“Potting Mix” by Sasha on the patio at Jimmy’s Coffee

Friday June 27, 2014 at Jimmy’s Coffee
5 minutes
from the bag of soil

She spent more time in the garden to ease her broken-ness.
She called in sick to work and instead of burying her head in orders and inventory, so buried her hands in soil.

It was quiet in the morning, before the neighbours woke and turned on the radio and called for breakfast and
She breathed in the dew and the brightness of the bleeding hearts
Like hers
So familiar.

She picked a rose
Some lavender
A sprig of something pink and something red she couldn’t remember the name of
And stuck them in an old maple syrup bottle
And put that on her desk
So the outside could come in.

She picked mint
And sorrel
And purple basil
And made a salad for lunch.

“Four letter challenge!” by Julia on her couch

Sunday June 29, 2014
5 minutes

Woah. We’ve seen some wild, real stuff. We’re fine here– Sima left. Let’s make sure that this news sees only ours. Eyes. Don’t talk bout this. We’re lots even when we’re done. We’ve sold Sima some love, told ears “fear ours”. Team Crow eats your face. Talk like we’re dead. Mean what your mind says. Very much more than this will come. We’ll draw, then kill. we’ll seal this deal with lips made from silk.

“I don’t understand why I sleep all day” by Julia in the park

Saturday June 28 2014
5 minutes
No Rain
Blind Melon

Maybe because the rain doesn’t stop here or because waking up means having to plan something to eat. Maybe because the sounds of the wind coming in through the holes in the bedroom walls means that if it’s not okay in here, the one place where it’s supposed to be, then it most definitely is not okay out there.
Maybe because the ego is a sensitive and fragile organ and if it’s wounded, even mildly, it takes days and days to recuperate. Maybe because the skies are vast but filled with grey clouds and looking up at something so big and seeing it filled with something so sad is enough to keep anyone laying under the covers until the sun peeks out long enough to put on pants and go outside. Maybe because if I told you how I really felt you’d stay in the kitchen and I’d have no where else to hide if I wanted to stay behind a separating door. Maybe because I’m a bit broken and disappointed in myself after all the wrong choices I’ve made lately, or made ever, that having to face them in broad daylight feels too hard or too easy and I don’t know which one is worse. Maybe because I’m tired. It could be that simple. I sleep because I have to. Either that or I’m aware that being awake means having to try.

“Potting Mix” by Julia at MAKE coffee+stuff

Friday June 27, 2014 at MAKE
5 minutes
from the bag of soil

So my friend’s friend’s sister gave my friend’s friend one of those basil growing kits and my friend’s friend didn’t want it so she gave it to my friend who hated growing stuff unless it was pot so my friend gave it to me and told me to “make it rain”. She was clever like that. Sometimes she’d say things like “If the glove fits, hide it” or “Take me, break me, but please don’t forsake me”. Some of them work really well in sentences and some were only medium good. The “make it rain” thing kind of applied though. It was like “Go with God” or “Grow with God” which is what my friend would have said if she had thought about it for just two more seconds. So I wanted to “make it rain” as it were cause it meant I’d be in the “green” or whatever with the basil. Which is green. Like money. You get it. I had never grown a single thing in my entire life. I couldn’t even get behind those sea-monkeys cause what the shit were those even anyway?

“Get creative” by Sasha on her couch

Thursday June 26, 2014
5 minutes
from the spaghetti package

She woke early
She stretched long
She didn’t think about turning on the brightness
Or turning off the dark
In the Meeting last night she cried
She wishes she hadn’t but forgives herself
She wishes that she hasn’t worn mascara
Who was she trying to impress?
She laughs at herself
Not the kind where she’s just imagining that she’s being filmed
Not that kind of laughter
She drinks a pint glass of water
She wonders why she still has pint glasses in her cupboard
She imagines smashing them all
And sweeping it up
And tossing it into the garden
The shards of glass might help her tulips grow
She calls her Sponsor
“Get creative,” she says
“Make something,” she says
“Go to the Island and ride your bike around and pick up things that strike you as beautiful,” she says
She disregards this
(The Island)
But goes on a bike ride from West to East
Along the Lake
She watches the sailboats

“not liable for any consequential damages” by Sasha at her desk

Wednesday June 25, 2014
5 minutes
the Canon Camera User Guide

When Sally and I were small, we’d forget to brush our teeth after eating popsicles and wake up with fuzzies. “Sweaters”, she’d call them. “Patty’s wearing sweaters on his teeth!” She’d say.

When Sally and I were small, we’d go on hikes in the woods behind Grandpa’s cabin (our parents would dump us there for ten days in August while they went camping in Algonquin Park). We’d get lost and Sally would have to use the compass clipped to her belt loop to find our way back.

When Sally and I were small, she would kiss me on the lips, counting to ten in her head, opening them ever so slightly. She would pull away and say, “Did you feel anything?”

When Sally and I were small we would open Mom’s mail before she got home from work and try to understand the bills, the curly handwriting of Aunty Odessa.

“(Warning: This is going to be personal)” by Sasha in her garden

Tuesday June 24, 2014
5 minutes

Dear Jenni,

How are you? How’s Nashville? Are you a big star yet? Haha! Candice said that the two of you Skyped on Sunday and that you found a really nice room in a big house with some other singers. LUCKY! Really, though, I’m glad to hear it’s going well for you.

Okay. Warning: This is going to get personal. So, Steve and I finally talked last night. Oh my god, Jenni, it was crazy. We were at Candice’s and her and Topher were on the roof doing who know’s what and Steve and I were left alone in the backyard. He initiated it. Crazy. Totally crazy. He was like, “So, I guess we should probably talk about everything that happened and how I was a total dick to you when you really needed me.” Those were his exact words, I’m not even exaggerating or anything! So we talked and he said that he feels really bad for not showing up for me or coming to the appointment or helping to pay for it. I didn’t play it all cool style like usual. I was totally crying and it was okay, he was okay about it. We hugged and he kissed my cheek and he said that he really wants to support me from now on. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? I don’t think we’re going to get back together or anything. I just think we’re going to be friends… But you never know.

