“Help yourself to some food” by Julia at the studio

Saturday November 17, 2018
11:10am
5 minutes
From a text

I’ve got an Italian family waiting for me at the table and they’re excited to see me. My mother will make her new favourite thing: date walnut cookies. Some will have chocolate chunks. Some will be overcooked and she will be the only one to notice. Most will fly off the table before I get there. I have to hurry, one month until we’re all laughing. Until my brother tells the same story he’s told for years. Until my sister makes a very good family photo on her fancy camera. There will be clam sauce because I am coming home and my mom knows it’s my favourite. There will be crab legs and the best mushrooms on this side of the world. My father will say, this smells like a happy home. And it will be. We have a lot to talk about. A lot of food to praise. I’m going to stop eating now to prepare. Italian families don’t trust a person who refuses food. They won’t believe you if you say you’re full anyway.

“his birthplace has now lost its charm” by Julia on her couch

Wednesday November 14, 2018
7:01am
5 minutes
Master of the Masterpiece
Anya Georgijevic

I am planning my trip to Italy
It is 2014. I will go stay with my Nonna and my Zia and my cugini in my mother’s town. Lozzola, land of parmeggiano, prosciutto, the famous Nocciole for the best tasting spring water you’ve ever blessed your throat with.
I ask my father if I should go to Calabria. San Nicola where he’s from. He says nobody lives there anymore. Everyone moved to Canada or to heaven and there’s no one left at the lemon tree. I want to see where he lived for the first 7 years of his life. Where he learned to run, eat crusty pane in warm cocoa milk.
He tells me there would be no point now. No one is there.

“Wild Birds Unlimited” by Julia on her couch

Tuesday April 3, 2018
9:42pm
5 minutes
From a storefront on West Broadway

On the T-shirts that Zia Nancy brought back
from Atlantic City were birds wearing sunglasses
Nothing is cooler than a bird wearing sunglasses
We were grateful for the oversized and bright
we did not know then how to ask for something better
How to wish we could be lucky enough for more
We were lucky enough then with two kisses and
a chili pepper
thrust into our hands like the lesson was in the
small bravery of turning our tongues on fire
The picture says a thousand things
Not including all of the comments made by
all the cool birds wearing sunglasses
on our T-shirts brought back from Atlantic City
We were built by each other’s dedication to being there
A wall of neon cousins smiling while
Michael cries into his birthday cake

“Wild nights-Wild nights!” By Julia at the studio

Thursday November 30, 2017
5:00pm
5 minutes
Wild nights-Wild nights!
Emily Dickinson

A steam of longing rises up,
possesses the space my thoughts
were busy occupying.

There, in the quick silence,
are your calve muscles, flexing.
The oven is loved on by you
and your desire to feed me
I could not say no to the offer
of home made lasagna at midnight
by a man in his perfect underwear,
leaning over the counter to grate
the cheese.
And I watched you close, desperately
trying to stay asleep in this dream
come true, dabbing at a lip every
now and again to collect the drool
forming. Did I mention it was midnight?
As if being made lasagna at any other time
of day would be any less wild.

Catching me in mid breath,
transported back to your
kichen with the bechamel stained
stove top, I am a mess of memory
gooey, liquid.

“trying to teach them technology” By Julia in her cabin


Monday February 27, 2017
4:47pm
5 minutes
from a text

my sister turns 32 and the entire family eats
stuffed lobster tail and shrimp
they gather around the table and tell
each other some of the same stories
after hearing some temporary new ones
my siblings make my parents use cell-phones
I am the only one missing
I am the only one on an island
I am the only one in a different time zone
my mother calls me on my birthday 4 days earlier
proud that she finally got the day right
she doesn’t forget my birthday
she just doesn’t know which day it is anymore because
she isn’t forced to look at a calendar all day
she asks what I am planning and I say nothing really
then my father gets on the phone
he asks me what I’m planning and I say I’m going to the island
he asks me if it feels different being 30
when yesterday I was only 29
I tell him sort of because sort of but not more
because my eggs are getting cold
he sighs and says that at the end of the day
it’s all just soup anyway
I laugh because he is so Italian
but he has a point
he says the first bite tastes like soup
and the last bite still tastes like soup

“Semi-bush vines, very sweet,” by Julia on her parents’couch


Monday December 26, 2016
2:02am
5 minutes
from an old tag

I was waiting for the perfect lull of eventual inhale that my mother would have to take before continuing on in her way about the planters and the balcony hangers. She always got so excited about the possibility of me becoming more self-sufficient in a way that no one would have thought twice about when she was my age. I didn’t exactly have the heart to tell her hat I didn’t have a green thumb or possibly any thumb and this would all be a moot point. She was too busy telling me I could do basil and parsley or tomatoes even, because then I could “at least make a proper sugo.” What I really wanted was for her to stop talking long enough for me to tell her about the poem that had just gotten accepted into a Canadian anthology. Maybe she would be excited that I managed to make some kind of art..or maybe she would think it didn’t matter if it couldn’t be added to an eggplant parmigiana.

“has been hurt on the job” by Julia in her bed


Monday October 17, 2016
11:51pm
5 minutes
from a Facebook post

My cousin Matthew missed the Family Picnic that we started calling “The Reunion” even though it was really just a regular get together only with meals starting at 10am instead of 2. Italians love starting meals at 2pm. He missed it because he was in an accident at work and got a piece of led in his eye or something equally as dramatic. He would have liked to be there. He said he looks forward to the hour drive every summer, even if it’s raining. Matthew couldn’t even open his eye for a whole week. He had a very good excuse to miss the bocce ball and the badminton and the group photos and the cute little videos we make for the family members who also really wanted to be there but couldn’t because of very good excuses. We should have made one for Matthew. I’ll tell him we owe him one.

