“I step into the cold silence.” by Julia in her office

Wednesday December 4, 2019
2:19pm
5 minutes
New Planet
Misha Penton

It feels more like an autumn day than spring, something like October keeps ringing in my ears and against them.

A resistance here, a noticing. These two have never come together before.
And now in my bigger boots I can sense the weighted thought and it is attached to me.

The breeze whisks the hair around my face into a halo of buzzing. I cannot pretend I do not ache for sunny days, but this, this aliveness is more than
I thought I would know.

The air around me is still and I can hear a quiet humming.
I listen and find grace in the willingness to acknowledge.

It’s not hunger, it’s not sleep, but grief collected.
And here I count the withered leaves, one and two and three upon the ground.

It feels more…

“your ability to project charismatic body language” by Julia at A’s island

Saturday July 27, 2019
10:28pm
5 minutes
The Charisma Myth
Olivia Fox Cabane

You leave the house with your blonde hair rippling like ribbons of butter bounce bouncing along

I see your excitement in the red of your cheeks, nervous but ready and oh how you look the part

Wearing my shirt, girl it looks good on you, rocking those pants with the rips in the knees I am so damn pleased

I say cross this leg in front of the other, look down, okay, uncross, looking charming without looking

I’m staying up late so I can hear all about your date and what he whispered in your ear over dinner

Did you split the snacks like you said you would, did you order the Humming Bird with the Montenegro

Did I tell you you’re the best yet or did I spend all my time telling you that you’re enough and you’re alive

On the drive home I see those exclamation points and someone else asked how you were when you left

How you were feeling and I like that I’m the one who got to send back the report: perfetto, bellissima!!

“She actually cooks” By Julia at her desk

Wednesday May 16, 2018
12:16am
5 minutes
Overheard in the dining room

I read your poetry hoping to find a piece of me there
Maybe a big piece that cannot be mistakened for someone else
When I uncover the grave there is a body buried alive
barely breathing, but not dead yet
I weep at the beauty of those words–stiched together like a
quilt to leave hanging on the fraying loveseat
I find a way to see your heart in the hurt
And we are both bodies buried alive, barely breathing
but not dead yet
I have hooked up the tubes and wires and run you through
my veins delivering a kind of test to all my internal organs
It works
I am working
You can be my blood and I will keep pumping
pumping

“the hypocrites will teach.” By Julia in her bed

Monday May 7, 2018
11:01pm
5 minutes
From a quote by Suzy Kassem

All the voices I’ve been avoiding living inside me are more alive than I’ve been letting them be, more living than I’ve been thinking they are

I was right about you
it’s written in the stars and I’ve been right so many times but I’ve been scared and so I don’t say anything with words but with worlds of voices dancing around in my head

And they are so loud that my skin crawls and maybe you can see it so you ask me what is wrong and the truth is inside nothing is wrong everything is right but it is dangerous to say out loud

It is hard to believe that I know more than I think I do
That I am bigger than I think I am

“In just 10 months you have come a long way” by Julia on the 99


Tuesday May 3, 2016
8:31pm
5 minutes
From the Twitter account of the woman sitting in front of Julia

Look at your new smile
Your new confidence
Your new found love for yourself
You see me see you
I see you
I have always seen you
You see me see you seeing you
It is beautiful
In all the ways this world is beautiful
In all the ocean songs
And amethyst hearts
And moon cakes
And rain forests
And sounds of a baby’s laugh
Your new you is an old you returning
A home where you can
take off your shoes
Stay for a while
And dance in the magic suit you were born in
Look at your new wisdom
The kind that comes from
Re-learning how to trust yourself
Re-learning how to choose yourself
It is whole and it is warm
I would hold it
but I’ve already gotten so much
You keep it for now
Let it fill the cracks that once split you open
Let it fill the space where you said yes
To being more alive
Than yesterday

“Help us fight the flu!” by Julia at her dining table


Friday February 12, 2016
12:51pm
5 minutes
from the elevator at VGH

I am sitting motionless but moving on this perfect log facing the perfect sun peaking out behind the perfect mountain. Everything is wonderful. Everything around me is alive and I am still alive to experience it. There’s a difference between living and not dying. I come out here to remind myself exactly that when things feel uneasy. I ask myself, am I still alive, or am I living until I die? I am hoping to find clarity around that; peace, even. Asking myself as often as I can if this life is holding space for me or if I am holding space for it. It should be the former, shouldn’t it? Should. Huh. I know, I’m working on that too. Working on coming to perfect stillness and looking at perfect views and thinking so many imperfect thoughts. I am alone but not lonely. I feel supported from the moment I open my eyes to the moment I decide to keep them closed for the night. And I am not dying. Not yet. Not today. Although if the timing were right, this wouldn’t be such a bad last spot to be in; not a bad last feeling to have–one where I am myself inside myself inside a moment of deep desire to understand.