“Get creative” by Julia on her couch

Thursday June 26, 2014
5 minutes
from the spaghetti package

On her forefinger she wrote HOME and on her middle she wrote HERE. On her ring finger she wrote WHEN and on her pinky she wrote ALWAYS. On her thumb she drew a ❤ and touched each finger to it for the ritual of it all. She had been feeling a little out of sorts lately. Not really knowing who to trust or who to ask her questions. People had the distinct capability of scaring her senseless, even when they didn’t pose any actual threats. She chalks that up to her childhood and almost getting killed in the woods by her two best friends. That happened way before the incident where those two girls did actually kill their best friend in the woods. She wondered sometimes if those girls all knew each other somehow, thinking to kidnap someone they supposedly loved and bring her to her worst nightmare. Lucky girl who died. She didn’t have to think about the entire world coming after her every other minute.
She looked at her thumb again and took a deep breath. Someone taught her to do that whenever she was doubting herself: take a deep breath and just choose love.

“not liable for any consequential damages” by Julia at MAKE coffee+stuff

Wednesday June 25, 2014 at MAKE
5 minutes
the Canon Camera User Guide

Of course she’d say that. She’s the kind of person who says things like that. Honestly, Dai, I’m not even remotely surprised by her anymore. Of course not. No, of course not. Because she glides around with this holier than though attitude and I can’t stand it no more. No because why should I? No really, she’s supposed to strut around and not take any responsibility for her actions while I sit here trying to figure out exactly what I’m supposed to do with her? She’s a mess. Dai, I’m telling you, she’s a real problem, you’ll see. What are you telling me for? Go tell her, she’s your damn cousin. Yeah so what, I know we’re all related. When she makes me mad like this I pretend she doesn’t even belong to this family. Because, Dai. Because, Dai. Why I gotta tell you everything, what you don’t think for yourself no more? Honestly? Because of the whole baby thing. I know she didn’t mean to get herself knocked up or nothin’, but it’s her choices, you know, all of them, that lead me to think that she had it planned in some way. Oh you see how happy she is, how smiley she is cause she got the nice warm pink smell of a new baby on her skin.

“(Warning: This is going to be personal)” by Julia on her couch

Tuesday June 24, 2014
5 minutes

I start off by telling him to buy a broom. I say this because we’ve been without one for a week and 4 days and I’ve never been more acutely aware of how dirty floors get. We just keep carrying food bits and street crumbs around with us from room to room, from surface to surface. I tell him that I’ve tried to be okay with transferring the tiny dried up pieces of day to living around with me under my feet. I’ve tried to ignore how much was building up. I’ve tried to pretend it was kind of nice not having to worry about sweeping, and not being a slave to the system anymore. But then one minute on one day, enough is enough. It happens abruptly. The level of ‘here’ up to which I have had the proverbial ‘it’ is above my head as well as his, and though I am not tall, he is, so it is radically different than the moment before when it didn’t matter, or it masqueraded as such. The second thing I tell him to buy is a dustpan. He looks at me with those eyes saying why why why and I answer with mine saying because because because.

“Fresh Bread” by Julia on her bed

Monday June 23, 2014
5 minutes
the menu at ideal coffee

Today I painted my toenails pink and green and they look like little tiny pudgy watermelon slices. I don’t know what spawned the urge for me to do this, I mean, I was bored, yes, but watermelons? I seriously amaze myself. I don’t even like the way they look. I feel too much like a Latina who calls herself a “freelancer” but really doesn’t have a job so she has enough time to paint her nails to look like she cares only about things like glitter, tacky chachkies, and understated power. I feel like I can say this because my best friend growing up, Selena, who, yes, was named after the Selena, was a HUGE Latina and she liked to paint black wings on her eyelids to look like a cat. And so I say it with love, because I know damn well that Selena never had a real job either. She liked to sit at home and paste butterfly decals on her walls and then with all the extra free time she had, she’d glue on tiny rhinestones on the wings. I’m not exactly like Selena. I mean, even if I’m not working, I can paint my toenails and still have time to go to the market and buy some fresh bread for Ronny when he comes home after his long day at the office. A girl can’t have pretty toenails and only sit at home all day watching her stories. It looks bad.

“Do you have what it takes” by Julia at Gertrude Park

Sunday June 22, 2014
5 minutes
from an email

This was something I’d asked myself already today. Already this morning, and again this afternoon, if I’m being honest. I’m trying to be honest, I guess that’s the whole point in asking that same question over and over again. DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES? And when I answer I look myself right in the eye (you know mirrors were invented for self-motivation? Look it up, I swear) and I answer, in that moment, in that second, YES, NO, or DAMN STRAIGHT. Sometimes, being honest is the hardest thing because you have to look deep inside yourself and assess every single thing that’s going on with you, that makes you feel good, that makes you feel bad, and really truly dissect if you’re happy, and willing, and ready, and able. You know? Like all of those things have to add up to the proper sum and if they don’t, well, hey, at least you know the truth. At least you’re not faking it for anyone else and the lie that you tell will come back to bite you in the dreams. I know this from experience. I live out my truths while I’m awake, so I don’t have to deal with the lies I tell myself when I’m asleep. It’s worked, so far, and that’s why I ask the question. It’s not even specific. I just know in every moment, every second, what it is I’m wondering about and if I have what it takes to do it.