“In my house we never had enough” by Julia on her bed


Tuesday March 8, 2016
9:49pm
5 minutes
The Artist’s Way
Julia Cameron


In my house we never had enough moments of pure ease–we had some tensions around the dinner table–us correcting dad’s grammar, one little one getting in trouble for skipping school again, the big on getting in trouble for wanting to leave the dinner table to go work on her homework, the middle one getting in trouble for slamming the door earlier.
“Eat what’s on your plate”
“Eat this or don’t eat”
If you don’t eat what’s on your plate, you can’t leave the table”
We couldn’t say we weren’t hungry–we couldn’t say we didn’t want the risotto or the second day fried spaghetti or the chicken scallopini or the veal fettine with lemon and parsley. How could we say we don’t want to eat these good things with you when you get mad at us for BREATHING.
“You should feel so lucky you get to eat like this”
“You should see what the other kids have to eat every night: pasta from a can, tuna salad sandwiches”
“But we like tuna”
“Not for dinner we don’t”
Some moments reeked of attempted ease.
A joke here–him trying to steal a fork full of meat off our plates when weren’t looking–a question about the neighbour’s dog.

“senior’s line dancing” by Julia on her couch


Wednesday November 4, 2015
9:13pm
5 minutes
theseniorshub.org

Nonna doesn’t stop talking until you ask her to talk about herself.
In fact, that is how you get Nonna to stop talking.
It was an accident that I found that fact to be true, but it’s true none the less.
I asked her once to tell me about when she was younger.
“Tell me about the dancing! Tell me about you and Nonno dancing or kissing or both.”
“Oh, we were young, yes, a long time ago. We did some dancing.”
She tells me this, in Italian, as she lays the tomatoes out to be sun-dried.
“No, Nonna, I mean tell me about your dancing. What kind of music did you like? What kind of necklaces did you wear?”
But she doesn’t want to tell me, or remind herself, and instead she trails off in a way that makes her sound like she doesn’t quite believe the sound of her own voice.
“Okay Nonna, tell me about the tomatoes.”
“Oh, these tomatoes? I picked these tomatoes. All by myself. This morning. I hurt my joints because I picked them so long.”

“open 7 days” by Julia at Souzan’s apartment


Saturday, September 5, 2015
6:59pm
5 minutes
from the sign at the liquor store

When she begged me to forgive her there were tears in her eyes and I was wearing a red and green apron that made me look very Italian and very comical. I couldn’t take myself seriously, let alone take her, so instead of being an adult, I laughed. I couldn’t help it. I’ve always dreamed about these kind of moments where the lighting is just right, there’s the perfect amount of rain, maybe a bit of wind, and an underscoring of building music that sounds like it’s just far enough away to be acceptable. But instead we were both covered in gnocchi flour and our bangs were plastered to our foreheads cause in real life there are no perfect forgiveness temperatures. I laughed and she got very angry. I didn’t mean to offend her but I was angry too…that she couldn’t have picked a better moment for all of her guilt to add up. Instead, right as the tester gnocchi were rising to the top, she fell to her knees and buried her face in my Italian flag.

“giving a private lesson” by Julia at her desk


Thursday March 19, 2015
9:19pm
5 minutes
from a slide in lecture

So I’ve been meeting with this guy for coffee every two weeks because on a whim, I put an ad on the internet offering my tutoring services. And honestly, I wasn’t expecting anyone to respond but this guy, who I’ve been meeting for coffee and conversation every week and a half, was looking to improve his Italian and so he sent me a message. The first day I showed up with all my books and my notes and an Italian flag lapel pin my mom found for me at a garage sale (which I regret, but still wore) because I was ready to teach; To exchange a service. But this guy, who I’ve been meeting for coffee and conversation and casual sex every week ended up being ridiculously hot. Like stupid hot. And he wanted to improve his Italian so I was like, WHAT? YES? YES.

“BAM” by Julia at her kitchen table


Wednesday July 30, 2014
7:32pm
5 minutes
Overheard at Trinity Bellwoods park

My mother used to work for Pasquale. Did you know that? I could have sworn I mentioned that around the first or second date. You know, the way things about your family comes up? That was my thing. That was my party trick! You were talking about béchamel sauce which I internally corrected you as “Beshamella” because if it’s not pronounced in Italian I don’t even want to pretend to care. But she wrote out his cookbooks. He spoke to her in Italian, she transcribed them, and BAM! I am now the sole owner of Pasquale’s perfect lasagna recipe which when I make, is an absolute show stopper. I mean, I could have sworn I mentioned it when we went to eat at Neve Sole and you ordered the bruschetta but you pronounced it “brushetta” and I almost lost my mind about it because how many lame Italian cliche jokes do you need to hear before you actually just NEVER pronounce it in a mangia-cake way?

“I think I’m crying from happiness” by Julia in her backyard


Tuesday May 27, 2014
10:23am
5 minutes
from http://www.buzzfeed.com

Maybe it’s because a butterfly is currently sitting on my knee, or because my baby brother got accepted into med school, or because my older brother just flew his first plane by himself. Maybe it’s because life keeps astounding me and I can’t keep up with how good it all is. I broke up with Massi because he was begging me to move to Milan and live there with him while he relaunched his sculpting business. He called it a business so I would feel more secure in moving my entire life to a place I’d have to completely start over. New bank accounts, new driver’s license, new language, new food, new government, new phone plan. Not to mention Massi was a busy man and I’d see him probably 3 times a week if I was lucky. He told me saying no was an admission of defeat for our relationship and for my existence and he said it in such an Italian way that I almost believed him. But he was wrong. I was not giving up on me. I was giving up on the idea that I needed to please someone else. And so maybe it’s because for the first time I’m living independently. Maybe that’s why I’m so happy.