Sunday September 10, 2017
from a text
I know I’m inching fufther away from myself when I can make sure I send you a writing prompt but I will go the whole day without writing a single word for me. And I think long and hard about what I’ll suggest to you. What I hope is something that gives you a reason to write. Because I care that you aren’t writing. I care that you must write. That the bones of your body only feel warm when you do. I know this sensation too. Cold bones. The feeling of your bed being the scariest place to end the day. When sleep takes more from you than it gives. I have been shivering these days. And I do not want to turn on the radiator because it shouldn’t be this frigid in my home. It shouldn’t be this removed from skin. I don’t remember how to fix this but I do know that it always comes back–which means it always goes away first.
Friday May 20, 2016
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.
Friday April 22, 2016
You’re sweet. You let me put my cold hands in your armpits when I need to warm up, when my teeth are chattering and I’m complaining excessively. You squirm the first few seconds and you dance around but you don’t make me take them out. That’s one of my favourite types of touching. I feel taken care of by you and your overheated underarms. You are always a furnace, kicking off articles of clothing in your sleep, ripping up sheets, opening windows in the minus 30s or 40s. The only time I ever remember warming you up was when we went skinny-dipping in your family’s salt-water pool. It wasn’t warm yet, but we were high and felt free, and so I cupped your nut-sack in my hands so they wouldn’t retract and we stood like that for a while, impersonating Ethel Merman and smiling big at each other.
Friday, March 25, 2016
From lyrics in a song
i remember my father teaching me how to tie a tie. he told me it would be good for me to know.
i remember telling my father i didn’t plan to ever wear a tie. i told him that i would prefer to learn how to plant things and build my own garden. he told me that someday, even if i didn’t wear the tie myself, i could help someone out who needed to but didn’t know how. i asked him again about the garden. he told me that if i learned how to tie a tie he would teach me about herbs and tomatoes and hot peppers and garlic. i asked him who would need to tie a tie. he said anyone could need to know. i asked him if he ever had to tie a tie for someone. he told me that he was once that person in need. he told me that he had a job interview, two weeks after landing in PEI. he told me how he met a woman on the subway who took him aside and showed him how to do it properly because he had done it wrong. he told me he barely spoke English but that day he realized how important gesture is. he told me that it’s better to know as much as possible in case one day someone needs to be taught but is too afraid to ask.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
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.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
If it’s in you to give, give it. I’m talking money, magic, moral support, listening, love, loyalty, life, kindness, time, patience, understanding, food, empathy, encouragement, hope.
That’s all we can do, give it when we have it, receive it when we don’t.
And that’s how the world goes round. Or that’s how the world wants to go round. It wants us to need each other and help each other. Its ON button is the scratched out CARE button. But we forget that sometimes because it’s not always easy to care, or to give, or to help, or to wait. We want what we don’t have now and we want to give what we have later. But I’m telling you, it’s not worth it. Immediacy is our biggest killer. We need to play the long game with ourselves and with each other. Giving chances and getting them.
Monday, January 11, 2016
Mind Body Connection:
I don’t need to be told to breathe
Well you stopped
Because I was thinking!
Are you serious?
Yes, very serious
Fine, deep f–
Come ON, how did you know I was even going to?
Because you’re very transparent and stubborn and I’ve been observing you
Okay then do it
okay, Deep Breath
yes, good, continue
I am alone on a rock
Oh, good, rock is good,
I am alone and I am breathing—
I AM, I told you I don’t need you to tell me
I am breathing
breathing in and out calmly, slowly, to encourage you
Is this even about me?
Yes, very serious.
WHAT THE FUC–
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
The Globe and Mail – Facts and Arguments
Monday, December 28, 2015
She didn’t need to tell me I was being an asshole to her. I knew. I laid awake the whole night thinking about how kind my mom is and how short I can be when things don’t go exactly my way. Trying to prove myself to the woman who made me, sees right through me, detects my bullshit, and still loves me boundlessly anyway. In my mind I was just expressing myself, feeling impassioned by my need to be heard and understood, offering a lesson that otherwise might never have been found. But when I played back the sound of my voice, it was not compassion, though I believed it was, but the desperate attempt at impressing her, the woman who made me, sees right though me, hears my bullshit, and still loves me anyway. She didn’t need to say anything at all.
Wednesday November 25, 2015 at Platform Vancouver
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.
Friday November 20,2015 at Shaktea
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.
Friday September 11, 2015
from the front page of the Globe and Mail
Life and Arts section
What kids want is to be born into a family that wants them. Then after they’re alive in this world, after they’ve traveled from one distant universe to the one we all share, they want to be held and warmed up, and spoken to very softly. They need someone else to carry their spongy bones for a while so they can rest after their long journey. That’s not asking too much. That’s the least we can do. And after they feel like they’ve been shown a kindness or two, they start to want a couple more things. They want love and they want home and they want patience and they want security and they want comfort and they want ice cream and they want to cry and they want to laugh and they want to shriek and they want to imagine. These and all the other things they want, are the things we can give them. They don’t ask for everything. They don’t need that. We do all the complicating. We do all the blaming.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
from a letter to a celebrity
I’m on the ocean
The waves are healing me
I’m looking deep
In the cave in my chest
I’m on the ocean
The water is curing me
I’m holding tight
To the magic underneath
I remember these words better than I remember my own address. They’ve been sung into my soul so many times that they’re practically mine, top to bottom. Grandma used to sing it to me before bed. She dreamed of the ocean, and taking me there to live with her. When Aunt Christina passed away, Grandma said she knew a place where I wouldn’t feel any pain. She asked Mom if I could go but Mom said, You’re not leaving me too, not now, not ever. And Grandma tried so long to get me there. I didn’t know how much Mom hated to be alone.