“Fresh Bread” by Sasha at ideal coffee

Monday June 23, 2014
12:58pm at ideal coffee
5 minutes
the menu at ideal coffee

God, it makes me think about the air mattress that we used to use in the pool at Gramma’s place. Larry and I would take turns, each getting to play on it for fifteen minutes. Gramma would time on her gold watch. “SWITCH!” She’d call, and he’d roll off and I’d climb on, my polka dot bathing suit with the cut-out tummy giving me a wedgie. And then, when it was time to go in for supper, Larry would always get cold and Gramma would say, “Alex, deflate that air mattress, wouldya?” So I’d drag it out of the pool and I’d pull out the little plastic tab that kept all the air in. I’d lay, like a starfish, and close my eyes and listen to the whistle of the emptying… After a few minutes, I’d be on the tile, but there’d still be air in the corners, so I’d hop around until I could fold the thing up, until there was nothing left but rubber. “Careful not to drip in the foyer!” Gramma would call, so I’d wrap the mattress in my beach towel, a British flag.

“Do you have what it takes” by Sasha in her garden

Sunday June 22, 2014
5 minutes
from an email

My knees have splinters. I’ve been praying a lot. Do you pray? (Sigh). I used to have a problem with that word because I didn’t think I deserved it, I didn’t think I had what it takes. I was raised Catholic so… prayer was pretty connected to shame and… repentance. I was an alter boy, you know. That fucking hilarious. Father Nathan would stroke my head and his hand was hot. He had eyes like glaciers, like, like, a husky. He was a good guy. I remember telling him that I’d masturbated and he smiled and said, “better that then getting in fights like the other boys your age!” And he winked. He winked a lot. Makes you feel special, when someone winks at you, even if you know that they do it at other people too… Makes you feel like there’s a secret there, between you. Gives you a flutter in your belly.

“SO COLD” by Sasha in her garden

Saturday June 21, 2014
5 minutes
a postcard at MAKE coffee+stuff

I wake up and I’m so cold. Mickey is blasting the friggin air conditioning. He controls it from his place, right, so I’m pretty effed if I have a problem with whatever the setting is. And, you know, like, he’s an insomniac so… He sleeps during the day and I don’t wanna be that turd that bangs on his door cuz I’m cold. Like some sorta pussy or somethin. When I first moved in Mickey invited me down to his place for a beer a couple-a times. He’s got lotsa stories, man, like crazy stories. He was in a biker gang once, when he was in his twenties, and… He did some pretty whacked out shit. Like… Once, he beat a guy unconscious with a hammer. One of those little hammers. An’ once, he rode across the whole damn country… from Halifax to BC, man… That’s crazy. He has this one story about this time a huge storm almost lifted him right off of his bike. An’ he’s a big friggin guy!

“founded in Cuba” by Sasha on the streetcar going East

Friday June 20, 2014
5 minutes
from a sign at Queen and Abell St.

The ocean sounds like the sky, if you know what I mean… It looks like Bonita’s eyes, all bright and full. As soon as the sun rises, the waves catch her and hot damn it’s a beautiful sight, it’s a right overwhelming sight. Go down to the beach for that sunrise some time… Some time when you’ve been here long enough to feel settled in, settled in your heart. It’ll just be you and maybe Jose, the fish guy. You don’t even have to say anything to him, you can nod, or not nod, he won’t be offended. Find a spot on the sand and sink your toes in, bury them, that’s the real stuff right there, that’s the real stuff. You can actually see the sun moving. Did you know that? Yup. You close your eyes and it’s in a different place, it’s further up, it’s more awake.

“Homicidal computer” by Sasha at her desk

Thursday June 19, 2014
5 minutes
CBC News

Brian: I’m not sure what to say to you, Clara… I mean… I… I got home and she was on the computer and I said, “Jules, are you allowed? Did Mom say that you could surf the net without anyone home?” And she nodded! I thought that the rules changed or something, you know…
Clara: The rules changed?! Without us discussing it? I don’t think so –
Brian: You change the rules about her all the damn time. I can’t even keep up. One minute it’s half an hour of TV, the next it’s only movies at the Cineplex…
Clara: That’s ridiculous! I’ve never said anything about her only being allowed movies at the Cineplex!
Brian: It was an example –
Clara: It was a LIE!

“YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO” by Sasha at her desk

Wednesday June 18, 2014
5 minutes
The Winnipeg Sun

Me and Gemma are walking home from school. We take the long route, vis-a-vis the parking lot, vis-a-vis the park where I know that Henry smokes pot but he always refuses it. vis-a-vis the convenience store. Here’s where the trouble comes. Gemma is, like, not allowed sugar. She is on a dairy and sugar free diet. Her mother says that she’s allergic to both, but I don’t know if I buy it because one time, we were having a sleepover and Gemma accidentally ate a fig newton and I know there was sugar in it and NOTHING HAPPENED. SO, we get to the convenience store and I say, “Hi Miss Chow! Three sour keys, please!” And Gemma just looks, like, so sad. So I say, “You should just get whatever you want… I’m not going to tell anyone…” So she goes over to the freezer section and gets a tub of Chocolate Häagen-Dazs. I’m like, “Whoa! You’re really going for it!” And she just looks at me, like she’s on that line between laughing and crying.

“show no signs of slowing down” by Sasha in the park

Tuesday, June 17, 2014
5 minutes

In Russian
I sit in the Internet cafe. My heart buzzes. My feet are cold. The man, Boris, who runs this place, tells me to be careful. “Yes,” I say. And I will be. As best I can. I will be. So much of that is out of my hands, though. So much of that is beyond me, beyond my brother or my father, beyond him. I’ve been corresponding with a man named Beau. He lives in New York. He’s forty seven. He’s never been married. He has a twenty year old son who is in the army. He tells me that I’m beautiful and that he’ll love me just as I am. He tells me that he wants a wife to look after, to look after him. He doesn’t speak Russian and my English is not the greatest so… We try our best. I use Google Translate. He probably does, too. Sometimes he says something and it doesn’t make sense. It probably makes sense in English. I laugh and Boris shakes his head. He tells me that he’s going to send me a plane ticket. He tells me that New York is gorgeous in September. I wonder what it’s like to fly.

