’s Art…” Velma sobbed.
“Where is he?”
“At the hospital – ”
“Watch your mouth, Rosie! Don’t you swear at me – ”
“Damn it!”
I hung up the phone and drove down there as fast as I could. The roads were slick from the rain. I called out to God, “Kill me! Just kill me! Let me die in an accident! I can’t bear this!”
Maybe you’re wondering why Velma called me?
Maybe you’re wondering why she…?
Velma and Art have a… how should I say it… Open Relationship? He’s loved me longer than he’s loved her for Christ Sake! But his uptight parents didn’t think that I, Rosie Ruiz, was good enough for their golden boy. My nose was too big and my hips were too wide and my mouth was too dirty and…

“I think I’m crying from happiness” by Julia in her backyard

Tuesday May 27, 2014
5 minutes
from http://www.buzzfeed.com

Maybe it’s because a butterfly is currently sitting on my knee, or because my baby brother got accepted into med school, or because my older brother just flew his first plane by himself. Maybe it’s because life keeps astounding me and I can’t keep up with how good it all is. I broke up with Massi because he was begging me to move to Milan and live there with him while he relaunched his sculpting business. He called it a business so I would feel more secure in moving my entire life to a place I’d have to completely start over. New bank accounts, new driver’s license, new language, new food, new government, new phone plan. Not to mention Massi was a busy man and I’d see him probably 3 times a week if I was lucky. He told me saying no was an admission of defeat for our relationship and for my existence and he said it in such an Italian way that I almost believed him. But he was wrong. I was not giving up on me. I was giving up on the idea that I needed to please someone else. And so maybe it’s because for the first time I’m living independently. Maybe that’s why I’m so happy.

“A passionate hot blooded woman” by Julia at her kitchen table

Monday May 26, 2014
5 minutes
from the ‘Julia’ candle

Then he looked at me and said, damn woman, that was the hottest kiss. I’ve never been kissed that passionately before. And I was like, well I was drunk so what do you want me to say? And he said, say you meant it, say you needed it. I was about to punch him in his face when he came up to mine and kissed me again. I didn’t even pull away. When we were done, he said, are you drunk now? And I said, no, and he said, so there we go. And I said, there we go? And he said, yeah, see? That was sober passion. I said, that shit doesn’t exist, and he said, yeah it does; I just proved it to you. You like me.
Then the world went dark and my eyes got fuzzy and I said, no these are all lies you tell yourself but now you’ve included me in the conversation too. He said, you’re seriously disputing that we just made passion out of thin air just a second ago? And I said, well yeah, passion comes from the soul, not from the lips. And then the world got light again and I could breathe and I could breathe enough that I started to walk away. He said, where are you going? And I said, I have something to do. And he said, more than being here right now with me in the middle of this moment? And then I couldn’t say anything at all that would encompass my disdain for him in “this moment” so I just scoffed and rolled my eyes all the way back into my head. He said, seriously? And I said, What? It’s a kiss. It’s how I kiss. I’m a good kisser, what more can I tell you, Christ.

“Income tax services” by Julia at her kitchen table

Sunday May 25, 2014
5 minutes
A sign on Queen St. West

HI, my name is HOLLY and I will be your PERSONAL ROBOT. I’m a robot I’m a GIRL ROBOT.
Just kidding. I hate robots. Like hate hate hate.
I just thought it would be a cute joke, you know, those kinds that you tell over the internet when someone e-mails you and begs for your help and you’re like, what am I a freaking computer? What is this, New Years?
That’s something my boyfriend says. What is this, New Years? I stole it, whatever. No big D.
Taryn asked me to help her do her taxes and I’ve been doing her taxes since 2009 and I’m pissed about it because it would cost her $50 freaking dollars to go to H & R Block but she’s my sister and she has a pouty face and insecurity issues and inferiority issues and self-esteem issues so I help her because I would really rather she didn’t use not knowing how to do her own taxes as a personal excuse to stop living.
Like not in a suicidal way—she’s not depressed. Not that I know of. Not that everyone who is depressed offs themselves, but like, you know what I’m saying. Whatever I’m tired, I’ve been sitting at this computer for far too long and all the words are crumbling or disappearing and I’m on my way to sleep land anyway.
I don’t know when Taryn’s going to finally just do herself a favour and open the internet to research how to do this. It’s not like she has to read a book or anything.

“we pass the time very well” by Julia at Sambuca Grill

Saturday May 24, 2014 at Sambuca Grill
5 minutes
Sambuca Grill Drink List

we have a garden in the backyard that we’re just waiting to use. the guy who lives upstairs says DO NOT TOUCH and he says it with a sign and also with his lawn gnomes. we are not phased by lawn gnomes. he should have picked a scarier thing like a troll or a baby. we stare out into the yard every night and we plot our moves. we tell ourselves that when he goes away for the weekend we’ll take out our wheelbarrow and bring in some quality garden goods to our side of the house. we say to ourselves that we won’t need to take a lot, but enough of everything. he wants the red stuff and i want the green. we make sure that even in our minds we don’t take too much. can’t be greedy in fantasies because that’s being ill-prepared for realities. we pass the time very well when waiting for the upstairs guy to go away for the night or for the whole weekend. we make shadow puppets on the wall and tell each other stories in cooky voices. we drink flat ginger ale and ask each other questions about the rain forest and the prairies. we put an egg timer on the stove and try not to move until the timer goes off. we touch each other up and down our bodies using only our eyelashes.

