“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.

“I’m still on the boat.” by Julia on her couch


Friday August 4, 2017
10:57pm
5 minutes
Sea Sick
Alanna Mitchell

I’m trying to read to pass the time. Everybody is taking Gravol. My sister gets carsick on tiny windy roads and gets to sit in the front seat of the good car. I have to sit in the back seat behind the same t-shirt going on twelve days in a row. I don’t know how no one notices the oppressive stench but I can’t seem to pretend otherwise. My sister is not looking forward to the boat ride to go see the blown glass in Venicd. There really isn’t a front seat on a boat. My mother is the same way. Neither of them do well when the waves get choppy or even if there’s a bit of wind.
My uncle has taken us on this exact tour for the third time now and still explains everything like it were the first. I don’t know how no one notices.

“I felt stung” By Julia in her cabin


Sunday February 26, 2017
10:19pm
5 minutes
Dear Sugar Radio

I don’t have any memories of my mother’s father. He died when I was three, lived in Italy, and I only met him a couple times. The first time, they tell me, was when I was 3 months old. I had my ears peirced with gold studs (by my aunt Patricia, who was also travelling to Italy with us), I carried around a rainbow striped bunny that I would later name “Skittles”, and according to my mother, I was a very picky eater during the first couple months of my life. They tell me that he was a big man, feared by many. They tell me all the other grandkids ran away from him because they were intimidated by his size, or his mood, or his silence. They tell me that when he walked by my crib I begged for him to pick me up. They tell me that it was strange for a small thing to reach out to him. They tell me that he lived for taking me out into the fields to pick fresh figs. They tell me he smiled a lot when we were there.

Sixteen years later I went to Italy for the second time. I found his gravestone. I listened to the air between my life and his. I still can’t say I ever knew him. But I missed him then.

“I keep thinking about the night we spent in Rome” by Julia at her dining table


Friday August 26, 2016
6:50am
5 minutes
Super Sad True Love Story
Gary Shteyngart

I remember it like it was five minutes ago. You didn’t even want to go but I told you it was something to see. You were worried about not getting a good picture and I said Trust Me It Will Be Even Better. We stopped for pizza first and that put you in a better mood. It was thin crust and saucy and probably the best we’d ever had. You said it was too salty but you were just in a funk and I tried to wait it out. When we made it to the Colosseum, your face lit up like I knew it would. It’s Beautiful, you said, and you looked up starry eyed. There’s a peacefulness at night. Fewer people, but always someone. You wanted to get mad about the men selling the neon light sticks and the sound makers that shot way up in the air, changing colour on the way down, and making children go crazy with bright love but you couldn’t. You were very pleased even if you didn’t say it every ten seconds. I wanted to dip you low and kiss you under the night sky, our happy place in Rome.

“the conscious mind” by Julia on her couch


Friday March 11, 2016
4:19pm
5 minutes
A quote by Janet Burroway

Barshum tells me to meet him at the art supply store near Granville and I have to fight my urge to ask him if it’s a date. I don’t really want to know. I’m trying this new thing that probably isn’t actually new to the world but is to me that I learned when I was living in Naples for a semester abroad. The people there all hang out and enjoy each other’s company and nobody is actively trying to bang anyone. When I asked once if Martina was going to the movie looking for love, she laughed, shook her head, and then laughed again. In her broken English she said, (and I’ve interpreted) we don’t go out for more than just fun. If something else happens, okay, great, that’s a bonus. But if nothing happens, then no one is disappointed because no one was wearing a mask over their ulterior motives.

so…I’m trying not to have a second end in mind. Maybe no end at all would be better.

