“She actually cooks” by Sasha on her balcony

Wednesday May 16, 2018
7:02am
5 minutes
Overheard in the dining room

I take more time now
I try to rush less now
Or maybe that’s a lie now
T-R-Y is the truth I guess

I watch my mother’s body break
And I think about all the women
Breaking
Breaking open
Breaking down
Breaking through
Breaking waves
Breaking story
Breaking bread
Breaking hearts
Breaking wide

I can’t punctuate because
This isn’t over and there’s
No symbol that can accurately
Mark the
Break

Maybe it’s better to stick with
fingers stained
Yellow from curry powder
Or the fine art of slicing tomato
Blending chickpeas into gold

Breaking down the heart
Breaking down the nucleus
Breaking into laughter
Breaking into love

“I call to ask my mother the name of the street” by Julia at her desk

Wednesday May 2, 2018
3:44pm
Flight
Idrissa Simmons

I want to remember everything from that house before it gets lost
The long staircase leading into the living room where I’d watch
my parents watch TV when I was supposed to be in bed
The upstairs bathroom with the black and white tiles that I would
count at night where my father took me so I wouldn’t wet the bed
The night my own bed became a flood and me, the punished rain, a sadness
The closet in my bedroom where I unzipped the front of my overalls to
show the blonde-haired boy something that he wanted that I didn’t know was mine
The lilac dining room that I would stand in watching the trees in the yard,
pretending they were alive and waiting for me
the telephone I used when I dared my first prank call on the operator and
the pulse of it when she called me back
I want to ask my mother if there are things I might be missing
the moment she knew I was made of her
the times she watched me sleep on the floor with my ponytail spilling over the pillow

“I can’t get rid of useful things” by Julia at her desk

Tuesday May 1, 2018
10:10am
Carpet Bomb
Kenyatta Rogers

Mama is a packrat and I’m her packrat baby
she likes to keep all the old papers and
documents just in case just in case
calls me on the phone and asks if I can let
it go to voicemail cause mama wants to leave
me a message that’s gonna make my day
When I listen back I hear her reading me the
old birthday card I made for my baby brother
and she can’t get through it without lauging
so I save the voicemail cause one day I’m
gonna play it on hers so she can listen
Mama liked to keep all kinds of containers
and now I keep all kinds of containers even
if the lids are missing or the bottoms are
warped and melted from accidentally being
put in the dishwasher or on the element
she has taught me so well and our houses
hold memories and everyting else inside

“My mother is a wood thrush” by Julia at M’s house

Thursday, April 19, 2018
11:19pm
5 minutes
A List Of My Utopias
Debbie Urbanski

I can recite her laugh lines by heart
in the quiet night I hear her in my rib cage
I saved a couple of her voicemails
when I want to visit with her again
in the dead of winter
when speaking half in english, half italian, half french, my skin knows story
sometimes she sings and I know where I got it from
and where she must have gotten it from
that alone would connect us
the hum.

“God may have written” by Julia on her couch

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

10:33pm

5 minutes

From a quote by Nancy Cartwright

Aubrey tells me that she wishes she could sing without trying. Without crying. Without opening her mouth. She asks me to ask God what can be done about that. She asks me because I’m taller than her and therefore closer to God. She’s not wrong…

When I ask her why she wants this she doesn’t answer with words but with a look of disapproval. As if I didn’t already know. As if it needs to be spelled out.

Aubrey tells me it’s important that singing be true. She says she’s heard enough people trying and she doesn’t want to be the kind who has to push put feelings; one who tries to get it right.

Would you be okay with being wrong? I ask her, a little afraid now that I’ve pushed her too far.

She smiles then and blows her bangs out of her oval face.

“eat all of our food? Rude.” By Sasha on the 99

Friday February 16, 2018
10:22pm
5 minutes
Flushed
David Delisca

Crumbs under the toaster again! GODDAMNIT SHARLEEN! I can’t take it anymore! Crumbs all over the counter and it’s not hard to moisten a cloth, wipe the counter, lift the toaster, wipe under the toaster! I raised you to be better than this, Sharleen! Come downstairs! I hate shouting. Sharleen?! Jesus, she’s not even here?!

Furiously dials on the cordless phone.

Hello, Sharleen. This is your mother. Please call me immediately. This is an emergency. I repeat. This is an E-M-E-R-G-E-N – Oh! You’re calling on the other line. Shit. How do I – ?

Sharleen?

GODAMNIT!

Sharleen!

