“I’m old enough to be that girl’s mother,” by Julia in T’s kitchen

Friday August 24, 2018
7:11pm
5 minutes
My Mother’s Body
Marie Howe

we sit at the diner without speaking. Lulu is mad at me and I am mad at her. the drive was long, quiet, peanut butter stuck in the back of the throat. when I pointed out the horses grazing in the field she gave me the finger. Lu knows i loves horses. she even loves them more than me. I don’t know where I went wrong. i’m old enough to be that girl’s mother but I am not her mother. they don’t tell you that trying to parent another person’s kid will pulverize your heart into something you wish you could snort. Madelyne isn’t sending any instructions from where she is. how to handle a kid who hates me for not being more. when she was just my niece she used to beg Mad to sleep over in my truck. I guess that’s a hope worth tucking beneath the hip.

“Orange County wild fire” by Julia at her desk

Sunday November 26, 2017
9:25pm
5 minutes
from an Instagram post

Aunt Lisa calls my brother’s phone because she’s afraid of talking to me. I would be afraid of me too if I were her. But right now I want to talk to her. She doesn’t know what kind of mood I’m in; what kind of wisdom I’m tapping into. Keith puts the phone on speaker and Aunt Lisa, whispering, tells him, “You don’t have to tell your sister.” I grab the phone from his palm and I flip off the speaker phone. “I’m not doing this with you, Lisa. You will get the pendant dad wanted you to have and that is it. Okay? Stop trying to get your grubby hands on anything else.” After I hang up, Keith is staring at me. “Is that what dad would have wanted? Don’t you think we’re supposed to be coming together right now?” I almost feel bad for him. “She’ll take the skin off your back if you leave it open.”

“Oh gosh I would be so horrified” by Julia in Amanda’s bed


Thursday January 5, 2017
12:47am
5 minutes
from an email

When aunt Maxine died she left all her beloved jewelry to my younger sister, Annie, instead of to her own daughter. Gemma stormed in and out of my apartment that year like a horse trying to buck off a leech. She always brought with her an impossible tension followed by a cloud of smoke that she would sometimes beat herself up for. You never need that first cigarette! Trust me, I know, she would shriek. You never do but you think you do and that’s when bad shit starts to happen-dark shit like not trusting yourself! Gemma, I’d beg, can we please stop talking about it?

“gathering the medicine you need for re-birth.” by Julia at her dining table


Monday, April 4, 2016
9:26am
5 minutes
Mosaic magazine
Spring 2016


I have been free before I was alone
I have been seen before I succumbed to the fear
A little heart shaped pouch holds my dreams in it
A little heart shaped pouch holds my truth in it
I’ve been running wild in my imagination
Picking pretty flowers that I can carry with me all day long
I paint up the ocean I paint in a song
The mountains they’ve been calling so I can always find my way back
I am missing my tribe
The heart shaped hearts that I live for
Mother laughing
Sister holding
Auntie listening
Cousin giving
And to the wild women I left behind
Who I fit inside my sacred space
My medicine is abundant and flowing
I can take a sip from my blessings’ cup
And take steps to find myself again in the river when the deep in me craves
to be surrounded

“I love kittens!!” by Julia at Our Town Cafe


Sunday November 22, 2015 at Our Town
3:14pm
5 minutes
from a text

Dear Diary:

I love kittens!! Mom said if I finished reading my new book that she got me (it’s called: KITTENS) and ask Auntie Genie about the responsibilities around raising an animal friend as a pet, she MIGHT, maybe, will POSSIBLY consider letting me go to the shelter (where they keep the kittens from dying before they’re old enough to take care of themselves) and learn about some of my favourite ones. When I told her that I promised I would and would make sure I was very well informed about kittens and EVERYTHING they need before I asked her to get one, she said, Now, Izzie, this is not a YES or a NO it is a MAYBE, and it is ON CONDITION. I Know I know I know already. She is “non-committal”. Just like my father was. Or at least that’s what Auntie Genie tells me. She told me that FACT when I asked her once if he left because he was allergic to me. She said, Of course not, but that would have been a better reason.