“Until everyone finished performing” by Sasha on the subway going East

Wednesday May 21, 2014
5 minutes

Marion knew it was her turn. She finished her warm beer. She closed her eyes. She took a deep breath. She tried to smooth her frizzy hair. It was so hot in there that she felt pools of sweat forming under her bum, under her breasts, under her fingernails. She wished that she hadn’t asked Sebastian to come. She wished she hasn’t said, “Sure!” when he asked if he could bring his roommate, Alice. “Now everyone’s gonna know I’m terrible…” She muttered. Sebastian leaned over and whispered, “You’re gonna be great!” She almost threw up but swallowed it. She saw her guitar, sitting by the stage like a bad omen. She knew it was her turn, but she couldn’t bring herself to move. “You’re up, Marion!” said Sebastian. She stood, bringing one lead leg out in front of the other. “I’m going to fall,” she thought, “I’m going to fall going up the three stairs just like Jennifer Lawrence but no one is going to think I’m charming or adorable…”

“Hope for summer heat in Ontario” by Sasha on her couch

Tuesday May 20, 2014
5 minutes
The Weather Network

You guys, like you don’ even know! You guys, I was waiting for the bus and this guy says to me, “You got an ugly face!” an’ I’m like, “Is this even happening?” An’ then he says it again, “YOU GOT AN UGLY FACE!” An’ I’m like… Whattaya even say to that, right? “That’s harsh, man,” I says to him and he comes up real close to me, like I smell the hot dog he musta just eaten or whatever and he says, “No disrespect,” an’ I’m like, “Uh, yeah “disrespect!” You jus’ told me I got an ugly face!” You guys, I almost laughed. Like, you don’ believe that someone’s jus’ gonna get in your grill an’ tell you what they think like that! “What’s the poin’ a sayin’ somethin’ like that?” I says to this guy, this dumb guy. He’s like, “Havin’ a bad day, you know. Jus’ havin’ a bad day…” An’ then I think about how I’m havin’ a great day! It’s hot! It’s basically summer! Guys, this guy wasn’t gonna bring me down!

“master of my own” by Julia on her couch

Friday May 23, 2014
5 minutes
overheard on the streetcar

Oh My LANTA!!! ABBY!!! You’re looking like a real woman these days aren’t you! I can’t believe it, you’re so tall now. And look at those cheeks! Where did they even go? When you were little you used to have the chubbiest, fattest cheeks, I used to pinch ’em and tug ’em and cover ’em with so many kisses, my goodness, you used to hate that! Oh honey plum, I don’t even blame you! The whole world wanted to squeeze you dry, girlie, oh yes they did. I’m sorry about that now, but oh! I couldn’t help myself, they were just so darn big! And this dress you have on, let me take a look at you. Oh wow, spin around again, that is one heck of a figure you’ve got, now don’t you! I bet you drive all the boys crazy with those legs for days and days! Oh Abby, I used to have legs for days and days before the varicose veins and the knee surgeries, let me tell you a story! You know your father’s the one that bashed in my knee with a baseball all those years ago! I was pitching to him and he hit a line drive right into my bank account! I joke about that now because he felt so bad and all those treatments cost so much money cause I could barely stand! Oh but you!! You look wonderful!!

“No phone or internet” by Julia at Sambuca Grill

Thursday May 22, 2014 at Sambuca Grill
5 minutes
a woodgreen.org streetcar stop ad

stranded on a deserted island with the sounds of the water and the sounds of the sky just being open arround me. yeah i’m just breathing here asking the world to forgive me for being so damn stubborn. and i’m meditating incorrectly but yeah, you know, at least i’m trying. and i’m not really on a deserted island and there really isn’t any beautiful calming around me. i’m just locked in my house because dale decided to take my keys on account of the fact that his were “left” at game last night by an unnamed party, aka dale, aka TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS AND JUST FUCKING SAY YOU LEFT THEM THERE BECAUSE YOU’RE A FUCK-KNOB.
and now if i leave i have to worry about my stuff getting stolen because dale convinced me to live in this stupid part of town where things get robbed and windows get smashed. locked in. and the power is out. so i’m sitting around a shit ton of candles trying to find my own inner peace and trying not to listen to dale speaking to me in this state, saying, you know you really should be writing.

“Until everyone finished performing” by Julia on her couch

Wednesday May 21, 2014
5 minutes

there was a lull in the crowd as we waited for jenny to get the courage to go up for open mic night. it was her first time, so she was nervous, but i’ve never seen jenny like that before. she puked in the ladies’ washroom right when she got there and she drank a whole pint of beau’s–after the whole puking incident. we started calling that move the ‘puke and purchase’. she somehow didn’t pass out, but was still so nervous that she wasn’t being herself. i whispered to her via text-message “girl, what are you doing, it’s going to be fine <3." and she text-yelled back "I AM DYING RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW". so the crowd was all waiting for the next act, and it was really clear that the mc for the night, who did a lot of standup comedy, was even feeling a bit awkward at this point. he didn't even know if he could make fun of her, probably because a) the crowd was doing that enough and b) he must have understood. finally, after waiting way too long, jenny popped up from her chair, her ukelele clutched to her chest. the crowd booed her. she looked like she was going to sit back down. so i instinctively stuck my index finger right up her butt-crack. "GO" i hissed.