“handed down mother to daughter” by Julia at Tree Hugger Cafe, Dong Hoi

Friday February 2, 2018 at Tree Hugger Cafe
3:33pm
5 minutes
Without Mercy
Howard Wright

The slow blink while angry
The smooth legs
The internal smile at babies
The compassion
The sometimes door mat sometimes door
The olive oil skin
The walking feet
The running instinct
The humming bone
The story teller
The clam sauce recipe
The porcini mushroom gnocchi
The onion soup
The date and walnut cookies
The open face
The open mouth
The ears
The rage
The hurt
The agency
The curiosity
The attention to details
The service to the ones loved most
The glued roots to Italy
The never ending conversation
The family first

“She’ll use timid hand gestures,” by Julia on the 9

Friday January 19, 2018
4:48pm
5 minutes
Black Roses Bloom
Bill Gaston

She’ll calmly talk about her dad as if he were still alive. She’ll say he’s gone but her arms don’t quite believe it yet. Her jaw won’t accept it as the truth. She’ll stay up late in bed because the book is that good. Except it won’t be a book she’s reading. It’ll be hard to sleep with all those dreams of him. The ones of him showing up at her door with a basket of fresh picked cherry tomatoes and a couple dangerous Chili peppers. The ones of her getting a call from his cell phone but all he does is laugh and laugh when she picks up. The ones of him squeezing her shoulders when he hugs her tight. The ones of him calling her sweetie after a long time apart.

“feel free to play around” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Monday January 8, 2018
7:12am
5 minutes
http://ohsheglows.com/

My daughter and her daughter sit on their
front porch and sing to the shrubs

My daughter and her daughter walk to the river
and throw stones in
see how the current weaves

My daughter and her daughter
peel clementines and eat the sections slow
fussing turns to laughter turns to fussing
turns to laughter turns to nap

My daughter and her daughter sleep in a bed
with lavender tucked in the pillowcases
dream of a time when the world might be better
dream of a future where there’s curiosity and hope

“unconscious anger at my mother” by Julia at LoPan

Wednesday December 20, 2017 at LoPan
12:27am
5 minutes
This wounded healer says warp up the loom
Sharon K. Farber

We didn’t speak much after her mother died. I didn’t ask her how she was each day and maybe that’s good.
I always knew how to keep living.
I remember that she never had as much as I gave before. As little. And I resented for a period that she didn’t beg herself better. That she did not shoot a little higher. I see this woman on the moon, and in the moon, and of the moon and of the moon, and she does not want to admit that.
I don’t know which truth tasted sweeter. I would likely have done the same thing in her position. Even I would hope for love in another way.
I am happy in my life thanks to all the sauces she’s talked me through over the phone.
I sometimes wish it could have been her.
I sometimes wish it wasn’t me, or us,or him,just her.
Just her floating through life unattached to the promise of pleasing

“She insisted I make no special concession” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Wednesday October 25, 2017
5:43pm
5 minutes
from Swing Low
Miriam Toews

I told you. She expressly insisted that I make no special concession! Yes, yes, I know that she’s my daughter but she articulated in her own words that she wants me to treat her as I would any other student. Mr. Black. You must listen to me. I know that defacing school property results in two weeks of detention, and probation for the rest of the year. Elizabeth is old enough to know better. I’ve already apologized for her behaviour, as I would with any of my students, but she must take responsibility for her actions. This has gone too far! Mr. Black. Please don’t look at me like that. Please.

“Space Womb” by Julia at Kits beach

Sunday October 15, 2017
3:49pm
5 minutes
YouTube.com

Galaxy inside me oozing star dust and making plans

Staining my finger tips Milky Way

So when I stamp myself on the backs of all the envelopes I leave a trail of meteor magic behind.

My body amazes me every time I think about it. She is busy holding another human in her space womb. Making space for something good to come, preparing the introductions.

Hello world, this is tiny human and she is going to be a force of fresh air and binaural melodies. She’s going to change the planet and I’m going to be her keeper until she’s big enough to see. In this space womb I am weaving a promise through the umbilical cord and into her tiny soul. I play the music, everybody’s favourite song, and she dances inside me till she sleeps.

“don’t trip on the stairs” by Julia on the couch


Tuesday June 13, 2017
11:02pm
5 minutes
The Ocean At The End Of The Lane
Neil Gaiman


Kit can’t stand the new shoes Lou brought back from Iceland. She hates the way the toe catches on concrete and splits the difference between leather and sole. Lou tries to tell her that they were custom made and one of a kind. Kit thought about hiding them in the laundry hamper, pretending somebody stole them. She couldn’t throw them out. She wasn’t a monster.
Lou has been bringing home gifts more and more lately. Obviously trying to atone for taking her away from all her friends. When Marnie got sick, the sky opened up and took some more things that Kit didn’t want to give away. Gave her some things she didn’t need, stuck with a stepfather who didn’t want to stay.

“Part of the explanation” by Julia on F’s couch


Friday June 9, 2017
9:24pm
5 minutes
The Globe And Mail

I have been avoiding calling my mother because I know I am going to cry.
She is avoiding me too for the same reason.
Earlier this week my sister tells me that the family reunion is off.
After swearing in the bathroom and crying and yelling and crying some more,
I tell her I’m sorry for overreacting.
My sister tells me she could listen to me swear for days, and if it’s any consolation,
I was not overreacting, but reacting, and both would be okay.

Today I finally phone her and for whatever reason we start speaking french to each other.
I think because this softens the blow.
Keeps things light, after all, it is only a family that will not be reuniting.
It’s not the end of the world.
I hear the sigh in her voice as she mixes in some words in Italian, some a combination of both.
I tell her I already know.
She laughs.
Then later she cries.
We both do.