“It’s a cozy little place” by Sasha on the Queen Streetcar going East

Monday June 16, 2014
5 minutes

When you arrived you thought to yourself, “it’s a cozy little place,” but now that you’ve been here for thirty one years, your opinions have changed. Now you think to yourself, especially when you’re downtown, with the honking and the whistling, “it’s a loud and big place.”

Viv brought you a hat from Newfoundland. You liked it and wore it all winter. You liked how it kept you warm and also hid your bald spot.

“SO COLD” by Julia at MAKE coffee+stuff

Saturday June 21, 2014 at MAKE
5 minutes
a postcard at MAKE coffee+stuff

Hadn’t thought about Missy since last winter when I remembered how much she loved the cold. She somehow disappeared from my life and my mind quicker than she came into it. Them. Both things, in which she was sort of a permanent resident. A fixture. A thing that made me crazy and wild and irrational. She was always going on about getting the right jacket and then just sucking the rest of it up. I told her I had grown up in the cold and ‘sucking it up’ was just not enough. She said if you’re going to complain just move already! And then I understood what everything in the world meant. Something about not wishing for things that are outside of you or wanting things that aren’t in front of you. We choose everything. We choose the temperature we stay in, we choose the people we spend time with, we choose to love or not love someone. We choose to be happy. Missy had that fully realized and she was living it. She chose me one second and the next something else. I’m still alive. I missed her for a while. But I understood that right now is something different from right now every time the second hand on the clock shifts right. Then I thought about getting a really proper jacket and just sliding down some snow hills face first. Cause, you know, choices.

“founded in Cuba” by Julia on her couch

Friday June 20, 2014
5 minutes
from a sign at Queen and Abell St.

met a lovely woman and a lovely man
they were married
they met us there in the sand
came bringing mangos
gifts of the beach for us and for friendship
and we gave them all our soaps, our gum, our sandals
we could get more at home and they couldn’t get more in their home
and it was sad
but that’s the way it was
they met us there in the sand
showed pictures of their babies in braids beaching topless with bikini bottoms
young and free and didn’t know
and so we walked with them
hand in hand
and ate the mangos while the sun set
peeling back the skin with our teeth
taking photos of the moments like these
with people like those
and we held hands
met a lovely woman and a lovely man
I don’t know where they live now
I sent letters
I sent money
I sent the necklace she said she loved but felt bad taking when I offered it then
I sent love
I sent photos of my babies, straight, curly, straight
naked in the pool
splashing tiny drops and making big waves
and we haven’t heard a word
and we don’t know if they’re allowed to get the mail
or to see the mail
or to open the mail
and so maybe someone else has the money
and maybe someone else has the necklace
and maybe someone else has the photos of my babies
and maybe someone else has the love
we think of them often
the day there in the hot hot heat
we met a lovely woman
and we met a lovely man
they were married
they were the ones we hold

“Homicidal computer” by Julia on her couch

Thursday June 19, 2014
5 minutes
CBC News

killing me waiting on me to fold to fold over to bend to bend over and go and go somewhere so i can’t tell the time the time to wait to be killed or the time to wait to be kept alive
yeah she said that it was fast
on the phone
in an e-mail
i deleted it
deleted it all and all of it was killed
killed slowly
there was someone there giving directions to the parking lot
the parking lot of empty promises
drive away drive away away
and then i said i love you to no on in particular in particular
winding down and out and in and over and the time is out it’s running running
got on its kicks, its nike new balance its do it now it’s doing it something like that or something or other
and it’s still running because time runs it doesn’t crawl it doesn’t beg it doesn’t plead it doesn’t wait
it kills and kills and kills
i’m here on the mend on the mend and up and out bigger better things and bigger better moments
yeah he said that it was quick
on the phone
in an e-mail
i deleted it
deleted it all and all of it came right back
can’t escape the motions the slogans the misused lotions the potions the daily quotients

“YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO” by Julia on her mattress

Wednesday June 18, 2014
5 minutes
The Winnipeg Sun

Cal opened up the tuna can in the worst possible way. He stared at it as if had just witnessed a tragedy, a monstrosity, a moment of true and palpable heart break. He shook his head and stared at it some more. I don’t know what he thought he was going to see by looking at a mangled tuna can until he died, but kept doing it. I wanted to tell him that I wasn’t really into tuna sandwiches anyway so not to worry, but it didn’t quite feel like the right time to bring it up. I’ve never seen anyone destroy a can like that before. There was no opening it fully now to retrieve the contents because the lid was so jammed down that the can opener itself was useless. Cal stared some more at the tuna can from hell with his hands on his hips, utter disbelief for his first world problems caused by his first world ineptitude. I wanted to take the tuna can and throw it out the kitchen window. I wanted to tell Cal that these little things are so stupid and they don’t matter and let’s order a freaking pizza instead, come on it would be such a day saver.Instead I counted how many vowels there are in the word ‘psychosomatic’.

“show no signs of slowing down” by Julia at Starbucks in the Exchange District

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at Starbucks
5 minutes

Desperate and shivering, Reese made her way into a phone booth off of Marble and Casket Drive. She fumbled through her pockets for change, fumbled through her pockets for anything. Reese couldn’t find a single coin, her hands shaking from the wet cold outside that she had been facing all night. She rifled through her backpack one last time, wishing she’d saved some of her money for moments like this. She opened each pocket and frantically searched the contents, the lining, the holes that things could slip through. She held her bag upside down and shook with everything she had. Nothing fell out, not even a crumb of bread, which she was secretly hoping would happen. Reese sat herself down on the floor of the phone booth and let out, for what felt like the first time, a real proper scream. She screamed and screamed until her lungs hurt, until her voice was hoarse, howling at the moon. She didn’t have any way of making it through this night. She hadn’t ever planned to be a in a position where relying on loose quarters to survive was what she knew.