“Hope for summer heat in Ontario” by Julia on the 511 going North

Tuesday May 20, 2014
5 minutes
The Weather Network

oh there are so many avocado recipes, i’m losing it, i’m losing all my mind fibres! you know, there have been sites dedicated to avocados for a long time now, and i know this, but these recent developments are really something that takes the green things in a whole new level! it’s wild to think you can bake an egg inside of an avocado as if it were a cupcake tray! i love that! my mind bits are seriously exploding and i am going a bit insane wondering when and how and when i can throw a bazillion parties just to make each delectable recipe for my loved ones and theirs! oh my goodness, the summer is really turning quickly into the best time of year for me. it used to be winter, believe it or not, but believe it cause otherwise the story just sort of peters off. it used to be winter because of squash! all squash, so many winter kinds and i got crazy for the soups and the roasted versions. i would have parties at my house all the time, for goodness knows what reason. one time i had people over to watch the Oscars which was fun, and i did a squash themed oscar extravaganza. another time the reason wasn’t as great but people still came over when i invited them for “tupperware exchange” night. any excuse at all to whip out the famous recipes. and this summer is going to be exactly that. i already have a “block party” party and a David Bowie’s greatest tunes tribute night. that one’s going to be a for sure hit. with avocados!

“Hair Design Inc.” by Julia on her couch

Monday May 19, 2014
5 minutes
from insurance papers

I’m gonna go to a real nice school and learn how to cut all the nice ladies’ hair. I’m going to give them high status looks and sophisticated styles. Then they will tell all their friends that they know a girl who will make them look like a star. A real movie star. I have to get a couple clients. Then I’ll show them my skills and they will see I love cutting hair so much and they will come again to see me when they need an up-do or even just a blowout for a business meeting. I’ll give them my card and say okay this is for you, you’ve been a very good customer. And they’ll tell me I was the best they ever had in their life. In their life! They’ll repeat that part cause it’s important. And they’ll walk out smiling with love cause they look so nice and they feel the way they look. So first I have to find the right school. The right school for the right kind of hairstyles.

Why do I write? by Julia at the t5m: writer’s workout at the Fringe Creation Lab

Sunday May 18, 2014
5 minutes
from a writing prompt by Natalie Goldberg

1.I write because if I didn’t I would burst.
2.I write because the dream doesn’t sound real when it’s not on paper.
3.I write because my pores need release and I’m never getting enough of that.
4.I write because I like the way my mind looks in ink.
5.I write because I’m dying to be heard.
6.I write because I’m dying to be understood.
7.I write because I tell myself I must.
8.I write because I enjoy painting with words.
9.I write because I hope someone will rescue me.
10.I write because I hope someone will find my thoughts and fall in love with them.
11.I write because I love telling stories.
12.I write because I hate being interrupted.
13.I write because I can’t lie to myself with a pen in my hand.
14.I write because life is fast and I’m trying to remember the best version of myself.
15.I write because in a world filled with stimuli, my only refuge is my word.
16.I write because I want to be quoted.
17.I write because if I didn’t I’d watch too much TV.
18.I write because I think my personality is better on paper.

“Hair Design Inc.” by Sasha on her couch

Monday May 19, 2014
5 minutes
from insurance papers

He gets the east side, I get the west. When we broke up, I laid it out. “I expect that you won’t travel west of Spadina and I won’t go east of Yonge. Deal?” “Deal.” He said. We shook on it. His hand was cold and my palm was sweaty. I cried into the carpet after he left for about forty five minutes and then that was it. That was the size of my grief. You’d think that after six years and three apartments, there might be more than that. He gets the east and I get the west, right? Wrong. Kathleen just moved to… Riverdale. “God!” I shouted at her when she told me the news. “Jason and I got a great one bedroom on Degrassi!” She said, all excited. “He got the east side…” I said, after she furrowed her eyebrows. “Isn’t that a little… infantile?” She said.

Why do I write? by Sasha at the t5m: writer’s workout at the Fringe Creation Lab

Sunday May 18, 2014
5 minutes
from a writing prompt by Natalie Goldberg

1. I write because I want to live forever.
2. I write because my mother writes and my father writes and my sister writes and the man I’m going to marry writes.
3. I write because I’m good at it.
4. I write because it helps me understand humanity.
5. I write to fly.
6. I write to go places I’ll never actually go.
7. I write to connect and to disconnect.
8. I write to remember.
9. I write for myself and for you.
10. I write for the six-year-old voicelessness.
11. I write because I can do it every day, on my terms.
12. I write because it brings me closer to God/Source/Creator/Nature.
13. I write because I like the sound of pen on paper, of fingers playing laptop keyboard.
14. I write for my family, the legacy of what’s been and what’s coming.

“In love” by Sasha at her desk

Saturday May 17, 2014
5 minutes
from a button

Auntie Tessie and Uncle Davie were in love til the end. Tessie died when she was ninety three and Davie followed her to heaven seven months later. They were in love til the end. They’d whisper before falling asleep and when they’d wake up, in the night, they’d kiss. They would hold hands while watching the news and in the grocery store. They’d leave notes for each other. “You’re beautiful”. “I love you more today than I did yesterday”. When Tessie died, Davie knew that he was going to see her soon, so he mourned but he didn’t grieve. “See you soon, babe,” he’d whisper as he nodded off to sleep. That kind of love is timeless. That kind of love is the purest inspiration.

“Anytime. Anywhere. Anything” by Sasha on her couch

Friday May 16, 2014
5 minutes
from the side of a van

“Anytime! Anywhere! You need him? Hank is THERE!” My father was a lawyer in our small town. One of two. He and Thomas Vanderhoof went to Law School together. My father was a year ahead. He handled what he referred to as the “little people”. Vanderhoof took the big fish. “Anytime! Anywhere! You need him? Hank is THERE!” Was a fifteen second TV spot that he had on the local station from 1982-1990. It haunted my grade school years and my middle school years. The cracking voice of a pre-pubescent boy, “Hank is THERE!”