“update your voter information” by Sasha at her desk


Saturday March 11, 2017
10:36am
5 minutes
From an email

My mother hands me her wallet and asks me to count out the change for her bagel and coffee. She acts like this is normal. I play along. She holds onto my elbow as we snake our way through the grocery store. “I want three oranges, Lola. And make sure they are ripe!” She sniffs cantaloupes and squeezes nectarines, but it’s hard to tell with citrus.

I’m the youngest of six and this means it’s my job to care for my mother in these last years of her life. My older siblings helped to raise me. It’s an unspoken rule that I’ll look after Mama. They visit. But they don’t sell their furniture and books, break up with their sometimes boyfriend, give away their three-legged cat and move back home.

“No mere goldfish, these.” By Sasha at her kitchen table


Friday February 3, 2017
11:33pm
5 minutes
From the Windows display

Got Ellie a shiny goldfish for her twelfth birthday and I never heard her say so many thank you’s! We got dizzy with all them t’s and y’s! She asked if for Easter we could get one of them snails to clean the bowl and I said I’d think about it. Couldn’t be too expensive.

I ever tell you how small Ellie was when she’s was born? Two pounds, one ounce. That’s smaller than a half a Sunday chicken! I’ll never forget the feelin’ of holding her in my hand, like the whole world was there, right in my palm. My whole world.

“let us communicate” by Julia at her dining table


Tuesday October 18, 2016
9:00pm
5 minutes
From the back of The Sun

He never asked me what I wanted to do or what I loved or what I was thinking.
He didn’t need to know, I assumed. He didn’t think it was necessary. I don’t
know how you go your whole life as a parent not thinking it is necessary. I don’t
Know how you go your whole life talking to so many people each day and saying so
little.

The best gift he ever gave me was a necklace: black gem stone, elegant.
He brought it home for me the day after my sister gave the other half of her best
friends forever necklace to someone other than me. He said he wanted me to have one
of my very own. One that I wouldn’t need somebody else to complete.

“I’m ecstatic to announce” by Julia on the reading chair


Friday September 30, 2016
7:34am
5 minutes
a Facebook post

There’s a new woman in my father’s life. He has been hiding it from me since they started seeing each other and maybe he had good intentions and maybe he was just being a coward. Either way, I got a Save The Date in the mail for three proposed coffee occasions that the new woman in my father’s life would like me to choose between. I think it’s funny that she chose not to even bother sending a singing telegram! Who doesn’t love getting an embossed card in the mail with tiny kitties in silver dresses, asking me, not to meet her, but to pick a time that I’d like to meet her. Then what happens when I send this back? Wait two weeks to get another Save The Date for a cappuccino and a butter tart?

“The secret of remaining young” By Julia on Lindsay’s Couch


Saturday August 13, 2016
7:12am
5 minutes
The Picture Of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde


Mom calls me to tell me about her trip tells me all about the seaside
And how people don’t care
That North America has judgments about women’s bodies and women’s
Minds
She tells me that she bought
Her first bikini
In 15 years
And that she loves it
And that she’s decided
She no longer cares
About the rules
Either
Mom tells me about her trip
How she listened to her body
Instead of punishing it
How she gave her skin a chance
How she smiled more than before
How people told her how good
She looked
And how shocking that
Was
And how nice that is
And how maybe she has
Finally
Let herself believe them
Because they are right
Because she has put the hard work in
Because she has unlocked her heart
And freed her inner child
Mom tells me about he trip
About her journey to find
peace
And how on the way
She found a whole lot more
Inside herself
Than she meant to

“creamed corn with beer” by Julia at Starbucks


Monday July 4, 2016 at Starbucks
6:57am
5 minutes
Visiting my Sisters
Phil Hall


Only had one plan for the entire weekend and that was to roll out of my house and down the hill to the corner store and buy a banana or two and maybe a variety pack of mini travel cereals. Frosted Flakes. Had some nostalgia for times past, for the flavours of my youth. I turned off my phone and I bundled myself up in flannel and wool. I didn’t want to see anyone and I didn’t expect to. Hart had been gone for almost a month. He wrote me a letter saying it would be his last and that I should probably do my best to move on and not take the break-up too personally. Okay, Hart, I thought, I will only take it medium-personally. The teenager working the cash was on her phone and I was not in the mood for kindness anyway so it was fine. Then I heard my name being hollered from behind me. I turned around reluctantly and saw Hart’s oldest daughter, Carmen. She was holding a can of creamed corn and carrying a case of Labatt Blue.

“how she wants to move herself” by Julia at Starbucks


Monday June 27, 2016 at Starbucks
7:04am
5 minutes
Apartment Hunting in the East End
Don Austin


How she wants to move herself is her business! My father exclaims from behind the island in the kitchen as he emphatically chops up the rabbit he’s getting ready for dinner. Why are we all spending so much time worrying about her? His cleaver comes down hard and clean, splitting leg from torso. I don’t know, Honey, I think this is a call for help. Tanya needs us right now and we’re just watching her spiral! My mother remains at her makeshift office in the corner of the dining room that connects to the kitchen. Her glasses are balancing on the tip of her nose. She wants to pay a bunch of strangers to crack her mind open so they can fill it back up with useless garbage!
Rita, my father shakes his head. We don’t need to get involved. She’s a grown woman. We did our job already. I don’t know, I just don’t know, my mother grumbles to herself.