“your mother’s sewing machine” by Julia at Souzan’s apartment


Thursday September 10, 2015
12:33am
5 minutes
from Sasha’s transcriptions

My mother didn’t know how to sew so I’d spend hours at my Aunt Winnie’s house watching her hem skirts, and braid old mops to use as hair for the dolls she’d give out at Christmas. Aunt Winnie liked to talk to herself while she worked, mumbling “Okay Win, this time, straight lines, straight straight lines.” Or, “One thread, two thread, three thread, four.” I would watch Aunt Winnie get herself over any hump, or out from any rock she found herself under. And if clothes got ruined she could fix them! The most self-sustaining thing I ever knew to be in my family was having the ability to sew. She would show me on her sewing machine, sit me on her lap so I could watch up close how to install the bobbin.

“how to be a parent” By Julia on her couch


Wednesday, August 5, 2015
12:40am
5 minutes
from Harper’s at a kiosk at the airport

Didn’t trust myself with Audrey. I didn’t know what I would do to her if I got mad and she said the wrong thing. I didn’t have the breaks for something like that. Some people, you know, they can stop on a dime, but not me. For me it’s 0-100 and there’s no taking back after that. Audrey, you know, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She always was. And the first time I realized I wasn’t safe for her was the last time. I snapped. I just…leapt out of my skin and I was a monster. Truly. At the time it was her or me. Feeding Audrey or feeding the monster. Only one of them could eat at a time and I used to make sure that I knew the difference. That wasn’t easy.

“Feed your creative juices” By Julia on her bed


Tuesday, August 4, 2015
1:05am
5 minutes
from a pencil case

Lana blotted the excess lipstick off with a square of toilet paper, remembering how her aunt Kathy showed her while she was living with her. Apparently Aunt Kathy was only supposed to stay for a couple weeks-a month tops- but things got complicated and before they all knew it, it had already been 4 years. Lana used to hear Aunt Kathy in the early morning when she would get up to shower and get herself ready for her receptionist job. When the water would stop, Lana would crawl out of bed and go sit beside the bathroom door, tapping on it quietly. Aunt Kathy would open the door, scoop her up and sit Lana down on the toilet seat while she did her makeup. Lana would have been two years old. She didn’t say a word, but she watched Aunt Kathy’s every move from the blush to the spacing out of her mascaraed eyelashes with the tip of a safety pin. On some days, Aunt Kathy would even put a little eye shadow on Lana, or let her taste a bit of her vanilla lip gloss.

“I think his wife is pregnant. Or, she’s really heavy…” by Julia at her desk


Wednesday April 29, 2015
7:13pm
5 minutes
Overheard at Higher Grounds Coffee House

We had been waiting impatiently at Connie and D’s place, running out of things to keep us busy while they proceeded at the hospital. Aunt Laura told us that Connie appreciated our concern and was touched by us all wanting to be there for her. She said as soon as there was news we would hear from her. It had been 5 hours already. We had cleaned the house by that point, watered all the tomato plants, played two whole rounds of Monopoly, and still we hadn’t heard from Aunt Laura. When Michael called me in a panic about his sister, I was out on a run. I was training for the marathon coming up in May. So instead of running home, I ran to Connie and D’s so I could sit with her brother and try to keep him from freaking out.

“master of my own” by Julia on her couch


Friday May 23, 2014
1:10am
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!!

“set yourself on fire” by Julia on her couch


Tuesday May 13, 2014
6:20pm
5 minutes
Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
Stars


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.

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


Sunday May 4, 2014
9:23pm
5 minutes
Aeolus
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.

“the bomb” by Julia on her couch


Thursday December 26, 2013
2:12am
5 minutes
from the cover of NOW

I wished you were coming with us Auntie Di! Please change your mind and stay with us for just a night!
Allie was begging her aunt with the best puppy dog eyes she could muster.
Pleasepleaseplease! I’ll be your best friend!!
I want to, Allie, I really do. But I can’t this time. It won’t be a good idea. Can you trust me when I say that, sweetie?
Dianne crouched down to look into Allie’s eyes. She stroked her hair and smiled reassuringly.
I trust you. But I want to know how come Auntie Di!
Dianne kept smiling even though he didn’t believe herself when she did it.
Baby, it’s complicated. Your mommy doesn’t want me to stay.
Allie furrowed her brow.
She’s mad at you? But I’m not mad at you!

“For their swim records” by Julia at Cafe Uno


Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at Cafe Uno
4:55pm
5 minutes
Super Fish Thorpe
Kaci Tami


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