“how thrilled she was” by Sasha at her desk

Thursday May 15, 2014
5 minutes
This American Life Podcast

She answered the phone like a hurricane
Like the yellow of a daffodil
Eyebrows raised
I wondered if she remembered the turn-up of my nose
The freckle above my upper lip
I wondered if she remembered how thrilled she was when I told her I was going
I nodded
I nodded at my name like a toddler
Like a stream in May
“Look at you!”
We ate oatmeal cookies
We drank cappuccinos from her new machine
She told me about Daisy
About the stock market
About how glad she was I was in town
She asked about Henry
My brother
He’d run away when we’d both been with them for seven years
He ran away and never came back
The system stinging him like a jellyfish
“We tried our best” she said
Again and again
Her hands trembling

“In love” by Julia at Lauren and Jack’s house

Saturday May 17, 2014
5 minutes
from a button

They were real in love like
Dreams left on the pillow
Like hope floating in a glass jar beside the bed like
skin on skin on skin on skin
And they had each other
And they had the moon
And they were all the world could think of
And they didn’t mind one bit
One bit
They were real in love like
Hot breath in the shower
Like finger traced laugh lines
Like mediocre soft eggs turned into a
king’s buffet
And they had each other
And they had the lake
And they had their wishes even if they had to keep them in a drawer
And they didn’t mind one bit
One bit
Cause oh they were real in love like
Fireworks in January like
Silence in the understanding like
Two spiders with a promise

“Anytime. Anywhere. Anything” by Julia on the subway going east

Friday May 16, 2014
5 minutes
from the side of a van

I’ve got you
Under my skin
I don’t know but somehow
I let you in
And if you went
A little deeper
You would see what
I was keeping there
I can’t hide
Not anymore
The wound is peeled
And you can see to my core
And if you stayed a little longer
You would taste
what I was feeling there

The lights are on
and I’m exposed like a secret
The world is quiet and that’s
The way I try to keep it
Ask me no questions
I’ll tell you great lies
The answers are twisted
The avoidance of whys
And an actor is born
Out of flesh and
Of pain
And we all struggle
To bear the truth we witness
Without placing the blame
In safety
And in vulnerability
I tell you this
I tell you

I’ve got you
Under my skin
I don’t know but somehow
I let you in
And if you went
A little deeper
You would see what
I was keeping there

“Develop the skills needed” by Sasha at her desk

Wednesday May 14, 2014
5 minutes
A centennial college poster

A: I’m at the police station –
B: What?
A: Yeah. They picked me up. I was waiting for Lizzie outside the Laser Tag place and –
B: Is this a joke?
A: No.
B: Oh my God…
A: It’s going to be okay.
B: How is this –
A: They need to keep me here overnight.
B: I’m coming down.
A: No.
B: Where’s Lizzie?
A: I called Madeleine.
B: Shit.
A: She doesn’t know what happened. She thought I got called into work.
B: This is all going to be really helpful in the custody batt –
A: Please. Just don’t right now. I need you to stay calm. And call Judd Ashton.
B: Where’s his number?
A: In my blue address book. In the junk drawer.
B: Why is it – ?
A: Please.
B: Okay. Okay. Hang on.

“set yourself on fire” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday May 13, 2014
5 minutes
Your Ex-Lover Is Dead

Sometimes you look at me and say, “I saw her again.” I know who you’re talking about. You’re talking about the one, in the mirror, with the furrowed brow. “It’s okay,” I tell you. “She’ll be gone soon.” But this time she doesn’t go. She stays. She sets up camp in the linen cupboard. You refuse to wash. You refuse to eat. I call you mother. “I’m worried,” I say. “You two are too co-dependant,” she tells me and calls the Institute to see if they have space for you. You’ll be gone for a few weeks and then you’ll return, “tuned up”. That’s what you say, like you’re a bike in the spring. “Just went in for my tune up!” When you get back, you’re always so happy it’s almost tinny. It’s almost annoying. “Make up your mind!” You tell me, rolling a cigarette. You made friends with a man there named Todd, who carries drum and papers, and tells you that the way to free yourself of yourself is to let go of all your attachments. “The thing I’m most attached to is you,” you say, inhaling deeply.

“how thrilled she was” by Julia on her bed

Thursday May 15, 2014
5 minutes
This American Life Podcast

He deals with the landlord because she gets real entitled for no reason. She thinks she should have holes in walls replaced immediately, and that he should be able to be contacted at any time of the day, the night, holiday or not. He knows that if he calls the landlord after business hours, he’ll get a better response. He can shoot the shit. He can talk about the basketball game or the hockey game or the weather or the news. She gets right down to the matter at hand and forgoes any niceties because she’s busy and doesn’t care if her landlord thinks she’s unpleasant. She’s made because she offered once to babysit his three girls because she thought that might help their chances of never getting their rent price inflated. He said no and she never forgave him so now she just calls him when she has to and otherwise gets pissy if the ceiling in the kitchen leaks and she knows it won’t get resolved till after business hours three weeks from now because everyone else is so damn laid back. He tells her that she needs to let go a bit and stop worrying that everyone is out to get her and purposely stretching out tasks that need completing. She tells him his standards are too low and that they are not friends because friends don’t make friends sign a contract for a 1 year lease.
She reminds him to remind the landlord and he tells her that it will all get done eventually.