“then gave it to his daughter” by Julia at Starbucks


Friday June 24, 2016 at Starbucks
7:10am
5 minutes
The Govenlock Hotel
Sharon Butala

He was out in the yard gardening, tending to his beloved cherry tree
Those damn birds…
He propped the ladder up and began to climb, explaining himself each step
Then we pick the ones that are good…
And pops a dark survivor cherry right his mouth
And we keep doing that until they’re all gone…
Or until our arms get tired…
And we wait until the warmer months for the sour ones…
Those ones drive your mother crazy…
He scoops her up little into his chest big, holds her with one strong arm, searching for one perfect cherry with the other.
This is why we come out here…
He presents the cherry like a prize for his little thing to take a bite, deep red squeezing out fast, splattering onto her chin and dripping down her canary t-shirt

“I balance unlaced shoes” by Julia at Starbucks


Thursday June 23, 2016 at Starbucks
6:53am
5 minutes
Circling Before Landing
Mariene Crookshaw

Man puts on the radio, turns the dial so slowly
slowly
we hear bits and pieces of moments
and conversations
and music
and static
and we wait until he finds the station
he likes
he can put up with
that won’t make him crazy
He is responsible for us now
he keeps our spirits
in the switch of the dial
in the palm of his hand
In the corner
by the only
window
there is a bony girl in green and black
striped pants
who holds a paper
airplane up to the light
that was here yesterday
she is holding on
for
her turn
to dance
but the music doesn’t stay
the crackling continues
Her mother is lying two feet
away from her
her belly robbed in the
middle
of
the
night
the blood is slowing now
her eyes remain open
pointed at the ceiling
longing for
escape

“It’s a little big now” by Julia on the 84


Thursday May 19, 2016
8:14pm
5 minutes
overheard at Kafka’s

he was cooking dinner on the island
he liked to call it his ‘cutting station’
where he did most of his cutting
not me
i liked to use the counters by the fridge
i don’t really like the feeling
of floating in the middle of something
just dangling out there
alone
he asked me what my favourite thing to eat was
when i told him i said but it has to be the way
my dad used to make it
he said not to worry
he said he would take care of me
when i looked at his ‘cutting station’
i couldn’t see one ingredient that matched
the items i told him
all the things necessary to make
my favourite thing to eat
i tried not to be bothered by it
or to worry
he said he would take care of me and
i had to
trust him
but i could smell the veggies cooking
and i could tell that he wasn’t
getting
it
right
and so i was bothered by it
and i did worry
and i missed my dad
in that moment more than ever
nothing is the same after your favourite loves die
not life
not dinner

“Textures” by Sasha at the Green Beanery


Thursday April 28, 2016
5:52pm
5 minutes
From an Instagram post

my back the topography of the himalayas the andes the rockies
my insides the colour of the deepest places of the sea
it just keeps getting harder
mom is in the kitchen gorging on chocolate chips and
betrayal sister is dancing circles
in the living room
dervish of wonder of bewilderment
i’ll wait for you on the corner the moment the sun sinks
below the horizon

“you can work on in your backyard” by Julia at her dining table


Wednesday March 23, 2016
11:21pm
5 minutes
viralnova.com

Mom calls me from the subway and her phone keeps cutting out because she’s standing on the steps half deciding whether or not to hang up or go and catch her damn train. She calls me back every time and I can’t get any work done or any listening done because we manage to sneak in one or two conjunctions and then there’s static. She’s scared of going to the doctor because she’s convinced they’re going to tell her she’s dying. She’s afraid of cancer. She has no visible symptoms. She is just afraid so she made the appointment. She’s not saying any of this. She’s talking about aunt Rene’s cockatiel and how the Chinese garlic situation has fucked with her tomato sauce. I want to tell her to go and to listen to them tell her that she’s fine but I can’t actually promise anything of the sort. I picture her attached to the subway stairs for hours, clinging in between the knowing and the unknowing of every single thing on this planet. I picture how she feels when she decides the reason she can’t get herself to go is because her only kid is too busy not reading in between her lines to go and be there for her. I put on my shoes.

“electro hypersensitivity” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Monday March 14, 2016
11:56pm
5 minutes
Common Ground Magazine

My mama has been shut in doors for almost thirty seven years. She thanks her lucky stars that there weren’t any complications with my birth, and Kenny’s, because then she’d a had to get on outta there. She blames it on electro hypersensitivity but it’s not. It’s agoraphobia through and through. She has the script that she rattles off, “I have a disorder where the electricity fields from the wires snaking all over the damn place give me crippling headaches and heartburn”. Kenny and I roll our eyes and she doesn’t even notice cuz she’s so committed to the story. She’s lost everyone, you know. Except for us. The house smells like a chicken coop.