“Absentminded” by Sasha on the deck at Knowlton Lake

Sunday June 15, 2014
5 minutes
The New Yorker

I scratch the new mosquito bite. I hum a Stevie Nicks song. I eat popcorn, a bit stale, but still good, still right. My Mom, stretching in wise-woman, calls, “Can you clean out the cabinet under the sink in the bathroom?” “Sure!” I call back. I drink water. I pad upstairs, my feet dirty, and I settle in, on the floor. I open the cabinet and it’s all half squeezed bottles of sunscreen, mini shampoo’s from hotels, soaps that are discoloured and bath salts that have formed into solid blocks, solid ice chunks. And a christmas scrunchy. And a nightlight missing a bulb.

“Toronto’s real estate market is booming” by Sasha on the porch at Knowlton Lake

Saturday June 14, 2014
5 minutes
The Toronto Star Website

I ride my bike up the gentle hill of Shaw St. The burn has started to fade, a month into riding. I hear my phone ring but I ignore it, even if it’s the real estate agent, Jill, who was recommended to me by my old friend Jolene. Her father had used Jill when he decided to buy a bungalow investment property in the East End. “She’ll get you exactly what you want,” Jolene said, “She’s a warrior in a peach pantsuit.” I was going to see a semi on Shaw. The asking price was above what I wanted to pay but Jill said she wanted us to see it so that we had a “lay of the land”. The owners were a gay couple with twin three year olds. They’d outgrown the two bedrooms, the long living room, the small garden in the backyard. “They’ve put in an offer for a house in the Junction Triangle,” said Jill. I arrived and I locked my bike to a parking sign. Jill was waiting outside and she waved enthusiastically.

“It’s a cozy little place” by Julia at Kay’s Delicatessen in Winnipeg

Monday June 16, 2014 at
5 minutes

A little bit of me goes a long way
A thing I still remember my mother used to say
Tight braids in the backyard
Baskets filled with tomato red
I would hold onto her promises
And every single thing she said
Because the stars were her favourite
And the rhubarb bush her friend
The nights felt like perfect movies
The days a pretty song without a threat to end
And mama had an angel’s voice
And mama liked to sing
A little bit of me goes a long way
For the mountains and for the King
I didn’t know it then
But I’m sure I see it now
The words she held close to her chest
The softness she’d allow
Were the ones I would keep with me
Tattooed upon my heart
So that I’d never forget the ways
She’d lull me in the dark…
Peace and poems she would strum
Dreams and old ones she would hum

“Absentminded” by Julia on her living room floor

Sunday June 15, 2014
5 minutes
The New Yorker

We didn’t know it at the time but we were growing
We were growing
With our hands in each other’s pockets and wishing for the dawn to wake us from yesterday
We were doing the life things that we now keep
We were listening to the songs of our youth marrying our future and we were the harmony that sounded best
We didn’t know it
We didn’t know it at the time
And in those moments where the living room echoed in its emptiness
And the kitchen still smelled of sawdust
And there were no lamps or dressers to hold any of our belongings
We remember some love from our previous home
From the past, it feels like
Saying lean into each other
And so we do to keep warm
And so we do because we’ve forgotten our sweaters
And the night feels far away from the morning
But part of it at the same time
We didn’t know it then
We didn’t know it at the time
But we were growing
With love
With patience
With grace
With fewer things
With fewer promises to stay the same

“Toronto’s real estate market is booming” by Julia at the motel in Keewatin, ON

Saturday June 14, 2014
5 minutes
The Toronto Star Website

I looked over at you while you tested out the massage chair we bought off the home shopping channel. You had those stupid blackout sunglasses on and those headphones and that blissful grin. It was such a relief to see you like that after so much recent pressure had been put on you. You were angrier than you might have ever been, and more aggressive toward inanimate objects than I ever would have predicted, but you were also a real gentleman when I was at my worst. When I would yell at the wind for blowing my life around. When I would scream at you for making me decide between keeping my blue punch bowl set or the garage sale vase. I looked at you during the minutes of this activity and saw your gracious and generous heart as you laid there in complete calm and freedom and abandonment for anything but the moment. And I remembered why I said yes to you and why I keep on saying yes to you. Because your kindness is a weapon and I am weak.

“1 Eastside” by Julia at the motel in Thunder Bay

Friday June 13, 2014
5 minutes
The front of a bus in Sault Ste. Marie

We ended up taking a bus to a reserve somewhere with a sign that read “Gravel River Motel: Food, Gifts, Amethyst”. I didn’t realize how important amethyst was, but it happened to be my birthstone so I was intrigued enough to go in. We talked to the shop owner for at least 10 minutes, him asking me how I found myself here and me asking him why he was selling amethyst like cigarettes. He told me that I was here now and that’s all that mattered. I bought two or three of his little sacks filled with the stuff. I said, Thanks, I’ll give one of them to my sister when I see her next. Then we waved to him as we left the shop and wondered out loud if that entire experience was one we had dreamed up or one that truly transpired. I thought about the shop-owner later that night as I laid on the motel bed, counting the times the guy in the room next to ours, separated by a paper thin wall, said “Please” to his girlfriend or lover or something like that.