“Develop the skills needed” by Julia at her kitchen table

Wednesday May 14, 2014
5 minutes
A centennial college poster

I suppose it comes from reading a book in a way that you don’t actually ever read it because you’re too busy writing down the quotable quotes in a little notepad that sits beside your bed.
When you see all the answers to life’s great questions and you think, yeah, I have to write this down or I’ll never remember it and I’ll never be free.
Free of what, the unknowing? Because now that you know, you can’t unknow, but you can forget and that’s worse. Worse because you have the taste in your mouth but you can’t recall the flavour. It loses its power. So that’s why you spend hours writing down your favourite words in sequence. Even though you told yourself you’d reread them every now and again…you don’t because life gets busy. But at least you wanted to better yourself and learn something new and develop the skills needed to survive as a human in this day and age.
That’s the kind of rainy Sunday you tell yourself you’ll have only after you’ve made it. But when the light from the kitchen beams into your bedroom and tries to trick you into doing something else, you’ll have to find those quotes again and then instead of just absorb them, you’ll have to use them as a springboard. Focus.
Focus now.
Focus always.
And then the rest of the words you knew once will resurface, and you’ll find them popping up in your memoirs, and your poems, and your love letters, and your address book or contact list.

“set yourself on fire” by Julia on her couch

Tuesday May 13, 2014
5 minutes
Your Ex-Lover Is Dead

It was out of extreme desperation but I was no longer happy with anything about my face. So I decided.
I decided to change the way I see myself. Change the way the world sees me because of the way I see me.
So I decided.
I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it. I couldn’t risk my aunt or my mother finding out. Of course not my grandma. They’d kill me before they let me do something like that. And that would then defeat the purpose of re-branding myself.
My grandma always loved my hair. My mom always did too. My aunt was a hair-dresser and thought I did something right in my former life to have the head of hair that I had.
And so I decided.
I lit a candle. One that smelled of fig and honey.
And it was nice, and I was enjoying myself.
And then I slowly dipped a strand or two into the flickering flame.
It sizzled. And I snapped my head back out of impulse.
Then somehow found the secret strength of carrying out plans to completion when it’s for nobody but me.
And I put more hair into the flame, smelling no longer like fig and honey, but like burning.
So I decided it would be dramatic.
Because I’m dramatic.
Because I’m so goddamn dramatic.
And I let the flames engulf my pretty hair until I could feel the heat deep in my scalp.
That’s when I smothered it.

“I’d known better” by Julia on her couch

Monday May 12, 2014
5 minutes
A short story by Ben Mauk

Oh yeah I was flying, it wasn’t a dream, I really was.
You can bet on that kind of stuff.
The stuff that feels real but isn’t.
The stuff that you wish was fake, but can’t be.
I once flew in a dream and oh yeah, it was magical.
I was able to get myself off the ground with a couple of good and happy thoughts the way Mary Martin taught me.
I went searching for someone I shouldn’t have been searching for.
He comes up a lot.
Sort of in my mind the way a fly buzzes in your ear, flies into it, out of nowhere.
You try to swat it away.
I do. I try to swat it away.
He comes up a lot.
He comes up so much.
Those are the times the empty feeling of guilt doesn’t haunt my sleep, or my waking states.
Those are the times the guilt doesn’t get to penetrate because I earned the free pass.
From loving him all those years.
From jumping off a tall building and landing in my own heart.
So I see him when I’m not expecting him.
And sometimes I tell him all my secrets even though he already knows them.
I don’t know how he knows but he knows.
He feels the same way about me, sometimes finding me in my dreams too.
And we meet there with a bow tied around the moment so no one tries to unwrap it and waste it.

“Defeating death, embracing love” by Julia on the Greyhound heading to Toronto

Sunday May 11, 2014
5 minutes
Reader’s Digest
March 2014

What am I going to have to do to get you to come out of there?
He knocked gently on the bathroom door and waited there with his head attached to the wall.
She stared daggers silently through him, through the wall.
I’m not coming out. You can stay there all day if you’d like.
He swivelled in his spot, turning so the back of his head was leaning on the door.
She cocked her fingers like a gun and fired.
Can you turn down the fucking Feist, please?
He peeled himself off the door and went to his laptop sitting on the coffee table. He waited.
She waited.
He closed the lid and the music stopped.
K, thanks.
It’s not about me, right?
Yup it is, or yup it isn’t?
I need you to go away now.
She walked backward feeling the cabinets on her way to the window. When she reached the tub, she climbed in one foot at a time, then drew the shower curtain.
Please talk to me.
No thank you.

“Important Numbers:” by Julia at Amanda’s house

Saturday May 10, 2014
5 minutes
A 2013 calendar

These are the important numbers in my life:
1) 13-good luck and baseball jersey number
2) 20-birthdate and baseball jersey number
3) 1-the easiest, loneliest, and baseball jersey number
4) 0-the number of bones I have broken
5) 5-the number of minutes it takes to write a pocket-sized story
6) 2-the number of siblings I have and care about
7) 1270-the number of unread e-mails in my inbox
8) 2-the number of couches I own and hate
9) 33-the number of pairs of shoes I own
10) 16-the date we decided to try again
11) 12:34-the time I always seem to look at the clock