“MADE IN ITALY” by Julia in her bed


Saturday October 25, 2014
3:05am
5 minutes
The back of a room spray

I’ve been feeling my roots being tugged deep down from within me. They reach reach into the ground and spread like a forrest fire on a mission. They dig and they wrap around the rocks below. They hold on tight so no one can pull them up. Not even magic can bring them to the surface, poking through the tops of the earth. I was born in this place many years ago. I know this because my heart sings when it hears the call of home. A singing heart is one thing to hope for in this life. Not all hearts sing. Some whisper. This one of mine likes a quiet hum to start it off, finishing with a lulling chant and a whoop every now and again. I was brought here once and made a promise to return. Threw my coins into the fountains, wished on bracelets and pizza crusts. It worked. I keep coming back. Like a cat through the window left open at night, crawling softly into the bed occupied by a lover.

“For the Canadian Girl!” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Sunday September 14, 2014
10:02pm
5 minutes
From a note from a new friend

He hands me a glass of wine and says, “for the Canadian girl!”
I smile because this kind of thing doesn’t happen to me.
I smile because he’s the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen and the subway doors aren’t closing between us.
I smile because he looks at me like I am his secret.
We cheers.
He says, “How long have you been here?”
I forget, but say, “Two weeks.”
He says, “You like?”
I do, and I say, “Yes!”
He smiles because he’s never seen someone with darker skin than his in the flesh.
He smiles because he’s been waiting for the moment since the day Lucia Marzano refused to kiss him.
He smiles because I am here, now and we are both ready.
There’s a silence, but it’s not heavy, it’s buoyant like a red helium balloon.

“roasted fennel” by Julia at the Sheraton in Philadelphia


Tuesday April 15, 2014
11:09pm
5 minutes
A post on Instagram

Mama liked it when her drinks tasted like Italy. It reminded her of home, of her mother, of her doggie, Stella, and her doll-friend, Cicio Bello. When mama took a sip, she’d slip, then slide, then land back in a time where farm animals woke her up each morning, and where Figs grew as big as your face in September.
She stocked up on the stuff just in case they ever decided to stop making it. Not that anyone would, it was a beautiful thing. But just in case, she always said, just in case.
We knew she could say whatever she wanted and we’d never say a thing in return to her about it. We didn’t want Mama to feel like she had a problem. We didn’t want anyone to think she couldn’t handle it on her own, just the way she wanted to. Nobody mentioned a thing when we’d find bottles of her nostalgia hidden under the sofa cushions, or planted deep in the soil of her dying rosemary bush. Nobody said anything when Cicio Bello started appearing again in Mama’s life, her old friend whispering things to her no one else could hear; keeping her company through the storm.

“Original Spring Source” By Julia on the 504 going east


Saturday January 25, 2014
4:31pm
5 minutes
from a Mountain Valley Sparking Water bottle

There's a little well, a fresh water spring that is about 8 minutes away from their house. It's the most beautiful place on earth. It is safe there. It is calm. It makes all the bad things seem to float away or disappear or turn into good things so they're not bad anymore. The soft rippling of the water, the purest form of ecstasy that I know, the clear stream of stress rolling down the tree stumps and off of the mountain side. That's where I find myself in moments like these. When the weather aches all my bones and weighs heavy on my mind. When the morning light shines through my window reminding me of all the things I have to fix or make or do or forgive. When your heart breaks from an unkind word I've said, or if coincidentally you believed that your breath was too loud for your brain that day. I go to the water. I go to the spring. I go to Italy and wait for you there.

“80-minute discussion” by Julia at her kitchen table


Wednesday, July 3, 2013
11:28pm
5 minutes
http://www.teamcoco.com

I can hear them all the way from Vancouver talking about me under the covers and confessing they never really liked that thing I did with my wrist at parties because it was too rooted in shock value to actually be positive.
I can hear them all the way from Italy, 6 hours ahead, while they hand make the gnocchi for the grilliata tomorrow, discussing how if I could just learn to let go everything would be better for me. I’d look prettier. I’d be nicer to be around.
I can hear them all the way from Cape Breton, sitting outside on their bug-infested porch,talking about how first impressions are hard to undo. How long showers and long hairs left in the drain mean something more than someone who just likes to let the water run too long.
I can hear them all the way from Ottawa, as they watch the news, talking about how my act only works on an audience and they hope for my sake the crowd never stops coming to see me. That if I just stopped for a second to be real, the walls would come down instead of being built on top of each other.
I can hear them all the way from Lucan saying that I never came back to visit because I didn’t know how to find my way back home. They talk about the one and only time I came back but didn’t stay because I no longer fit in there.