“Call it what you will” by Julia in the motel in Sault Ste. Marie

Thursday June 12, 2014
5 minutes
A song by Joe Pug

Caroline and Eddy had been driving for what felt like days. Eddy had begun to smell, refusing to put on deodorant because he said he was on the “open road” and if he couldn’t smell like the earth here, then he didn’t want to be alive. Caroline was battling her car-colepsy and told Eddy that if he was going to take pictures of her sleeping with her mouth wide open facing the roof of the car then he better not post them online or she would punch holes in his tires and make him drive back to Sugar Lake by himself. Eddy didn’t care about Caroline’s sleeping habits, or her poor taste in music. He didn’t care about anything except for getting really far away from everything he knew back home, and finally starting over without anyone knowing who he was. Caroline didn’t know about Eddy’s friend, Liam, with whom he had helped burry a curious large sack that weighed as much as an elephant.

“a real nice desk-sofa” by Julia at her desk

Wednesday June 11, 2014
5 minutes
A quote from Ian

I hate everything about everything and the only thing I like in my life right now is my purple hair. That’s it. That’s all I like. And I don’t feel even a little bit weird that I only got this hair colour in my late 20s when everyone else my age started dying their hair crazy colours in high school. I needed to do it because I felt like I was losing touch with myself, so I did it, and I don’t regret it, but I hate everything about everything because I lost my job because I wouldn’t dye it back to normal. How stupid is that? Do I look any different with purple hair streaks than I do with brown straight hair that just gets tied up everyday like some cookie-cutter version of myself? I mean, yeah, it looks really different, and my boss was just confused with my life choice because I couldn’t explain to him my life phase, but I mean, I still have the same face. Or I mean, sort of. I did pierce my lip, and my nose, and my eye-brow. But whatever it’s the same face with just accessories! Nobody got mad at Janice for losing 73 pounds and now looking like a coat rack holding chicken skin.

“saving me right now” by Julia at her kitchen table

Tuesday June 10, 2014
5 minutes
a text message

There’s an entire bag of Oreos in my bedroom that I’m saving for later cause they’ll be saving me from this shithole of a town I’m being kept in. I’m serious, my mother, she got this new boyfriend and he lives in bum-fuck-nowhere and this nowhere town is really getting to me. I’ve been here for three days-no internet. I can’t even keep updated with my own life cause this guy thinks that the internet is a gateway drug for procrastination and failure. I’m thinking, yeah, I’m so sure the second I check an e-mail I commit myself to a life time of serving fries at McDonalds. Please. You know, it’s all a control thing. He lays down some rules and my mother, she just goes along with all of them because she needs structure and she sees that he’s willing to give it to her, so she just lets him treat me the way he wants. He doesn’t know about the Oreos, by the way, cause if he did he’d confiscate them too and tell me they were a gateway drug for obesity and heart attacks.

“I said karate and she thought I said karaoke” by Julia on her bed

Monday June 9, 2014
5 minutes
overheard on Bloor St.

This broad, I mean, get your hearing checked, you knowwhati’msaying? She had one finger in her ear and one finger god knows where. It was like she was trying to fuck with me. And I’m there all easy breezy, you know? Cause I’m trying so hard to let her know she’s not getting to me, but we’re on this date, youknowwhati’msaying? It was one of those match.com dates or what have you because I was having a hard time out in the real world, you get me? Ha! That’s a joke! She was my cousin Jodi’s boss’ sister in law’s friend. I wouldn’t do those dating sites if they were the last option on this planet, youknowwhati’msaying? Anyways, I’m telling her some stories about my childhood and the classes I used to take, and for a brief sting there, I was taking dance classes and also karate which is why I mention the dancing cause the karate, you know, it cancels it out. And this broad! She thinks I said Karaoke! Who takes a friggen karaoke class, youknowhati’msaying?

“a divorce lawyer” by Julia on her couch

Sunday June 8, 2014
5 minutes
Humans of New York post

So like I’m watching COPS, right, and I think to myself, how bad these people have it that they’re having their crimes being broadcast on TV for everyone to see, and then I’m like, no, nobody watches this show anymore, and then, like, out of nowhere, some regular looking dude with a suit and a briefcase, starts running from these cops, right? And he’s bolting so fast and they’re chasing him down, and I’m like, what’s this dude doing, or better yet, what did this dude do that he needs to bolt like that? And then it dawns on me, like, this is COPS, right? So obviously he’s a criminal. And then they reveal after catching him, I might add, that he was just some normal dude who was a divorce lawyer who also just so happened to be selling a shit tonne of narcotics. Like, what? What are you doing, guy? You have so much money and you’re on COPS? That’s pretty brutal. I only like, stumbled on this show by accident cause there was nothing else on and I was waiting for my mouth to get unfrozen after my fillings. Like I had eaten so much candy that I needed to get four all in one day.

“let’s make this the biggest” by Julia at her kitchen table

Saturday June 7, 2014
5 minutes
An email from Luminato

I had a plan
I was like, yo this is my plan
You were like, yo what’s the plan
I was like, yo, hold up, I’ll tell you
I knew it would be big
I was like, yo this is going to be big
You were like, yo how big
I was like, it’s going to be bigger than big
I dreamt it up during the eclipse
I was like, yo this is the plan I had during the eclipse
You were like, yo what’s the plan
I was like, yo why are you so impatient, I’m getting there
I decided to include you
I was like, yo, I’m including you in this plan and it’s going to be so big you’ll die
You were like, yo, why would I want to be a part of plan that I was going to die because of
I was like, yo, it’s a figure of speech, this plan is going to kill you so dead you’ll be alive again
I wanted it to be the biggest
I was like, yo, let’s make this the biggest
You were like, yo how can I say yes if you’re going to tip-toe around this damn plan
I was like, yo, it’s no Mickey-Mouse plan what do you think I am, a freaking type-writer?

