“Souvenir, n. Memento.” by Julia at her desk

Monday March 16, 2020
12:38pm
5 minutes
A New Primary Dictionary if The English Language
Joseph E. Worcester

Remember me this way:

laughing
filled with holes and holy
dreaming in colour
writing songs on cocktail-napkins
writing notes in the margins of newly discovered books
smelling like garlic
chopping garlic
eating garlic
with a good idea unraveling
with a lose curl hanging down my back
with an eye for fresh haircuts and new shirts
with a penchant for over dramatization in the name of comedy
laughing
open arms and long hugs
humming along to Mozart
dripping water across the bathroom floor
showering by candle light
in candle light, flickering, relentless
reading the funny labels of things not meant to be funny
with a leather-bound notebook from Firenze
wearing the blue Adidas runners from 2003 even though they’ve lost their tread

Remember me in your pocket, folded, going with you wherever you land.

“Curious, maybe, you’ll turn to books.” By Sasha at the kitchen table

Sunday January 26, 2020
5:02pm
5 minutes
When You See A Skimmer
David Gessner

When you’re in the eye of the storm, you turn to books, to education, to the belief that your grandfather instilled in you that “knowledge is power”, and, “the more you know, the less you’ll hurt”. (Okay, maybe not that last one, but, almost.) You get out every book from the library on faith. You search for poems on doubt, on loss. You set up an alter on your oak bookshelf and carefully place stones and piece of birch bark, tarot cards and affirmation stones. You read every moment you’re not working, cooking, shitting, making love. The stack of books beside your bed grows, and you grow too. Armed with knowing, you feel you can handle the crisis, weather the flames burning shingles and Cheerios, ratting windows and toenails.

“books about people living on the street” by Julia in The Loop, Chicago

Saturday September 8, 2018
10:39pm
5 minutes
Searching, results
Shawn Syms

I walked into a bookstore today. The shelves were lined with post-it-notes telling me which staff member recommended which book. The girl working the counter had a tattoo of a strawberry wearing sunglasses. She recommended the Miranda July and I thought she and I would be friends. Mariella, the store owner, had recommended a few books about the housing crisis and single room occupancies. When I asked the girl with the same lipcolour on as me if she had read Mariella’s recommendations, she got real quiet and said, Mar used to live on the streets. She built this place so it’d be here for anyone who might need it. That’s why we’re open so late.

“Bill and Madge” by Sasha at her desk

Sunday, March 25, 2018
8:42pm
5 minutes
The Wreck Up Ahead
Poe Ballentine

Bill and Madge meet in their fifties. Bill is younger by five years. Madge had been married once, fresh out of nursing school, but Lionel was a drinker and so she left after a year and a half. Bill had never been married. He’d lived with a woman once, Genevieve, in Montreal, in the 80’s. Bill was an illustrator, working mostly in children’s books and magazines. He’d been mostly successful, which is really something given that career path. Madge was a gardener, and then a midwife, and then a bread maker, and then a gardener again, and then an early childhood educator. She swears that she used to read her students books that Bill had drawn pictures for.

“Hitchhiking” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Monday January 1, 2018
7:49pm
5 minutes
Trek: A Publication of Alumni UBC

I want you to go first with your ties of love riding the crest of the wave
most wildly at night with your newfound drunken freedom
from the wickedness
the blame
or something

I want you to stick your thumb out and see who pulls over and climb in before
I even decide
freedom on the side of the highway
crouched in the tall grass
peeing

There is always a final chapter
A conclusion
The timing is up to us
An agreement
Usually silent
Usually eye contact and deep breaths
Freedom from