Water glass, pint glass and a bottle of hot sauce (photo) by Julia at her kitchen table


Saturday, April 20, 2013
4:22am
5 minutes
Dip!

Spicy kind of girl with spicy kind of skin.
Smells like something from a summer garden in Italy.
Feels as smooth as shea butter cream.
She gives that extra wink without even meaning to.
If she were any less good-looking she would never get away with eating messy foods in public.
Spicy.
Full of spice and some other stuff that she doesn’t like to talk about.
Like anger and disappointment for most people she meets.
Why?
Why does she do that?
Why does anyone do anything, retorts back at you.
It’s cold in her house.
So she sits on the floor of an abandoned underground used bookstore at the corner of her street.
No one comes in and no one goes out, she thinks, wishing she could bring business back.
Spicy. No amount of perfume will cover it.
Is it the raw garlic she used to eat as a child?
Daddy offered her sister two dollars to eat a whole clove. Or two.
A dare.
She’d do it voluntarily, never really cared for money.
It happens sometimes.
When she’s alone.
She licks her lips till they’re raw, then smacks them hard to feel the tingle.

‘estate-bottled Italian wine’ by Julia at her desk


Saturday, December 15, 2012
2:41am
5 minutes
La Storia (Italian Wine Then and Now)

Les and Myrna were tour guides, taking groups of no more than seven on their trips to Italy, and Spain, and Italy again because they loved it the most. They had a van built for nine and liked it best when the singles would mingle and all become friends, family, or lovers for the duration of the twelve day tours. Les didn’t speak any Italian and Myrna didn’t eat anything that wasn’t. They talked about the business over lattes and grand marnier cheesecake.
Les carried business cards in his back pocket, trying to sell strangers on the idea of Italy. His friend, Anderson, was on every tour that Les and Myrna led. He was looking for Ms. Right and was dying to turn her into Mrs. Right (nod nod wink wink). Anderson liked to pay for the food bills and bring Les and Myrna engraved flasks or engraved key chains. He didn’t really have any money, but he was losing his hair and wanted to be business savvy about everything. Anderson once kissed Myrna on a tour through Tuscany. Myrna never told Les even though she wanted to. Les never suspected a thing because Anderson drank red wine and Myrna only drank white. He assumed the two would never meet in the middle about that.

‘estate-bottled Italian wine’ by Sasha at her desk


Saturday, December 15, 2012
8:23pm
5 minutes
La Storia (Italian Wine Then and Now)

It didn’t matter that she and he don’t speak the same language language. They both spoke wine and pasta, they both spoke kisses and gnocchi, they both spoke rain and skinny-dipping off the edge of the pier. They’d met at the beach in Manarola, she reading a book in English (ashamedly a trashy bargain bin find that she’d actually spend way to much on) and he, hoping to learn her… language. “Where you from?” He’d asked. She’d been used to it. She’d also been used to keeping Italian men at bay by brushing off the question and returning to her espresso, or her pizza, or, in this case, her Poor Little Bitch Girl. He’d persisted. Then she’d realized that he had a scar going across his stomach that she wished to learn about. Scars had been a life-long interest for her, maybe because she had a fifteen inch one of her own on her back from a scoliosis operation when she was fourteen. They’d gone for wine and fish that night, at his uncle’s small trattoria. Now it was twelve days later. She’d cancelled three hostel reservations and four train tickets. His mother called her, “Bella”.