“train service is suspended” by Julia in her backyard

Friday June 6, 2014
5 minutes
A tweet by the TTC

When you have to be somewhere at a certain time and you’re already running late, it’s better always, always, always, to take a cab, stress it out in the backseat for a few minutes, then text whoever you’re supposed to meet and say “In a cab, so sorry” so they know that you are trying your best to be on time, you’re even paying real money to arrive as close to on time as possible, and that you feel bad about making them wait for you so you’re enduring the traffic stress of being in a cab in the first place to make up for it. Do not take the subway because subways have delays and trains get so busy because there aren’t enough to get everyone from point a to point b during the time you need. Do not take the streetcar because you probably won’t be able to sit and then you have to smell everyone’s hair and armpits while people crowd around you, yelling, or pre-drinking, or baby talking. Do not walk and think that when it gets down to crunch time you can just run and beat both the subway and the streetcar. You will get sweaty and you will get tired and you will think you can run all the way but you cannot because you decided that working out was a “rich man’s game” and that you’d much rather eat the whole box of Passion Flakies for breakfast instead of just one or two or none.

“Virginia” by Julia at Sambuca Grill

Thursday June 5, 2014 at Sambuca Grill
5 minutes
from a sign on the wall of the Antique Shop

I wanted to call her Ginny because I thought that was cute but Madeleine bit my head off about it and said I had to call her by her full name, Virginia, or everyone else would start calling her stupid “off-shoot” names. She said “off-shoot” as if it were some terrible disease. I think nicknames are sweet. Mad never cared that I called her a short-form. It wasn’t an “off-shoot” as much as it was a term of endearment. Something you call someone that means something to you because it’s your thing and her thing or his thing or whatever. Anyway, Virginia ended up being a boy so we had to think of another name for her after all. I always picture when we have a girl, or if we do, that Mad will want to still call her Virginia and maybe I can call her Ginny when Mad’s not around so it can be our special thing, just the two of us. Names are a very important part of a person’s identity. I don’t want to have a kid that has to go around correcting everybody just because they call her a name her mother doesn’t like. She’s the one who calls me Mike when she knows my mother hates it when I get anything other than Michael.

“I’m really very mistrustful” by Julia on her couch

Wednesday June 4, 2014
5 minutes
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Edward Albee

If it hadn’t been for Artemis, the name she gave herself the day after her boyfriend dumped her and she decided that “Diana” was the name of someone who gets dumped, while “Artemis” was the name of someone who doesn’t need a man to feel loved, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here. I wouldn’t be talking to you about the moment I realized I was living a lie, or how if I had rebelled as teenager when I was supposed to, I wouldn’t be in this predicament now. Artemis made me do it. She encouraged me, she egged me on. She told everyone that it was happening and by doing that she made it so. I guess that makes me weak or stupid, or both, I don’t know. But it was because of her and all her running around unlocking cages at the pet store, trying to liberate all the animals that were being kept against their will, that I started to feel like I was the one who was trapped. She told me I didn’t have to release any of the animals myself, just be a look-out or be a decoy if I could manage it. I suppose I wanted her to think that I could do anything at all and not care about the consequences.

“1 Eastside” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Friday June 13, 2014
5 minutes
The front of a bus in Sault St. Marie

Lucie’s been humming that song about going down to the river. We’re only in Sault St. Marie, so it doesn’t bode well. “Hey Luc!” I say, “Want some curly fries?” She doesn’t respond. When she found Simon, he was splayed out on the floor, his front paws facing up. “I don’t know how it happened,” she kept repeating, lifting his calico body onto a piece of wood from the backyard, that I’d dug up while she whispered into his ear that she loved him and she always would. I called our stepmother Cathy that night. “Simon died,” I whispered into the phone, “Lucie is losing it… She’s gone almost catatonic. I can’t even get her to eat cantaloupe!” Cathy said we should drive down to Saskatoon to see her and our Dad. “Take a road-trip,” she sing-songed. “It’ll get her mind off that cat and your mind off yourself…”

“Call it what you will” by Sasha on the Streetcar going East

Thursday June 12, 2014
5 minutes
A song by Joe Pug

That’s where he could rest, then, amongst the comfort of double shots, five minute cigarette friends, peeing beside the guy he recognized from the gym (a better looking version of himself), and joke about what the point of this “rat race” might be. Those were Marnie’s words “rat race”. He did the joking. He’d be drunk before he could tell Marnie that his sister killed herself, he’d be drunk before he could run away, run over, run up, run down, run in.

He’d text a taxi and stumble up the stairs to his apartment and he’d fall into his bed and he’d take off his clothes lying down. He’d dream of her, of Sally, his sister. Her face, close to his, her small hands.

“Call it what you will,” he’d say, about grief, about losing, about not knowing where the ground was, or the sky.

“a real nice desk-sofa” by Sasha on her steps

Wednesday June 11, 2014
5 minutes
A quote from Ian

We wore fake eyelashes. I can’t even believe it. We put them on, standing on the sofa, looking in the mirror that stretched across the wall. We wore fake eyelashes and then we rode our bikes to a club and then I kissed the bouncer and bypassed the line.

The morning after (the night before), the mascara is under the eyes, no longer on the lashes, the lashes are free. The pores are open and alive and taking in every ounce of what’s unfamiliar. “Want some tea?” Run, run to the bathroom to wash the face to look, to see the newness and the day and what might be there. Wrapped in a towel, covered body but naked face.

I know lots of people that are a lot worse. I know lots of people that haven’t left the house without foundation since they were thirteen. I look at women’s faces at the restaurant and see a different color from chin to neck. You aren’t fooling anyone. I can see through that. I can see through the double D’s, double heels, tanning bed, wax wax wax away the animal. We are animals. I am an animal.