“the window is open” by Julia at her dining table


Monday February 8, 2016
9:44Pm
5 minutes
from the song playing on the radio

I can hear them singing my sweet song, Alina! Those little chickadees outside my window are humming me a get well song. Can you hear them? Hear them sing my name? Loiiiiiisssss. Ha ha! They’re singing me back to good health. Oh now, listen close, you hear that thumping? The knock knock knocking? Woodpeckers! Rattling out their best wishes for me too! I feel so loved, Alina! When your brother calls tell him the forest is taking good care of me and not to rush over here.

I don’t think he’s coming, ma.

Of course he is! He hasn’t been to see me yet because of all his work, you told me that, but he’s still going to come!

Ma, he’s not. He’s not coming. I’m sorry.

Well did you speak to him? Did you?

No.

Well then I’m sorry but how on earth could you know what he is or isn’t doing?

“the lid to Pandora’s box slides right off.” By Sasha at her kitchen table


Tuesday January 26, 2016
10:15pm
5 minutes
From catskinner.club

Tracy has got Jan’s smile, that’s for sure. When she looks at me and smiles, all teeth, I’m, well, I’m toast. When Jan was sick I wasn’t sure about what would happen after she went… I mean, Tracy could’ve said she wanted to move to Windsor to be with her Dad, or… I don’t know. But after everything settled down, after we scattered Jan’s ashes in the river and after we’d eaten all the casseroles in the fridge people brought over and the last of Jan’s frozen squash soup from the freezer… Tracy said that she wanted to stay here, with me. She said, “You’re more my Dad than my real Dad has ever been. I want to live here. With you.” We’d cried a lot of tears over the months before but there were still some left to cry then.

“a sneak peek” by Julia at her dining table


Saturday,January 23, 2016
6:57pm
5 minutes
a Facebook Post

I’m teaching my kid about privacy. Started with me locking my bedroom door because she wasn’t aware that there were any differences between my space and hers.
It’s heartbreaking. It doesn’t feel good to hear her scratch at the door and blame herself for being locked out. I think it’s a good lesson, I guess. Or I thought it was. I don’t know what it means except that I’m illustrating how my kid needs to ask for permission to exist….
I don’t want my kid to think she needs to ask someone else before she can do what she wants. Not that she should always get to do what she wants..Or should she? I don’t know what I’m supposed to be teaching her. Is she going to grow up thinking there were no doors open to her when she was just being herself? Is she going to think that I am only available for her when I decide, and not when she needs? Is that a good thing? Independence or something…I don’t know now. Maybe my kid is teaching me about understanding. Maybe she’s teaching me to stop looking for structures to follow. Maybe she’s teaching me to trust myself.

“what you can expect” by Julia on her couch


Monday, January 18, 2016
10:21pm
5 minutes
from an e-mail

So my cousin had a baby and for some reason I think she’s my spirit animal.
I haven’t even met her but I have this feeling that we know each other already and that she’s going to want to hold onto my finger so tight.
I don’t know why I think this for this cousin and not the others. I don’t know how this new little baby girl and I will even spend time together now that we live on opposite sides of the country, but if my cousin will let me, I think I want to be her pen pal.
I want to write this girl a letter every day. She’s the only one who doesn’t know me at all. I could tell her all the things I wish I heard when I was growing up. I don’t know how I’d get these letters to her unopened, though. If I were my cousin I’d be reading each and every thing that comes in the mail addressed to my new born daughter. But what’s good, and that I may be forgetting, is that my cousin expects me to be a weirdo and maybe, without thinking too much about it, will let me correspond with his kid because on some level he knows she’d benefit from that.
I will start my “clean slate personal representation” letter the same way each time:
Hello, you are good, you are enough.
Those should be the first words she reads.

“Re posting it” by Julia on her couch


Sunday, January 17, 2016
9:55pm
5 minutes
from a text

There are a lot of young girls hanging out at the corner store with their ripped jeans and their big black eyeliner.
My mom thinks those are the girls I’ll want to hang out with so she gives me run around warnings like, “Beth, don’t take any shortcuts home from school.” Or, “Make sure you don’t walk with your face buried in your phone in case someone wants to steal it out of your hands and you don’t have the time to stop them.”
I guess she has a point or something. Better to pay attention.
I can tell she’s saying anything she can that doesn’t sound controlling or narrow minded about other people. She doesn’t want me to know that she knows what girls like that are like and only has her gut instincts as a barometer. There’s no proof, no real reason other than she’s deathly afraid of me getting hurt, or falling into the wrong crowd and changing all my core beliefs.
I can’t begin to talk to her about what’s going on in my life.
So I tell her, “I will not take shortcuts home from school.”