“make strong choices on the fly” by Julia at her desk


Sunday November 8, 2015
10:18pm
5 minutes
from nativeearth.ca/w28series/

Okay so I started taking this improv class-that’s what they say, it’s so cool, they don’t even finish the word. It’s every week on Tuesdays and the class is 3 hours long and it is the best thing in my entire life. It’s so funny. People really are hilarious in this class so I never feel like it’s a waste cause I’m always laughing and sometimes till I’m crying and that is the best feeling. Our instructor, Vijestica is a hobbit sized woman and she has a big laugh that starts, I am convinced, in her groin. She’s always snorting and shooting snot out of her nose because she loves to laugh and gets us really excited about our choices! In improv you learn how to YES AND which means nothing is wrong and everything is a good idea and you say yes to the first choice that comes and just keep building on that until you’re really rolling with it all and the jokes just flow and the laughs just follow. Vijestica says this is a safe place to leave the everyday at the door. I am so glad to leave my everyday at the door because working in a cubicle the size of an outhouse in my everyday is actually the thing that might kill me. It’s awful, there’s no silliness or fun, only deadlines and people telling me “nice maroon sweater, Alma,” or “Did you eat my peanut butter tuna sandwich, Alma?” Here, in improv class, we all just smile and tell each other how great and brave we all are.

“Canada’s Indigenous communities” by Sasha at Benny’s


Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at Benny’s
2:21pm
5 minutes
An email from The David Suzuki Foundation

I watch as they search and I’m full and empty and nothing and everything
I help them I try to help them
Feeble attempt at solidarity
Until the sun sets and breath is visible
Until icicles form inside my ears
“Let’s call it a day,” Bruce says
and I’m grateful
“No.”
Jenny glares at me
at her father
“We have flashlights, we have tea…
What if she’s out here, freezing to death?”
Bruce goes home and I stay
Jenny and me
I’m half her size and my heart beats in my ears
the whole time
“She’s not dead,” Jenny says
offering me the thermos
“I know it.”
I nod
I drink deep
Cedar and something I’ve never smelt or tasted
“She’s somewhere.”
My sister
At home in Edmonton
Putting her daughter to sleep
Saying prayers about monsters
Kissing her nose

“the tallest trees send down roots” by Julia at Nelson the Seagull


Sunday, September 6, 2015 at Nelson The Seagull
2:32pm
5 minutes
The Soul’s Code
James Hillman


Mama, there’s a shooting pain coming and going in my legs! It feels like knives and daggers and glass, digging deep and twisting tight.
My dear, you are growing. Your legs are becoming longer, your torso building higher toward the sky.
But why do I ache? Why do my legs shriek out every night?
Because to grow is to change and to change is to expand. You’re stretching, my love, growing into the you you are meant to be.
How big will I get? How long will I grow?
As big as you’re meant to be. As long as your soul needs.
My soul is growing through my legs? Will it always hurt this much?
Maybe a little at first. But it lets you know you’re alive. That you’re entering new dimensions. Filling bigger spaces.

“I sent you an email” By Julia outside Darkhorse on Spadina


Sunday, July 12, 2015
4:14pm
5 minutes
from a text message

Of course you haven’t responded yet! I’ve only sent you the most life-changing e-mail of all time. I shouldn’t have to resend my thoughts, but your lack of response is truly IRRITATING to say the least. How do I know where I stand. It is more important to know where I stand then how you feel as I’m the one who has put my heart out on a limb here and now it’s just DANGLING, don’t you see? I don’t know if you’ve drafted a response or not even because I refuse to log into your account like last time and check for myself. We all know it ended badly last time, and let’s just say once you know, you can’t unknow. But I am going a bit mental waiting for you to either confirm or deny your feelings for me. I know it sounds trite, but do you think of me the same way I think of you? Don’t answer this question. This one is riddled with self-doubt and neediness. Just answer the one I thoughtfully crafted for 3 and a half hours. YEAH! THREE AND A HALF HOURS! It took a long time to articulate. I wanted to be clear without being over-explicit. You are ALIVE, right???

“Looking for a therapist?” by Julia on the subway going south


Sunday, April 26, 2015
1:49pm
5 minutes
From a PRS subway ad

There are feelings
Woah like the waves of the sea
And they’re big
Whoosh like the world shifting
Tectonic plates moving
And I have them
They’re in me
Whoosh waving through me
Around my bones
Keeping them cold
Keeping me far away from settling in
That’s the best way to describe
Whoosh
Wave
Whooshing
Is there a cure?
For the feelings that slosh around beneath my skin
Boom begging me to hold on tight
To wrap up my insides
So they stay good and out of contact
With all my major organs?
Does the doctor know this brand of illness?
Oh the waving
Whooshing
Sloshing sick-feelings landslide
Tsunami
and
Evolutionary jolting
Rocking my core
And shaking me from my roots?