“forced to break the locks” by Julia at Sambuca Grill

Friday May 9, 2014 at Sambuca Grill
5 minutes
The TSA baggage inspection notice

Until I knew what I was doing, I was hoping to exist in private. That meant no windows, no doors, no working out in public, no eating sandwiches with too much meat in front of other humans. There was just so much to sort out: How I felt about road trips, if I preferred the raspberry jam with or without pectin, if green was in fact my favourite colour, if I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as our “Saviour”, if I was able to sleep at night knowing full well I just used air quotes to describe a deity, if I truly did hate jazz or just loved to hate it, how I interacted with sea-life, what, in actuality, was my true cup-size, would there ever be a family reunion that everyone came to willingly, how on earth I had made it so long without proclaiming my love for dandelions out loud.
I knew nothing about myself. I had all these questions, and worries, and paranoid dreams, and I was not about to throw it all away in the presence of other people who might deem said living style as a complete and utter failure…

“I’d known better” by Sasha at the CSI Coffee Pub

Monday May 12, 2014 at the CSI Coffee Pub
5 minutes
A short story by Ben Mauk

I’d known better than to suggest a visit to the gallery. I was the one that appreciated art. “It’s your birthday,” Jane said, “It’s your choice!” She never said what she meant. Women were so strange like this. I’ve never met a woman that says what she really means. It’s like everything is a puzzle, needing an expert mind to solve it. “Let’s get take-out Smoked Meat Sandwiches,” I said and Jane grimaced. “Really? That’s what you wanna do for your birthday?!” I paused. I breathed deep. “Let’s go the Coney Island!” She furrowed her brows. “I heard that it’s really creepy there now. Like super duper creepy…” “Let’s go to the MoMa?” She smiled. “Yes. That sounds exactly right. You could live in that place and never tire of it’s pretentious beauty.”

“Defeating death, embracing love” by Sasha in her garden

Sunday May 11, 2014
5 minutes
Reader’s Digest
March 2014

That Sunday, we all rode the streetcar to the end of the line and then we rode back again. It was Olivia’s turn. We each got a Sunday a month to choose what we would do. Leo chose the Science Centre to frequently that Eddie and I contemplated putting a monetary cap on the activities the kids chose. But seeing him so inspired, so electrified by learning, we dolled out the cash and beamed at our bright and curious boy. Olivia never chose the same thing twice. Once, we went to the park with notebooks and pencil crayons and drew flowers we didn’t know the name of. That was what she wanted – “you must not know what the flower is called!” she proclaimed. Once, she and Leo made us crepes with a multitude of fillings, both savoury and sweet. But that Sunday, in May, we all rode the streetcar. We didn’t get off once. We’d packed smoothies and almonds, and the kids had finished theirs before we even got to Pape. “It’s a long way back…” Eddie warned. At the end of the line we all high-fived. I produced fruit leathers from deep in my backpack. Leo and Olivia lost their minds. On our westward journey home, the sun was beginning to sink, and I was telling everyone about visiting Lisbon as a teenager. The kids loved my travel stories.

“Important Numbers:” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Saturday May 10, 2014
5 minutes
A 2013 calendar

Every morning when he awoke and every night before going to sleep, Benjamin Franklin would ask himself, “What good shall I do today? What good have I done today?” Every morning when he awakes and every night before going to sleep, James does the same thing. Sometimes, he feels as though he hasn’t done enough good, but he finds solace in the fact that he’s trying, in the simple act of trying to “do good”. Usually, when he wakes up, when he stretches his toes to the footboard, he thinks, “What good shall I do today? I shall give Joe, the homeless man who sits outside the Drugstore a club sandwich from the Deli. I shall ask Maria how her son is doing and if she needs help with organizing her garage for the Street Sale. I shall sign five on-line petitions for causes that I believe in. I shall take my travel mug to work and therefore not waste a take-out cup.” Usually at the end of the day, he’s done two of the four. Not bad.

“forced to break the locks” by Sasha in the park on Adelaide

Friday May 9, 2014
5 minutes
The TSA baggage inspection notice

When I was sixteen my Aunt Nell’s life-long struggle with an array of mental health issues came to an unfortunate head. She had legally adopted me when I was five, having been abandoned by my father, her older brother, and my mother, who had killed herself soon after my birth. How the Child Services had a let a woman with a history of blackouts and violence adopt an asthmatic, scrawny, bookworm still perplexes me. But, they did. I called her “Mama”, at her frequent request. “I’m your Mama!” She’d shout. She self-medicated with nicotine and a slew of prescribed and not prescribed uppers. WHen she was flying high she was pure fun. We’d have dance parties in the dining room, pushing the table and chairs to the side and blaring Tina Turner and The Bangles. She’d crash hard though, and I would be left to my own devices for days at a time. Luckily, I was a good kid. I went to school, I did my homework, I ate all the food groups. When I was sixteen, I came home from a Student Council meeting. I’d been elected the Treasurer only seven weeks before. I tried my key in the lock and it didn’t work. I knocked on the door. No answer. I could hear the far-off sound of the radio, the five o’clock news. “What the fuck do you want?!” It was Nell. She must’ve been calling to me from the kitchen. “Mama?! It’s me! It’s Ursula!” I called. I tried my key again. Then it dawned on me. She’d had the locks changed. She didn’t want me anymore. I was terrified. But I was free.

“rock ‘n’ roll-tinged bar chatter.” by Sasha on the Queen Streetcar

Thursday May 8, 2014
5 minutes
Washington Flyer
May/June 2014

“I want you to come out to McIsaac’s,” my Dad said and I was confused because he didn’t drink and last I heard, he didn’t frequent dive bars to talk to girls my age. “Okay?” I said. “May 8th. At nine thirty… It means a lot to me, Allison.” He said. I usually play soccer on Thursdays but I was so curious that I asked Nadine if she’d take my spot. When I arrived, the bar was dim and the people there were older than I had expected. I didn’t see my Dad anywhere. I looked over to the far side and saw someone tuning a guitar, dressed in boots, jeans, a plaid shirt and a hat. I ordered a beer. There was a “tap tap” on the microphone and the chatter died down. My Dad stood under a single spotlight. He said, “Thanks for coming, ya’ll… Especially my daughter Allison Daisy. Light of my life.” I sat on a barstool and listened to my Dad play. I never knew he even liked country music.