“Imagine having fantastic sex with him or her” by Julia in her bed


Wednesday, January 13, 2016
11:58pm
5 minutes
Instant Enlightenment
David Deida


I am giving couple’s counselling to my parents. Well to my mother. My father is in the other room and we are pretending he doesn’t hear us or know that his kid and his wife are “discussing” him. This is partially on purpose. If he thinks we think he can’t hear us he might listen harder and think to himself, “hmm, I’d like to try that so when I do, it will seem like my idea and things will be better without needing to talk about it.” It is also so it looks like the advice is being given to my mother alone, when really my father can take from it what he needs, even if he doesn’t act on it. My mother nods her head and says, “You’re right, you’re right” a lot. I am not having this conversation so I can be right, and usually when someone says that it means they just don’t like the response they were given. But she is still listening and I am still talking so either way, we’re having this conversation whether things change or not. I am inside my head and well outside my body at the same time. I am separating myself from being her daughter and talking to her like I would my patients. Or my would-be patients. I am practicing my skills on someone who is not paying me yet, because I need to get good at telling all kinds of people to “imagine having fantastic sex with him or her.” So far I have said, “love is your only objective,” which seems to be working.

“poetry got a mainstream reputation” by Julia on Michael’s old bed


Monday, December 28, 2015
10:11pm
5 minutes
LENNY letter no. 14

Gabriela is my mother’s first cousin but she was disowned by the family in 1977 because she was “spreading the lies of the devil through her evil written word.” My mother only mentions Gabriela by accident when I ask her if we have any writers in the family. I ask because my son, Warren, is working on his family tree for school and has to answer a bunch of questions about the jobs his relatives have had. My mother tells me by accident that Gabriela used to write poetry about things people were too afraid to talk about. In one she remembers well, Gabriela wrote a line that said “The Church is lying in the Church. The Church is hiding in the Church. We do not know what we refuse to see.”
“So, she was a poet?” I ask my mother.
“No,” she tells me, “She was a sinner.”

“good times” by Sasha in Mississauga


Wednesday, December 23, 2015
11:16pm
5 minutes
from the back of a CD

“Who is this?” Kate asks, holding the picture in her hand and reaching out her arm to her mother. Leslie is making three piles of records – keep, give away and sell. Once, she gets confused as to the order of the piles and Kenny G ends up in the “keep” pile. “Sebastian…” Leslie says, almost without looking up. “Who is Sebastian?” Kate says, sticking a photo of her and Henry into the album. “He was married to Grandma for seven months right after Grandpa died,” Leslie picks up the pile of records she’s keeping and puts them into the red milk crate. “What are you talking about? Grandma remarried before Julian? She’s been married three times?” “Those were good times,” Leslie says, picking up a Tina Turner record and smelling it.

“Hard to hand over the reins” by Julia at Our Town Cafe


Friday November 27, 2015 at Our Town
3:15pm
5 minutes
The Vancouver Sun
Friday, November 27, 2015


They play the kind of oldies music that I love here. I can’t help but tap my foot and sing along. It’s a crowded place. Not the best spot for open expression of who I am. If my father could see me he’d be so embarrassed at how little tact I have. He always hated when I’d check to see if I had food in my teeth in a knife while sitting at a restaurant. He thought it was classy. I thought it would be less classy if I spoke to someone with spinach hanging from my gums, but no, what I was doing was inappropriate. I couldn’t tell you how many times my dad has embarrassed me just by being narrow minded. I never told him that I didn’t want to be seen with him, even if he told a bad joke, or said that people with dreadlocks shouldn’t work at a housewares store. I even remember one time he came skating with my grade 4 class and fell on the ice in front of everyone. I was 9 and sure, it was a big deal then, but I did not act like I was even a little bit bothered because I bet he was way more embarrassed than I was. In fact now that I think about it I was really just worried that he might have hurt himself and there wouldn’t have been room for anything else…

“participate in all activities” by Julia at Platform Vancouver


Wednesday November 25, 2015 at Platform Vancouver
2:50pm
5 minutes
from http://www.playwrights.ca

We hear laboured breath, thumping, pausing, groaning, then more thumping, some light twinkling, then a thud.
Mom’s got the Christmas box out and she’s ready to go.
We hear a lot of rustling, then a small shriek, a giggle, and the crash of a thousand holiday CDs hitting the floor.
She’s going to turn this house into a merry one if it kills her. And it might. All that stuff is heavy and mom has always had a terrible back.
My brother looks at me.
“Should we go and help her?”
I don’t respond.
I don’t want to.
“You can go if you want,” I tell him.
“Well why don’t you want to help, too?”
“Because I hate Christmas,” I tell him.
“You hate everything.” He says back, resuming his video game.
Suddenly we hear Rosie O’Donnell’s Christmas album blaring.
“If we help maybe we won’t have to listen to this garbage that Mom likes.” My brother tries again.

“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.

“Her face was like a spring sun halo” by Julia at Shaktea


Friday November 20,2015 at Shaktea
1:06pm
5 minutes
White Heat
M.J. McGrath


I scooped up her tiny face into my hands and I brought her close to mine so I could feel her nose and inhale her intoxicating smell. She smelled of cinnamon and felt comforting to be around. I liked that she didn’t have a sweet smell because when I thought of her defending herself against the world, it put me at ease to think that she’d be a little bit tougher, connected to her roots, fiery, quick.
She was sleeping still and I thought about leaving in that moment so I could remember her like that: peaceful, calm, perfect. I couldn’t bare the idea of her crying at the realization of my absence. I didn’t want to cause her any more pain than I already had.