“original packaging” by Julia on the 47 going North


Saturday, April 25, 2015
1:36am
5 minutes
From a receipt from The North Face

I came in a box with a manual and a number for an information hotline. Everybody was anxious to use me. To see what I could do. To figure out my functionality, my abilities, my strengths. No one anticipated I’d be difficult to understand. There were pictures and diagrams, step by step instructions and video guides. There was a lot of hype about my arrival and people got cocky. They thought they would all be able to follow the directions and handle me as intended as a highly user-friendly model. All of these expectations were real. But so was I and nobody was quite ready for that part. Nobody was ready for my opinions, my point of view, my perceptions of the world, my critique. They had waited for a presence that would exist like them but not make change. They wanted something in their image but void of their flaws. My maker was a genius. She was smart and designed me perfectly. She included exactly what she should have. But the collective human weakness is greater than the solution to it. Unfortunately for me.

“I look at the sky recalling” by Julia at MAKE coffee+stuff


Wednesday July 23, 2014 at MAKE
3:21pm
5 minutes
A Memory Returns
Bobby Ferguson


It was my first sip of coffee and I remember thinking it was so bitter I couldn’t see straight. Why anyone would ever drink that stuff was beyond me. I saw all the adults drinking it and they seemed to be having a great time. But I was never interested much in the smell, or the aftertaste, or the colour of teeth it somehow also transformed. I took a second sip to show I was big, I guess. Bigger than I was feeling. I wanted to fit in, I wanted them to stop thinking they needed to spell controversial words around me. I was a very good speller anyway. It just made them look stupid if I’m being honest. I wanted to shout from the tiny kid’s table that felt like it was a mile away from all the fun that I could understand what they were saying; that I could follow along and offer an opinion every now and again if they’d let me. So I took another sip and swallowed down the fuzz that formed on my tongue when I drank the stuff. I could feel my head start to get a bit light and I remember thinking, huh, this stuff isn’t so bad once you get past all the gross parts. Each sip brought me closer to the adults in the room thinking I was beneath them just because I was younger. Each sip made me feel all the more alive.
I still don’t drink it. I thought I might be the type to take it up after all, but I wasn’t. Turns out I didn’t need to do something I didn’t like to make me feel big.

“the Devil who touched my body” by Julia at her desk


Friday May 3, 2013
2:11pm
5 minutes
Aleph
Paulo Coelho


It was magic, rushing through me, telling all my limbs to be easy, quieting my veins as it poured all the way into my heart.
The music playing in my mind was a beautiful electronic beat and kept me awake and dreaming.
I couldn’t tell you what I was wearing. Probably nothing as I tend to dance in my own skin when I’m trying to change the world. I bobbed my head and shrugged my shoulders, shrugging off the ways of yesterday and trading them for something a little more specific. Magic. Gush… it had so much more than temporary release, it lasted and lasted until I was making dust angels on my hardwood floor. Spreading my wings into the grooves I walk on daily. Let’s fly where we walk, tread lightly lest we wake our downstairs neighbours.
My headspace cleared and I knew what I wanted. From life, from God, from you, from books. Something tangible, something I could carry with me, enjoy forever. The change in tempo was nice. Not needing from others to feel alive. Pushing hard into a bruise to feel like it’s okay to get hurt. Using my cut finger to open a jar of pickles and let the scab peel off slightly just to watch the healing process all over again.

“You just banged my head on the floor!” by Julia at The Common


Friday, January 11, 2013 at The Common
2:27pm
5 minutes
The Pillowman
Martin McDonagh


Mommy I’m telling Daddy on you! You hurted my head!!
Didi, please, you’re fine. I just hit it lightly. Watch Mommy do it. See, it doesn’t hurt that much.
Mommy is a bad bad Mommy!
Didi, It was an accident. You’re still alive!
I’m alive?
Yes, alive. You can speak, you can cry, your eyes are open. That means you’re alive, and OKAY.
Oh. I’m ALIVE, MOMMY!
Yes. You are.
Are you alive?
Are my eyes open, am I talking?
Yes!
Good.
Is Daddy alive?
I sure hope so.
Why?
I was just kidding, sweetie. He’s alive, yes.
But you don’t know?
He’s just not home, so I can’t do the checks, but I have a good feeling he is. We haven’t gotten a phone call yet.
Why?
Because when you get phone calls about someone, like Daddy, but not from Daddy himself, it makes you start to worry a little bit.
But if Daddy calls, he’s okay then?
Yes. Well, mostly. If he says he’s fine, he’s fine. If he calls and says he’s not fine, then that’s when we know he’s not fine.
So we don’t want Daddy to call?
No. I mean, we do, but only to say, Hi baby, I love you, I’m coming home.
Not to say I’M NOT ALIVE!
No. Not that. But for the record, if he did say that, it would be good, because it would be a joke, and he would have to be alive to make a joke.