“lust and power” by Sasha on the Lansdowne bus

Wednesday May 7, 2014
5 minutes
From the WorldStage program of Mies Julie

I catch your eye and there are all the unspoken things we wish we could capture with a camera, we try to, we try our best, but most of the time we fail.
You walk towards me and you hold my gaze and I look away because I know who you are and that scares me.
“You worked on the last Sullivan feature, right?” You ask.
Suddenly, things that were clear are blurry.
Suddenly, I’m naked and you’re naked and we’re laughing and kissing and moving like animals.
“Yes,” I sip my beer.
“Yes…” You smile.
You’re older than I’d thought.
You’re shorter than I’d realized.
You touch my forearm and I get goosebumps on my thighs.
“I’m staying at the Hilton,” you say, and I forget that I have to be on set at five tomorrow morning, and I forget that my dog has probably already peed on the kitchen floor.
“Oh?” I say.
We go there and we talk (you talk) and I open a bottle of champagne (I drink).
You’re less sexy when we’re naked.
You’re clumsy.
You say that you’re jet-lagged.
I think about all the women that fantasize about sleeping with you.

“resourcefulness and self-reliance,” by Sasha on her couch

Tuesday May 6, 2014
5 minutes

Resourcefulness and self-reliance are prized traits in my family. “Resourcefulness” was fostered on yearly camping trips, on being left to my own devices in the wooded ravine behind my childhood home. “Resourcefulness” came from hours spent playing alone. “Self-reliance” was the ability and, perhaps more importantly, desire to ride the subway alone in Grade Three. Perhaps some of this comes from being raised by a woman who lived through the sixties, who was one of two women on her university campus who didn’t wear a bra, who read Simone de Beauvoir and built a cabin from the ground up wearing only her undies. Perhaps some of this comes from being a youngest child, sometimes left behind when the older ones would go off and I would be left to mix mud pies and speak in secret languages to my stuffed lion.

“rock ‘n’ roll-tinged bar chatter.” by Julia at Washington Dulles Airport

Thursday May 8, 2014
5 minutes
Washington Flyer
May/June 2014

Through the crowded space I could see her sitting at the bar with her sleeves pulled down right over hands. Hiding. Fiddling. I wanted to scoop her up right then and there and free her of her timid isolated prison and tell her, woman you don’t need to run away. The world wants you. She had two shot glasses lined up in front of her and was crashing them into each other, getting tiny splashes of the glass remnants onto her sleeves. The local band had started to play their set and everyone was moving closer to the stage. She didn’t move. She didn’t even turn. She ordered another shot of nondescript liquor from where I was standing and I could only assume it was vodka because she hated the way gin made her so volatile. She stared at her shot glass for longer than appropriate. I waited, thinking she needed to be alone. But I also felt like she needed to be saved from herself and having another body around just sitting in her silence might help.

“lust and power” by Julia at the Marriott in Providence RI

Wednesday May 7, 2014
5 minutes
From the Worldstage program of Mies Julie

Remember when we were young and in love and I’d whisper to you that I wasn’t wearing any underwear and you’d take hand and whisper back that if we didn’t leave where we were right then we’d be forced to commit an act of indecency? Remember how you’d send me dirty postcards in the mail and sign them with a fake name so none of my neighbours would know it was you? I’ve been thinking of those things so much lately. I don’t know why I just started having the longing to see you the way I used to and for you to see me the same way. It was so different there. Such late nights, such passionate conversation, such indulgent behaviour–and now when I try to categorize who we’ve become none of those words come to mind. Things like “comfortable” and “static” are what I see.

“resourcefulness and self-reliance,” by Julia at the Marriott in Providence RI

Tuesday May 6, 2014
5 minutes
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Of course you thought I was fine. I was smiling to myself, exhibiting all the qualities of a self-assured person, no indication that I was uncomfortable because of that head up walk that I perfected. You didn’t think to look beneath the skin. The skin that’s being stretched so tightly across the fear. Across the insecurities and the unhinged truth.
I learned to lie very early on. It didn’t help me. It still doesn’t help me. Not when all you want is someone to see your face, know you’re lying when you’re saying things are great, even when you look convincing. So that you don’t have to do so much work to uphold appearances and prove to everyone around that there could be nothing wrong. Not even a little bit. For someone to take your hand and look into your eyes and say, you can let that guard down now. You can let me in a little even if you don’t want to talk. You can be taken care of even if you don’t think you look strong when you accept that kind of thing.

“set a time, a location, and a few basic rules” by Julia at the Marriott in Providence

Monday May 5, 2014
5 minutes
Beautiful Trouble
Edited by Andrew Boyd and Dave Oswald Mitchell

We decided on a Sunday cause of that song–you know the one, it’s that mellow feel good one–Groovin’…on a Sunday afternoon….Really couldn’t get away too soon.
It just felt right. We’d meet on a Sunday, get in my car and drive to Nowhereville until the sun set and the breeze got too cold to have the windows down. And that’s when it started. I went to the meeting place, the gate that has all those twinkly lights still up from Christmas, you know, a few blocks away from her house. We didn’t want anyone to know. So the discreet pick up spot made it really fun. And also pretty hot. She was waiting there for me, her face buried in her phone, trying to look busy, trying not to look like she was waiting for anyone at all. Then I pulled up and watched her and I got excited and I got scared. And I got out of the car, and walked over to her slowly. And didn’t say one thing. I just kissed her. Grabbed her hand and led her to the passenger side. I opened the door for her. She said, Wow, you’re chivalrous. And I got shy and I said, I don’t know, you just make me want to be a better woman. Then she smiled and got into my little car. And she fiddled with the radio. And we were Groovin’…on a Sunday afternoon.