“Reimagine your world” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Thursday, October 22, 2015
11:31pm
5 minutes
The Vancouver Writer’s Festival Program Guide

my mother mimes cutting her hair on the edge of the world
her fingers the scissors
red falling
maple tree leaves
dripping pancakes and tenderness
the smile eclipses something below the kidney
the liver?
never sure of geography
yemen
istanbul
tel aviv
a new sweater
the colour of her longing
down to my ankles
done with wishing i was taller
a bus to the recycling depot
where we go for snow cones
for prayer

“ideal cooking oil” by Julia on her couch


Saturday, October 24, 2015
9:44pm
5 minutes
from the coconut oil jar

Mama sticks her finger into the jar and pulls out white silk that turns her skin glossy.
Doesn’t that smell like heaven? She hums, lifting her hand to my nose.
I nod my head. I want to eat the melting silk off of mama’s warm forefinger. She smiles at me, glad that I like what she likes. She dabs both of my cheeks with it and rubs it in. Feels nice, doesn’t it? I nod again, this time voraciously.
I want mama to let me bathe in this stuff. I want mama to let me alone with it so I can put it everywhere.
This is what you use for baking and cooking, she tells me, grabbing a spoon out of the drawer. She hands it to me. But it’s good for anything you can think of. She winks. I smile. I feel lucky to be let in to this place. She has given me her secret to the universe.

“amazing work” by Julia on her couch


Friday, October 23, 2015
9:44pm
5 minutes
from a Facebook post

I had been trying to catch his attention for, if I’m counting, the last twelve years. Huh. Wow. That’s more than I thought I’d admit. Was hopeful. I mean, who wasn’t at that age. But I guess it’s not fair to take it personally. He wasn’t not loving me, he was just, not forgetting her. I don’t know if I would do it any differently than that myself. I’ve never lost a child so I don’t get to pretend to understand. But weeks bleed into months and then years, and it all just feels like the same nightmare, playing over and over or just continuing without resolve every 16 hours. This time it was a scholarship that I was awarded because of my application letter about him. I wanted to show him. He wanted to drink.

“unless its roots reach down to hell” by Julia at her desk


Wednesday September 23, 2015
9:31pm
5 minutes
from a quote by Carl Jung

I’m not really sure how I got here. Not here here, just emotionally here. I wouldn’t have expected to end up like my mother but I guess it’s just in my genes. I don’t know if it’s fair to say that even. Like I’m blaming it on her or I’m not taking responsibility for my own life. I just wonder if I am predisposed to overreacting, turning molehills into mountains, turning good things into bad things. That’s what she does; my mother. She’s a hypochondriac and she’s a paranoid individual with a lot less good people in her life to help her out cause of the way she behaves. Now I see myself in her image. No friends. No partner. Nobody to convince me it’s better to be sane…

“Let me just say he did some pretty terrible things” by Julia at Valens Restaurant


Friday, June 12, 2015
5:01pm
5 minutes
Overheard at Valens

Graham was finally allowed to see his daughter in two years and he wasn’t going to sabotage himself this time. No chance in hell was he willing to risk anything getting in the way of that sweet angel face. Gina didn’t want to bring her. She said a prison is not the place she wanted Olivia to associate him with. She said this isn’t good for the baby. Graham wanted to believe that she was still too young to be affected by this or anything that he was guilty of doing. But Olivia wasn’t a baby anymore. She was three now. She had nightmares and daydreams and memories. And graham had missed the part where she didn’t have those. Where she hadn’t grown up without a daddy yet.

“take her children to church” by Julia at her desk


Thursday June 4, 2015
1:01am
5 minutes
Vogue
October 2014


She wakes up early in the morning, before the sun does, before the man does. He sleeps like a bear anyway. He wouldn’t notice if the house was on fire. He wouldn’t notice if his testicles were dipped in hydrochloric acid. For the record she has considered both options. She decides on sneaking her babies out without causing any physical pain. She doesn’t want to add to her little ones’ suffering. God knows they’be been through enough. She dresses her sleeping children as best she can. Georgia’s eyes flap open and she knows if she’s to wake anyone, Georgia’s the best one. She loves secrets. She’ll be good at helping her get the other two ready. She doesn’t even worry about the snoring bear. Georgia is quiet but she is curious. She puts her fingers to her lips and smiles with her eyes.