It’s the first day of the rest of my life or at least 2018
I am here with books piled high beside me
Happy place
Joy place
Finally
My love sleeps in our darkened bedroom
A candle with Sacred Mother Mary burns low on the sill
He’ll leave not tomorrow but the next day
and then it will just be

me

“Don’t tell her what?” By Julia on her couch

Sunday December 3, 2017
10:14pm
5 minutes
The Humans
Matt Haig

You’re waiting for me to join you at the table.
You have been hungry since yesterday.
I am busy finding old books with the right message.
“There’s an answer in one of these.” I tell you.
“I don’t think you’re going to find what you’re looking for.” You say.
On the table is a feast and you were sweet enough to go pick it up.
I am hungry too, but maybe not for rice or salmon.
I am hungry for answers. I want to know so many things.
I think that’s why sleeping has been hard.
I keep trying to turn over old concepts in my brain
without getting any new information.
You’re waiting at the table and you do not make me feel bad.
You don’t ask me to hurry up like you usually do.
Eventually we will both have to eat and I will have to wait.
I can’t remember if the message is in a book or in a dream I once had.
I flip through the pages without looking.
I knnow there is some guidance here if I trust it.
“What are you doing?” You ask.
“Praying” I say.
“What are you praying for?” You ask.
“For me. For you. For us.” I say.

“A cherished pastime” by Julia on the 99


Tuesday March 21, 2017
9:08pm
5 minutes
from a Facebook post

Samar shows me the sweater she’s been knitting since last Tuesday after learning how last Monday and I’m embarrassed because I’m impressed because she’s seven and it’s stunning. Samar tells me that the sweater if for her sister because she doesn’t want her to think the world is cold. I ask her what she’s reading these days and she pulls out the biggest book I’ve ever seen. She tells me she’d rather save reading for another time though because now would be a good opportunity to teach me how to knit since I liked her sweater so much. I’m embarrassed again but this time for being behind on my own life. I didn’t know what knitting was when I was seven. I wasn’t relying on the smell of books to calm me down.
I causally mention to her that knitting is a good balance to reading because you get to wield a weapon. Samar laughs at this and for the first time today I feel smart.

“Are you sure about that?” by Sasha on the 16


Wednesday February 3, 2016
5:15pm
5 minutes
Right Hand Man
Stacey Kaser


I sleep with a book under my pillow. It started when I was five and my parents were fighting and the dissonance of that lullaby needed to be somehow interrupted.

When lovers find the book (Anita Rau Badami or Miriam Toews or Saleema Nawaz or Madeleine Thien or Ann-Marie MacDonald Esi Edugyan or Michael Ondaatje or Joy Kogawa), dripping in sleep, they curl eyebrows into question marks. Some understand, a small smile spreading. Most don’t.

If I wake up and my mind starts talking too loud, too fast, the usual, I take the book, such easy access and I fall in.

“from bridges to clouds” by Julia on Amanda’s patio


Monday, June 22, 2015
8:16am
5 minutes
theawesomedaily.com

My sister, Monica, loved a book when we were growing up: Bridge to Terabithia. I never read it but I didn’t have to cause my sister told me all about it 2 billion times and it was somehow my favourite book too. I would have favoured anything that already had my older sister’s stamp of approval. She knew good books. I trusted her. Monica also knew how to french kiss and told me to practice on the crook of my elbow. She said that space there felt the most like a mouth that I could get. She was right about that too. She was very wise and so I waited for her opinions before I gave mine. When I told Monica that I wanted to shave my head like her, she told me I should wait until the full moon to decide cause in that moment I wasn’t making the decision for me.

“a new relationship to the vagina” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Wednesday March 25, 2015
9:41am
5 minutes
Vagina
Naomi Wolf


She mentions the book over pottery mugs of Earl Grey tea, cupped in our open palms. We’re perched in chairs that used to live in her parents house, smaller versions of their armchair grownup selves. She tells me that it’s changed her life, this book, and I trust her, this woman, and I promise myself that when I see it, I will buy it. I want a new relationship with my vagina, too.

The timer is running out of time because I’ve paused a bunch while writing this, feeling nervous, not wanting to overshare, but wanting to be very honest.

If you haven’t read Vagina by Naomi Wolf, please find someone to borrow it from, or buy it, or order it from the library. If you are a woman, this is for you. If you are a man, this is for you. If you are neither, this is also for you. No matter who you love or why you love them or what you have or what you don’t have, this book is for you.

It took me a long time to recognize the politics of my body. I want to understand them and I can’t simply from reading The Globe and Mail.