“set a time, a location, and a few basic rules” by Sasha at her desk

Monday May 5, 2014
5 minutes
Beautiful Trouble
Edited by Andrew Boyd and Dave Oswald Mitchell

Leonardo is a really good actor. Have you seen Wolf of Wall Street? Woah. Like, woah, right? He’s a really good guy, too. I met him once, you know. Yup. I was in LA for my cousin Theodore’s wedding and I went out one morning to explore on my own. I took my parents rental car and I drove to Laurel Canyon. Have you ever been there? Holy moly, it’s nice. I was walking, you know, just, like, doing my own thing, trying not o look like too much of a tourist. A guy comes towards me, running, and he’s got a Black Lab. Did you know that Leonardo has a dog? Always a good sign when someone loves animals, I’d say. And I’m like, “I recognize that guy… How do I know that guy…” And then it hits me like lightning! Holy smokes! That Leo! So, I’m starstruck but I act cool and he’s already run by me but I just, I like, I yell, “Can I pat your dog?!” He takes off his headphones, like, fully off, he puts them around his neck, and he’s like, “Sure, go for it.” So I pat his dog and I try not to make idiotic baby voice sounds but, you know, it’s hard because that dog is really cute! And I probably carry on for a bit too long because then he says, “Come on Al,” and I’m like, “WHAT?!” And then he’s like, “Pardon?” And I’m like, “My name is Al…” And he’s like, “My dog’s name is Al…” And then we both laugh and then he keeps running. And then I’m like, left there, in the Canyon, and I’m like, laugh-crying because I can’t believe that just happened.

“All the animals are laughing at us” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday May 4, 2014
5 minutes
Freelance Whales

By the time I was fourteen I was two hundred and twenty three pounds. I was five feet three inches. I was the kid who was probably the most intelligent in class, but never had the nerve to speak out, so no one knew it. Even my teachers seemed to be annoyed by my presence. My tenth grade geography teacher gave been detention for two weeks because she was convinced I’d cheated on the midterm. I got 98%. “There’s no way, Millie,” she kept saying. “No one’s ever scored that high and the first person to do so is not going to be you.” School days were agonizing. So much so that I’d eat my lunch in the downstairs staff washroom, shielded by white tiles and a double locked door. I’d listen to The Supremes on my Discman and count down the hours til I could be free from that hell. Saturdays were my favourite. It was that in-between relaxation – the comedown of Friday and the suspension before Sunday. Pure and utter bliss. My Aunt Rita and my Mom and I would make baklava and then watch The Price Is Right. Then, we’d have cheesebugers and fries at Delux, and then we’d go to Sebastian Point and watch the sunset. We’d sit on the bench in silence and watch as the sun sank below the horizon, an orange orb of possibility.

“Marvellous convenient place” by Sasha at Jane Station

Saturday May 3, 2014
5 minutes
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Wiliam Shakespeare

“Take off your shoes, Steve,” says my father. I hesitate and then I do it. “You can feel the air on your toes and it’s like nothing else,” he adds, removing his green argyle socks. He folds them into a ball and sticks them into one of his loafers. It’s after ten and our bellies are full of roast beef, mashed potatoes and Baked Alaska. He’s already stretched out on the hood of the station wagon. I take a swig of whisky from the flask in the pocket of my jean jacket. “Come on, Steve! Get out here!” He calls. The grass is wet under my feet and I think about the last time we did this. It was right after I got back from college, when I moved home to work at the factory and save money before moving to Saskatoon. He gave me a hundred dollar bill, a value pack of condoms and a blue scarf that had belonged to his father. “I’m proud of you son,” he’d said. “Now, you’re a good looking guy, don’t go getting some gal preggers. That would really screw over your five year plan…” At that moment a jet lifted, we gasped, and he grabbed my hand. As it flew higher and higher, he yelled, “HOLY!” and laughed like a maniac. “There’s nothing like that rush, Steve,” he said, wide-eyed. “It’s better than blow jobs.”

“Heavy duty” by Sasha on her couch

Friday May 2, 2014
5 minutes
from the sponge wrapper

Morgan and Molly ride their bicycles. They got the first weekend in May, every year. That’s what they’ve always done. They used to go with Grandma, but she died last winter. She was one hundred and two. It was her time to go. When they get to the hill, before the left turn, Morgan looks over his shoulder at Molly, struggling with each push of the pedal. He smiles. “You can do it!” He calls. She glares. At the top, they celebrate with Gatorade and high fives. The cemetery is is quiet. A Buick is parked in the lot, beside two hearses and a red pick up. They don’t lock their bikes. They never do. They walk, Molly a bit out of breath, Morgan turning his cellphone to silent, until they arrive at “W”, which is quite a ways. There they are, all of them – twelve Whittakers. “Hey Aunt Olive,” says Molly, wiping leaves from the gravestone. “Michael, what’s up?” Says Morgan. Molly sprinkles wildflower seeds along the whole row of them.