“I made this cake” by Sasha in the bed a Horseshoe Bay


Sunday May 17, 2015
11:56am
5 minutes
http://www.epicurious.com

Let’s make a world where everyone has enough
Where everyone has what they NEED
When they NEED it
Not MORE
Not LESS
Where mother’s can feed babies from their breasts and where father’s can sing lullabies
Let’s make a world where trees are our priests
Where forests are our temples
Where dolphins are our recognized and respected sisters
Where computers and labs and scientists aren’t involved in food growth
Where governments champion children, art, the elderly, green space, democracy
Let’s make a world where we celebrate one another’s successes
Where we dive deep for our bravery and bring it to each interaction
Let’s make a world where we listen
With our whole being
Where we stop
SHUT OFF
TURN DOWN
POWER FAIL
POWER FULL
Let’s make a world where we dance in the street with strangers
Let’s make a world where anyone can marry anyone
Where love is the beginning, middle and end
Let’s make a world with less cars and more bikes
With less oil and more bio-fuel
With less guns and more sunflowers
With less plastic and more recycling
With less hiding and more showing
Let’s make a world where we are all different
And connected
Where we can smile at our complicated understanding about otherness
Where we can remember
Where we can remember
Where we can remind each other
One another
We all come from the same mother
She’s here
But we need to love her up
Love her down
Love her all around
We need to be more radical in our loving
More fearless
We need to embrace change
(it’s always here)
It’s always here
Is it?
Always here?
We are water
Water is polluted
We are polluted
It’s not complicated
It’s a simple story
Why can’t we understand?
Thank you for your bravery
Thank you for your attention
I made this cake for you

“Summer road trip” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Thursday April 30, 2015
8:24pm
5 minutes
from a magazine article

Nikki won Miss Bellingtown when she was eight years old and it was all downhill from there. “Shit,” she says, whenever she thinks about that. Wearing her crown, her ribbon and a blue terry cloth robe, she puts wet food down for Hushie. She recently turned twenty seven. She’s never drank a real gin and tonic, she’s never gone on a camping trip and the most intimate conversations she has are with Hushie. She calls her mother on the rotary phone, as she does every Sunday. “Mom, it’s Nik. Call me – ” And Tasha picks up the phone, out of breath, the answering machine clicking on, recording their conversation. “Nikki! The chive flowers are blooming! You’ve gotta come down here and see ’em. They’re your favourite colour of purple!” Tasha’s boyfriend, Camerson, recently moved in with her. Ever since, when they speak, Tasha half shouts. “Why are you yelling, Mom?” Nikki asks, knowing the answer. Her mother finally found love, after seventeen and a half years of looking. “Camerson says HI!” Tasha wishes her daughter would get dressed. “Why don’t you go out for a coffee with a galpal?!” “What are you talking about…” “Put some clothes on, goddamnit, and take off that stupid crown!” “I’m not wearing a crown!” “Don’t lie to me Nicole.”

“Watch your belongings” by Sasha at the library


Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at Kitsilano Public Library
6:20pm
5 minutes
A sign in the Kitsilano Public Library

Val wrote an e-mail to her parents because she could sense that they were worrying, even though she was thousands of miles away. “Hi guys!” she wrote, between sips of a mango smoothie. The cafe was crowded with mostly men, and she wished she’d brought a shawl. “I’m alive!” she smiled, thinking of them smiling, her father bent over her mother’s shoulder, the iPad on the kitchen table in front of them. “It’s crazy here. Delhi isn’t what anyone says it’s going to be…” She finished her smoothie and glared at a man staring at her breasts. “It’s beautiful, loud, smelly, closed, open, strange, inviting…” Val left in the Winter and hadn’t said when she’d planned to be back. They wondered, but didn’t ask. “I’m going to travel to Kerala. I want to visit that ashram. We’ll see how long I last.” A man beside her started smacking another man, the one who’d been staring. She saw that her bag was gone, that it was caught between them, that they were pulling it. Val swore at both of them and called to the teenager behind the till for help. The staring man was smaller, but he was determined.

“I was just, like, wondering” by Sasha at W Caffe


Friday, April 10, 2015 at W Caffe
1:24pm
5 minutes
Overheard at W Caffe

I was just, like, wondering if maybe I could go out tonight? Papa? I’m just gonna turn down your program for a minute because I need your permission, or, I’m wondering if I could – … So there’s a, a, friend, a new friend that I made in my Chess Club and h – … they invited me out to a, a place… I’ll ride my bike and maybe take a taxi home? May I? Papa?

There’s nothing I can do to convince you? I don’t really think it’s fair because I’m seventeen and other girls are allowed to go out on a Friday and I’m already done my homework for the whole weekend… I did practice the violin.

COME ON! I do well in school! I come straight home every day! How many times have I asked you for something like this? Do you want me to start sneaking around like every other teenager?!

“Their smiling faces touched” by Sasha at Higher Grounds


Monday March 16, 2015
4:47pm
5 minutes
Still Alice
Lisa Genova


Make no promises you can’t keep, Lizzy. That’s the one rule of them. “Do not covet thy neighbour’s wife.” “Thou shalt not steal.” Make no promises thou cannot keep. Might as well be in the Holy Book, Lizzy. You’ll go straight down to H-E-L-L if you break a promise, double H-E-L-L if you break a promise you made to me or Mama.

I did once, Lizzy. An’, well, you see my limp! You know what God did to my leg! He maimed me! He reached down from High Heaven and he struck me with his force. I never saw it coming, Lizzy, because I didn’t have a Papa to sit me down and tell me how life works.

Any questions?