“we thought we’d play a little trick” by Julia at the Perth/Dupont Library


Wednesday February 25, 2015 at the Perth/Dupont Library
1:51pm
5 minutes
Betty and Veronica Double Digest
The Archie Library 215


We had a ton of little games we used to play when we were kids: See how many fingers you could fit in your mouth, how far you could shove a twisted piece of facial tissue up your nose before sneezing, see who could sneeze the most in a row after that twisted piece of facial tissue was stuck up there, how many times you could belt out the national anthem while you did a number two. We’d come up with the weirdest shit and we would be so willing to complete every single thing. How many bubbles could you blow with your gum in the nude while you got wrapped up in a towel, how many bubbles could you blow with your gum before you got unwrapped from your towel? How many spoons of cinnamon could you keep in your mouth without spitting it everywhere. You’d think we didn’t have one single toy, one single book. Where we came up with these crazy ideas, I will never know.

“they are content with burning my books” by Julia on her couch


Sunday, July 13, 2014
4:42pm
5 minutes
Freud, 1938, Vienna
Lou Lipsitz



So I come home (hard day), the radio’s blasting (of course it is), and Jeremiah is sitting cross-legged on the cold linoleum (of course he is) surrounded by a perfectly stacked circle of all my books. I stand there in the doorway (leaning) just looking at him (confused), while he hums the alphabet song (leaving out J and S, I can only assume), and touches each book as if for the very first time. He’s deciding (magically) which ones he’ll discard (burn) at the final moment (3:33pm), while I question every single reason (mole, laugh, orgasm) why I’m still with him.

“Spilled secrets” by Julia at the Sheraton in St. John’s


Wednesday March 26, 2014
10:39pm
5 minutes
Atlantic Business Magazine
Jan/Feb 2014


of course there are spilled secrets all over this place. you think i don’t know that? I know that. I know everything about this place. when i was little i used to run this place. you’re laughing but you don’t understand. i was in and out of room corners and closets and hiding everywhere. nobody knew where to find me and i was damn good at staying hidden until i knew no one was watching for me to come out. that’s how i learned about everyone and everything because i got real good at keeping my mouth shut and my ears wide wide open. i got good at breathing with my mind and not with my lungs. i know about each wall plastered with its tiny mosaics of truth and shame. i know about mom trying to hide the pistol and about dad shouting out for annabell, my sister before he went and not me. i know more than you can possibly imagine. and everyone knows one thing or two, but not me. i know each fold in each sheet like it was my nanny, i know each speckle on each mirror like my own shadow. i could fill rooms of books with what i know here. and that’s why i’m so hell bent on leaving now. not that anyone would stop me..not anyone but the secrets. they whisper to me when i sleep. they haunt my dreams like nightmares that are made up by crazy men in their libraries. only they’re real. they’re so real they could kill me just by being in my head. i have a song i sing right before bed so i don’t hear them. i had to invent something when i was young to make sure they didn’t.

“What should I do with my life?” by Julia at R Squared


Monday March 18, 2013 at R Squared
11:09am
5 minutes
Writing Down The Bones
Natalie Goldberg


I’ve got all these plans, all these super duper big–WOAH– and cool plans! I’m gonna–I’m gonna–I’m gonna make a boat. TUT TUT TUT. And teach goldfish how to S.I.N.G. (That’s sing.)
That’s SUNG!
Oh great! Today is a blank cheque. But my life? You want to know? Okay, I’ll get serious:
Write a book, a novel, a collection of short stories, a collection of micro-stories–tiny ones–like speckles, like stars! Check! Not blank cheque. Check mark! Great.
A collection of one-liners, a coffee table book with witty retorts…
A song, an album, a musical, a play, a stage-play, a radio-play, a screenplay, a memoir, an article, an essay, a promise.
Oh, Should. Not Want. I get it.
I’ve got all these plans.
Learn to bake, learn to do simple math, learn to eat bananas before they go bad so I don’t feel guilty when I have 60 stacked in the freezer and still don’t want to make banana bread.
Should. SHOULD.
Be happy? Hoity-toity bitches gonna judge me for that? It’s the best answer you hoity-toity bitches.
Be honest. Don’t judge.
Be Real. Don’t judge.
Be Bad. Don’t judge.
Be brave. Don’t judge.