“saving me right now” by Sasha in her garden

Tuesday June 10, 2014
5 minutes
a text message

I had with breasts and awkward self-awareness and really really long hair.
I went to the Body Shop and got some cover-up, I think my Mom might’ve even taken me.
We matched it to my skin tone but… not really. Because nothing is the color of my skin, only my skin is…
Cover up what’s imperfect, what’s raised and red and angry. Accentuate what’s already there…
“Are you wearing contacts?”
“Your eyes are your best attribute…”
“Look at those eyes!”
“Like a husky…”
Line the line, spread black, curl and colour and wipe and HERE I AM! Do you love me now?
Your voice in my head is saving me right now.
Your voice (in my head) says,
“The robin in the garden doesn’t care about the redness of her chest”.

“I said karate and she thought I said karaoke” by Sasha

Monday June 9, 2014
5 minutes
overheard on Bloor St.

The pick. The lick. The squeeze. The result…
The explosion.
The satisfaction.
The body’s imperfections.

I never had really bad acne, but I had, like, some pimples as a pubescent. Mostly little guys, a few whoppers. “You’ll make it worse if you pop them,” I heard that voice but I ignored it. There was nothing better than the two fingers pushing in, pumping out the bad stuff, the dark stuff, the white stuff. Sometimes at karate, I would get distracted in the bathroom, picking and popping, and Veronica would come in and say, “That’s disgusting.”

I felt bad for the guys with really red volcano pimples. No amount of tea tree oil can really help that.

“a divorce lawyer” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday June 8, 2014
5 minutes
Humans of New York post

I get home, late, from work. I eat a rice cake with goat cheese and avocado, my go-to late night snack. (How many calories? How bad is it, really, to eat before bed? Where does that energy go?) I open my laptop, the zombie glow. I search his name on Facebook, unfriended when we ended, you know how it goes. But I still listen to his band sometimes, streaming it on CBC. But I still… I search his name and I get that rush of naughtiness, of wonder, of mystery, of “am I the one that got away for him?” Probably not. Probably he’s glad that he ended it because… If I were skinny this would all be different.

He’s bartending at a restaurant in my old neighbourhood. He’s doing podcasts. He’s… I scroll and look and feel like I’m eating a big chocolate bar, a good one, fair trade. Why do I even care? He was an ass to me, at the end. Not calling and me wondering and waiting, so patient, so fucking patient with the assholes and never patient with the loves. Punishing the love for the assholes. Punishing the love for the father.

I slam my laptop closed. I eat my rice cake. I think about how I need to get a bikini wax because it’s shorts season. I think about moving across the country and how I don’t know if it really is that good of an idea. I think about watering the cactus.

“let’s make this the biggest” by Sasha on her couch

Saturday June 7, 2014
5 minutes
An email from Luminato

I see him riding his bike on Queen St. near Bathurst and he looks good, he looks better, he looks older and more attuned and more bearded. I see him and he’s riding a white bike with red handlebars, the kind the curve down, the kind for racing. He fucked me over. He was so good and so charming and the sex was perfect, sweaty, euphoria. “Drummers have good rhythm,” he’d say and I’d melt like butter in a pan. Who was I then? Who am I now? The same. The same. Trees grow. The circles. “Let’s make this the biggest summer we’ve ever had,” he said, walking in the park around the corner from my apartment then, his fingers grazing my fingers, his eyes looking up and down my body.

“train service is suspended” by Sasha in her garden

Friday June 6, 2014
5 minutes
A tweet by the TTC

All I can hear, over and over again in my head is that automated voice… “Train service is suspended between Ossington and Dufferin with a passenger emergency onboard a train. Shuttle buses will be operating between – ” Are you okay? Are you going to be okay? All I can hear is the sound of my heart in my ears, in my throat, the pulsing. “Chloe? Chloe! Are you alright? Chloe!” We were just playing around. We were just… We went to the kegger at the Sorority that Vanessa’s sister was apart of. We didn’t know that… “Butt chug it! Butt chug it!!” There were guys there, too, you know. Not just… She’s a daredevil. I have that caution gene but she… doesn’t. I went into the walk-in closet with her and this sister there… or whatever you call it and… Half a box of wine went up her ass. Sorry. But that’s what happened. And the other girl was laughing and I was like, “Chloe? Chloe! Are you alright?” And she said that she was. She felt wasted but “all good”. We left about an hour later and I didn’t know that she went into the bathroom and did another… one. Then, when we got on the subway she blacked out and she fell and on her way down she smacked her face on the edge of a seat and it gave her a bloody nose and…

“Virginia” by Sasha in her garden

Thursday June 5, 2014
5 minutes
from a sign on the wall of the Antique Shop

Virginia buys soy sauce at the Seven Eleven and goes home, via streetcar, via walk from the fourth block to the tenth. She drinks it, once she’s safely in the walls of her own making. “Just half a bottle tonight,” she whispers to no one but herself who isn’t no one but someone, but forty three, but two breasts and a million greying brown hairs. She wonders if she could shoot it, through her veins, through her rivers. She wonders if she took a syringe from work if anyone would notice. One of the vets. Three share the practise. Do they notice her? Or, do they just notice the bunny face, the dog paw, the cry of the non-human. Sometimes, just to see, just to try her wonderings out on them, she’ll say something ridiculous. “I ate a whole watermelon for the protein,” or, “have you ever licked the inside of your fridge?” They smile. Funny Virginia, she’s a strange duck, she sees, behind those eyes, a layer of compassion, a layer of caffeine.

“I’m really very mistrustful” by Sasha on her steps

Wednesday June 4, 2014
5 minutes
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Edward Albee

The aggression of of “nevermind”.
The passivity of “Yes”,
I flirt with the opposite and
make good with the boy I kissed when I should’ve run.
He knew me the way the mailbox does.
It was fleeting.
It was stamped.
It was expiry and inquiry.
“You’re a sweet one,”
he’d say.
“You’re a sweet one and I don’t want to make you hurt.”
Hurting is a sensation,
the act of smelling the lilacs,
purple and perfect and bursting forth.