Thursday February 12, 2015
a storefront window on Dupont St.
Titus hopes for the days that Louise stops screaming in her sleep.
He wakes up every time and tries to hold her without touching her because usually touching her just makes it worse.
He breathes calmly, affecting her breath.
She breathes calmly, taking on his patterns.
Shhh, he kisses the air around her scrunched face.
Shhh, she exhales after holding it in for too long.
Louise sees the visions right before she falls asleep.
The close up shots of a butcher’s bloody hand chopping hunks of raw lamb flesh.
The bees that sting the inside of her eyes until she’s panicked again.
Titus caresses her face softly to soothe her.
He does this sometimes for hours.
His touch is gentle and cool on her hot cheeks.
Thursday July 24, 2014
Ashtanga Yoga Primer
Baba Hari Das
1. Fall into the ground, without a sound. Pretend you always meant to be there. Nothing’s wrong. You’re like a bulb. You’re going to open. It’s going to be glorious, a bit painful, and glorious again.
2. Lean back. The air will catch you with her soft hands. You’ll wonder where you’re going, where you’ve been, why you’re still alone, still dizzy, still laughing.
3. Right or wrong, flying isn’t just for birds and airplanes. You fly. You catch a wave going West and you hang on and you go and you land where you’ve never been and you’re full.
4. Draw vines on your legs. Pen, marker, eyeliner – these all work well. Pencil might hurt a bit. Close your eyes and think about your grandmother’s hands. Look! You’re a tree!
5. The turkey gets you. Don’t forget that. The turkey gets how excited you are. She’s excited too, but for really different reasons.
6. Forgetting your own obsessions is the freest you will ever be of your legacy.
Sunday May 25, 2014
A sign on Queen St. West
HI, my name is HOLLY and I will be your PERSONAL ROBOT. I’m a robot I’m a GIRL ROBOT.
Just kidding. I hate robots. Like hate hate hate.
I just thought it would be a cute joke, you know, those kinds that you tell over the internet when someone e-mails you and begs for your help and you’re like, what am I a freaking computer? What is this, New Years?
That’s something my boyfriend says. What is this, New Years? I stole it, whatever. No big D.
Taryn asked me to help her do her taxes and I’ve been doing her taxes since 2009 and I’m pissed about it because it would cost her $50 freaking dollars to go to H & R Block but she’s my sister and she has a pouty face and insecurity issues and inferiority issues and self-esteem issues so I help her because I would really rather she didn’t use not knowing how to do her own taxes as a personal excuse to stop living.
Like not in a suicidal way—she’s not depressed. Not that I know of. Not that everyone who is depressed offs themselves, but like, you know what I’m saying. Whatever I’m tired, I’ve been sitting at this computer for far too long and all the words are crumbling or disappearing and I’m on my way to sleep land anyway.
I don’t know when Taryn’s going to finally just do herself a favour and open the internet to research how to do this. It’s not like she has to read a book or anything.
Sunday April 13, 2014
from a TTC transfer
To help others to help them so hard they don’t know what to do with themselves. That’s what I want. You ask me what I want and that’s the only thing. Give give give. It’d make my mother proud. She was a giver too. Only not in that way. She just had that spirit. She was always helping out where she could. But gambling got the best of her. She was a good person till the day she died, but that gambling, boy I’ll tell ya, it really hooked her in and kept her tight. Now if I don’t gamble and I give give give I can make my mother so happy. So happy that she saw that the good that there was in her could be transferred and that the bad that was in her didn’t have to go beyond her. And I haven’t started yet. I haven’t been able to sink my teeth into any old fashioned kindness. I mean, that’s what I want but I also have to make rent and some other stuff.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at Starbucks
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.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
From the cover of a book on the table
Turning your good traits into great ones since 1999! Melia said with a smile. She had one of those shit eating grins that actually made you want to be better in spite of yourself. She considered herself a life coach, Melia did. Guess someone told her when she was very young that she had a gift for the outside eye or for the criticism as we all liked to call it. Every one of us has been under her scrutiny once or twice, and it’s the worst when she gets a little one who takes her too personally and ends up hating everything about themselves by the time they’re 12. She means well, Melia does, but she doesn’t know any better. She thinks she’s helping even when it sometimes feels like the opposite. She wanted to see how improvements in people could come from one honest lady with a penchant for dissecting other human beings. Lord knows she’s the only one allowed to do it; any body try telling Melia what she’s done wrong or what she could do better, and that dumb excuse for a human better get their running shoes on.
Thursday May 2, 2013 at Starbucks
SickKids special section in the Toronto Star
To fix those hearts, what a lovely little sentiment
To go further than you thought you could with only smiles and contentment
What a world what a world please and thank you what a world
There’s some good left to be done, what a true and honest one, to go into schools with non verbal cues and make them feel like they’re loved a ton
What a world what a world please and thank you thank you what a world
To be easy and free to let go of all the weight to forgive and forget, to be early with kindness, never late
What a world what a world please and please and thank you what a world
To be true and free, to be you without me, hugging tight, letting go of night
And knowing that right here right now is right
What a world what a world please and thank you thank you thank you what a world