“Be wildly generous” by Julia at her dining table


Friday May 20, 2016
6:15pmm
5 minutes
from Julia’s notebook

My grandmother had been staying at our house after her hip surgery. She was sleeping in my room and she liked to spend her time organizing my bookshelves and my underwear drawer. One day she called me into our room to show me her latest clean-up effort. All of my underwear, she showed me, beaming with pride, were folded and stacked neatly according to size, colour, and functionality. I was 16 at the time and I had been wearing thongs for a couple years by then. My grandmother pointed to each stack reminding me “These ones are your nice ones, these are for staying at home only, and these ones are for your ‘holidays'”. She was pointing to the tiny stack of thongs and she was clearly referring to my ‘romantic encounters’. I remember, before I could defend or deny, she brought her finger to her lips, shushing the air as if to say “I won’t tell anyone, don’t worry.” I raised my eyebrows in relief and mouthed the words “thank you.” She smiled wide and squeezed my shoulder, thrilled to keep my business just between us. The truth was, I wasn’t, actually wearing thongs for my ‘holidays’ as I hadn’t had any ‘holidays’ yet, but I just never mentioned that to her. I could tell she needed my secret more than she needed my honesty.

“this music has more religion in it than any church” by Julia at her dining table


Wednesday February 17, 2016
9:54pm
5 minutes
from a YouTube comment by GB3770

I pray at the church of kindness, I can’t settle for anything less than that as my temple. I don’t believe in a God that won’t invite us all to play, that condemns for ignorance, that promotes the weak and bludgeons the strong. I don’t believe in a God that withholds, that accepts money as the only currency, that won’t forgive us for very arbitrary, yet non-negotiable acts. I bow my head at the alter of generosity. It’s the only home I ever feel safe enough to lower my shield in. It’s the only thing that moves me to a state of rejoicing. Don’t give me that hearsay scripture, that haunting, beautifully crafted by poets rule book. I worship at the church of soul music. The kind that lifts your skin off your bones just enough to make room for grace.

“founded in Cuba” by Julia on her couch


Friday June 20, 2014
10:36pm
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

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


Saturday June 14, 2014
9:53pm
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.

“safety matters to us” by Julia at Starbucks


Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at Starbucks
12:24pm
5 minutes
TTC subway poster

We salt the sidewalks, we do the whole thing. We get all the late night volunteers to bring their shovels and if they have them, their snow blowers. We take the whole street by storm, and if we’re feeling particularly energized, why hell, we take the whole subdivision. That’s how you get things done in Bimble Lake. Small citied people but big worldly hearts. I started operation GO-SNOW in 2001 after the Cearsons’ car got stuck in their drive way right as Eva was going into labour with Matthew, or maybe it was Logan. They weren’t the kinds to ask for help, but I could see them from my dining room window, and I had the tools so I went on over there and helped before they could say no. Not that they’d say no, I mean, Eva was pretty close to a car delivery! Would have been a great story for the town, but I’m doubting it would be as wonderful for Eva and Cam. I enlisted some neighbours’ help the following year to dedicate a couple nights of the week to planning, and to prevention. We started using my garage as a storage locker for all our materials and I gave Eddie, Tim S., Tim L., and Orval a key.

“work hard for their wins” by Julia in her back yard


Sunday, August 4, 2013 at Cafe Novo
5:08pm
5 minutes
Julia’s High School Yearbook

Amber had dreams of making tiny crochet hats for everyone she knew for Christmas this year. She started planning which colours and which patterns she’d use in July, and began taking measurements (discretely) in August. She was hoping this would send a message to her recipients that she was very thoughtful, considerate, prepared, and accurate in her gift giving. Amber worried for a total of 13 seconds that people would only make her gifts from now on if they thought she liked that kind of stuff so much. She wondered in that 13 seconds if she would ever receive a store bought gift again. Then she realized why she wanted to make these hats: to warm people’s heads! And also to show her loved ones just how much time they really were worth. She was allowed to have fleeting thoughts of material items sometimes too…